Tag Archives: Dave Wilkes

GTA developers tour New York City for land-use and design inspiration

GTA developers tour New York City for land-use and design inspiration

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GTA developers tour New York City for land-use and design inspiration

Representatives from GTA builders and developers recently toured New York City as part of the latest Housing Innovation Tour from the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).

Tour participants met with industry experts from speciality fields and explored new housing, innovative use of land, various product types and learned about new sales and marketing strategies – all intended inspire participants for their projects back at home.

The BILD Housing Tour group, against the backdrop of Manhattan, from River House rental property in Port Imperial, N.J. Photos: Mike Suriano, Suriano Design Consultants
The BILD Housing Tour group, against the backdrop of Manhattan, from River House rental property in Port Imperial, N.J. Photos: Mike Suriano, Suriano Design Consultants

Highlights of the three-day tour included visits to:

• Hoboken, NJ’s revitalized waterfront, which included a tour of a former Maxwell Coffee House factory site. There, Toll Brothers and Hoboken Brownstone Company have built a lively neighbourhood with midrises, townhouses, parkland and views of Manhattan along the Hudson River.

• DUMBO (Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass) and Domino boroughs in Brooklyn. Both areas are formerly hubs for industry and warehouses, as the Hudson River was once the main transportation artery for coffee, sugar and other goods. Over many years, these neighbourhoods have been converted to luxury residential and mixed-use properties. In fact, DUMBO has become New York City’s fourth-richest community.

• Hudson Yards, NY. A must-visit when in New York City, Hudson Yards is the largest private real estate development in the U.S. by area. Upon completion, 13 of the 16 planned structures on the West Side of Midtown South will sit on a platform built over the West Side Yard, a storage yard for Long Island Rail Road trains. The community is home to more than 100 diverse shops and culinary experiences, offices for leaders in industry, significant public art and dynamic cultural institutions. It is also expected to host more than 55,752 workers on a daily basis. Hudson Yards is seen as a cutting-edge model for the future of so-called smart cities – those that leverage data to monitor and manage urban areas.

“Thanks to our trip sponsors, participants had opportunity to enjoy some of the Big Apple’s many cultural elements by experiencing fine culinary foods, visiting historic A&D Building, neighbourhood walking tours and attending an NHL hockey game,” says BILD President Dave Wilkes.

Tour sponsors comprised: Cassidy & Co., Coast Appliances, Figure3, Fisher Paykel, Maroline Inc., My Design Studio and Spectrum Realty. Tour hosts comprised: George Vallone of Hoboken Brownstone Company; Jack Chui of Douglas Elliman Real Estate & Fortis Property Group; Marina Trejo of Two Trees Development; and Natalie West of Related.

Photos: Mike Suriano, Suriano Design Consultants


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The rules of renovating your condo are worth knowing

The rules of renovating your condo are worth knowing

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The rules of renovating your condo are worth knowing

Renovating a condominium isn’t as easy as you think. In a traditional detached home, replacing kitchen cabinets, changing your floors or even changing a faucet is relatively easy. You can call up a renovator, sign an agreement and poof, your home improvement project is in progress. In a condominium, however, before you can do any work, you must get permission from your condo board or management company.

Photography: bigstock.com
Photography: bigstock.com

Prior to any condo renovation, you’ll need to do some homework, too. It’s imperative to familiarize yourself with the renovation rules your condo board or building management company may have. Some have simple rules, while others can be extensive. Understanding and communicating these rules to your renovation contractor will help them develop a more accurate estimate. Here are some rules that may increase your budget and add time to the renovation.

  • Restricted construction times. For example, 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. instead of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. like a normal project.
  • Restricted parking access. If the contractor isn’t allowed to use the visitors’ parking area to unload materials or pick up garbage, then workers may need to walk a block or more to get to their vehicles.
  • Restricted elevator access. The use of the common elevator needs to be scheduled and some days you may not be able to use them at all.
  • Protection of common areas. If you are required to put protective flooring or wall protection daily, this will add time to the overall renovation.

Do you know that you don’t own everything in your condo? If you open up a wall, you’ll find that there are water lines, a drain line, air ducts and electrical conduits. These common building elements are not yours and you most likely can’t move them. This means that if there is a bulkhead or dropped ceiling that you were hoping to move or eliminate, you might not be able to.

There are some things in your unit that you own like the toilet and faucets. You may change them, but often drain lines that take water and sewage away are designed for the fixtures that are currently there. This means that you may not be able to change a low-flow toilet or showerhead to a higher-flow fixture as it will change the water pressure in a way that the system wasn’t designed for. This type of problem is more relevant to taller buildings.

One upside of condo renovation is that you typically don’t need a building permit as you are not touching anything structural. All you need is plumbing or electrical permits if you are changing these systems. This means that you can begin your renovation much faster.

I personally like this type of work because you can do anything that is superficial like painting, changing laminate flooring, tiles or cabinets. These parts of your condo are the most visible and this is where you can add your own personal style.

