Caivan Housing Development – Survey Results – Part One

Survey Results – Part One – Member Survey on Caivan Housing Development (April 2, 2024)

Results and comments from the survey: ‘Future Growth For Perth’
– Housing Developments and the Opinion of Perth’s Business Community

Perth Chamber Survey Shows Cautious Support for Caivan Housing Development

(Perth) – A recent survey of members of the Perth & District Chamber of Commerce shows that a majority of business owners, managers, professionals and employees surveyed feel the proposed Caivan housing development could impact their businesses in a positive way.

A total of 85 Chamber members completed the survey in February-March (2024) entitled, ‘Future Growth For Perth – Housing Developments and the Opinion of Perth’s Business Community’. Of those surveyed, 77% feel if the population of Perth grows between 1,400 to 2,200 residents due to a new subdivision at the Perth Golf Course, that increase would be welcomed by the local business community.

Chamber President Brian Perkin says, “The proposed Caivan subdivision has been a hotly debated topic in the Perth community. With 640 detached homes and 300 townhomes proposed and plans to downsize the golf course to nine holes, we wanted to ask our membership how this proposal or similar housing developments, could change or impact their businesses.”

Perkin states, “While there are concerns and strong opposition to the Caivan proposal from some parts of the community, a number of businesspeople and members of the local workforce wanted to weigh-in on the possible benefits that a development like this might offer. A good majority of those who did the survey are not against growth on this scale. They just want to see it done responsibly.”

The survey examines five areas: The effect of increased population; housing availability; the impact on Perth’s tax base; parking and traffic concerns; and the town’s heritage character.

Businesses Capable of Handling Increased Consumer Demand

If a rise in Perth’s population increases consumer demand for local products and services, 77% of the respondents say their businesses will be able to handle a higher volume of customers and orders. A total of 70% say they have the physical capacity to grow their existing business using their current retail or office space. However, others feel that commercial rents in Perth are now too expensive for small businesses to afford, and the current inventory of commercial space in town is limited, so it would be difficult to expand their operations to serve more clients.

For some, more customers equal more employees. If customer demand grows, 54% of businesses say they wouldn’t anticipate a problem finding new staff, while 29% felt it would be difficult and 17 % weren’t sure. A few of those surveyed feel a new housing development of this scale might help to attract higher paid employees in healthcare, financial services, professionals, and office workers.

“We should want our streets busy, our stores open past 4pm and our restaurants full.”

Those in favour of the development believe the town needs population growth to support businesses in both the downtown core and on Highway 7, and the corresponding increase in tax dollars will help pay for infrastructure improvements and social projects.

Some feel that downtown retail is highly dependent on seasonal shopping by non-Perth residents. Tourist-related operations and many restaurants are typically subject to a business cycle where operators need to ‘tough it out’ in the slow sales period from January to April, before seasonal visitors and cottagers return in the spring. They feel population growth is needed to better sustain businesses through the off-season. One respondent states, “We should want our streets busy, our stores open past 4pm and our restaurants full.”

A few think that a larger local population will not necessarily increase their business because of the amount of shopping done online and out-of-town. Others say they are happy with the size of their operations as they are, and with a small staff, their stores are manageable at their current capacity.

The Impact on Housing Availability

A total 43 % of those surveyed say an increase in available housing in the new subdivision could attract a larger skilled labour pool, while 25% felt the opposite and 32% were ‘not sure’.

Asked if the salary range of their staff would allow employees to purchase new homes in the subdivision, if home prices ranged from $600,000 to $900,000, a majority of 61% felt the cost of the new homes would be out of the price range of employees working in small business, retail and hospitality, while 10% feel workers in higher-paying jobs could afford those prices, and 29% were ‘not sure’.

One owner commented that their 5 employees cannot afford to live in Perth or find any available housing. They say that even apartment rents in town are not always affordable. Many employees commute to work in Perth from Smiths Falls or neighbouring townships, and a subdivision with homes in this price range will not alleviate the situation, so lower-priced options need to be included.

Irresponsible” Not to Include Affordable Housing

When respondents were asked if any new housing development should include Affordable Housing, 67% said ‘yes’, 26% said ‘no’ and 7% were ‘not sure’. Some feel very strongly that our region has an Affordable Housing crisis, and it is irresponsible for any development not to include a percentage of Affordable Housing. Another respondent says, “Affordable housing is like rungs on a ladder. Everyone moves up as they can, so even $800k homes will help everyone on the ladder.” Others say the problem of Affordable Housing should not fall on the developer but should be managed by the town or county.

On the question of what type of housing is most needed in the Perth area, support is as follows: detached bungalows (29%), rental apartments (29%), townhomes (23%), 2-storey detached homes (15%) and condominium apartments (4%). There were calls to support housing needs for younger residents versus retirees, with that demand being met by offering a wider range of affordable options.

(Further Survey Results will be distributed in upcoming Parts 2 & 3)

For further information, contact Paloma Zander, Executive Director at: (613-267-3200)