Historic agreement flows pipeline wealth to Alberta First Nations

Key Takeaways:

  • The $1.12 billion deal gives 23 First Nation and Métis groups partial non-operating interest in seven Enbridge pipelines.
  • The investment will be guided by newly created entity, Athabasca Indigenous Investments.
  • Closing of the transaction is expected to occur within the next month.

The Whole Story

Enbridge has inked a $1.12 billion agreement with 23 First Nation and Métis communities for them to collectively acquire an 11.57 per cent non-operating interest in seven Enbridge-operated pipelines in the Athabasca region of northern Alberta.

The agreement also creates Athabasca Indigenous Investments (Aii), which is tasked with guiding the investment. Aii now represents the largest energy-related Indigenous economic partnership transaction in North America ever.

“We are very pleased to be joining our Indigenous partners in this landmark collaboration,” said Al Monaco, president and CEO of Enbridge. “We believe this partnership exemplifies how Enbridge and Indigenous communities can work together, not only in stewarding the environment, but also in owning and operating critical energy infrastructure. We are looking forward to working with the Aii and deepening our relationship well into the future. This also fully aligns with our priority to recycle capital at attractive valuations, which can be used to fund numerous growth opportunities within our conventional and low carbon platforms.”

Pipelines included in the transaction are the Athabasca, Wood Buffalo/Athabasca Twin and associated tanks; Norlite Diluent; Waupisoo; Wood Buffalo; Woodland; and the Woodland extension. Enbridge added that these assets are underpinned by “long-life resources and long-term contracts”, which provide highly predictable cash flows.

A map shows the various pipelines included in a recent agreement to share interest with Indigenous groups. – Enbridge Inc.

Enbridge noted that the agreement stems from commitments it made in its recently released Indigenous Reconciliation Action Plan (IRAP). The IRAP incorporates advice into facility siting, environmental and cultural monitoring, employment, training and procurement opportunities and, most recently, financial partnerships such as the proposed Wabamun Carbon Hub.

“On behalf of the Indigenous partners, we are proud to become equity owners in these high-quality assets which contribute to North American energy supply and security,” said Justin Bourque, president of Aii. “Our partner logo theme – Seven Pipelines, Seven Generations – speaks to the long-term value potential of these assets, which will help enhance quality of life in our communities for many years to come.”

Chief Greg Desjarlais of Frog Lake First Nation, called the agreement a historic day for Indigenous people in the Athabasca region.

“In addition to an opportunity to generate wealth for our people, this investment supports economic sovereignty for our communities,” he said. “We look forward to working with a leading energy company like Enbridge, which shares Indigenous values of water, land and environmental stewardship.”

Closing of the transaction is expected to occur within the next month. BMO Capital Markets acted as financial advisor to Enbridge and Torys LLP as legal counsel. RBC Capital Markets acted as financial advisor to Athabasca Indigenous Investments and Boughton Law as legal counsel.

Key Takeaways:

  • The rate hike creates challenges for developers in the short term, but is necessary for the health of the overall economy, says BakerWest CEO Jacky Chan.
  • Chan believes the challenges could impact housing numbers years down the line.
  • He advised developers to act wisely and efficiently with the projects they choose.

The Whole Story:

In September the Bank of Canada increased its target for the overnight rate to 3.25 per cent.

It was the fifth consecutive rate hike this year and the bank noted that it planned to continue its policy of quantitative tightening.

“The global and Canadian economies are evolving broadly in line with the Bank’s July projection,” stated bank officials. “The effects of COVID-19 outbreaks, ongoing supply disruptions, and the war in Ukraine continue to dampen growth and boost prices.”

Bank officials explained that global inflation remains high and measures of core inflation are moving up in most countries. In response, central banks around the world continue to tighten monetary policy.
“The Canadian economy continues to operate in excess demand and labour markets remain tight,” said officials.

Officials added that given the outlook for inflation, the bank anticipates the policy interest rate will need to rise further.

“Quantitative tightening is complementing increases in the policy rate,” stated bank officials. “As the effects of tighter monetary policy work through the economy, we will be assessing how much higher interest rates need to go to return inflation to target. The Governing Council remains resolute in its commitment to price stability and will continue to take action as required to achieve the 2 per cent inflation target.”

Jacky Chan, founder and CEO of real estate firm BakerWest, explained that while the hike will make things more challenging for developers in the short term, it is necessary in the long term for the health of the economy.

“The immediate impact of a rate hike, specifically for developers and developments is that it poses a change to the financial model of every single development.”

“When projects are being contemplated or planned, or the valuations or appraisals of land are being done, obviously the financial costs are a big component of whether something could move forward or not,” said Chan. “You see headlines saying the Canadian market is going to see a big crash, real estate will drop more than 25 per cent this year. To be honest I think those comments are far fetched. I don’t know where those speculations came from in terms of supporting factors. What a lot don’t realize the fundamental reason why the interest is being increased so dramatically. That is a forgotten truth. People only see the immediate negative financial effects.”

Chan explained that when times are tough the government wants to lower the rate to encourage more borrowing, hiring, purchasing and development, and more activity in general so it can sustain a downturn. He added that the government doesn’t make these decisions blindly.

“The government also knows all of the economic metrics ahead of time,” said Chan. “They have the most accurate forecast of real time economic data and also future economic data.”

According to Chan, such a drastic rate change suggests that the bank has evidence that the economy will get out of control if nothing is done. While this is good in the long term, it presents some short term challenges.

“A lot of the numbers have to be redone now,” said Chan. “It impacts the immediate borrowing capacity of developers and buyers. Furthermore it impacts developers in a much bigger way because most of real estate development is a business of financial leverage. You’re using heavy financial leverage to actually make a profit for developments. That basically takes away the majority or all the profit or the safety buffer for these major financial decisions.”

This can create a domino effect that ends up in less housing supply, something sorely needed throughout Canada. Chan said that when developers can’t build projects quickly, it will negatively impact housing supply, even at pre-construction and presale stages.

“Let’s say we have a lot of these developments getting slowed down or reworked,” said Chan. “It will effect a huge portion of the supply three, four, five, six years down the road. What will that mean for the demand that is also increasing?”

On the consumer side, those with mortgages could see a higher percentage of their payments going towards interest.

“With desperate times come desperate measures and each measure comes with a cost,” said Chan. “While it creates a positive impact for the long-term health of the economy, we need to learn to adapt during these difficult times.”

Chan said developers must be more discerning and that the rate hikes could weed out developers who act more impulsively.

“We need to be more effective, more careful and more efficient with everything we do,” said Chan. “It creates a situation where it will be a more healthily competitive market where everyone needs to be better, faster, more accurate and more careful with their work and calculations in order to succeed.”

Key Takeaways:

  • Despite great efforts to grow the workforce, demand continues to outpace labour supply.
  • Recruiters have developed new digital tools to try and connect workers with employers, but face-to-face relationship building remains critical.
  • Contractors believe there needs to be a massive societal shift towards respecting trades careers and educating young people about the benefits the industry has.
  • SiteNews spoke with contractors, academics, labour experts and recruiters to understand what is happening with Canada’s skilled labour shortage and where it’s headed.

The Whole Story:

The dark shadow of workforce shortages has long been looming over the Canadian construction sector. Now that it has hit, has it really been as dark as they said it would be? Is the construction sector finding ways to cope? What are experts doing to address the shortage? We spoke with labour experts, economists, recruiters and contractors to get their thoughts on the current state of things and what they think the solutions could be. 

Demographic challenges continue

Times are tough but they are going to get tougher, say construction labour experts. 

While few could predict that the COVID-19 pandemic would throw the sector into a new level of uncertainty, many believe it has accelerated trends that were already underway. 

BuildForce Canada’s latest report and forecast explained that as Canada’s economy began to rebound in 2021, older workers were slow to come back. 

