2021 has been a banner year for construction and development in the Town of Wasaga Beach, with the municipality setting various new records and continuing a period of strong growth.
“Despite the challenges of the pandemic, builder confidence in Wasaga Beach has remained high over the past year and that is evident through the construction activity numbers we have recorded,” said Mayor Nina Bifolchi. “Our builders tell us they see Wasaga Beach as a great place to live, work and invest, and that’s a sentiment we also hear from people moving to our community.”
Danny Rodgers, director of building and development standards, said the city expects the building trend to continue through 2022.
“Based on everything we’re hearing from manufacturers, we’ll see another good year,” Rodgers said. “And that’s consistent with what we’ve seen in recent years.”
Doug Herron, director of economic planning and initiatives, said the activity reflects long-term planning efforts.
“People see construction happening and sometimes forget that our official plan, which includes community consultation, helped determine what kind of growth is happening and where. Some of this planning and public consultation work took place years ago and we are only now seeing implementation,” Herron said. “Additionally, we have the review process for each specific construction project and that too has involved a consultation period. The whole process is important because it ensures that we get a high quality product that fits and enhances the existing community.
George Vadeboncoeur, chief executive, said the growth is contributing to a broader tax base to support city programs and services — he said those are good things — but there’s more to the story.
“Growth means new businesses are attracted to the community and existing businesses can count on a larger customer base, our pool of skilled labor grows and diversifies, there are more students for our current schools and new planned schools, that our clubs and sports organizations are successful, and that we remain a globally vibrant community,” said Vadeboncoeur. “These are all victories for Wasaga Beach. Work continues on capital projects to support growth, such as the widening of River Road West and the urbanization of Mosley Street from 45th Street to Beachwood Road.
Numbers at a glance…
For 2021, the city has issued 871 building permits, including 267 for single-family homes and 236 for townhouses. The total number of permits issued in 2021 greatly exceeded the 553 issued in 2020. The last time the city saw a total number of building permits as high as in 2021 was in 2004, when the city issued 870 permits.
The total number of new homes for 2021 was 530, a record number that beats the 493 units built in 2004.
Residential construction values for 2021 reached $184 million, surpassing the 2017 record of $106 million.
The value of non-residential construction reached $88 million, which includes the city’s two-story arena and library project. The 2021 figures also set a new record, surpassing the 2019 record of $17.8 million.
The total value of all builds for 2021 reached $272 million, breaking the 2019 record of $123 million.
“The city exceeded all of its key performance indicators, making 2021 an extremely remarkable year,” Rodgers said. “The issuance of a building permit is the result of a collaborative effort between our engineering, planning and construction departments, and sets in motion a workflow that touches most departments of our municipal organization. The level of teamwork and expertise to successfully manage this level of development reflects the professionalism and commitment of the entire city team.
Mayor Bifolchi said the high number of buildings reflected the goals council established at the start of the 2018-2022 term.
“Three of our goals are directly related to development,” she said. “One was to promote and facilitate the construction of affordable, accessible and safe housing and we have done that. The other was to help the private sector grow and diversify the tax base, and we did that as well. And third, we set out to build a safer, healthier community that takes into account the city’s neighborhoods and we are doing that too.
To guide growth in the west, the city has launched the West Wasaga Secondary Plan Study which will seek feedback from area residents.