Despite major projects for 2021, Manitoba’s construction industry still anxious

Manitoba’s construction industry is still anxious about the upcoming year despite good vaccine news and a number of ongoing and proposed projects for the new year.

Ron Hambley, president of the Winnipeg Construction Association, says the commercial construction industry is down about 25 per cent overall this year due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“(The construction industry) has had its share of issues, with individuals on construction sites that test positive and have to isolate, paying for additional PPE (personal protective equipment), et cetera,” said Hambley.

A rendering of the new Royal Western Aviation Museum in Winnipeg.
A rendering of the new Royal Western Aviation Museum in Winnipeg. Supplied

However, the industry is hopeful thanks to new and proposed projects for the upcoming year, he added.

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Some of those projects include the new Roquette Pea Plant in Portage la Prairie, 300 Main St., the new Royal Western Aviation Museum, buildings at Red River College, work at Polo Park and much more, said Hambley.

Among those projects are proposed Costco stores: one in West St. Paul, a possible location by the Red River Ex and the transformation of the St. James location into a business centre.

Read more: Mysterious big box store being built outside Winnipeg perimeter highway near Assiniboia Downs

“Of any facility or any store that’s done well during COVID, it’s been Costco,” said Hambley.

“So we’re not surprised to see their interest in expanding their footprint in the Winnipeg district. We’re still watching for the one out in, you know, Assiniboine/St. James.

“But certainly we’re going to hopefully see the one in North Main and the repurposing of the one on St. James this year.”

Costco has not publicly confirmed any of the plans for stores being built or renovated in Winnipeg, but proposed plans have been submitted to various council committees for approval.

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The shortage of construction supplies, especially lumber, has mostly worked itself out, but continues to be a problem for some parts of the industry, said Hambley.

“We’re more concerned, frankly, with labour supply and making sure people stay safe and healthy on the job.”

Other projects, especially downtown, include “a huge investment with the Wawanesa tower,” said Hambley, and the association is hopeful construction will move forward on Portage Place’s redevelopment as well.

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“There’s a good mix all around the city. The city of Winnipeg has got a police station, the Concert Hall, some library plans.

“We’re looking at a refit at the Museum of Human Rights for one of the spaces that have been unutilized for a while. We’re still looking at some fairly big health-care expansions,” he added, citing work happening at St. Boniface Hospital and the Health Sciences Centre.

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“So it’s all over the place, it should be an interesting year.”

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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