Lytton looks to rebuild to adaptable standards

Key Takeaways:

  • The community is the first in North America to adopt the standard into its bylaws.
  • The standard includes designs that can be easily adapted to different resident needs, especially those related to aging and mobility.
  • Officials believe the adaptability will also save money in the long run with fewer renovation and healthcare costs.

The Whole Story:

Officials in B.C. are looking to rebuild the village of Lytton in a way that is accessible and healthy for all stages of life. 

The village passed bylaws that make it the the first community in North America to require SAFERhome Universal Design Standards. 

The village was almost completely wiped out by a wildfire in 2021. Two people were killed in the blaze.

Officials stated that the new bylaws will ensure all new homes are built to the universal standard of design and build homes that easily support a much broader range of people with different abilities to fully use and fully enjoy their homes.

SAFERhome Standards provides the only building standard and certification program in Canada that features the application of universal design where anyone can age-in-place and live healthier lives in an ergonomically safer and electronically pre-prepared home. SAFERhome’s 15-point building standard ensures homes include simple and practical design features like:

  • Wider doorframes with little to no thresholds that improve ease of use and lessen tripping hazards.
  • Wider hallways and stairs, with wall reinforcement improve flow and ease of use, and the addition of stairlifts in future if needed. 
  • Easy to reach bath and shower controls.
  • Accessible electrical outlets.
  • Sinks with adjustable height.
  • Technology-ready to connect automation and control systems such as automated door openers. 

Officials believe the adoption of the SAFERhome Standards as compared to current housing units presents significant potential cost savings to the village and its residents in the following areas:

  • Fewer future renovation costs.
  • Less costs for direct home support services. 
  • Fewer home accidents. 
  • Less personal occupant costs and opportunities associated with negative social labeling.
  • reduction in the number of ambulance call-outs related to falls and other mobility-related in-home accidents.
  • Healthcare cost savings related to shortening patient hospital stays as SAFERhomes are ready to accept walkers, scooters and other mobility devices and easily adapt to changing needs such as adding safety bars, safety gates or stair lifts.
  • Cost reduction for developers to provide units for social-based housing within their main market developments as issues around accessibility are automatically eliminated as a by-product of good design. 
  • Negative social labelling is also eliminated as a by-product of good design.

The initiative is sponsored by the not-for-profit SAFERhome Standards Society, which since 2004 has spearheaded the adoption of Universal Design principles.

“With over 1,800 homes built to the SAFERhome Standards, our partners like BC Housing are building more universally designed housing than any other housing developer in the world, influencing the residential construction industry and future-proofing all BC Housing-funded projects by including the SAFERhome Standards in their 2019 Design Guidelines and Construction Standards,” said the society.

Key Takeaways:

  • Mr. Service Ltd., Granby Bobcat Service Ltd. and Hexcel Construction Ltd. all won awards.
  • This was because of their excellent safety records and efforts to promote safe excavation.
  • It is the awards’ first time returning since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Whole Story:

FortisBC is honouring the best in the excavation business with its excavation safety awards. This year’s winners – Mr. Service Ltd., Granby Bobcat Service Ltd. and excel Construction Ltd. – received high praise for their exemplary safety records. 

Every year, FortisBC crews repair approximately 1,000 third-party damages to natural gas lines. To date in 2022, these damages have cost over two million dollars in repairs, with each incident endangering the public. 

FortisBC’s excavation safety awards recognize companies who have assembled stellar safe digging track records over the past year, and have also taken steps to promote safe excavation practices and education.

FortisBC is awarding Mr. Service Ltd., Granby Bobcat Service Ltd. and Hexcel Construction Ltd. with the 2022 Excavation Safety Awards for their safe digging practices over the past year. It is the first time FortisBC’s damage prevention team is bringing back the awards since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“These organizations have established themselves as leaders in safe digging and excavation, and are role models for other construction companies,” said Tanya Kowalenko, public safety manager with FortisBC. “I’d like to thank Mr. Service, Granby Bobcat Service and Hexcel Construction for their commitment to digging safely, and encourage everyone hearing of these awards to reflect on what they themselves can do to dig safer.”

ForistBC officials explained that Kamloops-based Mr. Service Ltd., holds a mission to guide their customers through renovations with education, in order to reduce any stress and help them understand the process. 

“After damaging a natural gas line once, Mr. Service Ltd. has always reached out to BC 1 Call before doing any digging to gather location information on buried natural gas lines and other utilities,” said FortisBC. “Adhering to the information BC 1 Call provides, Mr. Service has not damaged any natural gas lines ever since.”

Granby Bobcat Service Ltd. is a family owned and operated business serving the Nanaimo, Ladysmith and Chemainus areas. Since 2002, Granby Bobcat Service Ltd. has provided services in excavating, landscaping, hauling and much more. Operating for around 20 years, Granby Bobcat Service has also never damaged a natural gas line.

Hexcel Construction Ltd. was first established in 1985, and is a full service civil construction company specializing in general contracting and construction management. They currently operate in the Lower Mainland, with most of their projects located in Richmond, Delta and Burnaby. ForistBC noted that Hexcel Construction Ltd. is committed to continuously educating and training their employees on safe excavation practices. The organization has often invited FortisBC to educate staff on safe digging practices as part of ongoing training.

“While these awards are for construction companies, we ask all homeowners to dig safely to help avoid the safety hazards and costly repairs associated with damaging buried natural gas lines or other utility lines,” stressed Kowalenko. “Anytime you’re planning to work in your yard—such as building a deck or even just planting a few perennials—you must reach out to BC 1 Call in advance to request the location of underground gas and other utility lines on your property.”

FortisBC’s public safety team presented these awards at the Canadian Common Ground Alliance’s 2022 Damage Prevention Symposium on October 27. For more information on safe digging practices, go here.

It’s that time of year again in Vancouver. The Vancouver Regional Construction Association (VRCA) hosted its annual Awards of Excellence, which saw a total of 140 nominations from 84 separate projects. The projects exceeded $2.8 billion in construction value. See all the big winners below:

Gold Award winners

General Contractors – Tenant Improvement – Up to $15 Million
Scott Special Projects Ltd. – Heritage Hall Roof Replacement and Partial Seismic Upgrade

General Contractors – Tenant Improvement – Over $15 Million
EllisDon Corporation – Penticton Regional Hospital – Phase 2

General Contractors – Up to $20 Million
Jacob Bros. Construction Inc. – Centerm Container Operations Facility (COF) Building

General Contractors – $20 Million to $50 Million
NAC Constructors Ltd – Sapperton Pump Station Replacement

General Contractors – Over $50 Million
Graham Infrastructure LP in Joint Venture with Aecon Water Infrastructure Inc. – Annacis Island WWTP Stage V, Phase 1 Expansion Project

Trade Contractors – Up to $1 Million
Donald Flooring Contract Sales Ltd. – Northeastern University

Trade Contractors – $1 Million to $2 Million
Grist Slate & Tile Roofing Inc. – Heritage Hall Roof Replacement and Partial Seismic Upgrade

Trade Contractors – $2 Million to $4 Million
Flynn Canada Ltd. – 825 Nicola (1502 Robson)

Trade Contractors – $4 Million to $10 Million
Solid Rock Steel Fabrication Co. Ltd. – King George Phase B & C (The Hub)

Trade Contractors – Over $10 Million
Whitemud Ironworks Limited – The Post

Mechanical Contractors – Up to $3 Million
Canstar Mechanical LTD. – Sortation Centre Buildout – YVR7 Rover

Mechanical Contractors – $3 Million to $9 Million
All-Pro Services Ltd. – Bioenergy Research and Demonstration Facility 12 MW Hot Water Expansion

Mechanical Contractors – Over $9 Million
Pitt Meadows Plumbing & Mechanical Systems 2001 Ltd. – Royal Inland Hospital Patient Care Tower – Phase 1

Electrical Contractors – Up to $2 Million
Mott Electric General Partnership – Westland Towers

Electrical Contractors – $2 Million to $8 Million
Bridge Electric Corp. – FC2021

Electrical Contractors – Over $8 Million
Western Pacific Enterprises Ltd. – Edmonton Valley Line LRT

Manufacturers and Suppliers
View Inc. – Pyrrha Headquarters

Environmental and Sustainability Award
Evergreen Demolition Ltd. – Sortation Centre Buildout – YVR7 Rover
Graham Construction and Engineering LP – Sortation Centre Buildout – YVR7 Rover
Ledcor Construction Limited – 825 Pacific Passive House

Heritage Award
Grist Slate & Tile Roofing Inc. – Heritage Hall Roof Replacement and Partial Seismic Upgrade
Jacob Bros. Construction Inc. – Centerm Container Operations Facility (COF) Building
Ledcor Construction Limited – 155 Water Street
Scorpio Masonry BC Inc. – 155 Water Street
Scott Special Projects Ltd. – Heritage Hall Roof Replacement and Partial Seismic Upgrade
Unitech Construction Management Ltd. – Schou Administrative Building
Vintage Woodworks Inc. – 155 Water Street

Special award winners

In addition to the Gold Awards for project specific excellence, awards were also presented to member companies and individuals for outstanding accomplishments and to recognize innovation and commitment to safety.

