You don’t have to look hard to find a construction project taking place in Timmins.
From one end of the City to the other, roads, industrial land and downtown lots are being transformed into something new.
“We didn’t have a slowdown this year,” said Esa Saarela, chief building official with the city of Timmins. “We are experiencing quite the rush right now trying to get permits out. It’s actually a nice problem to have. In the winter you usually see things slow down but nothing did.”
Two new hotels are currently under construction. Businessman Luc Sergerie is behind the development of an 85-room Microtel Inn and Suites, operated by Wyndham, on property he owns on Riverside Drive in the west end of the city.
The other hotel is a Holiday Inn Express on Algonquin Avenue near the city’s downtown core. Adjacent to that, a commercial building’s ground floor is undergoing renovations after being vacant for a few years.
Work on a new light industrial and commercial park is being completed in the city’s west end and a new Extendicare seniors’ care facility is under construction on that land.
“Extendicare is a big project and it will certainly help the city quite a bit,” said Andre Robichaud, manager of planning for the city.
Another seniors’ residence, Autumnwood, is beginning its second phase of renovations of a former hospital in the downtown core to create assisted living units.
Timmins Garage is doubling its current space with the construction of a new facility and a bypass road is being constructed from the proposed Hollinger Pit to the Dome Mine to haul ore.
An upgrade to the sewage plant on Airport Road is expected to begin this summer and will be the largest the city has undertaken.
“It’s a $60 million project, but for us, the construction value will be $20 million. The rest is process equipment that we don’t calculate for permit values.” Robichaud said. A building permit has been issued for a vacant piece of land on Algonquin Avenue (the former Doran’s Brewery location) to develop a new hotel but construction is not expected to go ahead until next year.
“There are a few other projects in the pipeline but we can’t really talk about them until they go to council and get approval,” Robichaud said. “But they will bring some jobs to the city.”
“Dollar-wise, our construction value isalmost twice as much as last year,” said Saarela. “At the end of April last year, we were at $3.6 million but this year at the end of April we were at $5.8 million.
Every sector was up from last year quite a bit.”
For residential development, permits that have been issued and applied for are at 32 (early June).
“It’s a good number,” he said. “Typically we issue 40 to 50 permits a year.”
Builders have also started to build a few homes on speculation, something that hasn’t been done in the city for a few years.
“We haven’t seen that because the confidence wasn’t there. It’s not on a large scale, maybe two or three at a time, but it is good to see,” Saarela said.
The cost of labour and materials has always been high in Timmins and that adds to the challenge of development.
“The costs per square foot to build a house here is 20 per cent higher than Sudbury or maybe more,” Saarela said.
“It has always been a problem here.” Robichaud said some commercial and industrial projects were supposed to move forward but didn’t once the tenders were received and costs were higher than expected.
“We survived the (Xstrata Copper) Metallurgical Site closure quite well since we are still experiencing growth,” Saarela said.
“Obviously there is confidence in our economy with developers willing to invest.”