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Urban Development / Architecture & Design / Innovation


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Transformative Mobility Integrating Cycle Networks

Cannabis and Commercial Real Estate

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Real Estate’s Budding Industry Limited and imperfect information is making many landlords question what to do about retail-cannabis tenants. By John Lorinc

On the Road Again The potential for transformative mobility is promising. Its timely implementation less so. By Rhys Phillips

Let’s Ride! Finding cycling inspiration from the Dutch. By Melissa Bruntlett and Chris Bruntlett

05 06 08 10 11 22 27 30

Editor’s Notes Market Watch Legal Briefs From the Bullpen Powers That Be In Their Words Site Visit Viewpoint

Building.CA explore Sportium Saint-Hubert Indesign Inc. designs a store that resembles a mindset of stadiums, sports fields, and athletes aiming for the podium.

explore ÉTS Centech The former Dow Planetarium is now home to one of the largest technology company accelerators in Canada.

read LEED’s Next Step Mark Hutchinson argues that as Canada’s green building industry is evolving, so too is LEED.

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Volume 69 No. 1

Editor in Chief Peter Sobchak Art Director Roy Gaiot Associate Editor Stefan Novakovic Legal Editor Jeffrey W. Lem Contributors Chris Bruntlett, Melissa Bruntlett, Richard Joy, John Lorinc, Shannon Moore, Ben Myers, Kevin Powers. Customer Service / Production Laura Moffatt, 416 441 2085 x104 Press Releases Circulation Manager Sales Manager Faria Ahmed, 416 441 2085 x106 Vice President & Senior Publisher Steve Wilson, 416 441 2085 x105 President, iQ Business Media Inc. Alex Papanou Design Consultation BLVD Agency

Building magazine is published by iQ Business Media Inc. 101 Duncan Mill Road, Suite 302 Toronto, ON M3B 1Z3 (416) 441 2085 x104 SUBSCRIPTION RATE: Canada: 1 year, $30.95; 2 years, $52.95; 3 years, $64.95 (plus H.S.T.) U.S.A.: 1 year, $38.95 USD. Overseas: 1 year, $45.95 USD. BACK ISSUES: Back copies are available for $15 for delivery in Canada, $20 USD for delivery in U.S.A. and $30 USD overseas. Please send prepayment to Building, 101 Duncan Mill Road, Suite 302 Toronto, ON M3B 1Z3. Subscription and back issues inquiries please call (416) 441 2085 x104, e-mail: or go to Please send changes of address to Circulation Department, Building magazine or e-mail to Building is indexed in the Canadian Magazine Index by Micromedia ProQuest Company, Toronto (www.micromedia. com) and National Archive Publishing Company, Ann Arbor, Michigan (

Building is published six times a year. Printed in Canada. The content of this p ­ ublication is the property of Building and cannot be reproduced without permission from the publisher. Funded by the Government of Canada

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It’s High Time

“A once-illegal substance. Heated debate about whether the public should be allowed to buy it in government-operated stores. Finally, the decision to make it available to those deemed responsible enough to consume it. When the first stores open in select communities, there are long lineups. Some customers gratefully grab their purchase; others grumble about the confusing new rules, the stock shortages, the unfairness of government monopolies.” You would be forgiven for thinking you know what this paragraph is describing. But it is not, in fact, about legal cannabis shops opening up across Canada. Written by Jamie Bradburn for a piece posted on near the end of 2017, this is the beginning of a “look back” at the Liquor Control Board of Ontario’s (LCBO) first day of business on June 1, 1927. “The original system was designed to make the experience of purchasing alcohol feel as shameful as possible, and to allow the province to pry into the private habits of Ontarians,” writes Bradburn. “The stores, generally located away from main streets, resembled banks. Clerks were stationed behind wire grills.” I am old enough to have vague memories of environments like that, and as the cannabis news narrative continues to unfold, I’m experiencing those memories again. Why does it feel like Ontario is setting itself up for a repeat of this embarrassing Puritan-minded policy making regarding the retail cannabis landscape roll out? The plan started as a chain of outlets under the control of the LCBO, but that was scrapped by Premier Doug Ford in favour of private licensed operators. Then in December, Queen’s Park decided that Ontario could only handle 25 of those. Who they will be and where they will be located? Who knows for sure? But anyone living in the shadow of Ford Nation should not be surprised by unannounced and head-scratching policy course-corrections.

Peter Sobchak Editor in Chief We welcome your feedback. Send your questions and comments to

License-lottery winners and location regulations aside, I think to really know where the Ontario government’s head is at in terms of policing cannabis culture will be to look at the actual rules governing these retail enterprises’ appearance. It took almost 60 years to get from wire grills and paper slips to the award-winning boutique experiences the LCBO is known for now. Will we see the same enlightenment afforded to an industry still ruffling a lot of feathers? As opinions surrounding cannabis culture eased considerably in the last two decades, stores purveying such items began popping up, but their designs seemed rooted in an awkward pirouette between roughness and refinement, forever winking at an illicit history. If widespread cultural acceptance is the goal moving forward, that aesthetic won’t help this industry. But maybe it won’t matter, because that “other green” rules all, and at the end of the day we know the opportunity with cannabis in unprecedented, probably bigger than the end of Prohibition. And since it is product they are selling, the winners will include investors and landlords in the CRE domain, for whom good times will roll.


