Tag Archives: In Conversation With


In Conversation With: Alan Hirschfield

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In Conversation With: Alan Hirschfield

Design is fragile, but it is the most important element in a liveable community, says the driving force behind The Uplands in Courtice

By: Gale Beeby

Every once in a while, you might meet someone who makes so much sense you wonder how it is possible that most people don’t think that way.

Alan Hirschfield is one of those people.

I had the distinct privilege of sharing lunch with him at the Richmond Hill Golf Club earlier this year, where our wide-ranging conversation touched on so many topics that we barely got a chance to discuss his newest project, The Uplands in Courtice. So, we had to talk a second time and — strictly — only about The Uplands.

Hirschfield, who was born in South Africa and has lived in many countries around the world — including nine years in the United States — was an architect and founder of UD+D Incorporated, an urban design and development consulting firm.

He is also the driving force behind High Street Courtice Inc., the development company behind The Uplands, which will include many housing forms — including townhomes and condos — all designed with a modern flair.

High Street has embraced a design forward approach and is the development manager for two $100 million projects, in addition to a 110-acre lowrise and midrise development in Wellington.

Hirschfield’s experience in the architectural world has enlightened him to one hard fact: Canadians have always had a more enlightened and modern take on the world. However, he notes, Canadians have not been offered much more than the same old, same old, and when they see something unique, they embrace it.

Q: How do you envision the design of homes evolving?

A: Local people are driving design, and that’s the way it should be. Canadians haven’t being offered much, just more of the same. When I lived in the U.S., I thought that Americans were trying to do history cartoon style. You know, overly done Tudor and Victorian-era homes that just seemed, well, cartoonish. Trying to make the dead look good.

Unfortunately, that sensibility exists here as well, but when Canadians were offered something different, they sucked it up and bought. People are now seeing a greater variety of housing styles

— an explosion of available and timeless designs.

There seems to be a historical gap in architecture here. There were the great old architects and then a gap, but now I see some great young architects doing really interesting things and the public is totally accepting.

There is a really big change in the kind of people who are doing development, a changing of the guard, challenging the previous order. That’s a really good thing.

As a company, we don’t want to do work we don’t like ourselves. It takes five to 10 years to get approvals, so we need to love what we do. There is a new philosophy to development, the City Beautiful Movement.

As Toronto was built out, in order to make it work the lots got smaller and individual house styles became unworkable on those tight lots — it became a cacophony. But people still need — and want — individuality.

There was also a need for different kinds of housing, traditionally in different areas of the city. But not anymore. Families don’t want to be separated by housing form. People are now buying a townhouse or house for themselves and a condo for their kids, which they will eventually retire to. And they want them all together, not in different areas. No longer is the house in the suburbs and the condo in the urban core.

As a philosophy, I think showing how condos and townhomes work together on one site is critical, tying them together by design.

Q: How modern do you think you can go and still be acceptable by the buying public?

A: Our designs are modern but still look like a house with pitched roofs. How modern can we do it in a suburban environment? Quite modern, but comfortably modern. And we’re doing modern designs with traditional materials because we have hard weather conditions here, so it just makes sense to use tried and true materials. The materials we use are chosen not only because of their great looks, but for longevity as well. It can still look good and hold up to the outside elements. Design is fragile, but it is the most important element in a liveable community.

Q: How has building design changed over the years?

A: First, designers are responding to what they see and hear. The buyers know what’s available and they’re not willing to take cookie-cutter anymore. Good designers do good work and good construction. For instance, we’re using fiberglass front doors. They insulate better and look good longer.

We’re also responding to new public knowledge of design, energy-efficient homebuilding techniques and warranty requirements.

Q: Tell me more about The Uplands.

A: It’s a master-planned community of townhomes and condos overlooking the Farewell Creek Valley with absolutely stunning views and direct access to the trail system in the valley. The townhomes are spacious and feature smart home designs with contemporary exteriors of brick, stone and stucco and the condo building will mirror those design elements.

The architecture is being handled by Naylor Architect Inc. and Turner Fleisher Architects Inc., with landscaping by Strybos Barron King and interiors by Johnson Chou Inc.

It’s a great team and I’m thrilled to be working with them.

Q: What’s on the drawing board?

A: Something I’m really very excited about, but can’t talk about in detail just yet, but it will be a $500 million master-planned community in Etobicoke that will include townhouses, multi-tower highrises, a seniors residence, retail and office space.

Stay tuned!



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In Conversation With: Dave Wilkes

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In Conversation With: Dave Wilkes

The new President and CEO of BILD

By Gale Beeby

Dave Wilkes has the municipal election at the top of his mind.

The new president and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) believes that it is imperative for his industry to inform the candidates and the public about the main issues surrounding housing. And he wants to remind everyone that the GTA is growing, and growing fast.

“There are two numbers everybody should remember: 9.7 million and 2041.

“Those numbers represent the population of the GTA in 2041. All that growth is good for the economy, but the municipalities in the GTA have got to start thinking about rezoning for all that growth and make sure that we can live, play and work in communities that work.

“I am impatient to do more,” said Wilkes, who grew up in Scarborough and was most recently the senior VP of the government relations and the grocery division at the Retail Council of Canada.

Needless to say, Wilkes has a passion for government relations.

“We’re going to be very aggressive in the coming municipal election, which will be held on October 22. We want to make sure each candidate is educated on housing issues. We’re going to ask them to sign a ‘Housing Pledge’ and hold all-candidates meetings and virtual town halls so the public knows where each candidate stands on the issues of affordable housing.”

BILD has 1,500 members, including builders and developers, renovators, manufacturers, suppliers, trade contractors, service and professional companies as well as financial and legal providers.

Q: What are some of the things BILD is going to undertake in the upcoming election?