“If you look at the overall census data, 19 per cent of the population is over 65 and 20 per cent is between 50 and 64,” explained Bill Ferreira, BuildForce executive director. “And those under 16 only account for 16 per cent of the population. We have a demographic crunch. This is what we have been saying for ten years. The challenge the industry faces is not just an industry challenge, it’s a country-wide challenge. The population is getting older and not enough young people are not coming in adequately enough to meet the needs of the economy. More people are set to retire in the next 15 years than we can replace.” 

Unlike the Great Recession, when younger workers were let go first and took longer to return to pre-recession levels of employment, the pandemic caused some older workers in the core working-age group to leave the labour force, many of whom have been slow to return as emergency measures were lifted. 

BuildForce found that this caused a tightening of labour markets for most parts of the country and shoved unemployment rates lower as employment outpaced labour force growth for most of the year. 

In addition, last year also saw a construction boom with total year-over-year construction investment rising 11 per cent.  

Construction investment is essentially sustained into 2023 and then declines gradually over BuildForce’s six-year forecast period. The group expects total investment to be approximately 1 per cent lower by 2027 than levels posted in 2021.

Shortages likely to get worse

“In my opinion, the situation is likely to get even more challenging for the industry as it shifts into the mix of projects we are building,” said Ferreira. “When you look at the requirements for meeting some of the goals – admittedly aspirational goals – of government to double new homes over the next ten years, reduce greenhouse gas emissions for existing buildings, all that will require a shift in the workforce. This is particularly true for renovations to get existing buildings down to net zero. Requirements will increase. While technology will play some role and mitigate some challenges, it’s unlikely to mitigate all of those challenges. The requirements for labour are likely to increase, not decrease.” 

The group estimates that construction demands will require the industry’s labour force to find 15,900 workers over the forecast period. When this demand growth is added to the 156,000 individuals expected to retire during this period – in total, approximately 13 per cent of the 2021 labour force – the overall industry recruitment requirement rises to 171,850 workers by 2027. BuildForce data shows that while the industry is expected to recruit approximately 142,850 new-entrant workers under the age of 30 during this period to help offset some of this requirement, even at these heightened levels of recruitment, the industry is likely to be short some 29,000 workers by 2027.

A chart shows some of the key labour indicators sourced directly from Statistics Canada. – BuildForce Canada

Ferreira noted that the federal government has introduced new supports for employers to help with costs and barriers to taking on apprentices. There are also programs that the government is looking at implementing to provide more incentives to those looking for new careers to choose essential industries like construction. 

“The government is certainly doing its part in terms of helping employers recruit job seekers and young people,” said Ferreira. “Premiers have started to engage the federal government around immigration policy to see if there are reforms that could increase skilled trade workers coming into the industry. The federal government certainly seems open to these discussions.”

The issue is economy wide. Ferreira noted that the national unemployment rate is slightly above 5 per cent.

“When I was in my 30s, unemployment was 9 or 10 per cent,” he said. “To have 5 per cent is really unheard of. July was the lowest unemployment ever recorded since they started keeping track in 1976.” 

The result has been some reluctance to bid on projects out of fear the labour won’t be available.

“This doesn’t mean projects won’t go forward,” said Ferreira. “They just maybe won’t go forward as quickly. The workforce is working harder today than ever before and employers are doing their very best to keep pace but the demands are outstripping the ability of the labour force.” 

Changing perception

Chandos Construction, a nationwide contractor, is feeling the crunch.  

“We have 740 employees at the company,” said Tim Coldwell, president of Chandos Construction. “If we could, I would hire 100 carpenters and labourers tomorrow and put them to work. The supply is not there.”

The company is also facing similar challenges for project managers, estimators, site superintendents and other roles that are often filled by those who start their careers in the trades. Coldwell believes part of the solution begins with a major perception change around the trades. 

“Frankly, new grads coming out of high school are more interested in working for Google or Microsoft than for construction projects,” said Coldwell. “ The industry has this challenge around being seen as cold, dirty and messy. There’s a whole other side to that conversation.” 

Chandos workers inspect a site. – Chandos Construction

The shortage has pushed Chandos to be strategic about the jobs it takes and how much it takes to ensure its labour force is not overextended. 

“The solution is kids,” said Coldwell. “You have to get to kids. It’s not good enough to get kids in high school.”

Coldwell explained that one of the big things that started the decline of  trades careers was in the 1990s they took shop class out of most high schools in Canada and the U.S.

“That’s gone,” said Coldwell. “I think we need to get back to letting kids know about the virtues of trades work.”

Teaching children modern construction 

He noted that research suggests children form their opinions about who they want to be and what they want to do when they are 6-10 years old. 

“What you really need to do is get into the curriculum taught in schools for ages 6-10 and talk about construction and those careers being a good thing,” he said.

Provinces like Ontario are already doing this by introducing construction concepts to grade three students. 

“When’s the last time you talked to a 13 year old who was excited about being a plumber or electrician or a parent that was excited about them doing that,” said Coldwell. “There are societal challenges that underpin this.”

Coldwell hopes that the new generations of youth understand that construction is a sector that uses tablets, 3D modeling, exoskeletons, robotics, AI and other cutting edge technology. 

“The industry is transforming very quickly and the future of construction work will be less about shoveling in a pit and more about organizing tools and equipment, and thinking with your brain about how to use those supports on job sites,” he said. “I think kids particularly don’t know about that. They think they will be shoveling at the bottom of a trench in a snowstorm.”

He also wants young people to understand the financial security construction work can bring. A red seal carpenter in Toronto can make roughly 48 bucks an hour.

“That’s $100,000 a year,” he said. “With overtime it could be $120,000. If you start a trades program when you are 16 you could be pulling that when you are 20.” 

There is also lots of opportunity for entrepreneurship. Coldwell noted that many tradespeople can start contracting businesses and make even more money. 

Part of Chandos’ current strategy has been to target underrepresented groups like women and Indigenous people. They also are open to giving opportunities to struggling young people.

“If we could, I would hire 100 carpenters and labourers tomorrow and put them to work. The supply is not there.”

Tim Coldwell, Chandos Construction President

This is something Coldwell is passionate about, as he was once a 17-year-old heading down a dark path. 

“I self-identified as an at-risk youth,” he said. “I was going to be in a cardboard box on the street. I found my second family and purpose in construction.”

Coldwell was hired by Chandos Construction where he now serves the president.  

“If you give someone a chance, positive role models and a career that can pay $100,000 a year, so many kids would love that opportunity,” he said. “They are loyal and thankful and come to work happy and engaged. That flows to increased productivity and it’s a win all around.”

Recruiters adjust to assist employers

Workforce recruiters are becoming more sought after to help organizations fill construction positions. 

Michael Scott, vice president of Impact Recruitment’s building division, explained how employee sourcing has evolved in the construction sector and what companies must do to compete for labour.  

“It’s nothing new,” he said. “When I started this division 10 years ago we were just coming out of the global financial crisis, right when Vancouver construction was about to rebound properly. There was a labour crunch then.”

However, Scott explained that the past decade, construction has grown it to a far more prominent career as issues like affordable housing are at the forefront in people’s minds.
“Construction and development is now an industry that seems more viable – not just the trades. It’s purposeful,” he said. 

While the world has changed in many ways over the past decade, some things remain the same. 

“Technology is part of it, but when it comes down to it as a recruitment partner, construction still lives on shaking hands, meeting face to face and getting a gauge of who someone is – whether that’s a carpenter, labourer, electrical, mechanic, project manager or site superintendent,” explained Scott. “When we started the division ten years ago, we made a point of always meeting the person. That hasn’t changed.”

New technology and the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the industry to become more familiar with digital tools like video calling. Scott says this allows recruiters to cast their net further and digitally meet more candidates. This also helps recruiters encourage clients to meet with candidates from other provinces.

Not all roles have been equally difficult to fill. 

“Difficult roles to fill have been high expertise jobs like estimators and superintendents because most organizations would like to see a super who has built what that company builds. Looking for that super who’s built it from start to finish, from excavation on the ground to completion and handover is very difficult,” said Scott. “Other positions are senior project managers because if you are good at that, your organization is holding on to you and you are being fully utilized. It takes a while to get these people up the ranks. The other big one is just labour in general.” 

