Tag Archives: BILD (Building Industry and Land Development Association)

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Local planning appeal tribunal often works for the common good

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Local planning appeal tribunal often works for the common good

If you follow development and construction in Ontario, you will be familiar with the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) and its predecessor, the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).

LPAT adjudicates disputes about the decisions of municipal councils as they relate to the Planning Act. Opponents of development often label LPAT as biased in favour of developers. These critics erroneously believe that the decisions of local councils should be placed ahead of Ontario policy and legislation.

What often goes unmentioned are the countless decisions by LPAT that have resulted in new housing developments that benefit those in need. As the provincial government prepares to introduce changes to streamline and expedite the LPAT process, it is a good time to remember some of these decisions.

Thanks to LPAT, Habitat for Humanity was able to build nine affordable housing units at 357 Birchmount Rd. in Scarborough, despite opposition from the local councillor and residents.

Housing for more than 1,700 students will be added to the University of Toronto and the University of Guelph after the resolution of appeals to LPAT.

When the City of Toronto was unable to reach a decision within the prescribed time frames, LPAT allowed the building of 1,000 purpose-built rental units near transit in the High Park neighbourhood of Toronto.

A housing project for seniors on vacant Toronto District School Board property got the go-ahead from LPAT after the city failed to make a decision. It resulted in a continuum-of-care facility funded by the Ministry of Long-Term Care, and 49 independent seniors’ apartments.

In Hamilton, LPAT approved a residential care facility for adolescent girls with mental health challenges following the intervention of the Ontario Human Rights Commission over the city’s bylaw objections.

These are some of the numerous decisions that have been made by LPAT, and the OMB, that have resulted in development that would not have occurred in their absence. These decisions, by LPAT and the OMB, have benefited seniors, students, people with disabilities, and those needing rental housing in a city with a housing shortage.

When a group feels a municipal development decision runs counter to provincial policy or legislation, the case can be brought to LPAT, which derives its authority from provincial legislation.

Through Bill 108, More Homes, More Choice Act, the province reinforces the notion that an effective and efficient tribunal is a necessity to ensure that planning conforms to provincial policy and regulations and that the planning process is free of political interference.

Recently, the provincial government announced changes to LPAT to enhance the effectiveness and speed by which the body adjudicates disputes. These positive changes will increase LPAT resources, streamline the appeals and ensure that decisions are made on the latest and best possible information.

Undoubtedly, these are positive steps to increase supply of housing and affordability for Ontarians.

Dave Wilkes is president and CEO of BILD (Building Industry and Land Development Association), and can be found on: Twitter.com/BILDGTA Facebook.com/BILDGTA YouTube.com/BILDGTA and BILD’s official online blog: BILDBlogs.ca

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BILD Outlook 2020

Outlook 2020 – what’s in store for GTA housing next year?

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Outlook 2020 – what’s in store for GTA housing next year?

Global and even some Canadian economic and political uncertainty shouldn’t derail growth in the GTA housing market next year, according to experts at the Building Industry and Land Development Association’s (BILD) recent Outlook 2020 event.

Craig Wright, senior vice-president and chief economist at RBC, and Peter Donolo, political and communications strategist with Hill + Knowlton Canada, said that overall, the fundamentals for the economy and housing market in Ontario and the GTA bode well for 2020. There are some challenges, however – namely the ongoing new home supply issue.

With Justin Trudeau’s Liberals re-elected as a minority government, Canada will see a relatively stable left-leaning federal government that will focus on environmental issues, affordability and redistribution rather than on economic growth, Donolo says.

BILD Outlook 2020
Left to right, Dave Wilkes, Peter Donolo and Craig Wright

Globally, geopolitical uncertainty and softening economic growth mean that Canada faces challenges with export and investment, leaving the heavy lifting to the consumer, according to Wright. Economic growth is expected to be modest and in line with employment and income, at about 1.7 per cent, and interest rates will likely continue to be low.

Strong employment growth

For Ontario, GDP growth will likely be a notch below, about 1.5 per cent, with housing starts for 2019 and 2020 at about 72,000 units, compared to about 79,000 in 2018, Wright says.