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market watch Spotlight: Global Real Estate

Shifts in Trade Policy, Technology and Financing Disrupting Development Industry

PositiveNegative Impacts on real estate


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The sheer diversity of regional geographic markets can make it difficult to get a definitive and universal view on property development trends globally. However, according to Altus Group Limited’s Real Estate Development Trends Report, which provides an outlook of a global property development industry being hit by rapid change from disruptive market forces that did not exist a few years ago, there is a surprisingly consistent view held by property developers about the market forces driving change, and there exists a majority consensus on what are the biggest challenges facing them as a result. What’s clear from the survey is that despite a wide range of economic, financial, political, demographic and technological dynamics, there is a significant portion of the industry that is proactively anticipating and responding to an array of fast-changing industry pressures that pose potential business threats. Yet, how developers are planning or actively responding to these challenges is somewhat polarized, and not necessarily based purely on pan-regional dynamics. There also exist critical gaps around performance management and efficiencies as well as uncertainty among

industry leaders about emerging and potentially highly disruptive technologies. According to the report, which is based on a global survey of more than 400 property development executives, 68 per cent said cost escalation is the biggest business challenge they are facing over the next five years. Several related factors account for this, which in combination are creating a domino effect: •3  4 per cent of developers see cross-border trade policies having a negative impact on the industry as uncertainty continues about future international tariff and trade agreement implications; •6  5 per cent face challenges with labour shortages, which are exacerbated by government policy and booming demand; •6  0 per cent are concerned about the development approval process which is often complex and protracted. In Canada, strong demand in all sectors has pushed construction volumes to record levels and contributed to cost escalations in Vancouver and Toronto, including tight pools of skilled construction labour. On the residential side, these pressures, combined with

Will have a negative impact

35 %

34 %


Changing real estate occupation and use habits

Cross-border trade policy

Transportation technology

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International trade uncertainty and widespread construction skills shortage creating perfect storm for escalating project costs.

long approval processes and construction capacity challenges, have resulted in condominium project delays and cancellations. Ready for new tech? With the recent explosion of PropTech (property industry technology) across the real estate industry, property development will not remain immune to the disruptive impacts of new technologies. While 67 per cent of respondents are planning to or are already adopting advanced construction technologies, the survey findings indicate there exists a significant degree of uncertainty and reservation from property development leaders around the potential impact on the industry from a number of emerging technologies which are already seeing successful application and adoption in other industries. Only a minority of respondents recognized a potential for major disruptive change with certain technologies, for example: • only 16 per cent of respondents believe 3D printing will create major disruptive changes in the development industry while conversely, 65 per cent said it will have little to no impact • only 20 per cent of respondents believe augmented reality/virtual reality will create major disruptive changes in the development industry while conversely, 45 per cent said it will have little to no impact; • only 22 per cent believe process automation will create major disruptive changes in the development industry; conversely, 56 per cent said it will have little to no impact.

Development industry leaders seem to have significant reservations about the potential impact of 3D printing, a rapidly evolving technology already being applied successfully to smaller scale development projects in countries such as China, the Netherlands and the U.S. Respondents, however, appeared to acknowledge the potential of more established technologies. Smart building technologies were regarded as the most disruptive, with 49 per cent expecting major disruptive changes, and 42 per cent anticipating a significant impact on efficiencies and how development is conducted. Interestingly, 50 per cent of respondents globally said transportation technology will have no impact on their pipeline. Is this a missed opportunity, hedging bets, or lack of recognition of the impact that emerging technologies will have? Or does it reflect developers’ flexibility in decision-making about their pipeline when it comes to design

Will have a positive impact

92 %

79 %

70 %

housing affordability


public infrastructure

and location decisions? Time will tell. The report also indicated a decade-on shift since the financial crisis away from traditional and institutional lending, with 82 per cent of respondents reporting they utilized at least one source of alternative financing while 46 per cent are using traditional or institutional financing. Further, over 45 per cent indicated they were considering, planning or utilizing some form of alternative financing exclusively. This shift has coincided with a rapidly expanding range of financial options and sources coupled with a substantial increase in global capital inflow into real estate in recent years. Many alternative lenders and private funds have actively positioned themselves toward the space of traditional lenders, with investors increasingly seeing real estate as an income source as well as an opportunity for premium returns on the equity and joint venture structure side. In addition, there has been an increase and acceleration in the adoption and utilization of real estate joint ventures with 62 per cent of development executives indicating they are considering entering into partnerships or joint ventures. “It’s clear that the global development sector is facing an increasingly complex set of challenges,” said Bob Courteau, CEO, Altus Group. “However, development leaders see significant opportunities to manage risk and take advantage of changing conditions through a number of future-ready strategies including investments in technology and performance management along with consideration of new ways of managing and financing projects.”

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legal Briefs The New Dealers?

Ontario government releases strict regulations for recreational cannabis retailers. By Daoust Vukovich LLP

Daoust Vukovich LLP offers guidance and practical assistance on every aspect of commercial real estate law in Ontario and across Canada. Visit for more information. This publication is a general discussion of certain legal and related developments and should not be relied upon as legal advice.


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On November 14, 2018, the Ontario government published a news release which declared that the government has passed new, “strict” regulations pertaining to the retail sale of recreational cannabis in Ontario. The regulations themselves were published on November 16, 2018.

