Ontario halts most construction for 14 days
April 6, 2020
Following the lead of Quebec—and perhaps a harbinger for other provinces—the Ontario government has temporarily shut down most residential construction amid efforts to contain COVID-19.
The shutdown began at midnight on April 4 and is to last 14 days.
The change came as the government updated its list of essential businesses and services in response to recommendations from public health officials to further restrict physical interaction between people.
Residential construction that is nearing completion—including single-family, semi-detached and townhouse properties which have secured either footing or above-grade structural permits—will be allowed to continue. Renovations to residential properties that were initiated prior to April 4 will also be permitted.
Projects related to infrastructure, the health-care sector, as well those required to maintain the operations of petrochemical plants and refineries, are exempt from the shutdown.
Quebec suspended all non-essential construction on March 25. Site visits by architects are also suspended until further notice.
In Prince Edward Island, only construction projects that received a development permit before or on March 27 are allowed to proceed.
Other provinces continue to allow construction, but there is mounting belief that British Columbia may see a temporary shutdown of non-essential construction.
“It is the inevitable next step,” forecast Vancouver condo developer Jon Stovell, president and CEO of Reliance Properties and past chair of the Urban Development Institute.
Ron Rapp, CEO of the Homebuilders Association of Vancouver, sent a memo to members last week. “I told them we have the privilege to continue to work and to make darn sure they all meet the criteria of the provincial health guidelines,” he said.
But Rapp warned that much of the private construction in Metro Vancouver could be forced to close regardless of legislation.
A lack of key building supplies due to a broken trade chain, especially from China, and the number of people who can’t or won’t report to work are among the problems he noted.