“That reflects a number of factors,” Wright told HOMES Publishing. “We continue to see strong employment gains, Ontario is leading Canada in terms of employment growth on a year-over-year basis, and strong population growth. So, strong fundamentals supporting it, in a low rate environment.”

BILD Outlook 2020 Craig Wright
Craig Wright, senior vice-president and chief economist, RBC

The GTA’s robust population growth will continue to drive demand for both ownership and rental housing, Wright says. Municipal and provincial governments are shifting to supply-side solutions for balancing the housing market.

“As you look at the structural reality of the GTA market, where we have immigration coming in… we have 140,000 to 150,000 people coming to this region each and every year,” adds BILD President Dave Wilkes. “That really does bode well for our industry.”

The mortgage stress test needs to be revisited in light of the continued low interest rates, Wright says.

Millennial attitudes

Another issue that might affect the Canada and the building industry is Millennials and their views on the environment and the economy – attitudes Donolo describes as “absolute.”

BILD Outlook 2020 Peter Donolo
Peter Donolo, political and communications strategist, Hill + Knowlton Canada

“When I say absolute, you talk about the oil sands and it’s like you’re talking about the Medellin drug cartel,” he says. “They’re not conscious or interested in the fact that the oil sands and Canada’s oil and gas sector is a kind of the backbone of the Canadian economy, that millions of jobs depend on it… They’re not interested in a kind of slow transition or weaning away from it. They think it’s immoral… and this is a very widespread view.”

Millennial views on homeownership are also different, Donolo says.

“Do Millennials look differently at what homeownership is about? Are they less interested in owning a traditional detached house with a backyard and property? If you look at rates of drivers licenses among Millennials, there is perhaps an indication.”

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Building and development brings benefits to the GTA

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Building and development brings benefits to the GTA

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Building and development brings benefits to the GTA

In many of my columns, I focus on the need to increase housing supply in the GTA and the regulatory and policy barriers that are leading to shortfalls. This issue, I’d like to highlight the benefits that the building and land development sector brings to the region. When all of the data is unpacked, many people are surprised to find out that the industry is an economic engine of the region.

Each year, members of our industry construct about 40,000 homes of various types – detached single-family homes, townhomes and highrise apartments – as well as countless commercial buildings and, increasingly, purpose-built rentals. To get the job done, they employ people in more than 120,000 jobs, both on-site in the trades and construction positions that carry out the building, and off-site in the planning, design, architectural, engineering, financial and support services, that enable the physical construction. These are local jobs that will stay local. The industry adds more than $7 billion in wages to the GTA economy, which in turn get spent and support the people and companies that provide goods and services to those employed in construction and development. New home building contributes $17 billion in investment value in the GTA.

When home renovations and repairs, including those carried out by BILD’s RenoMark renovators, are added to the mix, the numbers are even more impressive. The home renovation and repair sector employs people in more than 150,000 jobs, bringing the overall total of jobs created by new home building, renovation and repair to about 270,000, a significant portion of the GTA job market. The renovation and home repair segment has a payroll of $9 billion and represents $16 billion in investment value.

All this activity results in new communities and renewal of existing housing stock – buildings and infrastructure where people can live, work and play. It also results in significant tax revenue for all levels of government, which is reinvested in the programs and services that support our society.

Aside from the income and corporate taxes that result from home building and renovations, each home constructed contributes to the public coffers. A 2018 study commissioned by BILD and conducted by Altus Group found that the fees, taxes and charges applied by all levels of government and rolled into the cost of a new home accounted for 22 per cent of an average GTA singlefamily home (or $186,500) and 24 per cent of an average highrise apartment (or $121,500).

About a third of that is the HST that flows to the federal and provincial governments. Approximately another third consists of development charges that go to the regional and municipal governments to fund infrastructure, roads, transit and municipally provided social services such as affordable housing and daycare. Other government charges on new homes include parkland dedication, which municipalities collect to support new parks; land transfer tax, which goes to the province; and in the case of Toronto, municipal land transfer tax, which goes to the city.

