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April 23, 2012
Residential Lot/Unit Inventory & Monitoring Report - January 2012
For information only.
The 2012 Residential Lot Inventory Report provides the current status of the City's lot/unit inventory based on plans of subdivision and condominium as of January 1, 2012.
Based on historic take-up rates, there is approximately a 1.6 year supply of residential lots (urban and suburban combined) currently available for the construction of single detached dwellings in Registered Plans of Subdivision. Given that there are several plans on the verge of registration, that supply should increase to 2.9 years in the next few months. When plans of subdivision that have received Draft Approval are included in the supply count it increases to 11.6 years.
In 2011, new single detached dwelling development in plans of subdivision was concentrated in 3 areas; Parkdale, Hutton Park and Woodcrest, and River Terrace South. The construction of new two-unit dwellings and new multiple dwelling developments in the form of 4-plexes occurred primarily in established residential areas on infill lots. The Lakeview Condominium development was the only large multiple dwelling unit development in 2011.
It is expected that a number of new registered plans for single detached dwellings will move forward in 2012 and it is anticipated that developers will also move ahead with several multiple unit development projects on infill lands in 2012.
The Planning Division believes that while there is currently a sufficient supply of residential lots to meet the Official Plan's supply objectives given the current take-up rate, the location and availability of lots is not necessarily in keeping with market demand. Consumer’s purchasing choices continue to influence development patterns and contribute to the development community’s desire to bring additional lots onto the market.
The purpose of the residential lot/unit inventory is to provide information on the supply of lots/units available through plans of subdivision and condominium. Lots are also created through the consent process and housing units can be developed through infill development.
Plans of subdivision and condominium go through three stages of approval processing:
Plans on Circulation:
plans submitted for review and have no approval status;
may be required to undergo a further Planning Approval process, such as a Zoning By-law or Official Plan Amendment; and
may take one to several years to reach "Draft Approved".
Draft Approved Plans:
plans have received "Draft Approval" by City Council;
developer is required to complete conditions prior to reaching "Registered" status;
, such lots/units can be offered for sale to the general public; and
may take one to several years to reach "Registered" status, depending on the developer's time commitments and market demand.
plans that have satisfied all conditions of draft approval and have been "Registered" at the Land Registry Office;
lots can be sold and transferred; and
building permits can be issued.
A challenge to reporting the number of available lots and determining if enough supply is available centres on the issue of stagnant approvals. The longer an approved development sits in abeyance, the more skewed the inventory becomes. While the inventory may portray an adequate supply, market realities are suggesting otherwise.
There are several plans that exist in the "on-circulation" and "draft approved" stages that have not progressed for many years. Lots in these plans contribute to the City's overall supply, but realistically are not available for development. These plans will be reviewed over the coming year to determine if the owners intend to move forward with these developments. Unfortunately, the subdivision agreements associated with these stale plans do not contain a sunset clause that requires a development to proceed within a given timeframe. To guard against this in the future, the Planning Division will be examining the establishment of a "sunset" clause for draft approval of plans of subdivision as part of the upcoming Official Plan Review. The Planning Act permits the addition of sunset clauses to draft plan approvals; however, our Official Plan does not currently contain policies that allow for the inclusion of such clauses.
In addition, as part of the Official Plan Review, the Planning Division will examine the location of the urban limit. It is anticipated that there will be consultation with the Engineering Division with respect to servicing expansions and discussion with the development community to determine if enough land that is feasible for development is located within the urban limit. In addition, the Planning Division will also consult with the community and community groups such as Earthwise for feedback on housing policies.
Changes in Inventory:
New lots for single detached dwellings
25 lots of the overall 238 lot plan in the Hutton Park Drive and Woodcrest Road (Hutton Park Estates Stage 2a) were registered in 2011. Stage 2b will be registered in early 2012 providing an additional 47 lots.
72 lots will be registered in early 2012 in Parkdale Stage 4.
65 lots will be registered in early 2012 in Dawson Heights (Gemstone Estates Stage 3)
It is anticipated that once the intended plans are registered there will be an overall 2.9 year lot supply for single detached dwellings at the 5 year average take-up rate available for the 2012 construction season.
New lots for multiple dwelling units
1 lot will be registered in 2012 in Dawson Heights (Gemstone Estates Stage 3) for a potential 26 unit apartment dwelling.
Lots Ready and Available for Construction:
Single detached dwellings:
Over the last 5 years, approximately 61.5% of building permits issued for single detached dwellings have been on lots within plans of subdivision, which suggests that plans of subdivision are an important source of lot supply in the market. The balance of new house construction occurs on infill lots and on lots created through the consent process. Infill lots are vacant lots that exist within established neighbourhoods or lots within established neighbourhoods that are redeveloped.