Life Member inductees
Bob Proctor & Jim Bromley

Lifetime Achievement
Peter Hrdlitschka

Construction Workplace Health & Safety Innovation
Ledcor Construction Limited – Excavation Extraction Rescue System (EERS)

Safety: Superior Safety Record
• Canadian Turner Construction Company Ltd. (General Contractor 200,000 or more person hours)
• Cape Construction (2001) Ltd. (General Contractor 100,000 – 199,999 person hours)
• EllisDon Corporation (General Contractor 200,000 or more person hours)
• Gisborne Industrial Construction Ltd. (Trade Contractor 200,000 or more person hours)
• Modern Niagara Vancouver Inc. (Trade Contractor 200,000 or more person hours)
• Peter Kiewit Sons ULC (General Contractor 200,000 or more person hours)
• Western Pacific Enterprises Ltd. (Trade Contractor 200,000 or more person hours)

Safety: Zero Frequency Injury Rate
• Graham Construction and Engineering Inc. (General Contractor 200,000 or more person hours)
• Mott Electric General Partnership (Trade Contractor 200,000 or more person hours)
• Scott Construction Group (General Contractor 100,000 – 199,999 person hours)

Education Leadership
Ritu Ahuja – Kinetic Construction Ltd. 

Outstanding Woman in Construction
Kristine Szeto – EllisDon Corporation

YCL Excellence in Construction
Zack Ross – Cape Construction (2001) Ltd. 

Zero Emissions Building Leadership Award
Christian Cianfrone – EllisDon Corporation

Member of the Year Award
Smith Bros. & Wilson – General Contractor Division
Bridge Electric Corp – Trade Contractor Division
Victaulic – Manufacturer & Supplier Division
MNP – Professional Services Division

Key Takeaways:

  • The Stack, a 37-storey office tower, is officially a Zero Carbon Building.
  • Oxford achieved this through low carbon building systems, triple-pane glazing on all windows, rainwater management and enhanced air tightness and other methods.
  • Oxford says it wants to share its lessons from the project and encourage others in the industry to set high sustainability goals.

The Whole Story:

The Stack, a downtown Vancouver office tower, is making history. 

The project’s developer, Oxford Properties Group, announced that The Stack, has achieved the Canada Green Building Council’s Zero Carbon Building – Design standard certification. The 37-storey, 550,000 sq. ft. commercial office tower is Canada’s first commercial high-rise office tower to achieve this certification.

As well as being the first high-rise commercial office tower to achieve the certification, it is also the largest project in Canada to achieve it to date. Upon completion later this year, The Stack is set to become the tallest office building in Vancouver.

The project team includes Ledcor and it was designed by James K.M. Cheng Architects.

Size created bigger challenges

Oxford noted that the project’s size added to the technical complexities required to achieve the Zero Carbon Standard. The project team stated that they incorporated many innovative features that minimize carbon emissions, energy and water usage as well as landfill waste. These include low carbon building systems, triple-pane glazing on all windows, rainwater management and enhanced air tightness. On-site renewable energy will be achieved through the use of a rooftop photovoltaic solar panel array.

“Oxford’s purpose is to create economic and social value through real estate and The Stack embodies Oxford’s ongoing commitment to sustainability and decarbonization,” said Andrew O’Neil, vice president of development for Oxford. “The CaGBC certification is the culmination of over five years of planning to pioneer a new zero carbon framework in a high-rise and architecturally-significant office tower, all while juggling the demands of realizing an economically-viable commercial project for our stakeholders.”

A rendering shows the exterior of The Stack, a commercial office tower set to open later this year in Vancouver. – Oxford Properties

O’Neil added that the lessons learned from the project can now be applied to future projects, and shared with industry peers.

Oxford isn’t stopping there. The team is also targeting LEED v4 Platinum Core and Shell certification. Oxford plans to deploy smart building technology to provide insights on energy management, optimize building performance and enable preventative maintenance. The Stack will feature 250 bike parking stalls and club-quality fitness and change facilities for an exceptional customer experience. Oxford says this is meant to encourage wellness and promote sustainability. 

Reducing total carbon footprint 

The Stack is one part of a larger direction the company has been moving in. In 2015, Oxford set out to reduce its carbon footprint by 30 percent by 2025. Last year Oxford announced it had exceeded their goal, reducing its portfolio carbon intensity by 37 percent, four years ahead of schedule. Company officials explained that this was made possible by pioneering groundbreaking new developments that raise the bar on sustainability, investing in data and analytics to set hourly carbon targets for its properties and human solutions that encourage sustainable active transportation.

“Oxford continues to demonstrate leadership in lowering carbon emissions across their portfolio. The Stack is the first new high-rise office building to achieve CAGBC’s Zero Carbon Building – Design certification. With this stand out project, Oxford is setting a new benchmark for Canada’s top real estate owners,” said Thomas Mueller, president and CEO, Canada Green Building Council. “Shifting investor and market interests in carbon solutions, along with advances in technology and know-how, make it more feasible for Canada’s major real estate projects to follow suit. 

Sustainability is good for business 

The company noted that The Stack is set to become the latest in a line of landmark developments. These include Vancouver’s MNP Tower, 402 Dunsmuir and Riverbend Business Park, Manhattan’s St. John’s Terminal which was recently acquired by Google, The Leadenhall Building in London and Toronto’s Park Hyatt. The Stack is currently 70 per cent pre-leased.

“Oxford has strong conviction that best-in-class offices that are smart, wellness-focused and sustainable will continue to be highly desirable to occupiers and continue to outperform,” said Ted Mildon, senior director at Oxford. “There is a real need among businesses to ensure they are located in buildings that not only inspire and engage their workforce, but also actively contribute to their own ESG goals. As a result of our Zero Carbon certification, The Stack is uniquely positioned to do so in the Vancouver market.”

Key Takeaways:

  • Inflation continues to be an issue domestically and abroad.
  • Global growth is expected to slow in 2023 but perk up in 2024.
  • The bank expects that the policy interest rate will need to rise further.

The Whole Story:

Interest rates in Canada have once again gone up. 

The Bank of Canada announced it has increased its target for the overnight rate to 3.75 per cent, with the bank rate at 4 per cent and the deposit rate at 3.75 per cent. 

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the bank chopped the lending rate to almost nothing but has hiked its benchmark rate six times since March.

Bank officials noted that they also intend to continue their policy of quantitative tightening.

Inflation outside Canada is still high

“Inflation around the world remains high and broadly based,” stated bank officials in their rate hike announcement. “This reflects the strength of the global recovery from the pandemic, a series of global supply disruptions, and elevated commodity prices, particularly for energy, which have been pushed up by Russia’s attack on Ukraine. The strength of the US dollar is adding to inflationary pressures in many countries. Tighter monetary policies aimed at controlling inflation are weighing on economic activity around the world. As economies slow and supply disruptions ease, global inflation is expected to come down.”

Bank officials noted that labour markets in the U.S. remain very tight even as restrictive financial conditions are slowing economic activity. The bank projected no growth in the U.S. economy through most of next year. 