A: Well, I have a column in a number of GTA-area media outlets (including this magazine), so they will be focused on the issues surrounding the election as they pertain to housing. It’s not just about development charges and the various land transfer taxes, it’s also about the types of housing that we need to build in order to house the 100,000-plus migrants into the GTA every year.

Q: Beyond the election, what else do you have planned?

A: I want to tell the story of the GTA. BILD can certainly take a leadership role in telling the civic building story. We have already produced one video and plan on making many more. (You can see “Creating a Community – The Challenge” on BILD’s YouTube). It’s not just about creating housing, but also healthcare, road, greenspace, education and parks.

We need to speak louder — I need to speak louder — and use every opportunity to get our voice out there and make an impact on consumers and come up with real world solutions.

Q: What is going to be the focus of that messaging?

A: Well, first we have to determine what we should own; everything can’t be a priority. Land availability, the cost of developments and proper infrastructure are our priorities. And we need to align those policies across the regions so that we can have smart growth into 2041.



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In Conversation With: Darren Steedman

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In Conversation With: Darren Steedman

By Gale Beeby

Don’t let the affable manner and big smile fool you; Darren Steedman takes his role as chair of the board of directors at the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) very seriously.

Still, it’s hard not to like him.

Steedman, who is vice president at DG Group Development (formerly Metrus Development), has his work cut out for him with a mandate that takes on several local and provincial policies, including the review of the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB), the Growth Plan the proposed inclusionary zoning scheme, and development charge reviews.

Q: First, let’s find out a little bit about you. Where did you get your start and how long have you been in the industry?

A: I graduated from Laurentian University in 1998 with an economics degree. I started as a summer student with Metrus Development (now known as the DG Group as of April 2015) in 1997, doing anything and everything. They rehired me during the winter break and the summer of 1998 and offered me full-time work when I graduated. I applied to the Ontario Professional Planners Institute under the affiliated degree program and got my Registered Professional Planners Designation in 2004.

I recall very early in my life, heading into the office with my dad, meeting the guys, watching the draftsmen, helping where I could and even going on site visits. I have been around this industry my entire life and some would say that it’s even in my blood.

My father Allan Steedman, president of Schaeffer Consulting Engineers, is my mentor as a father and as an industry leader. This was where it began, where I started to figure out what I love to do, where I started to figure out what I wanted to do when I grew up.

The real estate portfolios I manage are as far north as Barrie and as far south as Niagara Falls. I’ve worked on a number of projects, from brownfield, greenfield, residential (low, medium and highrise), commercial and employment.

Q: You’ve become chair of the board of directors with a two-year term. What are your mandates?

A: My top priorities while working with BILD staff are the province’s Growth Plan, the review of the OMB (Ontario Municipal Board), inclusionary zoning and affordable housing.

We will continue to work hard, get engaged and advocate for our industry on these critical issues that will shape our future.

As well, we will be preparing for both the provincial and municipal elections next year. It’s our chance to remind the province that it’s time to get serious about housing and that we will continue to advocate to make housing an issue.

Q: With over 100,000 people moving into the GTA each year, what do you think the biggest challenges are facing in the industry in creating safe and liveable communities?

A: We have a huge housing supply challenge in the GTA. There is not enough of it and there are not enough of the types of housing that people really want. To fix the infrastructure crisis we need to address several issues.

First, over the last 10 years lack of infrastructure has gone from being a challenge to a crisis, and that severely hinders our ability to develop land, build employment spaces and communities and increase housing supply.

We spend a lot of time talking about transit and transportation in the GTA because it is our most visible infrastructure challenge.

Across this region we are facing other infrastructure crunches that are impeding growth and development. Chief among them is insufficient water and wastewater systems and services. I’d be willing to bet that for most builders and developers in Ontario, lack of water and wastewater infrastructure is currently limiting our ability to build homes and develop land. In some cases, the necessary servicing won’t be in place at least for another decade.

To make things happen and to build more houses and employment spaces we need adequate water and wastewater infrastructure. The land might be out there but it is not shovel-ready.

It’s critical that government invests in the water and wastewater infrastructure needed to accommodate our growing population and explore viable funding models and solutions.

Second, the length of the approval process and the amount of red tape needs to be addressed. Over the past 10 years, we have seen a very lengthy approval process. A study completed in 2016 by the Fraser Institute found that development approvals in the GTA are delayed by an average of 18 months and play a significant role in the rapidly decreasing housing supply and add to the growing price of new homes.

And third, many municipalities across the GTA are operating with badly outdated zoning bylaws that don’t align with provincial policies.

Out-of-date zoning makes the already long approval process even longer. Municipalities are required to review their official plans every five years and update their zoning bylaws no later than three years after a revision.

It’s time for the province and municipalities to start enforcing this rule so that zoning bylaws can be used as an effective tool for implementing provincial intensification policies and help deliver the development that is needed to house our growing population.

Q: The province has been looking into disbanding the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) as a place for developers and builders to appeal decisions made by the municipalities. What are your thoughts on that, and what would you do instead of repealing?

A: BILD strongly supports the essential role of the OMB as an impartial, evidence-based, administrative tribunal that is responsible for handling appeals of land-use planning disputes. In this administrative authority, the OMB serves to ensure that provincial land use policies and objectives are achieved and that municipalities employ consistency in the application and implementation of land use legislation.

OMB reforms will create an environment where municipal councils will have no incentive to make tough but better decisions that will support provincial plans and good planning.

I would allow municipalities greater time to make a decision beyond the current standard (270 days), staff the OMB for mediation and full hearings and dire ct public funds to ensure that all parties at the hearing are fairly funded.

Q: DG Group (formerly Metrus Development) has a well-earned reput ation for planning and developing communities in a sustainable manner. What names does the DG Group build under and what is the philosophy behind that mandate?

