“Robust” new housing market noticeable across Mitchell ward

“Robust” new housing market noticeable across Mitchell ward

Roger Pettingell Sarasota Real Estate

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One can’t make their way around Mitchell without noticing the uptick in residential development.

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There’s a fair amount of “in-filling” but decent-sized subdivisions, too, right out to the edges of the ward boundary to the east, west and north with an industrial boon anticipated to the immediate south.

In a report to West Perth council July 11, CAO Jeff Brick said development activity “continues to be robust,” saying there are several residential projects which only require building permits to proceed and several additional projects in the final stages of planning approval. The residential projects include a good mix of housing types ranging from single family residential, to townhouses, to a seniors’-oriented apartment building.

Commercial and industrial projects are also proceeding, he noted.

Chief Building Official Bob McLean, in his monthly reports to council, has repeatedly reported that it’s “pretty brisk out there”, with agricultural projects continuing to be strong, even through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Large barn construction in the swine, poultry and dairy industry continue as well as the construction of bunker silos and equipment sheds, for example.

“Through COVID it never really stopped from an ag perspective,” McLean said, “as it was deemed essential and they just kept on rolling.”

Statistically, the numbers bear this out, with a lower number of actual permits issued when comparing the first half of 2022 to other years, but the construction value has increased. In other words, what’s being built is bigger.

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At the end of June, or after the second quarter of 2022, McLean’s office issued 139 permits worth $36.7 million compared to 175 permits over the same time period in 2021, worth $34.1 million. Almost 170 permits were issued in 2020, worth $23.2 million.

The year 2021 was the big year for residential construction as 39 new permits were issued along with four renovations after the opening six months. In 2020, there were 11 permits for new houses issued and 16 in 2019. In 2022, there have been 14 thus far.

Everyone anticipates a slowdown in the market over the next few months, though, as rising interest rates have slowed down the booming and some would say crazy real estate market for single-family homes in Mitchell and across the entire region.

But all this hasn’t stopped West Perth Coun. Nicholas Vink, who made the motion last month and it was passed unanimously, to ask staff for an affordable/attainable housing report with some action items on how best the newly-elected council can deal with the issue in 2023.

Brick said the motion allows staff to work with other municipalities on the issue. North Perth, for example, applies a small percentage of their overall tax levy that they put in a separate fund specific for affordable housing. In conjunction with the Salvation Army and United Way Perth-Huron, North Perth recently announced the opening of HOPE Links, a building that provides support to vulnerable people in their community.

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Not saying that will immediately come to fruition in West Perth, Brick noted, but he said he’s aware of North Perth’s tax levy plan and called it an “innovative” way to build a fund and express a commitment to it.

“It’s a very clever way to ensure that council gets behind it,” he said.

Brick also told council at a meeting last month that he can foresee a county regional response to the issue, perhaps even mirroring what other neighbouring counties do in terms of a creation of a tool kit that strongly promotes diversity and options in density in housing types.

“As a municipality I think we’ve really encouraged increased density and diversity of housing and land use planning applications that we made in the last number of months … there’s been much more diversity and much less conventional single family residential,” Brick said. “The pendulum has almost swung so far that when someone comes in with just single family residential we start to ask questions about whether they’ve considered the more dense options for affordability, or second rental units to help with mortgages and things like that.

“We certainly have more to do, but the supply of diversity is going to help and I think you’ll see development applications come forward this summer that will really show you that we’re making great strides in that area,” Brick continued. “It’s not enough but it’s a step in the right direction.”

Specifically, there are more than a dozen development projects underway in the ward of Mitchell now.

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  • Riverside development, 10 single family lots plus medium density residential proposed on the extension of Thames Avenue. Five single detached lots on Pond Street are built, extension of Thames Avenue is built and once deficiencies are addressed building permits can be issued. Five single family lots facing St. George Street are approved.
  • AVCO Holdings Inc., a 41-unit seniors apartment building on St. David Street has its site plan agreement approved. Awaiting the building permit application from developer.
  • East Haven development, off Arthur Street on east end, five lots remain on Arden Crescent but all are sold in the first phase. The Henry Street extension remains unserviced but another potential for 24 lots, either for single family or semi-detached housing.
  • Blue Heron Estates, across from Tim Hortons on Ontario Rd., has 28 condominium units planned which could see construction started by the end of the year.
  • Upper Thames Village, phase 2, sees a proposed 11 residential lots fronting on a new section of Nelson Street, with a subdivision agreement approved by council at their July 11 meeting.
  • Mitchell Woods Inc., a proposal for 23 semi-detached lots (46 units) west of Kenton and Clayton Streets at the south end. Approvals are in place and awaiting submission of building permit applications.
  • West Mitchell Developments, proposed mixed density residential community just to the north of Mitchell Woods proposal.
  • Trubuilt Homes Inc., four semi-detached units and 24 medium density units facing new section of Wimpole Street just off Huron Rd. A model townhouse has been built.
  • Potential residential and commercial lots at Huron Rd. and Holmes Street at the west end, west of Wimpole Street.
  • Subdivision agreement approved for 21 semi-detached lots (42 units) off Wimpole Street in close proximity to the Mitchell Nursing Home.

At the west end of Mitchell, there’s some commercial activity happening with a three-unit commercial strip mall at 122/118 Huron Rd., owned by Wighty’s; three additional storage unit buildings at 172 Huron Rd., owned by H&M units; and the new Burchill building at 140 Huron Rd.

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