Around 500 permits were processed in 2023 throughout the MSTW Planning District. The district includes the cities of Winkler and Morden, as well as the RMs of Thompson and Stanley.
MSTW General Manager Glen Wieler says around 500 overall permits is pretty typical of what they've seen over the past few years. He notes however, the start-up of single-family houses continued to go down during the past two years, with more multi-unit dwellings now under construction.
In 2021, Wieler said 150 permits were issued for single-family housing starts, which was the region's highest permit year for single-family starts. In 2022, permits for single-family starts were 79, and down to only 38 starts in 2023.
"I think just the cost of building has gone up, and historically in other larger centers, younger people aren't starting with the new house, they're starting buying a townhouse or part of a multi-family and then moving into a single family after several years, and I think we're kind of in that shift now. The housing starts will come back, but it's just with the high-interest rates right now, I think people are just a little shy yet to spend that kind of money."
Wieler said the market usually picks up a few months into the new year, when the frost is out of the ground, By April, he said they should have a better idea of what type of activity to expect later in 2024.
"We're still seeing the activity, just not in new housing," said Wieler. "There's still a lot of talk about more multi-family, larger apartment buildings, so we anticipate that's going to continue. The industrial/commercial, there's always talk. I know a while back, Golden West reported that the (Southland ) Mall is doing a big expansion. We haven't seen anything yet...But that renovation to the mall would be a big project."
Three large projects are currently happening in the region. They include the Boundary Trails Health Centre Expansion, the new Ecole Discovery Trails School in Morden, and a major expansion at Winkler Meats.