Home renovations popular during pandemic, council hears; stop-work orders also up

·3 min read

The more people stayed at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, the more they chose to renovate their homes in the RM of Edenwold, according to the 2020 Planning Report released to RM council at its Jan. 26 meeting.

Planning officer Jessica Mitchell said the number of inquiries to the planning office related to home renovations were tracked at around 200 calls for the year, “but were probably closer to 300.”

In 2020, 71 building permits with a construction value of $28.8 million were taken out in the RM of Edenwold. Of those 71, 22 were for construction of single-family dwellings, representing $11.9 million in value. Five of those homes were in the Fairway South development, while there were three each in Aspen Village, Spruce Creek and the rural part of the RM. Two permits were in Stone Pointe and Rock Pointe. The Bohach development had one permit.

“I think the numbers overall paint a pretty nice picture,” Mitchell said. “It was a crazy year all around, so to have our development sustain itself says a lot about the diversity of opportunities throughout the RM. It’s positive we were able to attract new residents and new businesses.”

Home renovations represented 11 permits and $1.9 million in construction value. Work done under these permits would include decks, solar panels, basement completions and other home additions.

Four new commercial permits representing $10.8 million in construction value added to the business core of the RM. Five commercial renovation permits representing approximately $319,000 were taken out by existing businesses.

Three new industrial permits worth $2.6 million were taken out by developers. Among those projects are two large-scale industrial condo buildings. Four industrial renovation permits for tenant-initiated improvements to existing buildings were approved with a construction value of $335,000.

Accessory building construction also added to the building permit construction value, with $862,000 worth of work being done through 11 permits.

The RM’s 2020’s 71 building permits matched its 2019 output, though it’s value outpaced 2019 by $9.1 million. The best year since 2008 came in 2012, when Edenwold approved 119 permits worth $134 million.

The number of subdivision applications was down in 2020 to 12 from 17 in 2019. To date, five of those 2020 applications have been approved, six remain pending and one was rejected. The previous year, 14 subdivision applications were approved, while two remain pending and one was cancelled.

Discretionary use applications in 2020 were down slightly to 10 from 13 in 2019. Of those 10, five have been approved, two denied and three were withdrawn. In 2019, 13 discretionary use applications were made, with 11 being approved and two remain pending.

One notable trend over the past three years has been in enforcement and stop-work orders. These numbers spiked to 31 in 2020, up from 18 in 2019 and only four in 2018. Coun. Wayne Joyce asked about why those numbers were increasing.

“It looks like a nice trend, though I’m not sure in that category that’s what I want to say,” Joyce added.

Planning officer Susan Stevenson said when there is a complaint such as for overnight parking, an enforcement file is started. If she is out on a different matter, such as a yard maintenance concern (which is tracked separately), and sees an infraction, she will start an enforcement file and follows up with a letter.

“In the past, we were not being proactive about enforcement,” Planning and development manager Jana Jedlic said. “This was a complaint-based system. Now we are being more proactive. As much as the number is a negative, it is going in the right direction because the more proactive we are about this, the more people know we aren’t just saying (we will enforce bylaws). We really mean it. When we say, don’t build a building without a permit, we mean don’t build a building without a permit. It’s a positive and a negative all at once.”

Keith Borkowsky, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Quad Town Forum