B.C. rolls out two new initiatives to increase housing supply

Key Takeaways:

  • Officials are launching of a one-stop shop that eliminates the need for multiple permitting applications across different ministries. It’s expected to reduce permit timelines by two months.
  • Officials are also launching a pilot incentive program to help homeowners build secondary suites to rent. The program will provide approximately 3,000 homeowners with forgivable loans of up to $40,000.
  • The pilot program, set to launch in early spring 2024.

The Whole Story:

B.C. is looking to accelerate project permitting and incentivize homeowners to rent out secondary suites with new policy changes. 

“People in our province deserve a decent place to live they can actually afford to rent or buy, but a chronic housing shortage and long permit approval times are frustrating that achievable goal,” said Premier David Eby. “Our government is taking action. We’re making it easier and faster to get provincial permits to build new homes, and offering financial support for people who could build a suite they can rent out at more affordable rates.”

Streamlining permitting 

The first action focuses on speeding up the permitting process through the launch of a one-stop shop that eliminates the need for multiple permitting applications across different ministries. The Single Housing Application Service (SHAS) aims to create a simpler permitting application for homebuilders. With the introduction of SHAS, the province expects permit timelines to be reduced by two months.

“Our government is laser-focused on taking action on housing,” said Nathan Cullen, Minister of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship. “One way we’re doing this is by eliminating the current permitting backlog and speeding up homebuilding project approvals with the launch of a user-friendly tool that connects people to project experts. These expert ‘navigators’ will guide homebuilders through the provincial permitting process and provide a personal, one-stop shop that will streamline the process.”

The SHAS connects homebuilders to “navigators,” dedicated staff in the Ministry of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship, who guide applicants through all stages of permit applications, act as the single, dedicated point of contact for all information related to homebuilding permits and co-ordinate permitting decisions across ministries.

Encouraging rentals 

The second initiative centres on secondary suites and comes ahead of planned legislation this fall to make secondary suites legal throughout the province, and a pilot incentive program to help homeowners build secondary suites.

To help homeowners navigate this process, the province has launched a new comprehensive guide, titled Home Suite Home. The guide provides people with the information to prepare to build and manage a rental suite.

The guide can be used as a resource for people preparing to access the Secondary Suite Incentive Program (SSIP). The pilot program, set to launch in early spring 2024, will provide approximately 3,000 homeowners with forgivable loans of up to $40,000 to create a new secondary suite or accessory dwelling unit on their property. The loans will only go to properties that will be rented below market rates. Additional eligibility requirements of the program have been made available so people interested can prepare ahead of the launch.

“We’ve heard from a lot of homeowners that they would love to create a rental suite on their property, but find the process to build and manage one confusing and time-consuming,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Housing. “Our new Home Suite Home guide and secondary suite pilot program will clearly and concisely provide homeowners with the information they need to make an informed choice on whether adding a rental unit is right for them.”

These initiatives are part of the Province’s Homes for People action plan. Announced in spring 2023.

Key Takeaways:

  • Ontario announced it will spend $5.4 million to build and deploy three cutting-edge mobile tech classrooms.
  • The units will include hands-on stations and simulators the help young people experience welding , crane operation, electrical work and other trades.
  • The first Trades & Tech Truck was rolled out last year and reached around 40,000 people. The new trucks are expected to reach nearly 500,000.

The Whole Story:

Trades training is hitting the road in Ontario.

In a move to address the province’s labor shortage in the skilled trades sector, Ontario announced it will spend $5.4 million to build and deploy three cutting-edge mobile tech classrooms. These innovative classrooms, a collaborative effort with Skills Ontario, will traverse the province, imparting essential knowledge and practical skills to students and young individuals interested in pursuing careers in the skilled trades.

The mobile classrooms, named Trades & Tech Trucks, promise an immersive learning experience through hands-on stations and simulators, offering training opportunities in a diverse range of disciplines, including:

  • Electrical systems
  • Welding
  • Crane operation
  • Auto-painting
  • Tire and brake work
  • Heavy machinery

“By 2025, one in five jobs in Ontario will be in the skilled trades,” said Monte McNaughton, minister of labour. “These are rewarding, well-paying careers that you can build a family and a life around. That’s why our government will continue to invest in cutting-edge programs that give students the chance to experience the 144 trades and life-changing opportunities available to them.”

