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Despite pandemic, Sudbury building permits topped $322M in 2020

Permits were up 15.4% over 2019, and permits issued to May 2021 are up over 2020
Construction
(File)

Building and development activity in Greater Sudbury continues to be extremely strong in all but the industrial sector, despite unprecedented challenges presented by COVID-19, Mayor Brian Bigger says.

This despite the impact the global pandemic has had “on every area of Sudbury’s economy,” and that includes development and construction, said Bigger in a news release.

“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,” the mayor said. “The building activity numbers we saw 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.”

As the pandemic began last year, provincial emergency orders limited all but essential construction from mid-March to mid-May 2020, and both Planning Committee and Committee of Adjustment were suspended for several months. 

While city council deemed building inspections and the issuing of building permits to be essential services and they carried on uninterrupted, supply chain interruptions, material price increases and new construction protocols from the Ministry of Labour presented unique challenges, the news release stated.

Nonetheless, building statistics show 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 rezonings, site plans, Official Plan amendments, minor variances, consents, pre-consultations and applications for draft plans of subdivision/condominium.

The trend continued in the first five months of 2021. As of May 31, $116.4 million worth of permits have been issued for residential, commercial, institutional and industrial projects, compared to $94.5 at this time last year. A total of 193 planning applications have been received to date.

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

Greater Sudbury’s commercial sector also maintained healthy numbers in 2020, in terms of both new construction and renovations. 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 Sector

The institutional sector rebounded significantly last year, largely thanks to the new 256-bed Extendicare facility in Sudbury’s South End, 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, this year’s numbers are sitting just slightly ahead of last year’s, at $21.5 million versus $20.1.

Industrial Sector

The industrial sector is the only one that saw a decrease in 2020. Despite a number of major projects in the mining sector last year, 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 in this sector have begun to show some improvement. Total construction value of permits to date is $39.5 million compared to $32.6 million for the same timeframe in 2020.