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Slowdown predicted in Timmins after 10-year high.

Slowdown predicted in Timmins after 10-year high

The construction industry in Timmins reached new heights last year, but it is expected to come down to earth a bit in 1990.

With just less than $70 million in building permits issued, 1989 was the best year for construction in the past decade.

Leading the way was more than a doubling of activity in the commercial sector.

The second best year for construction during the past 10 years was 1988, with $6.8 million recorded, says city planning director Ron Peterson.

Peterson credits the jump to several major projects. These included an IGA store worth about $2.5 million, the addition of a Sears store to the Timmins Square Mall worth about $4.2 million, a $3-million hotel and a Canadian Tire store.

In fact, in the 1980s $42.6 million worth of commercial construction was undertaken, meaning that last year's $17.5 million accounted for about 40 per cent of the decade.

However, the picture does not look as bright for 1990.

Peterson says the only planned commercial project which looks like it's going to be big in 1990 is a mall development across Riverside Drive from the Timmins Square. The approximately 40,000-square-foot project is planned to include restaurants, retail outlets and a gas bar.

The value of residential construction in 1989 exceeded the average annual amount of the past 10 years.

Peterson notes there were 334 permits issued last year.

The current year has not started well in all sectors.

"For 1990 we're behind where we were in 1989, but January, February and March are very slow months," says Peterson. "I don't know if we'll have the year we had last year - probably not because of the large commercial influx - but I think residential construction will be much the same in value."

However, Peterson is uncertain if the city will issue 330-plus units, but thinks it will probably come close.

One of the problems facing residential construction in Timmins is whether or not enough serviced lots can be brought onto the market, Peterson explains.

"There are not too many serviced lots left."

However, additional phases of current developments can be registered and serviced, says Peterson. "That has to be done. I would think it will be."

There are also a few non-profit housing projects which should begin in 1990.

The City of Timmins Non-Profit Housing Corporation is finalizing drawings and preparing to tender a 61-unit senior citizens project. The project depends on provincial government approval.

There's also a private non-profit group which may start a 40-unit family project.

"Hopefully they will get going this year," says Peterson. "Those are the two big projects which look like they'll fly in 1990."

Industrial construction, dominated by the city's mining sector, has been reasonably constant over the past three years, with new buildings and additions running somewhere between $10 million and $11 million in value.

The only major project on the horizon is the planned $60-million Timmins and District Hospital.

Leo Brunet, vice-president of the Timmins Construction Association, says contractors he has talked to think there is a busy year on the way for all sectors, but it won't be as good as last year.

"I think it will be a good year for residential (construction) because we need houses here in Timmins," he says, noting that the apartment vacancy rate in the city is less than one per cent.

Whatever the level of construction, Timmins has been facing an ongoing shortage of skilled labor.

"One of the problems that we've experienced is the time it takes for people to get hold of contractors, get estimates and physically get the work done because everyone is so busy."

Brunet says the shortage of skilled tradespeople, such as bricklayers and blocklayers, is a major problem.

Tradespeople are getting older, he notes, and "not too many people want into those trades."
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Title Annotation:Construction Report; Timmins, Ontario
Author:Bickford, Paul
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:May 1, 1990
Previous Article:Construction activity levels off after past year's 'dramatic' hike.
Next Article:New hospital main event in Timmins construction.

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