“In the euro area, the economy is forecast to contract in the quarters ahead, largely due to acute energy shortages,” said the bank. “China’s economy appears to have picked up after the recent round of pandemic lockdowns, although ongoing challenges related to its property market will continue to weigh on growth.”

Growth is expected to slow

Overall, the bank projects that global growth will slow from 3 per cent in 2022 to about 1.50 per cent in 2023, and then pick back up to roughly 2.50 per cent in 2024. This is a slower pace of growth than was projected in the Bank’s July Monetary Policy Report (MPR).

“In Canada, the economy continues to operate in excess demand and labour markets remain tight,” noted the bank. “The demand for goods and services is still running ahead of the economy’s ability to supply them, putting upward pressure on domestic inflation. Businesses continue to report widespread labour shortages and, with the full reopening of the economy, strong demand has led to a sharp rise in the price of services.”

Bank officials explained that the effects of recent policy rate increases are becoming evident in interest-sensitive areas of the economy: housing activity has retreated sharply, and spending by households and businesses is softening. Also, the slowdown in international demand is beginning to weigh on exports. Economic growth is expected to stall through the end of this year and the first half of next year as the effects of higher interest rates spread through the economy. The Bank projects GDP growth will slow from 3.25 per cent this year to just under 1 per cent next year and 2 per cent in 2024. 

Higher rates could help rebalance economy

In the last three months, CPI inflation has declined from 8.1 per cent to 6.9 per cent, primarily due to a fall in gasoline prices. However, price pressures remain broadly based, with two-thirds of CPI components increasing more than 5 per cent over the past year. The bank noted that its preferred measures of core inflation are not yet showing meaningful evidence that underlying price pressures are easing. 

“Near-term inflation expectations remain high, increasing the risk that elevated inflation becomes entrenched,” officials said.

The bank expects CPI inflation to ease as higher interest rates help rebalance demand and supply, price pressures from global supply disruptions fade, and the past effects of higher commodity prices dissipate. CPI inflation is projected to move down to about 3 per cent by the end of 2023, and then return to the 2 per cent target by the end of 2024.

“Given elevated inflation and inflation expectations, as well as ongoing demand pressures in the economy, the governing council expects that the policy interest rate will need to rise further,” officials said. “Future rate increases will be influenced by our assessments of how tighter monetary policy is working to slow demand, how supply challenges are resolving, and how inflation and inflation expectations are responding. Quantitative tightening is complementing increases in the policy rate. We are resolute in our commitment to restore price stability for Canadians and will continue to take action as required to achieve the 2 per cent inflation target.”

Inflation to worsen before improving

Experts at Avison Young, a global real estate firm, believe inflation is likely to get worse before it gets better and believe more modest rate increases could be on the way.

“The Bank of Canada is leading the charge by global central banks in raising interest rates to tackle inflation and had already aggressively raised rates by 300 bps this year prior to their latest announcement,” said Nick Axford, principal and chief economist at the firm. “The housing market is slowing sharply and growth across the economy as a whole has effectively come to a halt, with a recession now looking likely in the early part of 2023.

Axford explained that despite this, consumer spending remains robust and the labour market is still tight.

“Headline inflation has stabilised for now, but at around 7 per cent this is uncomfortably high – and is likely to rise again before it declines,” he said. “As a result, the Bank continues to focus on preventing a wage-price spiral and remains concerned about the high level of core inflation.” 

Rate hike to restrict credit flow

Axford noted that the rate increase was well above the bank’s estimate of the “neutral” rate of 2-3 per cent.

“This was below consensus expectations of a 75bps rise, given the strength of the latest consumer and retail sales data,” he said. “Looking ahead, we expect rates to be pushed up further, but in more modest increments with one or two 25bps hikes over the coming months. Markets are pricing a peak for rates at just below 4.5 per cent, sensing that the Bank will be reluctant to push beyond this level until they have seen the impact of previous rises.

According to Axford, these impacts likely won’t be broadly felt through the economy for 12 to 18 months. He believes interest rates should stabilise early in 2023 – provided that inflation starts to move sustainably downwards from the early part of next year.

“In the meantime, the latest increase coupled with the quantitative tightening that is also underway represents a significant tightening of financial conditions, which will restrict the flow of credit in the economy,” said Axford. “This will act as a further constraint on the commercial real estate sector and housing market, impacting both pricing and transaction volumes.”

Key Takeaways:

  • The changes are expected to make it easier, faster and cheaper to build housing.
  • Officials also want to encourage more rental and affordable housing construction.
  • Ontario is also looking to crack down on unethical builders, land speculators, empty homes and foreign buyers.

The Whole Story:

Ontario is looking to turbocharge home construction with new legislation.

This month the province unveiled legislation that, if passed, would support Ontario’s newest Housing Supply Action Plan, More Homes Built Faster. 

Officials explained that the plan is part of a long-term strategy to increase housing supply and address housing affordability.

“For too many Ontarians, including young people, newcomers, and seniors, finding the right home is still too challenging. This is not just a big-city crisis: the housing supply shortage affects all Ontarians, including rural, urban and suburban, north and south, young and old,” said Steve Clark, minister of municipal affairs and housing. “Our Housing Supply Action Plan is creating a strong foundation on which 1.5 million homes can be built over the next 10 years. Our government is following through on our commitment to Ontarians by cutting delays and red tape to get more homes built faster.”

Addressing the missing middle

Ontario is proposing changes to the Planning Act to create a new provincewide standard threshold for what’s allowed to be built by strengthening the additional residential unit framework. If passed, up to three residential units would be permitted “as of right” on most land zoned for one home in residential areas without needing a municipal by-law amendment. Depending on the property in question, these three units could all be within the existing residential structure or could take the form of a residence with an in-law or basement suite and a laneway or garden home. Officials noted that these new units must be compliant with the building code and municipal bylaws. These units would also be exempt from development charges and parkland dedication fees.

Building more homes near transit

Proposed changes to the Planning Act would help move towards “as-of-right” zoning to meet planned minimum density targets near major transit stations, reducing approval timelines and getting work started faster. Once the key development policies for major transit stations are approved, municipalities would be required to update their zoning by-laws within one year to meet minimum density targets.

Supporting affordable and rental housing

The province is proposing regulatory changes to provide certainty regarding inclusionary zoning rules, with a maximum 25-year affordability period, a five per cent cap on the number of inclusionary zoning units, and a standardized approach to determining the price or rent of an affordable unit under an inclusionary zoning program.

Officials also want to help streamline the construction and revitalization of aging rental housing stock. As it stands, under the Municipal Act and City of Toronto Act, municipalities may enact bylaws to prohibit and regulate the demolition or conversion of multi-unit residential rental properties of six units or more. These by-laws vary among municipalities and can include requirements that may limit access to housing or pose as barriers to creating housing supply. Ontario plans to begin consultations on potential regulations to enable greater standardization of these municipal by-laws, while ensuring that renter protections and landlord accountabilities remain in place.

Building attainable, affordable and non-profit housing

Officials stated that government charges and fees significantly impact the cost of housing – adding up to nearly $200,000 to the overall cost of building a home. Changes to the Planning Act, the Development Charges Act and the Conservation Authorities Act would freeze, reduce and exempt fees to spur the supply of new home construction. This includes ensuring affordable, and inclusionary zoning units, select attainable housing units, as well as non-profit housing developments, are exempt from municipal development charges, parkland dedication levies, and community benefits charges. Rental construction would also have reduced development charges and conservation authority fees for development permits and proposals would be temporarily frozen. Ontario is also undertaking a review of all other fees levied by provincial ministries, boards, agencies and commissions to determine what impact they may have on the cost of housing with the intent of further reducing, if not eliminating these fees altogether.

Streamlining processes

Proposed changes to the Planning Act would remove site plan control requirements for most projects with fewer than 10 residential units with some limited exceptions. Officials expect this to reduce the number of required approvals for small housing projects, speeding things up for all housing proposals, while building permits and robust building and fire code requirements would continue to protect public safety. Proposed streamlining changes also include focusing responsibility for land use policies and approvals in certain lower-tier municipalities to eliminate the time and costs associated with planning processes by upper-tier municipalities. The province explained that this would give the local community more influence over decisions that impact them directly, clarifying responsibilities and improving the efficiency of government services for citizens.

