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.