There is a building boom in Nelson, especially in the construction of apartments and condos.
Nelson has issued nearly four times as many building permits for new residential units in the city this year as last year.
“We have never seen anything like this,” city manager Kevin Cormack told a Sept. 6 council meeting. When asked if any previous years compare, he said, “The mining boom of 1898?”
So far this year, the city has issued 177 permits for single dwelling units, secondary suites, and multi-dwelling units, compared to 46 last year at this time, according to a presentation at the meeting.
The construction value of those units amounts to an estimated $42,812,000.
New apartments and condos account for 141 permits, or 70 per cent of the total. Twenty of those are secondary suites in new or existing buildings.
Other large housing projects coming up, not accounted for in any of those numbers, include the proposed 70-unit Shorelines development near the Chahko Mika Mall and 36 beds to be added to the Selkirk College dorms.
Also adding to the construction activity, although they are not housing projects, are the new health campus on the old Mount St. Francis site and the reconstruction of the pier at the foot of Hall Street.
Mayor John Dooley commented on the employment opportunities.
“A lot of carpenters are employed these days, and plumbers and electricians,” he said. “The unemployment rate is one of the lowest we have ever had in the city. It’s good for working people.”
None of the new dwelling units are specifically designated as “affordable” – in other words they are not developed by, or subsidized by, governments. Following the meeting, Dooley said Nelson is already well served in affordable housing with the recent construction of multi-unit buildings at Hall Street Place at 205 Hall St., Lakeside Place at 805 Nelson Ave., and Herridge Place at 102 Herridge Lane, all of which offer housing priced below market rates.
Planning director Sebastien Arcand said after the meeting that “sustainable growth” means making do with the space and services available in the city.
“Nelson is a story of infill. Look at our data in terms of laneway houses and secondary suites. That’s a big part of our construction now. It’s filling in what we already have.”