Tag Archives: Builder Bites

THE MOVER: What else can we do for you?

THE MOVER: What else can we do for you?

Latest News

THE MOVER: What else can we do for you?

by Chuck Resnick
Two Men and a Truck

A reliable professional mover will welcome your questions and help you figure out your best plan of action.

There are many benefits to hiring a professional mover, including having your possessions handled with care and safety.

A professional moving company can make your relocation less stressful and ensure it’s handled with care. People naturally think of a mover for the transportation of their items from one home, apartment, condo or business to another, in the same town, city or province. But many professional moving companies offer different services.

For example, Two Men and a Truck Canada provides internal moving services.

Let’s say you’re working on office improvements like laying new flooring or full-room renovations. We have trained staff who can come and assist you in relocating your large furnishings to other areas within your office while the work is going on, and then move everything back when the renovation is complete.

Filing cabinets, desks and credenzas can be a headache but moving professionals can take the heavy lifting off your shoulders. Leave it to those who do moving for a living to achieve a smooth transition.

Some of our franchises also offer onsite storage for your furnishings. It’s best to ask what services are available. Think of it as a menu of choice; you can pick and choose from the buffet table of services and items available to you for your move. Do some research and ask questions about what might serve your individual needs. From a variety of boxes that are sturdy and stack well, to packing supplies such as tape, paper, markers, bubble wrap and the like, obtaining them from a professional mover ensures you are securing your possessions with quality.

We even have special boxes designed specifically to protect pictures and mirrors and flat-panel televisions. At Two Men and a Truck, we also rent varying sizes of reusable plastic totes that nest for stackable convenience and leave less of an environmental footprint than cardboard.

If you are planning to move your home or business, or simply need to move heavy, cumbersome items around your home, keep in mind that professional help is out there. It’s up to you to do your homework and determine what you need and what is available. When in doubt, ask. A reliable professional mover will welcome your questions and help you figure out your best plan of action.

It’s all about good, thoughtful service, from the smallest packing item to major moves.

Chuck Resnick is vice president, marketing and operations at Two Men and a Truck Canada.


Featured Products

THE MARKETER: Mixed-use communities are looking up

THE MARKETER: Mixed-use communities are looking up

Latest News

THE MARKETER: Mixed-use communities are looking up

by Derek Nzeribe
Milborne Group

Ottawa is following in the footsteps of other large urban centres such as Toronto, where these neighbourhoods are proving tremendously successful.

Master-planned, mixed-use communities are looking up in Ottawa. The city is following in the footsteps of other large urban centres such as Toronto and New York, where these neighbourhoods are proving tremendously successful. Building “up” rather than “out” is making great use of precious land in Ontario, especially in major urban areas.

The continued demand for highrise condominiums is testament to the need for more, and combining the mixed-use aspect takes convenient living to the next level. In essence, these towers create vertical cities within cities. Most everything people may want are just steps away, eliminating much of the need for gas-powered vehicles. Easy access to amenities also frees up precious time that would typically be used for running errands and chauffeuring family members back and forth to shopping, appointments and other commitments.

Of course, municipal zoning is a big consideration, and developers have to accommodate this in their master plan. The goal is to balance private residential needs with the requirements of commercial/retail facilities.

For instance, what a retailer might want in the way of street signage may interfere with the residence’s eyes-on-the-street lobby. There are several parameters to figure out and have approved. Smart developers know that engaging a specific commercial or retail organization for a space in the mixed-use community can help with market appeal.

In Ottawa, I see the need for more multi-use condominium communities including everything from market housing to seniors housing, commercial and retail venues and even office space. Up to now, Ottawa’s residential condos may include some retail at the base, but are far from truly mixed-use buildings. Here, mixed-use towers and communities might encompass seniors residences or affordable housing, all under one roof. The convenience is obvious, as people need shops and services. Why not right in their building?