A: We look at sustainable communities beyond simply the green nature of the statement. The ConDrain Group of Companies, which DG Group is a part of, is one of the few companies that operates in the residential, office, retail and ICI space. While we pride ourselves on building green infrastructure that lasts, we take pride in our communities and how they operate in real life conditions.

We ensure that our resident’s children can walk to school; we ensure that they have greenspace and parks for everyone to enjoy. We ensure that employment lands are vibrant and well designed for our client’s needs and our retail spaces that meet the demand of the community.

Q: What has made you the proudest?

A: What I love the most is touring one of our complete communities and watching the kids walk to school, playing in the park and enjoying the greenspace. I feel a sense of satisfaction seeing in real life the solutions to the issues that we came up against along the way and how we made it happen.

Q: What has been your biggest challenge so far?

A: OMB reform, Inc lusionary zoning and the Fair Housing Action Plan.

Q: What is your pet peeve?

A: The lack of priority housing has b een given by our various levels of government.

Q: What do you do for fun?

A: Anything outside; I hate being indoors. Camping is one of my favourite ac tivities. We did a two-week camping trip in our Airstream trailer to Quebec City, Halifax and the Bay of Fundy. My wife Kelly and I want to show the kids Canada. I also enjoy golfing, skiing and I play a little hockey. I love the Toronto Maple Leafs and I have great hope this is the year.

Waterdown Meadows by Aspen Ridge Homes


  • New Barrie, Barrie
  • Bond Head, Bradford West Gwillimbury
  • Dreamfields, Bradford West Gwillimbury
  • Springdale Community, Brampton
  • Mayfield Village, Brampton
  • Cleaveview Estates, Brampton
  • Lakeshore Woods, Oakville
  • Mayfield Employment Centre, Brampton
  • Hometown, Guelph
  • Caledon East, Caledon
  • Humberside, Caledon
  • Credit Manor, Brampton
  • Waterdown Meadows, Hamilton
  • Confederation Heights, Thorold
  • Lyons Creek, Niagara Falls




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In Conversation With: Fred Losani

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In Conversation With: Fred Losani

The CEO of Losani Homes has a passion for making the world a better place.

By the time Fred Losani had finished talking about his life’s passions, there was very little time to discuss the latest projects in his company’s portfolio.

“They speak for themselves,” Losani says.

That pretty much sums up the man.

The CEO of Hamilton-based Losani Homes is one of those rare people who not only writes cheques for children’s charities and hospitals in the communities where he builds, he believes that you have to also walk the walk.

That’s why Losani has skied to both the North and South Poles and walked the entire length of the Bruce Trail (about 865 kilometres) as fundraisers for the Losani Family Foundation.

Founded in 2003, the foundation has been honoured with many awards, including a 2017 Gold Award for Building Community Spirit from the Washington-based National Association of Home Builders and the 2017 Stephen Dupuis Humanitarian of the Year Award from the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).

We are joined on this day by another passionate Losani, Fred’s nephew John-Anthony, who raves about his father, Lino, and his uncle’s passion for building quality and accessible homes, as well as their charitable endeavours.

“We’re really a close-knit family and we are all involved in these projects. When we partnered with WE (formerly known as Free the Children), we sponsored a village in Kenya and went there to build 10 schools and water irrigation systems.”

Since then, Fred notes, the school population has doubled, there is irrigation in the newly planted corn fields, a water tower and an empowerment program that allows the women of the village to sell their handicrafts to help raise money for the village and their families.

“Most recently, we were in a small village in Ecuador near the Amazon River, where we built a water filtration system and are now building a school. Water is the most important aspect to long-term sustainability. Clean water is key,” says Fred, who points out that we here in Southern Ontario are very fortunate to live on such a vast amount of fresh water.

The Losanis are also passionate about the homes they build.

“We’ve been building homes for over 40 years and we are dedicated to quality craftsmanship and well-planned designs. It’s why we have repeat customers and a great loyalty program,” Fred says.

“We have a truly loyal base of homebuyers,” John-Anthony adds. “We’ve had three generations of families buy from us because they know we are committed to quality construction and customer service.”

“It’s really quite extraordinary, Fred notes. “Their loyalty cuts across generations and cultures.”

Q: Tell me about how you got into the building industry.

A: My father John and mother Maria came to Hamilton from Abruzzo (Italy) in 1960. My father founded his homebuilding company in 1976 and then my brother Lino incorporated it as Losani Homes in 1980.

We both worked for my dad during our younger years and I wasn’t at all sure that this was the industry I wanted to work in. My parents have always encouraged their children — and their grandchildren — to follow their own paths and find their own destiny. My father is a very modern man and generous of spirit, so I felt very supported. Actually, I really thought I was going to be a lawyer.

But as it turned out, somewhere along the line I realized that how you make your living is not as important as how it makes you feel, what you can contribute. And I felt I could be both effective and satisfied in the family business.

I joined in 1985 doing land development. And then in 1996, my dad retired and he gave his portion of the company to Lino and me. He trusts us, but he still carries the torch at 82.

Q: What are some of the things that Losani Homes is doing differently from other builders?

A: One of the things we’re doing is building fully accessible homes, including zero-entry doorways, wider doorways, roll-in showers, wheelchair-friendly kitchens with lower cabinets and roll-under cooktops and prep areas, lever handles instead of door knobs and lower light switches and thermostats. The townhouses are also ready to have elevators installed.

Our newest Hamilton master-planned community, Central Park, is located in a hotbed of conservation lands with the Eramosa Karst right next door. The nine-kilometre-long East Mountain Trail Loop features seven paved kilometres, making it accessible for everybody. And there will be connection to it from the multi-purpose trail that will run through the heart of Central Park.

We’re also moving away from the traditional style of homes with crown mouldings and oak pickets and stairs to a more modern style of architecture, both inside and out. We’re finding that buyers are liking these styles a lot more.

