For the fourth straight year, Kamloops has again smashed its building permit records in 2020 — and it happened despite a global pandemic that has upended society.
The city released on Wednesday its final building permit report for last year, showing the city issued 1,479 building permits worth $395.1 million, surpassing the city’s previous record of 1,443 permits valued at $288.3 million set in 2019.
The city has issued record-breaking permit values for four straight years. In 2018, it issued $285 million and, in 2017, it issued $224 million.
City of Kamloops building manager Jason Dixon said the record was beat by a “long shot,” at $106.8 million.
The reason: significant development at Royal Inland Hospital, with construction of the new patient care tower. The city issued three permits for that project in 2020 valued at $152 million. Dixon said even without the hospital project, the city had a strong building year, with $243 million worth of building permits on the books.
“That’s an exceptional year, in and of itself,” Dixon said. “I think the good news is that it wasn’t a record based solely on the hospital. Obviously, that’s what put us over the top but, beyond that, that’s a super strong construction year.”
Last month, the city issued 86 building permits worth $18.1 million. Included was a $9.6 million permit issued for another new building at the Mission Hill property on West Victoria Street. Development on that property had been idle for years.
Other highlights in 2020 included another big project, the highly anticipated expansion of Valleyview secondary. In addition, the city issued permits for 918 dwelling units in 2020, compared to 767 units in 2019. Dixon said a lot of the permits were for multi-family projects, like apartments.
“Clearly the residential side was strong,” he said. The city issued 500 residential building permits in 2020 worth $173.6 million.
News of a strong construction year in 2020 comes despite a global pandemic. In March of last year, the novel coronavirus brought impacts that reverberated throughout the economy. Dixon said the pandemic halted temporarily building permits coming through the door at the city for about two weeks in March.
At the time, it was unknown how the pandemic would impact the construction industry. However, looking back at 2020, Dixon said the only impact to date has been increased permits issued for alterations and additions and pools and hot tubs.
In 2020, the city issued 224 permits valued at $13.5 million for alterations and additions, compared to 171 such permits in 2019 valued at $7.6 million. As for pools and hot tubs, the city issued 44 permits in 2020 valued at $969,000, compared to 25 permits in 2019 worth $739,000.
“I think as the year has gone on, it’s felt a lot, for us, like business as usual,” Dixon said. “That’s an exceptionally good news story.”
Dixon said that the construction industry in Kamloops employs or supports employment of some 4,000 workers in the city. The money made then creates spinoff effects within the community, adding to the city’s economic prosperity. In addition to keeping people working, a record building year and development also affects city taxation, with the city collecting more taxes in the future and helping to balance budgets and pay for city services and infrastructure.
“It works in a lot of different ways,” Dixon said. “It shows that Kamloops is a strong community and a growing community.”
In 2021, Dixon does not anticipate another record year, but cited permits impending another building at The Residence at Orchards Walk seniors home in Valleyview, an early childhood centre at Thompson Rivers University and subdivisions in both Juniper and Aberdeen.