If you accept this principle, it opens the door to more creative thinking about how real estate is created, including collaboration between the private and public sectors. One example of the success of this concept is Arthaus, Montreal-based DevMcGill’s joint venture with the City of Ottawa, The Ottawa Art Gallery, Group Germain and the University of Ottawa. The first Le Germain Hotel in Ottawa forms the base for the residential condominium, which is adjacent to the expanded art gallery and a new theatre being programmed by the university. There is also a restaurant that is now open.

“This is the first time in Canada to combine an art gallery and a hotel with residences above it,” according to Stéphane Côté, president of DevMcGill. “We can see there is a bit of a change in the neighbourhood already. This project will be a big engine for continued growth.”

Part of the master planning for mixed-use urban communities is locating them close to transportation and local amenities. Arthaus is so close to shopping and services that most errands can be done on foot. The nearby Rideau Centre is expanding, and the new LRT station is next to it. Plus, highway access is minutes away. Sales have been outstanding. Residents are moving into the finished building and only a few suites remain.

It is refreshing that Arthaus has been received so eagerly by the public, as its cutting-edge minimalist architecture is also something new to Ottawa. Again, this is just one example of how the “vertical city” is catching on here.

With life getting more hectic all the time, the demand is rising for neighbourhoods where people can live, work, shop and play without travelling distances. I see more of these developments in Ottawa in the future to satisfy an unfulfilled market segment.

Derek Nzeribe is regional director, marketing and business development at Milborne Group in Ottawa.


Featured Products

THE ARCHITECT: Design should pay tribute to location

THE ARCHITECT: Design should pay tribute to location

Latest News

THE ARCHITECT: Design should pay tribute to location

by Adrian Mauro
Chamberlain Architect Services

When it comes to designing buildings, architects need to balance numerous considerations, as well as the client’s vision and budget.

When it comes to designing buildings, architects need to balance numerous considerations such as form, function, aesthetics, site conditions and government requirements, as well as the client’s vision and budget.

When residences are built on the Ontario waterfront, conservation and environmental authorities take on enhanced roles in controlling the design and site works of the project. An example is Stone & South on the River in Gananoque, CaraCo Development’s community of residences on the St. Lawrence River.

These lovely homes are ideal for water lovers, so maximizing views of and access to the river were of paramount importance to the design.

As for aesthetics, CaraCo wanted to pay tribute to the area’s historical context, which includes the Thousand Islands Playhouse next door to the site. For this condominium to fit in seamlessly with its surroundings, we used brick and stone in complimentary colours such as terra cotta, taupe, brown and other earth tones. We call it quasi-transitional, with large windows, some with arched tops, numerous mullion treatments and a sloped roof. The look is more classic than contemporary, which speaks to the area’s existing architectural style.

An attractive component of this development is that the setback from the water opens up an extensive outdoor space where residents can walk their dogs, enjoy the views, or stroll to the marina. There is a public waterfront walkway that connects to the Town of Gananoque’s walking trails as well. Other features of the Stone & South include a grand lobby, an inviting social room with a kitchen, a fitness centre and ample parking.

Having obtained this unique waterfront locale, it all began with CaraCo’s vision of the kind of residences they want to provide for their clients. Our job as their architect was to translate that vision into a beautiful reality.

Adrian Mauro is president of Chamberlain Architect Services.


Featured Products

THE RESEARCHER: Are developers properly managing risk?

THE RESEARCHER: Are developers properly managing risk?

Latest News

THE RESEARCHER: Are developers properly managing risk?

by Ben Myers
Bullpen Research & Consulting

With land prices skyrocketing across the GTA and zoning approval timelines growing, the upfront financial investment required by developers has increased substantially in recent years.

Many builders and developers are now taking on equity partners to reduce their exposure to any one project, share their entitlement, development and execution risk, while allowing them to free up the capital to pursue other opportunities. The institutionalization of residential real estate is growing rapidly, and even the typically old-school self-funded family homebuilders are considering alternative financing options. It would not be a surprise to see a couple of GTA developers go public in the next decade, as a way to access public funding for their massive new projects. Another way developers are managing risk is understanding the marketplace. After 15 years of advising developers and landowners about freehold and condominium market conditions in Ontario, I launched my own firm, Bullpen Research & Consulting, in January of this year to help my clients figure out those risks.