Every new home built provides a place for a family to live, supports three fulltime jobs, generates economic activity that supports the broader economy, and lastly, provides tax revenues for all levels of government, supporting government programs, services and infrastructure enjoyed by all residents of the GTA. The building, land development, and professional renovation industries are truly engines of our economy.

Dave Wilkes is president and CEO of BILD (Building Industry and Land Development Association), and can be found on:

Twitter.com/BILDGTA
Facebook.com/BILDGTA
YouTube.com/BILDGTA
and BILD’s official online blog:
BILDBlogs.ca

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August new single-family home sales outpaced year-earlier levels for the 10th month in a row

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August new single-family home sales outpaced year-earlier levels for the 10th month in a row

It was a typically quiet August in the GTA new home market this year, according to the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).

There were 1,400 new home sales in August, according to Altus Group, BILD’s official source for new home market intelligence. This was up 19 per cent from August 2018 but still 23 per cent below the 10-year average.

Condominium units in low-, medium- and highrise buildings, stacked townhouses and loft units accounted for 961 new home sales, down four per cent from August 2018 and 12 per cent from the 10-year average.

“August was the first month since March that new condo apartment sales didn’t exceed their 2018 level,” says Patricia Arsenault, Altus Group’s executive vice-president, Data Solutions. “Typically, very few new projects open in August, and this year there were actually none. This played a role in the slightly lower number of new condo sales compared to August last year.”

August saw a decrease in inventory compared to the previous month, to 16,529 units. Remaining inventory includes units in preconstruction projects, in projects currently under construction and in completed buildings.

Single-family home sales, with 439 detached, linked and semi-detached houses and townhouses (excluding stacked townhouses) sold, were up 143 per cent from last August, but still down 39 per cent from the 10-year average.

“New single-family home sales outpaced year-earlier levels for the 10th month in a row in August,” says Arsenault. “But the level of sales remains low in historical terms, with affordability of available product an issue for many would-be buyers.”

The benchmark price of new single-family homes in August was $1.08 million, down 4.1 per cent over the last 12 months. The benchmark price of new condominium apartments was $840,799, up 7.2 per cent over the last 12 months.

“It is encouraging to see sales of single-family homes increase as the market returns to more typical levels,” says BILD President and CEO David Wilkes. “However, we still have concerns that until fundamental adjustments are made to align supply with demand in the GTA housing market, we will continue to have affordability challenges.”

August new home sales by municipality, August 2019

Source: Altus Group


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Building and development brings benefits to the GTA

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Building and development brings benefits to the GTA

In many of my columns, I focus on the need to increase housing supply in the GTA and the regulatory and policy barriers that are leading to shortfalls. This issue, I’d like to highlight the benefits that the building and land development sector brings to the region. When all of the data is unpacked, many people are surprised to find that the industry is an economic engine of the region.

Each year, members of our industry construct about 40,000 homes of various types — detached single family homes, townhomes and highrise apartments — as well as countless commercial buildings and, increasingly, purpose-built rentals. To get the job done, they employ people in more than 120,000 jobs, both on-site in the trades and construction positions that carry out the building, and off-site in the planning, design, architectural, engineering, financial and support services, that enable the physical construction. These are local jobs that will stay local. The industry adds more than $7 billion in wages to the GTA economy, which in turn get spent and support the people and companies that provide goods and services to those employed in construction and development. New home building contributes $17 billion in investment value in the GTA.

When home renovations and repairs, including those carried out by BILD’s RenoMark renovators, are added to the mix, the numbers are even more impressive. The home renovation and repair sector employs people in more than 150,000 jobs, bringing the overall total of jobs created by new-home building, renovation and repair to about 270,000, a significant portion of the GTA job market. The renovation and home repair segment has a payroll of $9 billion and represents $16 billion in investment value.

All this activity results in new communities and renewal of existing housing stock — buildings and infrastructure where people can live, work and play. It also results in significant tax revenue for all levels of government, which is reinvested in the programs and services that support our society.

