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Public sector generates construction activity.

At first glance the city of Timmins appears to be bustling with construction activity.

On a drive into Timmins coming off Hwy. 11 you will see construction at Northern College's Porcupine Campus and at the Porcupine headquarters of the Ontario Provincial Police.

While travelling along Hwy. 101 you cannot miss the construction crews paving the new four-laned highway.

In the downtown core you can watch from a park bench as crews work from scaffolds on the $2-million expansion of a Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce branch. Further uptown is the construction of the new $87-million Timmins and District Hospital.

Additional projects include a new $3.5-million Ontario Hydro building, a $5-million expansion of the city's airport and a $1.1-million development of the Mattagami River waterfront.

Despite this activity, however, there is little construction work being undertaken by the private sector, complains Leo Brunet, former president of the Timmins Construction Association.

"We are not getting much from businesses," he says. "It's that recession. It's going to be a while before things pick up. People are cutting and downsizing."

A lack of expansion by the mining industry is what is affecting construction levels, concludes Brunet.

However, city planner Ron Peterson reports that there are several proposals for construction projects in the commercial and industrial sectors. These include a new restaurant/office building, the renovation of a Mike's Supermart to become a Shopper's Drug Mart, two new public schools and a new high school.

"There's work out there. Whether they (the proposals) come together is a different story," Peterson admits.

One commercial developer, however, complains that financial institutions are to blame for the current shortage of development projects.

Peter Beaucage says his attempts to secure financing from the major banks for his Highway 101 strip mall were frustrated, not by the local bank branches, but by their headquarters in Toronto.

Beaucage insists that the timing is right for his project. He intends to take advantage of the four-laning of Hwy. 101.

The planned $4.8-million mall will be located on the highway in Schumacher. The cost of construction is estimated at $1 million, and Beaucage reports that he has preleased 60 per cent of the mall's retail space.

Both Peterson and Brunet report that construction in the housing sector has slowed.

Last year 1224 permits were issued for new residential buildings and additions or alterations worth an estimated $26.7 million. By August of this year 950 such permits were issued for work with an estimated value of $15.9 million.

One housing developer who has remained busy is Lionel Bonhomme, who is constructing the fifth and sixth phases of his company's Victoria Heights subdivision in Timmins.

Bonhomme's development was started in 1986, and will cost a total of $51 million to complete.

The current phases involve 79 homes. The development calls for a total of 1,100 units, 390 of which have been completed.

Bonhomme says his project is important to the local economy as each house built requires $25,000 of material which is purchased locally.
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Title Annotation:Report on Timmins
Author:Brown, Stewart
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Article Type:Industry Overview
Date:Sep 1, 1992
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