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Barrie had more than $185.3M in new residential construction, property additions in 2020, MPAC says

Chris Simon Barrie Advance

Innisfil 4th in Ontario in seasonal-unit construction. Barrie has experienced quite the building boom recently.

There was more than $185.3 million in total new assessment within the city in 2020, the not-for-profit Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) says. The information is part of MPAC’s annual assessment roll report, which shows the assessed value of all properties in Ontario is now estimated to be more than $3 trillion.

“Even during a pandemic, Ontario continues to grow,” MPAC president and chief administrative officer Nicole McNeill said. “With people spending more time at home this year, we saw a 28 per cent increase in the number of renovation permits this year as people invested in making improvements to their homes.”

MPAC defines new assessment as the value of new construction, as well as additions to existing properties, that has not previously been calculated. It is a key economic indicator for municipalities because new construction leads to permit fees, development-charge revenues and expansion of the property-tax base.

Among municipalities, Barrie finished 38th in new assessment last year, well behind leaders Toronto ($11.65 billion), Ottawa ($2.68 billion), Vaughan ($1.49 billion), Hamilton ($1.15 billion) and Mississauga ($1.14 billion). In fact, more than 60 per cent of new property value was located among 10 municipalities.

More than 36,000 homes and 16,000 condominium units were built across the province last year.

Outside the Greater Toronto Area, a major driver of property value was the construction of seasonal units. Cottages accounted for nearly $600 million in new assessment. Muskoka Lakes had the largest growth with $59 million in new assessment, followed by Lake of Bays ($41 million), Seguin Township ($37 million), Innisfil ($28 million) and Kawartha Lakes ($21 million).

Nearly 1,700 new commercial and industrial buildings were also valued across the province; the warehousing and logistics sector, in particular, saw eight new distribution centres open with a total value of more than $405 million.

Property values and new assessment numbers continue to be based on a Jan. 1, 2016, valuation date. Though MPAC is supposed to update the current value assessment of every property in Ontario every four years, that work has been postponed by the provincial government due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


The Simcoe County Home Builders’ Association is proud to give back this Holiday Season!

Members of The Simcoe County Home Builders’ Association were thrilled to provide 2 cheques in the spirit of giving back this holiday season. Barrie Christmas Cheer & The Barrie Food Bank were elated with the generous donations!! We raised a whopping $17,850!!! It was so nice to see them so excited to receive the help this year! Thank you to so many of our amazing sponsors!!! We couldn’t to it without you!! Here is a sneak peak of what our members were up to and how they helped Santa this year!! Stay Tuned for more details!!

City receives high marks for timeline around new housing developments

Barrie has one of the shortest timelines for approvals at an average of 12 months per project, according to Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD)

NEWS RELEASE
CITY OF BARRIE
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A new study released by the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) named the City of Barrie as the overall most efficient, helpful and cost-effective municipality across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) for getting new housing developments approved.
 
The Municipal Benchmarking Study, compiled by Altus Group, looked at several factors that may contribute to affordable housing issues in major housing markets across the GTA. The study compared 18 municipalities, and revealed that the costs, timelines, and processes associated with approving housing can have a significant impact on overall housing affordability.
 
“Keeping approval costs and timelines down makes it easier to get affordable housing built and fights high rents and housing prices, a key priority of Council,” said Mayor Jeff Lehman. “It also helps power our economy as we navigate COVID-19.”
 
The study ranked municipalities on factors contributing to housing affordability, like:
 
Planning features – how easy it is to work with a municipality while moving through the approvals process, including level of transparency and availability of tools and resources

Approvals timelines – the time it takes for different types of housing development projects to get approved and ready for construction

Government charges – the amount of money a municipality will charge developers to build

The City is at the top of the list for the number of planning features – such as application tracking tools and development guides – that it provides as developers seek approval on a project. Barrie is also positioned as having one of the shortest timelines for approvals at an average of 12 months per project, all while offering an open and transparent decision-making process.

“It is rewarding to see our investment in streamlining processes and developing tools, along with our commitment to engaging with the community throughout the development process, be recognized,” said Michelle Banfield, Director of Development Services with the City of Barrie.

The Municipal Benchmarking Study also reveals that Barrie has had one of the highest jumps in new rental housing developments across the GTA, and highlights that while regions like Peel, Toronto and York are seeing young adults in the 25-44 age group move away to other parts of Ontario, the Simcoe region is seeing an increase of people from that age demographic moving to the area.
Read the full study at bildgta.ca. 

‘Most’ mapping in Innisfil’s new Official Plan now in effect, says official

Province had appealed land-use designation map in Innisfil’s Official Plan

Innisfil planners say a decision in the province’s appeal of the town’s Official Plan means most of the land-use mapping in the plan is now in effect. 