The Regulations Licensed recreational cannabis retailers will begin operating on April 1, 2019, under the oversight of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario. The laws permitting the lawful sale and use of cannabis have been trumpeted for eons, but the regulations were not in place until now. Among the regulations published by the Ontario government are the following: recreational cannabis retailers will not be permitted to operate within 150 metres of a school (including private and federally-funded First Nations schools off-reserve); recreational cannabis retailers will not be permitted to allow anyone under the age of 19 to enter their stores; all recreational cannabis retail stores will only be permitted to sell cannabis and cannabis-related items; recreational cannabis retail stores will be permitted to open only between 9:00am and 11:00pm; unlicensed recreational cannabis retailers that were operating after October 17, 2018 will not be eligible for an Ontario recreational cannabis retail store license; a licensed individual or entity will only be permitted to operate a maximum of 75 stores in Ontario; individuals or entities who have an association with organized crime will not be eligible for an Ontario recreational cannabis retail store license; individuals or entities who are applying for an Ontario recreational cannabis retail store license must demonstrate their tax compliance status to prove that they are in good standing with the government; and a municipality may, by resolution passed not later than January 22, 2019, prohibit canna-

bis retail stores from being located in their respective municipality.

The Implications Commercial landlords and tenants should turn their minds to how the new regulations will impact their leases. Some considerations include: a) Schools: If parties execute a lease for a premises within 150 metres of a school and a cannabis retail tenant begins to operate in the premises, the tenant will be in breach of the regulations and the lease will be for an unlawful use; b) Hours of Operation: A lease cannot require a recreational cannabis retailer to operate before 9:00am or after 11:00pm; c) Number of Stores: How will a landlord know if its recreational cannabis retail tenant has proliferated to the point of operating more than 75 stores? How will the landlord know if its store is Store #1 vs. Store #76? Landlord’s should consider obtaining a representation and warranty from the tenant as to its compliance with the store number restriction; d) Retail Products: A lease cannot require and should not permit a recreational cannabis retailer to sell products other than cannabis and cannabis-related items; and e) Liability of the Landlord: Although the new regulations target the retailers, it is important for landlords to be cognizant of them. If a tenant is in breach of a regulation, the landlord may suffer consequences. If a landlord is aware that a retailer is unlawfully selling recreational cannabis, the landlord can be found liable under the regulations. The regulations give the Registrar under the Alcohol, Cannabis and Gaming Regulation and Public Protection Act the right to conduct investigations into the character, financial history and competence of both the landlord and the tenant. Most commercial leases require that the tenant comply with all laws and bylaws. If a tenant breaches any of the regulations, a landlord may have to take steps to terminate the tenancy to avoid liability.

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Other Provinces & Territories Most other provinces and territories have already released regulations pertaining to the retail sale of recreational cannabis. In British Columbia, New Brunswick, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Québec and the Yukon, consumers may purchase recreational cannabis at governmentoperated retail stores or a government-operated online store only. In Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador, consumers may purchase recreational cannabis at private licensed retail stores or a government-operated online store only. In Nunavut, there is no “brick and mortar” recreational cannabis retail at this time. Consumers in Nunavut may purchase recreational cannabis through a government-operated online store or over the phone. Ontario appears to be largely following suit with the regulations that have been established across Canada. Most other provinces and territories are strictly regulating the distance between recreational cannabis retailers and schools. They have also regu-

lated which individuals and entities are entitled to apply for a recreational cannabis retail store license, how many stores a licensed individual or entity may operate, and the type of training individuals with a recreational store authorization must undergo. In addition, many other provinces and territories also restrict what products may be sold by a recreational cannabis retailer. It is common across the regulations for the sale of cannabis to be prohibited from the same premises that sells alcohol and tobacco. Most provinces and territories require that cannabis be sold in a store that is only selling cannabis and cannabis-related products. On that note, there was rampant speculation as to the meaning of the statement that all recreational cannabis retail stores would be “stand-alone”, a term that was not defined in the news release. Some media outlets assumed that “stand-alone” meant recreational cannabis retailers would not be permitted to operate in strip malls, shopping centres, multi-tenanted buildings, etc. (This would have been similar to the

retail model in New Brunswick, where the provincial government chose to operate its retail stores primarily on stand-alone pad sites.) The term “stand-alone” does not actually appear in the regulations. There is no requirement that recreational cannabis retailers operate on stand-alone pad sites. The government may have used the term “stand-alone” in the news release to describe the requirement that recreational cannabis retail stores sell cannabis and cannabis-related items only. So What Now? If parties to an existing lease discover their lease does not comply with the regulations, they might wish to amend the lease before operations commence on April 1, 2019. The anticipation of a breach may lead the parties to canvas potential remedies (a.k.a. “outs”). Commercial landlords and tenants should stay tuned to see how municipalities react to the new regulations and whether the municipalities choose to prohibit cannabis retail stores.

