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SUMMERSIDE, PEI — At nearly $74 million last year, Summerside broke a decade-old record for the value of building permits.

The city reported that building permits in 2021 totaled $73.7 million, easily surpassing the previous record of $44 million set in 2011.

Building permit values ​​are an indicator of economic growth, although they do not paint the full picture.

Still, it’s a promising sign for Summerside, Mayor Basil Stewart said.

“We’re not complaining, it has (certainly) helped the economy,” he said. “There is no doubt that this will mean more revenue for the city. And all of this happened during COVID.

Summerside saw a huge increase in the value of its housing starts in 2021, easily breaking a decade-old record.  The city continues to see significant investment in new buildings and housing estates, including bustling Putters Lane, which did not exist just a few years ago.  -Colin MacLean
Summerside saw a huge increase in the value of its housing starts in 2021, easily breaking a decade-old record. The city continues to see significant investment in new buildings and housing estates, including bustling Putters Lane, which did not exist just a few years ago. -Colin MacLean

The breakdown of this total, by sector, is $12.2 million for institutional construction, $20.1 million for commercial/industrial construction and $41.4 million for residential construction.

According to statistics provided by the City, the value of its commercial/industrial and institutional housing starts in 2021 was higher than that of 2020 and 2019 combined.

The value of residential construction peaked in 2019, more than doubling the 2018 figure, and continued to grow year on year.

“I think overall you’re basically looking at, for Summerside, a construction boom,” said Jim Sentance, associate professor in UPEI’s economics department.

However, Sentance suspects the scale of the boom is likely due to the province’s overall population increase and tight housing market, rather than anything specific to the city.

“It doesn’t seem like the growth here is tied to Summerside’s rise in the direction of expanding its industrial base and becoming more of a center of production,” he added. “(On the contrary), it’s more and more people who want to live there and there’s a growth in services to accommodate them – but it’s a growth that’s happening because of the residential.”

Jim Sentance, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Economics at UPEI.  - Contributed - Contributed
Jim Sentance, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Economics at UPEI. – Contributed – Contributed

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, Sentance added, and there are certainly opportunities for entrepreneurs to take advantage of the growth and settle in the city. However, it would be ideal for long-term prosperity if the city’s industrial and economic permit values ​​weren’t so vastly overtaken by the residential market.

Stewart said he has no doubt that 2022 will be another strong year for the city’s growth. Preliminary figures he has seen already put the value of building permits at more than $1 million this year.

Hopefully, he added, with the further easing of pandemic-related restrictions, the local economy will continue its historic growth.

“It looks like it’s going to be another great year in terms of construction,” Stewart said. “So it’s a big boost for the economy and we’re looking forward to another great construction year. There are many great projects in the hopper.

Colin MacLean is a City Reporter for the SaltWire Network in Prince Edward Island.

Twitter.com/JournalPMacLean