Buyer and investor sentiment shifts quickly with each successive federal, municipal or geopolitical change, and smart developers realize they need someone in their corner that’s staying up on the impacts of the latest mortgage rule changes, the reactions to increased rent control legislation, attitudes regarding rising interest rates and other industry participants’ opinions on changes to the OMB, land prices, midrise development and sales strategy.

How does a developer maximize revenues while reducing market risk in the condominium apartment market? Some developers prefer to sell all of their units in a building during the first six months, reducing future absorption risk. Others prefer to sell 60 to 70 per cent of their suites upfront and slowly release the remainder of the unsold inventory during the pre-sale and under-construction period. This second strategy is deployed to ensure they can take advantage of future price inflation and have a revenue source to cover potential cost overruns.

Five years ago, developers in Ottawa got burned by holding back inventory as the market tanked and values corrected. In Toronto, the opposite occurred; developers that sold out didn’t reap the benefits of the sharp increase in values and were ultimately hurt by the 10 to 15 per cent increase in construction costs in early 2018. The phrase “you have to sell and build in the same period” has been uttered quite frequently lately.

The market for singles, semis and row homes had experienced steady price growth for 20 years in the GTA. In 2017, average asking prices soared by 45 per cent annually, with buyers camping out in advance of new releases, and 300-unit new subdivisions selling out as quickly as the brokers could sign the deals. However, after the Fair Housing Plan announcement, sales have plummeted, values have dropped nearly 15 per cent and developers are facing never-before encountered issues. Should they lower prices and face blowback from existing purchasers? Do they offer smaller homes with a lower quality interior finish, or do they shut their sales offices and try again next year? Developers that spend years, and in some instances decades, waiting for approval to sell their homes, don’t want to give them away in what might be a temporary slowdown. There were a few highrise developers that regretted slashing prices in early 2009 during the global economic slowdown, only to see the market come flooding back in the second half of that year.

Low-density land transactions in the first seven months of 2018 were half of what they were during the same period in 2017, and developers are struggling with valuations, given they’ve always built in future end-unit price growth. Most small builders don’t have the in-house expertise to truly evaluate current values and understand future growth potential in such an uncertain market. Without that knowledge, they’re choosing not to buy. Perhaps if developers could acquire better knowledge of the market, had a third-party opinion on market valuations, and could provide those figures to the land vendor, they’d be able to take advantage of land buying opportunities.

In my own practice, I’ve done a number of studies because developers want to know how to program the suite mix and unit sizes in their building and get a sense of values for their project, with condominium and rental tenure. They’re looking to reduce their risk by having a well-researched back-up plan. Is your development firm doing enough to mitigate risk? Are you having these conversations with your senior staff and sales and marketing team?

Buyer sentiment, government intervention and rapid changes in revenue and costs assumption are all contributing to volatility in prices and profit. Volatility equals risk, so make sure you’ve done your research to manage that risk.

Ben Myers is President of Bullpen Research & Consulting.


Featured Products

THE INDUSTRY LEADER: Where did the money go?

THE INDUSTRY LEADER: Where did the money go?

Latest News

THE INDUSTRY LEADER: Where did the money go?

by Dave Wilkes

Parkland dedication fees should be used to build parks in the GTA.

Did you realize that when you sell and buy a new home in the GTA, as much as a quarter of the price consists of fees, taxes and charges imposed by the three levels of government?

Given how much these government levies add to the cost, it makes sense that we want governments to be responsible and transparent about how the funds are spent. Unfortunately, this is not always the case — and new homebuyers may be left wondering: “Where did the money go?”