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from the bullpen Roofs Over Heads

Are we building the right mix of housing in Canada? By Ben Myers

Ben Myers is president of Bullpen Research & Consulting, a boutique real estate advisory firm that works with land owners, developers, and lenders to better inform them of the current and future macroeconomic and site-specific housing market conditions that can impact their active or proposed development projects. Follow Bullpen on Twitter at @BullpenConsult or find Ben at


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Surveys are conducted annually that ask Canadians what type of housing they prefer. Inevitably, the results are the same: single-detached housing is king. However, these surveys rarely include any caveats about price, location, size, commuting time or other major factors that every Canadian takes into consideration when looking to buy a home. Other surveys show Canadians want to live in walkable communities with quick access to shops, amenities and transit. Apparently, respondents want everything, but there are only so many communities that offer both large single-family homes and quick access to urban amenities. Secondly, there is very little room to add low-density new homes to these areas either. Having spent my entire real estate research career in Toronto and Dallas, I was shocked to see the number of low-rise condominium apartment projects in greenfield developments in Calgary, and high-rise rental apartments in master-planned suburban communities in Halifax. In the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), high-density housing is encouraged in the “growth centres” and very few developers create outer-suburban communities with a wide range of housing types and tenures. But perhaps it’s time for that to change? One of the problems with adding more high-density housing types in these suburban communities in the GTA is many mayors, councillors, and residents in these areas are anti-growth, and actively fight all new development, even single-family infill projects that they often refer to as “McMansions” or “Monster Houses.” This type of NIMBYism isn’t just a Toronto problem, as Winnipeg’s property committee is looking to eliminate infill housing that is too skinny, too tall or too long. So you have environmentalists and urbanists yelling “no more sprawl” on one side, and long-time resident NIMBYs and their political co-conspirators yelling “no more tall condos or out-of-character infill” on the other side. The constant opposition to new housing, coupled with the expanding set of planning rules, regulations, and restrictions, is resulting in not enough new homes getting built.

The anti-housing crowd will point to the CMHC data that shows there were 186,000 new units completed in 2018 in urban centres in Canada, up from the 15-year average of 175,000 and the 25-year average of 155,000. However, the composition of those units isn’t the same: the location, built form, and cost to build are very different. In 1994, 50 per cent of new housing completions were single-detached properties, with rental apartments accounting for 12 per cent and condominium apartments accounting for 15 per cent of the built supply that year. In 2018, those shares were 32 per cent, 22 per cent and 26 per cent, respectively. If we assume unit sizes have not changed over time with singles/ semis at 2,500-sq.-ft., townhouses at 1,700sq.ft. and condo and rental apartments at 825-sq.-ft., 155,000 units built with the 1994 unit split results in 195 million square feet of new housing, the 186,000 units in 2018 under the latest unit split also delivers 195 million square feet of new housing! So we’re delivering the same square footage despite building 30,000 more housing units. For someone that has three kids, like myself, living in 825 square feet would be very difficult. Many pundits have suggested more three bedroom condos should be built, but these units don’t typically sell well in pre-construction. New condos in downtown Toronto at 1,000-sq.-ft. are priced around $1 million, require a $200,000 down payment, and often don’t occupy for three to four years. If you want a parking spot, that will cost another $85,000. Faced with this value proposition, families are choosing low-density housing outside the core instead. Urban apartment projects are way more expensive on a price per-square-foot basis due to higher land costs, lower leverage for land loans, and more expensive construction. They’re higher risk as well, requiring higher returns for developers and lenders. New suburban single-detached greenfield development requires a lot of extra infrastructure, is not the most efficient use of land, leads to longer commutes, but is cheaper to build (and people really like it). So on the topic of mix, where do you stand?

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powers that be Twilight of the Power Broker

Influence peddlers are shrinking back into the shadows they came from, and that is a good thing. By Kevin Powers

Kevin Powers is managing principal of Project Advocacy Inc., a subsidiary of Campbell Strategies, and is focused on helping project developers facing public and government opposition. Find him at or email him at kevin.powers@

I met recently with a potential client at an airport steakhouse. His commercial real estate proposal was circling the drain and he needed help. His company’s project promised to transform a strapped and shrinking municipality into an economic powerhouse. The mayor and most of council had initially hailed them as saviours but, after some public outcry, would no longer even return their phone calls. A looming council vote would decide the fate of the project. “You seem to know exactly what we need.” he said, leaning across the table and looking me right in the eye, “but who do you know on council?” It was a veiled question, and one I’ve heard expressed many ways that boils down to: have you got a power broker to make this problem go away? For developers, the temptation to engage a local power broker on behalf of a project is overwhelming. Usually a former politician and pillar of the community, the power broker by definition is influential and politically connected. With a quick phone call he can arrange lunch with the mayor, his squash partner, or convince the Chamber of Commerce (where he sits on the Board) to give a ringing endorsement. He knows all of the town pooh-bahs and can whisper just the right things in their ears to win their support. He has all of the local reporters on speed dial and can deliver media coverage that will win over the hearts and minds of the undecided. He has that combination of political experience, old-school connections and media savvy that can instantly turn public opinion and sway council in favour of anything. In the popular imagination, he is a kind of magician, practiced in the dark arts of political and public influence. And he is a dying breed, which is a good thing. The first reason for the waning power of the local power broker is that he thrived in the shadows, when political decisions could be made in back-rooms and behind closed doors. For modern governments, openness, transparency and accountability are the new norm. Gone are the days of

