A range of construction activities will resume in Ontario on Monday, approximately one month after COVID-19 forced shutdowns of many jobsites in the province. That includes site preparation, excavation and servicing for ICI and residential projects, along with work on infrastructure and public sector facilities such as schools, childcare centres, municipal buildings and buildings for colleges and universities. Health care construction projects are designated essential and have continued throughout Ontario’s state of emergency.
Landscaping and lawn care are also on a shortlist of businesses the provincial government will permit to offer services if they adhere to public health protocol. However, Premier Doug Ford and other Ministers on hand for the announcement earlier this afternoon stressed that it’s a very early and limited step.
“We are allowing certain businesses to reopen under strict guidelines because we are confident they can operate safely and adapt to the current environment,” Ford said.
“To be clear ― we haven’t moved into the reopening phase of our response to COVID-19. Not yet,” added Finance Minister Rod Phillips.
Building industry representatives are welcoming the news. They say operators involved in site preparation will be easily able to comply with social distancing requirements inside the confines of their machine cabs, and endorse other measures set out in recently released provincial guidelines.
“We all want safe jobsites. We can keep each other safe while delivering housing supply across Ontario,” maintains Joe Vaccaro, chief executive officer of the Ontario Home Builders Association (OHBA).
“Given Canada’s climate, much of the work is seasonally dependent and the construction season for foundational activities is short. Extending the prohibition of critical work for much longer threatens the entire construction year,” notes Dave Wilkes, president and chief executive officer of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) of Greater Toronto.
Landscapers are also ready to get back to work. “In the last few weeks, our professional members have been preparing their companies to work safely,” reports Tony DiGiovanni, executive director of Landscape Ontario, the industry association representing the horticulture trades. “We look forward to providing our customers and the public with life-enhancing gardens and green spaces so necessary for mental, physical and environmental health.”