2018 Township Building Activity Overview

Construction of homes, cottages, and commercial buildings is important to everyone who has an interest in the economy of our Township. Construction projects create meaningful local jobs and the local purchase of building materials. Sales of everything from kitchen cabinets and bathroom fixtures to furniture and consumables are derived from this same construction activity. In short, development done properly is a welcome activity that should be supported by our local government. One of the ways we can tell how things are going in this sector is to review the number, type, and value of building permits issued in the Township of Muskoka Lakes. In 2018, the total value of permits issued dropped to about $115 million from about $121 million in 2017. As usual, the permit value of new Cottages (houses on the water) had the highest total value. The value of permits for Docks was almost the same as the total for Single Family Houses (off the water). More concerning is the continued drop off in Commercial activity which fell dramatically in 2018 after a large drop off in 2017. Here is a closer look at permit activity.

First let’s look at the dollar value of those permits ranked largest to smallest.

Single Family Houses7,940,64019,504,649146%14,783,016-24%
Accessory Buildings9,063,9008,365,506-8%8,791,4625%
Cottage Renovations7,820,9256,312,430-19%8,430,24634%
Sewage / Septic4,935,5204,799,300-3%5,273,78710%
Single Family Renos2,076,2002,470,00019%1,715,047-31%
Commercial Renos335,3032,103,900527%1,087,641-48%

Other than the permit value of Boathouses and Cottage renovations, bright spots are hard to find in this chart. A 9% decrease in the overall value of permits is not a healthy picture.

The following chart shows the number of permits issued by category.

Boathouses70 700%7811%
Single Family Houses24 3963%33-15%
Docks193 23421%224-4%
Accessory Buildings99 10910%102-6%
Cottage Renovations709231%11929%
Sewage / Septic234207-12%2217%
Single Family Renos222827%25-11%
Commercial Renos819138%2111%

By dividing the dollar value of the permits by the number issued, we can see the average declared value of the projects.

Single Family Houses330,860500,11951%447,970-10%
Accessory Buildings91,55576,748-16%86,19112%
Cottage Renovations111,72868,613-39%70,8423%
Sewage / Septic21,09223,18510%23,8633%
Single Family Renos94,373134,64343%68,602-49%
Commercial Renos41,913110,732164%51,792-53%

Interestingly, the average cost for a new cottage or house went down in 2018 while the average cost of a boathouse or dock went up. Otherwise the numbers are not that remarkable. Perhaps more concerning is the number of commercial projects, their total value, and their average cost. All of these economic measures fell significantly for the 2nd year in a row.

The exact reason for this downturn is difficult to know. It could be happenstance or it could be that the high level of concern over the building of new “resort properties” in Muskoka and the interim control bylaw that was put into place (May 2018), had a chilling effect on developers. No matter what the cause, this reflects a real downturn in our local economy. Construction activities create jobs and material sales that ripple throughout our communities. It is important that our elected local leadership pursue policies that help create economic opportunities.