Improving the Ontario land tribunal 

Proposed legislative changes to the Ontario Land Tribunal Act are expected to speed up proceedings, resolve cases more efficiently and streamline processes. This includes allowing for regulations to prioritize cases that meet certain criteria , as well as to establish service standards. Proposed changes would also clarify the Tribunal’s powers to dismiss appeals due to unreasonable party delay or party failure to comply with a Tribunal order, as well as clarify the Tribunal’s powers to order an unsuccessful party to pay the successful party’s costs. Ontario would also invest $2.5 million in other resources to support faster dispute resolution and to help reduce the overall caseload at the Tribunal.

Creating an attainable housing program

Ontario plans to create a new program to support home ownership. The new program will leverage provincial authorities, surplus or underutilized lands, and commercial innovation and partnerships to rapidly build attainable homes in mixed-income communities that are accessible to all and will help families to build portable equity.

Protecting homebuyers

Ontario intends to double maximum fines for unethical builders and vendors of new homes who unfairly cancel projects or terminate purchase agreements. These proposed changes under the New Home Construction Licensing Act, would, if passed, increase existing maximum financial penalties from $25,000 to $50,000 per infraction, with no limit to additional monetary benefit penalties, and be retroactively imposed for contraventions that occurred on or after April 14, 2022. These changes would also enable the Home Construction Regulatory Authority to use funds from these penalties to provide money back to affected consumers, making Ontario the first jurisdiction in Canada to provide such funds to consumers. If passed, the amendments would come into force in early 2023.

Combatting land speculation

In January, during the Ontario-Municipal Housing Summit, Ontario’s mayors expressed concerns that lands planned for residential development are sitting empty because home builders are taking too long to complete their planning applications, delaying the creation of new homes. Ontario plans to work with industry partners to investigate the issue of land speculation and determine whether potential regulatory changes under the New Home Construction Licensing Act are needed.

Improving heritage and growth planning

Proposed changes to the Ontario Heritage Act would renew and update Ontario’s heritage policies and strengthen the criteria for heritage designation and update guidelines. Officials believe this would promote sustainable development that conserves and commemorates key places with heritage significance and provide municipalities with the clarity and flexibility needed to move forward with priority projects, including housing. Ontario will be consulting on how it manages natural heritage, including improving the management of wetlands, while supporting sustainable growth and development. Ontario will be seeking input on integrating A Place to Grow: Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe and the Provincial Policy Statement into a single, provincewide planning policy document. This review will also include consultation on how to address overlapping planning policies that could negatively impact precision in mapping and municipal planning.

Reducing taxes on affordable rental housing

The province is asking the federal government to partner with them on potential GST/HST incentives, including rebates, exemptions and deferrals, to support new ownership and rental housing development. 

Changing property tax for affordable and rental housing

Currently, property tax assessments for affordable rental housing are established using the same basis as regular market rental properties. Ontario plans to explore potential refinements to the assessment methodology used to assess affordable rental housing so that it better reflects the reduced rents that are received by these housing providers.

In addition, Ontario will consult with municipalities on potential approaches to reduce the current property tax burden on multi-residential apartment buildings in the province.

Addressing vacant homes

This winter, the province plans to conduct consultation on a policy framework setting out the key elements of local vacant home taxes. Officials noted that currently only a handful of municipalities have the authority to charge this tax on unoccupied residential units to incentivize owners to sell or rent them out. A provincial-municipal working group will be established to consult on this framework, and to facilitate sharing information and best practices.

Strengthening the Non-Resident Speculation Tax

At 25 per provincewide, Ontario noted that it now has the highest and most comprehensive Non-Resident Speculation Tax (NRST) in the country. This initiative is meant to further discourage foreign speculation in Ontario’s housing market.

Key Takeaways:

  • Climate change is making wildfire risk higher.
  • Officials are looking to identify high wildfire risk areas near people and cities that could benefit from fire prevention efforts.
  • In some cases, this means partnering with forest products companies to harness logging activity for fire prevention.

The Whole Story:

Nope, it’s not just haunted house fog that wafted through Metro Vancouver this October. Once again, B.C. residents were blanketed in wildfire smoke. 

But experts say the country isn’t helpless when it comes to addressing wildfire risks and the wood products industry can play a role in keeping skies clear and communities safe. 

Kate Lindsay, senior vice president and chief sustainability officer at Forestry Products Association of Canada, explained that climate change is creating conditions for hotter, less controllable wildfires. 

“That’s what we have seen, particularly in B.C., but we are seeing it in all parts of Canada to be honest,” she said. 

Lindsay noted that B.C. recently updated forestry law to identify wildland fire urban interface areas (WUIs). These are lines, areas, or zones where structures and other human development meet or intermingle with undeveloped wildland or vegetative fuels.

“What the B.C. government has done is allowed those WUIs to have flammability ratings done, so some will be more flammable and a higher risk for fire,” said Lindsay. “The hope is that this will allow forest managers to take those high-risk WUIs into consideration for thinning and fire break creation.”

And after trees are harvested, more fire-resistant species can be planted in their place. 

These efforts can be partnered with programs like FireSmart, which seeks to improve communication with stakeholders; and to organize programs and assets into a logical, manageable structure based on three pillars – homeowners, neighbourhoods and communities.

“It’s about people understanding what the risks are around wildfires and the steps they can take to mitigate wildfire risk,” she said. “It’s a whole-of-society approach that works at multiple scales: homeowner, community and landscape scale.” 

Parks Canada chronicles how it partnered with Canfor to reduce fire risk around Jasper, Alta. with logging. – Parks Canada

In some cases, this can lead to beneficial partnerships with the forest products sector. Lindsay cited a recent example of this in Jasper, Alta. Beginning in late 2018, Parks Canada contracted Canfor, a forestry products company, to log dead and dying trees in mountain pine beetle affected forest west of the city in an area known as Pyramid Bench. 

“People want to have nature be relatively free from human intervention, but what we are finding is that national parks are under a lot of climate change stress,” said Lindsay.

David Argument, resource management officer for Jasper national park, explained in a video on the project that the city was too close to the affected area for safe prescribed burns.

“Logging at this scale in a national park is not something that we really do, so we had to weigh the visitor impacts and ecological integrity of the site with the need to reduce the fire risk.

Kari Stuart-Smith, senior forest scientist at Canfor, explained that the project included strict requirements to limit impacts to the soil, animals and trails. 

“One of the key lessons from this project is that logging can be used to reduce the fuel hazard in extremely sensitive areas,” she said.

Fluor Corporation has been awarded a contract to help design one of the largest renewable diesel production facilities in the country. 

The company won a reimbursable front-end engineering and detailed design, engineering and procurement services contract for Imperial as the company advances plans to develop a renewable diesel complex at its Strathcona refinery near Edmonton.

The new complex is expected to be the largest renewable diesel production facility in Canada and aims to produce approximately 20,000 barrels of renewable diesel per day from locally sourced feedstocks.

Fluor will design and integrate a new renewable diesel unit into the existing Strathcona refinery. The integration will include a series of utility tie-ins, electrical and control systems integration as well as commodity storage, loading and unloading capabilities.

Fluor booked the undisclosed contract value in the third quarter of 2022.

“Our involvement in this project underscores our ongoing commitment to helping clients deliver sustainable and lower carbon energy,” said Jim Breuer, group president, energy solutions, Fluor Corporation. “By combining Fluor’s global renewables engineering and construction expertise with the company’s extensive local knowledge, Fluor will provide a robust modular execution approach for this project.”

According to Imperial, the Strathcona refinery has been in operation for more than 70 years. It processes 200,000 barrels of crude oil each day.

Key Takeaways:

  • Pitt Meadows Plumbing & Mechanical Systems (PMP) is acquiring WQC Mechanical in an effort to combine labour forces.
  • Company officials explained the size of projects in B.C. is making larger workforces more and more necessary.
  • They believe this will spur other companies to consolidate.

The Whole Story:

WQC Mechanical is merging with Pitt Meadows Plumbing & Mechanical Systems (PMP). 

