Essa continues to grow while Springwater lags behind

How robust the construction market is at the moment depends entirely on where you live.

If you’re living in Essa Township, particularly Angus, you’re seeing new homes being built at a fairly constant pace — about 125 a year.

That’s right in line with projections township officials received more than 20 years ago when it was predicted Angus would double its population to 13,000 by 2020.

“Our construction growth would primarily stem from people moving here from the GTA,” said Colleen Healey-Dowdall, Essa's chief administrative officer. “They want to find a small community and reasonably priced homes.

"We are welcoming many young families," she added.

That’s a bit of an understatement.

According to a report to council prepared by the township’s building department for tonight's regular council meeting, Essa’s building permit fees, as of Aug. 23, have increased more than 250 per cent over last year — from $152,000 to almost $533,000 in 2023, with all figures are rounded to the nearest thousand. Total construction value of the permits issued so far in 2023 is about $52,668,000, down $2.5 million from 2022.

The number of building permits in Essa Township is also up, from 170 last year to 232 this year. Of those permits, 194 were for residential construction.

Healey-Dowdall said the township is poised for continued growth and has already addressed some of the needs that will be required to accommodate that growth.

“We are planning another wastewater treatment plant expansion along with upgrades to our water system in Angus,” she said.

In Springwater Township, the opposite is true. Total building fees and total construction value are down, each one less than one-third of what they were at the end of August last year.

Total building fees to the end of August this year were about $498,000. Last year, during the same time, building fees were about $1.68 million. Total construction value this year is almost $53.4 million. Last year, it was more than $171.9 million.

The total number of residential permits declined from 254 in 2022 to 186 so far this year.

Like other municipalities, Springwater is dealing with numerous outside factors, including the economy, housing demands, interest rates, the availability of serviced lots and staffing challenges.

Additionally, Springwater is coming off two years of incredible growth.

Last year was “by far, the highest revenue year in the history of the Township of Springwater,” said Darren Verstraten, the municipality's chief building official.

“The building industry caught fire in our area with COVID creating a trend to move out of the larger centres,” he added. “Internet availability, low interest rates and working remotely were all factors that fuelled demand in areas close to the GTA.”

Today, Verstraten noted, people are returning to work, gas prices are high, it’s more difficult to qualify for a mortgage, and the economy is starting to dip.

When the economy slows, he said, everyone goes into wait-and-see mode.

Verstraten said he's “not concerned with the downward trend in the short-term, just a market adjustment like prior to the start of COVID.”

Oro-Medonte no longer reports building statistics on a quarterly basis and the township’s annual statistics won’t be available until later this year.

Wayne Doyle, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,