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Ongoing demand for condominiums fuels growth in trades

By Linda White
Special to The Toronto Sun

With panoramic views and growing lists of amenities, high-rise condominiums are no longer just a downtown phenomenon. They're dotting the landscape across the Greater Toronto Area, crea-ting one of the biggest demands in today's construction industry along the way.

High-rise condominium sales accounted for 37% of all new residential sales by the end of 2003, the Greater Toronto Home Builders' Association (GTHBA) reports. That number can be partially attributed to 12 new projects brought to market last October and has returned to its normal market share of about 30%, reports president Mark Parsons.
CityPlace's Harbour View Estates, currently under construction.

"In January, the numbers in terms of construction starts were down, simply because of bad weather," Parson says. "The new home and condo market is strong ... We have mortgage rates we haven't seen in close to 40 years."

That translates into affordability, which in turn translates into demand. For the construction industry, that spells jobs, jobs and more jobs. "The trades are in extreme short supply in both high-rise and low-rise construction," Parsons says.

For condominium developers like Tridel, giving contractors plenty of notice is key to keeping on schedule. "We have a strong trade base we try to maintain," says senior project manager Peter Meneguzzi. "We understand their needs as well as our own and give lots of notice."

Tridel regularly awards contracts six or more months in advance of when a contractor is needed on site. "They know what kind of labour they'll need and can plan for it," Meneguzzi says.

Tridel is constructing condominiums across the GTA, including Toronto, Mississauga, Scarborough, Markham, North York, Thornhill. Construction of the second phase of The Essex in Etobicoke got underway in September. The 24-storey, 314-suite tower is scheduled for completion in May 2005, with occupancy beginning in January.

To date, shoring, excavation, forming, concrete and drain, electrical, plumbing, ventilation and waterproofing work is complete. The next stage of construction involves masonry, metalwork and installation of windows, doors and hardware. Once that's complete, finishing trades like drywallers, painters and carpenters will be on site.

In addition to amenities like an indoor swimming pool, virtual golf and exercise rooms, Tridel offers security and technical features. "We try to pioneer innovative and user-friendly features that continue to evolve," Meneguzzi says.

Concord Adex is among the developers constructing high-rise condos in Toronto. Harbour View Estates at Spadina Avenue and Bremner Boulevard will be home to more than 1,630 suites in four towers ranging in height from 36 to 49 storeys, a street loft and several townhouses.

A 30,000-sq.-ft. amenity building will feature an indoor swimming pool, full size basketball court, bowling lanes, indoor golf simulator, billiards tables and spa facility.

Construction of the first phase began in November 2003 and is scheduled to be complete in fall 2005.
Connected to the estates will be a 3,000-sq.-ft. amenity building that will feature an indoor pool, basketball court, billiard tables, spa facilities, bowling lanes, indoor golf simulator.

Concrete, formwork, mechanical, electrical, excavation, caissons and waterproofing is complete.

Construction of the exterior window wall will begin in March, once the concrete structure of the lower floors of the buildings is complete.

Interior finishing trades are slated to arrive in May.

The project is expected to create more than $2 million person hours of on-site employment.

"We are the largest residential construction project in the GTA, with one of the tallest glass and aluminum point towers," Concord Adex reports.

Harsh winter conditions impacted construction schedules across the GTA. Concord Adex estimates it lost 75% of working days in January because of poor weather.

(Linda White ( is a freelance writer based in Brooklin, Ont.)

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