Aside from the income and corporate taxes that result from homebuilding and renovations, each home constructed contributes to the public coffers. A 2018 study commissioned by BILD and conducted by Altus Group found that the fees, taxes and charges applied by all levels of government and rolled into the cost of a new home accounted for 22 per cent of an average GTA single-family home (or $186,500) and 24 per cent of an average highrise apartment (or $121,500).

About a third of that is the HST that flows to the federal and provincial governments. Approximately another third consists of development charges that go to the regional and municipal governments to fund infrastructure, roads, transit and municipally provided social services such as affordable housing and daycare. Other government charges on new homes include parkland dedication, which municipalities collect to support new parks; land transfer tax, which goes to the province; and in the case of Toronto, municipal land transfer tax, which goes to the city.

Every new home built provides a place for a family to live, supports three full-time jobs, generates economic activity that supports the broader economy, and lastly, provides tax revenues for all levels of government, supporting government programs, services and infrastructure enjoyed by all residents of the GTA. The building, land development, and professional renovation industries are truly engines of our economy.

Dave Wilkes is President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).

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Toronto tour of laneway housing

Tour of Toronto’s laneway housing

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Tour of Toronto’s laneway housing

Photography: Craig Race Architecture Inc.

A few weeks ago, we took BILD’s RenoMark renovators and custom homebuilders, as well as a number of journalists, on a tour of laneway and infill homes in Toronto. We were delighted by the level of interest in this event and happy to add an extra bus to accommodate everyone. We were not surprised to see that people are enthusiastic about the possibilities of laneway housing and eager to learn about the technicalities of building them. With laneway dwellings allowed to be built “as of right” in Toronto and East York as of only last summer – and with city council expected to make a decision in the near future on expanding this to Scarborough, North York and Etobicoke – we are all entering exciting new territory.

The adjunct advantage

A laneway home is typically a second, smaller dwelling built at the back of a lot, facing onto a public lane that shares utilities with the main house. Laneway housing has many advantages, both for homeowners and for neighbourhoods. For the homeowner, a laneway home can be a source of rental income or provide extra living space for extended family. For neighbourhoods, having homes facing onto laneways can improve safety and inject beauty and vibrancy. Laneway housing increases density in a non-intrusive way, enabling a more efficient use of infrastructure such as: transit, schools and community centres. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, laneway homes will contribute some much-needed rental housing in the city of Toronto.

Style meets function in The Junction

The Junction

That will certainly be the case with the first project on our tour – a laneway home that just broke ground in The Junction. The homeowners, who graciously answered questions from our tour participants, are planning to rent out the two-storey, three-bedroom house when it’s completed later this year. With more than 1,400 sq. ft. of living space, this home will do away with notions that laneway homes are cramped sheds in backyards. The best part? The homeowners report that the neighbours are excited, and some are even interested in building on their own lots.

The second laneway home on the tour also offered a feeling of spaciousness, both in the open-concept living area on the ground floor and in the courtyard behind the house. This two-storey, two-bedroom Leslieville home, currently rented out to a young family, was converted from an existing garage.

Sustainable supplement

Leslieville

Next on the tour was an infill project in Leslieville. Infill construction means building and renovating homes in established neighbourhoods. Infill homes, like laneway homes, add gentle density in our communities. The infill home we visited was created after an architect severed an unusually shaped lot into two separate properties. The home is filled with light and its high-performance building envelope helps conserve energy. A basement apartment provides extra rental income.

Laneway building incentives

The City of Toronto is offering two programs to encourage homeowners to develop laneway suites. The first allows for a deferral of development charges for 20 years, while the second provides a forgivable loan for property owners who agree to rent out their laneway suites at an affordable rate for 15 years.

Are you thinking of adding a laneway home on your property, or building or renovating an infill home? Laneway and infill building projects come with their own unique challenges when it comes to zoning requirements, design considerations and construction techniques. Your best bet is to work with a professional RenoMark renovator or custom homebuilder who can guide you through the process. To find one in your area, visit renomark.ca.

Making sure we have enough housing for the 9.7 million people who will call the GTA home by 2041 is a generational challenge. We need innovative solutions — laneway and infill homes among them — to meet it.

