Surrey records its third best building year
Surrey has recorded its third best building year on record, once again bursting through the billion-dollar mark for building permits.
Recently released figures show Surrey issued $1.305 billion in building permits in 2012, eclipsing the previous year by $90 million.
Surrey's best year ever was in 2007, when it logged $1.488 billion in building permits, just ahead of the year prior when it issued $1.341 billion.
Then, the economic crash of 2009 saw building permit values plummet to $859 million.
That was followed by a couple of years logging just over $1.21 billion in construction.
Most of Surrey's success last year came by way of the residential sector, which at $745 million accounted for more than half of building values in 2012.
It's an increase of almost $100 million from the previous year.
Much of the residential growth was in Grandview Heights in South Surrey, south Newton, and Cloverdale.
Commercial building in Surrey dropped by $72 million from the previous year, registering only $194 million in 2012.
The bulk of that was due to expansion and renovations at the Guildford Town Centre, according to Surrey's General Manager of Planning and Development Jean LaMontagne.
Industrial developments fell by about $20 million (to $55.9 million), while institutional developments shot up by almost 50 per cent to $292 million.
Much of that increase was due to the new remand centre being built near city hall and the Surrey Memorial Hospital expansion.
The drop in commercial development isn't great news for the city's financial health.
Commercial and industrial development bring in about three times the taxes as residential development, so they are seen as a healthier source of growth. At the same time, they draw on far fewer resources, such as libraries, community centres, garbage hauling and parks.
A staff report presented to council in 2001 – when housing stock represented 72 per cent of the total amount of taxes generated – indicated Surrey was not meeting sustainable levels.
“A ratio of 60 per cent residential and 40 per cent industrial and commercial is considered to be the minimum level necessary relative to the long-term health of the city,” the staff report said.
Burnaby draws 50 per cent from industry and commerce, Richmond 49 per cent and Vancouver 56 per cent. On the flip side, White Rock brings in only 10 per cent of its taxes from commerce and industry.
Currently, about 69 per cent of property tax in Surrey is generated by residential development, while the remainder comes from the commercial and industrial developments.
LaMontagne said the markets are driving Surrey's residential growth.
"Unless things change drastically, Surrey will always be under pressure for residential (development), because it's affordable," LaMontagne said.
He believes it will be "a little while" before Surrey gets to a point where it has one job per resident.
"But we haven't fallen back, which is really good," LaMontagne said.