Advocate for Future Homeowners of the GTA.
By Sunjay Mathuria
The Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) has a big job: it is the voice of the land development, home building and professional renovation industry in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). The GTA is the fastest-growing region in Canada and one of the fastest-growing in North America. This comes as no surprise to residents of such suburbs as Milton, Markham, Ajax or Mississauga, where populations continue to increase and residents continue to vie for living in complete communities. As communities spring up in the far reaches of the GTA, BILD works to improve communication between the building, development and professional renovation industry and the government, promote the welfare of the industry and protect the interests of consumers.
Formed through a merger between the Greater Toronto Home Builders’ association (GTHBA) and the Urban Development Institute/Ontario, BILD represents more than 1400 member companies. The merger, which happened around seven years ago, was a way to collaborate and be more effective as the voice for land development, home building and renovation professionals.
Members of BILD receive a number of benefits. How the association works: the members can access information-sharing forums, chapter meetings, a number of networking events, educational sessions, and a variety of different programs to keep them engaged and connected. The fee-based membership adheres to a Code of Ethics to ensure homebuilders are credible and have appropriate values for the association. Moreover, BILD offers classes for builders, developers, associates, and suppliers so that they stay up to date with the latest industry advancements to deliver the best possible product for the consumer.
Over the past decade, Tuckey has noted the shift to high density housing in the GTA. “The GTA will grow in or around 100 000 people a year for the next 30 years and to house people appropriately, you have to build 35 000 to 40 000 homes so that gives you a sense of the challenge that this industry has,” explains Tuckey. BILD’s members, include home builders, land developers, professional RenoMarkTM renovators, land use and environmental planners, sub-contractors, manufacturers, lawyers, surveyors, architects, suppliers, and representatives of service, professional and financial institutions. “As we work with our partners in governments, we want our members to build healthy and affordable communities for new home buyers across the GTA,” says Tuckey.
BILD represents one of the most important industries to the local economy. The construction of around 40 000 homes every year creates more than 193 000 jobs in the GTA alone.
“Each construction crane that you see as you’re commuting into the city represents between 300 and 500 jobs for at least the period of the four or five years of construction,” explains Tuckey.
The industry also generates $10 billion in paid wages per year, making it one of the largest employers in the region.
The local advantage doesn’t end there. Using local materials also contribute to the economy.
“We’ve been trying to show that it’s kind of like a 100 mile diet where most of what is purchased, especially on the renovation side, is purchased within 100 kilometres of the building that’s being built,” adds Tuckey.
To understand the current state of construction, it is important to think of the GTA as a tale of two different markets, says Tuckey.
“From a high-rise standpoint, there are almost 58 000 high-rise units under construction in the GTA as of the end of September 2012,” he continues.
Eighty-eight per cent of the high-rise units have been sold and are scheduled to be completed over the next four years. When it comes to sales, the year-to-date numbers at the end of September are third highest record for high-rises.
“They’ll be turning to construction cranes over the next year or two,” adds Tuckey.
The low-rise sector, on the other hand, is another story. “Our industry is facing challenges stemming from high prices, lack of choice and constrained land supply. It takes about 10 years to get projects through the approval process,” explains Tuckey. BILD members’ jobs are fundamental to the continued growth and prosperity of the GTA region. One of BILD’s challenges has been advocating with government to recognize the importance of the industry, as well as its economic impact, both local and provincial.
There are three main objectives of the association; BILD’s first and foremost goal is to be a thought leader on urban issues in the GTA and the voice of the industry. Tuckey, a planner by trade, brings a certain expertise and set of experiences to his role as president and CEO of BILD. With considerable amounts of public policy generated at the provincial and regional levels, Tuckey hopes the industry will continue to be at the table for when the next generation of public policy is created.
“We will continue to advocate for future homeowners of the GTA who really don’t have a constituency advocate for them,” says Tuckey. The final objective is to tell the story of the industry to the public.
“I think the story needs to be told. We are currently working on a communications strategy that will help us improve the ways we reach out to our members the public and government agencies,” says Tuckey. The message they hope to get across is the positive impact the industry has on the local communities.
BILD members play a crucial role working on high-quality and world-class homes that the GTA is known for. Without needing or asking for any government assistance, BILD members create jobs and continue to ensure the GTA is vibrant and attractive to those who want to live there.
“We live in a remarkable country and we have a remarkable building and land development group in this association who actually build these homes and build the commercial developments and build the employment to make this region an attractive region to the people who choose Canada to be their home. I think it’s a remarkable success story,” says Tuckey.
“We want the public to understand the impact our industry has on the economy and how important the role our members play is in making the GTA a great place to live, work and play.”