While Lacombe may be one of the best places to live in Canada, it seems that people are not building as many places to live in Lacombe. However, this may not be for lack of wanting.
After compiling the yearend housing activity statistic for 2013, the City of Lacombe has discovered that there has been a drop in housing activity from 2012. Last year, 89 new projects for dwellings were started, 15 less than the 104 in 2012 for a decrease of 14%.
This data is especially significant in light of the recent housing needs assessment completed late in November of last year, which stated that Lacombe’s vacancy rate is less than 1%.
Planning and Development Manager Lyla Peter agreed that the housing activity and housing needs assessment show there is great need for housing in Lacombe.
“It does reflect that we do have a tight housing market in Lacombe,” said Peter.
However, Peter said that the problem is not that people don’t want to build housing in Lacombe, it’s that there are few serviced vacant lots available on which to build on. She added that, where there are lots available, buildings go up on them quite quickly.
“We are seeing a lot of our lots being snapped up fairly quickly and being built on,” said Peter.
As such, she said she is not worried about the current trend and believes that housing activity will improve as more lots are made available.
“I think to me, right now it definitely makes sense,” said Peter. “What wouldn’t make sense to me is if all of a sudden no new lots were ever brought forward. That would be a bigger concern. (As it is) we see that there is a demand to live in our City, we are a desirable City to live in, we have so much to offer. So it would be perplexing to us if lots weren’t being brought forward.”
Peter went on to say that the City is already working with a number of developers across the City to release a number of new subdivisions. It is too soon to tell whether this downward trend will continue into 2014, said Peter. She said it will depend on a number of things, including whether the lots currently being worked on will be released in time for this year’s building season.
Working with developers and making it clear to them what requirements the City has is key to creating more available lots in Lacombe, said Peter.
She added that the developers the City is currently working with are very receptive and willing to receive information about what Lacombians want and need in their housing market.
The largest decline in housing projects last year was in single-family semidetached houses, said Peter.
However, she added that the City saw a decline in housing activity across the board as well.
In a press release, the City of Lacombe stated that it is optimistic about the building forecast. While the introduction of higher construction standards in April may initially slow development, there are a number of projects currently in the works.
The City is also confident that being ranked the eighth best place to live in Canada by Moneysense Magazine and the recent award for Canada’s Best Street by the Canadian Institute of Planners demonstrates that Lacombe remains a great place for people to live.