David Wilkes is President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), the voice of the home building, land development and professional renovation industry in the GTA.

For the latest industry news and new home data, follow BILD on Twitter, Facebook, BILD’s official blog.


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Plan Ahead: BILD president shares insider tips to ensure your renovation comes up roses

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Plan Ahead: BILD president shares insider tips to ensure your renovation comes up roses

Like thousands of people in the GTA every year, I just had a major renovation completed on my home. It was a great way to make sure that my home meets the changing needs of my family, and that it is updated with features and designs that match our current tastes. In doing so, I experienced first-hand the benefits of using a professional renovation contractor, and putting into practice what the Building and Land Development Association (BILD) and its RenoMark renovators recommend to all their clients.

By following our own recommendations, I didn’t experience any nightmare scenarios that unfortunately, are more common than anyone would like to think. The end result was fabulous, the project was finished on time and on budget, and while most renovations often have some bumps in the road, the process went relatively smoothly.

Here are some of our top tips:

  • Spend the time upfront to have a very clear picture of what you want to achieve. Know your budget, and make a list of must-haves and nice-to-haves. Chances are, as you proceed with your renovation, you will likely have to make some trade-offs between what you want and what you can afford.
  • Choose your renovation contractor carefully. Interview at least three. If you don’t know where to start, you can find a list of RenoMark renovators on the RenoMark.ca website with renovators in your city from coast to coast. The benefit of using a RenoMark member is that they are professionals, they carry all the applicable licenses and insurance coverages (including WSIB). Also, they will always provide a written contract, provide a two-year warranty on their work and continually upgrade their skills with ongoing education provided by the local home builder’s associations (HBA).
  • When interviewing potential renovation contractors, make sure that they understand your vision for the renovation and are able to work with you to fine-tune your project. Ask for references from previous clients and check them! Don’t just be satisfied with pretty pictures and a snazzy brochure. If they are not a RenoMark renovator, ask them to provide evidence of insurance and workers compensation coverage, ask about their warranty coverage and ask if they are members of the local HBA. Insurance and WSIB coverage are important because if the renovator does not have coverage, you, as the homeowner, could be liable in the event of an accident on the job site.
  • Make sure you have a comprehensive written contract with the renovator. This will make sure you get the renovation you want, and protects you in the event something goes wrong. Check our website for tips that outline some of the most common terms and features you will want to make sure are included in your contract.
  • As the renovation progresses, make sure to stay in regular contact with your renovation contractor. Book regular progress meetings. Changes are bound to occur with the project as you are working with an existing, and sometimes older, structure or home. When you do make changes, make sure to document them with your contractor in a change order.

Fortunately, my overall experience was a very positive one. I worked with a professional and was very happy with the end results. Remember: you wouldn’t hire someone off the street to repair your car; you would go to a licensed mechanic, so why would you risk the biggest investment of your life, your home, to a nonprofessional just to save a few dollars?

David Wilkes is President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), the voice of the home building, land development and professional renovation industry in the GTA.

For the latest industry news and new home data, follow BILD on Twitter, Facebook, BILD’s official blog.


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Toronto City Hall

City of Toronto councillors’ decision ‘irresponsible,’ will worsen housing affordability and supply problems

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City of Toronto councillors’ decision ‘irresponsible,’ will worsen housing affordability and supply problems

Toronto City Hall

The Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) is outraged by the announcement made today by City of Toronto councillors Joe Cressy, Mike Layton and Kristyn Wong-Tam. The trio said they would red light any development that supports council approved TO Core Plan, ignoring the direction given by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing’s approved plans. These actions are a clear example of political interference that slows the development of new housing and increase costs.

Blatant disregard

“This blatant disregard of provincial policy is the opposite of a housing strategy, in fact it’s an anti-housing strategy,” says Dave Wilkes, president and CEO of BILD. “The net impact will add cost to the City, add cost to new home purchasers, increase the delays of much needed livable housing close to transit and lengthen approvals times as challenges and appeals are undertaken to ensure that the law is respected,” adds Wilkes.

