The impact of COVID-19 on the economy has been “catastrophic,” Toronto Construction Association (TCA) president and CEO John Mollenhauer said during the association’s 153rd annual general meeting and Best of the Best Awards held virtually Feb. 18.
But despite the tough year in 2020 and perhaps more challenging times ahead in 2021, Mollenhauer emphasized the industry “will work it out together.”
“I’m reminded of this time last year. We were in a pretty good place,” said Mollenhauer. “Then suddenly things changed.”
Most of construction has been deemed essential, especially the larger infrastructure projects, and permitted to continue through two shutdowns, Mollenhauer pointed out.
“The construction industry has done alright,” he said. “I think a great deal of the impact of what has happened in the last 12 months is yet to be felt.
“There is confusion about what constitutes a force majeure event…whether there would be an entitlement to both a delay and recovery of some of the costs associated with COVID. Contractors have been positioning their claims but very little has been resolved.”
He urged the government to provide assistance to the contracting community.
“We are in need of a lot of help now and for the balance of 2021,” said Mollenhauer. “I hope and I pray that the government recognizes that they need to continue to support us. I don’t want governments mistaking the fact that we are willing to go out and continue working during COVID as not needing help. In fact, it’s just the opposite. There are massive disruptions and we need help.”
While Mollenhauer was pointed in his call for action, he was also quick to acknowledge and celebrate the industry’s accomplishments during a very difficult year.
The winners of the Best of the Best Awards, which recognize members for outstanding contributions and project achievements, were also presented during the virtual event. This year’s prestigious Donald P. Giffin Sr. Construction Industry Achievement Award was presented to Geoff Smith, president and CEO of EllisDon.
Smith became the CEO of EllisDon in 1996 and he has done a lot for the company during that time, said Mollenhauer.
“It’s Geoff’s contribution to the industry that we are here today to recognize,” he said. “Geoff is tireless at initiatives that are for the greater good of the industry.
“His current initiative, among other things, is trying to get rapid test kits out for all of us, to get more jobsites open that aren’t protected under the essential services and to help get us back to work.”
Other Best of the Best Award winners included:
- Sean P. McKenna Young Construction Leaders Award: Keegan Burke from Ground Floor Industries Inc. (GFI Inc.);
- The Construction Institute of Canada – Chancellor’s Award of Excellence: Tom Stephenson from George Brown College;
- Project Achievement Large: Stratford Festival – Tom Patterson Theatre, a project by EllisDon Corporation;
- Project Achievement Medium: South East Community Centre– Integrated Project Delivery (IPD), a project by Graham Construction and Engineering;
- Project Achievement Small: York Regional Police New Marine Unit, a project by Gillam Group Inc.;
- Trade Contractor Award: Quantech Electrical Contractors Ltd.;
- Outstanding Safety Culture: Canadian Turner Construction Company;
- Innovation Award: Keller Foundations Ltd.;
- Community Leader Award: Powell Contracting; and
- Green Building Culture Award: Multiplex Construction Canada Ltd.
Brian Endacott, construction manager of EllisDon Corporation stepped down as chair of the TCA board of directors and Jeff Murva of J. Murva Consulting Ltd. is taking over the role.
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