This has led to many workers often getting multiple offers and then counter-offers when job hunting. 

New tool aims to connect workers and companies

The rise in demand for recruiting assistance led to Impact creating AmbiMi, a skills-based job matching platform that combines an app with a human-centric network of job hubs to support job hunting and hiring. The technology helps filter and vet qualified candidates based on verified skills, while streamlining processes used in the traditional temporary recruitment agency model. 

“We wanted to create a digital platform where workers have more direct access to employers,” said Scott. “We looked at it as a way for upward mobility of humankind, giving everyone the opportunity to upgrade their skill set.” 

The tool has been released digitally in B.C. and will soon be available in Ontario. In the last few months the team has also begun setting up brick and mortar job hubs in B.C. and Ontario.

Scott encouraged employers who are searching for workers to have an open mind about someone’s background. While they may not have the exact experience you want, their experience may still be beneficial. He also stressed that interviews are critical, as it’s common for workers to get multiple offers.

“When you interview, give them the ultimate respect,” he said. “They made time to speak with you as an employer.” 

He noted that even if that person is not a good fit, it is still important to keep them in your network for future opportunities. 

Recent tightness demand-related

Some academics believe the recent labour crisis spike is more than demographics and the struggle it causes could be better for the industry in the long run. 

“My reading of the data is that the overwhelming market tightness is not a slow moving demographic trend, that’s part of it, but it’s mostly something that appears to be the effect of the pandemic,” said Mikal Skuterud, economics professor at the University of Waterloo and director for the Canadian Labour Economics Forum. “And it appears to be driven primarily by the demand side of labour markets and not supply. The aging population and people moving to retire – that is happening – but we’ve seen a massive spike in tightness.” 

Skuterud explained that the spike began in 2021 when the number of job seekers remained barely moved but the number of vacancies shot up. Skuterud, believes at least one factor lies in the pandemic relief that flooded business. 

A chart by economist Mikal Skuterud shows a recent major spike in job vacancies. – Mikal Skuterud

“Business failure rates were down,” he said. “The government threw more than $100 billion into the wage subsidy program and more through the rental subsidy.” 

Skuterud noted that the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy was more than the Canada Emergency Response Benefit and Canada Recovery Benefit combined.

“There were lots of businesses that even without the pandemic, would have failed,” he said. “These are zombie businesses with razor thin margins, barely getting by. This caused lots of ‘labour hoarding’, as we call it, through this period.”

He noted that there is also just simply a lot of demand for things being produced by Canadian businesses which is reflected in consumer prices and inflation. 

When zooming in specifically to construction, Skuterud said job vacancies have always been high, reflecting the transitory nature of the workforce as people move in and out of jobs fast. During the pandemic, construction saw high vacancy rates but was not hit as hard as other sectors, like food and accommodation. 

Shortages could be healthier in the long-term

To address construction workforce shortages, Skuterud says immigration is a policy option many in the industry are lobbying for and new government regulations could relax restrictions for temporary foreign workers (TFWs) – an issue that he believes could become a major battleground for trade unions in the future. 

He and other colleagues recently wrote a critique of softening restrictions on the TFW program, calling the crunch an opportunity for workers to get better wages and conditions, and employers to innovate. 

“There is much to be said for letting these labour shortages play out,” he said. “When there is high unemployment we try to train workers and encourage them to compete for scarce jobs. When the tables are reversed and it’s not the jobs that are scarce, why don’t we force employers to be more competitive by making the jobs better?”

Skuterud said there is little incentive for innovation when one can access low-wage TFWs. 

“One issue in construction is there isn’t a lot of oversight and if labour standards aren’t being met TFWs are ideal. Ultimately they want permanent residency and they recognize that to stay on that pathway they shouldn’t ruffle feathers.”  

Overall, Skuterud believes that the economic forces of the shortage will boost wages and conditions for workers. 

“I am not worried,” he said. “If you can’t survive, you should free up some of your current employees that are not at a profitable company and relocate them to other businesses where they are more productive. That’s a good thing and it’s how competitive economies should work.” 

Measuring the crunch

Are the labour problems we face today unique to modern times? Answering that is nearly impossible. Skuterud explained that the way we measure labour tightness is fairly new. Supply side measurements are pretty consistent and go back to the 1970s. But measuring demand was only updated recently. 

Modern, comparable demand-side data only goes back to 2015, meaning there are few lessons to be found in the past.  

“Until the early 1990s we used to measure labour demand in the ‘Help Wanted’ section,” said Skuterud. “Statistics Canada would literally get newspapers and use big rulers to measure the column inches of job ads. For many years, that was the help wanted index. It’s not at all comparable.”

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An inquest is being launched to investigate the death of an Ottawa construction worker. 

Dr. Louise McNaughton-Filion, regional supervising coroner for the East Region, Ottawa office, announced an inquest will be conducted for the death of Olivier Bruneau. The 24-year-old died in hospital on March 23, 2016, from injuries sustained while working at a construction site in Ottawa. 

Bruneau died after he was hit by a 12-metre-long piece of ice that slid off the wall of the Claridge Icon condominium construction pit.

Officials noted that an inquest into Bruneau’s death is mandatory under the Coroners Act.

The inquest will examine the circumstances surrounding Bruneau’s death and the jury may make recommendations aimed at preventing future deaths from occurring in similar circumstances.

The inquest is expected to last nine days and hear from approximately 16 witnesses.

The inquest will start at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, October 11, 2022. Dr. Geoffrey Bond will be the presiding officer and Jai Dhar will be inquest counsel.

The inquest will be conducted by video conference which the public will be allowed to view.

14. Galore Creek Gold/Silver/Copper Mine

This proposed project is located 145 km northwest of Stewart, B.C. The mine would have a processing rate of 65,000 TPD. Concentrate would be shipped out through the port of Stewart and power would be supplied via the BC hydro grid. The Galore Creek Mining Corporation (GCMC) is currently undertaking a
comprehensive Pre-feasibility Study to advance the Galore Creek Project (the Project) and are anticipating a major regulatory process to assess Project updates and modernize and amend existing authorizations.

13. Prince Rupert Gas Transmission Project ($5 billion)

The fate of this project has been up in the air since the Pacific NorthWest LNG terminal project, which this pipeline was intended to connect to, was scrapped in 2017. The project would build a 900 km natural gas pipeline from Fort St. John to Port Edward, near Prince Rupert. The project has been certified under the Environmental Assessment Act and 11 permits for pipeline and compressor stations have been issued by the BC Oil and Gas Commission. The team also has project agreements with 13 First Nations in place. Project options are currently in review.

12. West Coast Olefins Ethylene Plant ($5.2 billion)

This team believes there is massive opportunity in the natural gas value-add industry in B.C. West Coast Olefins is developing a project to recover propane, butane and natural gas condensate – collectively known as natural gas liquids, or NGLs – from the Enbridge Westcoast Energy Pipeline that runs just east of Prince George, B.C.  Recovered propane, butane and condensates will be sold to local and Asian buyers.The expected production rate would be 1 million tonnes/year for 25 years.

11. Kerr – Sulphurets – Mitchell (KSM) Gold/Copper ($5.3 billion)

As the world shifts to green technologies like solar panels and batteries, the demand for minding will increase. This open pit mine project, located approximately 65 km northwest of Stewart. Ore production of 80,000 to 120,000 mtpd over 25 years is expected, with 90,000 mtpd for the remainder of a 52-year mine life. Project has been certified under the BC Environmental Assessment Act and received federal environmental assessment approval. Exploration drilling has confirmed resources and permits for early sitework are in place.

10. Westcoast Connector Gas Transmission Project ($6 billion)

This proposed project is looking to build a multi-pipeline natural gas corridor from the Cypress area in northeast B.C. to serve proposed West Coast LNG exports in the Prince Rupert area. Work would involve constructing approximately 850-kilometres of 48-inch pipelines with a design capacity of up to 8.4 billion cubic feet per day. An Environmental Assessment Certificate has been issued. The project team says they are actively developing the project.

