NORTH PERTH – It’s been no secret that the Municipality of North Perth has been experiencing unprecedented growth in the last decade.
That fact was further solidified during municipal council’s regular meeting on Jan. 27, when chief building official Ed Podniewicz presented the North Perth building department’s Year in Review for 2019.
Last year, 453 new building permits were issued in the municipality, at a total value of $98,779,210. It was the most number of permits issued since 2010, when 505 were assigned.
“You’ll note that the issuing of building permits has steadily increased over this 10-year period, with a 2019 year-end total of 453 issued permits,” said Podniewicz during his presentation. “New dwelling units started to spike in about 2016, with a total of 144 dwelling units created, and has steadily increased to reflect a new record of 342 dwelling units created in 2019, a very substantial increase.”
Of those 342 new residential dwelling units, 325 fell within the Listowel Ward, with 10 in Elma and seven in Wallace. The permits stemming from new single and replacement dwellings accounted for over half of the total dollar value of the 453 issued. New multiple residential dwelling units totaled $19.15 million. New farm construction came in at $9.82 million; new commercial construction was over $3 million; and new industrial construction accounted for $1.45 million.
In the last five years, the number of residential dwelling permits issued has been steadily on the rise in the municipality. Primary expansion in the Listowel centre now stretches significantly south down Wallace Avenue to Line 84, while developments continue in the north and west quadrants.
With the municipality enjoying such a high volume of physical growth in terms of residential area, Councillor Dave Johnston asked Podniewicz if the same could be said about North Perth’s overall population density.
“In the last four years, we have created over 900 dwellings. I find that stat unbelievable,” said Johnston. “Do we have sufficient lots to sustain that for the next few years? And my next question is from 2009 to 2019, have you noticed if we have increased our density in urban areas for the residential development?”
Podniewicz replied that he had been a little concerned that North Perth was starting to get shy on ‘inventory’, in terms of developed lots to accommodate the influx of residential growth. He referenced the new Maitland Estates on Wallace Avenue South, which already has 75 per cent of its lots sold.
“It’s going to fill up fast I’m sure this year,” he said. “In regard to density, we have noticed quite an impact with density in the past couple of years. I think our council has been encouraging developers to create more density in subdivisions. We’re growing at a fast pace, and we might run out of land if we keep going at that pace if we don’t take into consideration some density targets.”
North Perth CAO Kriss Snell agreed with the chief building official’s sentiments.
“I think it is imperative that we take a look at what our growth will look like for the next 20 to 25 years for the Official Plan process,” said Snell. “I certainly agree with what CBO Podniewicz has said; I think it’s really imperative that we also do set some hard density targets in the next Official Plan for Perth County.”
Coun. Allan Rothwell, a former planner with Perth County, said that the current developments underway west of Highway 23, the Binning Street lots adjacent to the Steve Kerr Memorial Complex and Westfield Elementary School, as well as the impending Atwood subdivisions will help to address those density concerns in the interim, with an array of multi-use residential dwellings on the docket. He added that the municipal Task Force on Affordable Housing will play big role in density planning going forward, with the preservation of prime agricultural land outside of urban areas also very important in that regard.
“These subdivisions do take time to develop,” said Rothwell. “Some are ready now and then some will take time, and they will be two to three years to get ready in terms of servicing and so on. Staff are certainly aware of those things.”