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Industry Report: Building Industry Continues to be Undervalued by Government

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Industry Report: Building Industry Continues to be Undervalued by Government

Despite considerable efforts, we have not succeeded in achieving a full, public understanding of the reasons why housing prices are so high

Writing this — my last column for HOMES Publishing Group — conjures bittersweet feelings for me since I retired from the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) on January 1.

What brought me to BILD was the desire to have a positive impact on public policy. I thought this industry should have a voice that is heard by government decision makers. I wanted to elevate the debate that public policy is contributing to the cost of homes in the GTA.

As the president and CEO of BILD, I had the constant support of the members, the board of directors and BILD staff, all who allowed me to tell the industry’s story and do what was right. Their patience allowed me to persevere and to execute my vision, while having fact-based discussions.

I am proud of the progress we have made over the past five years. However, my biggest frustration is how undervalued the industry continues to be perceived by the province of Ontario and many municipalities.

Despite our considerable efforts, we have not succeeded in achieving a full, public understanding of the reasons why housing prices are so high in this region. Housing affordability and the ability to own a home are important components in quality of life, which — along with livelihood — are at risk for our future generations.

The residential and land development industry is one of the most regulated in the country and the prices of homes reflect the policy our industry must follow, and how those policies are implemented. At some point, policy makers will have to say “our policies are creating outcomes that are not in the public interest,” and they will have to listen to the experts that are responsible for building communities. Because what the development and building industry wants to do is to build homes people can afford to purchase — especially first-time buyers.

I have advocated for a streamlined approvals process, shovelready land with proper infrastructure and to update out-of-date zoning bylaws. It is time for all governments to show a true commitment to their promises to make things happen and enact policies that meet the challenges of the rapidly growing population. With that, housing people can afford to purchase may continue to be a reality.

I want to leave this message for young people and new residents who choose to make their homes in this great region: No matter how difficult the situation may seem, continue to maintain the dream of homeownership.

Looking back, what I am most proud of is that BILD has never been more stable from a business perspective with the purchase of the home shows in the GTA. This will enable the organization to be a champion of the industry and have an impact on public policy in Ontario for years to come.

Another important advancement for the building industry occurred on January 1, 2015, when our advocacy efforts were rewarded when the provincial government approved the construction of six-storey wood buildings. It will take time to see the true impact of this policy change, but initial results are very encouraging.

In closing, the best part of my five years has been the amazing people I have met and the wonderful relationships I forged. We really do work in the best industry, in the best city, in the best province and in the best country in the world.

BRYAN TUCKEY is President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) and is a land-use planner who has worked for municipal, regional and provincial governments. He can be found on Twitter (twitter.com/bildgta), Facebook (facebook.com/bildgta), and BILD’s official online blog (bildblogs.ca).

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