BY MAYOR STEVE CHRISTIE
As a resident of Lacombe and as a member of City council, I feel privileged to live in a thriving community that continues to sustain a well-managed growth rate. In the midst of economic challenges throughout the province, Lacombe continues to flourish and remain open for residential and business development.
Our City has a variety of different building projects on the go, from residential units to commercial and industrial projects that are the driving force behind the increased permit values.
Even though the number of development permits issued is down from last year, the total value of 2016 permits has nearly doubled last year’s totals at the end of July. The total year to date building permits values for 2016 are $48,886,821.49, compared to $26,482,128.51 in 2015, which represents a 45% increase in total value over last year.
Residential construction projects recently approved include a 29 unit multi-housing development on College Avenue, three eight-unit multi-family housing developments on Beardsley Avenue, and the construction of row housing in the MacKenzie Ranch subdivision.
Most recently, Planning and Development Services approved the building permit for a 40-unit apartment block to be constructed in McKenzie Ranch. This is the first of a future two-building complex that will contain 80 apartments once completed.
Commercial construction projects include a two-storey medical/office building on 51st Ave., and a multi-tenant office building on 50th St.
Other ongoing building projects include an apartment building at Trinity Crossing, construction of a farm equipment sales and service building on Hwy. 12, renovations and additions to the Gary Moe Auto Group Sportsplex on 54th Ave., and construction of the new police station in the Wolf Creek Industrial Park. The MacKenzie Ranch Manufactured Home Park is also in its final phase of development.
With building costs coming down, competition in the building and development sector remains alive and well, with more residential and commercial projects on the way.
I believe that the projects listed above are indicative of long-term development patterns in Lacombe, which are typically quite stable and not subject to as great a variation due economic fluctuations.
In 2014, the City of Lacombe’s Housing Strategy identified a need to increase the range of housing choices, improve the affordability of the housing stock, enhance the sustainability of housing and infrastructure and maintain a sense of community and neighbourliness.
While the City does not control the pace of development, we have made policy changes to create an operating environment that helps increase the number and diversity of housing units, to attract builders, buyers and renters, as evidenced by the increase in multi-family housing projects.
Council is also working toward improving housing affordability, not only for renters, but also for home buyers.
We are also looking to maximize the use of existing buildings and serviced land, increasing density, improving pedestrian and bike connectivity between neighbourhoods and the downtown, along with other approaches that get more people on the street interacting with one another, all the while maintaining a ‘small-town feel’ and protecting our historical buildings.
Council has been working hard toward achieving long-term solutions to address these needs with amendments to the Land Use Bylaw and the Municipal Development Plan to promote increased diversity of housing forms, and to clarify rules around new developments.
Lacombe has much strength that we can build on to help improve the lives of our residents and neighbourhoods. We will continue its efforts to provide opportunities that promote sustainable, well-managed growth, and to encourage developer investment in Lacombe.
Steve Christie is the mayor of the City of Lacombe.