"The first quarter was a decent first quarter."

That is how Planning Manager Jeremy Neufeld sums up the first three months of the year for building activity in the Rural Municipality of Hanover. 

From January 1st to March 31st, Hanover issued 46 permits worth $8.8 million. By comparison, during that same stretch last year, it issued 48 permits worth $8.0 million.

When you compare only new housing starts, there have been 27 permits pulled for $6.3 million in 2020. That is ahead of last year's pace when there were 23 permits for $5.6 million. Neufeld says overall, the start of 2020 has been very similar to 2019.

The community of Mitchell continues to lead the way with ten new housing starts, while Kleefeld had nine, Blumenort and New Bothwell each had one and there were six in the rural area. That means only 22 per cent of new housing starts are for the rural area. Neufeld says he is not sure if that is an alltime low.

"Anecdotally, if it's not the lowest, it's among the lowest," shares Neufeld.

Meanwhile, Neufeld says it is still too early to guess what sort of impact COVID-19 will have on construction activity this spring in Hanover. 

"We still are fielding a lot of calls and inquiries about building permits," he says. "We are still issuing building permits."

However, he notes the process of issuing those permits has changed. 

"But they are still going out, so that's encouraging for us," he says.

Neufeld says the municipality is still optimistic that this can be a good year, noting southeastern Manitoba has always been resilient.

"Hopefully, we are going to continue to see that type of resilience pushed through this period as well," says Neufeld.