The fourth quarter building permits issued by the city were comparable in 2013 and 2012, though the year to date figures show that 2013 was not as fruitful in construction as the year before.
The value of all construction in Cranbrook in the October to December 2013 period, was $5 million, about $120,000 less than in 2012.
However, the year to date data has a different story, as CAO Wayne Staudt pointed out in council on Jan. 20.
“We’re certainly down from last year for building permits issued,” Staudt said. “In 2012, we had 253 permits issued; this year it was down to 207 building permits being issued.”
Total construction figures were down by a third, in 2013. They were at $19.6 million compared to $30.7 million in 2012.
Mayor Wayne Stetski noted that some of the decrease on the industrial side had to do with several million invested in 2012 into the spray irrigation facilities.
Construction of residential buildings was $12.3 million in 2013, compared to $13.9 million in 2012.
“The residential is almost the same,” said Coun. Diana J. Scott. “It was the commercial and industrial that was different, so at least with regards to housing development and those types of permits, that seems to be fairly stable.”
Coun. Angus Davis worried that the city relied too much on that aspect.
“We’re reliant on the housing market,” Davis said. “The interest rates in the housing business are pretty low, so this makes it attractive to people being able to borrow the money. The rates cannot be guaranteed and there are signs that there are indeed cracks in our economy.”
Davis said he reads about factories closing, mines shutting down and opposition to what industry wants to do in this country.
“That’s going to have an effect,” he said. “Right now if we depend on the housing industry with its low interest rate, we have to be prepared for a change — and I think that as we go along we become comfortable with the status quo.”
Davis said as a council they owe it to themselves to get abreast of where the economy in this country is going.
“All the indicators are there that change is going to be coming,” he said.
“If times start to get tough, we have to be able to react to that.”