9. Coastal GasLink Pipeline Project (6.2 billion)

This pipeline will serve the top project on this list. Work involves building a 650 km natural gas pipeline from the Dawson Creek area to the Canada LNG facility. TransCanada Corp has been selected to design, build, own and operate the project. The pipeline has received all pipeline and facility permits and certification under the Environmental Assessment Act in Oct 2014, and in May 2018 for alternate route application. The construction timeline is expected to coordinate with LNG Canada project advancement.

8. Lougheed Town Centre Redevelopment ($7 billion) 

Phased redevelopment of the Lougheed mall into a regional town centre to include 23 residential towers, located on Lougheed Hwy and Austin Ave. The commercial buildings and tower podiums will include commercial space. Rezoning is required. This project comes from Shape Properties, the same developer that redeveloped Brentwood Town Centre.

7. Pacific Future Energy Refinery ($10 billion)

Pacific Future Energy Corporation is proposing the construction, operation and decommissioning of an oil refinery located on Dubose Flats, 32 kilometres north of Kitimat, in northwest British Columbia. The Pacific Future Energy Refinery Project would be capable of refining 31,795 m3 per day (200,000 barrels per day) of NEATBITTM (nearly solid bitumen) over a project life of at least 60 years. The project would include a new railway yard with 7 tracks and a total track length of 20.9 kilometres. A project description has been submitted to the federal and provincial environmental assessment agencies.

6. Iona Island Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrades ($10.4 billion)

The design concept for the upgrade includes tertiary treatment and a range of ecological restoration projects.. Upgrades will include secondary and tertiary wastewater treatment expansion, and groundworks improvements. The facility operations will be completed by 2034 and additional digestors will be constructed by 2041. Crews are currently conducting in-water geological investigations.

5. Site C Project ($16 billion)

Easily one of the most talked about project’s on this list, Site C involves building a third dam and hydroelectric generating station on the Peace River approximately seven kilometres southwest of Fort St. John. It will be capable of producing approximately 5,100 gigawatt-hours of electricity annually and 1,100 megawatts of capacity. Site C will provide clean, renewable and cost-effective power in B.C. for more than 100 years. While the project is currently underway, it has stirred up some controversy as its costs have escalated. It was originally approved with a budget of $8.7 billion.

4. ESE Synthetic Crude Pipeline ($18 billion)

This Indigenous-own proposed pipeline would transport synthetic crude from Alberta to a port at Lax Kw’alaams, north of Prince Rupert. The project is in planning stages and will include a refinery to be located in either Alberta or Fort St. John.

3. Kitimat Clean Oil Refinery ($22 billion)

This team wants to keep it clean. According to the project team, the refinery will feature state-of-the-art design, specifically for processing Alberta oil sands heavy crude oil, and be engineered to be the cleanest upgrading and refining site in the world. The proposed refinery located 13 km north of Kitimat will process an estimated 400,000 barrels/day of Alberta oil sands bitumen refined to produce diesel, gasoline, and aviation fuel. The refined products will be stored and delivered via 23 km of 18″ fuel delivery pipeline to a proposed marine terminal on the Douglas Channel, 12 km south of Kitimat. The project has entered into the pre-application stage of the Environmental Assessment process.

2. Kitsault LNG Facility ($34 billion)

Project officials say an export terminal at Kitsault for LNG operation would have the shortest natural gas pipeline for the projects currently proposed in that region, saving 100 to 300 kilometers of pipeline. The team also believes that the infrastructure in place in and around Kitsault will also allow for an accelerated start to the creation of an LNG plant and energy export facility. The facility would be a combination floating and land-based export plant located north of Alice Arm. The project’s application to export 20 million tonnes a year of natural gas was approved by the National Energy Board in May 2016.

1. LNG Canada ($36 billion)

This isn’t just one of the largest projects in B.C. It’s one of the largest projects in Canada. The LNG terminal facility is being built on the former Methanex facility site. It will include a gas liquefaction plant, storage tanks, a marine terminal and a rail yard. Water treatment facility and flare stacks will also be constructed on the site. JGC Corp and Flour Corp have been awarded the engineering, procurement and construction contract. An agreement is in place to connect to the BC Hydro power grid. The project has been approved under the Environmental Assessment Act, and by the National Energy Board (NEB) for a 40-yr export license to replace the current 25-year license. A final investment decision was approved in October 2018 to go ahead with the project. The 5-year process to complete a potential of four trains is expected to have the first train in production by Late 2023.

Camosun College is looking to build a film studio on its interurban campus.

To kick things off, the B.C. school has posted a request for pre-qualification for the project on BC Bid.

“Camosun is hoping to turn its vision of a commercial film studio combined with educational components into a reality with the release of a Request for Pre-Qualification,” said Geoff Wilmshurst, Camosun’s vice president of partnerships. “The process is intended to result in an innovative proposal that benefits the college, students and the local economy.”

The school is looking for proponents to become pre-qualified to design, build and fund a film and digital media education centre in exchange for a 99-year lease. 

Officials explained that responses will determine a shortlist of respondents who will then be invited to the second stage through a request for proposals from which a preferred proponent will be identified and enter into an agreement with Camosun.

The school stated that next steps include an all-proponent meeting later this month with a submission deadline of Sept. 30. Exact dimensions, size, layout, timelines and costs will be finalized with the input of the preferred proponent.

A copy of the request for pre-qualification is available at bcbid.gov.bc.ca.

In spring 2021, the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training provided $150,000 to assist Camosun in the exploration of educational opportunities for students in the B.C. film industry and the potential development of an on-campus film studio.

The film industry in B.C. generates approximately $3.4 billion of revenue annually with most of the work in Vancouver.

Key Takeaways:

  • The past 10 years have seen real estate listings in major Canadian markets decline.
  • RE/MAX experts say a massive effort must be undertake during the current housing lull to avoid more boom and bust price cycles.
  • Purpose-built rentals, new-home construction and policies that support and accelerate residential building activity are key to reverse the crunch.

Digging In:

Canada’s needs to take advantage of its real estate lull to build for future booms, a new report warns.

A recent report by real estate company RE/MAX Canada showed that inventory levels in the nation’s major real estate markets have been slipping over the past decade, with active listings in July running below the 10-year average in almost all markets surveyed based on Canadian Real Estate Association data and insights from the RE/MAX network. The company noted that this was despite softer overall real estate activity.

Declining inventory

The report pored over active listings in July from 2013 to 2022 in eight large markets—Greater Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Hamilton-Burlington, the Greater Toronto Area, Ottawa, Montreal (CMA) and Halifax-Dartmouth. 

Researchers found inventory levels have fallen below the 10-year average in seven of those markets in 2022. Double-digit declines are noted in Halifax-Dartmouth (65.5 per cent below the 10-year average); Ottawa (down by almost 42 per cent); Montreal (down 40 per cent from the nine-year average); Calgary (running 26 per cent below average inventory levels); Winnipeg (down 23 per cent), and Greater Vancouver (down 16 per cent). The housing inventory shortage was less-pronounced in the Greater Toronto Area, where supply was down almost seven per cent from the 10-year average. Hamilton-Burlington was the only market to buck the trend, reporting a nominal 3.2-per-cent increase over the 10-year average.

In analyzing the 10-year July average in the decade spanning 2003 and 2012, several Canada real estate markets experienced more active listings than in the most recent decade (2013-2022). These included the Greater Toronto Area (21,243 active listings versus 16,458), Hamilton-Burlington (3,473 active listings versus 2,304) and Greater Vancouver (14,352 active listings versus 12,792).

A graph by RE/MAX shows the performance of real estate in Canada’s biggest markets.

“Supply was far more robust in the early 2000s in centres such as Greater Vancouver, the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton-Burlington,” explained Christopher Alexander, RE/MAX Canada president. “That stability lent itself to healthy sales and price appreciation year-over-year and provided an anchor for the Canadian housing market during the Great Recession. Population growth and household formation have played a significant role in depleting inventory levels from coast to coast over the most recent decade, triggering chronic housing shortages in large urban centres that resulted in mini ‘boom’ and ‘bust’ cycles. If we don’t move now to build more housing in the current lull, it’s expected that this same scenario will continue to resurface over and over again.”

