Girl in condo with laptop

Bricks & Sticks

by Desi Auciello

Desi Auciello is the 2006 GTHBA President, and is also president of Cachet Estate Homes.

Home building a "magical" line of work, Premier says

Date: June 2, 2006

The who's who of the residential construction industry in the Greater Toronto Area gathered this week for the 24th annual building industry luncheon in support of the York Region United Way.

Co-chaired by developer Fred DeGasperis and York Region Chairman Bill Fisch, the luncheon featured Premier Dalton McGuinty as keynote speaker. McGuinty took the opportunity to share with the industry his own personal experience of starting out raising a family with his wife Terri, first in an apartment, and then, with the third child on the way, moving up to his "dream home" as a first time home buyer.  

"Terri and I had a dream.  It's a dream shared by couples and young parents everywhere in Ontario when they're just starting out. We wanted our own home, with a backyard, so our kids could run around.  We wanted a place we could call our own," McGuinty said.

"I don't know if we all truly appreciate this, but you in the building industry are in a pretty magical line of work.  You get to help make people's dreams come true," the Premier continued. "Our dream came true and it's a dream that thousands of Ontarians still have today."

Economic giant

"And every time you build one of your beautiful homes, every time you lay a new foundation, you're strengthening the foundations of an entire province. Any way you slice it, the home building industry in Ontario is an economic giant," the Premier emphasized.
"So, let me take this opportunity to say thank you for the work you do, for the risks you take, for the jobs you create, for the people you employ and for the families you support. Thank you for the taxes you pay to enable us to support good quality schools and healthcare that we all need to count on.

"Thank you for the contribution you make to the quality of life that is so high in this wonderful province. "In short, thank you, for both putting a roof over our heads and food on our tables" the Premier continued.

Growth plan

The Premier went on to lay out his vision for growth in Ontario, noting that almost four million people will settle in the Greater Golden Horseshoe over the next 25 years. "They're coming here because they seek the quality of life this community offers," he stated.

"With Places to Grow [the government's growth plan], we're planning for growth and the jobs it creates. We're not limiting growth.  We're not stunting growth.  We're planning for growth. We're serious about this plan and we're serious about getting the infrastructure in place to support it," he said.

Greenbelt

In closing, the Premier spoke about the Golden Horseshoe Greenbelt, urging the audience to see it for what it is.  "It's not a brake on growth.  It's a new direction for growth. The Greenbelt is central to our vision of growth for Ontario. It guarantees green space and quality of life for future generations.

"I fought long and hard and successfully for that greenbelt. And now, with our Places to Grow plan, I'm going to work just as long and just as hard to support well-planned, sustainable growth outside the greenbelt," the Premier concluded.

It's very nice to hear the Premier speak in such glowing terms of the economic impact of the homebuilding industry and the dream of homeownership, although many of his government's actions, such as the land development freeze early on, two rounds of planning reforms, and Ontario Municipal Board reform, to name just a few examples, have not been as consistent with the rhetoric.
The Premier's fond memories of  expansive backyard where his kids could run around is also somewhat ironic, in that the growth plan calls for a lot more building inward and upward, and far more intense suburban development, not leaving much room to run around.

Nevertheless, I do like the Premier's commitment to support well-planned, sustainable growth outside the greenbelt. If the growth plan represents a final determination of where we are allowed to build, then perhaps the province will become far more assertive in supporting the building industry by streamlining the approvals process at the provincial as well as the municipal level, standing up to the NIMBY's (Not in My Back Yard) and the other sources of process harassment we face and resisting municipal calls for higher development charges, again, just to name a few examples.

I am going to take the Premier's words at face value based on something else he said in his speech - that "the homebuilding industry plays a vital role in making Ontario strong and prosperous." Sounds like a guy who gets it.