Drone photo of Summit View development in Collingwood by Devonleigh Homes.


By Marc Huminilowycz

Southern Georgian Bay is undergoing change. Our region continues to attract newcomers of all ages, many from the greater Toronto area, offering an idyllic lifestyle with fresh air, clean water, a myriad of outdoor activities, amenities, health and community services, and a vibrant cultural, dining, and shopping scene, along with small business opportunities—anchored by the best skiing in Southern Ontario. Nicknamed “Toronto North” and “The Hamptons North” by some, we are gradually developing our own unique identity or brand as a great, four-season place to live and work, located within a short driving distance from Canada’s largest urban centre.

From a real estate market perspective, where are we now, and where do we go from here? Are we in a buyer’s, seller’s, or balanced market? Is that about to change? As we enter a typically strong spring market, Escarpment Magazine interviewed local realtors, developers, municipal planners, and property appraisers to get their take on the past and present state of the market, current development activity, and predictions moving forward.

A Buyer’s, Seller’s or Balanced Market?

Real estate appraisers are called upon to prepare valuations of a home’s value based on comprehensive research and analysis of the market. Jacqueline Boland, senior commercial appraiser and co-owner of HG Appraisers in Collingwood, comes from a strong background in finance, having worked as a stock analyst on Bay Street and Wall Street, and as a financial analyst at a pension firm. She offers her analysis of the current Southern Georgian Bay market.

“It feels like sellers, buyers, and developers are in a different place than one year ago,” said Boland. “Early statistical evidence indicates optimism and a thawing of the freezing market, but it’s still not at historical norms. We have been discussing the volatile market with our clients for some time now. Many homeowners who would choose to sell are remaining in place so as not to give up a low mortgage payment. A number of buyers are sitting on the sidelines still, anticipating potential deals when refinancing begins to add pressure. Both sides are looking for a substantial change in affordability, and that is creating a very tight market.” 

Boland’s partner, Mike Gillis, a senior residential appraiser, offers his opinion. “The market was a bit of a rollercoaster in the last few years, peaking in early 2022 as a seller’s market, especially for residential properties in desirable locations,” he said. “Changes to interest rates and lending policies brought about a decline as buyers pulled back quickly and sellers remained exposed with optimistic pricing. Often characterized as either ‘buyer’s’ or ‘seller’s,’ our market has stood out for its lack of both demand and supply from an appraisal perspective. Activity is now the key ingredient for a more balanced market.” Real estate brokers and agents in Southern Georgian Bay, with their hands firmly on the pulse of the local market and sales activity, can perhaps offer the best perspective on the current and future market. We reached out to several realtors with a number of questions. These are the answers from those who responded. 

“The flattening of Bank of Canada rates and an anticipation of decreases in lending rates as the year advances seems to be buoying consumers and we have seen a significant increase in buyer lead activity,” said Desmond von Teichman, Broker of Record, Royal LePage Locations North. “Are we in a buyer’s or seller’s market? A sale to listings ratio of 40-60% is considered balanced – under is a buyer’s market and over is a seller’s market. At the end of last year, we were at 36%. While that would indicate a buyer’s market, I am saying to folks that the trend is towards balance, and I’m forecasting a technically balanced market as we head into spring.”

Ron Picot, Realtor, The Picot Team, Chestnut Park Real Estate, Collingwood, noted that sales activity and demand are projected to be stronger in the months to come and into 2025 if the “inflation genie can be further reduced and corralled”. “Although MLS sales have been slow but after bottoming out in December 2023 for a second time in two years, there is hope that unit sales growth will continue after increasing 41% to 89 properties and 34% to 119 properties in January and February of this year respectively, with inflation continuing to decrease and interest rates going down in the second half of this year,” he said.

The grand prize for The Princess Margaret Home Lottery was part of Primont’s “The Summit” community which is comprised of 16 exclusive chalet style homes located at the top of Camperdown Road. 