PMP officials explained that the move is part of its strategies to grow its workforce and they believe that acquisitions like this will become more common as projects continue to require more and more labour. 

“Like everybody else, the shortage of skilled trades workers is impacting us,” said James Zelinski, chief administrative officer for PMP.

The B.C. mechanical contractor is currently working on large-scale projects like Gilmore Place, Richmond Centre and City of Lougheed. 

The merger with WQC Mechanical was first discussed roughly a year ago when WQC was looking to be acquired. Someone from Pitt Meadows Plumbing & Mechanical Systems then introduced the team to a contact at WQC. 

“We had already been considering a more formalized strategy of growth through acquisition so it made sense when we started these conversations,” said Zelinski. “They have a whole bunch of skilled people – apprentices and red seal plumbers and we saw synergies around what we both do. They are smaller than us but are just a great group of tradespeople.” 

PMP is currently in the process of on-boarding roughly 30 new trades workers. Part of the deal is that WQC will finish all the work on its books before completely transitioning its workforce. 

Zelinski explained that the acquisition process allowed the company to greatly increase its workforce in one move rather than having to devise a more complex worker attraction strategy through trade shows, LinkedIn or Indeed. 

He noted that not only does Pitt Meadows offer competitive wages, full pensions and benefits, but workers will be able to do larger, more complex jobs and broaden their experience. 

Going forward, acquisition will continue to be part of PMP’s strategy for growth. And Zelinksi believes that the industry as a whole will see more consolidation. 

“We think the industry is going to consolidate,” he said. “I think the big players will just get bigger and that’s partly because the jobs are getting bigger and more complicated. The number of people needed for one job might be 75 or 80. They are so big. The jobs in Vancouver aren’t getting smaller. They are getting bigger. So access to skilled trades is more and more important.”

Key Takeaways:

  • Institutional construction investment in B.C. has dropped nearly 11 per cent while labour and material costs have continued to rise.
  • The industry is seeing its lowest unemployment rate since 1976 and the number of trades people has dropped five per cent during the past three years.
  • Contractors continue to see payment delays of 90-120 days.

The Whole Story:

The BC Construction Association is calling their latest batch of data a reversal of fortunes that shows heavy pressure on the construction sector.  

The statistics reported in the Fall 2022 BC Construction Association (BCCA) Industry Stat Pack, combined with findings from a new economic and policy report published this month by the organization, show a difficult road being tread by the province’s builders. 

The complete Stat Pack, Economic Report from Sage Policy Group and more information can be found here.

High costs and declining demand

Investment in B.C.’s industrial, commercial, and institutional (ICI) construction sectors is down 10.9 per cent since February 2020, while the non-residential building price index spiked 19.6 per cent.

Rising prices led to the largest industry in B.C.’s goods sector growing 10 per cent in dollar value despite the decrease in demand, contributing 9.7 per cent of provincial GDP. Construction has seen a massive 80 per cent increase in the value of current projects compared to five years ago.

The BCCA noted that contractors are struggling to balance declining commercial demand with rising costs of materials and labour, even as waning procurement standards on public sector projects add to project risk.

“The construction industry is massive, essential, and struggling”

BCCA President Chris Atchison

B.C. is also seeing its lowest construction unemployment rate since 1976 at 5.7 per cent, with the competition for talent sending average construction skyrocketing 26 per cent since 2017 and 11 per cent since last year alone. The 2022 jump includes a 2 per cent increase due to the 5 days mandatory paid sick leave legislated this past January.

Prompt payment still elusive 

The BCCA also expressed frustration that the provincial government has yet to deliver on prompt payment legislation. They noted that contractors regularly wait 90-120 days to be paid, put them in extreme financial jeopardy.

“Waiting to be paid is getting even more expensive” said Chris Atchison, BCCA president. “Slow payment for services rendered is unique to our industry, and with costs of goods, labour, and borrowing all rising, many BC contractors are reaching crisis.  Prompt payment legislation is not experimental, it is proven. Unlocking cash flow is an economic necessity and in the best interests of every community in BC.”

Labour grows more scarce 

According to BCCA data, the number of ICI construction companies in B.C. has grown to 26,262 but the number of tradespeople in the industry has dropped 5 per cent over three years. The average company size has shrunk 7 per cent over the last three years to an average of 6.53 workers.

Women comprise 5.7 per cent of tradespeople, an increase of 24 per cent since 2017 but a year-over-year decrease of 8 per cent.

“The construction industry is massive, essential, and struggling” said Atchison.  “Make no mistake: many employers are reaching a breaking point. The urgent need for more housing and other infrastructure development hangs in the balance.”

From sightings of spectral figures to the sounds of phantom footsteps, be sure to keep the lights on during this read on the strange haunted happenings at these storied Canadian structures.

1. Fairmont Empress Hotel (Victoria, B.C.) 

The Fairmont Empress sits right on the water in Victoria and is an example of picturesque Château-style design. – Bobak Ha’Eri

This hotel is a favourite B.C. spot for fancy brunch dates and luxurious vacations. However, some say it is occupied by more than just mortal guests. Staff have reported seeing a slender man with a mustache holding a cane walking on the staircase to the lower lobby and down hallways. They believe it resembles the iconic hotel’s architect, Francis Rattenbury. It’s said he remains at the building so he can continue to hear visitors praise his design. Staff have also reported seeing a ghostly maid continuing to clean up, a young girl, and an elderly woman in pyjamas trying to find her room. 

2. Toronto Hockey Hall of Fame (Toronto, Ont.)

Formerly a bank, this building now houses the Hockey Hall of Fame. – Ian Mutto

The chill of an ice rink has nothing on this. According to the Toronto Star, the building was used as a Bank of Montreal branch for a century before it was home to the Hockey Hall of Fame. Residents and visitors have reported seeing a young woman that some believe resembles a former bank teller. 

3. West Point Lighthouse (O’Leary, P.E.I)

West Point Lighthouse
It’s been a long time since this lighthouse helped bring ships in. It now serves as an inn and museum. – Government of PEI

Does a lighthouse keeper’s shift ever end? Some believe that long gone keepers have been sticking around in P.E.I. There have been reports of flickering lights and images of bearded men roaming the rooms. While the building now serves as an inn and museum, could long lost souls still be trying to help ships find their way? 

4. Fairmont Banff Springs (Banff, Alta.)

At 129 years old, this building has seen a lot of history. There have been reports of a spectral bride who lurks the hotel’s halls. Legend has it she had a fatal accident on the marble steps on the day of her wedding and has never left. Staff have also reported seeing the ghostly image of a helpful bellman. 

5. Waterfront Station (Vancouver, B.C.)

This shot from 1972 shows Waterfront Station – a familiar sight for all who ride Vancouver’s SkyTrain. – City of Vancouver Archives

Eternity is a long time to wait for a train to arrive. Located right in the heart of downtown Vancouver, this historic station has seen millions pass through its doors. Passengers have reported seeing three women waiting for a train to arrive and a jazz-era flapper dancing the night away. 

6. Kingston Penitentiary (Kingston, Ont.)

While it’s no longer used as a prison, Kingston Penitentiary can be toured by the public. – Government of Canada

Is there something longer than a life sentence? This facility housed inmates for 170 years before it closed in 2013 due to aging infrastructure. Visitors and staff report hearing the jingling of keys or seeing angry inmates roam the halls. Some say they have seen the ghostly image of William Wentworth, a former prison staff member. While there are no more inmates, the facility is open to the public for tours. 

7. Bytown Museum (Ottawa, Ont.)

Bytown Museum
As Ottawa’s oldest stone building, Bytown museum has withstood the test of time. – Government of Canada

Some say this Ottawa structure is haunted by the ghost of Rideau Canal construction-era supply manager Duncan McNab. A former museum volunteer told reporters he saw a door begin vibrating and heard the sound of heavy footsteps. Other incidents include reports of crying dolls. Yikes!

Key Takeaways:

  • The projects include work at Hospital of Chicoutimi, Sept-Îles Hospital and the Charles Le Moyne Hospital.
  • The work includes providing design and engineering, site surveillance, building information modelling management and value engineering services during the next five years.
  • Officials say the work will increase capacity and improve patient care.