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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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

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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Building and development brings benefits to the GTA

Latest News


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).

bild.ca

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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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What Bill 108 means for housing affordability in the GTA

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What Bill 108 means for housing affordability in the GTA

Bill 108, the More Homes, More Choice Act, received Royal Assent on June 6. The policy changes are intended to improve housing affordability in the GTA by ensuring cost certainty for development projects, reducing red tape and shortening the time frame for land use approvals. This will enable the delivery, more quickly, of more quality places to live and work.

Let’s take a look at the changes to the Development Charges Act (DCA), which enables municipalities to impose charges on development to pay for municipal services such as roads, water and public works. Bill 108 proposes to narrow the range of services for which development charges can be imposed in order to align with the new Community Benefits Authority (CBA), which will fund soft services like daycare centres and libraries. Development charges would then be imposed for certain hard services, like water, roads and transit. Changes to the DCA will also increase predictability for the industry and for consumers by allowing for development charges to be locked in earlier in the development process.

The government’s key objective in introducing changes to the DCA is to make housing more affordable and provide more certainty about some of the costs associated with building housing in the GTA. Development charges account for approximately 10 per cent of the cost of a new home across the GTA and have been rising quickly. These changes make upfront development costs more predictable and transparent, benefiting the new home buyers who ultimately pay for these costs in the price of a new home.

Rental housing is not left out. In order to support a range and mix of housing, including new rental buildings, changes allow for the deferral of development charges for rental housing and not-for-profit housing until occupancy, with payment occurring over five years, and freeze development charge rates at an earlier point in time. This provides an incentive, and reduces barriers, to build rental and not-for-profit housing by allowing for an amortization of some of the upfront costs over a period of time.

Speeding development

An overall focus on speeding development and reducing duplication is woven throughout Bill 108 and gives communities and the development industry more confidence on what they can build and where they can build it. It can take years before shovels can break ground on a new housing project. Some government policies and processes are duplicated and can create delays for no reason, which drives up costs for new home buyers. Complex administrative red tape can slow down developments as a project can face dozens of municipal, regional and provincial studies, reports, checklists, plans and standards required as conditions of approvals, many duplicate. This is in part why it takes 11 years to complete a lowrise project and 10 years to complete a highrise project in the GTA.

Lastly, the changes provide more clarity when it comes to being able to build denser communities near transit nodes, in areas where it makes sense due to investments in infrastructure that have been made to support growth. It will now be easier and faster to build more housing, including affordable housing, near transit. Municipalities will get help to implement community planning permit systems near major station areas and provincially significant employment zones, which will streamline planning approvals to 45 days. Transit supportive housing just makes good planning sense.

Desperate needs

As the government moves toward developing regulations to support Bill 108, there will undoubtedly be lots of discussions. It would serve us well to remember that the changes are about encouraging more housing that the region desperately needs, in the right mix, quicker, near transit and at a price the average resident can afford. It’s hard to argue with that.

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

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Lessons from Tokyo

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Lessons from Tokyo

Exploring how other cities and countries approach housing, planning and development can often provide us with insight to enable us to better meet the housing needs of the residents of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). In early June, a Building and Land Development Association (BILD) delegation visited Tokyo and came away with quite a few impressions.

The population of the city of Tokyo is just shy of 10 million people and the population of the Greater Tokyo Area is approximately 38 million with a population density of 6,158 people per sq. km. This would be compared to Toronto’s three million and the GTA’s 6.4 million with a population density of 4,457 people per sq. km. So, while we have challenges in the GTA you can you can well imagine the magnitude of the task of housing, moving and providing places to work, shop and play for 38 million residents.

One of the first impressions of Tokyo is the transportation infrastructure. It is simply humbling to behold. Thirteen subway lines carry 8.7 million riders daily, by elevated trains and mono-rails, an integrated commuter rail system that fans out from multiple stations to all corners of the region and tripled stacked highways that snake through the heart of the city and bypass sensitive areas with tunnels. It’s enough to leave the average Ontarian with infrastructure envy. Tokyo makes it work. Their transportation system is efficient and it’s amazing.

The second impression is the typical built form for housing. There is literally housing that we refer to as missing middle in the GTA, everywhere in Tokyo. Midrise apartment buildings are the dominant housing type; the average building is about eight stories high and is spread throughout the neighbourhoods and regions of Tokyo. In the GTA, we refer to this type of housing as the “missing middle” because of the almost total absence of this type of housing that includes stacked townhomes and midrise buildings. The key feature of this type of housing is its ability to provide gentle density and increased housing supply when land is at a premium.

The third lesson is how transportation infrastructure and housing work together seamlessly. Homes are built near transit stations that form hubs around neighbourhoods. Everything is within walking distance of rapid transit of one form or another and balances the impact of the movement of people between automobiles and public transportation. While traffic congestion occurs, it’s nowhere near what we experience across the GTA on a daily basis.

Lastly, is the approach of the Japanese toward land use and built forms. At the risk of gross oversimplification, land use is flexed to requirements and when needs change so too do the buildings, torn down and rebuilt to accommodate a differing or changing need. It means there is change in housing stock, urban renewal and the concept of a “stable neighbourhood” like we have in Toronto doesn’t generally exist.

There are many lessons to take from Tokyo, and as our region’s population grows by almost 40 per cent through 2041, these lessons should be kept in mind as the GTA plans to house these people in the future.

DAVE WILKES is President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).

bild.ca

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