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By Bruce Urquhart ECONOMICS REPORTERFriday January 11, 2008WOODSTOCK -
Bolstered by the ongoing construction of the new Toyota assembly plant, Woodstock boasted a record amount of building activity in 2007 by more than doubling the previous year's mark of $138.5 million.In his final building report for 2007, Craig Wallace, the city's manager of building and facilities, specified Toyota Motor Manufacturing Inc., and its attendant $170.6 million in construction permits, as largely responsible for this unprecedented increase in construction values. "That gives you an idea of the numbers," said Len Magyar, the city's development commissioner. "It's heavily weighted towards Toyota and Toyota-related companies."It's a figure we've never seen. When you see it in a small community like this, you just go ‘wow.'"In total, the city's industrial sector accounted for roughly $237 million - or 75 per cent - of this total construction value, again setting a record for the second consecutive year."We didn't think it would be that high, but we did expect it would surpass the previous year," Wallace said." Other significant industrial permits for 2007 included roughly $5 million for the new Toyota Tsusho facilities, $3.75 million for improvements at the Vuteq Canada Inc. plant, roughly $20 million for a new cross-dock facility and office for Transfreight and $13 million for the new Industrial Developments International buildings."You're not going to have numbers like this for some time," Magyar said of 2007's record-setting values. "We're going to have some other big construction projects in the future, like the new hospital, but I can't see surpassing these numbers."While the city's new residential development for 2007 didn't set a new record, it still accounted for 15 per cent of the new construction value with almost $48 million in permits. This figure, though, was consistent with recent activity in this sector, roughly matching the 2006 value of $47.5 million."(It) is the second highest construction value on record compared to $50.4 million in 1989," Wallace wrote in his final report. "A total of 260 residential units were constructed with a total construction value of $45.1 million."The city's commercial sector also showed a marked jump in building activity from its 2006 level, increasing by $14.4 million to roughly $23 million in permits. The largest commercial project in 2007 was the County of Oxford's new administration building, which accounted for approximately $13 million of the total while a permit for the new Holiday Inn Express on Norwich Avenue was valued at $6.6 million."The commercial was a little bit of a surprise," Wallace said. "It was good to see that increase, and we have a number of good projects."The building activity in the city's institutional sector was valued at roughly $9 million, which was largely spurred by $7.2 million in additions to three city elementary schools. Wallace, though, predicted a banner year for institutional values in 2008 with the expected groundbreaking of the new Woodstock General Hospital.Magyar said the record-setting construction activity represented significant dollars for the community in terms of new assessment, which will be reflected during the city's 2008-2009 levies. The development commissioner, though, stressed the construction activity also reflected the wealth of new opportunities in the Woodstock area. Magyar noted that local construction companies, including James A. Vance Construction Inc. and Grassmere Construction Ltd., were involved in the construction of these new facilities. The influx of new workers into the community, both transplants and commuters, could also represent an attendant increase in for "certain services in the community," which, Magyar said, could mean additional employment."Some people could see a significant rise in their income," he said.
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