One example is the parkland dedication fee. Ontario’s Planning Act allows municipalities to require that each new development contribute land for a park, or pay a fee to be used to purchase parkland, or to pay for buildings and machinery for parks or other recreational purposes. The idea behind parkland dedication is that adding new homes and offices applies additional pressures on existing parks, which can be relieved by asking development to contribute new ones.

Our industry supports the expansion of parkland in the GTA to accommodate growth. Parks provide enjoyment and recreation for residents, workers and visitors, as well as habitat for wildlife. But what happens when you pay for a park and don’t get one? We question whether parkland fees are always invested properly.

The City of Toronto, for instance, requires that a residential development in a parkland acquisition priority area — which covers most of the city — contribute 0.4 hectares per 300 units, with a cap of 10 to 20 per cent of the site area, or payment in lieu. Because development sites in the city tend to be small, many developments contribute money instead of land. This parkland fee can add almost $20,000 to the cost of a new highrise condo suite unit in Toronto. And parkland fees are even higher in other municipalities in the GTA.

According to an 2017 report from city staff, Toronto collected $482,930,013 cash-in-lieu-of-parkland payments from residential and industrial development for the 10 years between 2006 and September 2016. As of the end of September 2016, $196,454,624 in the city’s parkland reserve funds remained uncommitted. Shouldn’t this money actually be used for parkland acquisition and development? The city needs a realistic plan for how they are going to spend the money and provide residents with the parks they paid for.

Now there’s a proposal to update the rate of cash-in-lieu-of-parkland in many areas where significant development is happening — including the Yonge and Eglinton neighbourhood, and downtown Toronto. All of the proposed formulas would increase costs for new homeowners, further eroding housing affordability in the city. When you pay for a park, you should get one, or you should at least know how the money will be spent. All government fees imposed on new homeowners should be invested in a transparent and responsible manner. The upcoming municipal elections are a great opportunity to contact your local candidates about this and other housing issues.

Go to buildforgrowth.ca for more information.

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, and bildgta.ca.


Featured Products


THE LAWYER: NIMBYism and politics: a bad combination

Latest News

THE LAWYER: NIMBYism and politics: a bad combination

By Leor Margulies
Robins Appleby

This past June/July, NIMBYism combined with political pandering and destroyed three years of in-depth work on the midtown Focus Study of the Yonge-Eglinton area.

Three years after Toronto City Council directed planning to review the Yonge-Eglinton Secondary Plan, and after exhaustive consultation with ratepayers, industry representatives and other interested parties, the city planning department presented a draft plan to the planning and growth management committee for its approval in June. The plan dealt with height restrictions for various sections of Yonge-Eglinton and proposed uses to improve park areas, amongst many other items.

Notwithstanding three years of extensive consultations and studies, Councillor Jaye Robinson, at the last minute, circumvented the entire consultative process at the committee meeting in June by requesting that further consultation be held in a single community meeting to solicit feedback from the public on lowering heights. This, in the face of the provincial growth plan that encourages — and in fact demands — a much higher density to meet the growth in population and, in particular, the over 100,000 new people that enter the GTA every year.

At a subsequent meeting later in June, 140 members of the community were presented with three options for height. Not surprisingly, 84 of the 140 people that attended voted for the lowest height in the choices (15 storeys), a reduction in some cases of 36 storeys adjacent to Yonge/Eglinton major transit station. No material reference was made to the three years of in-depth proposals and studies and the results of this meeting were sent back to the planning and growth management committee on June 21 for approval. It decided to toss the city planning report of three years out the window and replace it with the decision of 84 people in the area.

Is there any worse example of NIMBYism and political interference than this? Further, the city utilized a new section under the Planning Act (Section 26) to bring forward these proposals to amend the Secondary Plan, so that there would be no right of appeal to the Local Planning Authority Tribunal (LPAT), which would normally have been available for appeal of this type of planning decision prior to recent Liberal changes to the Planning Act, pursuant to Bill 139.

To come up with such a decision in such a manner during an election without appeal is shameful and distorts the democratic and planning process. The planning & growth management committee and council are simply subverting a proper consultative process.