secretive, top-down decision-making. Today’s politicians want to hear directly from residents. And they want to be able to show how that public input is directly reflected in their decision-making. Sure, this does not cut off the power broker’s access to politicians. Their Rolodex is still their most effective tool. But access does not equal influence. Being able to schedule a meeting with the mayor is a far cry from directly influencing the mayor’s vote on an issue. And that is, in part, because we live in an age of open government. In the old days, public officials were perceived as powerful and distant, part of a governing machinery run by bigshots and kingmakers. That’s no longer the case. Through Twitter accounts, Facebook pages and Instagram feeds, local politicians are more accessible than ever before. Constituents from all backgrounds and political stripes can express their opinion directly and be heard, with dramatic repercussions on how decisions are made. Today, no power broker can match the political heft of a well-organized and vocal public. This holds true whether you are a project proponent or an opponent. This brings us back to the potential client, who instead hired a local power broker to work their magic and push the project through. I watched the council proceedings, which had to be moved to a local church to accommodate more than 200 protesters. Sitting in the front pew was the company president, a lawyer and the power broker. To their back was a standing room-only crowd of angry residents. In front of them, perched where the altar would have been, were the crowd’s elected representatives. Just two months earlier, a majority of them had publicly praised the project. Today they were stone-faced as the power broker took to the microphone, sweating through his shirt to deliver his clients’ appeal. But there was no hope. The power broker’s magic was gone, his influence eclipsed by an assertive, empowered and politically sophisticated public whose strength had relegated him to the shadows.

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Real Estate’s Budding Industry

Limited and imperfect infor m ation is m aking m an y landlords question what to do about r etail - c annabis tenants. To m an y, the answer is “wait and see .”

By John Lorinc

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Jeff Margolis, a broker with Royal LePage Commercial, was at a restaurant with his family last December when he got an alert on his phone: Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government had abruptly reversed its cannabis retail roll-out plan. The news was shocking. “I thought I was reading my phone upside down.” After his June, 2018 victory, Premier Doug Ford cancelled the introduction of government-owned cannabis stores in favour of the issuance of an unlimited number of licenses to private operators. But in December, Queen’s Park capped that figure to 25, with the winners chosen by lottery. The list came out in January, with the winners obliged to launch by April. (More will be announced later in the year.) Many people referred to those 25 license-holders as winners of the “golden ticket,” Margolis says, alluding to Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. But, he adds, “You’re not necessarily going to be Charlie. It’s more like the Hunger Games. You’ve been selected to go into a pretty fraught situation.” Although the cannabis retail real estate story in the rest of Canada has played out somewhat less dramatically than in Ontario, the overnight emergence of this now legal business has yielded as many questions as satisfied customers, and not just because of the supply shortages that have afflicted retailers across the country. As of early 2019, there were 187 cannabis stores operating in Canada, about a fifth of which are government owned. Most cannabis retailing in Québec and Atlantic Canada will be owned and operated by the public sector, whereas in Western Canada the distribution will be primarily private, with a mix in B.C. In many of the latter provinces, landlords,


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brokers, prospective cannabis retailers and municipalities are grappling with the myriad technical and business questions that have arisen in the wake of the formal legalization last October. These include issues ranging from insurance and lease conditions to tenant mix, security and signage. The regulations in many jurisdictions remain somewhat ambiguous or confusing. Some municipalities, like the City of Calgary, have added restrictions on top of the provincial rules, while dozens of Ontario municipalities exercised an option to opt-out completely. “There’s a lot to be careful about,” says Brennan Carroll, a commercial real estate partner at Borden Ladner Gervais. The dynamics are “unique,” adds Adam Walsh, general counsel for Choice Properties REIT, the commercial property arm of Loblaw/George Weston. “It’s very rare that a whole industry comes on stream overnight with a popular product.” Yet some larger landlords and REITs remain cautious, fearing negative responses from their other tenants or customers, as well as imponderables, such as the risk of theft or what to do if a cannabis retailer begins selling products that haven’t been approved for recreational use. “The initial landlord reaction was polarizing,” says Jamie Boyce, a CBRE associate vice-president based in Ottawa. Yet Jesse Fragale, a corporate real estate advisor for AvisonYoung, observes that many skeptical landlords became somewhat less hesitant in the past year as the industry began to come into clear focus. “People understood that it wasn’t going to be run by high school kids.” In fact in Ontario those apprehensions gave way almost completely in the second half of

2018 to something quite different: a wild scramble for leases, as various cannabis retail groups, some very well capitalized, raced to lock down prime locations, sometimes dozens at a time. According to some brokers, landlords, sensing their advantage, were not only proposing premium rates for cannabis retailers but also asked for non-refundable cash deposits equivalent to as much as six months of rent. “We had bidding wars for space with multiple cannabis companies,” says Fragale. “The winners were the ones with deeper pockets.” One Toronto team, whose members work in retail and had designs on a store-front space in Toronto’s hip Little Italy area, signed a lease for $10,000 a month, which was about $4,000 above the normal rate, and also provided a non-refundable $40,000 cancellation fee. They didn’t end up with a license, and are on the hook for that hefty fee. “We’re trying to figure that out right now,” says one member of the group, speaking on the condition that their names not be used. They don’t expect to keep the lease and use the space for other purposes. Not everyone on the retail end was willing to get caught up in this dynamic. Jona­ than Goldman, president of Stafford Homes and a partner in a cannabis retail concept known as Cannoe, declined to get drawn in. “We never bid in those situations,” he says. “We’re not fly by night guys.” While Goldman did secure viable locations, his company didn’t end up with a license, and he may launch cannabis accessory and wellness retailers in those locations as he waits for the next tranche to be issued. At the moment, he adds, “The rules are just unclear.”

