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Does Bradford's building permit spike put a dent in its housing target?

Town issued 91 building permits in the first quarter of the year — a 60-per-cent increase over the same time in 2023; municipality has promised the Ontario government it will build 6,500 new homes by 2031

Bradford is seeing an increase in the number of building permits issued, but whether that trend will translate to the town hitting their housing targets remains to be seen.

William Wong, the town’s chief building official, submitted a report on building permit activity for the first quarter of 2024 as part of the regular council meeting Tuesday evening, May 21.

In the report, Wong shows the town issued 91 building permits in the quarter, about a 60-per-cent increase over the 57 issued during the same time in 2023, and hopefully a reversal of the downward trend in permits issued last year.

Of the 91 permits issued between Jan. 1 and March 31, three were for farm buildings, six were for assembly occupancy, six were for industrial occupancy, eight were for business and personal service, 22 were for mercantile occupancy and 46 were for residential occupancy.

That marks an increase of about 59 per cent over the 29 permits for residential occupancy issued during the same time in 2023, but maintains a steady share of the overall number of permits issued at about 50 per cent.

However, only 21 of this quarter’s residential permits were reported to be for new residential development and even if builders and developers begin work on all those projects this year, it’s still only a fraction of the province’s housing target for Bradford, which would require 542 new housing starts in 2024.

As of May 8, the province’s housing supply progress website shows only 90 new starts in Bradford this year, or about 17 per cent of the annual target, based on monthly housing starts and additional dwelling unit (ADU) data provided by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) as well as long-term care bed data from the Ministry of Long-Term Care.

Still, if this pace keeps up, it puts the town on track to exceed the 254 housing starts last year, which were just 53 per cent of that year’s target of 477.

Those targets come as part of the town’s pledge to build 6,500 new homes by 2031, and municipalities that reach 80 per cent of their targets are set to receive additional funding through the province’s $1.2-billion Building Faster Fund, with bonuses for municipalities who exceed the targets.

“The Building Division recognizes that time is essential in the construction process, particularly for large industrial, commercial, multi-residential, and institutional projects,” Wong said in the report. “Therefore, conditional and partial permits have been issued over the last few years to expedite construction.”

Other efforts to improve turnaround time include the review and approval of alternative solutions to help developers meet the building code requirements in tricky situations, plus the building division is planning to extend office hours again this summer, and on Wednesdays will remain open to 7:30 p.m. from June to August.

“This program is to accommodate residents applying for permits for their home improvement work during the summer such as decks, detached garages, storage sheds, swimming pool fences, and other interior alterations for their houses,” Wong said.

The report lists the total construction value of projects permitted in the first quarter of the year at more than $17.6 million resulting in about $209,900 in permit fees and nearly $28,089 in engineering fees.

It also highlights that the department issued permits for two new hotels being built in town — the Comfort Inn at 585 Holland St. W., and the Fairfield Inn at 136 Stirling Cres. in the Highway 400 Employment Lands.

Council received the report without discussion.

Michael Owen

About the Author: Michael Owen

Michael Owen has worked in news since 2009 and most recently joined Village Media in 2023 as a general assignment reporter for BradfordToday
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