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Construction association wants all contractors on same footing.

Construction association wants all contractors on same footing

The Timmins Construction Association wants to have all contractors in the city licensed.

The association's goal is "to put everything on the same footing," says its president, Guy Vachon.

If the association is successful, anyone wanting to do work which requires a building permit must pay workers' compensation, register with the Ministry of Consumer and Corporate Affairs and have a minimum of $1 million in liability insurance.

If contractors do not have the same expenses, it leads to unfair competition, Vachon says.

Anyone can be a contractor today, he says, noting that the city only issues electrical and plumbing licenses at present.

"What we're trying to do is protect the consumer," says Vachon.

For example, if someone is doing work in a home and there is an accident, the homeowner could be liable.

Vachon says the idea of contractor licensing has received a very positive reaction from the city, especially from Mayor Dennis Welin, who, he notes, is a former contractor.

An association draft proposal on contractor licensing was sent to the city, which responded with its concerns. A second draft has now been sent to the city.

"In all likelihood something like this could take another three or four years to implement," Vachon says.

PLANS ROOM

Among the association's main accomplishments so far, the president lists its plans room which was officially opened last November.

Specifications for jobs that are up for bids are displayed in the room. Association members with a key to the room can view the specifications and decide if they want to make a bid.

Currently, 25 keys have been issued to association members at a cost of $100 each.

Vachon explains that the bids room is convenient for contractors because they no longer have to send away for the drawings, which involves a deposit and administrative costs.

"It gives the contractor a reason to belong to the association," adds Vachon.

The ultimate goal is to have a bid depository in Timmins, says Vachon. "But you must crawl before you can walk."

At a bid depository, bids are submitted and opened. The one located nearest to Timmins is in Sudbury.

The bids room is located in the Timmins Chamber of Commerce building and tentatively will be moving when the chamber moves to its new building in October. Room has been allocated in the new building for the bids room.

ESTABLISHING ITSELF

The still relatively-new association is working to establish itself in the city. The organization was formed in 1989.

"It's main mandate now is to get off the ground and get started," says president Guy Vachon.

There are currently more than 90 paid-up members, including contractors, road builders, architectural firms and cement companies.

"We've got them all," says Vachon.

The association is attempting to build up its membership.

"We're shooting for 150 members this year," Vachon says, noting that the organization is two-thirds of the way there.

Vachon explains that the organization was formed because contractors felt they needed a unified voice.

The association's profile in the community was greatly increased in May when it hosted a very successful home show, which attracted 92 exhibitors including some from other parts of Ontario and from Quebec.

In all, 6,000 people attended the show. The association raised $6,000 which it contributed to the Timmins and District Hospital Fund.

"We're hoping to make this an annual event," says Vachon, who believes the home show really put the organization on the map.

Vachon, who will be completing his one-year term as president in October or November, will be replaced as president by Leo Brunet of Timmins Contracting.

CONSTRUCTION ACTIVITY

Association secretary Denis Alarie says the construction industry in Timmins is not as active as it was last year.

"I don't think it (economic conditions) looks very good," says Alarie, who is president of Leo Alarie and Sons Ltd.

He notes that the ERG Resources gold tailings reclamation project, now in limbo, created a lot of work for association members last year.

"Things are clamping right down all over," he says, noting that the activity is not near the level of last year.

Last year also had retail expansion, such as the new Sears, Canadian Tire and IGA stores.

"There was lots of work coming up," Alarie recalls.

This year is not just slower when compared to last year, it is slower than normal.

Alarie doesn't believe that the upcoming construction of the Timmins and District Hospital will change much for local contractors.

The project is so big that not many local firms can become involved, he explains.

In fact, he believes it may have a negative effect for local contractors, as their employees may leave for higher-paying jobs with larger, outside contractors working on the hospital project.

COMPETITION

Alarie notes that there is stiff competition for work in all parts of Northern Ontario.

For example, he notes his company was one of 12 bidders on a recent $500,000 project in Marathon.

"You don't see that in a normal year," he says, noting that usually there would be only three or four bidders for such a small project.

"I think it's going to be a couple of years before it gets back to where it should be," he says.
COPYRIGHT 1990 Laurentian Business Publishing, Inc.
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Copyright 1990, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Timmins Report; Timmins Construction Association
Author:Bickford, Paul
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:Aug 1, 1990
Words:880
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