Recession talk may have spooked Cornwall building market: Rogers

Cornwall Chief Building Official Christopher Rogers. (Newswatch Group/File)

CORNWALL – The construction season in the first half of 2015 in the Seaway City was not as busy as the same period last year.

Numbers from the city’s building department show there were 303 permits issued between January and the end of June for roughly $25.6 million in work.

During the same period in 2015, 325 permits were drawn up for $37.9 million.

Also, the number of homes constructed in those six months was down – 51 family units compared to 94 in 2014.

However, Chief Building Official (CBO) Christopher Rogers told Cornwall Newswatch one project like the Knox City Center, which was built last year, can skew those numbers because an apartment building can account for 26 family units but it’s only one building.

Rogers also notes that 2014 was a “bumper year” for Cornwall – the sixth highest number of permits issued since the city started keeping permit records in 1958. Cornwall high point was 1967 when 1,069 permits were issued and the low point was 1997 when 363 permits were drawn up.

“I’m not terribly concerned at this point,” Rogers told CNW, citing permit revenue figures. The city is forecast to bring in $565,000 and there is $273,814 already paid in the first six months – roughly $9,000 behind this time in 2014.

Rogers believes talk about the dreaded “R” word – recession – could have easily spooked construction companies. “In my opinion, that can send investment and development running scared, just the mention of that word. It tends to put a damper on everything,” Rogers theorized.

In June (the last month of building statistics available) there was 93 permits issued for $10.7 million in construction.

Nearly all of that was a $9 million permit to build the new amalgamated Gladstone-East Front school on the corner of Marleau Avenue and Nick Kaneb Drive. There was also a $225,000 renovation at Nav Center to change the floor plan from eight smaller residence rooms into four larger rooms.

“I would hope that this trend at very least continues and that things pick up a bit. For the sake of the city would be like to be ahead of last year,” Rogers added.

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