The Whole Story:

SNC-Lavalin has been awarded a series of three contracts with the Société Québécoise des infrastructures (Quebec Infrastructure Corporation), to strengthen hospital infrastructure at sites across Quebec. 

Major expansion and redevelopment work will take place at the Hospital of Chicoutimi, Sept-Îles Hospital, and the Charles Le Moyne Hospital. A central focus of the projects will be expansions and redevelopments of operating rooms and specialized care units at the facilities.

“SNC-Lavalin has a long history of working on projects that have a unique and long-lasting impact on the cities and communities it serves in Canada and around the world,” said Ian L. Edwards, president and CEO of SNC-Lavalin. “We know that governments are investing heavily in infrastructure, including public investment in healthcare, and we’re well positioned to capture a healthy portion of that spend as we have the regional and global expertise of our Engineering Services business across healthcare and life sciences.”

SNC-Lavalin’s Engineering Services group, and its consortium partners, will support Société Québécoise des infrastructures by providing design and engineering, site surveillance, building information modelling management, and value engineering services during the next five years. SNC-Lavalin will also be supporting efforts to achieve LEED building environmental certifications, in recognition of portfolio decarbonization at the three sites. The cross-functional project teams, based out of the Company’s hubs in Montreal and Quebec City, will be composed of structural, civil, mechanical, and electrical engineers with significant hospital project experience.

“Expansion and modernization work at these three hospitals will measurably increase capacity and improve patient care in the province,” said Ben Almond, CEO, engineering services, Canada, SNC-Lavalin. “Our track record executing projects such as these in Quebec is well known as we have delivered much of the province’s healthcare infrastructure. And as hospital emergency room capacity remains strained across Canada, we are ready to support other public sector partners with expansion and optimization projects.”

Key Takeaways:

  • Skilled Trades Ontario, a new agency to oversee and boost trades training, launched earlier this year.
  • Many processes for trades training in Ontario have begun moving online.
  • Officials say more changes are on the way to modernize the provinces apprenticeship and training systems.

The Whole Story:

Efforts to modernize trades training and attract new skilled workers are ramping up in Ontario.

The Ontario government announced it will be hosting  career fairs this fall to address labour shortages in high-demand sectors. The apprenticeship system has also undergone a complete transformation with the launch of Skilled Trades Ontario (STO).

Melissa Young, CEO and registrar for STO, explained that the new agency was built to modernize and streamline the trades training process. 

“The old system was very convoluted,” said Young. “Apprentices had to make so many different stops. It was the most confusing thing anyone could experience in their life. You register in one office, get your log book in a different office – it was five or six stops and you have to go through that every year.” 

STO, which replaced the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT), is moving many processes online. They recently announced that logbooks will be digital. This allows apprentices to electronically track their progress, instead of carrying paper books. This new online solution coincides with the launch of the agency’s official logo and branding, now on their website.

“Apprentices can go see where they are at and employers can update apprentice hours on the job,” said Young. “It’s just going to make life so much easier.” 

Young explained that STO is wanting to send a message that construction is a high tech, modern industry. 

They will take a warm body as long as they show up in the morning. Just getting them through that door though is hard. We have some marketing work to do.”

Melissa Young – Skilled Trades Ontario CEO

“Technology is really coming to the forefront of the trades on the jobsite,” she said. “There are new types of technology and products being used today that were never used before. The perception of construction is starting to take a positive turn I think.” 

Ontario is a massive part of Canada’s apprenticeship pipeline. Young noted that of the roughly 380,000 apprentices in Canada, 25 per cent are in Ontario. 

“It’s the same for investment in infrastructure,” she said. “Things are behind because there aren’t enough people to get the jobs done. That’s a common theme from employers. They will take a warm body as long as they show up in the morning. Just getting them through that door though is hard. We have some marketing work to do.”

Young couldn’t elaborate on what the next steps for STO are, but emphasized that many things are in the works.

“Ontario has been lagging with the winding down of OCOT,” said Young. “Skilled trades were kind of put on pause with curriculum and standards development so we are putting a heavy push on that and you will hear about it in the future.”

Young encouraged Ontario residents to check out the upcoming Level Up! career fairs which will highlight 144 different skilled trades. For the first time, students in grades 7 to 12 will have the opportunity to learn about these trades through interactive exhibitions and hands-on activities, while hearing directly from tradespeople and local employers about trades careers.

“Ontario is facing the largest labour shortage in a generation, which means when you have a job in the skilled trades, you have a job for life,” said Monte McNaughton, minister of labour, immigration, training and skills development in a press release. “Our government is launching these annual career fairs so more students and parents know university isn’t the only path to success. We will continue to make historic investments to attract more young people to rewarding, lucrative and purpose-driven careers in the trades, and ensure employers can find the skilled workers they need to grow their businesses and our economy.”

The first career fair kicks off October 25 to 27 in Mississauga, with subsequent fairs planned in London, Sudbury, Ottawa and Thunder Bay.

“We are on a mission to fill the skills gap by better connecting and ultimately inspiring Ontario students to enter these good-paying jobs that are in demand. We are expanding career fairs and enhancing pathways to apprenticeship throughout the curriculum,” said Stephen Lecce, minister of education in a press release. “By placing a real emphasis on life and job skills like coding, financial literacy and budgeting, we are ensuring Ontario students graduate with a competitive advantage and land good-paying jobs.”

Key Takeaways:

  • Calgary and Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation are looking to start fresh after previous plans fell apart.
  • Moving forward, the city will be represented by CAA ICON which will get support from Altus Group’s local office.
  • Officials believe a new arena could help revitalize the city’s downtown.

The Whole Story:

Calgary is looking for a fresh start on plans to build a new event centre. 

City officials and the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC) announced that they have agreed to begin formal discussions with a fresh start towards a new event centre.

“We’re at the beginning of an important stage,” said Councillor Sonya Sharp, chair of the Event Centre Committee. “A new event centre for our city will attract investment and international events. It will have enormous benefits for visitors and for Calgarians. We look forward to working with CSEC for our mutual benefit and for a result that works for everyone.”

Moving forward, the city will now be represented by CAA ICON, who officials say are experts in structuring deals for major sports and entertainment venues in North America and Europe. CAA ICON will have local support from Altus Group’s Calgary office.

Officials noted that CAA ICON has experience representing municipalities, as well as sports teams, in structuring deals and developing financing plans for event centres, stadiums and other public assembly facilities.

“This new team has the right expertise to get the best outcome possible for Calgary,” said Sharp. “Our environment has changed quite a bit over the past couple years. With everything we have learned, I am confident that CAA ICON representing The City is our best path forward and reflects how important this project is.”

The city and CSEC stated that they believe time is of the essence to reach a formal agreement on a new event centre, while ensuring they take the time necessary to reach an agreement that will meet Calgary’s and CSEC’s needs.

“I must emphasize this point,” said Stuart Dalgleish, general manager of planning and development services for the city. “We must do this right, which means we will need space and we will need time to work on a successful agreement. We will be keeping our discussions confidential and reporting to the Event Centre Committee when the time is right.”

The new facility will be a year-round community destination the city believes could  attract people, events, investment and development. Home to the Calgary Flames and other professional sport teams, the new event centre will host global and local art and entertainment events.

Work on an events centre was set to start earlier this year, but the deal was terminated over budget disputes.

Key Takeaways:

  • Manitoba will skip 2015 codes to give industry more time to adapt to 2020 standards.
  • The province currently is using 2010 codes.
  • The switch to 2020 codes will happen six months sooner than required.

The Whole Story:

Manitoba is looking to get ahead of the pack when it comes to national building requirements.

The province announced it will adopt the 2020 editions of the national model building, plumbing, fire and energy codes, published by the National Research Council, earlier than required by legislation and “as soon as practically possible.” 

Officials explained they are doing this in response to industry feedback on proposed changes to the regulations.

“Following feedback from industry and other stakeholders, our government has chosen to adopt the 2020 national standards, thereby bypassing the 2015 editions, to give those professionals sufficient time to gain familiarity with the 2020 codes,” said Reg Helwer, consumer protection and government services minister. “The adoption of the 2020 editions will benefit industry in Manitoba through reduced costs and improved competitiveness, which will help strengthen our province’s economy.”

