Noted below are several relevant excerpts from a 2007 study by N. Barry Lyon Consultants Limited (NBLC) which are intended to illustrate positive aspects relating to residential development within Norfolk’s Lakeshore Special policy Area (Port Rowan and Port Dover in particular). This study commissioned by Norfolk County for preparation of its Lakeshore Special Policy Area (LSPA) is intended to assist in this process by reviewing population and residential growth projections for the LSPA and assessing local and regional market conditions and economic trends.
Excerpts from Norfolk County Lakeshore Special Policy Area Secondary Plan
Market and Economic Opportunities Forecasts for Growth and Settlement
for complete text - http://www.norfolkofficialplan.ca/lakeshore/
Section 3 - Market and Economic Opportunities
N. Barry Lyon Consultants Limited
• Development activity in Port Dover and Port Rowan have accounted for between 50% and 60% of the County residential building permit activity over the past 15 years.
• This growth is largely attributed to the very attractive settings of these communities, affordable home prices, an aging population, and good community amenities including health care.
• Forecasts suggest that the key economic opportunities will be those that are associated with and support the growing community and tourism industry, as well as retail and service-oriented commercial uses that focus on the day-to-day needs of the community and the traveling public. We expect that recreational boating will continue to strengthen in popularity, allowing for modest expansion of smaller scale marinas and associated commercial opportunities.
• We expect a strong demand for a broad range of housing, including higher density residential forms that cater to seniors. Bungalow-style residential dwelling units will also increase in popularity.
For a variety or reasons, the Lakeshore Special Policy Area exhibits growth characteristics that are stronger than those of other areas within Norfolk County. This is, in large part, due to the unique sense of place created by the LSPA’s proximity to Lake Erie, which is embodied in the character of the natural and settled areas along the shoreline.
Of critical importance to the Secondary Plan process is the development of policies which balance the desire and need for growth within the LSPA with significant environmental and economic factors associated with the lakeshore’s natural and tourism features.
The Lakeshore Special Policy Area Market Context
As a potential residential destination, the LSPA was assessed for its market strengths and potential market challenges. These market factors, identified in the following section, are key elements in attracting growth.
Norfolk County’s Lakeshore Special Policy Area occupies a central location of the north Lake Erie Shoreline that is within easy traveling distance by vehicle to the majority of southern Ontario, eastern Michigan State, western New York State, the Greater Toronto Area and beyond. Driving times to these destinations vary, but are reasonable, often between 2 to 5 hours in duration. Water access across Lake Erie also offers connections to the States of Ohio and Pennsylvania;
Wealth of Natural Local Features and Attractions
Carolinian forests, distinct agricultural uses and rare animal habitats represent the principal natural characteristics of the LSPA. The distinguishable variations in the physical features of the Lake Erie shoreline, from picturesque rolling hills and shoreline cliffs to traditional sandy beaches, sets the local landscape apart from alternative Ontario waterfront destinations;
Small Town Atmosphere
Norfolk County’s primary urban areas in the LSPA offer a quaint, and provincially unique local atmosphere that will appeal to potential residents desiring a small-town environment within a grid-lock free commuting distance of multiple larger urban areas (e.g. Brantford, Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge, London, Hamilton). As a popular seasonal area destination, the summertime appeal of Port Dover, Turkey Point and Long Point do experience significant levels of tourist volume; however these levels tend to fall short of those seen in summer destinations north and northwest of the Greater Toronto Area (e.g. Muskoka, Wasaga and Haliburton). By comparison, the average summertime tourist in the LSPA is offered a more “tempered”, less frenzied vacation atmosphere;
Good Health Care
Access to quality health care is an important consideration for many home buyers, especially seniors. Norfolk General Hospital offers a full range of modern facilities and health care services.