Representatives of BILD strongly objected to the process being circumvented and requested that the committee support the original recommendations of the planning department, or at least defer its decision to further study the latest proposals.

Again, political pandering prevailed with the councillors on the committee and this request was denied.

Council then approved implementation of the report on July 30, 2018. Read the full report here: http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory. do?item=2018.PG31.7

It is expected that affected land owners and BILD may legally challenge the use of Section 26 for this type of development decision. In addition — as the approval by the Minister of Municipal Affairs to this Official Plan Amendment under Section 26 of the Planning Act is required — deputations have been made to the federal government not to approve the plan. It is, therefore, quite possible that the report may still not be approved and be sent back for further study by the Ford government. It is now on the provincial EBR for public input until mid-October 2018 before the province decides.

So this is your chance to be heard. Voice your opinion on the EBR to your provincial MP!

Leor Margulies is a partner at Robins Appleby LLP and an executive on the BILD Board of Directors. https://www.robinsappleby.com/home


Featured Products


THE COUNCIL: Keesmaat’s 100,000 housing plan doomed to fail

Latest News

THE COUNCIL: Keesmaat’s 100,000 housing plan doomed to fail

By Richard Lyall

Toronto mayoral candidate Jennifer Keesmaat’s goal to build 100,000 affordable homes over the next 10 years is bold but simply unrealistic.

Firstly, there wouldn’t be a shovel hitting the ground for those units for at least five years assuming blazing rollout speed.

Secondly, let’s say Keesmaat’s affordable homes are built after that five-year waiting period. By 2030, all new buildings will have to operate at net zero carbon, as per the C40 Cities agreement that Toronto signed onto last month in London, with another 18 global cities (including Montreal, Vancouver, New York, Paris and Tokyo).

Net zero is sexy but it would put taxpayers on the hook for homes that RESCON estimates would see construction costs rise by at least 15 per cent. This gold plating beyond the building code would be far too costly relative to its benefits. More unnecessary costs and fewer units available would relegate those knocked out of the market to sub-standard housing.

We must focus first on helping a greater number of people, including millennials – a generation we are failing – who struggle to get on the housing ladder.

The region is suffering from a dwindling housing supply chain. The only way you can solve supply issues is by adding to the supply and freeing up developments stuck in approvals purgatory. That’s why our latest report on streamlining the development approval process was released in July. (Go to http://rescon.com/reports/ for more.)

Government has proven incapable of fixing the housing crisis on its own, attempting to temper only demand – the industry stands ready to assist at any time.

One bit of advice I’m happy to provide to anyone: Toronto (representing Canada) can’t stay at 54th in the world for construction permitting, according to the World Bank, when Canada is a vibrant G7 nation.

Ontario has an evolving building code. Let’s stick to it so we can continue to build housing for more people, not create more barriers to housing production.

Richard Lyall is president of the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON). http://rescon.com/


Featured Products


THE GEOTECHNICAL ENGINEER: The writing’s on the retaining wall

Latest News

THE GEOTECHNICAL ENGINEER: The writing’s on the retaining wall

By Jeff Dietz

Last year, I attended a presentation by a professional liability insurer. The presentation gave a summary for claim dollars they had paid for various design professionals and various types of projects. The summary showed that, for the period their data had been taken, more than 20 per cent of claim dollars for geotechnical engineers, and 4 per cent of claim dollars for civil engineers, were related to retaining walls.

Retaining walls are commonly used when two areas on a property are at different elevations and there is a desire to transition from one elevation to the other in a short distance—shorter than can be used if the land was just sloped.

As a geotechnical engineer, I’ve participated in design and construction monitoring of retaining walls on many projects. I’ve even participated in the redesign and rebuild of retaining walls that turned out to not be designed and/or constructed properly in the first place. I’ve seen issues crop up in project after project. So, here’s my list of the top five mistakes made during design and construction of retaining walls — and how you can avoid them.


