The value of building permits issued by the Town of Cochrane fell by over $46.7 million to $123.2 million in 2020 from the year previous.

Still, Drew Hyndman, Cochrane's development and community services general manager, believes viewing this data in isolation doesn't fully reflect the healthy amount of ongoing development in Cochrane.

He says the town is looking to 2021 with cautious optimism, as it did last year.

Commercial development and duplexes, in particular, dropped substantially in 2020.

New commercial development was limited to the issuing of two permits with a combined value of $2.19 million, down from $14 million the year previous, largely fuelled by the construction of the new GM dealership.

Add-ons and renovations to commercial buildings were just a third of what they were in 2021, pegged at $3.3 million compared to $9.7 million in 2020.

Permits issued for duplexes and duplexes with a garage dropped $15 million while multi-family/condo permits dropped by $3.7 million. 

Single dwellings with a garage dropped $4 million.

Despite the drop, Hyndman points to the number of permits issued for new home construction, despite the pandemic.

"When you look at the total number, 383 as compared to 303 in 2020, that's still several units, still fairly consistent, given everything that you have read about the impact of COVID."

"You know, in a year that everybody thought would be quite a bit different, we actually did fairly well."

While new construction was down, there was a $1.4 million increase in home renovations, climbing to $6.26 million, up from $4.85 million the year previous.

A total of 3,353 permits were issued compared to 3,576 in 2019.

"The reality is, these numbers, I think, demonstrate that Cochrane is still a very desirable community to live in, and despite the some of the macro challenges going on, that we still see growth within the community."

He believes capital projects planned by the town this year will assist in fuelling certainty for Cochranbe's future growth.

He points to includes the major upgrades to Hwy. 1A-Centre Ave. transportation corridor the town is launching in the spring to battle congestion and its timing will fit well with the province's Hwy.1A-22 interchange project.

As well, the new transit hub/innovation on Railway St. will break ground, as will the new long-awaited protective services building in the Heartland community.

Additionally, the development of a pedestrian crossing from Railway St. to the Historic Downtown across the CP mainline will begin.

The town's investment in this area of the downtown, in part, has encouraged an application for a 70 Unit, 6-storey multi-unit dwelling on Bow Street.

The master plan for the new Horse Creek Sports Park will be presented to council this year, laying the foundation for expanded outdoor recreational opportunities in the community.

Hyndman also believes we'll start to see work begin on the first phase of the new Greystone community, located along the Griffin Rd. corridor. The development will offer a blend of commercial and residential land.

Two developments expected to be controversial with residents are expected to come forward to town council after a review by the town's planning dept.

A new proposal is coming forward for a 4.15-acre parcel in Gleneagles, commonly referred to as the Jones Estate.

In October 2018, town council turned down a development application for the property and it remains designated as an urban reserve. Proposals to develop the land have been struck down three times by two different town councils.

A strong push back from residents is also expected for the proposed Mount St. Francis South Lands development, which encompasses 140 acres of lands surrounding Cochrane Hill, Sunterra, and Cochrane Heights.