Attachment "A" indicates that there are currently 145 registered lots available for building single detached dwellings. It is noted that 48 of these lots are located in Mount Forest on a Registered Plan where lots have yet to be sold. If these lots are not included in the immediate availability count, the supply drops to 97 lots.
The following table illustrates the proportion of permits for single detached dwellings issued in plans of subdivision versus total issued.
Proportion within subdivisions
Between 2007 and 2011, an average of 91 Building Permits per year were issued for single detached dwellings within plans of subdivision. At this take-up rate, there is currently a 1.6 year supply (urban and suburban combined) of lots for single detached dwellings based on 145 readily available lots in registered plans. An 11.6 year supply exists when 1004 lots in draft approved plans are included. As of January 1, 2012 there is only an 8 month supply of residential lots currently available for the construction of single detached dwellings in Registered Plans of Subdivision within the urban limit. However, this supply will improve with the several plans that will be registered in the coming months.
It must be noted that while the inventory demonstrates an adequate supply, market forces are indicating otherwise. Plenty of land remains in the "draft approval stage" and in the "under circulation stage" with little to no recent activity by the property owners to move ahead with their proposed plans of subdivision. If inactive proposals are excluded in the analysis, the actual available supply is less. 87 of the 145 lots in registered plans are realistically available. This would change the available supply to 1 year in registered plans. This identifies a discrepancy between the actual and the realistic market supply.
A further breakdown of the urban subdivisions shows that the majority of lots available for single detached dwellings are located within three areas of the City:
Hutton Park and Woodcrest
River Terrace South
Although, there are lots in the Hilldale Road area with draft approval, the majority of activity for new home construction is occurring in three areas; Parkdale, River Terrace, and Woodcrest Road. It is expected that these areas will continue to be the focus of growth given that Hutton Park Estates is progressing and an application to expand River Terrace South with 71 additional lots has received draft approval.
The following table demonstrates that the majority of draft approved lots are subdivisions with full urban services. This is a positive trend that is consistent with the policy direction established in the City's Official Plan and the Provincial Policy Statement.
Official Plan Designation
Registered (% of total)
Draft Approved (% of total)
In 2011, the majority of development in the suburban land use designation was on lots created through the consent process or infill lots versus lots in plans of subdivision. This is related to the location of the available lots. The Mount Forest area contains the majority of registered and draft approved suburban lots in the inventory; however, it has seen little construction in recent times. Notwithstanding the available supply in the Mount Forest area, other areas are being considered for suburban plans of subdivision and developers in the Mapleward Road and Mountain Road areas are moving forward with developments. This suggests that although there is supply, it is not necessarily located in areas where consumers are choosing to purchase and so new developers are keen to bring additional lots onto the market.
There are no immediately available lots identified in the inventory that are intended to support two dwelling unit construction (i.e. duplex or semi-detached dwellings), but there are 78 lots available in draft approved plans of subdivision.
There were 6 new semi-detached units constructed in 2011. All of these 6 units were infill developments. 2 duplex units were also built as infill and 6 other dwelling units were accessory apartments in single detached dwellings. A vast majority of this new construction can be attributed to the more permissive regulations introduced in the new Zoning By-law.
The market clearly prefers new construction in the form of single detached dwellings. As such, the development community has not proposed semi-detached dwelling lots in new plans of subdivision for some time. Smaller frontage single detached dwelling lots have been the preferred method to increase density in new subdivisions.
It must be noted that while there are no identified lots for two-unit development in registered plans, there is still potential to develop two unit buildings. Any lot in the "R1" Zone with 18.0 metres of lot frontage and 540.0 square metres of lot area may contain an accessory apartment within a single detached dwelling subject to the accessory apartment regulations of the Zoning By-law.
Multiple Unit dwellings:
There were 3 building permits issued for the construction of 4-unit apartment dwellings in 2011 which are expected to add to the rental market. 4 townhouse dwelling units were also built in 2011 in Parkdale and will be occupied under individual ownerships.
3 Building Permits for multiple dwelling developments that are expected to be converted to condominium tenure were issued in 2011 as follows:
Lakeview Condominium development – 24 units built
2 – 6-unit townhouse dwellings on Beverly Street
There is the potential for 374 multiple units in Parkdale Stage 3b, however much of the construction of large apartment dwellings in the last 5 years took advantage of redevelopment opportunities that were available on infill lands.
Many sources identify the "baby boomer" generation as the driving force for multiple unit developments within infill areas. Factors driving this market may include: housing costs, maintenance time and costs, proximity to urban goods and services, and proximity to existing neighbourhoods. It is anticipated that infill areas, which include former school sites, will continue to be the focus of future multiple developments, as they offer the opportunity for baby boomers to live within their current neighbourhoods. This fact guided several of the major changes in the new Zoning By-law, including multiple unit development on large corner residential lots, new zones that facilitate the redevelopment of neighbourhood institutional properties, and more flexible regulations to encourage infill development in long established residential areas.
