NextHome chats with Bryan Tuckey, president and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), who is retiring at the end of the year.
NextHome: You’ve been BILD president since 2012. How would you characterize your five years in office?
Bryan Tuckey: I fully believe BILD has been a thought-leader in the industry over the past five years. We have shown leadership in influencing government policy in order to enhance the building and development industry by working with municipal, provincial and federal governments.
We’ve done a fantastic job of raising the profile and reputation of the home building and residential land development, and the professional renovation industry in the GTA.
We’ve also done a great job in developing and implementing new initiatives to help generate membership growth and retention numbers.
BILD has successfully managed to take ownership of the three Home Shows, and we have significantly improved them by creating an immersive and interactive experience for the consumer, especially with our Destination Renovation exhibit that allows consumers to speak directly with professional renovators.
NH: How has the association changed in that time?
BT: The actions by the various levels of government are having a greater impact on industry and consumers than ever before. The association’s advocacy and communication efforts on important issues has never been more active. The fact is those in government choose not to listen to the advice of experts.
The board has established a more business-like and accountable framework for the governance of the association. The association world is changing rapidly and BILD is keeping up with those changes.
BILD’s world changed with the purchase of the three existing Home Shows … The future of BILD has never been brighter.
NH: The key issues facing the industry – namely, lack of supply, the slow municipal approvals process and the impact on affordability – have only increased in intensity. How much progress is the industry making on these fronts?
BT: During my tenure at BILD, I have written regular media columns that have advocated for developable land with proper infrastructure (water, waste water and hydro), to streamline development approvals, reduce excessive red tape, and to update out-of-date zoning bylaws. Recently, the province of Ontario released a 14-point action plan that includes recommendations to better align infrastructure and land use planning. It is also looking at supporting forward-looking zoning and providing guidance for municipalities implementing provincial land use policies. I would like to think that BILD has influenced the province’s new action plan.
NH: We’ve heard you speak many times, but you were especially direct at the Toronto Real Estate Board’s Market Year in Review & Outlook 2017 event last January. You said, “Never in my 30 years in the industry have I seen such a disconnect between public policy and a lack of public awareness and understanding,” in referring to the Ontario government’s land-use policy favouring intensification in the Greater Golden Horseshoe, which was resulting in a shortage of housing reaching “crisis levels.” Almost a year later, what has changed?
BT: Provincial land use policies, like the Growth Plan meant to limit sprawl and encourage urban intensification are, while well intentioned, helping to create our housing crisis. Today, we are seeing frustration, angst and fear among consumers, inflated pricing and undiminished demand for lowrise homes. The very condition the policies were intended to change.
The industry has taken direction from policies that have been supported and endorsed by our elected officials; however, government has not done its part in making the process easy. There’s no escaping the reality that the market is experiencing a crisis, and new housing policies are desperately needed.
Government needs to:
Streamline the planning approval process and remove red tape by:
- Ensuring that local Official Plans are updated
- Pre-designate and pre-zone land
- Approve all outstanding environmental assessments that relate to critical infrastructure
Update zoning bylaws across the GTA to support the implementation of provincial intensification policies
- Ensure that zoning bylaws are updated within three years of an Official Plan update
Support intensification policies with public education and promotion
- Municipalities and the province must show leadership and educate the public about intensification so they understand why their neighbourhoods are changing
- Explain that growth is good for residents and businesses in existing neighbourhoods, as well as the overall economy
Build and fund needed infrastructure
- Government must do its fair share by building new infrastructure before people move in to the area
- Infrastructure such as transit and water/wastewater are critical pieces that contribute to the health of the economy of an entire community and it is time to look at growth as an investment and not as a cost.
NH: What would you have liked to make more progress on, as you prepare to leave BILD?
BT: Making more impact having the public understand the impacts of government policy on the housing market. I don’t know a more regulated industry than the housing sector. Governments are making the rules and the industry has done an exceptional job to transition businesses and build the product type policy dictates. The result has been the highest housing prices in the GTA’s history. I often ask the question: What is the public interest case in high housing prices? I have yet found someone with an answer to the question.
NH: What’s the one piece of advice you would leave your successor?
BT: One of the first things we completed when I arrived at BILD was a Communications Strategy. It was a 15- to 20-year plan to change the public’s impression of an industry that builds some of the highest quality homes in the world. So I would advise them to maintain the principles of the strategy and continue to inform and educate the public, with fact-based evidence, of the challenges the GTA faces and the contribution this industry makes.
NH: Any parting words for prospective homebuyers in the GGH?
BT: Maintain the dream of homeownership and become more active. The cause of the high housing prices is public policy. Understand the facts and help the industry advocate for change. We want to build homes people can afford to purchase; especially first-time homeowners. At some point, government will have to say: ‘Our policies are creating outcomes that are not in the public interest’, and listen to those who are experts in building communities – the industry.
NH: Any immediate plans after you leave? World travel?
BT: I see considerable travel in my future. I have a lifetime objective of visiting 100 countries. I just passed 70 … We have definite plans to visit Peru and the Antarctic. I will be taking a road trip to Calgary in the summer.