Billion-dollar year for building in Surrey

Work on the 104-unit Avra development gets underway last summer. White Rock city officials say the project is a significant reason the city
Work on the 104-unit Avra development gets underway last summer. White Rock city officials say the project is a significant reason the city's 2011 construction values were nearly double those seen in 2010.
— image credit: File photo

Surrey has once again pierced the billion-dollar mark in annual building permits, showing a drop in residential but a significant jump in institutional developments.

City figures show Surrey issued $1.216 billion worth of development permits in 2011, just over the previous year’s building tally, making it the fourth-highest year for development in Surrey’s history.

There was $657 million in residential development, a drop of $148 million, or 18 per cent from the year prior. The biggest hit came to single-family residential, which was down $200 million, but the loss was made up in part by gains in duplexes, which were up $80 million (part of the duplex growth is because  homes with suites now require “two-family-dwelling” permits).

Commercial developments worth $266 million arrived in Surrey last year, up $19 million, or seven per cent. Industrial developments also nudged up $10 million (six per cent).

In White Rock, construction value of 2011 building permits was nearly double that of 2010, at $75,354,360 – a jump officials attribute to a single project.

“Our building stats for last year are skewed because of Avra,” said White Rock planning director Paul Stanton.

“That one project put everything up.”

Avra, under construction at Johnston Road near Russell Avenue, represents 104 of the 190 net new housing units noted in 2011. That compares to 66 net units logged in 2010.

While values remain below those seen in 2005, Stanton said the last couple of years have shown improvement, and 2011 has “definitely been one of our better years.”

With two major projects on the horizon – the final two Miramar Village towers and the first phase of the Essence project – 2012 has potential to be even better, Stanton said.

The big growth for Surrey came in institutional development which soared by $115 million, up 130 per cent. Most of that growth came by way of the new RCMP headquarters being built in Green Timbers Forest and the expansion to Surrey Memorial Hospital at 96 Avenue and King George Boulevard.

Commercial and industrial development in Surrey bring in about three times the taxes per acre as residential. They also draw on far fewer resources, such as libraries, community centres, garbage hauling and parks.

A staff report presented in 2001 – when housing stock represented 72 per cent of the total amount of 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,” it states.

Currently, about 69 per cent of property tax in Surrey is generated by residential. In White Rock, the figure is 90 per cent, with 10 per cent from commerce and industry.

- with files from Tracy Holmes

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