City struggles to keep up with permits as construction rises

The City of Nanaimo warns of wait times to process building permits as it sees higher-than-normal activity.

Residential construction is on the rebound in the Harbour City.

Nanaimo is experiencing an upswing in building permits and construction values, with more than double the planned investment for single-family homes than in the first five months of 2013. The increased activity has city officials scrambling to catch up on permit applications and warning of longer wait times.

It was a different story last year, when a slowdown in the residential construction market heralded one of the worst building permit slumps in more than a decade. Twelve months ago, construction value in Nanaimo was down 26 per cent, leading to thousands less in revenue for city coffers.

This year, Tom Weinreich, the city’s manager of building inspections, said he believes the municipality could exceed revenue budgeted for 2014. In May alone permits were up 60 per cent over the same time last year and since January the city has reported $52 million in construction values for single-family homes compared to $25 million over the same period in 2013. Across the board for commercial and residential construction, the city has seen $97 million in permit values and anticipates to soon add another $30 million for the downtown hotel, exceeding last year’s 12-month total of $120 million.

Experts including those at the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation say the shift began in 2013 when sales started to increase in the resale market. By last fall, Nanaimo became one of the few communities in central Vancouver Island to move into balanced territory with stable home prices. Low mortgage rates, economic growth in B.C. and new residents to Nanaimo have also helped the residential construction market make a comeback, they say.

“What we have been seeing is certainly a turnaround here and I think confidence in the market is what it is,” said Byron Gallant, past-president of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association and owner of B. Gallant Homes Ltd.

He said builders are confident in the speculation market, residential sales are up and the mortgage rates are “holding at unbelievably low rates,” leading some people to decide that now’s the time to build. His company is experiencing one of its best years yet and he anticipates the market will hold strong.

“I don’t know if I would say it’s going to increase, what more could we ask for?” he asked. “We are in a steady growth pattern that hopefully we can sustain.”

Weinreich said recent activity is testing the city’s resources. Wait times have grown from three weeks to five, prompting his department to offer employees temporary overtime to address the issue.

“I know it’s not going to get any easier … because we do have more subdivisions coming online as well, but we are basically trying to keep up with the demand and of course, trying to do so in a responsible manner,” he said.

CMHC forecasts Nanaimo will see 500 housing starts in 2014.

news@nanaimobulletin.com

Just Posted

Beef to the lady who went onto my property then proceeded to take my large plant from my home. I found out and asked for it returned. You said I was dramatic? You should be ashamed of yourself.
Beefs & Bouquets, June 16

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail editor@nanaimobulletin.com

The discovery of a missing woman’s body in Nanaimo earlier this month is now being treated as homicide, say Nanaimo RCMP. (File photo)
Discovery of woman’s body in downtown Nanaimo now being investigated as a homicide

Amy Watts’s body was discovered near Albert Street and Victoria Crescent on June 3

Two Lotto Max tickets sold on Vancouver Island were winners, though nobody won the $70-million jackpot in Tuesday’s draw. (BCLC image)
Lotto Max player in Nanaimo wins $500,000

Campbell River lotto player wins $1 million in the Tuesday, June 15 draw

An artist’s rendering of a proposed student housing complex at 326 Wakesiah Ave. (WA Architects Ltd. image)
Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

Flowers and candles were laid on the driveway of the Weber home, where Kerri Weber was found dead in November 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Greater Victoria man to stand trial for death of his wife last November

Ken Weber is charged with second-degree murder of his wife, Kerri Weber

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens as Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents the province’s latest budget, April 20, 2021. The budget projects $19 billion in deficits over three years. (Hansard TV)
B.C. government budget balloons, beyond COVID-19 response

Provincial payroll up 104,000 positions, $10 billion since 2017

Ocean debris is shown on Long Beach in Tofino, B.C. on April, 18, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Shoreline cleanup finds COVID-related trash increased during height of the pandemic

Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup reports litter from single-use food packaging nearly doubled

Doctor David Vallejo and his fiancee Doctor Mavelin Bonilla hold photos of themselves working, as they kiss at their home in Quito, Ecuador, Wednesday, June 9, 2021. Doctor Vallejo and Doctor Bonilla suspended their wedding in order to tend to COVID-19 patients and in the process Vallejo got sick himself with the disease, ending up in an ICU for several days. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)
Love, sacrifice and surviving COVID-19: one couple’s story

COVID hits Ecuadorian doctors who delayed wedding to treat sick

The Tsow-Tun Le Lum Society, which has been operating a treatment centre on land leased from the Nanoose First Nation for 35 years (pictured), has begun a fundraising campaign to open a new centre near Duncan. (Tsow-Tun Le Lum Society photo)
New residential school healing centre to be built near Duncan

$5-million Indigenous treatment centre will help survivors of residential schools heal

St. Joseph's Mission site is located about six kilometres from Williams Lake First Nation. (Photo submitted)
Williams Lake First Nation to search residential school site for unmarked graves

St. Joseph’s Mission Indian Residential School operated from 1886 to 1981

Tuesday’s Lotto Max draw went unclaimed. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Tuesday’s Lotto Max draw went unclaimed. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lotto Max jackpot goes unclaimed again

42 of the 64 Maxmillion prizes of $1 million were won, the majority were sold in Ontario

Most Read