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TO Suburbs: Burlington record year of growth

Wendell FOX

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City posts record year for building

Continued low interest rates offer positive outlook for 2004

Dennis Smith

Feb 8, 2004

City staff have high hopes the record-setting construction pace of 2003 will continue this year in Burlington.

Total construction values last year topped $433 million, exceeding the 2002 total by nearly $20 million.

The city's manager of permit and zoning administration noted there has been strong increases in construction for the past few years.

"Looking at 2004, this will probably continue," said Jason Schmidt-Shoukri. "As long as interest rates continue to stay down, we'll have another healthy year."

He believes there will be a continued increase in industrial/commercial activity, while residential construction may have hit a plateau.

"If it's low and levelling, that's a concern, but it is high and levelling," said Schmidt-Shoukri. "For the size of our municipality, it looks very healthy."

He said residential construction levels will probably stay healthy for at least two years, thanks to development of the Alton community in northeast Burlington.

Last year's residential construction total was $230.25 million, slightly above the 2002 level.

Nearly half that total was for single-family housing, but Schmidt-Shoukri noted townhouse construction is accounting for a significant portion of the residential mix.

"If there's limited land, especially in infill developments, more builders and developers are trying to make profits with townhouses," he said. "And there's consumer demand for them. I'm pretty confident this trend will continue."

There was nearly $70 million in townhouse construction last year and more than $91 million in 2002.

The new provincial government's decisions on parkway belt and Niagara Escarpment lands could be other factors affecting residential construction, said Schmidt-Shoukri.

Industrial/commercial construction increased substantially in 2003, exceeding $112 million. Schmidt-Shoukri said it may increase again, at a slower rate.

"With commercial (development), there are lots of people interested in moving here and setting up businesses," he said. "But it's harder to predict industrial activity."

Last year's biggest construction project was Bunton's Wharf, a 14-storey condominium at Brant Street and Lakeshore Road. Its construction value was $22.1 million.

A big project being completed in 2004 is Baxter's Wharf, a neighbouring condominium building at Lakeshore Road and Elizabeth Street.

Schmidt-Shoukri said most of its condominium units have been sold. Besides 11 storeys of residential units, it also includes ground floor retail space.

Three of last year's biggest projects were seniors' buildings.

The largest construction value, at $16.9 million, was for Creekway Village nursing home at 5200 Corporate Dr.

But the new Wal-Mart, a massive discount retail store, was only last year's sixth biggest construction project at $7.83 million.

"Big box stores are open spaces that do not have many walls," noted Schmidt-Shoukri. "It's a shell of a building and there are fewer tenant improvements."

Commercial/industrial buildings with multiple users generate construction activity as tenants move in and out, he said.

There was a big drop in institutional/government construction last year. The total of under $68 million was about two-thirds of the 2002 value.

"You never know what's going to happen there because it's a government decision and not market driven," said Schmidt-Shoukri.


Burlington is about 50km away from Toronto and next door to Hamilton.

Sorry that I don't have a digital camera that can do more than 360*240 or so and can't provide pics, but this is the best I can find for Burlington, ON:





^^ the above don't do any real justice. On a second note, they aren't very high-res either. :unsure:

Anyways, while I can't find pics of these projects Bunton's Wharf's framework seems to be pretty much topped out and it's already making a dramatic effect on the skyline (the tallest is 20 stories), but at the same time Burlington is a suburb that (like typical cities in Ontario) encompasses a large land area and includes a small but semi-urban downtown area, some of the newest, and worst, sprawl in Canada, plus unoccupied rural farmland. Oakville, its neighbour, is also a good example of this.

Look at this pic for instance:


At the centre you see a horrible monstrocity called Mapleview Mall as well as a segment of the QEW. On the other hand if you look at your top left you see a smal cluster of highrises, and if the photo encompassed more to the left of that you'll see more high-rises and perhaps a few blocks of street-facing retail that aren't parking lot based.

However, as the article stated, Burlington also got its first Wal-Mart built along its newer suburbs, showing that the epidemic of sprawl still persists in the 905 suburbs. Though at least they've got a bus transit system that typical American suburbs don't have. ;)

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