The COVID-19 pandemic caused delays to 276 residential projects currently at various stages of construction in Toronto.

Across the GTA, a further 222 projects saw construction delayed by the pandemic for a total of 498 projects delayed in the Toronto region, according to survey results published today by the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).

Although residential construction was deemed essential by the provincial government at the early stages of its pandemic response, builders were only able to move forward on residential projects that were already near completion before restrictions were loosened in May.

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“One might ask, if the building industry was granted essential workplace status, why are there new housing slowdowns,” said BILD President and CEO Dave Wilkes, in a media release.

“The response is a bit complicated. Disruptions to the supply chain negatively impacted the ability of the industry to secure vital building materials. Worksites had to appropriately adjust to COVID-19 protocols as social distancing rules negatively impacted productivity and some municipalities had to adjust to working remotely.”

Taken together, Wilkes said, this slowed the planning and applications process that builders must move through to ensure their projects can get off the ground while also disrupting the home construction process itself.

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In the City of Toronto, 65 percent of active projects reported interruptions of three to six months, with 32 percent reporting delays of over six months, according to the BILD survey. The survey findings showed the situation to be similar in other areas of the GTA.

BILD believes that these delays will have material impacts on the Toronto region’s housing supply at a time when market conditions are already tight.

Altus Group, a real estate consultancy that partners with BILD on data collection and analysis, said that the delays reflected in the survey will result in the loss of approximately 9,000 housing starts over the next 18 months. This will exacerbate existing housing shortages in the City of Toronto and result in job loss for the residential construction industry as well as lost revenues for all levels of government, said BILD.

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The survey comes weeks after BILD, along with the Ontario Home Builders Association and Canadian Home Builders Association, submitted a 20-point roadmap for economic recovery to the province’s Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee.

“Now more than ever, all levels of government must work together to make sure that proper measures are in place to remove barriers that will unlock consumer and industry construction investments to help kick-start the economy,” said Wilkes.

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