Experience a virtual tour of a Tech & Trades Truck. – Skilled Trades Ontario

The province is relying on tradespeople to help with its ambitious infrastructure plans that include constructing 1.5 million homes by 2031. To meet this goal, Ontario will require over 100,000 new skilled trades workers within the decade. The Trades & Tech Trucks, each measuring 12 meters in length, will serve as platforms for students to explore the skilled trades while engaging with industry professionals, discovering local training opportunities, colleges, and potential employers.

Ian Howcroft, CEO of Skills Ontario, spoke about the impact of their existing mobile classroom program, saying: “Since rolling out our first Trades & Tech truck last year, our mobile classroom has provided thousands of students with hands-on learning experiences. This program ignites an awareness of opportunities in the skilled trades and tech field that inspires more young people to pursue these careers. We want to thank and recognize Minister McNaughton and Premier Ford for the leadership and investments they have provided to build the skilled workforce of tomorrow.”

The efforts by the Ontario government have already shown promising results, with a 24 percent surge in apprenticeship registrations in the past year alone. This increase, which includes a 28 percent jump among women, is attributed to the government’s significant investment of over $1 billion in the skilled trades sector over three years and the establishment of the dedicated agency, Skilled Trades Ontario.

On the education side, the province intends to go even further. Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce, announced plans to make technology education courses mandatory for all high school students starting September 2024. The new mobile tech classrooms will further complement this initiative by supporting 150,000 students annually, equipping them with the critical skills needed to secure well-paying jobs and thrive in the competitive job market.

The Trades & Tech Truck program was launched as a pilot in 2022. It reached over 40,000 students and young people across more than 50 events throughout the province, from Toronto to Ottawa and Thunder Bay.

Funded through the government’s Skills Development Fund, the new mobile classrooms are set to be fully operational by the summer of 2024, welcoming an annual footfall of 150,000 visitors.

Key Takeaways:

  • A major partnership has formed to protect animals in the East Kootenays by building a wildlife bridge.
  • The project is a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, the Ministry of Forests, the Village of Radium Hot Springs, and Parks Canada
  • the Radium herd represents one of the last viable bighorn sheep populations in the region. 
  • Approximately 10% of the herd falls victim to collisions with vehicles each year.

The Whole Story:

Animals need bridges too. 

To safeguard both the local residents and the iconic bighorn sheep, a new wildlife overpass is set to be constructed near Mile Hill, just south of Radium Hot Springs in B.C. The innovative project, a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, the Ministry of Forests, the Village of Radium Hot Springs, and Parks Canada, aims to mitigate vehicle collisions with the bighorn sheep along Highway 93/95, while providing a safe passage for the creatures.

The Radium Wildlife Overpass, scheduled to be tendered in the coming weeks, will encompass approximately six kilometers of wildlife fencing and strategically positioned gates, ensuring a guided path for animals towards the overpass and safely across the busy highway. Officials stated that not only will the initiative help reduce the risk of accidents and enhance the safety of highway users, but it will also protect the local bighorn sheep herd, which holds immense significance to First Nations people and the entire community of the East Kootenays.

Rob Fleming, minister of transportation and infrastructure, emphasized the importance of prioritizing public safety while preserving the region’s precious wildlife. “It’s vital that we keep people safe and protect these animals that are so critical to regional biodiversity,” he said. “With the help of our partners, this new overpass will support safe passage for the bighorn sheep, protecting this herd that is so important to local First Nations and all the people of the East Kootenays.”

Several prominent entities have joined forces as project partners, including Parks Canada, the Village of Radium Hot Springs, Teck Resources Ltd., the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, the Ktunaxa Nation Council, and the Shuswap Band. Construction on the wildlife overpass is expected to commence in the near future.

The project comes as part of a broader campaign to mitigate collisions between wildlife and vehicles. Recent efforts include the installation of prominent wildlife signage, flashing LED warning signs to alert drivers of sheep presence, and a message sign that highlights changes in sheep activity. Additionally, the speed limit in the Mile Hill area was temporarily reduced to 70 kilometers per hour. Collaborating closely with the Shuswap First Nation and Ktunaxa Nation, the Ministry staff have provided monitoring of the bighorn sheep herd.

