City Hires More Building Staff As Construction Booms In Cambridge

  • 03/16/20
  • |          Cambridge

Building permits increased by 56 per cent last year

Construction is booming in Cambridge. So much so, that the building department is swamped with permit applications and needs to hire more staff to keep up.

“We’re looking at a continued steady growth forecast,” said Dennis Purcell, the city’s chief building official. He is asking city council next week if he can hire an additional employee to help with the increased demand his department is experiencing.

“We are trying to keep ourselves ahead.”

The city’s building division is responsible for reviewing permit applications and issuing permits, as well as conducting building inspections when necessary.

Last year, 1,642 building permits were issued in Cambridge, up from 1,051 in 2018. That is a 56-per-cent increase.

The value of construction projects in 2019 was $450 million compared to $370 million the year before.

Permit applications are ahead of the trend so far this year as well, with 150 permits issued so far this year, up from 126 during the same period in 2019.

Last year was a big boon for Cambridge, with large projects like the Gaslight District at the former Southworks foundry, and the Cambridge Memorial Hospital expansion.

Those projects will continue this year, Purcell said, and some new ones are also on the horizon. He said more builders from the Toronto area are beginning to see the potential in setting up shop in Cambridge.

Subdivisions on Limerick Road and in the Hunt Club area are both projects led by GTA builders that total more than 3,000 new residential units for the city.

A lot of commercial construction is also picking up on Boxwood Drive near Highway 401.

“It’s nice to see what’s happening in Cambridge,” he added.

“We’re seeing a nice blend of commercial and residential projects.”

Purcell said he is expecting to see construction in the city ramp up as spring approaches.

Revenue from permits has gone up by $500,000 in the past three years, according to a report to council. It is part of Purcell’s rationale to hire an additional full-time staff person in the building division, which will cost the city $85,000 every year.

The report also notes that more diverse and complex projects are coming to Cambridge as it grows into a mid-sized city.

Cambridge council will consider Purcell’s request to hire additional staff at a meeting on Tuesday.

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