Surrey has shattered the billion-dollar mark in construction projects, recording the second-highest value in development in the city’s history.
City figures provided at the request of The Leader show Surrey saw $1.46 billion in construction last year – second only to 2007, when there was $1.49 billion in development.
The figures indicate that just over $1 billion worth of that construction came from residential building permits. It was relatively equally split between single-family dwellings, homes with secondary suites and townhomes, with the last quarter of the money spent going to condos and miscellaneous residential building permits.
Much of the construction occurred in south Newton and South Surrey, according to Surrey’s General Manager of Planning and Development Jean LaMontagne.
Commercial and industrial building projects both came in at about $187 million last year, followed by institutional ($57 million) and other ($17 million).
Commercial construction figures were due to a few highly valued properties, such as the new Coast Capital Savings headquarters built near the King George SkyTrain Station.
Industrial development was, and continues to be, strongest in Campbell Heights in South Surrey.
Last year’s numbers boast the best performance in Surrey’s construction sector since the global economic meltdown of 2008.
Since then, the city has been hovering around the billion-dollar mark in permit values for construction, with a few of those years being buoyed by federal infrastructure grants.
While the boom in construction is great news, city officials say it’s generally preferred to have a bigger percentage of commercial and industrial development than Surrey is getting.
The reasoning is that those two sectors bring in about three times the property taxes to the city, while drawing on far fewer associated taxpayer-funded resources, such as recreation centres, libraries and roads.
A staff report presented to council in 2001 – when housing stock represented 72 per cent of the total amount of property taxes generated – indicated Surrey was not meeting sustainable levels.
“A ratio of 60 per cent residential and 40 per cent industrial and commercial is considered to be the minimum level necessary relative to the long-term health of the city,” the staff report said.
Last year’s ratio alone was 69.3 per cent residential, 25.6 per cent commercial and industrial, 3.9 per cent institutional and 1.2 per cent other.
Another important reason for a more equitable balance is to create a city where people can work locally, LaMontagne noted.
The city is currently at about 0.7 jobs per person, which is up from where it was 10 years ago.
LaMontagne said the residential demand in Surrey remains extremely strong due in large part to ballooning housing prices in other areas of the Lower Mainland.
Building permit values in Surrey for the last decade:
• 2006 – $1,341,960,510
• 2007 – $1,488,819,162
• 2008 – $1,268,535,177
• 2009 – $859,232,522
• 2010 – $1,213,936,581
• 2011 – $1,216,268,920
• 2012 – $1,305,166,356
• 2013 – $1,053,316,786
• 2014 – $1,021,135,324
• 2015 – $1,459,483,003