Conservation groups have emphasized the critical importance of safeguarding the Radium herd, which represents one of the last viable bighorn sheep populations in the region. 

It has become a major issue for wildlife in the region. Approximately 10% of the herd falls victim to collisions with vehicles each year, resulting in a significant decline in numbers. The population dwindled from approximately 230 sheep in 2003 to a mere 120 in 2019, underscoring the urgent need for effective measures to reduce collisions.

Reports reveal that B.C. sees over 5,400 wildlife-motor vehicle collisions annually, with numerous incidents involving deer, elk, bear, and moose. Deer, in particular, contribute to approximately 85% of wildlife collisions across the province. Taking these statistics into account, B.C. has become a frontrunner in wildlife conservation efforts within the transportation sector. The province boasts over 600 kilometers of wildlife exclusion fencing, surpassing any other transportation agency in North America, and holds the title of having the highest number of wildlife overpasses in Canada.

SiteNews has news about jobs.

The digital publication and media brand wants to do its part to bring senior-level construction professionals and employers together by launching a new job board for Canada.

Launched last fall, SiteNews aims to be Canadian construction’s modern voice that informs and elevates the industry. 

The job board will be integrated with the SiteNews website which provides construction news and insight, drawing in tens of thousands readers from across the country every month. 

The SiteNews team explained that the job board will harness the power of their leadership-heavy audience, their website traffic, newsletter subscribers and social media presence to amplify job searches. 

“Our mission is to celebrate and elevate the construction sector,” said Andrew Hansen, SiteNews co-founder. “We have a platform that reaches thousands of senior-level construction leaders and we want to leverage that reach to connect job seekers and employers. Behind every successful construction project is an all-star team. We want to help you build yours.” 

The team explained that for years, finding experienced job candidates has been one of the top concerns for the Canadian construction industry. Leading organizations looking to grow have often struggled to fill key executive level roles. The latest 10-year forecast from BuildForce Canada sees overall hiring requirements in the industry exceeding 299,000 due to the retirement of approximately 20% of the 2022 labour force and growth in worker demand of more than 54,000. 

The industry is expected to draw an estimated 237,800 first-time entrants aged 30 and younger from the local population, leaving the industry with a possible retirement-recruitment gap of more than 61,000 workers. 

Employers agree that finding and retaining talent is a top concern, especially as the demand for infrastructure and housing continues to rise. According to a recent survey of construction companies in B.C. by the B.C Construction Association, the skilled labour shortage was listed as the most pressing issue on the industry’s minds. 

“SiteNews Jobs is built to connect the top talent in our industry with premium opportunities. We believe our industry is one of the best places to build a career,” said the SiteNews team. “From marketing to operations and everything in between. We plan to create a place where the most unique opportunities can be highlighted to help companies and industry professionals find the match that allows the best to keep building.”

Check out SiteNews Jobs here. Job posters can try the board out for free for a limited time here.

EllisDon Infrastructure Healthcare (EDIH) has reached financial close on the South Niagara Hospital project. The consortium was selected by Infrastructure Ontario and Niagara Health to design, build, finance, and maintain the South Niagara hospital as part of a $3.6 billion fixed-price contract. 

The contract reflects the payments made during construction, the substantial completion payment and the monthly service payments before inflation adjustments.

“It was with tremendous efforts put forth by a great deal of people to reach this milestone,” said Joey Comeau, executive vice president and chief operating officer of EllisDon Capital. “EllisDon Infrastructure Healthcare is excited to reach commercial and financial close and we are looking forward to delivering this monumental project for the communities of South Niagara.”

The 1.2 million square foot, 11-storey modernized facility, will consolidate and expand acute care services across the region. In addition to emergency, critical care and surgical services, the South Niagara Hospital will feature several centres of excellence specializing in stroke, complex care, geriatrics and geriatric psychiatry, and wellness in aging.