Q: You’ve been known primary as a Hamilton and Niagara lowrise builder. Are there plans to expand?

A: Hamilton is such a cool place and a lot of people don’t know just how big the art and culture scene is here. It’s so close to the GTA and with GO Transit it’s now closer to downtown Toronto than ever. We’re ahead of the curve and on the fringe of the GTA, which means it’s hot territory ready for development.

Hamilton has a very affordable housing market and we’ve always wanted to be in that affordable sector. In order to maintain our affordable price points, we have to move farther afield. It’s a complicated industry and difficult to navigate and keep prices down. So, we’ve been building along the Niagara Peninsula in Grimsby and Beamsville, for instance.

And now we’re building in Southwestern Ontario — Kitchener, Waterloo, Brantford, Paris, Caledonia and St. George. But low-density housing is still hard to do. The singles sell out very quickly so we’re focused more on medium density with two- and three-storey townhomes.

Q: What about midrise or highrise construction? Is that in your future?

A: Oh yes. We’ve got a midrise and highrise building planned for the Grimsby waterfront, Viva on the Lake. It’s new for us but it is in high demand and does create a more affordable housing option.

Q: What are the strengths of Losani Homes?

A: That’s easy! It’s community building. But we’re also very strong on our architectural designs, our quality construction and our customer service. We appre ciate and respect our homebuyers and it’s that connection from our enterprise that drives us to give back to the community.

Corporately — and for me personally — this is more than just working on building family wealth. What good is all that wealth if you’re not going to do some good with it?


Current Communities

  • Vista Ridge, Beamsville
  • Madison at Central Park, Hamilton
  • Augusta Encore, Ancaster
  • Woodlands, Ancaster
  • Fallingwaters, Hamilton
  • Astoria, Ancaster
  • Astoria Grand, Ancaster

Upcoming Communities

  • Madison Phase 2 at Central Park, Hamilton
  • The McKenzie, Caledonia
  • Brant West, Brantford
  • Lincoln Estates, Lincoln
  • The Peninsula, Paris
  • Simply Grand Encore, Paris

Future Developments

  • Waterworx, Hamilton
  • Midtown at Central Park, Hamilton
  • Winona, Stoney Creek
  • Soho at Central Park, Hamilton
  • Viva on the Lake, Grimsby
  • St. George
  • Winona Barton & Glover, Stoney Creek



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In Conversation With: Michael Dipasquale

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In Conversation With: Michael Dipasquale

Dunpar Homes specializes in building high-end townhomes in vibrant neighbourhoods

Dunpar Homes has made a name for itself by cornering the market on luxury townhouse living.

For more than 30 years, Dunpar has been building high-end townhomes that are characterized by quality engineering, craftsmanship and timeless design.

Just ask Michael DiPasquale, the vice president of operations for Dunpar Homes. He’s been living in a Dunpar-built townhome for several years and embraces the easy lifestyle.

“I like the convenience of it, the low maintenance and because Dunpar builds infill projects in vibrant communities, my Etobicoke home is near everything I need.”

Dunpar was founded by John Zanini in 1981, who had been renovating older homes in the Cabbagetown area and admired the fine craftsmanship. He learned the techniques, which are now found in all of Dunpar’s homes. Zanini’s first townhomes were built near Dundas and Parliament Streets, which is how he came up with the name Dunpar.

The concept of building thoughtfully planned homes on commercial and industrial sites in prime areas has resulted in the company building more than 2,000 homes — all of them townhouses.

“When Dunpar selects a location for a community, we only choose vibrant neighbourhoods in sustainable communities with easy access to shopping, schools, parks, highways, transit and green space,” Zanini says.

DiPasquale, who has been with Dunpar since 2009, agrees. “Townhomes are ground-related so you have the best of the easy maintenance of condo living without the cramped feeling you can get in a highrise tower.”

Q: What kind of people are purchasing townhomes?

A: Townhomes have been on the housing scene for decades, but they used to be considered an entry point to home ownership. Now, however, with the changing marketplace and higher housing costs, they are a viable alternative for most homebuyers. We’ve been selling to all kinds of people — young families, professionals and empty nesters.

The empty nesters are coming from detached homes and are looking for less space and an easy lifestyle. We also offer the option of installing elevators so they can age in place. However, the young professionals and families are looking to move up from a condo or apartment and want more square footage.

Q: What are purchasers looking for in a luxury townhome?

A: These are educated and refined purchasers and they are looking for elegance and craftsmanship. We build an upscale product with stone and brick exteriors, bay windows, cedar shake roofs, dormer windows and topfloor master suites with luxurious ensuite bathrooms.

We hit on a winning brand but with each subsequent project we refine and improve the design process. For instance, eight-foot ceilings on the upper floors became nine feet. It’s an evolutionary process, but we’ve made no big changes over the years. Dunpar has been doing it right from the beginning, so there is just some tweaking as we go along.

Q: Will Dunpar remain a townhouse builder only, or are there plans to expand the portfolio?

A: Up to this point, it has been townhomes only. However, we are about to bring to market an eight-floor midrise building in Etobicoke at Prince Edward Drive and Dundas Street West, just a couple of blocks east of Royal York Road. The units will be a luxury product in keeping with The Kingway neighbourhood where they are located.

We’re also planning back-to-back townhomes, which will feature rooftop patios. The smallest unit is 1,600 square feet.

Q: How can prospective purchasers get a feel for your product?

A: We’ve kept a couple of units in an older project to use as a sales office. Buyers find it hard to visualize space from a floorplan and they want to see and feel the finishes, so by setting up in an actual unit, purchasers can see the quality of the product and use of space and our well thought out designs. There are very few new homes being built that are over 2,000 square feet — especially infill projects — so our buyers are happy they can see just how great these units are to live in.

