Vaccine Rollout Will Determine 2021 Construction Market

The continuing impacts of COVID-19 on construction are being felt unevenly by province as well as sector, creating a mixed economic outlook across the country. While the residential forecast grew strongly in late 2020, uncertainty remains about longer-term expansion given the sharp drop in immigration and reduced foreign direct investment due to the pandemic. A moderate escalation of three to five per cent for construction projects is forecast for Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec, while low escalation is projected for Alberta (one to three per cent), Saskatchewan (zero to two per cent), Manitoba (one to three per cent), and the Atlantic Provinces (zero to two per cent), says the 17th annual ‘Market Intelligence Report’ (MIR) by BTY Group, a real estate and infrastructure planning and development consultant. Infrastructure, renewable energy, and industrial building are forecast to be the top performing sectors, with mega projects in BC, Quebec, and Ontario counterbalancing declines in commercial and leisure sectors. Investment in renewable energy is the bright spot in Alberta, which, like most provinces, is also increasing investment in infrastructure to boost the economies. “The construction industry's ability to rally after pandemic lockdowns and return to work safely reflects the resilience and adaptability it has shown through past crises and economic downturns,” says Toby Mallinder, managing director at BTY. “In the longer term, we expect changes driven by COVID-19 – especially in technology – to accelerate improved productivity. Achieving – and surpassing – pre-2020 construction activity levels still depends on a robust economic recovery supported by a speedy, successful, and sustained vaccine rollout."