Friday, March 14, 2008

CBC Radio broadcast in Timmins

Timmins needs more new houses, more affordable rental units and more construction workers to meet the housing crunch brought on by the upswing in the mining sector.
That was all part of the discussion at a roundtable meeting broadcast live on on CBC radio Thursday morning, from the kitchen of housing contractor Peter Beacage Jr. He was joined by Timmins realtor Roberta Toner, owner of Claimpost Realty, Timmins Mayor Tom Laughren and reporter-host Erik White.
In response to the first question of how difficult it is to buy a home, Toner said the Timmins market is very tight.
“Depending on what you’re looking for, it’s extremely tough. If you’re looking for a medium range house, there’s nothing on the market,” she said.
She added that realtors are now facing more and more out-of-town clients who are not always able to buy a home before moving their new jobs in Timmins.
“It’s a serious problem only because you have a lot of mining activity taking place within the community and a lot of the mining companies would like to move their professional people in,” said Mayor Laughren. He added there are many mining professionals who actually commute into Timmins from such places as Thunder Bay and Toronto.
Builder Pete Beaucage Jr. told the discussion the building trades are busier than ever just trying to keep pace with the demand. Beaucage says most new home construction in Timmins used to be a seasonal thing.
“Now it’s getting to the point where its 12 months a year,” he said. “Winter time doesn’t really slow us down that much. We’re still in full force. We’re building more new houses in the winter time. But the demand is there you know so we’ve got to keep building . We’ve got to get the houses out there for the homebuyers.”
Beaucage said that even though the construction industry is in full swing, it’s not all rosy. He says there is noticeable shortage of skilled trades workers which is actually delaying some jobs. He expressed the hope that educators would do more to steer young people to the construction trades which he says can be rewarding.
“We need more skilled trades. It plays a big factor on how many houses you can build in the area for quality work,” he said.
The housing demand is also being felt in the home rental sector. Toner said this is obvious for home buyers who decide to rent a house or apartment, while waiting for a new home to be built. She says the rental market is also in a squeeze. Toner says there are government programs available for low-income housing and she believes it would be helpful for the North ‘to bump it up” to include medium income families.

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