City close to breaking the $1 billion building permit barrier for the first time

$1 billion building boom

Everywhere you look around the City of Kelowna, something is being built, renovated or demolished in order to build something new.

Kelowna's 2021 building boom, which began with a record-setting first five weeks, shows no signs of letting up.

Over a four-day span last week alone, the city's planning department approved 50 building permits valued at nearly $11.7 million.

Those permits included 16 new single family homes valued at $9.7 million, with the rest residential and commercial renovations and additions.

In fact, the city is on pace to break the $1 billion barrier in the value of building permits for the first time.

Development services director Mo Bayat says the city has issued building permits valued at $977 million to date. A year ago at this time, the value was $422 million.

Bayat says, not only has the value of permits skyrocketed, so too has the number of permits issued, which is up by about 25 per cent.

The previous record of $900 million in permits issued was set three or four years ago.

Planning manager Ryan Smith says the value of permits speaks to amount of growth and investment taking place within the city.

There's any one of a number of reasons for the boom, not the least of which was a rush during the first five weeks of 2021 by developers looking to get permits approved before the new parks development cost charges program kicked in.

And certainly there have been a number of larger developments approved by city council which are now getting being built.

Smith adds part of the boom has to do with the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I think we're finding people aren't spending the money on travel or entertainment as much, so they're spending the money more at home," he said.

"Trying to make sure their home offices are more comfortable or if they don't have a home office, they're renovating to add one."

Smith says there are also people moving from other parts of the province, particularly the Lower Mainland who are able to work from home, and have bought a fixer-upper, and are doing that work now.

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