Falling on the Victoria Day long weekend there was no MMB last week, but I would like to take a moment to recap the meetings and events that took place in conjunction with the CHBA-BC Provincial meetings and Georgie Awards held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Vancouver, May 18 to 20.
Things kicked off on Thursday, May 18 with a UDI luncheon also held at the Hyatt with keynote speaker the Honourable Ravi Kahlon, BC Minister of Housing who engaged in a conversation with UDI head Anne McMullin in front of over 900 guests. The opportunity did arise to have a conversation directly with the Minister, following up on our cordial discussions from when he attended the HAVAN Awards.
Minister Kahlon, joined by the Honourable Josie Osbourne, Minister for Energy, Mines, and Low Carbon Innovation continued the conversation the next morning in an intimate meeting of less than 50 HAVAN/CHBA-BC builder/developer members including local EOs, local Chairs, and representatives from the provincial and HAVAN GR committees. This small group meeting, moderated by David Bieber of Counsel, the GR consultant retained by CHBA-BC to assist at the provincial level, provided the opportunity for a two-hour conversation and Q&A with the two ministers. We thank the ministers for sharing their time and insights with our group. Both ministers were very open, and forthright, sharing their determination to shake up the status quo to address the issues driving the ongoing housing crisis.
In both the UDI luncheon and our more direct meeting, Minister Kahlon spoke about taking politics out of the approval’s mechanisms for housing, and both ministers reiterated their commitment to acting on the recommendations in the DAPR, and Expert Panel for Housing which presented proposals to streamline and expedite the approvals and permitting process for housing projects at both the provincial level and through the municipalities.
The ministers touched on the process currently underway at the provincial level to address the bottlenecks within the provincial reviews and approvals process citing the need to sort out the issues under their umbrella first and recounted the progress in establishing a “single window” for receiving, disseminating, and processing Water Act, MOTI, Environmental, and Heritage referrals with a “concierge” type service backed up with accurate and timely communication with proponents.
This portal is now open and with newly reinforced staff is clearing backlogged files and creating a clearer path for new referrals. The Minister also indicated that affecting a “triage” process would sort through simple files for quick turnaround, and or pull-out referrals that do not warrant exhaustive reviews.
The ministers advised, all ministries that overlap on housing approvals are working together to move applications forward, and that regulations stemming from the passing of the Housing Supply Act last November are moving forward to present and enact before the end of the summer. These include but are not limited to new guidelines and or regulations concerning DCCs and CACs, municipalities being bound to deliver on housing needs identified by the municipalities, affecting the province-wide inclusionary zoning for 4-6 units on single-family zoned lots, and digitizing the Building Code and affecting a common digital permit submission and approvals.
Minister Kahlon was very sincere in stating that the culture of obstructionism, and siloed regulatory authorities would no longer be allowed to prevent housing proposals from proceeding. Building on Bill 26 which gives municipalities the opportunity to approve applications that conform to OCPs, and NCPs previously approved by the community without the need for public hearings on a lot-by-lot basis, the province will be holding the municipalities accountable for meeting their own targets per their housing needs reports.
The Minister indicated that while the province prefers to work collaboratively with the municipalities, and industry, he would not hesitate to use the mechanisms, now or, soon to be available to him, to effect changes or expedite approvals of properly prepared conforming proposals. The province has dedicated over $4 billion to meeting these goals in what has been called a “carrot and stick” approach, and when questioned as to the nature of the “stick” the Minister suggested it is more of a “carrot-stick” where cooperation would have a direct reward, and failing to move things forward could see direct intervention, albeit this is not the preferred option.
The province is contemplating an approach to identify and initially work with eight to ten municipalities to affect the identified changes covered by the pending regulations with the first round of announcements expected very soon followed by successive groups of municipalities as per the levels of housing urgency identified by metrics. Rolling out the municipalities, the province seeks to affect change in a measured, but systematic fashion that allows for evaluating the concepts and effectively fine-tuning the process.
Our meetings with the ministers concluded with a lively round of Q & A with questions and or observations directly presented by our builder members that received direct answers or acknowledgment and or pledges to consider some of the concerns the ministers had not yet been aware of. Overall, it was a great opportunity to engage with policymakers at the highest level and these meetings reflect on the level of conference and input our Association has been and is involved with as we might finally see the needle starting to move. It remains to be seen how these initiatives from the province will play out with the municipalities, but homework has clearly been done and per comments from Minister Kahlon the examples from many, many other jurisdictions have been reviewed, along with direct input from industry, and are shaping the pending policies and regulations.
PROVINCIAL MEETINGS …
The meetings that continued through the balance of May 19 included the Provincial Board meeting and the AGM where current CHBA-BC President Cassidy DeVeer from 3rd Generation Homes, Kelowna stepped down and HAVAN member Randy Chin, RBC was ratified as the incoming President, and HAVAN Member Dan Glavind of Dick’s Lumber was voted in as Treasurer. This provides HAVAN with two members on the seven-person CHBA-BC Executive and adds to our Provincial Board members Dave Deamer, from Polygon, current HAVAN Board Chair, and Henri Belisle, TQ Construction, HAVAN First Vice Chair, and a representative yet to be appointed to fill our third board seat.