Leaving the Design to the Bidding Contractors

I’ve seen many projects that include a retaining wall as part of a much larger project, where the design drawings show the wall location with both top of wall and bottom of wall elevations at various points along the wall. To save time and money, the owner or civil engineer doesn’t have the retaining wall design completed prior to having contractors bid on construction for the site.

The contractor must bid on the retaining wall portion of the project based on that limited information. What is the contractor going to do? They’ll go to a manufacturer of retaining wall components, who will give them a design for free. What is the manufacturer going to do? They’ll provide a design based on the configuration provided and typical design soil parameters. Are those design soil parameters applicable to the site? Possibly. Possibly not.

Leaving the design to the bidding contractors can also lead directly to the next four mistakes below. If the retaining wall is properly designed prior to the contractors bidding, you’ll know they’ve bid on a wall that will meet the project needs. You reduce the potential for delays — if it’s discovered that the wall isn’t appropriate for the site, which is often the case — and extra claims by the contractor.


Not Having Soils Information at the Time of Design

I know. Shocking. The geotechnical engineer — who specializes in soils investigations — is recommending having soils information prior to design.

Well, if there hasn’t been some form of investigation prior to design, how are you going to know if the soils can support the forces produced by the wall?

Are there soft or organic soils that have to be removed or improved prior to construction? How do you do the global stability analysis to make sure the whole thing doesn’t rotate? If a soils investigation is completed first, you’ll have the information you need to properly design the wall.

So, design the wall for the soil conditions. It’s harder, and often impossible, to change the soil conditions to fit the wall that was designed.


Not Doing Global Stability Analysis Prior to Construction

I’ve seen many retaining wall designs that leave the check of global stability to “others.” Global stability is the mechanism by which the whole wall, as well as the soil behind and below the wall, rotates.

If the global stability check finds that there isn’t an appropriate factor of safety in the design, the most appropriate way to fix that is to change the design. This can lead to a lot of back-and-forth between the designer and the other professionals who are analyzing global stability. If the global stability analysis isn’t done before the wall construction begins, and the analysis finds an issue, then there could be a need to remove the part of the wall already constructed and start again. Make sure global stability analysis is done as part of the design of the wall.


Leaving Insufficient Space to Build the Wall as Designed

I’ve seen many retaining walls designed to be right up against a property line, with grades on the adjacent property being higher than the grades on the property owned by whoever wants the retaining wall. But you need space to construct the wall. When you excavate to construct the wall, you can’t leave the excavated slope vertical. There will have to be some sloping to ensure safety — so that the soil slope doesn’t fail during construction.

If the wall design calls for geogrid reinforcement to hold the wall back from falling forward, then that geogrid is extending into the neighbouring property — often by several metres. With any of these scenarios, the owner of the neighbouring property may have issues with your excavations extending onto their property, especially if they have any structures, landscaping, trees, or fences near or on the property line. Make sure that there is enough room to construct the wall you want to build when you design it. If you want construction to extend into a neighbouring property, make sure you have that neighbour’s buy-in.


Insufficient Quality Control

In the province of Ontario, the building code requires continuous review during construction of most retaining walls. Even if quality-control inspection isn’t a requirement for the wall, it’s still a good idea. Aside from identifying soil conditions that are not as good as the designer assumed and coming up with solutions, the wall installer can make mistakes, such as choosing the wrong material, using the right material in the wrong way, or using material of the wrong size.

I remember talking to a contractor who had installed uniaxial geogrid — which is a geogrid that is significantly stronger in one direction — in the wrong direction for some fairly long walls. He said he had been doing it that way for years, and he probably thought he was doing it correctly. With the geogrid in the wrong orientation, the wall could move more than anticipated — possibly even fail. A proper quality-control program during construction can catch small errors so they can be corrected early on.

Avoiding these five mistakes can help steer your retaining wall project in the right direction and help you avoid insurance claims on projects involving retaining walls.

