Sunday, February 05, 2006

Warm January puts a twist in Canadian business plans

13:41:45 EST Feb 5, 2006

TORONTO (CP) - Snowball fights may have been rare in much of Canada this winter, but the mild weather has tossed a big curve ball at many companies.

While December's weather hovered near average, January was unusually warm in many parts of Canada.

Southern Quebec and Ontario posted temperatures about five degrees above normal, while thermostats in the Prairies were registering more than 10 degrees above normal.

In Ontario, it was the warmest January on record, and nationally, it ranked third behind 1981 and 1958.

And that had strategic planners in sectors from wine to transport digging out Plan B this year.

"We're not used to operating in a sea of mud in January," says Lloyd Ferguson, general manager of Ontario's Dufferin Construction, a concrete paving company and engineering contractor.

While you might think warm weather would benefit the construction industry, Ferguson begs to differ.

"If we knew it was going to be like this, then we'd plan for it. But we planned for frozen ground, and scheduled jobs that would run on frozen ground this time of year. And it's not available to us. So we're shut down."

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