According to Giovanni Boni, Real Estate Agent at Bosley Real Estate, the Toronto market is starting to experience an uptick. “Sales are going over asking, and they have multiple offers. We are seeing properties staying on the market for fewer days again,” he said. “When the Toronto market gets hot, it affects everyone. I’m starting to see the market pick up again, not all over the board, but for properties that are priced right and offer something unique or turnkey with good curb appeal. There are a lot of buyers who have been forced to take a seat on the bench in the past year, so they are ready to go out there and buy. It’s exciting to see more confidence in the market.” 

“The real estate market has been experiencing a shift from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market in recent months,” said Sales Representative Sue Creed from Forest Hill Real Estate in Collingwood. “Even with the low inventory of available homes, buyers are currently in a stronger negotiating position, having more negotiating power and often being able to secure better terms, such as lower prices, seller concessions, and more flexibility in closing options. Buyers should still be prepared to act quickly on desirable properties, while sellers may need to be more flexible with their pricing and terms. As more sellers enter the market, the pricing of homes is expected to adjust accordingly. It is anticipated that by the fall, the market may transition to a more balanced state, where neither buyers nor sellers have a significant advantage.” 

Owen Sound broker Wanda Westover of Wanda Westover Real Estate believes that Ontario’s market is currently in a state of transition, moving from a period of recovery to a new phase. 

“The real estate market is complex, shaped by various factors including location, property type, and demand,” she said. “Our area is currently experiencing a balanced market, making it a competitive time for sellers. However, as more homes are listed by mid-April, we may see a shift towards a Buyer’s Market, making the timing of a sale crucial.” 

New Developments

Despite the uncertain economy and the volatile real estate market, new residential development appears to be progressing steadily in the municipalities that comprise Southern Georgian Bay.

“Our market is definitely unique,” says Brittany Robertson, Manager of Land Development at Crozier and Associates Consulting Engineers and current President of the Georgian Triangle Development Association. “We are currently experiencing a steady demand for a wider choice of homes, from retiring seniors to a new crop of buyers—a lot of young professionals from the GTA who like to work hard and play hard. They’re moving here because they could continue to work remotely after COVID. They’re looking for a balanced lifestyle in an affordable home close to recreation and amenities, ideally with a garage and a backyard.”

Developers interviewed for this article shared similar observations about the future of new housing: continued growth due to increasing demand from people wanting to leave the city; a demand for a full cross-section of housing types; a shift toward multi-generational living arrangements; a blend of sustainability, innovation, and responsiveness to the changing needs of shifting demographics; projects that encourage interaction, community building, and a sense of belonging.

From east to west, the following is a summary of current development activity by municipality, with highlights of some notable projects.

Artist’s rendering for Summit View development in Collingwood by Devonleigh Homes. 

Wasaga Beach

According to Trevor Houghton, Director of Planning and Development Services in Wasaga Beach, there are currently approximately 3,583 residential units— either draft-approved or in some stage of the development process. A review of the town’s Active Development Plan Map, available online, reveals additional development applications under review— representing hundreds more potential units. 

“In addition to current draft-approved and registered plans of subdivisions, new growth opportunities include the underdeveloped parcels of land in the town’s west end—Beachwood Road,” says Houghton. “Other future residential growth will be encouraged in the new Strategic Growth Areas proposed throughout the town as part of the new Official Plan review process.” 

One such growth area is the towns carefully designed, debated, and long-anticipated Downtown Development Master Plan, which includes: Beachfront District— the entertainment and activity center; Lower Main—the center of Wasaga Beach’s year-round residential population and community social gathering place; and Upper Main—the downtown gateway, mixed-use development. Another noteworthy project coming soon from developer Primont is Wasaga Walk— townhomes by the beach starting from the $600s. 


A Township’s Planning Department website currently shows only six projects, representing approximately 280 residential units (townhomes, single and semi-detached homes, and apartments), currently in various stages of review and approval. 