Relative Affordable Housing
The current inventory of new and resale housing in the LSPA is competitively priced when compared to settlement and vacation areas across the Province with similar community and infrastructure characteristics. This observation is explored further in this report;
Vibrant and Maintained Historical and Cultural Heritage Infrastructure
Tourist destinations in the LSPA have a built-in marketable advantage due to their long-standing upkeep and presence in their respective communities. Primary examples of these are the Backus Conservation Area, Port Dover’s Lighthouse Festival Theatre and the Long Point Bird Observatory. Developers and potential new residents alike are often attracted to the cache of an area’s history and culture, offering local tourist destinations and educational opportunities for families;
The Lake Erie waterfront, and in particular the communities of Port Dover and Port Rowan, have become increasingly popular places to live within the County. Since 2002, these areas have accounted for 571 housing units in both single family and multi-family formats. Between 2002 and 2005, approximately 55% of all the residential buildings constructed within the County’s six Urban Areas were constructed within Port Dover and Port Rowan This trend is exemplified by the number of residential building permits issued in 2005, with more permits being issued in Port Dover (110) than Simcoe (82).
Residential Building Activity
Port Rowan and Port Dover attract the most significant share of development activity each year averaging between 50% and 60% of all residential development permits for the County.
Market Trends Analysis
For the Lakeshore Special Policy Area, the effects of these trends have been experienced primarily in the housing sector. Commercial opportunities have been focused on those associated with boating and other recreation pursuits. Service and retail commercial opportunities have largely followed the needs of an expanding residential community. In contrast, industrial activities have shifted out of the LSPA towards designated areas in Simcoe and other Norfolk communities.
Baby Boomer Residential Market
The first of the baby boomers are now entering their 60’s, marking the entry of this powerful demographic into the senior’s home buying marketplace. This movement has been long anticipated by the development community and has underpinned a broad range of residential housing options for an aging population.
The Ontario Government forecasts indicate that there will be 2,052,000 seniors and mature adults in the Southern Ontario market by 2025, of which approximately 650,000 will reside in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). A significant number of seniors in the GTA will have significant assets and will be able to afford to move to a lifestyle/retirement community.
In Norfolk, the number of persons moving into their senior years is no less dramatic. According to the County Population projections, the number of persons 55 years and over will increase by 20% between 2006 and 2026 to 25,670 persons.
With less concern about getting to and from work, seniors are vastly more mobile and have a broader range of housing choices and formats than other buyer groups. Typically, seniors prefer retirement residences that are either in their community or within an easy driving distance (2 hours) of friends and family members. Communities that offer a good range of amenities, walkable communities and natural areas are also favoured. However, affordability and access to quality health care are perhaps the most important features to seniors. Port Dover and other Norfolk waterfront communities appear to offer all these features and are therefore well disposed to attract these buyers.
In particular, we feel that the proximity of Norfolk to the Greater Golden Horseshoe market area, its locational attributes and the success there of recent projects positioned to seniors, make it particularly well positioned to attract an increasingly larger share of this market
Market Demand for Small Community/Lakeshore Living
Small community living offers the opportunity for families and couples to live in a slower and more relaxed environment. Demographics and work place changes, such as remote offices and flex hours, are making the option of living in a smaller town more of a reality to home buyers.
The market for lifestyle communities along the Province’s shorelines and lakes has grown tremendously in the last five to ten years. This is evident in the success of such developments as Lora Bay (Thornbury), Meneset on the Lake (Goderich), Grand Cove (Grand Bend), Sandy Cove Acres (Innisfil), The Village of Keeper’s Cove (Georgian Bay) and Wellington on the Lake (Prince Edward County). This is also evident in the growing success of The Villages of Long Point Bay in Port Rowan.
At the same time, opportunities for new home developments are becoming rarer due to servicing and policy restrictions.
The Boating Industry
Commercial and recreational boating has been a major driver of economic activity on the Norfolk waterfront. The future of boating in Lake Erie will therefore play an important role in the shaping and growth of the Lakeshore Special Policy Area.
By all indicators, boating continues to grow as a popular recreational pastime for Canadians. According to Statistics Canada, expenditure by participating households has increased steadily along with the number of boats. Canadian boat manufacturers have reported modest annual increases in deliveries since 1999.
