Construction upturn has raised fears of a lack of construction workers including site superintendents, project managers and estimators
By Frank O'Brien, WI
A chorus of analysts predicting an economic downturn in Metro Vancouver is being drowned out by the tattoo of hammers as building permits roar off, perhaps into a record year.
Despite the Bank of Montreal, TD Bank and the Conference Board of Canada cautioning the Vancouver region will see a dip in everything from consumer confidence to real estate investment in 2012, construction spending in the Lower Mainland posted its fourth annual gain last year with a 7% surge from a year earlier, Statistics Canada reports, and this year is shaping up to be even stronger.
“The non-residential investment turnaround in 2011 is a positive sign,” said Keith Sashaw, president of the Vancouver Regional Construction Association (VRCA). “All three building sectors posted gains in 2011, with institutional-government spending up for a second year in a row, and commercial and industrial posting their first annual gain in two and five years, respectively.”
Metro Vancouver saw total non-residential investment spending in the region rise to $2.7 billion in 2011 compared with $2.6 billion a year earlier.
“The fourth-quarter decline is viewed as temporary, as we saw a large rise in November building permits, and we expect the fourth-quarter permits to come in higher than the third,” said Sashaw. “This, combined with improving market conditions in Vancouver commercial real estate and general economic growth in Metro Vancouver in 2011, offers a positive outlook for 2012.”
Last year, commercial building investment spending was $434.5 million, compared with $541.2 million in 2010. Industrial building investment spending climbed, however, by 7.8% to
Large construction projects that will be underway this year include:
• the Evergreen Line, a $1 billion-plus rapid-transit project;
• Metrotower III in Burnaby, a $170 million 29-storey office tower by developer Ivanhoé Cambridge and general contractor Ledcor;
• PCI Developments Corp. is forging ahead with its mixed-use 820,000-square-foot mega-project at Marine Drive and Cambie Street. Cineplex Entertainment will spend $10 million to build an 11-screen multiplex that will anchor the Marine Gateway development;
• Guildford Town Centre has launched a $280 million expansion and redevelopment project;
• the Tsawwassen First Nation has approved a 1.8-million-square-foot retail complex in South Delta that will be the biggest shopping centre in B.C.; and
• institutional projects include the $3.3 billion Highway 1/Port Mann Bridge project; Fraser Health’s new Jim Pattison Outpatient and Surgery Centre; and the new RCMP E-division headquarters in Surrey.
This story was first published in Western Investor.