Greater Sudbury’s development industry resilient during pandemic

extendicare sudbury
Groundbreaking of the new 256-bed Extendicare building in Sudbury

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, building and development activity in Greater Sudbury continues to be extremely strong.

Building statistics presented to council recently showed overall construction values of $322.4 million for the year, up 15.4 per cent over 2019. A total of 407 planning applications were received in 2020, including site plans, official plan amendments, minor variance, consent, pre-consultations and applications for draft plan of subdivision/condominium.

Despite the ongoing pandemic, the first five months of 2021 have showed even more impressive growth. As of May 31, $116.4 million worth of permits have been issued for residential, commercial, institutional and industrial projects, compared to $94.5 million at this time last year. A total of 193 Planning Applications have been received to date.

“This global pandemic has had a significant impact on every area of our economy, and that includes development and construction,” said Mayor Brian Bigger. “As a municipality, it has meant changing how we do business to make it easier for key projects to keep moving in this changing landscape.”

Building activity numbers recorded in 2020 “spoke volumes” about the resilience of our community, investor confidence in the local market, and our focus on economic vitality and growth. It’s very encouraging to see those strong numbers continuing in 2021, he said.

Provincial emergency orders limited all but essential construction from mid-March to mid-May 2020, and both the planning committee and committee of adjustment were suspended for several months. Council deemed building inspections and the issuing of building permits to be essential and services continued uninterrupted, however, supply chain interruptions, material price increases and new construction protocols from the Ministry of Labour created challenges.

Residential sector

The new residential home construction sector showed a significant year-over-year increase in 2020, with 436 residential units created (78 per cent higher than the 245 units created in 2019) and an overall construction value of $107.1 million (compared to $81.7 million in 2019). These values were a result of some major multi-unit development activity, including a new 137-unit retirement residence valued at $17 million.

As of May 31, permits have been issued for 139 units with a value of $40.1 million, compared to 76 units worth $13.1 million during the same period last year.

Commercial sector

Total construction values for building permits totaled $49.9 million, a 15.2 per cent increase over 2019. Commercial numbers have dipped so far this year, with total value of permits sitting at $12.2 million compared to $19.5 million at this time in 2020. However, these numbers may be lower due to restrictions under the latest provincial emergency order, which again limited all but essential construction.

Institutional aector

The Institutional sector rebounded significantly last year, largely because of a new 256-bed Extendicare facility with a construction value of $54 million. Overall, permits for new construction and renovations were valued at $105.4 million in 2020, a 74.2 per cent increase over 2019. As of May 31, numbers are slightly ahead of last year’s, at $21.5 million versus $20.1.

Industrial aector

The industrial sector recorded a drop in 2020 despite major projects in the mining sector including construction of three new buildings at the Glencore Smelter. The value of new construction and renovations permits came in at $60.5 million compared to $94.3 million in 2019.

So far this year, construction values are improving with permits to date at $39.5 million compared to $32.6 million for the same timeframe in 2020.

The city’s Planning, Economic Development and Building divisions have implemented new tools and strategies including:

  • Implementing a new electronic building permit application process.
  • Developing a business continuity support group to discuss challenges, resources and opportunities related to COVID-19.
  • Allowing electronic participation in pre-application meetings and at Committee of Adjustment.
  • Providing front-counter plans examination and walk-in services on the first floor of Tom Davies Square
  • Conducting appointments virtually and in person with COVID-19 protocols in place.
  • Partnering with Greater Sudbury Development Corporation to develop a strategic plan to support the recovery of local business, industry and organizations from the economic impacts of COVID-19.

Read it here:

Also, the GIS operations team has launched a comprehensive new online dashboard  for tracking development activity in the city from 2017 to present, providing data for residential, industrial, commercial and institutional building including:

  • value of permits by sector and overall
  • number of residential units created
  • gross square footage of ICI development
  • project details of all 2021 permits issued by quarter


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