According to Statistics Canada, Canada has seen significant double-digit population growth between 2006 and 2021, and that is poised to increase further with Canada’s commitment to bring in 1.2 million immigrants into the country between 2021 and 2023, combined with growth in new international students. The strategy is aimed at propelling economic growth and reducing labour shortages. 

Planning For Tomorrow

However, the report’s researchers explained that in the context of Canada real estate inventory, the increase in newcomers combined with new household formation overall is expected to intensify the inventory shortfall further, especially in the major urban markets of Vancouver and Toronto.

They believe that inventory remains key to the overall health of the Canada real estate market. RE/MAX noted a recent report from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) concluded that the country needs to build 3.5 million new homes by 2030 to address housing affordability, yet it is only averaging only 200,000 to 300,000 new units per year.

“The truth of the matter is that we probably need more than the CMHC estimate to create the desired level of affordability,” says Alexander. “During this window of softer demand, building efforts should be ramped up, not down. The offshoot effect is straining rental markets and contributing to ever-rising levels of homelessness throughout the country.”

Experts noted that it’s not just about more people. New housing starts and purpose-built rentals are few and far between. RE/MAX argued that the potential housing supply issue could push even more buyers into the rental pool, which itself is already facing pressure, as evidenced by rising prices. They believe this could result in even fewer listings of homes for sale, as some of the rental stock that comes on stream actually pulls from the stock of existing dwellings already in short supply.  

A Perfect Storm Gathers

According to RE/MAX, a number of factors have combined to create a perfect storm impacting available housing today and in the future, including inflation and rising interest rates, increased global supply chain interruptions, swelling construction costs and a serious shortage of trades labour, to high land acquisition costs and slow municipal approval processes.

“Current market realities have upended the economic viability of many developments, causing new residential projects to be cancelled or put on hold indefinitely,” said Elton Ash, executive vice president of RE/MAX Canada. “The feasibility of many new or planned housing starts is now in question, but the ones that already had smaller margins—affordable housing and starter homes—are at the top of the chopping block. If we’re already experiencing an inventory crisis, what will the consequences be when demand rebounds?”

Projects Shelved

Researchers stated that developer pullback is evident in light of softening demand in the short term combined with current economic and market realities. CMHC noted a decrease in the seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts in Canada’s urban areas in July of 2022, driven by lower starts in the single-detached category. 

CMHC found stronger declines in multi-unit residential starts in Vancouver, while a significant slow-down occurred in both multi-unit and detached residential starts in Montreal. Yet, RE/MAX stated that the trend could be strangest in Canada’s largest housing market—Greater Toronto. According to the Q2-2022 Condominium Market Survey by real estate research firm Urbanation, approximately 35,000 new condo units were anticipated to launch for pre-construction sale in the GTA in 2022. In the first half of the year, close to 16,000 units were launched. With less than 10,000 units expected during the remainder of 2022, it’s estimated that at least 10,000 new units will be put on the shelf.

“The phenomenon of scrapped or paused development projects is a serious concern, and various stakeholders are taking stock and assessing future impacts,” says Alexander. “The challenge is that we need a new development and growth strategy that is geared toward the long-term outlook. There simply isn’t enough stock to keep pace with demand now, and the need for housing is intensifying with population growth. Although demand is currently softer that we’ve seen in the last two years, it is expected to rebound, and our market is not prepared for when that happens. We’re seeing fewer housing starts at a time when we should be getting ready for the next inevitable upswing.”

Researchers argued that purpose-built rentals, new-home construction and policies that support and accelerate residential building activity – including factors like zoning, development fees and levies, approval processes, government partnerships, interest-free loans and incentives – are key to reversing the inventory crunch. 

“The trouble is that housing development is a slow process, and experience tells us the only thing slower might be government processes,” said Alexander. “Removing barriers and cutting red tape is necessary. A crisis is looming, but the outcome is not cast in stone. There is a short runway to reverse course before the impacts become very real for Canadian homebuyers and renters.”

Key Takeaways:

  • The design was created by KPMB Architects + Daoust Lestage Lizotte Stecker Architecture.
  • The museum explained that the new facility will allow them to do more educational programs.
  • Crews are expected to break ground in late 2023.

Digging In:

The Montreal Holocaust Museum (MHM) has unveiled the design of its new downtown building. 

Designed by KPMB Architects + Daoust Lestage Lizotte Stecker Architecture, the facility is set to open in 2025. The team was chosen through an international architectural competition.

The museum stated that the design was based on the pillars of memory, education, and community. The facility will feature multiple exhibition spaces, classrooms, an auditorium, a memorial garden, and a dedicated survivor testimony room. Construction on the new Museum will begin in the fall of 2023.

The MHM explained that it is moving from its current Cote-des-Neiges location in response to growing demand for its educational programs about the Holocaust, genocide, and human rights. The group said that in light of rising racism, antisemitism, and discrimination, the new MHM will have a broader impact in galvanizing communities throughout Quebec and Canada to fight all forms of hatred and persecution.

The Museum’s Give Voice fundraising campaign has raised $85 million of the $90 million project with contributions from Heritage Canada ($20 million), the Ministère de la Culture et des Communications du Québec ($20 million), the city of Montreal ($1.5 million), the Azrieli Foundation ($15 million) and numerous private donors. 

“We are delighted to share the designs of our new Museum which will be an important space of learning, action, and coming together,” said Daniel Amar, executive director of the MHM. “The brilliant design succeeded in creating a space of powerful architecture that remains respectful and sensitive to the difficult history of the Holocaust and its human rights legacy that will be transmitted within its walls. While we eagerly await our opening on Blvd. St-Laurent, we invite everyone to get involved today and Give Voice to help support their new Montreal Holocaust Museum.”

With 6,000 units of housing and 4 million square feet of property, the Sen̓áḵw development aims to be largest net zero carbon residential project in Canada. While it recently broke ground, the project’s roots go back decades into the history of the Squamish First Nation, the project’s developer. 

“The development of Sen̓áḵw has the potential to begin to right the historic injustice against the Squamish People, create a legacy for future generations of Squamish People, and contribute to achieving their goal of economic independence,” said the Nation.  

How we got here

1791: European settlers arrive in the Vancouver area. Prior to this, Squamish ancestors had a village at Senákw. Every year, families from upper Squamish villages would visit Sen̓áḵw to fish, hunt and harvest. Nation says there was an abundance of elk, beaver, deer, salmon, duck and cedar. The ancestors built longhouses and brought neighbouring tribes together for potlatches. 

1886: The areas around Sen̓áḵw are getting developed and portions of the reserve lands are expropriated, including over 3.5 acres for railways. Another 7 acres are expropriated for railways in 1901. That Nation explained that there was a great deal of industrial expansion in False Creek in the years that followed, with mounting pressure for the residents of Senákw to vacate their land.  

1913: The pressure reaches its limit. The B.C. government forces Squamish Nation people to surrender the Sen̓áḵw lands. All the residents, along with some of their personal belongings, are loaded up on a barge and towed across the inlet to other Squamish reserves.

1977: After years of preparation, the Squamish Chiefs and Council begin the Omnibus Trust Action against the federal government. The action was deliberately filed just before significant changes to the Limitations Act were made that would have barred the claims thereafter.

2003: Following decades in the courts, which also heard counter claims by the Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations to interests in the reserve, the Federal Court of Canada gives the Nation back control over a misshapen portion of the earlier, larger reserve. According to the Nation, of the original 80 acres, just 10.48 acres exist today as reserve land.

April, 2019: The Squamish First Nation announces plans for a large-scale apartment development near the south end of the Burrard Bridge that could include 3,000 housing units.

November, 2019: The Squamish Nation releases more details, announcing that they plan to construct 11 housing towers and have increased housing units to 6,000 on 11 acres of property at the south end of the Burrard Street Bridge. Because the development is situated on federal reserve land, the nation does not need permission from the city to proceed.

