01/11/2012 01:19 EST | Updated 03/12/2012 05:12 EDT

Condo developers fret over city work stoppage

Toronto developers are pushing to get their applications approved and shovels in the ground before any work stoppage at City Hall.

The concern is that a contract dispute will stall or stop zoning applications, bylaw amendments and building permits.

Tensions between the city and its two major unions — CUPE 416 which represents about 6,000 outside workers and CUPE 79 which represents about 23,000 inside workers — have been rising ever since their contracts expired at the end of 2011.

A strike or a lockout could come in early February, some predict.

Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam, whose Toronto Centre-Rosedale ward is home to some of the city's most intense condo development, says if construction is delayed developers will lose millions of dollars.

"Every developer that comes through my door — and I get more development applications than any other councillor in this city — they all start off with an opening question of, 'Will there be a lockout? Will my business be disrupted? Will I lose money?' "

On Tuesday alone, the Toronto and East York Community Council reviewed nearly 20 large condo projects, many early in their planning stages.

The council's chair, Coun. Gord Perks, apologized to a packed room that included many people representing condo companies, because he didn't have information about how the looming disruption would affect their businesses.

"I cannot tell you how any of the work on right-of-way management or municipal licensing and standards or buildings or planning will be conducted during that period," he said.

Lawyer Mary Flynn-Guglietti, who represents some of the developers, said the standoff is causing a lot of uncertainty.

"I think every time I go to a meeting at City Hall the first question I ask is 'Have you heard anything about the strike or the lockout. Do you know when it's going to happen?' Everybody's just guessing."