With the potential of 374 apartment units in Parkdale and 1148 in draft approved future stages of Parkdale, there is an ample supply of lots for apartment buildings in plans of subdivision. Other plans of subdivision, such as Sherwood Estates (Hutton Park Drive) and Silvertree (Tuscany Drive) contain lots identified for multiple dwelling developments. These lots are no longer included in the inventory as the surrounding subdivision has been largely completed.
A second phase of the River Terrace South Subdivision between the existing River Terrace and the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre received draft approval and the associated Zoning By-law Amendment that was under appeal at the Ontario Municipal Board has been dismissed. This plan will add an additional 71 single detached dwelling lots to the urban residential market for the 2013 building season.
In addition, a 25 suburban residential lot draft plan of subdivision in the Mountain Road area adjacent to the Fort William Country Club was presented to City Council March 19, 2012. These potential lots could be available for the 2013 construction season.
The Planning Division has processed or is processing a number of planning applications to permit multiple units on infill lots. The opportunities for infill multiple unit developments are as follows:
Corner of Hilldale Road and Tuscany Drive – up to 64 units
Pioneer Drive - Canterbury/Newcastle – up to 50 units
Balmoral & Beverly – 150 units – under development
Prince Arthur's Landing – 108 units
Fort William Collegiate redevelopment – 46 units
Sir John A. MacDonald School redevelopment – 22 units in existing school with 42 additional units - proposed
Oliver Road School redevelopment – number of units undetermined
Queen Elizabeth School redevelopment – 19 units in former school building under development and one of the 5 permitted four-plexes is complete
Thunder Bay Country Club – 86 units to be constructed
Additional opportunities beyond the urban area:
In addition to the development potential provided through urban plans of subdivision and infill lots, there is also a significant amount of development potential that exists outside of the urban area where lots can be created through the severance process. The number of vacant lots and the number of lots that could be created through severance accounts for an additional 1271 lots: 365 within the Rural designation; 88 within the Rural Residential designation; and 818 within the Suburban Residential designation. These lots represent an excess of a 30 year supply based on the 2011 take-up rate.
Provincial Policy Statement and City of Thunder Bay Official Plan
The Provincial Policy Statement requires municipalities to set targets to ensure that there is at least a three year supply of residential units available on lands suitably zoned to facilitate residential intensification and redevelopment, and lots in draft approved and registered plans. In addition, the City’s Official Plan requires that a minimum ten year supply of land is designated for residential use at all times, and that a three year supply of readily available lots, within draft approved and/or registered plans of subdivision is available. Given the current supply available both the objectives of the Provincial Policy Statement and the Official Plan are met.
There are no financial implications associated with this report.
It is concluded that, given the average take-up rate for single detached, semi-detached and apartment dwelling construction, there is a sufficient supply of residential lots within plans of subdivision to meet the Official Plan's supply objectives; however, the location and availability of lots to meet market demand is considered insufficient by the development community. Developers have told the Planning Division that lot availability is tight and insufficient to meet their needs.
The Planning Division maintains an inventory of available residential lots and units within plans of subdivision and condominium on an on-going basis. The lot inventory report is produced to provide City Council and the building industry with the status of the residential lot take-up rate and supply.
Building Division records show that 2011 exceeded the 6 year average for building permit issuance for single detached dwellings. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) also noted a significant increase in housing starts in 2010. The CMHC notes that low mortgage rates, improved economy, and in-migration are factors in the increase in starts.
REFERENCE MATERIAL ATTACHED
Attachment A – Summary of Buildable Units - provides a summary of the existing and upcoming supply of residential lots/units in the City.
Attachment B – Legend - provides a legend for the various abbreviations used in the other attachments of this report.
Attachment C – Lot/Unit Inventory – Plans on Circulation and Draft Approved – provides information about proposed plans at the "On-Circulation" and "Draft Approved" stages; proposed plans are grouped according to the types of lots or units they would create (rural residential, suburban or urban).
Attachment D – Lot/Unit Inventory – Registered – Rural and Suburban - details registered Rural Residential and Suburban plans of subdivision. Only single detached dwellings can be created in these areas.
Attachment E – Lot/Unit Inventory – Registered - Urban - provides information about the availability of lots/units in Urban plans of subdivision and plans of condominium. This table is more detailed, since a variety of unit types can be constructed in fully serviced areas.
Decio Lopes, Senior Planner
This report signed and verified by Mark J. Smith, MA.MCIP.RPP., General Manager - Development Services on April 11, 2012