May, 2022: Squamish Nation Council Chairperson Khelsilem and city of Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart sign a services agreement for the project. The services agreement creates a framework to guide the government-to-government relationship between the Nation and the city of Vancouver and ensures access to municipal services, amenities, and infrastructure for the Sen̓áḵw neighbourhood over time.

July, 2022: Pre-construction activities begin. This includes installing fences and signage. Crews also began mobilizing site trailers and hooking up temporary power.

August, 2022: the Squamish Nation held a Blessing Ceremony on the site. The ceremony was held to honour their ancestors who lived on the site and to honour the land and trees before altering the land.

September, 2022: Squamish Nation Council Chairperson Khelsilem joins Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau for the announcement that the federal government will provide $1.4 billion to support the development. It is the largest loan from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) in Canadian history. The project team breaks ground.

A rendering shows plans for a green space under the Burrard Street Bridge. – Squamish First Nation

The province is inviting Manitobans to give their feedback on how the immigration system could be improved. 

“Our government recognizes the staffing challenges facing employers, so finding the best ways to tap into the skills and experience that many newcomers have to offer to address the current labour shortage has the potential to lead to a stronger workforce for all Manitobans,” said Jon Reyes, minister of advanced education. “As we continue to develop a full continuum of immigration programs and services, we value the ideas, advice and experiences of others in shaping immigration policies that produce the greatest benefit for all concerned. I encourage all Manitobans to share their ideas via this public engagement survey to help inform this important aspect of public policy.”

The Manitoba Immigration Advisory Council (MIAC), co-chaired by Reyes and minister of foreign affairs Lloyd Axworthy, includes 20 members with expertise related to immigration services, governance, economic development, project management and community integration. It represents front-line immigration service providers, ethnocultural community leaders and organizations, and members of Manitoba’s business, industry and academic communities. It also has urban, regional and francophone representation.

During the past several months, the council held town halls across the province, listening to Manitobans offer thoughts on:

  • Improving immigration programs and policies.
  • Improving the responsiveness of programs to address labour market shortages and needs.
  • Ensuring programs and services support newcomers to the province to strengthen the economy for all.

Officials stated that the public engagement survey provides another opportunity to share insights and hear from the public.

To participate in the engagement process, visit https://engagemb.ca/immigration-advisory-council-immigration-programs-in-mb. The deadline for feedback is Sept. 30.

Funding has been secured for a net-zero RCMP detachment in North Cowichan.

$11.5-million from the Green Municipal Fund (GMF) will go towards the construction of a net-zero energy ready (NZER) RCMP detachment facility in the municipality of North Cowichan. This includes a $10 million low interest loan and a $1.5 million grant.

According to Natural Resources Canada, the integrated hub will better serve a growing urban population of about 50,000 residents across North Cowichan, Duncan, Cowichan Tribes and the surrounding rural areas. The new, 50,000-square-foot building will consolidate the North Cowichan/Duncan Detachment, Forensic Identification Services, South Island Traffic Services and Indigenous Policing.

GMF previously supported the construction of a NZER RCMP detachment in Fort St. John in northern B.C. The current project is based on that same design but has been optimized for North Cowichan’s different climate and usage needs. 

Officials added that the project will also incorporate energy efficiency in every aspect of the building design. Optimized features of the building include:

  • Structure and site orientation improvements.
  • high-efficiency equipment.
  • Rooftop solar photovoltaic panels.
  • Solar shading to reduce cooling demand by 45 per cent.
  • Daylight sensors to reduce annual lighting operations by 25 per cent.

The GMF, administered by the FCM, is funded through an endowment by the Government of Canada. GMF helps local governments switch to sustainable practices more quickly. Its unique mix of funding, resources and training gives municipalities the tools they need to build resiliency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The city of Surrey has broken ground on a new outdoor athletics centre at Bear Creek Park in Newton. Once complete, the B.C. venue will provide the community with increased access to high-quality outdoor amenities, accommodate some special events and a variety of high-level football, soccer and track and field sporting activities.  

“I am really pleased that construction has begun on the new Bear Creek Athletics Centre,” said Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum. “This project will not only serve as a premier destination sports facility for the region, but it will provide Surrey families with increased opportunities to access world-class amenities that support a healthy active lifestyle.”

The Bear Creek Athletics Centre will include a new partially covered grandstand with permanent seating for 2,200 people and the possible expansion of temporary seating for another 1,000 people. It will also include the construction of new changerooms and public washrooms and upgrades to the track, the concession and ticketing spaces.  

The Bear Creek Athletics Centre will be located at Bear Creek Park at 13750 88 Avenue, Surrey.

Key Takeaways:

  • Calgary is helping fund research into creative downtown revitalization.
  • Research will be conducted by experts at the University of Calgary.
  • One of the next steps will be bringing in stakeholders like building owners, developers, policy makers and civic leaders to realize new projects. 

The Whole Story:

The city of Calgary is looking for more ways to breathe new life into its downtown core. 

The city will spend $350,000 on research as part of its partnership with the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape’s (SAPL) Civic Commons Catalyst Initiative at the University of Calgary. The funding will allow Civic Commons Catalyst researchers search innovative methods to spur economic revitalization in the downtown and transform underutilized spaces. The project is part of the Urban Alliance, a strategic partnership between the city and the University of Calgary.  

“The transformation of downtown Calgary will yield benefits citywide for generations to come,” said Terry Wong, city councillor. “We’re making an investment in the Civic Commons Catalyst because the University of Calgary brings both local and global expertise, along with a focus on innovation and the use of data and research to help address urgent issues Calgarians face daily.”

With the funding, the city and SAPL’s Center for Civilization will proceed to new phase of the Civic Commons Catalyst partnership with a focus on transforming underutilized public and private space. The city noted that it has placed a priority on this area of work through its office to residential conversion program, projects that are exploring how public space is utilized on Stephen Avenue and 8 Street S.W., and working with community organizations to activate and program public space.

“While it is the whole of civilization that finds itself at a critical inflection point, it is cities where these challenges will unfold. Therefore, cities must be the fulcrum upon which bold solutions are found,” said Alberto de Salvatierra, director of the Center for Civilization and assistant professor at SAPL.

As SAPL comes up with ideas, they will make recommendations to the city’s downtown strategy team. City officials said that bringing in stakeholders like building owners, developers, policy makers and civic leaders is the next step, and facilitates the potential of realizing these projects. 

“This research partnership exemplifies the University of Calgary’s commitment to our community and the critical importance that design-based research plays in the shaping of great cities and societies. Downtown Calgary is facing unprecedented challenges from high vacancy rates and social vulnerability that is affecting the quality of life in our city,” says Ed McCauley, University of Calgary president and vice-chancellor. “The Civic Commons Catalyst reframes these problems to show how underutilized spatial assets can become opportunities for social, economic, and environmental innovation. It is an important example of how great universities and great cities can work together.”

Canadian Parliament building

– Library and Archives of Canada

A devastating fire couldn’t crush the spirit of early Canadians. After a fire swept through the Centre Block’s House of Commons reading room, only the building’s exterior walls and the Library of Parliament Survived. Architects John A. Pearson and Jean-Omer Marchand were soon chosen to lead the redesign. The Centre Block was reimagined with much of its original look but with modern materials and an improved layout.  The original plan was to start again on the original Centre Block site, but more space was needed so the remains of the original walls and the rubble foundation were demolished and rebuilt with load-bearing concrete walls and a steel frame.

CN Tower

– Canada Lands Company

Long before Drake sat atop Toronto’s iconic tower for his album “Views” the tower was built by more than 1,500 workers over 40 months. It was envisioned by Canadian National, a crown corporation responsible for the nation’s largest railway network. According to the Canada Lands Company, the crown corporation that currently owns the tower, Canada National wanted to demonstrate the aspirations of Canadian innovation and industry. To achieve the tower’s tapered contour, construction crews poured concrete into a massive mold known as a slipform. As the concrete hardened, the slipform, supported by a ring of climbing jacks powered by hydraulic pressure, moved upwards, gradually decreasing in size to create the structure’s curve. The tower was topped off in 1975 at 553 metres. 

