Building activity in St. Albert to date has increased significantly compared to last year, according to the city’s six-month building permit report.
At 114, the number of single-family homes started construction in the first six months of 2009 is 31 per cent higher than the same time last year, which produced 87 starts.
There’s been $45.2 million worth of residential development in 2010, up 23 per cent over last year.
On the commercial side, the value of activity was $5.6 million, roughly five times higher than in 2009, thanks to two new developments with a combined value of $2.3 million.
Overall, there’s been $56.6 million worth of development in 2010, compared to $50.6 million in the first six months of 2009 a 12 per cent increase.
St. Albert Business and Tourism Development director Larry Horncastle noted the figures use 2009 as a comparator, which wasn’t a stellar year. However, based on the five-year average, development activity is holding its own.
“Just looking around, all the empty lots in Riel are getting filled up so there’s lot of activity going on,” he said.
“We’re hearing it in the provincial news that people have confidence in our local economy so they’re willing to invest.”
TD Economics noted in a July report that Canada-wide homebuilding in the first half of 2010 was propelled by robust home buying and corresponding price gains. However, sales of existing homes have declined since their peak in December 2009 and price growth is slowing.
“Our expectation is for a modest price correction during late 2010 and early 2011, and such price declines will dampen the incentive for homebuilding,” the report said.
Commercial activity is slumping throughout Alberta, so St. Albert is somehow bucking that trend, said Dan Sumner, economist with ATB Financial.
The statistics are a sign that developers see potential in St. Albert, he said.
“Obviously right now they think there’s enough demand in an area like St. Albert and there’s going to be enough demand a year from now when they’re finished, that they’re going to be able to make money. It’s as simple as that,” he said.
One factor that’s likely helping the situation is improvement in the availability of credit, he said.