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Hamilton’s low vacancy rate a strong factor in 2017’s construction boom

0 438 Economic

by Dena Fehir

Construction in Hamilton, Ont. is up 35 per cent this year from 2016, with city officials saying a low industrial and commercial vacancy rate is one of the primary reasons.
Hamilton’s low vacancy rate a strong factor in 2017’s construction boom

"The increase in commercial and industrial for the year to date is related to several factors. We have numerous successful companies that are renovating or expanding, and, due to our basically one per cent vacancy rate in industrial/commercial, new buildings are starting to go up to meet the demand from companies moving here from elsewhere," said Glen Norton, City of Hamilton director of economic development.

"Our industrial vacancy rate is so low (essentially zero per cent) that any new companies locating here are having to build something for themselves. We are an attractive alternative to the Greater Toronto Area based on our development charges and industrial land prices."

Overall, builds reflecting $724 million in construction value have been documented over the first six months of this year, compared to $535 million over the same period last year.

However, the actual number of building permits is down slightly, to 4,326 this year compared to 4,788 last year, but the overall value of actual 2017 projects is bigger than that in 2016.

"Namely, there is the $88-million expansion project of the Hamilton water and wastewater treatment plant accounting for a large portion of construction value," said Ed VanderWindt, City of Hamilton chief building official.

This is the first phase of the water and wastewater treatment plant expansion that will take place over five years and eventually total more than $300 million.

A June 2017 report from the Planning and Economic Department states that in that month, $104.26 million in building permits were issued, which accounts for 906 permits and 193 zoning/verification/property reports.

For that month, the residential component was the strongest, accounting for 69.99 per cent of the month's total and valued at $72.98 million. Of the 661 permits in the residential category, 115 permits were issued for new single family dwellings at a total value of $30.64 million. Commercial activity accounts for 12.66 per cent, or $13.20 million, with 56 permits issued. Industrial activity accounts for 8.47 per cent or $8.83 million and government and institutional activity accounts for 7.70 per cent or $8.03 million.

Major school projects included in the City of Hamilton June 2017 submission to Statistics Canada, which includes non-residential projects of $250,000 or greater, are alterations to two secondary schools, Westmount and Hill Park.

Outlining the work being done at Hill Park, Todd White, Hamilton Wentworth District School Board chair and Ward 5 Trustee, said the overall budget is $5.2 million, with phase one of two already underway.

The project will relocate various board programs and create a learning centre. Some of the programs are expected to be operational for the start of the new school year in September.

Westmount is a four-phase project with the revitalization of a learning commons and six science labs as well as upgrading washrooms and fire alarms.

"This project is part of our board-wide five-year Secondary School Facility Benchmark Strategy. This strategy allocates funding of $11 million annually for the following identified priorities at each secondary school: science labs, learning commons, playing fields and gym floors," said White.

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