Jeff Dietz is the team leader for the geotechnical practice in Stantec’s southwestern Ontario offices. https://www.stantec.com/en


Featured Products


THE ANALYST : Premier Ford: Seven steps to housing affordability

Latest News

THE ANALYST : Premier Ford: Seven steps to housing affordability

By Andrew Brethour
PMA Realty

It’s early in the mandate, but here are seven steps to relieving the price pressure and improving housing affordability in the GTA that Ontario Premier Doug Ford should consider. None of these ideas are quick fixes and each will require careful examination and implementation over several years. It took us 15 years to get into the untenable position we find ourselves in today and it will take a while to turn the “affordable ship” around.


Supply, Supply, Supply

The last year of the housing supply study coordinated by our firm, PMA Realty, in consultation with CMHC, the Ministry of Housing and BILD was in 2003. The study was completed annually from 1997 and created a databank of net residual residential land supply covering 37 municipalities in the GTA. The total number of lots (low density) and units (high density) were identified as in process, at draft stage and in registered plans of subdivision. All zoned land was included but not yet identified.

Provincial policy at the time was to maintain a three-year supply in these three noted categories. Today, 15 years later, we have a three-month supply. The province introduced the growth plan in 2004 but never did an economic impact statement. In 2004, a serviced 40-foot lot sold for $2,500 per front foot, or $100,000. Today, that same lot — if you can find one — sells for $20,000 per front foot, or $800,000. This reckless and irresponsible escalation in the underlying price of land was driven mostly by provincial policy, not consumer demand.

Mr. Premier, step one is to re-institute the annual land supply analysis and clearly determine the current and projected supply of lots and units in the now Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. By 2030, only 12 years from now, population growth is projected to move from six million to nearly nine million people. Without a barometer of supply, growth will stagnate and go elsewhere.


Approval Process

The approval process takes too long and is too costly, further affecting affordability. Mr. Premier, review, streamline and deregulate the approval process. The GTA must compete on a North American, even global, basis for new employment opportunities. Many southern U.S. cities where growth is comparable to the GTA take a matter of months from land purchase to approval for construction. In the GTHA, it is an average of more than 10 years. Provincial policy should be set at a maximum of three years.

Mr. Premier, that is your challenge.


Rent Controls

Mr. Premier, much has been written, studied, reviewed and “controlled” in rental housing, yet these controls have not produced more rental stock but, in fact, less. And the existing stock is crumbling.

Yet the divide between the “protected consumer” and the purpose-built rental developer is not that far apart. Rent controls were reset last year in the fair housing plan at an annual increase limit of 2 per cent. Rental buildings are financed over a 20 to 30 year project life period. An extra 1.5 per cent in annual rental increase would make the difference between thousands of projects being cancelled and thousands being built.

Mr. Premier, allow annual rent increases to rise to 3.5 per cent and you will be amazed at the amount of rental activity that will produce.


Hidden Taxes

The tax component of a new home was recently outlined in an excellent C.D. Howe Institute study — over $100,000 per unit in Ontario and over $150,000 per unit in the GTA. If we truly want greater affordability, it can be delivered with lower taxes and greater supply. As sales volumes have declined drastically in the last two years, the municipalities’ response to declining revenue is to increase the development charge. A Catch 22 when it comes to affordability.

Mr. Premier, examine municipalities’ ability to finance infrastructure with an underlying purpose to reducing taxes on new construction. Let’s look for alternatives. One might look at sewer and water infrastructure, currently financed by 30 to 40 per cent of the development charges on new homes. The real cost, in fact, subsidizes existing homeowners. Raise sewer and water rates on all housing to properly reflect the cost, which in turn will lead to greater conservation and more affordable new housing.


Replace the OMB

Mr. Premier, the new system introduced in the dying days of the Wynne government eliminated the OMB and replaced it with a Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT), where “not in it in my backyard” reigns supreme. This will further delay the approval process. Create a Provincial Dispute Resolution Panel with the oversight to look at the “bigger picture,” the provincial vision for housing density and affordability.

