Ground Water Canada

GeoExchange a wealth of info

December 19, 2011  By Ground Water Canada

img_3127_webDecember 19, 2011, Markham, ON – The 5th National GeoExchange Technical & Policy Forum brought a wealth of geothermal knowledge into one place from Dec. 7 to 8.

The 5th National GeoExchange Technical & Policy Forum brought a wealth of geothermal knowledge into one place from Dec. 7 to 8.

The Canadian GeoExchange Coalition (CGC) hosted the forum at the Hilton Suites/Markham Conference Centre in Markham, Ont. The two-day event was split between technical sessions and business/policy related discussion and also featured a trade show, awards dinner and networking.


Of particular note to geothermal and water well drillers alike, was the first lecture by Robin Sommerville, director of The Centre for Spatial Economics titled “Will Current Economic Trends Lead to Boom or Burst for Construction Across Canada?” Construction indicators speak to the need for new wells or new heating and cooling systems. When construction is down, it can hurt drillers. Sommerville pointed out that global events could have local consequences and we have the financial market jitters right now. Government and households are continuing to deleverage their debt and this leaves uncertainty. Sommerville cited improvement over the long term, but noted that there “is no such thing as an arrogant economist anymore” as the economy has become increasingly hard to predict.

GDP growth in Canada is expected to be steady but “not exciting.” Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan, who have experienced the most growth in the past few years, will see a leveling off.

As far as residential construction investment goes, the renovation industry has been largely bullet proof, says Sommerville, thanks to successful government tax credit programs. New housing starts were down 19 per cent in 2009 but are expected to peak again in 2013, although he says it will be a long climb back to levels seen at the start of the decade. Immigration is helping Ontario’s outlook in particular.

Non-residential construction has been steady and growing at a rate of 3 per cent per year and industrial building is growing at 4 per cent. Quebec and Alberta have gotten the “lion’s share” of benefit here, says Sommerville.

In short, a couple years of rapid immigration will help get the new housing industry back in full swing while commercial construction is holding stable and steady growth. A low interest rate should help generate economic activity in Canada, but Sommerville says it will still be a slow process getting that debt down before consumers are ready to leverage heavily again.

Many more lectures of interest followed Sommerville, including a fascinating look at geothermal installations in downtown Toronto and further opportunities for urban development. 

The CGC awarded their annual prizes for excellence and leadership at the Dec. 7 dinner. The 2011 prizes of excellence were awarded to Paradise Systems (B.C.)) for the Summerland Residence; Dessau (Que.) for the Cartierville Y Center; and Advanced Buildings Solutions Inc., Abs Green Inc., and Imran Majeed (Ont.) for the
town of Amherstburg’s United Communities Credit Union complex.

The CGC also announced the recipients of its first bursary program. The winners of the five bursaries were Massimo Cimmino of École Polytechnique de Montréal (CGC/CleanEnergy Bursary $7500); Félix Robert of Laval University (CGC/Master Group Bursary $5000); Chris Mamen of Carleton University (CGC / Groundheat Bursary $5000); Andrew Hall of Laurentian University (CGC/Enertran Bursary $5000); and Hayley Shearer of the University of British Columbia (CGC/GeoSmart Bursary $5000).

Greg Bullock, president of the OGWA, and Dave Gunn, first
vice-president of the OGWA, in the OGWA booth at the GeoExchange forum.



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