Residential lot sales falling in Meadow Lake

By Rhonda Cooper

Residential lot sales for the City of Meadow Lake have taken a significant downturn in 2011.

“Since I have arrived (in February) there have been no inquiries about residential lots,” said city manager Bruno Kossmann.

Kossmann estimates there are between 55 and 60 undeveloped sites available in the southeast corner of the city. Presently there is only one home located in the new subdivision that includes Gibson Crescent and Carl Drive.

He speculated there may be some misinformation circulating about the area’s water and sewage lines.

“These lots don’t drain into the lift station on Ninth (Avenue). They drain into the one at the mall,” he said.

While 2011 inquiries and sales may be non-existent at this time, this appears to be part of the downward trend the city has experienced the past three years. According to city records, 93 building permits were issued in 2008, of which 76 were classified as residential.

This included 30 new homes, nine duplex/multi-unit structures, six mobile homes and 31 renovations/additions. Overall, there were seven more housing starts than in 2007. The remaining permits were issued in the commercial, industrial and institutional sectors. The overall value was $14,074,000.

In 2009, the number of permits dropped to 76, with 14 fewer housing starts but the overall value increased to $23,472,331 because of the construction o f the new court house, school division office and Co-op pharmacy. In 2010, both the permits and dollar value dropped significantly. There were 62 permits issued for a value total of $13,126,749 – a drop of $10,345.582. There were four less housing starts from the previous year.

“This year there is one new home started and that lot was privately owned,” said city clerk Cheryl Dodds.

Meadow Lake is not the only small city to experience this trend. Melfort, which has a population of 5,834, in the northeast has noticed a similar ebb and flow.

“So far this year we have five residential lot sales,” said Brent Lutz, Community Development Manager for the City of Melfort. “But we are coming off a banner year, as last year was our second highest year ever.”

Lutz noted Melfort is experiencing a drop in new construction, but at this point the overall dollar value is slightly above last year’s total of $4.2 million.

“There are a number of vacant or in-fill lots being developed,” he said. “To see lots that had deteriorated or nuisance buildings on them, developed is great. Because those are usually privately owned lots, those sales are not counted, but the value of the permits are part of the city’s numbers.” Lutz sees the proposed development of a diamond mine in the northeast as a positive influence on the city.

Meadow Lake’s location as the northern-most city in the province, as well as being surrounded by an industry that is susceptible to economic swings may be influencing its fluctuations.

“Maybe it’s an indication Meadow Lake’s economy is not doing as well as was thought,” added Kossmann.

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