Construction demand means smaller projects may take longer on P.E.I.

With all the demands for construction projects across Prince Edward Island, companies are searching for qualified workers and having to turn down or delay smaller projects.

'It's going to be tough to find people that can go and do it'

The Construction Association of P.E.I. is looking to get more people interested in the trades to help meet the need for skilled workers in the province. (Laura Meader/CBC)

People who work in construction say the industry is still booming on P.E.I. and that can mean some smaller residential projects may have to wait longer and may cost a little more.

A recent industry report says there are record high levels of housing starts and commercial and industrial building has doubled.

"I think the price has gone up and the wait time has gone up as well, and that's the tough part about trying to get small projects done," said foreman Cory Arsenault with Arsenault Bros. Construction.

"It's going to be tough to find people that can go and do it."

'Working flat out'

Arsenault is one of the subcontractors with roughly 35 workers on the construction site for the new Hampton Inn & Suites hotel site on Capital Drive, near the western edge of Charlottetown.

He says they still get calls all the time and hate to turn any down.

Subcontractor Cory Arseneault, with Arseneault Bros. Construction, speaks to project manager John Corazza for D.P. Murphy on the construction site of the six-storey hotel project for a new Hampton Inn and Suites. (Laura Meader/CBC)

The project manager for the D.P. Murphy project says there are about 80 workers on the site every weekday and most of them are from P.E.I.

"What I've been told is that there's not much room to spare right now," John Corazza said.  "Everybody, all companies, all different subcontractors are working flat out."

The new six-storey hotel is on Capital Drive — near the western edge of Charlottetown — east of Maypoint Road. (Laura Meader/CBC)

Larger construction projects like the six-storey hotel have longer-term prospects for companies and stricter deadlines.

Corazza said he did lots of forward planning and made sure in the hiring process that companies had enough staff to do the work.

'Do your homework'

That is something the Construction Association of P.E.I has been keeping an eye on.

"It's not easy right now to find skilled people, you know," said general manager Sam Sanderson.

"It's one of the biggest issues facing the construction industry, not only in P.E.I. but right across Canada there's a shortage of skilled trades."

The Construction Association of P.E.I. says customers need to do their homework and talk to different contractors for their experience and expertise. (Laura Meader/CBC)

He says they have been doing what they can to get more people educated and interested in the trades.

During times when there is a lot of demand, the association says it's important to check references and make sure the people you hire are qualified.

"Definitely do your homework," Sanderson said. "It pays to talk to multiple people, to get their experience and suggestions."

Sanderson says the demand for construction is good for the economy. There are more jobs, more equipment being bought locally and more opportunities for young people.

The boom is expected to continue for the next few years.

More P.E.I. news

With files from Laura Meader


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