We also think about how the space will be used and make sure there are electrical outlets and cable outlets placed in the appropriate place, for instance. We think about everything — there are gas hook-ups on the decks for barbecues and all of our units have two-car garages. Of course, our buyers can also customize their unit. For example they can take a three-bedroom second-floor plan and change it to a two-bedroom.

Q: What do you do for fun?

A: Golf. And travel. My wife and I also consider ourselves to be foodies, so we enjoy trying out all the great Toronto restaurants. We’re close to GO Transit so we can get into the city very quickly.


  • Trafalgar Ridge, Oakville
  • Streetsville Centre, Mississauga
  • Lakeshore Village, Etobicoke
  • Heritage Gate, Mississauga


  • Townhomes in Oakville
  • Midrise in Etobicoke
  • Luxury rentals on Ossington



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In Conversation With: Barbara Lawlor

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In Conversation With: Barbara Lawlor

Don’t let Barbara Lawlor’s calm exterior fool you; she thrives on the competitive nature of selling real estate, especially in the GTA’s hyper-driven market.

“I love a good fight,” she says. “It’s the Irish in me!”

Plus she’s a really fun dinner companion! Something about those sparkling Irish eyes and striking red hair that makes Barbara stand out in the crowded real estate field — although she is not only a broker, but also a Real Estate Institute of Canada Fellow. And now, she is the 2017 winner of the prestigious Riley Brethour Award.

Lawlor, the president and CEO of Baker Real Estate Inc. — one of the most successful real estate companies in the country — provides sales and marketing expertise to new home and condo projects here in Canada and overseas.

Lawlor won the Riley Brethour Award during the annual Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) Awards. It’s an honour she is especially proud of because the award celebrates not only outstanding achievement in sales and marketing, but also for exemplary leadership and for being an outstanding role model for other industry professionals.

“Winning the Riley Brethour Award means I follow in the footsteps of an amazing roster of industry professionals who were honoured in the past,” Lawlor says. “I am humbled and gratified to be acknowledged by my peers in this way.”

Lawlor, who was born and raised in Dublin, had a first career as a model, actress and singer, working professionally from the time she was just 12 years old. During her teens, she sang with an Irish group called Maxi, Dick and Twink and also cut a solo record.

It was while she was touring North America that she landed a television show in Toronto. “I just kept coming back to Toronto, so I guess it was meant to be,” she says of her permanent move to this city.

Q:Who would you consider your mentor?

A: Many people have inspired me over the years, but the role of “mentor” definitely goes to Pat Baker, founder of Baker Real Estate Incorporated. During the 1980s and early 1990s, I saw a bright future for condominiums in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area. I looked around at who was making strides in the industry, and Pat was at the top of the list. I approached her and joined her team in 1993. She has been a constant in my life since then.

I respect Pat as a businesswoman, and I have learned a lot from her over the years. Her business acumen and professionalism continually inspire me and help to mould my leadership style. She holds the philosophy that people are everything — something I learned early on from my father. Pat set the example of caring about our clients, their buyers and each other. Baker Real Estate is very much a team, and like Pat, I listen to my team members and consider everything they say when I make decisions.

I am grateful for the opportunity Pat gave me, plus she is great fun!

Q:What has made you the proudest?

A: Oh my, I would have to say being honoured with this year’s Riley Brethour Award from BILD is my proudest achievement. This pinnacle award is for excelling in leadership, which is something near and dear to my heart. I first learned about leadership from my father, Regimental Sergeant Major Henry Dixon, who was honoured with the Nobel Peace Medal in Ireland. He stressed to me that in business and in life, people are everything.

When I met Pat Baker, I was thrilled that she also held the people-first attitude toward business. Through my father and Pat, I saw firsthand what a dedicated work ethic could achieve. A leader must work hard, establish credibility, engage in open communication and care about everyone around her. A true leader brings out the best in her team.

Winning the Riley Brethour Award means I follow in the footsteps of an amazing roster of industry professionals who were honoured in the past. I am humbled and gratified to be acknowledged by my peers in this way. Thank you, BILD, Pat Baker and Dad. And by the way, I still remember how to salute!

Q: What is the hottest new trend in condos today?

A: I would have to say families in condominiums. The appeal of raising children in a condo in an urban setting has long been the norm in major cities around the world, and we are finally catching up here.

They say it takes a village to raise a child, and a condominium is an inviting, engaging and safe community that lends itself to family living. A condo is essentially a vertical community where neighbours get to know each other in the shared areas such as elevators, hallways and amenity spaces.

Parents are phenomenally busy nowadays, so they appreciate that the condo lifestyle provides them with more quality time to spend with their kids. Even empty nesters opting for condos appreciate having wonderful amenities under their roof to share with their grandchildren when they visit. Condos are close to parks, museums, schools, entertainment venues, shopping, public transportation and more, which makes accessing these local amenities convenient. And remember, condominiums offer built-in security, with the concierge providing eyes on the street. To address the increased demand, developers are including more two-bedroom + den and three-bedroom designs into their suite mix, as well as kid-friendly amenities such as kid zones. Some even offer daycare facilities.

A sure sign that families in condos is a major trend is the recent publication of The Condo Kids — Adventures with Bob the Barbary Sheep by Jackie Burns, who highlights the lives children lead in condos. Jackie felt there was a lack in the children’s literature marketplace for these kids.

Q:What is the next up and coming neighbourhood?

A: In Toronto, we have seen tremendous growth in the west end. Etobicoke, for example, almost joins Mississauga, which is highly developed. I find Toronto’s east end to be the up-and-coming frontier for master-planned condo development. We are already seeing fascinating success for places such as Leslieville, Riverside and, of course, the Canary District. I see this trend continuing, and it makes sense. The east end is still connected to downtown and is mere minutes to Lake Ontario, the Gardiner Expressway and DVP. In addition, purchasers find exceptional value in the east end, where there is still a lot of land left for development. The east end has a lot of legs to grow!