On Aug. 17, the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) issued a decision on an appeal by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) of parts of the Town of Innisfil’s Official Plan. 

The town adopted its current Official Plan in 2018, which was approved by the County of Simcoe, with modifications. Several appeals of the plan followed, including one by the MMAH.

The MMAH was appealing Schedule B of the Official Plan, which shows land-use designations outside of settlement areas in town, Schedule BB, which maps the agriculture land base in town, and two sections of the plan’s general countryside policies. 

According to the town, the MMAH withdrew a large part of its appeal on May 1, 2020. 

The re-scoping of the appeal affected the status of several other Official Plan appeals, some party to the MMAH appeal and some separate. 

According to LPAT, the remaining appeals of the Official Plan will proceed with written hearings. 

The tribunal ordered that the appeal by the MMAH be allowed in part, modifying two sections of the Official Plan’s general countryside policies and approving land-use designation changes in the town’s Official Plan. 

“The province had appealed the land-use designation map in our Official Plan because of differences between our local and provincial land-use mapping,” said town spokesperson Johnny Keogh.  

He said the LPAT decision is the formal approval of changes to the town’s mapping and policy wording that have been agreed to between the province, the town and the county. 

“The result is that most mapping in the town’s new Official Plan is now in effect.”

For more information about the town’s Official Plan, visit innisfil.ca/planning-services/ourplace/status.

Shane MacDonald, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance 

Canadian home sales set record for August

Canada posted record home sales and prices in August, but the increase was uneven, as the housing market levelled off in some regions.

Home sales in August climbed 6.2 per cent compared with July to hit a record for the month, with gains led by the Greater Toronto Area and B.C.’s Lower Mainland, the Canadian Real Estate Association said on Tuesday.

Compared with a year ago, sales in August were up 33.5 per cent. CREA noted, however, unlike the countrywide home sales spike in June and July, sales in August were up in about 60 per cent of local markets.

“One change in August is that some regional disparity is starting to show again, after all markets were rebounding in unison in recent months,” wrote Robert Kavcic, BMO senior economist, in a note to clients.

“(Sales) were driven by gains in Toronto and surrounding markets, as well as Vancouver/Victoria, but others like Calgary and Regina have ebbed…We suspect this regional split will re-establish itself as the dust settles.”

The national average home price also set another record in August at more than $586,000, up 18.5 per cent compared with a year ago. Excluding Greater Vancouver and the Greater Toronto Area, two of Canada’s most active and expensive housing markets, lowers the national average price by about $122,000.

Ottawa, Montreal and Moncton saw some of the biggest surges in home prices last month, but prices were nearly flat in Calgary, Edmonton and St. John’s, CREA said.

Royal LePage CEO Phil Soper attributed the climbing prices with a housing shortage, calling the 18.5 per cent uptick “unhealthy.”

CREA said that it would only take 2.6 months to sell the houses currently on the market, as housing inventory fell to a record low, especially in Ontario.

“Both number of homes people are buying and the number of newly listed homes are rising significantly. This cannot hide the fact that August 2020 was the worst on record for available housing,” Soper said.

After fears about listing their houses during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, more sellers are returning to the market. CREA said that in August, new supply outpaced the rise in sales for the first time since May.

Home sales in Canada came to a near halt in the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but have surged through the summer, helped by pent up demand and low mortgage rates. CREA said in addition to a record for August it was the sixth-highest monthly sales figure of any month.

The record-busting sales activity means the housing market has caught up to last year’s levels, despite weeks of inactivity this spring. Year-to-date, sales in August were up 0.8 per cent from the first eight months of 2019, CREA said.

But Shaun Cathcart, CREA’s senior economist, said comparing 2020 with 2019 sets a “low bar.”

“(The) first half of 2019 wasn’t really anything to write home about,” said Cathcart.

“(With) eight months now in the books and activity showing signs of moderating in September, 2020 is looking like it will go down as a fairly middling year overall – weaker than in a non-COVID world but quite a bit better than we would have given it back in April.”

Soper agreed that 2020’s sales numbers look strong, in part, because the 2019 market was “unusually slow” amid a set of new laws that pressured housing for about 18 months, ending last August. Now, 2020 is set to be another extraordinary year, as banks begin collecting deferred mortgage payments and jobless rates threaten to languish for the rest of the year.

“The residual impact of rising unemployment and the end of mortgage deferrals should have a dampening affect demand overall, and bring some balance to the market by the end of the year. The real question is what happens in the spring of 2021,” Soper said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 15, 2020.

By Anita Balakrishnan, The Canadian Press