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in Ontario, apprehensions gave way almost completely in the second half of 2018 to something quite different: a wild scramble for leases

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Source: Forum Reserch © Statista 2018

Marijuana and cannabis consumption among adults in Canada as of January 2018, by age group

Share of group

40% 30 20 10 0











Age group

2.0 Source: New Frontier Data © Statista 2018

Market size in billion $Cdn

Estimated total market size of medical Marijuana in Canada


0.01 0.01 0.01 0.01 1.24 1.74 2.03 2.31 2.38 2.37 2.36 1.0


0 2014











Legal cannabis spending in Canada by province - Oct. - Nov. 2018 $13.83



$8.17 $6.87



$4.52 $2.53







$21,869,000 $21,275,000 $19,414,000 $10,816,000 ON















Source: Statistics Canada



retail sales per person $CDN


Total retail sales $Cdn

The Canadian Strain While Canada beat the U.S. in terms of national legalization legislation, several American jurisdictions were faster off the mark when it came to loosening distribution laws. Some, in fact, offer some clues about the evolution of the retail sector, although Canadian lawyers working in this space caution that the regulations remain very different than ours. At present, 24 states allow legal medical cannabis use, with nine of those, as well as Washington, D.C., permitting recreational uses as well. In Colorado, the introduction of cannabis retailing a few years ago created not just a rush of consumers but a lively sector that has spread to other states with more liberal laws. A November 2018 survey on cannabis retailing conducted by the National Association of Realtors found generally positive responses about the presence of cannabis stores in malls or other retail zones. Three-quarters of respondents from states that have partially legalized cannabis said the proximity of a medical marijuana dispensary didn’t impact nearby property values. Yet 30 per cent of tenants didn’t want to be located near a dispensary, with many citing smell and the risk of theft as their primary concerns. At a recent Urban Land Institute Toronto conference on cannabis and commercial real estate, BLG municipal law partner David Wood showed a slide of a Denver cannabis retailer, resplendent in trippy signage both inside and out. Almost nothing in the image would be permitted in Canada, he cautioned. “Their regulations in general are much slacker and vary from state to state.” Last summer, Avison Young released a detailed 12-page overview of the considerations facing landlords, everything from guidelines and checklists for complying with regulations from all three orders of government, to advice on developing a request for qualification screen. Location choice is one of the most significant, with specific rules about setback for cannabis retailers from schools, future school sites, and child care facilities. The minimum is 100 metres, but some jurisdictions have upped those numbers. The calculation can be tricky, and there is still a fair amount of ambiguity in terms of where the measurement starts and ends, and how vertical distances are dealt with in the case of cannabis stores that are not located at grade.

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Blair Scorgie, a senior planner at Sinclair van Nostrand (SvN), an architecture and planning firm in Toronto, says he’s been preparing due diligence and compliance reports for U.S. chains aiming to open in Calgary. In one case, with a space leased on the second floor of a mall, SvN developed a method for measuring “isochronic” distance between the unit’s door and a nearby school: that is, gauging the length that someone would need to walk, as opposed to the distance as crow flies. But Scorgie says municipal planners aren’t always forthcoming about what method will ultimately pass muster. Others confirm the ambiguity about vertical measurements. “That’s a question we’re wondering about,” says BLG senior associate Tamila Ivanov. “We don’t really have much guidance right now.” In terms of these stores’ merchandising, fixtures, signage and build out, it seems clear that, as retail spaces go, Canada’s cannabis shops will be less flamboyant, and even more restrained than the somewhat illegal dispensaries they have replaced. Though smell is frequently identified as a concern by landlords, strict federal packaging rules mean that the cannabis products will be tightly sealed. The design on labels must be minimalist, and carry various warnings. As with cigarettes, the rules have been designed so there’s no overt appeal to children or youth. Still, cautious CBRE’s Boyce, “the rules are in flux.” An equally complicated question has to do with how the cannabis stores mix in with the tenant mix in an enclosed mall or other larger format corporate retail environment. For some landlords and retailers, the prospect of a cannabis retailer raises red flags about dodgy customers and crime. The early experiences of Alberta’s cannabis retailers suggest they will not be noxious neighbours. BLG’s David Wood mentions one Calgary store, Coop Cannabis, which peacefully shares mall space with a yoga studio, a salon and a print shop. Goldman points out that for chains like Cannoe, there will be a strong wellness component to the retail offering. The co-existence question will become more complicated as edibles become more widely available. In some malls, anchor supermarkets have exclusivity clauses on foodstuffs, but it’s not clear whether cannabis-infused snacks or baked goods will be considered a competing product line. But

