The Gleaner

Residential construction starts back up again

Sarah Rennie

In a bid to ensure the province does all it can to stave off a housing crisis, residential construction was declared an essential service and work was able to resume on April 20, but only on contracts for jobs to be completed by the end of July. It’s a critical distinction, says Richard Myre, who own a construction company in Saint-Anicet. One that means that while some construction workers are able to go back, his company is still sitting idle.

“They want to get the wheel going with the most important jobs at first,” says Myre, and with the supply chain having to ramp up after a month-long stall due to public health measures, “it’s a mega big wheel.” And although spring is usually a busy time for construction companies, “this year is going to be a very slow year,” he notes, suggesting that “customers are going to have to be patient.”

So far, Myre has already seen some bigger commercial jobs be pushed to next year. “The time we’re losing now, we’re not going to be able to make it up,” he says, noting that while jobs are not lost, start dates will certainly reflect the situation. He is hopeful that the Quebec government will allow the remaining construction companies to return to work soon, after seeing how smoothly it goes with this first wave.

“We’re going to have to adjust to the situation,” Myre admits, as like most other sectors, construction will be forced to adopt new social distancing policies and a handful of regulations around hand-washing stations, tool sharing and ensuring that workers are not sick. “It’s not always easy to be two metres away from each other,” he says of his team, noting they will also have to change how they organize work to ensure each person has their own defined job and associated tool.

To keep busy, Myre has been doing work around the home, but he is looking forward to getting his season underway. One thing he says he has started to think about during this crisis is where the materials he uses on his sites are coming from. “I’m going to be more aware of what I buy,” he says, suggesting it’s important now to start thinking about buying and supporting as local as possible.

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