Q: Where do you see the real estate market headed in the next 20 years?

A: In 20 years’ time, I see the continuing popularity of condominiums. People already immigrate here in massive numbers, and that attraction will grow in time. We are known for our peaceful coexistence with residents of all ages, backgrounds, ethnicities and cultures. Toronto also continues to win international awards for quality of life, business environment and even natural spaces. Toronto is definitely a City of the Future!

I also foresee a huge influence of technology in design. We will build smarter buildings with advances in energy efficiency, home automation and green elements. The ease of maintaining these buildings’ exteriors and amenities will increase, making them more comfortable and sustainable for everyone. Greening is important in order to create a cleaner, better world for future generations.

Topping it off, architecture will know no bounds, as we will see undreamed of buildings in the future. It will be an exciting time for real estate in Toronto and the GTA!

Q:What do you do for fun?

A: I love to travel. My husband is Portuguese and I’m there a lot. I love the beautiful beaches, the wine, the music. It’s all exceptional!


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In Conversation With : Moninder Khudal

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In Conversation With : Moninder Khudal

The founder of Shyamora Luxury Homes and Diam Developments started his life in Canada delivering pizza.

Moninder Khudal and his wife, Raman, arrived in Canada in 2001 from their home in India armed with their university degrees — his an MBA in finance and marketing, hers in dentistry — they knew it would be important to gain Canadian work experience before they could work in their selected fields.

Urged by his father to move to Canada, and not knowing anyone in the Toronto area, Moninder worked as a pizza deliveryman while his wife worked at a McDonald’s restaurant. They both put in long days to not only gain that much-needed experience, but also to support their growing family.

Only three months after arriving in Toronto, Moninder’s father passed away. “It was a devastating loss,” Khudal recalls. “We had to return to India to take care of the arrangements.

“But there are reasons for things. If we hadn’t moved to Canada before my father passed away, we probably would have never come here; and it was my father who encouraged us to emigrate in the first place.”

After returning to Toronto, Khudal returned to his job at the pizza shop, working long shifts. It was his hope that he could save enough money to bring his mother to Canada.

“For one year I worked 18 hours a day, opening the store at 9 a.m. and closing it at 1 a.m. on weekdays and at 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday,” Khudal says.

Khudal then went on to work at Brampton Toyota, and in 2002 was its top volume producer.

Khudal — who easily puts people at ease with his affable personality — is a natural salesman.

“I enjoy people and building relationships,” he says. “Business and personal relationships are important to me and I like getting to know people and hearing about their experiences.

“This gives me more understanding about people and has made me a better person and a better entrepreneur.”

When Khudal, who is now 42, started looking to buy a house, his real estate agent suggested that, with his MBA, he should consider working in the mortgage business.

And he did just that. Now he owns a real estate brokerage firm — Homexperts Real Estate Inc. — and a mortgage brokerage company called Financial Ties.

“It was only natural, then, to start a development company,” Khudal says with a chuckle.

Q: How did you go from selling homes to building them?

A: It was, for me, the next step. I started building luxury custom homes and continue to do so as Shyamora Luxury Homes. We build all over the GTA, mostly infill projects, with prices between $3 million and $4 million. When the opportunity came along to go into production building, I created Diam Developments as a sister company to Shyamora.

Q:Tell me about the names of the two companies.

A: Shyamora is a combination of the first two letters of my name, my wife’s name and my children’s names. It was my wife’s idea and it is brilliant. So, SH is for Sharanbir, YA for Yashbir, MO for Moninder and RA for Raman. Diam is Latin for invest and I thought it fit my business philosophy quite well.

Q: What is on the drawing board at Diam?

A: We’ve recently started construction on our first condo, On The Danforth, which sold out very quickly. It’s a 10-storey building with 135 units and prices started in the mid $200,000s, which made it extremely affordable. It’s also located on a great strip of Danforth Avenue near Woodbine.

We’re really excited now about our new project, Radiance in Innisfil and we’ve received approval from the town to build 100 townhouses. Building in Innisfil makes sense when you look at home prices, which are 30 to 40 per cent lower there than they are for similar products in Markham and Richmond Hill. With the South Barrie GO Transit station only 13 minutes away, getting into the GTA is easy. The beaches along Lake Simcoe are an easy walk, too.

Radiance is ideal for first-time buyers and young families looking for affordable townhomes, as well as empty nesters.

They are designed by OneSpace Architecture in a modern style and will feature large decks and optional rooftop terraces. They range in size from 1,500 to 2,000 square feet and you can configure them with up to five bedrooms. Prices start at in the upper $400,000s, which is a very good price for the quality of the home. At Diam, I am proud to say, we’re sticklers for details and make sure every home is built to the purchaser’s satisfaction.

We’ve also acquired five acres of land in King City near Canada’s Wonderland. It will be a huge project that I hope to have finished within the next four to five years.

Q: What has made you the proudest?

A: That’s easy: my family! They matter the most. When my father — who was my mentor and my inspiration — passed away I felt there was no one to have my back. It really makes you realize just how important family is. I love what I do but I love my family more. Money is just a by-product.


Luxury custom homes in Mississauga and Oakville
Manors of Kleinburg

Manors of Kleinburg

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In Conversation With: Patrick O’Hanlon

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In Conversation With: Patrick O’Hanlon

Kylemore Communities is celebrating its 20th anniversary.

Eight years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting the indomitable Patrick O’Hanlon for the first time over lunch at Auberge du Pommier, a sophisticated restaurant that specializes in fine French cuisine. He ordered the “grilled cheese sandwich.”

It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

O’Hanlon is never one to mince words; he speaks his mind and that is a quality that I — although not all — appreciate. It’s the Irish in him.