Joint Effort Canada’s cannabis sector is rapidly expanding. According to a recent Deloitte study, the industry is expected to add as many as 150,000 jobs over the next several years. In Ontario, retail cannabis employees will service the Province’s estimated two million current adult cannabis consumers and expected 1.3 million cannabis “considerers.” To properly serve this massive market, Lift & Co. in partnership with MADD Canada has developed a four-hour mandatory training program for Ontario cannabis retailers and staff, and has gained multi-year approval from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario ( AGCO) Board. Called CannSell, the retail certification program is the only approved cannabis retail training program in Ontario. Pursuant to the Cannabis License Act and Ontario Regulation 468/18, all Ontario cannabis retail employees, holders of retail store authorizations and holders of cannabis retail manager licences must be CannSell certified prior to legally working in the Province’s cannabis retail stores. The Ontario cannabis market is expected to grow from CAD$930 million in 2019 to CAD$2.4 billion in 2021. And cannabis retail employees are expected to play a central role in cannabis purchase decisions. “The overarching objective of the program is to educate cannabis retail employees on the responsible sale of cannabis, as well as their legal and regulatory obligations,” said Jean Major, Registrar and CEO of the AGCO.

this dynamic can cut both ways if the supermarkets decide to begin selling edibles. “You may have, at one point, two sets of gummies and brownies on the shelves,” says Choice’s Adam Walsh. Indeed, he predicts that in a few years cannabis stores won’t be seen or be treated much differently than liquor stores are today. As such, they’ll have more specialized leases with so-called “use clauses,” as well as clear provisions for security, admission restrictions and the need for specialized insurance, mainly to cover theft. “Insurance is a huge consideration,” Walsh says, adding that the landlord needs to be constantly vigilant that the retailer doesn’t do anything that voids the policy. Up in Smoke? Yet even as the cannabis retail sector gradually becomes encased in the formalities and structures of commercial real estate, the sector and the rules are still so new that landlords are acutely aware of lingering risks. “As we got into the deals, there was a lot of change required,” says Boyce of CBRE’s early customers. In some jurisdictions, like Ontario, a public authority such as the Alcohol and Gaming Commission (AGCO) will have the final say about whether a license is granted. Members of the public can dispute, as can local retailers that may object to the presence of a can-

nabis store in the mall or plaza where they’re located. “I don’t think any lease clause will prohibit tenants from having their say in that process,” says Carroll. Finally, there is the viability of the retailers themselves, an unknown that became especially apparent in Ontario and the government’s decision to award the first 25 licenses by lottery. The result, according to some observes, is inherently unstable. For example, under federal and provincial law the winners are not allowed to bring in partners or assign their licenses. Yet even though none, by most assessments, have significant retail experience, they are faced with an extremely tight deadline to come up with operating capital, a location, and a viable retail concept. “Not one has the means or the knowledge to set up a store,” claims Goldman, who wonders why the province didn’t use a merit-based system to award these first licenses. “There were people from all over the world applying for this thing.” He’s far from the only cannabis industry insider who expressed pessimism about Ontario’s prospects and has opted to pursue the retail opportunities in the far more receptive jurisdictions of Western Canada. Others expect the growing pains to sort themselves out, and will try to remain as flexible in the interim. “We think overall, it’s going to be a positive for most sites,” predicts Walsh. But, he adds, “We’ll have to see how it evolves.”

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On the Road Again The Potential for Transformative Mobility is Promising. Its Timely Implementation Less So By Rhys Phillips

It must be true. The Internet, traditional media and a bevy of TEDTalks proclaim we live in a transformative age, a digital-based third industrial revolution marked by creative disruption. No more so than with mobility. “We are experiencing today,” opens Perkins+Will’s 2018 report, Designing for Future Mobility, “a technologically-driven shift in the transportation industry that is transforming the way we move, and live, in cities.” Mobility, says John Batten in Sustainable Cities Mobility Index 2017 is “an area undergoing significant transformation globally.” But how deep and how quickly unfolding is this great transformation? While Uber/Lyft has sandbagged the antiquated taxi sector, how significant have outcomes been for the average commuter, for promoting more livable cities or for avoiding climate change catastrophe? The answers are probably: not that quick and deep, nor as broad as we think. The potential for transformative change is certainly obvious and multiple examples of innovation exist. But the significance and speed of change depends not just on emerging digital/data technology but on a broader set of variables, many in play well back in analogue days. Unintended negative consequences of some digital tools, weaknesses in the depth and trends in public transit infrastructure, unsupportive land use practices and intransient cultural values suggest major road blocks ahead.


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Potential, Limitations and Contradictions Considerable attention is given to the promise of Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) technology, defined in Deloitte’s The Rise of Mobility as a Service Reshaping how Urbanites Get Around as “a data-driven, user-centered paradigm, powered by the growth of smartphones [requiring] high levels of connectivity; secure, dynamic, up-to-date information on travel options, schedules, and updates; and cashless payment systems.” Optimally, non-car-based mobility consumers will increasingly have access to trip planning tools and payment systems on their smart phones linking public and private transit, bike-sharing, car-sharing and last-mile shuttles into an efficient, time sensitive and more comfortable travel option. Additionally, supply/demand data on travellers’ movements can be collected by service providers permitting adjustments to optimize network components. Counterproductively, however, is its ability to provide real-time updates on road conditions, congestion and available parking spots which may provide temporary improvements for drivers that, like freeway expansions, ultimately increase rather than decrease gridlock. The Perkins+Will report adds self-driving cars to the basket of coming transformative technology but one with counterproductive implications. With roads and parking taking up 45 to 60 per cent of land in modern cities,

