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City construction hit $327 million in 2019

Although activity is down from peak of 2014 to 2018, residential development rebounds significantly in second half

This six-storey building currently under construction at Trent University’s Durham campus is one of the major projects to receive a building permit in Oshawa last year. (Photo courtesy of Trent University Durham)

Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

While the city is nowhere near its record levels of development activity in the mid-2010s, the city’s commissioner of development believes 2019 was a solid year.

In 2017, the City of Oshawa saw a record-breaking $614 million of development, along with 2,300 building permits, and 1,754 residential units.

The city smashed a trio of development records (total building permits, highest total construction value overall, and highest residential construction value) all set during the 2015 development boom.

In 2019, the city issued 980 permits for a total of $327 million of construction value. Of that total, $153.5 million was in residential, $87.4 million in industrial, $55 million in governmental/institutional, and $31 million in commercial construction.

Oshawa’s commissioner of development services Warren Munro said development was down about 15 per cent from 2018 when the total construction value was $386 million.

Munro noted the value of residential construction took a significant hit not only in Oshawa but across the board in Ontario.

“The residential market right now is somewhat depressed,” he said.

After a very slow start to the year, the second half of 2019 saw residential construction explode in the summer, including $72.5 million worth of development in August alone.

This more than doubled the previous August record of $31 million set in 2013.

Munro said huge gains were made in industrial development, which jumped from about $17 million in 2018 to $87.4 million last year.

Governmental and institutional totals were way up, according to Munro, including another record-setting August of $41.214 million, surpassing 2010’s $27.61 million.

Munro said while overall development was down in 2019, it was much more balanced.

“When one sector is down, three other strong sectors can help support it,” he said.

The commissioner stated there are already signs the residential market is rebounding, and he expects development could return to the heights of 2014 to 2018.

“We are going to look at a really good year,” he said. “I anticipate we are going to have some great activity in the first quarter.”

Some of the major projects issued building permits in Oshawa last year included:

– The $46 million CSPAC Industrial building at 1121 Thornton Rd. S., as well as another $25 million project at 1147 Thornton Rd. S.

– A $40 million seven-storey retirement home at 1224 Coldstream Dr.

– The five-storey academic student building at Ontario Tech University, valued at $38.7 million

– The $25.6 million six-storey student building for Trent University at 75 Thornton Rd. S.

– The $11.934 million Piret Holdings Inc. industrial building at 980 Thornton Rd. S.

Ward 2 city and regional councillor Tito-Dante Marimpietri is the chair of the city’s development services committee.

He said despite a year where residential development was lagging and GM’s assembly plant closed, Marimpietri said he is “ecstatic” about the amount of new development in Oshawa.

“Since taking on the role of chair, with the support of the mayor and my colleagues, I went to work immediately to add focus and strategically strengthen the position of our city as an attractive place to invest in a community which is now driven by knowledge-based industries such as education, sustainable energy, and advanced forms of technology such as artificial intelligence, which will in time supplement traditional industries, especially healthcare,” he said.

Marimpietri said he and council as a whole are focused on an “aggressive outreach strategy” to engage directly with local builders and other companies within the GTA development industry.

Eliminating “costly bureaucratic delays caused by red tape” or antiquated ways of doing business will encourage development as well, he adds.

For 2020, Marimpietri said the city needs to continue to enhance its development department. He says council and staff must push to get the new hospital planned by Lakeridge Health and ensure the construction of two new GO stations in Oshawa as part of Metrolinx’s planned expansion of the Lakeshore East rail system.

Other priorities highlighted by Marimpietri include the completion of RioCan’s commercial centre in north Oshawa and the servicing of new development lands in partnership with Durham Region.