New Brunswick

Moncton issues $213M in building permits, nearly beating 2017 record

Moncton's skyline is riddled with a multitude of cranes, a reflection of the growing activity in the municipal planning department. The city has issued $213 million in building permits over the first nine months of the year, just shy of the record-setting $215 million for the same time period in 2017.

City issued $213M in permits in the first 9 months of 2019

Kevin Silliker, Moncton's director of economic development, says the first nine months of the year saw the city issue building permits worth $213 million, just shy of a record set two years ago. (Shane Magee/CBC)

Moncton's skyline is riddled with a multitude of cranes, a reflection of the growing activity in the municipal planning department. 

The city has issued $213 million in building permits over the first nine months of the year, just shy of the record-setting $215 million for the same time period in 2017.

"Certainly the City of Moncton has been building momentum in the area of commercial activity over the last four years — in fact the past four years have been some of our most successful," said Kevin Silliker, Moncton's director of economic development. 

Downtown, two hotels are rising a block apart. Farther down Main Street, a mixed-use six-storey building is underway on former CN railway land. On St. George Street, an apartment building is replacing a former gas station.

Two cranes are in use building a new Hilton Garden Inn hotel on Highfield Street, a block from another hotel under construction. (Shane Magee/CBC)

But work is underway in many parts of the city, from industrial parks to residential areas like the north end where a new YMCA is underway.

Building permits, required when constructing or changing a structure, are traditionally used as an indicator of a community's economic growth. 

City staff have told council two per cent growth in the tax base would still leave the city with a deficit of $324,000 next year. Staff have warned that means no additional spending if the city wants to avoid cutting services or raising taxes.

Construction continues on a new Hyatt Place hotel on Main Street beside the Avenir Centre. (Shane Magee/CBC)

If the assessed value of property in the city increases closer to 2.5 or three per cent, the projected deficit turns into a surplus, presentations to city council have shown.

"The more commercial and or residential activity we have, the better financial position the city of Moncton will be in," Silliker said.

The figures also are a hopeful sign for the city's finances. The city makes revenue off permits. But new construction tends to increase the city's tax base, which leads to more revenue from property taxes. 

An apartment building is under construction at the site of a former gas station at the corner of St. George and Weldon streets. (Shane Magee/CBC)

The city has also expanded a downtown development incentive program seeking to lure more investment.

Several of the large projects that broke ground this year were approved to use that system, including Tannery Place South and a new hotel on Highfield Street. 

In June, Westmount Developments Inc. president Vaughn MacLellan celebrated the start of construction of the  46-apartment building with ground floor commercial along Vaughan Harvey Boulevard. MacLellan also announced a second, similar building would start at the site next spring. 

Tannery Place South, a six-storey commercial and residential building, is under construction off Vaughan Harvey Boulevard in Moncton. (Shane Magee/CBC )

MacLellan said the the Avenir Centre, which opened a year ago, is helping drive growth. 

"With the completion of the centre and what's now happening around it, I think it's clearly evident the centre is a strategic investment and an anchor for revitalizing and transforming the downtown and creating an urban core critical for the city's future economic success," MacLellan said. 

The city hoped the project would result in $108 million in new downtown assessment by 2023. Silliker said so far, there's been about $72 million. 

Silliker said investments reflect low office and apartment vacancy rates.

He said permits have been issued this year for 13 apartment buildings. 

Workers at a new hotel on Highfield Street in Moncton on Wednesday. (Shane Magee/CBC)

The latest quarter — July, August and September — saw several large permits issued:

  • Continued expansion of Organigram's facility on English Drive worth $19.1 million,
  • An apartment building on Mountain Road worth $14.8 million,
  • A mixed-use, six storey building worth more than $10 million,
  • A new Day & Ross distribution centre worth $7.2 million,
  • Renovations at Atlas Structural Systems worth $4.6 million,
  • A $4.3 million pharmacy and clinic on Price Street,
  • Retail developments along Granite Drive worth $2.9 million.

The figures the city released this week account for the first nine months of the year. The 12-month total for 2018 was $222.6 million, $243.4 million in 2017 and $241 million in 2016 — a year that included the Avenir Centre. The lowest recent year was $123 million in 2014.

Silliker said this year's overall total may beat a previous record if a permit is issued for a project on Cameron Street. Council has green-lit plans to expand a building on the corner of Cameron and Gordon and convert it from office space to residential. 

About the Author

Shane Magee

Reporter

Shane Magee is a Moncton-based reporter for CBC.

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