Housing starts, building permits up in Inverness County

PORT HOOD: Good things are happening in Inverness County according to the local planning authority.

“Over the last four years, the trend has been upward with the exception of construction values which slightly dipped,” said John Bain, Director of Planning at Eastern District Planning Commission (EDPC).

Bain appeared before Inverness Council on Monday of last week to offer a report on what his group has been up to over the last 12 months. It was council’s annual meeting, and the session saw council members updated on the activities of several groups like the EDPC.

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Bain’s group, which handles planning matters for all Strait area municipalities along with Victoria County, was quite busy with rezoning matters over 2016-17. Rezonings took place from the Cape Way Motel in Port Hastings, to Cheticamp. Cabot Links needed some attention too, in terms of its Harbour Front Development plan. The Inverness County wind turbine by-law also required a review.

The Port Hood plan review was the planning commission’s major project over the last year. Bain was happy to report the area advisory committee has completed its review of the document which is nearly at the stage where it can appear before council for a first reading and public hearing.

The EDPC was also busy with building inspections, identifying and dealing with unsightly premises, and assigning civic addressing.

“We had a good year from a construction point of view,” he said. “Housing starts are marginally up. We had 76 starts in 2015-16 and 79 starts last year, so we’re up 3.9 per cent. There is an upward trend with housing starts over the last four years.”

The number of building permits issued in the county is also up. A total of 276 were issued last year, and that’s a 16.5 per cent increase from the year before, where 237 were issued.

“The value of construction of those 276 building permits was $21.2 million, and that’s down a bit from the year before which was $23.2 million,” Bain said, while noting the trend over the last four years is a positive one. In 2013-14, the county’s construction value was $16.1 million. In 2014-15, it was $18.9 million.

Permit fees were up as well, as $61,000 was collected in 2016-17. That’s up from $55,000 in 2015-16.

Sub-division applications were also up for 2016-17.

“The thing about subdivision is that we’re looking into the future,” Bain said. “As lots are created, they’re going to be built on in the future. That’s encouraging. In 2015-16, there were 69 applications for sub-divisions and last year there were 86. Before that, it was 54 applications in the 2014-15 year.”

Corresponding to the sub-division applications are the number of lots being created.

Bain said that four years ago, there were 97 lots created but that number grew in increments of 101 (2014-15), 137 (2015-16), and 162 (2016-17). Last year, the $17,000 was collected in sub-division fees.

Bain added he would have his annual report fully fleshed out before it is formally submitted to the municipality by the end of the month.