It was the City of Toronto’s decision to file the Official Plan Amendment for TO Core with the province under Section 26 of the Planning Act. This rarely used mechanism requires ministerial approval and is non-appealable. Disliking the results of this decision, the councillor’s statements to developers that they will de-prioritize projects that are in accordance with the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing’s decision and not the City’s version of the plan is like asking them to take sides in schoolyard spat. Councillors Cressy, Layton and Wong-Tam are disregarding the planning process, abdicating their responsibility and adopting planning by threat.

“The decisions to amend the official plans just prior to the last election was politically motivated and went against the recommendations of the City’s own planning staff,” says Wilkes.

Desperate need

“More housing is desperately needed to accommodate growth in the region. It makes sense for this type of housing to be built in places that can leverage existing investments in infrastructure and be transit supportive. We are calling on Toronto City Council to take the necessary steps to address housing supply and affordability in Toronto.”

The provincial government rightly recognizes that changes are desperately needed to provide adequate and affordable housing to a growing province. More than 115,000 new residents are expected in the GTA every year through 2041 and the population is set to grow by 40 per cent. Meeting this generation challenge will require policies that enable housing supply and affordability, not illegal actions that add cost, delays and restrict supply.

BILD is the voice of the home building, land development and professional renovation industry in the GTA. With more than 1,500 member companies, the industry provides $33 billion in investment value and employs 271,000 people in the region.

TREB reminder

The Toronto Real Estate Board is also concerned about the councillors’ decision.

“With some City of Toronto councillors announcing plans that could add obstacles to the creation of new housing supply in their wards, TREB is reminding all levels of government that housing supply is one of the most important issues in Toronto and the GTA, and is encouraging cooperation between governments,” the organization says. “TREB has been at the forefront in calling for governments to do what they can to ensure an adequate, appropriate and affordable supply of housing for the Toronto and GTA real estate markets.

“This is an issue that will require both provincial and municipal government efforts and policy initiatives from various perspectives, including minimizing unnecessary red tape, while maintaining the high quality of life that makes Toronto and the GTA such a desirable place to live, work, and play.  TREB is encouraging provincial and municipal decision makers to work cooperatively to make the interests of homebuyers their first priority.”

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Good news for the GTA

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Good news for the GTA

The Housing Supply Action Plan (Plan) announced by the Government of Ontario on May 2 represents the first major step by any provincial government to address the supply challenges facing the housing market and their effects on affordability. The actions announced recognize that the “tax and restrict” approaches taken by previous and other levels of governments have simply fuelled the generational challenge faced by many in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and other large Canadian cities.

Layers of bureaucracy, outdated zoning, and complex policies and procedures have created structural barriers to the efficient operation of the housing market that have resulted in a generational shortfall of housing. These barriers delay development of new homes, add costs and have contributed to the run-up in housing costs experienced over the last decade. On average it now takes 10 years to build a typical highrise project and 11 years to complete a lowrise project in the GTA.

It is estimated that since 2006 the region fell short approximately 98,000 units versus forecasts, and is now falling behind by nearly 10,000 additional units per year. In addition, demand has increased as the GTA has become one of the fastest growing regions in North America with an estimated 115,000 new residents arriving every year. The population of the GTA is set to grow by 40 per cent or an estimated 9.7 million people by 2041. Residents in the area looking to buy their first homes and renters will be impacted the most.

Ontario’s new Housing Supply Action Plan takes meaningful steps to try to balance the housing market through supply and speed. First, it has recognized that the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) is not working for anyone, as evidenced by the nearly 1,000 cases and nearly 100,000 housing units that are stuck waiting for adjudication. Clarifying rules and increasing resources for the tribunal and being able to proceed with even 50 per cent of the units currently before the tribunal will go a long way to address the existing housing shortfall.

Second, the Plan acknowledges that it takes far too long to get approvals and looks to reduce duplication, cut red tape and speed up the development approval process. This will enable the industry to unlock housing supply and bring new product to market to meet demand. At the same time the Plan acknowledges that speed cannot come at the expense of other things that matter and explicitly recognizes the importance of the Greenbelt, cultural heritage assets and key employment and agricultural lands.

