Hamilton has smashed its $1-billion record for building permits — and that’s just for the first nine months of the year.
The city issued $1.175 billion in building permits between January and September, said Tim McCabe, the city’s director of planning and economic development.
The permit for the $303-million St. Joseph’s hospital building on West 5th Street tipped the city over the 2010 record of $1.096 billion.
“We’re 10 weeks ahead of the 2010 record, which reached the record in the first week of December,” said McCabe.
Mayor Bob Bratina said the figure is “another marker of the amazing times this city is experiencing.
“Our economy is — I would use the word spectacular. Because every measurable is positive and exceeds our expectations,” he said.
What’s being built in Hamilton is just as important as the volume, said McCabe. Most of the permits — 56.5 per cent — were issued to the commercial, industrial and institutional sectors, while residential permits made up 42 per cent.
That’s an improvement from 2010, when more than half of permits (54 per cent) were issued for residential buildings.
As McCabe pointed out, that will ease the load on Hamilton taxpayers and further the city’s goal of boosting its non-residential tax base.
“That’s a very important stat, because you want to diversify your assessment,” he said.
McCabe said there are one or two other cities in Ontario that have also hit the $1-billion building permit mark this year. However, he points out that with Brampton, for instance, $950 million in permits were residential.
In April, city staff predicted Hamilton to be on track to break the 2010 $1-billion record. After the first quarter of this year, the city had issued $271 million in building permits, up $75 million compared to the first quarter of that record-setting year.
But in May, while residential growth remained strong, permits for commercial, institutional and industrial projects fell short.
By the end of the year, McCabe foresees a permit total of between $1.3 billion and $1.4 billion.
McCabe credited several initiatives for the high permit numbers, including new space in the city’s industrial parks, a spike in downtown construction, and major road accesses such as the Red Hill Valley Parkway.
“The age-old thing about the Red Hill parkway — I think it’s come to fruition, I really do,” he said.
McCabe also pointed out that his department has been able to meet the increased demand for permits without hiring extra staff.
“We’re doing well. I’m really happy, and really proud of the staff. All of this comes with a lot of work,” he said. “We’re working our butts off.”
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