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Trade tribunal ruling on drywall tariff could impact Fort McMurray rebuild

Construction workers move sheets of drywall at a building project in Calgary, Alta., Friday, Dec. 30, 2016. A decision expected later Wednesday could drive up the cost of rebuilding Fort McMurray after a wildfire swept through the northern Alberta city last spring.
Construction workers move sheets of drywall at a building project in Calgary, Alta., Friday, Dec. 30, 2016. A decision expected later Wednesday could drive up the cost of rebuilding Fort McMurray after a wildfire swept through the northern Alberta city last spring. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

A decision expected on Wednesday could drive up the cost of rebuilding Fort McMurray after a wildfire swept through the northern Alberta city last spring.

Prices for drywall, a building material considered vital to replace 1,800 houses and dozens of other structures destroyed by the fire, have risen dramatically since Canada slapped anti-dumping duties in September on U.S.-made products imported to Western Canada.

READ MORE: Trade tribunal to rule on 276% drywall tariff affecting Western Canada consumers, builders

Claude Bureau, owner of Genroc Drywall in Fort McMurray, says he is paying wholesale suppliers about $4.60 more per four-by-12-foot sheet of drywall now compared with the price before duties were imposed.

He said he has had to raise his price including installation by $1.25 per square foot, adding about $1,750 to the cost of building a typical 1,400-square-foot house.

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READ MORE: Drywall tariff impacting southern Alberta consumers and builders 

Fort McMurray Mayor Melissa Blake is asking the federal government to fund a grant program to help property owners recover increased costs related to the drywall duties.

The Canadian International Trade Tribunal is scheduled to rule today on whether to make permanent its preliminary duties of up to 276 per cent on U.S. drywall imports into Canada for use in the four western provinces and the Yukon and Northwest Territories.

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