Third, the Plan adjusts provincial policy to encourage a mix of homes and to make it easier and faster to build more housing near transit. This will encourage more of the missing middle type housing (townhomes, stacked townhomes and midrise) so sorely needed in the GTA.

Lastly, the proposed changes also acknowledge the cumulative effect that taxes, fees and charges have on housing affordability. For market housing, providing the ability to lock in development charges early in the process increases predictability for the industry and consumers. Deferring development charges until occupancy provides greater incentive to build rental units and special provisions for social and not-for-profit housing will also lower the upfront cost of building.

The beneficiaries of these changes are the people and businesses of Ontario. The benefits for the average resident include having a greater choice in housing at the right price for them and their children. A healthy market that ensures that housing will not be a barrier to attracting and retaining the right talent will benefit businesses looking to grow.

Dave Wilkes is president and CEO of BILD (Building Industry and Land Development Association), and can be found on: Twitter.com/BILDGTA Facebook.com/BILDGTA YouTube.com/BILDGTA and BILD’s official online blog: BILDBlogs.ca

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Savvy savings: Energy-efficient tips for your home that will ultimately save you money

Savvy savings: Energy-efficient tips for your home that will ultimately save you money

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Savvy savings: Energy-efficient tips for your home that will ultimately save you money

Your home may look the same as your neighbours’ home, but it may be costing you more money to maintain it. The assumption that all homes are created equal is not true. Within the GTA, there are homes that were built in the 1800s and have since been renovated 20 times or more. Let me help explain where you might be wasting money every month and provide you with some tips to help improve the energy efficiency of your home on your next home renovation.

Energy efficiency in your home is a combination of many different parts (electricity, heating, cooling, air leakage and insulation). Making your home more energy efficient in an integrated way can be very complicated and needs to consider all aspects of your home. You can start this process on your own with a few easy steps.

Electricity

Managing your electricity costs can be as simple as switching your light bulbs to LED. This alone can save you over 60 per cent of your lighting electricity use. You can go one step further and use newer light switches that have a dimming feature, occupancy sensor (it will turn the light off if you leave it on) and smart-home features. These light switches cost more upfront, but they will save you money in the long run – especially if you have a person in your home that always forgets to turn off the light when they leave the room!

Heating and cooling

Make sure that your thermostat is installed in a central location without anything blocking it. If you have a curtain or something else blocking the airflow around it, then it will not register the temperature in your home properly and lead to over-heating or over-cooling. Don’t forget to check the expiry date on your thermostat! Just like smoke detectors, there is a practical life expectancy for these devices. I suggest that after 10 years of use, you should consider replacing it.

As for the temperature setting, this is a personal preference. Some people like a warmer or cooler house, and control of that is completely up to you. But consider your temperature settings for when you are not at home, and adjust your temperature setting by 10 degrees Celsius. Your system won’t turn on when you don’t need it to, so this will save you money in operational costs and also increase the lifespan of your heating and cooling system. A Smart thermostat allows you to return your home to a comfortable temperature, firing the system 30 minutes before you arrive.

Your passive choices

After addressing the more proactive things, like your thermostat settings and lighting systems, you should look at the passive parts of your home that are costing you money. Let’s look at air leaks. If the seals around windows and doors are leaking, then you are losing valuable heated or cooled air all the time. This can be fixed simply by replacing the gaskets or applying caulking. You can also eliminate air leakage and create a much better building envelope by rebuilding old exterior walls – integrating a well-detailed air and vapour retarder and adding insulation to create a more comfortable living space.

Using a professional renovator to help guide you through the process of making your home more energy efficient will help save you money. Always remember to obtain a detailed contract and get building and electrical permits when they are required, this will protect you and ensure that the work is completed according to code.

David Wilkes is President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), the voice of the home building, land development and professional renovation industry in the GTA.

For the latest industry news and new home data, follow BILD on Twitter, Facebook, BILD’s official blog.


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