Building permits surge between June and July

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In the wake of the June 20 flood, people were left homeless, businesses shut down and animals were stranded throughout Calgary’s streets. Amongst this devastation, the construction industry has helped improve Calgary’s economy.

Statistics Canada published a report on Sept. 9 that suggested for the month of July, the total value of Calgary’s building permits was $843.9 million. This number is up 56.6 per cent from June and 116.2 per cent from last July.

As homeowners and businesses continue to repair damaged property, construction companies have dutifully taken on the extra work. While some companies were swamped, others anticipated it would be more.

One company, Cana Construction, took on the daunting task of repairing the Scotiabank Saddledome.

“There was quite a bit of overtime involved,” said Fabrizio Carinelli, president of Cana Construction. “A lot of weekends and a lot of sacrifices for many employees. There were a lot of holidays and vacations cancelled and deferred as people put forth the commitment required to put Calgary back on its feet.”Construction4 resizeJoe Cormier, a contractor working with PCL Construction, installs an access panel at the Calgary Zoo’s Kitamba Café after flooding destroyed many areas of the park.

Photo by Jenica Foster

Thirty million gallons of water were pumped out of the Saddledome, everything on the event floor that touched water had to be stripped, gutted and replaced.

Cana had crews working 24-hour days, seven days a week with two 12-hour shifts, all to get the Saddledome back up and running in 69 days. Cana managed to re-open the Saddledome Sept. 1.

It wasn’t just the Calgary Flames who had to take out building permits. Many other owners, both commercially and residentially, have had to rebuild their lives – and need the proper permits to do so.

However, Carinelli said the construction industry was busy even before the flood. Our economy is driven by the energy sector, he said, which generates activity in related sectors. At any time, there are about five businesses downtown undergoing construction and at least that many thinking about it, he said.

While the industry was already thriving, Cliff de Jong, senior special projects officer for the City of Calgary, said the flood would have significantly impacted those numbers.

“It’s an indicator of the overall strength in the construction sector,” he said.

Despite the large number of building permits trickling in, there is still more to come. De Jong said he hasn’t seen permits yet for rebuilds of sites that had to be demolished.

“We are going to be dealing with the flood for a long time,” he said.

Ryan Young, project manager for PCL Construction Management Inc., has had a first-hand look at the amount of repairs needed after the flood. His company has taken on the job of repairing 12 buildings at the Calgary Zoo, including the areas housing lions, flamingos, elephants, hippos and giraffes.Construction1 resizeRyan Young, project manager for PCL Construction Management Inc. and Kelly Sorensen, PCL superintendent, lead the flood repair work their company is performing at the Calgary Zoo after the June 20 flood damaged the park.

Photo by Jenica Foster

Despite the added work PCL has taken on, Young said the company hasn’t hired more people to meet this demand.

“It was less than we originally anticipated,” he said. “We were geared up and had equipment shipped down from Edmonton. It trickled, but never really took off. We were expecting we were going to get swamped.”

PCL vice president and district manager Rob Otway confirmed Young’s statement. He said there has been a higher demand for building materials like drywall, but the company has been able to stay on top of the overall workload.

“It’s been very manageable and not as large of an impact as people might think,” he said.

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