In the midst of tough financial times in the province, the Newfoundland and Labrador Construction Association kept up a positive outlook at the start of its annual conference in Corner Brook Friday.

"There's challenges, but we see it as being positive and moving forward," NLCA chair Ed LeGrow told CBC News.

"We've been through turbulent waters before, and I'm sure we can maintain our status quo."

Newfoundland and Labrador Construction Association Chair Ed Legrow

NLCA chair Ed LeGrow says association membership is growing, despite the economic downturn. (Colleen Connors/CBC)

The conference was a sold out event, and LeGrow said the association overall is growing, with close to 700 members.

"We're a major player in the province," said LeGrow. 

Projects on hold

Despite the positivity at the conference in Corner Brook, one delayed project in the city is cause for concern.

"We all know we have been waiting on the hospital. It is very important," said Sandy Murphy, the western director with the NLCA.

"We also know right now it's up in the air while the government restructures. We are very anxiously awaiting as a construction industry to see what the result will be."

housing construction Corner Brook

Housing developments in Corner Brook such as this one depend on the new hospital project going ahead. (Colleen Connors/CBC)

The delay in the hospital also means a slowdown in new housing construction in Corner Brook, as new developments hinge on that project.

But Murphy characterized the delay, along with the overall economic slowdown, as "short term pain."

Ed LeGrow said overall the construction industry is still humming along.

"We're still coming off a lot of larger projects. and there is new projects on the horizon. It's just a matter of setting priorities with the money that's available," said LeGrow.

Federal funding?

He liked what he heard from Transportation and Works Minister Al Hawkins who addressed the conference crowd.

"What we're hearing from him and his group is favourable. They've got challenges but we're here to work with them," said LeGrow, 

Steve May city of Corner Brook director of infrastructure and public works

Steve May, with the city of Corner Brook, updated the crowd on construction projects within the municipality. (Colleen Connors/CBC)

The city of Corner Brook however, isn't holding its breath on provincial money for some of its capital projects.

"Maybe we're going to lean a little bit more looking towards federal components," said Steve May, the city's director of infrastructure and public works.

"We're not sure what to expect at this time out of the province, but we understand it's tough times for the next couple of years."

With files from Colleen Connors