Calgary Tower

– City of Calgary Archives

Reaching 191 metres above Calgary’s downtown core, the Calgary Tower gives visitors one of the best views in Alberta. The Husky Tower, the tower’s original name, was built as a joint venture between Marathon Realty and Husky Oil to honour Canada’s centennial and promote the downtown core as a part of a Calgary urban renewal program. The concrete and steel tower was designed by architect W.G. Milne and built by Poole Construction Co., which is known today as PCL Construction. The techniques used were innovative for the time. Crews conducted a continual pour of concrete using a relatively new slip-forming construction technique. Pouring began May 15, 1967 and was completed 24 days later. The record pour in one 24-hour period was 39 feet. It was also the first structure in the Western provinces designed to withstand earthquakes. 

Lions Gate Bridge

– Museum of North Vancouver

This iconic structure connects the north shore to downtown Vancouver opened in 1938. In this shot, three workers operate a compressed-air-driven rotary machine to wrap cables during the last month of construction. According to the Museum of North Vancouver, workers were not issued any special clothing, footwear or safety equipment. The bridge was financed by the Guinness brewing family to create access to its British Properties lands in West Vancouver. Ownership was transferred to the province in 1955. Tolls were removed in 1963 and the bridge underwent a major restoration in 1998.

Trans-Canada Highway

– Parks Canada

You’d be hard-pressed to find a Canadian who hasn’t driven along some stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway – Canada’s longest national road. The route extends east-west across Canada between Victoria, B.C. and St. John’s, Nfld. It cuts through all ten Canadian provinces and links the country’s major cities. The highway’s completion was officially celebrated in 1962 when the final stretch was completed through Rogers Pass in B.C. According to Parks Canada, A.D. Booth, a truck driver from Salmon Arm B.C., was one of the first to drive the section when he transported 264 crates of sun-sweet strawberries to Calgary fruit buyers. Before the highway was complete, goods like strawberries took three days to travel by rail. Crews blasted, bridged and paved 7,821 km of highway to build this iconic piece of infrastructure.

Habitat 67

– McGill University

This iconic Quebec structure is located in the Cité-du-Havre, a century-old artificial peninsula enlarged for Expo 67. According to Safdie Archtiects, the project’s designer, the housing project showcased early pre-fabrication techniques. Crews built 365 construction modules that connected to form 158 residences. The units are connected to each other by post-tensioning, high-tension rods, cables, and welding, all of which combine to form a continuous suspension system. The interior components were produced, assembled and installed into each box unit in the factory, with single-unit bathrooms of gel-coated fibreglass, kitchens manufactured by Frigidaire, and window frames made of Geon plastic.

The federal government plans to spend more than $2 billion to create 17,000 homes for families across the country, including thousands of affordable housing units.

The investment, which includes funding from budget 2021 and budget 2022, will go toward:

  • Creating 4,500 additional affordable housing units by extending the Rapid Housing Initiative for a third round. This will include women-focused housing projects and projects supporting those experiencing or at risk of homelessness;
  • Creating at least 10,800 housing units, including 6,000 affordable units, through the Affordable Housing Innovation Fund, which encourages new funding models and innovative building techniques in the affordable housing sector; and
  • Creating a new, five-year rent-to-own stream under the Affordable Housing Innovation Fund to help housing providers develop and test rent-to-own models and projects, with the goal to help Canadian families across the country transition from renting to owning a home.

Applications are now being accepted for both the Affordable Housing Innovation Fund and its new rent-to-own stream. As part of their application, candidates will be required to demonstrate their commitment to innovation, affordability, and financial sustainability.

More information on the extended Rapid Housing Initiative will be available soon, followed by the opening of the application and proposal process.

“When people have a home of their own, whether they rent or they own, they are better able to invest in themselves, and invest in their communities,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “Our government understands that it is only by investing in people, that we can grow our economy. Tackling housing affordability is a complex problem and there is no one silver bullet, but announcements like today’s give more people a place to call home, and a real and fair chance at success.” 

Alberta construction sector advocates and trade unions will help guide the province’s approach to skills training with positions on a new council.

Premier Jason Kenney announced the Premier’s Council on Skills will have 11 industry stakeholders who will be tasked with helping the province better understand the challenges, opportunities and changing needs of Alberta’s workforce. 

Officials explained that the council’s advice will be provided to the premier, through the minister of advanced education, to reinforce post-secondary programming and align Alberta with current and future industry demand.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announces the Premier’s Council on Skills. – Government of Alberta

Officials noted that as a key liaison between industry and government on skills development, the council will provide critical industry input to inform government policies. The new premier’s Council on Skills members include:

  • Dennis Perrin, Alberta and Prairies director, Christian Labour Association of Canada – council chair
  • Brent Allison, CEO, Long View Systems
  • Glenn Feltham, interim city manager, City of Medicine Hat ­– council vice-chair
  • Ken Gibson, executive director, Alberta Construction Association
  • Ron Koslowsky, vice-president, Manitoba division, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters
  • Jason Krips, president and CEO, Alberta Forest Products Association
  • Gurpreet Lail, president and CEO, Petroleum Services Association of Canada and principal of Lail Consulting
  • Tara Lockyer, chief people, culture, brand and communications officer, ATB Financial
  • Terry Parker, executive director, Building Trades Alberta
  • Darren Reeder, president and CEO, Tourism Industry Association of Alberta
  • Tom Snell, president and chair of the board of directors, Columbia College Calgary

“Our government is obsessed with attracting new investment to fuel our economy’s diversification,” said Kenney. “We need skilled workers to fill the high-wage jobs that are being created in record numbers in Alberta. This council will help us to rise to the challenge in developing and retaining these skilled workers.”

Key Takeaways:

  • The condo complex design was inspired by biophilia concepts.
  • The developers hope Quebec can be an example of what sustainable, responsible construction can be.
  • The WELL standard, unlike LEED, solely focuses on the well-being of those inside the building by evaluating concepts like air, water, nourishment, luminosity, thermal comfort, movement, sound, materials, mind, community and innovation.

The Whole Story:

Le Huppé, a rental condo complex in Quebec City is the first residential building in Canada to receive Gold level WELL certification. 

The WELL program is run by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI). Certification is carried out by the same independent organization that does LEED, Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI). Unlike LEED, WELL certification is the first standard that focuses on the health and well-being of the people inside the building. Projects are reviewed by a team that ensures that the building and its environment adhere to the 10 major WELL concepts: air, water, nourishment, luminosity, thermal comfort, movement, sound, materials, mind, community and innovation. The standard also has more than 100 individual indicators ranging from performance standards and design strategies to specific operational procedures.

The team behind Le Huppé, Immostar and its partner Fiera Real Estate, explained that a major inspiration for the project’s design was the concept of biophilia – the human affinity for living things and natural systems. This meant it should include optimal access to natural light, views of the outdoors, and materials and textures reminiscent of the natural environment.

Le Huppé features a library accessible to all residents. – Immostar

“The pandemic has sharpened our focus on wellness and underlined the importance of helping people stay healthy,” said François Pelchat, partner and vice-president of development and marketing at Immostar. “Along with our partner Fiera Real Estate, we have made it our mission to drive change in the real estate industry and help improve the lives of residents. The WELL standard is not merely cosmetic. It is a real paradigm shift. It’s up to us, as leaders in Quebec’s real estate industry, to set an example and show how important it is to consider environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria when investing in projects.”

Pelchat added that society is becoming more aware that buildings have a large carbon footprint, both through the use of polluting materials and through the consumption of resources and energy. 

“The real estate industry can make a significant contribution to achieving emission reduction targets – and socially engaged buildings are how,” he added. “These buildings are the new way forward for real estate. They meet the needs of a clientele that cares about the environment and their community.”

Some of strategies used to achieve the certification included: 

  • Improved air and water quality treatment.
  • Increased natural light through generously sized windows and glare control in all living spaces and in the condos themselves. 
  • Lighting and temperature controlled by the occupant in all common areas. 
  • Signs offering health, nutrition and workout tips throughout the building.
  • A shared library space.
  • Promotion of physical activity through an inviting and fun staircase design.
  • A variety of indoor and outdoor common spaces that encourage interaction and community.