Born in Dublin and raised in Toronto, O’Hanlon has a degree in urban planning from Ryerson University. Following school he went to work for the Region of Peel and then moved on to Bramalea Ltd., which at the time was one of the largest building and developments companies in the GTA.

“Working at Bramalea was a good training ground,” O’Hanlon told me. “I didn’t speak for the first five years. Yes, really,” he assured while acknowledging my scepticism. “I was a human sponge and I just listened and learned.”

From there, O’Hanlon joined Gordon Stollery in Angus Glen Development, and then founded Kylemore Communities with Stollery and Frank Spaziani.

“It’s that word ‘quality’ again,” said O’Hanlon. “I couldn’t have done better for partners than Gordon and Frank.”

The Angus Glen master-planned community, which follows new urbanism planning principles and which began in 1997 with highend homes around the 36-hole championship golf course of the same name, has now expanded to over 1,400 residences, including The Brownstones, a collection of townhomes along the south course, and The 6th, a midrise condo building also overlooking the south course, home to the 2015 Pan Am Games golf tournament.

Today, O’Hanlon and Spaziani work alongside the next generation of the Stollery family, represented by Cailey and Lindsay, to bring Gordon Stollery’s vision for Angus Glen to fruition.

Angus Glen Community, which includes The Shoppes of Angus Glen within walking distance of most of the homes and where Kylemore is now headquartered, won the prestigious Places to Grow Community of the Year award from the Building Industry and Land Development Association in 2013.

Q: Who would you consider a mentor?

A: David Ptak, who was vice president of Bramalea’s Residential Group when I worked there. Working for Bramalea gave me a strong foundation. What I learned most from David were the words “quality, quality, quality” — not just in the context of building materials or workmanship but also the quality of the people you work with and the people you count as friends and business partners. I couldn’t have done better for partners than Gordon and Frank.

Q: What’s on the drawing board for the future?

A: We’ve got two really big exciting projects coming: the redevelopment of the York Downs Golf and Country Club and Langstaff Gateway, which is a huge mixed-use development.

York Downs

Q: Let’s talk about York Downs first. What is the plan and the timeline?

A: It’s still currently being used as a golf course, but we purchased the 400 acres for $412 million. Our initial plan submitted to the City of Markham has 2,400 homes in a new urbanism style like Angus Glen. This is a joint venture partnership with Angus Glen, Kylemore, and Minto Communities.

The new parks, green spaces and schools will be positioned so that they can be conveniently accessed by the wider community.

However, there is still a lot of work to be done before we can bring the full plan forward.

Q: Now, Langstaff Gateway. I remember you talking about this the first day I met you, eight years ago.

A: Oh yea, it’s really exciting! And I’m very enthusiastic about working with Peter Calthorpe, an urban planner who is a champion of new urbanism and walkable cities.

Langstaff Gateway — located south of Highway 407 and east of Yonge Street — is just industrial land now, but the vision is to build a massive live/work/play master-planned community designed by Calthorpe. He calls it the most transit-oriented site he has ever worked on.

Actually, it really is a literal gateway to everywhere in the GTA and beyond. It’s at the intersection of three main public transit lines: GO, the TTC subway, York Region transit and VIVA rapid transit services. As well, Highway 407 and Highway 7 are right there and the new 407 Transitway will move people quickly to Pearson airport.

Transit is just one of the key principles of new urbanism that are being applied to the 47-hectare site. Peter’s preliminary plan also calls for all residential, business and retail building to be within walking distance of each other and we’ll probably integrate “people movers” into the site. It will be the densest new project in North America.

We’re proposing to build stacked townhomes, six- to eight-storey midrise buildings, and residential towers up to 50 storeys.

Q: Tell me about how Kylemore gives back to the communities it builds.

A: I believe in the importance of strong communities, where people can live and work and grow together. As a company, we have a policy of social responsibility and are involved in a number of initiatives that create positive impacts on our local residents.

To that end, we created Kylemore Kares and we host several events throughout the year to raise money for local charities. These include our annual Kylemore Kares Charity Golf tournament, the Kylmore Hockey With Heart tournament and our annual holiday toy drive, to name a few.

Q: What do you do for fun?

A: I become a real Canadian, lace up some skates and play hockey. My position is goon. I’m the nicest guy in the world until I step out on the ice. Then I become Patrick O’Hooligan. I also golf — I’m pretty good — and can often be found kicking a soccer ball.


  • Brownstones at Angus Glen
  • The 6th at Angus Glen
  • Kennedy Manors



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In Conversation With – Bob Finnigan

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In Conversation With – Bob Finnigan

By Gale Beeby

Affordability the biggest issue facing homebuyers, says the president of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association.

Bob Finnigan is one of those rare people — well spoken, well dressed, hard working and with a heart as big as a barn; in a word, a gentleman.

But when it comes to housing affordability, Finnigan has a few things to say and he says them with the passion of a person who cares about homeowners.

Canadians — particularly those in the GTA — are facing an affordability crunch for new housing that has left first-time homebuyers behind, says Finnigan, the new president of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA). “It’s the culmination of a lot things, including a growing disparity between incomes and home prices and constrained land supply on top of Ontario’s Places to Grow policy, which demands higher levels of density everywhere in the province, not just the major cities.”

Home prices in the 1950s and ’60s, cost about three times the income of a single wage earner. In the GTA now, house prices are six to 10 times higher than the income of a two-income family, according to CHBA.

On top of that, 94 per cent of Canadians want to buy lowrise housing (detached, semis and townhomes) but can’t afford it, according to data collected by CHBA.

“Until we get a constant stream of lowrise housing in the GTA, new product is going to be priced at a premium. There are a lot of people chasing a few homes,” Finnigan said, noting that over 300,000 people come into the country each year — 100,000 into the GTA.

Adding to the price of new homes is a supply issue caused by the Ontario government, Finnigan says, lack of serviceable land, complicated building codes, regulation and approval process delays and developments fees, which cost a total of $6 billion annually across the country.

