Charlottetown's planning department seeing unprecedented number of applications, manager says

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Housing complexes are constructed in Charlottetown last summer. City official Alex Forbes says 2020 was a record year for building permits in the city. (Brian McInnis/CBC - image credit)
Housing complexes are constructed in Charlottetown last summer. City official Alex Forbes says 2020 was a record year for building permits in the city. (Brian McInnis/CBC - image credit)

Charlottetown's manager of planning and heritage says his department is seeing an unprecedented number of applications.

"It's everything," said Alex Forbes. "There's building permits. There's applications to the planning advisory committee for variances, subdivision, rezonings, amendments to the zoning bylaw, sign permits, subdivisions."

Forbes said it's been busy in the development industry for three or four years, with no slowdown during the pandemic. Even 2020 was a record year for building permits in the city, he said.

"COVID has certainly impacted some businesses, but the construction industry is very busy," he said.

It's consistent across all kind of construction as well, from single-family dwellings to office buildings to commercial use.

Phenomenal growth province-wide in 2019

Province-wide, investment in building construction, year over year from January to November as measured by Statistics Canada, was virtually flat in 2020. But that followed phenomenal growth in 2019, a 57 per cent increase in residential construction investment and 30 per cent in non-residential construction.

The focus shifted from residential to non-residential development, with a five per cent decline in residential investment and 20 per cent increase in non-residential.

In September, building permit values on the Island crushed a monthly record with $98,991,000 worth of permits, 45 per cent higher than the previous record set in May 2019.

The high volume in Charlottetown continues even as the planning department is down a position.

"To get another person back in our office and up to speed takes a little bit of time. But if people could be patient, that would be much appreciated."