Ontario Construction News staff writer
The Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) released a survey of its members on Monday that it says shows a majority of residential construction projects in the GTA have been delayed due the COVID-19 pandemic.
The survey covered 498 active construction projects representing 156,000 units at various stages of construction. 276 of these projects are located in Toronto alone. These interruptions will have far reaching impacts on housing supply in an already tight market and will have negative financial impacts on government coffers, the association representing GTA home builders says in a statement.
BILD says that while the residential construction industry was granted essential workplace status under Ontario’s emergency orders during the COVID-19 pandemic, the industry was only able to complete homes that were near completion and work on important infrastructure projects such as hospitals. Never-the-less overall development and building projects across the region were delayed.
“One might ask, if the building industry was granted essential workplace status, why are there new housing slowdowns,” said BILD’s president and CEO Dave Wilkes.
“The response is a bit complicated. Disruptions to the supply chain negatively impacted the ability of the industry to secure vital building materials. Worksites had to appropriately adjust to COVID-19 protocols as social distancing rules negatively impacted productivity and some municipalities had to adjust to working remotely. This slowed processing of planning and building applications and stalled developments and construction projects.”
The survey found that 65 per cent of projects in the City of Toronto reported interruptions of three to six months and 32 per cent were greater than six months. Eighty-three per cent of not yet above grade projects reported delays of three to six months and 11 per cent are greater than six months.
Eighty-five per cent of projects under construction permitted for above grade reported a delay of three to six months and five per cent are greater than six months. This situation is reflected to a greater or lesser extent in most GTA municipalities.
The Altus group examined this survey data and concluded that these holdups will result in the loss of about 9,000 housing starts over the course of the next 18 months. This will setback occupancy of over 8,000 units by the end of 2021, potentially exacerbating an already existing shortage of housing in the City of Toronto, reduce construction activity, and see the loss of 10,000 jobs per year, BILD asserts.
Federal, provincial and municipal government revenues will also be detrimentally impacted by the loss of housing starts throughout 2020 and 2021. Lost revenues include $340 million in lost development charges, $13.5 million in lost education development charges (TCDSB), $26.0 million in property taxes, $364 million HST, $53.8 million in provincial land transfer tax and $52.5 million in lost municipal land transfer tax.
“Now more than ever, all levels of government must work together to make sure that proper measures are in place to remove barriers that will unlock consumer and industry construction investments to help kick-start the economy,” Wilkes said.