Construction drops dramatically; jobs eliminated in Lambton building department

Residential construction dropped dramatically in Lambton County in 2012, but commercial construction was stronger.

Residential construction dropped dramatically in Lambton County in 2012, while there were fewer commercial construction projects, their value was hirer than last year.

The number of new homes built in Lambton County dropped 47 percent in 2012; just one of the dramatic year end statistics which shows how the construction industry slumped in the sluggish economy.

And it has led to the county reducing the number of people working in building services.

Figures from the Lambton County’s building department show in 2012 the value of construction projects in the county (not including the City of Sarnia) dropped 27 percent with $57,068,720 worth of residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural and institutional construction. That compares with $72,396,074 in 2011.

Residential construction took the biggest hit with 79 housing starts this year – a 47 percent drop from 2011. The biggest slowdown was in St. Clair Township where in 2011 there were 53 new homes built but last year there were just 14. Plympton-Wyoming also saw a dramatic slowing of new home starts with 23 homes built in 2012 compared to 36 the previous year.

But it wasn’t just the residential market which took a hit. The amount of institutional construction permits issued dropped 61 percent with the value of construction down 53 percent – perhaps a result of federal and provincial governments cutting back on grants for institutional projects.

There were fewer commercial projects 42 in 2012 compared to 52 in 2011 but the projects were bigger with the value of the construction sitting at $8,230,461 this year compared to $5,158,785 last year.

The lack of construction led to a $36,000 deficit in the department.

Jim Kutyba, general manager of infrastructure services, says that has led to the reorganization of the department as people leave for other jobs.

There are three fewer positions in the department today than 2012. Kutyba says two left the county and another has transferred to the finance department.

Kutyba says that will solve the deficit problem and reduce the cost of running the department in 2013.

– Heather Wright