Mr. Premier, re-introduce the office of the Development Ombudsman so that disputes or delays are resolved or arbitrated before reaching the OMB or its replacement body.


Modify the Planning Act

Re-introduce the ability of a developer to bring forward a plan from outside an urban boundary. Let the developer front the cost of services. The municipality can still say no. This provision was removed from the planning act in 2004, further constricting supply.


The Hidden Supply – Employment Lands

Currently, Mr. Premier, employment lands are untouchable. They cannot be considered for residential use yet the very nature and scope of industrial commercial lands has changed dramatically in the last 15 years.

Introduction of Robotics and AI have modified the design and formation of today’s employment spaces. Malone Givens Parsons points out we have used only 34 per cent of available employment lands in the GTA. Conversely, we have used or allocated over 57 per cent of available residential lands. Integrating mixed-use development into employment lands would open up supply dramatically from the current rigid lines drawn on our municipal maps.

Just take a walk around existing older employment designated lands today and the potential supply jumps right out. An instant supply solution is available by potentially converting employment land to mixed-use residential.

Mr. Premier, study the implication and provide the supply solution.

So, there you have it, Mr. Premier, seven steps to improving housing affordability in the GTA.

Mr. Premier, start with theses simple Seven Steps and perhaps another “promise made, promise kept” is possible on the affordable housing file in your first term. Good Luck Mr. Premier!

Andrew Brethour is chairman and CEO of PMA Brethour Realty Group. http://www.pmabrethour.com/


Featured Products


THE WARRANTOR: Weather damage and the warranty program

Latest News

THE WARRANTOR: Weather damage and the warranty program

By Howard Bogach

As the CEO of Tarion, I am pleased to have this opportunity to share insights and advice about the Ontario New Home Warranty Plan and to explore issues that affect the building industry. In this, my first column, I’d like to talk about the weather and how it affects warranty claims.

This past summer, we experienced a lot of adverse weather conditions – including strong winds and heavy rainfall – that affected some newly built homes in the province. No doubt, we can expect more inclement weather this fall and winter.

When we experience extreme weather, it’s not unusual for homeowners and builders alike to call Tarion asking whether storm-related damage is covered under the warranty plan or is considered an “act of God” and excluded from coverage. So, this is a good time to explain the “act of God” exclusion and a builder’s responsibilities when damage occurs after a weather event.

As a starting point, the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act states that warranties do not apply to damage resulting from an act of God. An act of God is a natural event that is unexpected and unavoidable and causes damage that is beyond the control of the builder. Examples include tornadoes, earthquakes and extreme winds.

However, an important point is that the act of God exclusion to the warranties does not include weather events that are typical to our climate, such as ice, snow, high winds and heavy rains. The exclusion only applies to extraordinary occurrences or conditions of nature that could not have been reasonably foreseen or guarded against.

For example, a high wind is not an act of God unless it is of such exceptional strength that no builder in Ontario could be reasonably expected to anticipate its force. Homes that are designed and built to Ontario Building Code standards should withstand Ontario’s normal weather conditions, however unpleasant. Builders therefore shouldn’t assume that the act of God exclusion applies when a homeowner reports damage after a weather event. The damage must be inspected and assessed to determine whether there is a defect in the builder’s work or materials, a violation of the Ontario Building Code, or some other defect covered by the warranties.

Moreover, the onus is on the builder to prove that the act of God exclusion applies to the damage incurred. For example, if roof shingles on a newly built home flew off on a windy day, the builder would be required to replace the shingles unless the builder can prove the shingles were installed properly and became detached only because there was an extraordinary wind.

I hope this helps clarify the act of God exclusion to the new home warranty plan.

If you have questions about weather events or any other warranty-related matter, be sure to connect with your Stakeholder Relations Representative or email stakeholderrelations@tarion.com

Howard Bogach is CEO of the Tarion Warranty Corp. Tarion.com


Featured Products