Lot shortage has some builders in a sweat

In Copper Ridge, the shrill whine of saws and the scent of sawdust suggest that construction in Whitehorse is booming. Some contractors disagree.

In Copper Ridge, the shrill whine of saws and the scent of sawdust suggest that construction in Whitehorse is booming.

Some contractors disagree.

“It’ll be good until the end of this year, but then it’s going to get bad,” said Gus Steiner, sitting down to take his morning break in the roofless basement of the house his company is building.

The city’s last 11 lots were sold two months ago.

No new lots are expected until 2009 when a development should become available in Takhini North.

Wages will begin to drop as everyone starts to fight for jobs, said Steiner, who has worked in the industry for more than 30 years.

“They’re going to start cutting each other’s throats,” he said.

“It’s going to slow down everybody, electricians, plumbers, excavators, surveyors.

“The whole economy is going to feel it when people have to leave to find more work.”

But Terry Ryan, a self-employed carpenter in Whitehorse, doesn’t think it’s going to be a problem.

“There’s still houses to be built up here and when they’re done there’ll be work to maintain them,” he said, wiping the sawdust off his hands.

“People are always doing renovations too, so I can always find work there.”

“Some people saw the lot shortage coming and adapted their businesses for it,” said Wayne Cunningham, Kareway homes owner and Home Builder’s Association president.

Cunningham adapted by shifting his focus to condominiums, with one building currently under construction at 26 Normandy Road.

“Other’s didn’t see it coming,” he said, shrugging his shoulders.

“I just hired a couple guys that got laid off from one of the other companies. So there are businesses having problems.”

A few big projects are going up but it’s hard for the little guys to make the jump into commercial, said Steiner.

“They’re the ones that are going to be affected the most.”

Cunningham is currently in the process of compiling information and statistics on the issue for a meeting with his association on Wednesday.

There, he plans to tell fellow homebuilders what to expect from the industry in the future.

“There’s been a lot more people coming out to the meetings lately. There’s a lot of rumours going around and they want to know what’s happening,” he said.


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