Timmins building news: Interpaving to complete Hollinger Park design, as overall building permit volume declines

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

Interpaving Ltd. has been chosen to complete construction of the detailed design for the Hollinger Park in Timmins and, based on the detailed work plan submitted by the contractor, the project should be completed by the end of November, if weather co-operates.

A series of pre-construction activities have wrapped up, including the completion of detailed shop drawings relating to the steel, electrical, concrete, paving stones and other material components, as well as pricing and ordering of materials, fencing and heavy equipment has been mobilized.

“Over the coming weeks, the public can expect the vision of the new Hollinger Park to take form with the mobilization of additional equipment and manpower, the delivery of construction materials and site preparation activities,” said Mark Jensen, the city’s director of Community and Development Services.

“We understand the disappointment of some residents in not being able to fully utilize the park this summer.”

Previous soil sampling at the site showed elevated metals contained within the soil. While the levels are above what would be found in most parks, they are well below levels found in many similar communities where metal smelters or past mining activities are located. They are below levels that would be expected to result in adverse health effects to park users, and the city has conducted further testing to determine what additional remedial action is required, to be included in the five-year plan for the Hollinger Park.

A conceptual design was prepared by Dillon Consulting in 2018 and the city has also secured the services of an engineering firm to complete a detailed lot grading and drainage plan to accommodate the soil that is to be added to the site.

Despite work at the park, a steady decline in single family housing and building construction in recent years continued in 2019, according to a report presented at council.

Esa Saarela, the city’s chief building official, reported that 2012 was the biggest year for development and construction in the last 20 across Timmins.

Eighty-three homes were built that year.

According to Saarela, building activity has decreased year-over-year since 2014, due to high construction costs and the lack of builders and trades people in the community.

The last four to five years have seen moderate to almost below-average numbers in the residential sector, and a decrease of at least 20 percent in the number of homes built in the last five years.

His report showed the residential sector saw a decrease in building permits from 438 in 2014 to 320 in 2018, while non-residential sectors including industrial, commercial and institutional saw a decrease from 134 to 128 in the same time span.

The value of building construction projects in Timmins dramatically decreased from $55.2 million in 2017 to $40 million in 2018, but the numbers are even worse in 2017 because one project – Northern College’s integrated services building cost $13.1 million.

Timmins council points to a lack of tradespeople in the community as the reason why building developments have declined.

The number of homes being built is also at a low point, with 14 dwelling units in 2017 and 2018, although there has been an increase in multi-residential apartment buildings in the last three years due to a growing demand for low-income housing.

This year has seen 13 single family homes so far.

It’s a problem that plagues Northern Ontario communities where the cost of construction is very high.

While Timmins has many draft-approved lots in the system, there is no interest in developing them and low demand for new homes.

Saarela said this year’s revenue numbers for the building division are “encouraging” because the city has been providing services to neighbouring municipalities including Chapleau, Matheson and Iroquois Falls – increasing revenue by $53,000 since the service agreement started in June.

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