PEI

Higher costs, labour shortage not slowing down P.E.I. construction

P.E.I. is looking at another year of double digit growth in the construction sector despite rising costs and difficulty finding workers.

‘Hundreds of openings as we speak, and the need is only going to increase’

The value of single residential home building permits is double what it was two years ago. (Brian McInnis/The Canadian Press)

P.E.I. is looking at another year of double digit growth in the construction sector despite rising costs and difficulty finding workers.

Building permits issued through the first five months of 2021 show an increase in value of more than 50 per cent, as compared to 2019.

"Construction continues to grow, you know, almost on a daily basis," said Sam Sanderson, general manager of the Construction Association of P.E.I.

"The demand for commercial and residential construction continues to increase."

The reason for the growth is straightforward, said Sanderson. P.E.I.'s population has been growing faster than anywhere else in the country for years. In 2019, P.E.I. was targeting a population of 160,000 by 2022. Even with the pandemic, P.E.I. hit that target in April.

Those people need places to live and work, and that means new construction.

The growth has made finding labour a struggle, said Sanderson.

"One of the largest issues, if not the largest issue, in construction is the lack of available skilled trades and labour," he said.

"We have, you know, hundreds of openings as we speak, and the need is only going to increase."

Construction costs have been increasing recently, but that does not appear to be deterring developers from getting on with new projects, said Sanderson.

Those increased costs would account for some of the increase in the value of permits, he said. Building costs could be 25 to 30 per cent higher than they were two years ago.

Commercial, single-family home permits see big growth

While some subsectors have seen huge increases, other have fallen.

Commercial permits are up almost 300 per cent over 2019, and permits for single family homes have doubled.

Permits for industrial buildings are, however, just half what they were two years ago, apartment buildings are down 15 per cent.

More from CBC P.E.I.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kevin Yarr is the early morning web journalist at CBC P.E.I. You can reach him at kevin.yarr@cbc.ca.

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