Ottawa

Boom in building permits last year sets city record

The City of Ottawa's planning department has been busy, issuing more building permits for new homes in 2018 than any year since amalgamation.

City of Ottawa planning department handed out 8,400 permits for new units in 2018

New construction took place along Strandherd Drive in Barrhaven in June 2019. (Kate Porter/CBC)

The City of Ottawa's planning department has been busy, issuing more building permits for new homes in 2018 than any year since amalgamation.

The city handed out 8,400 permits for new units in 2018, once demolitions that removed housing from the market are taken into account, and that number is up considerably since a lull in 2016.

More than half of the permits were taken out to build apartments — anything from units in a condo tower to basement apartments — and were likely projects that received approvals a few years ago, suggested city planner Royce Fu.

"Usually it takes a few years to get a new condominium site approved, and then they have to get ready to develop that site when they feel the market's ready and then they apply for a building permit," he said.

Kanata and Stittsville grow fastest

While it would appear more condo units are on the immediate horizon, the fastest growing populations are in the growing suburbs outside the Greenbelt.

According to the city's yearly development snapshot, Kanata and Stittsville added more than 4,500 people from 2017 to 2018, while Barrhaven, Riverside South and the Findlay Creek area together grew by nearly 4,000. 

All parts of the city have growing populations, except for an area that includes Bells Corners and homes around the Queensway-Carleton Hospital and Centrepointe, which shrunk slightly.

Fu doesn't anticipate building permits slowing down, because people keep moving to Ottawa from outside Canada, the Greater Toronto Area and from Western Canada.

The Greater Ottawa Homebuilders' Association also anticipates housing construction to stay strong because older residents who could be downsizing are not necessarily doing so.

"The one piece I think we probably will see is more construction of rental apartments because we do have less rental available than we should for a city of our size," said the association's executive director, Jason Burggraaf.

There is already a lot of activity in the areas that will fall along the future Stage 2 or Stage 3 of light rail, he added.

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