In addition to being LEED Silver certified, the South Niagara Hospital is working towards being the first WELL-certified hospital in Canada, incorporating design elements that promote health and well-being for everyone who uses it. These improved spaces will prioritize the mental health and well-being of staff, patients and visitors. 

The hospital will also feature an Indigenous healing space and garden. Indigenous partners provided input into the design. The spaces were incorporated to create culturally safe and welcoming areas for Indigenous Peoples.

EDIH expects to begin construction this summer. The hospital will take five years to build, with occupancy planned for 2028.

Key Takeaways:

  • Researchers believe that a long-defunct waterway was used to help transport materials.
  • The team used pollen-derived vegetation patterns to reconstruct 8,000-year fluvial variations on the Giza floodplain. 
  • Previously, there was little specific evidence of how these ancient waterways rose and fell over the centuries.

It’s a question mankind has been pondering for centuries: How were the pyramids built?

New research is providing more answers. 

The Great Pyramid of Giza, or Khufu Pyramid, is one of the most iconic human-built structures in all history. A team of researchers, who published their findings in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, believe ancient builders may have been aided by now defunct waterways. 

“It is now accepted that ancient Egyptian engineers exploited a former channel of the Nile to transport building materials and provisions to the Giza plateau,” wrote the researchers. “However, there is a paucity of environmental evidence regarding when, where, and how these ancient landscapes evolved.”

The team’s new palaeoecological analyses have helped to reconstruct an 8,000-year fluvial history of the Nile in this area, showing that the former waterscapes and higher river levels around 4,500 years ago facilitated the construction of the Giza Pyramid Complex.

“The pyramids of Giza originally overlooked a now defunct arm of the Nile,” reads the report. “This fluvial channel, the Khufu branch, enabled navigation to the Pyramid Harbor complex but its precise environmental history is unclear.”

The researchers sought to fill in the blanks using pollen-derived vegetation patterns to reconstruct 8,000-year of fluvial variations on the Giza floodplain. 

“After a high-stand level concomitant with the African Humid Period, our results show that Giza’s waterscapes responded to a gradual insolation-driven aridification of East Africa, with the lowest Nile levels recorded at the end of the Dynastic Period,” said the team. “The Khufu branch remained at a high-water level (∼40% of its Holocene maximum) during the reigns of Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure, facilitating the transportation of construction materials to the Giza Pyramid Complex.”

According to the Smithsonian, the pyramid’s base spread over 13 acres and its sides were built at an angle of 51 degrees 52 minutes and were over 755 feet long. The original structure reached 481 feet high but currently it sits at 450 feet high. 

Experts estimate that the structure’s stone blocks have an average weight of more than two tons apiece, with the largest weighing as much as fifteen tons each. 

Key Takeaways:

  • By 2025, new buildings in Victoria, B.C. must be zero carbon. 
  • This is part of larger plans to be completely on renewable energy by 2050.
  • The move would make it one of the first B.C. cities to have a zero carbon construction standard.

The Whole Story:

Starting in 2025 Victoria will require all new construction to be zero carbon. The city noted that the new goal is part is of its accelerated climate action plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent before 2050.

The requirement will come on the heels of the the BC Building Code carbon pollution standards that start this year.

The zero carbon standard is five years ahead of B.C.’s carbon requirements. The city stated that the new requirements are expected to significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions from new buildings. By 2050 the city plans to also switch over to 100 per cent renewable energy. The switch could trip up to 7 per cent of the total community emissions needed to reach those 2050 goals.

A chart from the Global Alliance For Buildings and Construction shows emissions from the built environment. – Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction

The city boasted that it is one of the first municipalities to establish a zero carbon polluting standard for construction and steer away from fossil fuels for water and space heating.

The requirements and schedule were set after an engagement process with the local building industry, co-led by the city of Victoria, the district of Saanich and the district of Central Saanich with support from the Capital Regional District (CRD). The engagement focused on how best to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new construction through the BC Energy Step Code and the forthcoming carbon pollution standards.

According to a report by the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction, buildings were responsible for 38 per cent of global carbon emissions in 2020. This was followed by the transportation industry, which contributed 23 per cent of emissions. The report accounted for emissions produced during construction as well as operation, including natural gas heating or coal-powered electricity.