Kingsville sees record number of housing starts in 2021

LEAMINGTON — Mayor Nelson Santos said Friday residential development in Kingsville is growing at a record pace and will continue at a steady clip for the next 20 years.

He told the Leamington Chamber of Commerce at its annual Mayor’s Breakfast meeting that the west end of Kingsville alone will see more than 1,900 homes built over the next two decades.

The town issued 171 building permits for single-family homes in 2021, setting a record and eclipsing 2020 totals, also a record. There were 162 permits issued in 2020.

Santos also noted “the cruel irony” of business closures caused by the pandemic happening at the same time as business expansion. There were 22 new commercial building permits in 2021, up from the 17 the previous year.

“You know how (the pandemic) changed our business community and how it translated into heartbreaking closures” he said. “Yet there still remains this light of hope … we continue to see investment in times when we thought it may not be there.”

He said growth in Kingsville raised $2 million in development charges which will be used for capital projects and expansion of recreation programming.The total value of the construction permits issued in 2021 was $194 million, which includes the greenhouse sector and its nine new construction permits totalling 76 acres.

Santos said the town will spend $18 million on capital projects this year.

The town’s draft budget called for $14.5 million in spending on road repairs, resurfacing and bridge work, including more improvements to Road 2.

Santos said the Road 2 improvements offer a “clear path” for the opening of the new K-12 school slated for September 2024. The school will be on Jasperson Lane which connects with Road 2, the nearest main road.

Leamington Mayor Hilda MacDonald said “construction values” in her town were down in 2021 — from $202 million in 2020 to $175.5 million.

“Some of that decline is due in part to a pause in new greenhouse builds because of water- capacity issues,” she said.

MacDonald said she expects a turnaround in 2022 because of the increased availability of building lots and new proposed subdivisions.

“There’s also an expected increase in the number of condo builds that will create a large number of new residential units.”

MacDonald also reviewed the town’s decision, later rescinded, to end its policing contract with the OPP.

“Council felt there was no accountability nor willingness to discuss our dissatisfaction with the standard of police service delivered in our municipality.”

She noted other Ontario communities expressed the same frustration. MacDonald said the cancellation got the attention of senior OPP management as well as the provincial solicitor general.

“It forced the OPP to come to the table and have an open discussion about the needs of Leamington.”

She said the town now has a much better relationship with the OPP “from the top down (to) our regional commander to our local commander.”

She said the cost of contracting an outside department to provide policing was prohibitive.

MacDonald also mentioned the town’s light-abatement bylaw and the negative reaction it received from the greenhouse industry.

The bylaw has been appealed to the the Normal Farm Practices Protection Board. Macdonald said a decision is expected “in the coming months.”

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