The province explained that its approach will update Manitoba’s construction and fire codes to the 2020 editions approximately six months earlier than required under Canadian Free Trade Agreement commitments for harmonized and timely adoption of national model codes. Officials believe this will avoid duplication of learning and overhead investment that adoption of the 2015 editions would have presented. 

The Manitoba Building Code, Manitoba Plumbing Code and Manitoba Fire Code regulations currently adopt the 2010 editions of the national model codes. The Manitoba Energy Code for Buildings regulation currently adopts the 2011 edition of the National Energy Code for Buildings.

An engagement with industry was conducted between June 29 and Aug. 17, with the results indicating an accelerated adoption of the 2020 standards is preferred rather than a two-step adoption of the 2015 editions followed shortly afterwards by the adoption of the 2020 editions.

The province stated that engagement will continue with key industry stakeholders on adoption of the 2020 national standards. Hewler noted that adding the publishing of regulation changes with ample notice will allow industry sufficient time to adjust to the updated codes.

Key Takeaways:

  • Construction recorded its lowest ever level of unemployment this summer.
  • BuildForce Canada anticipates 113,000 workers will need to be added by 2027.
  • To address the issue, the CCA has been working on a series of recruitment initiatives and is calling on government to take action.

The Whole Story:

The Canadian Construction Association (CCA) is sounding  the alarm on unprecedented demand for scarce construction labour. 

“Canada is facing its most severe labour shortage in over 50 years – nearly 1 million jobs are unfilled,” said Mary Van Buren, CCA president, in a statement to media. “The situation is especially acute for the construction sector – we have over 81,000 openings now. This also means the essential infrastructure projects that 38 million Canadians rely on every day risk being cancelled or delayed.”

The CCA urged everyone in the industry to join its ‘Rebuild Canada’s workforce NOW’ campaign. The campaign will see industry representatives meet with parliamentarians for CCA’s Hill Day on Nov. 15 where they will urge the federal government to:

  • modernize Canada’s immigration policy and point system to better recognize tradespeople and construction labourers.
  • work with the provinces to ensure skills matching is properly funded and supported; and
  • update the Temporary Foreign Worker program to allow seamless access for the construction industry.

The group stated that the demand for labour in non-residential construction is increasing thanks to the post-pandemic boom experienced by the construction industry.

The CCA cited data that shows job vacancies currently sitting at 84,585 while the value of monthly building permits reaching $3.9 billion. That’s a 17 per cent increase over its highest recorded level seen since 2019.

BuildForce Canada forecasts that given the current demand for non-residential construction, the industry will need to add 113,100 workers by 2027. The first 35,500 workers will be needed to meet the rising demand, while the remaining 77,600 are required to make up for the same number of workers set to retire over the same period.

A graph charts construction employment from 2016 to 2022. – Canadian Construction Association

“This may prove difficult in current market conditions,” said the CCA in an announcement, noting that a July report by Statistics Canada the construction industry documented its lowest ever level of unemployment. 

“Low levels of unemployment indicate the supply of workers is insufficient to fill current vacancies,” said the association. “Given this trend, the construction industry is already facing the negative impacts of low unemployment, which include greater difficulties in recruitment and retention, lower productivity gains, and rapid wage growth.”

The group added that the construction sector contributes $152 billion, or 7.5 per cent of Canada’s GDP, annually. 

“The industry has immense growth potential but is facing fierce competition for talent,” CCA officials said. 

CCA has been working on several initiatives to build a pipeline of skilled, unskilled, and professional talent. Our Talent Fits Here initiative is a national public awareness campaign designed to attract workers by positioning construction as a career of choice. The association is also advocating for changes to the Canadian immigration system to facilitate the entry of skilled immigrants interested in working in the construction sector.

“The future of Canada’s economic growth depends on our ability to attract, develop, and retain top talent,” they said. 

When electrical engineer Supneet Chawla arrived in Canada from India, she had to start from scratch and there was nobody to help guide her. When she saw other immigrants struggling, she began ACE Community College in her mother’s garage.

Over 17 years later the Surrey, B.C. school has helped more than 10,000 students, mostly immigrants like Chawla, get trades training and pass their red seal exams. She believes that the right training and the right connections is key to helping immigrants get high paying trades careers. 

SiteNews chatted with Chawla to get her thoughts on the challenges immigrant works face and how they can be brought into the construction sector. 

What role can new Canadians play in filling trades roles?

Chawla: “A lot of immigrants come with very big dreams. They have often left high paying jobs for a better life here. They will try to get their basic expenses paid and that’s when they knock on doors at retail stores, gas stations and they will try to get those jobs rather than looking for a career. Imagine a person with a family to support. They want to pay their rent. And that person gets sucked into a regular paying job and away from their real career. They have the skills but their dreams get crushed very quickly.” 

What challenges do new Canadians face when they come to Canada?

Chawla: The biggest thing I see for people is language. It’s a big factor. For me, 25 years ago, there was no internet and no cell phones when I landed. Research wasn’t as easily available as it is now. For immigrants now the number one challenge is language. They also come with responsibilities that they have to deliver on. And they also don’t come with a lot of money and it is so expensive these days. A one bedroom basement suite can be $1,500 and if you have kids you need a two bedroom basement suite. The living expenses are so high, that they have to start a job doing whatever they can get.”  

What challenges do new Canadians face when trying to enter the trades?

Chawla: “The biggest challenge for a lot of people is the time commitment, the money commitment and the language commitment. Coming up with money for a $1,000 to $2,000 program. They don’t have that much money but the government has a lot of grants available. They just have to come to the campus so we can help them with those avenues of money that are available to a new immigrant. For language, the Industry Training Authority (ITA) allows you to bring a translator to exams or training. That comes in handy. For all our programs, people can bring their wife or child or anybody who speaks both languages comfortably to help them understand the content. Now when it comes to time they have to work that out for themselves. They can’t get sucked up into the nine-to-five job. They have to have a bigger vision. Commitment of time is the biggest. The other two we can help them get there. But they have to commit the time and show up at the campus. 

What do you want employers to know about immigrants 

Chawla: “Do not underestimate them just because they came from another country. Give them a chance and test the waters for a week. But do not underpay them just because they are an immigrant. This person may be an immigrant now, but in ten years they may feel that they weren’t treated fairly at their first job. Give them a good first experience of being in a good environment, pay them a fair salary. Make sure they have all the resources to do the job and give them an opportunity. 

Do immigrants often get paid less than others?

Chawla: I feel that as an immigrant you are desperate and an employer sees that. I’m an employer myself and whenever I meet potential new employees, what is most important is what they want. Of course I want good work, but what do they want? If I can deliver to your needs, you will deliver for my needs. Any relationship, no matter if it is business or family, it has to be a win-win. That is the only way it works. If I can’t deliver as an employer, how are you going to deliver as an employee? So it’s really important you pay a decent salary so they can do a decent job, give them decent working conditions and not undermine them because they are an immigrant and they were desperate for a job.  

What impact do trades careers have on your clients’ lives?

Chawla: The way I see it, when immigrants come to this country they are like a seed and they want to become a plant. If the seed is healthy, the plant will flourish. I see myself inputting into their lives so the seed can be sown in the right spot so their lives are flourishing. If you have a poor beginning, chances are that your end will be bad as well. Training brings that value to them. As an immigrant, that is where I take my pride. And as a college owner this is something very important to my heart. I sleep well at night thinking about the people we have helped get to a career given the tools and techniques to flourish.

What does it mean to you to be woman of colour and immigrant in the trades?

Chawla:For me it is a satisfaction as a woman. I take so much pride in where I am today. And it didn’t come easy. There were no long weekends. In 17 years I’ve never had a Saturday because I’m always teaching Saturdays. It comes down to this satisfaction that I get from helping people in a way that I couldn’t get when I came here. I was lost when I came and I had nowhere to turn to figure this out. I had to go through so many hoops to get where I wanted. As a woman of colour, when I see these people doing so much better in life and having some input in that, it makes me feel really good. I would not have done anything differently. I love education and I believe that without education we are nobody. And that’s not just a degree, it’s being aware of what’s out there, what resources are available and what I can do to have a better life. That comes through education. Our mind thinks differently once we are educated.” 

