The housing market mayhem in the United States last year was not reflected in this country, as seen in figures released last week by Statistics Canada. And while Ontario saw some slowing in new home starts, it was pretty much business as usual in Woolwich.
“There was no recession in Woolwich Township,” said chief building official Peter Vanderbeek, pointing to the notable increase in the number of residential building construction projects begun, in contrast to the lowered numbers throughout the rest of Ontario.
The province did see a slowdown in construction, but the numbers started to pick up as the year ended.
“As expected, a slowing economy, slightly higher housing inventories and tighter credit market conditions dampened residential construction activity across the province in 2009,” said Ted Tsiakopoulos, an economist with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s Ontario regional office.
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Ontario residential home starts moderated in 2009 although they began to recover during the second half of the year. Home starts declined to an estimated 50,500 units in 2009, from 75,076 in 2008. Residential construction for the year was down largely due to weaker activity in the multi-family home segment, which includes townhome and apartment dwellings. Meanwhile, construction of new detached housing did post declines last year but much less so relative to other housing types. Not surprisingly, weaker starts activity occurred in communities where higher density development is most prominent, including Toronto and Hamilton.
Statistics Canada reported that in the Kitchener area, which includes the townships, construction began on 2,299 homes in 2009, down from the 2,634 units started in 2008. Starts were lower for all housing types in 2009. Single-detached starts decreased to 1,162 units in 2009, down from the 1,446 homes started in 2008.
But for Woolwich, results showed just the opposite effect.
“When we were looking ahead last year, I budgeted for the same amount as in 2008 but we actually exceeded that,” noted Vanderbeek.
Although the number of available lots in Elmira is not nearly as high as it has been in previous years, he predicts that Breslau will continue to boom with new lots from both Empire Communities and Thomasfield Homes drawing large numbers of people to the township.
The number of new total residential dwelling units in the township jumped to 265 from 247 between 2008 and 2009, an increase of 6.79 per cent, while the rest of the province saw a decrease of approximately 33 per cent during the same period. The number of total permits issued in Woolwich was an even greater increase of 9.9 per cent, and the total value of construction projects in the township leapt to $83,279,139 from $74,021,543, an 11.12 per cent difference.
Vanderbeek said the number of houses to be built in Elmira will depend on how many of the applications for subdivisions which are currently under review get approved, but he noted that if this year is anything like last year, he is not worried.
“It’s like the recession did not even exist in this area in terms of housing.”