The federal government will contribute $1.4 billion to an Indigenous-led development in Vancouver. The funding will help create nearly 3,000 homes on traditional lands in Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighbourhood as part of the Sen̓áḵw project. The funding agreement is the largest First Nations economic partnership and the largest loan from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) in Canadian history.

Addressing the past

Sen̓áḵw is an on-reserve residential and commercial development project that will be owned and operated by Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation). Sen̓áḵw, which means “the place inside the head of False Creek,” is located on land that was forcibly taken away from the Squamish Nation in the early 1900s and returned by the courts in 2003. The ancient Sen̓áḵw village, located on this land, was burned down and the people who lived there were forced to relocate.

“The Squamish Nation and the federal government’s partnership to support the residential development of Sen̓áḵw is a historic moment in Canada’s relationship with Indigenous communities,”  said Squamish Nation Council Chairperson Khelsilem. “This economic partnership is the largest in Canadian history between a First Nation and the federal government. This investment will build many needed rental apartments and generate long-term wealth for Squamish People across many generations. The wealth generated from these lands can then be recirculated into our local economies and communities to address our people’s urgent needs for affordable housing, education, and social services.”

A rendering shows the site plan for the Sen̓áḵw development. – Squamish Nation

Indigenous-led design

The Sen̓áḵw development project was proposed by the Squamish Nation, Westbank Corporation, and OP Trust, under a joint venture, working with the Government of Canada.

In total, the Sen̓áḵw development project will create 6,000 homes when complete. The Government of Canada has committed to financing the first two of the four phases.

The project’s design features Coast Salish architecture and design across a ten-acre site, over half of which will be publicly accessible, with green spaces, parks, and plazas. Everyone in the community, Indigenous or non-Indigenous, will be able to live at Sen̓áḵw. 

Existing with nature

The Nation stated that Sen̓áḵw’s vision will demonstrate how humanity and nature can co-exist, and the development aims to be the largest net-zero residential project in the country. This includes district energy and progressive, low carbon transportation options.

In addition to thousands of rental units, including affordable units, the project is expected to create hundreds of jobs and long-term economic opportunities for Indigenous people. Construction is already underway, with the first residents expected to move in in 2025.

“Everyone should have a safe place to call home,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who visited the project site for the announcement. “Today’s announcement not only builds more much-needed homes for Vancouverites, it supports the Squamish Nation’s vision for their traditional lands and their path to continued economic independence and self-determination. When we all work together as partners – federal and Indigenous governments, private sector, local communities – we innovate, and we find solutions to the challenges we face.”

Key Takeaways:

  • The Boston-based firm announced its second fund will continue to support startups that are wanting to improve the built environment.
  • Since the firm began in 2018, it has seen growth in property tech and climate tech but believes there is still massive room for more.
  • Building Ventures noted that it’s critical to assist these startups in their ‘sapling’ stage so they can be given the resources they need to grow.

The Whole Story:

A Boston-based venture capital firm has closed its second fund with $95 million in new capital that will be spent supporting innovation in the built environment.

Building Ventures began in 2018 with a $53 million debut fund. Its goal was to invest in early-stage startups working to create a better built world. 

“We knew that the area needed focus, innovation, and capital in order to improve our physical spaces to meet the needs of our growing population and combat the significant impact buildings have on our climate,” stated the firm. “Over the last four years, we’ve seen massive growth in investments in and increasing adoption of construction and prop tech along with the rise of climate tech. But there’s still work to do.”

The firm explained that while the industry has become increasingly hungry for innovation, spurring the creation of new firms focused on contech, proptech, and climate solutions, buildings still pose what it calls “the 40 per cent problem.” The processes of constructing, operating, and maintaining buildings significantly contribute to landfill waste, raw material consumption, energy use, and emissions. 

The group said their second fund will continue to invest in exceptional entrepreneurs leveraging technology throughout the full building lifecycle to bring innovation to the design, build, operate, and experience phases.

“Building Ventures was the first investor who committed to Dandelion—before any other investors had said yes, before we had the market traction or the press we now have,” said Kathy Hannun, founder of Dandelion Energy, the nation’s largest geothermal company. 

Building Ventures explained that its timing and approach targets the “sapling stage”.

“We like to invest when a company is still early enough in its formative development that our team’s experience, expertise, and network can help it to attract the best talent and optimal early customers to help it grow and reach its potential,” said the firm. “This also means we’re not limited by the typical conventions of Seed or Series A investments.”

As its “saplings” mature, the firm also pursues opportunities to connect with larger institutions across the building lifecycle. 

The company plans to host its Fall Summit in Boston next month, where experts will gather to explore the impact of artificial intelligence and machine learning on designing sustainable offices, the use of IoT in the most data-forward development in the Boston area for life sciences, and more.

Key Takeaways:

  • Strong residential performances in other provinces were easily offset by weak values in Ontario.
  • Industrial permits also dipped, also mainly due to Ontario.
  • A years-long downward trend of residential permit values showed signs of recovery in Newfoundland and Labrador, but StatsCan said this is mainly due to a rise in construction costs.

The Whole Story:

Building permits took a tumble this July, mainly thanks to the residential sector and Ontario.

Statistics Canada (StatCan) reported that the country’s building permit values dropped 6.6 percent in July to $11.2 billion, mainly due to the residential sector, which fell 8.6 per cent to $7.6 billion. The non-residential sector also dropped slightly by 2.1 per cent.

The agency reported thatOn a constant dollar basis (2012=100), the total value of building permits decreased 4.8 per cent to $6.9 billion.

Where art thou, Ontario?

StatCan’s data showed that strong residential permit gains in B.C. and Quebec were easily offset by tepid construction intentions in six other provinces – particularly Ontario.

Construction intentions in the single-family homes component declined 5.7 per cent, as double digit decreases in Ontario (-13.9 per cent) offset the gains. 

An infographic from StatsCan shows building permit value changes across the country. – StatsCan

StatCan noted that despite the decline, this component remained 14.8 per cent higher than the same month of 2021.

The value of building permits in the multi-family homes component dropped 11.1 per cent. Declines were posted in six provinces, with Ontario (-32.8 per cent) reporting the largest decrease. Conversely, British Columbia had a number of permits for condos and apartments, pushing the province’s permits value up 9.3 per cent.

Industrial creates drag

In July, the total permit value of the non-residential sector decreased 2.1 per cent to $3.6 billion. Gains in the commercial and institutional components were quickly  offset by losses in the industrial component.

The value of building permits in the industrial component dipped 16.9 per cent, largely due to Ontario (-31.1 per cent), which had its third consecutive monthly decline. After nearing the billion-dollar mark back in January and April, the component has returned to more typical levels.

Commercial permit values edged up 0.1 per cent; Alberta (+72.8  per cent) had the highest increase, stemming from various permits issued in Calgary and Edmonton.

Construction intentions in the institutional component jumped 7.9 per cent, with B.C.(+207.2 per cent) leading the pack. StatsCan noted that tepid results in June, as well as several large permits, contributed to the significant increase in July.

Newfoundland and Labrador stagnates 

The value of residential permits, along with the number of units in Newfoundland and Labrador, has been on a downward trend since its peak in early 2010, with the lowest values for the series observed at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. This trend has been impacting both single- and multi-family dwellings similarly. StatsCan’s data show the region has experienced some recovery during the pandemic, but the recovery has been mainly driven by an increase in construction costs.

StatsCan noted that Newfoundland and Labrador’s population has remained relatively consistent at around 520,000 since 2010, leading to a smaller demand for new houses, explained the agency. In contrast, other provinces have had notable increases in both population and number of units during the same time period.

Since 2010, non-residential permits for the province have also been on a downward trend. On an annual basis, from 2010 to the end of 2021, the total value of permits for the sector in Newfoundland and Labrador has decreased 59 per cent, while Canada, excluding the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, has jumped 38 per cent.