Finnigan points to a long delay in Whitby waiting for approvals as an example of the waste of time and energy required to reach the point where shovels can get into the ground.

“In 2006, when the growth plan was announced, bringing new lands into the urban boundary stopped for five years — and then it took five more for the region and towns to figure out all the new rules. Delays increase costs, which then, of course, adds to the cost of a new home. When Country Lane finally came to market, over 500 homes were sold in six weeks.”

Also, Finnigan adds, there is clearly a need for Ontario to facilitate the quicker release of the already approved development lands to ease the supply shortage.

Affordability in the GTA is also greatly affected to higher costs of living, including property taxes, utilities and transportation costs.

“It’s about time we stopped taxing new homebuyers and share the costs of infrastructure among the entire community,” Finnigan says of development charges, which can add thousands of dollars to the price of a new home.

The CHBA is also suggesting that the GST be removed from municipal development charges on new residential developments, calling it a “tax on a tax.”

“I’d also like to see tax breaks for purpose-built rental housing, especially ‘secondary suites’ — rental units in lowrise homes — which are not allowed in most municipalities.

“This would certainly address some of the issues of affordable housing and also help homeowners finance their homes.”

Read his article here


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In Conversation With : Jonathan Goldman

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In Conversation With : Jonathan Goldman

It’s really no surprise that the president of Stafford Homes loves his job; it’s a family affair.

Any discussion with Jonathan Goldman about his life is peppered with the word “passion” — for the building industry, for his father and grandfather, and certainly about the homes he builds.

“What we do matters,” says Goldman, who at 36 already has a lot of experience under his belt. “Everybody needs shelter and we try to provide the best possible shelter possible.

“I am incredibly passionate about what I do. I love the city and I love construction and design.”

Goldman is president of Stafford Homes, which, along with its sister company The Goldman Group, is over 60 years old. Jonathan is the fourth generation of Goldmans to work in the industry.

Goldman spends seven days a week either in the office, on construction sites or planning fundraisers for Mount Sinai Hospital, where he is a board member — just one of his charitable endeavours. It’s that kind of passion that has earned Stafford a reputation for building quality, energy-efficient homes.

When he and his father founded Stafford Homes, he served as vice president of sales and marketing and took the company into the modern era by creating a large social media and internet presence.

Real estate really does run in the family. In 1954, Samuel Goldman — a bricklayer and carpenter — came to Toronto from Russia where he and his son, Murray, built their first home. They continued building homes throughout the 1950s and ’60s, learning the craft of building and the creative development of neighbourhoods.

Gary, the son of Murray, joined his father at The Goldman Group in the 1980s after spending some time in both brokerage and financial services before founding Stafford Homes with his son Jonathan.

Under their leadership, Stafford built several thousand homes and commercial properties.

Condo Life: Did you always know you’d go into the family business?

Jonathan Goldman: It’s in my blood. My father and grandfather are developers and my great grandfather was a builder and I’ve spent time on construction sites since I was a child.

By the time I graduated high school, I was working as a sales agent and I wanted to do it fulltime. But I took a few years to get a university education and every summer I went home to work in the real estate industry.

I also founded a large renewable energy company, building commercial solar projects, which I sold in 2011 so I could focus on the real estate business. I have carried on here with that sense of innovation. I know what works and what doesn’t. Our business is about details and they are important.

CL: Do you have anyone would you consider a mentor?

JG: Definitely Gary, my father. He’s as smart and nice as it gets and an amazing teacher. He has tons of experience and he’s very passionate about what he does. This company has so many hard-working people who are committed to making Stafford Homes a success. Those are the values that were instilled in me from a young age by my father and my grandfather. We care about our purchasers and we are proud of what we do.

CL: With the province’s Places to Grow policy and the Greenbelt restrictions, what future do you see for the real estate and housing market?

JG: It’s not a bad policy as a concept, with developers working with the city to grow at an appropriate speed. And whatever anybody thinks, our housing market is incredibly healthy. There is a reason why people move to Toronto every year and it’s because this is an incredible city.

The national government really needs to support the housing industry more as it is vitally important and a real economic driver. It supports thousands of jobs, indirectly and directly, and gives back huge sums of money. It’s a much bigger employer than the auto industry and they are constantly asking for bailouts and we are constantly being asked to give more and more to help support the cities, provinces and country as a whole.

The building industry will stay strong for years to come. It is a tough business but we deliver the homes that support the GTA’s growing population.

CL: What kind of housing are you involved in building right now?

JG: We’ve got a couple of great projects underway. At Downsview Park, we got the last remaining lands — 13 acres — and we’re building 205 freehold townhouse units with a very unique feature — backyards. That is a great feature for any growing family. The units will be 2,900 to 3,350 square feet with three to six bedrooms, starting around $900,000.

Avenue & Park is a luxury seven-storey building located at Avenue Road and Bedford Park Avenue. There will only be 36 suits — all over 2,000 square feet — priced at over $1.5 million. I’m also really excited by Forestview Towns in Pickering, which is being built now. They are open-concept three-storey towns with outdoor terraces.

CL: What do you do for fun?

JG: I work (he smiles). Well, I workout. I’m a triathlete so I train for those competitions. And I spend a lot of time with my family, which is really important to me.

• Downsview Park Towns, Toronto
• Avenue & Park, Toronto
• Forestview Towns, Pickering
• The SkyLofts, Scarborough
• Elements Townhomes, Ajax

• Conlin Road, lowrise, Oshawa
• St. Clair Avenue, highrise, Toronto
• Avenue Road, highrise, Toronto
• Sheppard Avenue Towers, highrise, Toronto
• Downsview Park, lowrise residential
• Trafalgar Castle Lands, lowrise, Whitby
• Hunt Street, lowrise, Ajax


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