The construction industry is a vital part of Canada’s economy in every community across the country. We directly and indirectly support more than 900,000 jobs paying out over $50 billion in wages.
Within London, our industry supports upwards of 15,000 families, generating more than $560 million in wages and taxes and $1.7 billion in investment value.
Our industry’s ability to perform directly affects these London families that include our traditional workforce of tradespeople, suppliers and construction companies. Our homeowners and home buyers also are directly affected plus there are many who don’t work on construction sites whose jobs are equally affected: manufacturers, designers, engineers, architects, lawyers, mortgage brokers, real estate agents, landscapers and home accessory retailers.
Our main goal as an industry is to supply clients with a quality product, be it a new home or a renovation of an existing home. We’re a customer service industry that constantly seeks to satisfy our clients, fulfilling an obligation to provide high-quality, safe, comfortable and affordable homes to the residents of London. Our industry also performs its work with a great sense of community, ever mindful of the effect our actions and decisions have on London as a whole.
It’s from this sense of community, and a duty to maintaining a high level of customer service, that we must address a growing concern and challenge that we face in our city, which is the strike of our city inside workers and the effect this is having on our industry and the livelihood of thousands of London families.
Our industry has a great respect for the bargaining rights of both the city of London and the unionized workers. Both parties have earned this right, and we fully understand taking the appropriate time to ensure it’s a win-win for both parties. We truly owe a lot of our industry’s success to both the inside workers and city management, both of whom work extremely hard to push our industry forward and have helped us grow the London into what it is today.
However, the current impasse has not come without its challenges for our industry. Things are still moving forward, builders and renovators are working but obviously at a slower pace. Official city inspectors are the only provincially mandated inspectors capable of performing the required inspections on residential construction sites, including permitted renovations.
City management has done a tremendous job trying to keep pace on inspections and permit approvals, for which we are thankful, but their resources are limited. This has required many in our industry to put the brakes on projects, or at least slow things down as they wait for inspections or for new projects to receive a permit.
So what does this mean? This means that projects are taking longer to complete than normal. The delays could potentially keep some buyers from moving into their homes on time, or getting their renovation completed when expected. This is a busy time of year as people look to move into their new home before school begins again.
This is causing tradespeople to wait at home for the next phase of the project to begin. It means lost wages and lost tax revenue for all levels of government, including the city of London’s loss of development charges and property taxes. This is not just affecting the construction industry workforce. The effect on employment is wide reaching. No one is going to be unaffected.
At this point we urge both sides to return to the bargaining table in good faith and to stay engaged until a resolution is found. Our industry depends on both parties working well together, and the residents of London deserve the level of service they have grown accustomed to expect from the residential construction sector. Let’s help keep London a desirable choice for affordable home ownership and jobs.
Jake Draper is president of the LHBA and director of contractor operations for Copp’s Buildall, a locally owned building materials supplier since 1877.