Ever wonder what engineers, CEOs and tradespeople listen to at work? Now you don’t have to. We reached out to every corner of the sector for this special Spotify playlist. Throw it on at the jobsite, in the office or while you’re on the road.

1. Mary Van Buren, Canadian Construction Association President

  • Unstoppable – Sia

Great motivator to kick off the day.

Van Buren

2. Shane McKernan, Director of Construction at Chard Development

  • Die Hard – Kendrick Lamar

My go-to song to crush work to.


3. Sebastien de Ghellinck, SkillSignal Founder and Owner

  • Sabotage – Beastie Boys

I’ve been a Beastie Boys fan since I was 14. My absolute favourite is Sabotage. That song is 200 per cent pure energy and fun. It can pick me up in any mood I find myself stranded in and never ever gets old.

de Ghellinck

4. Rory Kulmala, Vancouver Island Construction Association CEO

  • Friends in Low Places – Garth Brooks

Always been one of my favourites! Serenaded my wife with this song some 20+ years ago 😊

– Kulmala

5. Nicholas Tountas – Sheet metal worker at Orzech Heating and Cooling

  • Take ‘Em Down – Dropkick Murphys

I’m a diehard Dropkick Murphys fan and most of their music is obscure to most people.  What the Murphys stand for resonates with me more than any singular song. They’re a very pro-union and pro-worker’s rights band and one song in particular, “Take ‘em Down”, really solidifies their views on the power of organizing and protecting your rights. It’s an older song, but the message is one that never ages. 


6. Erik Backstrom – City of Edmonton Senior Planner

  • Light Up My Room – Barenaked Ladies

A romantically-infused reflection on urban infrastructure that has always resonated with me.

– Backstrom

7. Thomas Bamber – Air + Light Technical Lead for Integral Group

  • Soul Brother – Dalton

This is just a really great song. That’s all I really have to say. I don’t know who Dalton is. It’s been used in a couple of mixes I found here and there and I Shazam’d it and it’s just the nuts.

– Bamber

8. Michael Scott, Vice President of Impact Recruitment’s Building Division

  • Jane Says – Jane’s Addiction

Love how such  a powerful band and sounds can produce something this chill and melodic but still has deep meaning behind it. Great driving song!

– Scott

9. Russell Hixson, SiteNews Editor

  • The Less I Know the Better – Tame Impala

This song is such a vibe. It just flows and puts me in a very calm mood. Great to listen to while I’m writing up notes or doing research.

– Hixson

*Editor’s Note – Listen to the whole Spotify playlist here. This is the first part of a three-part series that will highlight different media recommendations by construction leaders. To make sure you don’t miss out, subscribe to our newsletter below.

Key Takeaways:

  • RBC Bank expects a moderate recession to hit in the first quarter of 2023.
  • If inflation can’t slow sustainably, more rate hikes could come and the recession could deepen.
  • The manufacturing sector will likely be the first to pull back when the recession hits.

The Whole Story:

A moderate recession could creep into Canada sooner than expected.

The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) believes that the downturn could hit as early as the first quarter of next year. 

Previously, the bank projected a moderate recession for Canada’s economy in the second quarter of 2023. They now believe this downturn will arrive as early as the first quarter of next year.

RBC added that higher prices and interest rates will trim $3,000 off the average household’s purchasing power, weighing on goods purchases.

The bank expects the jobless rate to approach 7 per cent while remaining less severe than in previous downturns.

RBC experts added that as debt-servicing costs increase and purchasing power declines, lower income Canadians – many already adjusting to the loss of pandemic support – will be hit hardest.

One of the main points RBC made was that no matter when the recession hits, it won’t be felt equally by all. 

“The manufacturing sector will likely be among the first to pull back while some high-contact service sectors like travel and hospitality could prove more resilient than in a ‘normal’ historical recession,” wrote RBC experts.

The bank noted that they have already seen cracks forming in the economy, including a sharply cooled housing market and an aggressive rate-hiking cycle by central banks. RBC added that while labour markets remain strong, employment is down by 92,000 over the last four months.

“While the Bank of Canada is expected to lift the overnight rate to 4 per cent, the U.S. Federal Reserve will likely hike to between 4.5 per cent and 4.75 per cent by early 2023,” wrote bank experts. “These factors will hasten the arrival of a recession in Canada.”

RBC experts explained that what happens next will depend on a range of factors, with interest rate increases the most significant among them. 

“Central banks will be reluctant to throw in the towel on rate hikes before they are confident that inflation will slow sustainably,” they wrote. “We expect the Bank of Canada to pause its rate-hiking cycle in late 2022 followed by the Fed in early 2023.”

They noted that this is contingent on inflation pressures easing. 

“More stubborn inflation trends over the coming months could yet prompt additional hikes, and a potentially larger decline in household consumption and a deeper recession,” they added.

Key Takeaways:

  • The project has also seen huge donations from the Audain Foundation, the Chan Foundation and the federal government.
  • It would be the first passive house art gallery in North America and incorporate mass timber materials into the design.
  • The province anticipates work will generate 3,000 construction jobs.

The Whole Story:

B.C. is a big patron of the arts.

Officials announced an additional $50 million in funding to help build a new home for the Vancouver Art Gallery.

This is the second investment by the province toward the new gallery. In 2008, the B.C. government provided $50 million for a total investment of $100 million This project has received more than $190 million in private donations, including $100 million from the Audain Foundation in 2021 and $40 million from the Chan Foundation in 2019.

“The Vancouver Art Gallery is a flagship cultural institution in B.C., and we are proud to provide this additional investment to make this new building a reality,” said Lisa Beare, minister of tourism, arts, culture and sport. “The new gallery will be a social, artistic and commercial hub and will enrich tourism and cultural experiences in the region for residents and visitors alike. I’m especially pleased with the collaborative partnership with four local Indigenous artists to design the building exterior. Once built, it is sure to draw global attention as the largest building to reflect Coast Salish culture in the world.”

The building façade was designed through collaboration with Coast Salish artists Debra Sparrow, Skwetsimeltxw Willard (Buddy) Joseph, Hereditary Chief Chepximiya Siyam’ Janice George and Angela George, and Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron, with Vancouver architects Perkins & Will. 

The exterior of the building is informed by a Coast Salish world view through consultation with Indigenous artists from the host Nation.

According to the province, mass timber will be featured as part of the construction to reduce the building’s carbon footprint. The new gallery will be the first Passive House art gallery in North America and will be the most environmentally sustainable art museum in Canada.

The new Vancouver Art Gallery will be a multifaceted facility featuring a theatre, library and research centre, artist studios, child care, restaurants and retail space. There will be an Indigenous community space, along with five dedicated classrooms for specialized school programs and art instruction to serve more than 90,000 students annually. The project is expected to generate an estimated 3,000 construction jobs and 1,000 permanent jobs in the tourism sector.

The new Vancouver Art Gallery’s Chan Centre for the Visual Arts will also optimize capacity for safe and efficient storage of works of art in the gallery’s permanent collection, including Canada’s most important collection of works by renowned Canadian artist Emily Carr. The new gallery will be located at Larwill Park on Georgia Street in downtown Vancouver.

“The new Vancouver Art Gallery will truly be a community space for the growth of B.C.’s arts and cultural sector, the enjoyment of the public and the prosperity of the region,” said Anthony Kiendl, CEO and director of the Vancouver Art Gallery. “Combined with the support of generous donors, members and stakeholders, we are closer to realizing our vision of a new gallery that better reflects everyone in B.C. Together, we are contributing to a rich cultural environment in Vancouver, through the voices of Indigenous communities and the people from many lands who have decided to make Vancouver and British Columbia their home. The gallery will create strong links between local culture and international art and audiences.”

Federal officials have stated that they are looking to have the new gallery open in 2027. 

A rendering shows the entrance to the new Vancouver Art Gallery – Herzog & de Meuron/Perkins + Will