Cambridge homeowners build more secondary residential suites during COVID-19

·2 min read

Cambridge has reported a steep rise in building permits issued for secondary residential units.

According to a staff report, 63 building permits have been issued for new accessory apartments so far in 2020, compared to 32 for all of last year.

Gains in permit fee revenue in this area were expected to be the result of the growing need for affordable housing options, families looking to boost income due to economic pressures from COVID-19 and the “significant rise in average house prices in the Waterloo Region,” staff explained in the report to council on Dec. 15.

Overall, the city recorded a drop in revenue collected from building permits in comparison to previous years.

The fewer number of building permits issued shows reduced construction activity in the months leading up to the third quarter. Revenue was down 41 per cent, to $1,381,835, compared to the five-year average in that same period.

The decreases “highlight the impact due to COVID-19,” staff said in the report.

As of the third quarter, the city issued 838 building permits, compared to 1,236 issued over the same time frame in 2019. The total number of new residential units is 167 compared to 893 new residential units for the same period in 2019.

By Sept. 30 2019, the construction value of permits issued was $364,402,732, compared to $144,253,531 in the same period this year.

Staff noted “construction activity is set to increase going forward” based on incoming applications and development plans.

The biggest reduction in permit volume came around March, April and May, the first three months of the COVID-19 pandemic. On May 19, the province removed emergency restrictions on construction projects enacted in early April under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.

Swikar Oli, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cambridge Times