The day concluded with the President’s Dinner and association awards with kind words and presentations provided to outgoing president Cassidy DeVeer, welcomes and introductions for incoming president Randy Chin, and representation from all past CHBA-BC presidents that were able to send messages or attend in person including HAVAN’s Lynn Harrison, of Harrison Marketing, and Rob Caper, of maison d’etre design-build. This was also the occasion of presenting association awards, and I was both honoured and humbled to accept the Award for CEO of the Year for HAVAN. It was a fun evening to celebrate the achievements of locals across the province in a number of categories and reconnect with many friends and colleagues.
The evening of May 18 involved a surprise reception for Neil Moody, CHBA-BC CEO who marked his 10th anniversary as head of CHBA-BC. Pre-ceded by an Executive Officer’s meeting, the timing provided a rare occasion for CHBA National CEO Kevin Lee and all provincial EOs to be present. The event was themed around Neil’s sport – hockey, and all attendees were wearing their favourite team jersey, enjoying food and beverages typically found at arena concessions.
In his 10 years with the provincial body, Neil has presided over building a strong educational resource for members, forging representation for energy programs, re-building fiscal responsibility and solvency, exponentially extending our advocacy and engagement with the provincial government, and holding things together through C19. Supported by a strong staff team, Neil has ensured that CHBA-BC is one more notable example of value for members.
I should also note that Kevin Lee, CEO National, is also celebrating his 10th anniversary leading CHBA National where he has increased awareness of housing and our association on the national stage. Kevin has positioned our association as a trusted advisor on housing issues with direct access to, and input to the Ministries of Housing, Finance, Revenue, Immigration, and the Prime Minister’s Office, along with the Bank of Canada, OFSI, Budget Office, and office of Tariffs and Trade. Efforts extended by Kevin and his team are reflected in the housing initiatives in the Federal Budget, and the reception and engagement among all MPs we met with at the recent Day on the Hill in Ottawa. Congratulations and thank you to both Neil and Kevin.
THE GEORGIES …
Saturday, May 20 saw the Georgie Awards Gala take place at the Hyatt with the ballroom transformed into the “Emerald City” with a Wizard of Oz theme. Complete with witches good and wicked, Dorothy, and the Tinman, Lion, and Scarecrow, the tag line was “There is No Place like Homebuilders”. With large screens, great graphics, energetic musical contributions, and well-paced presentations the achievements of members from across the province were showcased and celebrated, and congratulations to all finalists and winners!
Twenty-six HAVAN members took home Georgie Awards with some being multiple winners. Congratulations to Century Group for taking home 5 awards for their Southlands project in Tsawwassen, Kingdom Builders earning 3 awards, and Landmark, RDC Fine Homes, and Trillium all bringing in 2 each. View the full details here. A great evening was enjoyed by all, with a fun-filled reception, good dinner, great awards presentations, and great after-party.
The Georgie’s mark the end of the Awards season for this year and HAVAN members, and HAVAN award winners were well represented at the National Awards at the Banff Springs Hotel in February, the HAVAN Awards at the Parq in April, and the Georgie’s at the Hyatt on May 20. Winning both a National award and a Georgie were Enzo Design Build, and Shakespeare Homes and Renovations. Winning National awards and Havan awards saw Smithwood Builders earn 3 National and 2 HAVAN awards, and My House Design Build with 2 National and 3 HAVAN awards.
HAVAN members also recorded wins with both the Georgie’s and HAVAN awards including Bayview Homes, Hasler Homes, Marino Contracting, and Brickhouse Building. Multiple award winners were Kingdom Builders with 3 Georgies and 2 HAVAN Awards, Miracon Homes with 1 Georgie and 4 HAVAN awards, and Landmark Homes with 2 Georgies and 2 HAVAN awards. HAVAN multiple award winners of note were Designs by KS with 5 wins, and Best Builders taking 4 Awards.
These are all great projects and represent innovative projects, creative thinking, great workmanship, and effective execution by our members every day. Congratulations to all finalists, and the winners, but also to all members for your contributions and work that serve as examples of what our industry can achieve to raise the bar and provide housing opportunities across the Metro Vancouver area, the province, and on the National stage. Well done!
HAVAN continues to work with CHBA BC and CHBA to advocate for all levels of government to work together to address the challenges of the housing industry including zoning restrictions, density limits, and NIMBYism.
Looking to stay up-to-date on Metro Vancouver’s residential housing industry? Sign up for Ron’s weekly Monday Morning Briefing and other HAVAN emails here.
QUICK BITES …
In the May 8 MMB, Dawn Sondergaard HAVAN Senior Director of Marketing and Communications wrote a comprehensive piece discussing the profound impact mental health has on the construction industry. As noted fully 81% of construction staff and workers face some form of burnout or mental health issue. On June 13 HAVAN is presenting Let’s Talk Mental Health in the Construction Industry, featuring Corey Hirsch, former Canucks goaltender, and Olympic Silver medalist.
This event running from 8:00 am to 11:30 at the Westin Bayshore will present members with insights on awareness and coping with mental health issues in our workplaces. Corey will share his journey and challenges, and a panel of professionals will provide insights and resources to members to help you make impactful choices for yourselves and the people in your circle. Don’t miss this opportunity to increase awareness and learn how to better deal with this serious challenge to support and retain your workers!