In the past five years, average household disposable incomes in Ontario have risen from $53,099 to $58,165, suggesting greater opportunities for boat ownership.
A survey conducted in 1999 revealed that the average age of a boat owner in Ontario was 52 years. The majority of owners were 55 to 85 years of age, accounting for about 40% of all boat owners. The aging nature of the residents of Ontario and increases in disposable incomes are additional factors supporting a positive outlook for the boating industry.
In Norfolk, marinas in Port Dover, Port Rowan, St. Williams, Turkey Point and Long Point all boast high occupancy rates each year. In fact, there is a limited supply of marina facilities along the entire Lake Erie shoreline. No new marinas are planned anywhere along the coast line, due to the high costs of construction and environmental restrictions with respect to both construction and dredging and the impacts on fisheries. It is therefore likely that growth in marina space will be very limited, ensuring a positive outlook for existing operations.
Access to good quality boating will be an attraction to empty nesters and others looking to be closer to the water. Non-boaters also appreciate the activity that boating brings to the waterfront, adding interest and animation. From a commercial view point, transient boaters offer a source of customers to local businesses.
Lakeshore Special Policy Area (LSPA) Growth
The Lake Erie waterfront, and in particular Port Dover and Port Rowan, has become an increasingly popular place to live within the County. Between 1993 and 2002, approximately 52% of all the residential buildings constructed within the County’s six Urban Areas were constructed within Port Dover and Port Rowan.
The Official Plan acknowledges that the development pressures being experienced in the LSPA are attributable, in part, to the area’s excellent tourism and recreational opportunities, and its proximity to Lake Erie and associated natural features.
Municipalities work toward creating an environment that allows people to both work and live within the community. Planners seek to have the participation rate (the percentage of those that live and work in a community) as high as possible. The social, health, environment and economic development benefits of encouraging a high participation rate are well understood. However, for a variety of reasons, many households choose to live away from the region in which they work. The reasons may relate to family or other social factors. Households may choose other communities for better services, school or other lifestyle choices. The lack of affordable housing is another common reason that many people look further a field for housing.
Overspill from communities such as Brantford and Hamilton in 2001 was likely due primarily to social and lifestyle reasons.
However, we expect overspill numbers to increase from these communities as their land supply tightens. Both Brantford and Hamilton have undergone growth studies that indicate a shortfall in urban land supply and the need to expand their boundaries. As the land supply tightens, the cost of land will begin to rise and affordability will decline. In addition, housing choices will become more limited. As these factors take an increasingly strong hold on the marketplace, we believe that overspill will increase as more and more households look to Norfolk as a viable alternative.
The LSPA is exhibiting strong growth demand, most of which is focused within the Port Dover and Port Rowan areas. This is consistent with policy direction provided by the Official Plan to direct the majority of growth to Urban Areas, restrict severances in the Rural Areas, and prohibit new permanent residences in the Resort Areas
We have assumed in this study, that as Port Dover and Port Rowan grow, the County will keep pace with this growth by ensuring that the necessary upgrades to sewage and water treatment plants are in place.
Over the next ten years, there could be an additional demand for 900 dwelling units within Port Dover and an additional 210 dwelling units within Port Rowan. We believe that the amount of growth experienced in these communities will accelerate toward the end of the planning horizon, due to pricing increases in neighbouring municipalities and tourism and marketing initiatives that will bring a greater awareness of the attractiveness and lifestyle of the LSPA. The target populations for these communities could therefore be revised to reflect the findings of this report.
The majority of the forecast demand will be seniors seeking low maintenance, single-level product such as bungalows, bungalow semis and bungalow towns.
There may also be a demand for low to mid-rise condominium apartment buildings in some locations, especially in areas that can capture prominent views and vistas to the lakeshore and which are relatively close to shopping and other services.
The policies of the Official Plan direct that lifestyle communities “shall generally not be permitted outside of Urban Areas”. However, some policy direction is provided in Section 3.7.4 of the Official Plan to potentially allow for the development of lifestyle communities adjacent to Urban Areas or Resort Areas, provided that a number of other policy objectives are satisfied.