“We are working on a new Official Plan, which is very exciting,” says Clearview Director of Planning and Building, Amy Cann. “It will guide our growth and development over the next twenty years. We are keen to see policies and zoning provisions put in place to allow for accessory residential units, in accordance with Provincial direction. The draft Plan will also have a greater focus on climate resiliency and will continue to prioritize the protection of agriculture and our natural heritage. We are also completing a Master Servicing Study for the Creemore Settlement Area to address how development in the village will be serviced in the long term.” 


Despite a relatively flat real estate market in 2023 and the challenge of upgrading its water treatment infrastructure, Collingwood continues to build at a steady pace. The Town’s Planning Department website lists approximately 20 applications, consisting of over 3,800 new residential units listed under “Proposed Major Developments.” These include single and semi-detached homes, condos, townhomes, apartments, retirement homes, and projects to support affordable housing. 

One significant development is Summit View from Devonleigh Homes, a master-planned community at Poplar Sideroad and High Street, billed as “a four-season playground offering a relaxed pace of living,” with over 400 single-family homes. This is Devonleigh’s second major development in Collingwood. The company also has projects in Markdale and Huntsville. “Our current projects encompass a diverse range of properties designed to appeal to various segments of the market, including first-time homebuyers, young families, expanding households, retirees, and people looking to downsize,” says Justin McClintock of Devonleigh. “We hold a firm conviction that one of the key factors contributing to the sustained values of our communities is their evolution into neighbourhoods predominantly occupied by homeowners, characterized by family-oriented living.” 

Perhaps the most ambitious and unique project in Collingwood is the Poplar Regional Health & Wellness Village, a partnership between the Town and Di Poce Management Limited, a Canadian holding and investment company. The first of its kind in Canada, the development will include 2,200 housing units (with a minimum of 10% allocated to attainable and affordable housing), parks and trails, 1 million square feet of medical, health, and wellness services, and 600,000 square feet of office, research, and innovation uses. 

“This is a transformational project,” said Summer Valentine, Collingwood Director of Planning, Building and Economic Development. “The Town adopted a new 2023 Official Plan in December 2023, which articulates how and where growth is intended to be accommodated. The major opportunities for growth are a combination of infill and intensification in strategic growth areas and in established residential/employment within the built-up area boundary, as well as designated greenfield areas.” 

“We have future development land to the east of Aquavil, which will include low-rise condos, a low-rise seniors’ building, and a commercial plaza. Timing for this is likely another five years away,” said Susan Williston of Royalton. “Our demographic is generally fifty-plus established professionals looking to relocate out of the city or wanting to invest in a second home for weekend/seasonal use.”

Closer to the mountain, Windfall at Blue from developer Georgian Communities recently began selling in its final phase of detached and semi-detached homes. “Windfall is central to everything great about life in The Blue Mountains,” said V.P. of Sales and Marketing, Mike Parker. “We’ve had a lot of success here and are very proud of the community. Our original vision has become a reality—a place where nature and neighbourhood are in perfect balance.”

Artist’s rendering of Primont’s The Summit development off Camperdown Road in the Blue Mountains. 

In addition to Windfall, Georgian is currently in the initial phases of designs for a new residential community within the designated settlement of Nottawa, with a draft plan to include approximately 500 new residences in the community over the next ten years. “Our vision includes diverse housing designs that cater to a broad spectrum of homeowners, their preferences, and their needs, creating communities that not only meet the highest standards of living but also enrich the lives of future residents. We focus on experiences, crafting environments that resonate with our homeowners’ desires and dreams of how they want to live.” 

East of Thornbury in the prestigious community of Camperdown are two new communities from developer Primont: The Summit, consisting of 16 lots with homes backing onto the mountain and views of Georgian Bay (selected as the Grand Prize of the Spring 2024 Princess Margaret Home Lottery); and The Summit 2—31 lots located on a private cul-de-sac, with sustainable solar panel-ready design, smart home features, and roughed-in conduits for electric vehicle charging. This project won the 2023 Ontario Home Builders Association award for its Aspen A model. 

