Commercial Projects Brighten Construction Picture for Kamloops

This article appeared in the Kamloops Daily News on July 6th, 2012.

New Construction Kamloops BC Real EstateCommercial and institutional construction is keeping builders in Kamloops busy while residential work is lagging slightly from last year.

City acting chief building inspector Bruce Barclay said Friday the first half of this year has seen construction values surpass $100 million. Last year at this time, those values were at $84 million.

The main driver behind that is business and institutional projects, he said.

For example, there’s a new $12.2-million seniors’ residence going up on Tranquille Road in Brocklehurst.

Single family construction is at $20 milion halfway through the year, while it was at $21.3 million at this point in 2011. Multi-family is down a bit, too, but expected to move upward as demand in that market rises.

Barclay said by the end of the year, he expects the construction-value total to be around $175 million. Pretty good, given an average year in Kamloops is between $120 and $140 million, and that the economy is still considered to be relatively flat.

“We’re on for a very strong year,” he said.

There are still some big-number projects expected to come through City Hall for permits this year, including Telus’s $30-million data centre, $6 million for Walmart’s expansion and $6.5 million for Target’s renovations to its Zellers location.

Kamloops has always paced itself well where commercial and residential construction is concerned, Barclay said.

“We’ve never done a Kelowna or a Vancouver to build it and they will come,” he said.

Instead, the buildings have been constructed as they’ve been needed.

“That’s the way most of our builders work. They’re not going to build without there being something there.”

City community development manager Randy Lambright said the numbers are encouraging, especially given the economy is being described as sluggish to recover from the 2008 recession.

“It’s all good and it can only get better, depending what happens with new industry coming into town with or without Ajax mine,” he said, adding there’s interest from other businesses in coming to town.

“It’s a manageable rate of growth.”

Housing prices are driving a growing interest in multi-family housing, which is raising more questions at City Hall about density and what should be encouraged for infill.

But, overall, all the construction figures for this year are positive, even on the housing side, he said.