September 2023

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S E P T E M B E R 2 0 2 3 | 53 Reinforcing Steel P H OTO G R A P H Y CO U RT E S Y L M S R EI N FO RC I N G S T EEL G RO U P Experts weigh in on the future of the sector amidst economic headwinds by ROBIN BRUNET V irtually all rebar manufacturers and suppliers are prone to scrutinizing the steel market to try and determine where prices – and demand – are going, and the summer months of 2023 prove yet again that, strictly according to the numbers, the market remains volatile. While steel prices dropped from peaks earlier in the year, construction steel, aluminum, and other metals remain in high demand. That said, many rebar specialists worry that elevated construc- tion costs brought about by inflation will eventually take their toll. Duane Kotun, director of administration at Sherwood Steel, presides over a company that fabricates and installs rebar and welded wire mesh for all types of projects in Western Canada and the northern territories. "We've had a busy win- ter and spring and are working full-tilt this summer," he says. "But my concern is forward: we anticipate slowing periods, partly due to inflation. There's lots of uncertainty overall, and it doesn't help that steel prices are all over the map: they shot up during COVID, then came back down to about halfway, then turned upwards a bit, and then they've been steady for the past three months." Kotun and other rebar specialists in Alberta take some solace from the fact that the province has re-elected a pro-business government. "The thing is with our cur- rent economy, people have overreacted and behave like it's 1929 all over again, so maybe our premier and her team can generate some measure of certainty," he says. In the meantime, Sherwood Steel recently completed a soccer centre and supplied product to the $73-million Spruce Grove Civic Centre which, when finished next year, will consist of two arenas, a library, a theatre, gallery, and other amenities within 125,000 square feet of space. "We're also busy with our bread-and-butter work of parkades and condos, a big driver in Alberta being the push to create new rental housing," Kotun says. Matthys van Emmenis, VP operations at A&H Steel Vancouver, notes that inflation has had a slightly different effect in B.C. compared to Alberta. "They're really two different markets: here, we experienced a dip – especially in the residential sector – when interest rates began rising. Since then, work is picking up, and what has been especially good for us is a backlog of projects that have kept us operating at full capacity." A&H Steel Vancouver is currently finishing work on one of Vancouver's most anticipated – and visually provocative – high-rise residences, The Butterfly, a 556-foot-tall 57-storey luxury tower whose form was inspired by the pipes of church organs. Rebar is especially critical to this project, which, in addition to curved glass, the tower's façade is comprised of sculptural concrete forms that create a pattern of waving clouds. Van Emmenis goes on to note that "We're looking forward to several major projects going into next year, and as far as we can tell, the reinforcing steel sector in general will be kept busy in B.C., especially on industrial work given that a pot- ash facility at Westshore Terminals, the long-awaited LNG terminal, and many other infrastructure projects are expected to get underway soon." A&H Steel's facility in Maple Ridge is well positioned to handle the workload, equipped with top-of-the-line machinery and located right next to the Fraser River. Ron McNeil, CEO and co-founder of LMS Reinforcing Steel Group, describes the current economy as "surprisingly resilient despite headwinds, and B.C. certainly is on good footing with a host of big projects. We're working on no less than 300 active projects, four of which are especially noteworthy." LMS recently began work on the 11-tower Sen áḵw residential development on 10 acres around the south end of Vancouver's Burrard Street Bridge. The tallest of the towers will rise 59 storeys or 564 feet, and the project's total floor area is four million square feet. The Mighty Strong Backbone Of REINFORCING STEEL Pattullo Bridge, New Westminster/Surrey, B.C.

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