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Only one lot sold since Niven Lake ballot draw

By Lauren McKeon
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, December 11, 2008

Lot sales in Niven Lake are stagnating but that isn't raising alarm bells with city administration.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

A "for sale" sign sits buried in the snow at an unsold Niven Lake Phase VII development lot. - Lauren McKeon/NNSL photo

Since the Oct. 9 ballot draw, Niven Lake's Phase VII development has sold one additional lot. However, city administration is remaining optimisitic for the time being.

"Next year is a new year," said Jeff Humble, the city's director of planning and development.

"It's really difficult to predict. We could be strong or we could be the same as last year, or a bit lower," he added.

The city is also in a good spot to capitalize whenever there is an upturn in the housing market, said Humble.

"The fact that we have inventory on market ready to go ... puts us in a good position," he said.

At the ballot draw administration told Yellowknifer the city had expected to sell more than three lots, but not in excess of 10.

Given the near-winter timing of the draw and the general economic lurch, however, administration wasn't "too surprised" by the low attendance.

If the city sells six lots next year "we would be on target for our conservative estimates of the lot sales in Niven," said Humble.

Lower than projected sales, however, have reflected in the upcoming 2009 draft budget in terms of tax base revenue growth.

"We were hoping to get more response, we didn't get as much response as we hoped," said Carl Bird, director of corporate services.

"The assessment base didn't grow as aggressively as we hoped," he added. As a result there was a not significant growth in the city's tax base, which would have prompted additional tax revenue.

"Once someone owns the property they start paying taxes on it," said Bird.

But there's still time. Low vacancy rates in rental units might also play a part in selling Niven lots, Humble said. Although the current lots are for private ownership, the city director said there are some "multi-family parcels" in Niven Lake.

"Certainly they're available if developers express interest," said Humble. "It may be something that we look at putting to the market to help expedite some of the infrastructure that will need to go in, in the coming years."

The latest report released by the Canadian Housing and Mortgage Corporation indicated vacancy rates had dropped below one per cent, down from just under three per cent for the same period in 2007. And even in the face of a national housing slowdown, Humble said those looking for lots in Niven Lake may be wise to look ahead, purchase a property and get a builder lined up before spring.