Asked about the near future of residential development in Southern Georgian Bay, Primont Marketing Manager Sierra Shearer observed, “We’re seeing a healthy demand for a full cross-section of housing types in the community, ranging from more affordable townhomes to exclusive higher-end homes. Our region is able to offer activities for all seasons, excellent amenities and retail access nearby, and the feel of a smaller community.” 

Grey Highlands

Mostly rural and without municipal services, development in this municipality is being focused primarily in its only Primary Settlement Area, Markdale, said Grey Highlands Manager of Planning, Matt Rapke. Here, there are six development projects in the works, potentially comprising 1,200 residential units made up of single detached homes, townhomes, and apartments. 

Currently, the municipality is undertaking visioning sessions regarding the future of the “Beaver Valley Corridor,” which includes the Beaver Valley Ski Club and the Talisman property. It is engaging with stakeholders and community members to seek feedback and input for an overall Beaver Valley vision that will provide guiding principles for future undertakings in the area. Regarding future residential development here, Rapke stated that most of the valley is regulated by the Niagara Escarpment Commission, which directs development approvals in its regulated areas. 

Developer/Mortgagee Co-Branding

A unique partnership between RBC (Royal Bank of Canada) Collingwood and local developers and builders is making it easier for borrowers to purchase a home by offering firm mortgage approvals at the time of the mortgage application, as opposed to pre-approvals. 

RBC Senior Mortgage Specialist, Michael Morris, explains the process: “A firm approval at the time of an application, regardless of whether the closing is a year or more out, assures builders that the purchase will close while offering home buyers peace of mind,” he said. “This is better than a pre-approval, which qualifies the client for their borrowing capacity and then goes through an approval application as the closing approaches.” 

The partnership offers other benefits to builders and purchasers: capped mortgage rates, such as the (limited time) 3.99% fixed rate offered to prospective Windfall buyers last fall; complimentary life insurance; and blanket appraisals— appraised values of all homes in an entire development project, approved in advance. 

As Southern Georgian Bay enters another spring real estate season, buyers, sellers, and real estate professionals are wondering where the market will go from here. With a likely increase in inventory and a possible shift downwards in borrowing rates, will we continue to be in a buyer’s market, or will there be a return to balance and steady growth in the region? 

A recent report from the Lakelands Association of Realtors regarding historic non-waterfront median prices in our region clearly shows a gradual linear trend upward year over year (with the exception of a huge spike in 2022 followed by a leveling off to 2021 values)—from approximately $275,000 in 2015 to about $650,000 in January of this year. Time will tell. 


According to Meaford’s Director of Development Services, Robert Voigt, there are many multi-unit residential and larger subdivision projects moving through the “land entitlement processes,” which will result in an increasing number of residences being built in the near future. The municipality’s website currently reveals seven major projects totaling almost 1,000 units, ranging from subdivisions, a seniors’ complex with apartments, townhomes, and long-term care beds, a mixed-use redevelopment project containing hotel rooms and condos, and a 20-room downtown hotel.

“These larger-scale projects are located in the urban areas of Meaford that have municipal servicing,” said Voigt. “This will be the centre of the majority of the expected growth, with denser forms of development including mixed-use with residential and commercial components, varying between infill and greenfield projects. The number of applications and the pace of land development and construction are still moving toward a peak that we have not yet reached.”

Owen Sound

About thirty minutes’ drive west of Meaford, away from the shadow of the Escarpment, stands this established, “complete” municipality with a proud history. It boasts a vibrant cultural and dining scene, abundant outdoor recreational opportunities, a growing commercial and service base, excellent healthcare facilities including a well-staffed and equipped hospital, and a high quality of life—with more affordable real estate to boot. 

According to Owen Sound’s Manager of Planning and Heritage, Sabine Robart, the city approved approximately 1,450 residential units in the past two years, including a mix of townhouses and apartments. In addition, approved plans for a subdivision in the southeast part of the city, which include single detached homes, townhomes, and purpose-built rentals, could add an additional 1,400 units. 

“There are also a number of notable projects located along the City’s waterfront, with fantastic views of Georgian Bay and direct access to our extensive trail and active transportation network,” said Robart. E