Spring Creek developer Frank Kernick said interest in Canmore from vacation-home buyers is on the upswing again, thanks to an improved oilpatch in Alberta.
"The market is chugging along. It's like Calgary. It's not rocking, but it's chugging along. I think the confidence level is improving."
Kernick says traffic through the Spring Creek sales centre has been brisk, but it's still a buyer's market, and sales take longer to close than in the boom days of 2006.
Blame the Sisters
Canmore's building-permit values for the first six months of 2011 hit $48 million, surpassing $38.3 million for all of 2010 and $33.3 million for 2009. Still, the non-multiplex total was only $17 million to the end of June in a place where permit values surpassed $200 million two years in a row in 2006 and 2007.
Part of the reason for the slowdown is that the town's largest developer, Three Sisters Mountain Village (TSMV), has been in receivership since February 2009. While some construction continues on sold lots in the massive development on the southwest side of the Bow Valley, TSMV's lands valued at $169 million have yet to be sold off. A golf course only months from completion in 2008 sits idle and unfinished, as do a few less-prominent projects.
PricewaterhouseCoopers, the receiver picking for Three Sisters, has yet to finalize a wildlife corridor agreement with the province, though it was successful in preventing the Town of Canmore from making municipal development plan changes that could have affected the value of TSMV assets.
The town is moving ahead with an overhaul of its land-use bylaw, and could have a new document in place early this fall.
Proposed changes include everything from rules to allow more secondary suites in a housing-scarce community to provisions to increase densities in some commercial and industrial neighbourhoods. The latter changes could see staff housing allowed above industrial shops. Expanding the South Canmore ban on monster-sized homes is also proposed, as is a formula to encourage density bonusing for developers who include affordable housing in their projects. Still, builders are cautious.
Noted development planner Alaric Fish: "Instead of getting a building permit for all 40 units in a development, they're getting them for five units at a time."
from Western Investor September 2011