The Mayor of Ritchot says 2023 was another strong year for construction activity.

Chris Ewen says the number of building permits they issued was down slightly last year from 2022, however, he notes the value of those permits was stronger than the year before.

In 2023, Ritchot issued 217 permits for $58.7 million. In 2022, the municipality issued 226 permits worth $54.8 million.

"That's a huge win for Ritchot," says Ewen. "We continue to grow strong by a significant amount each year and we cannot wait to see what (2024) has to offer."

Ewen says the reason why the total value of construction rose last year, even though the number of permits was down, can be attributed to inflation. However, he says another factor is there were larger projects in 2023, including bigger commercial builds and more extravagant homes.

When it comes to new housing starts, there was a sharp drop last year. In fact, Ritchot saw its lowest total in four years. There were 42 new housing starts in 2023, including 28 in Grande Pointe, 12 in St. Adolphe, one in Ile des Chenes and one in the rural area. 

Grande Pointe has now led the municipality in new housing starts for five years in a row. Ewen says though Grande Pointe is a very beautiful area, what makes it so attractive for people to live is its proximity to Winnipeg.

"They understand they are a bedroom community; they understand that most people work and do most of their shopping in Winnipeg and they just use Grande Pointe as their home and community building site," says Ewen. "This is where the neighbours get together, they have their fun in their park and their community centre, but it's the proximity that makes it a huge value and an asset being so close to the urban centre."

But, Ewen says he expects 2024 will see a change at the top. He explains there are some very large projects slated for this year in Ile des Chenes and he anticipates that community will see the most housing starts in 2024.

Meanwhile, Ewen says he would like to see stronger construction numbers in each community in Ritchot. He notes Council will need to work with their communities to determine if there is space and how best to utilize it. Ewen says they will then have to figure out how to get developers as interested in these communities as Council is.

"I would live and could live in any one of those communities in Ritchot because I know they all have great community-minded spirit and they all have the assets that people need to live in those communities," notes Ewen. "So, it's just a matter of showing off what we have to offer to the developers and the people that make those decisions in bringing the next development into Ritchot in that specific community."

Ewen says it remains to be seen how busy 2024 can be. He notes a lot will depend on the general housing market and interest rates. Ewen says his feeling is that things are about to change for the better.

"I think we're going to see a lot more housing start up," he suggests. "We're going to see a lot more people coming out to smalltown Manitoba and buying a little bit bigger homes, a little bit more land for the same price of what you can get at urban centres."