automated vehicles could have a huge positive impact on land use and quality of urban life if availability-on-demand substantially reduces car ownership. Fewer vehicles could put a major dent in Co2 emissions, particularly if remaining vehicles are electric. Autonomous cars, however, will actually increase kilometres driven. Despite a decrease in the car population, autonomous vehicles will increase vehicle miles traveled (VMT) between five per cent and 60 per cent, says report author Aaron Knorr. Likewise, and others agree, VMT have increased where ride-hailing services operate. “Those technological disruptions in and of themselves will not solve these problems,” warns Knorr. “Left to their own devices without [appropriate] city building infrastructure, these technological advances could take us even further from where we want to be.” Consultant Bruce Schaller, who served as the New York City Department of Transportation’s first Deputy Commissioner for Traffic and Planning, notes that not only has ride-hailing growth increased traffic, it has decreased transit use in many major American cities. Knorr proposes four core mobility principles for true transformation. Mobility policy must first emphasize shared over private vehicle ownership, but second and third, it must prioritize multi-occupancy vehicles and optimum conditions for active transportation (walking, cycling). Finally it must incentivize low carbon, i.e. electric. Cities must develop an infrastructure

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5,000 4,500 4,000 2040: Shared mobility accounts for ~80% of miles driven

3,500 3,000 2,500

Source: Deloitte, “The Future of Mobility: What’s Next?”, 6.

Annual miles driven (in billions)

2,000 1,500 1,000 500 0 2015


owner driven


shared driven



owned autonomous


shared autonomous

use of ride hailing services

16.0 50,000

10.0 30,000 8.0 20,000

6.0 4.0

10,000 2.0 0 Oct �16

Jul �16

Apr �16

Jan �16

Oct �15

Jul �15

Apr �15

Jan �15

Oct �14

Jul �14



Source: Schaller Consulting, February 2017, 9.



Mon thly ridership (millions)


Jan �14

Analogue Legacy: Urban Form, Public Transit and Cultural Intransigence Technology optimists must look first at our analogue-age legacy. It has been at least four decades since transit oriented development (TOD) and rethinking urban land use were recognized as key requirements for ensuring livable cities. While there are multiple examples in North America of both TOD and Smart City Plans, transformational expansion of public transit infrastructure and related land use has been insufficient and now limits the potential impact of MaaS. Some, like the Greater Vancouver Region and Minneapolis, have made progress and have aggressive plans moving forward. Alice Brown, past-Project Manager for Go Boston 2030 says that Minneapolis, to reduce driving by 40 per cent by 2040, is introducing triplex zoning in every neighbourhood; discouraging surface parking lots; prohibiting new gas stations and drivethroughs; and removing parking minimums. “They are completely changing the calculous of how land can be used in the future,” she says. But most, like Los Angeles’ ambitious Urban Mobility in a Digital Age: A Transportation Technology Strategy for Los Angeles, are strongly aspirational while real physical change remains more marginal than substantive. Current data is not encouraging. While public transit ridership grew in Canada between 2012 and 2017, in the U.S. (save for New York City and Seattle) it has plateaued even though system mileage has increased. One problem, writes Vox’s Aditi Shrikant, has been a focus on expanding transit coverage or “reach” rather than service frequency. Equally important, car sales are again outstripping population growth with cars-per-household rebounding since 2015 to 1.95 per household, just .5 below 2006’s record. “The growth of household vehicles in the last 15 years has been astonishing,” says Daniel Vock, quoting a 2018 University of California at Los Angeles national transit study. While some U.S. cities have seen an

projected automobile miles driven, by type


of deep and integrated electric public transit supported by bike-share and last-mile shuttles in an urban landscape promoting walkability and biking. The first supports shared self-driving vehicles, but in order to significantly decrease congestion, impact climate change and improve urban living conditions, the priority must be multi-occupancy transit.

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these technological advances could take us even further from where we want to be. increase in households without a car, Statista reports between 2015 and 2016 overall carless homes declined from 31 per cent to 24 per cent, and according to Schaller, “Vehicle ownership (and traffic) is on the rise in America’s biggest, most transit-oriented cities.” While many see less car-oriented Millennials as the future, “recent research suggests most millennials actually want to buy cars,” said Fred Lum and Doug Firby in the Globe and Mail last May. Other studies have shown a majority of this age group still pine for a detached house in transit-starved suburbia. One suspects a deeply held cultural belief in the inalienable right to drive internal combustion cars runs deep. A trend called “ICEing,” where young male pick-up truck drivers block Tesla charging stations, is one small indication of intransigence. A necessary eventual ban on non-autonomous driving remains almost unthinkable. The Transit Infrastructure Deficit? For a digitally-driven transformation in mobility in North America, multi-occupancy public transit must expand exponentially. Yet the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) estimates the existing US$90 billion infrastructure deficit (needed repairs and replacement) will reach US$122 billion in America by 2025. Equally important, priority will likely fall to the US$1 trillion range for overall transportation infrastructure deficit for car-centred roads, bridges, tunnels, and so on. Canada’s report card on current transit conditions is more optimistic. But are commitments like Metrolinx’s $40 billion investment over 25 years for a Regional Transportation

Plan really enough to create a fully integrated transit system sufficient to reduce both congestion and Co2 emissions? Out in Front: Helsinki European cities are generally farther ahead in transforming mobility, with cities like Oslo, Madrid, Copenhagen, Hamburg, Paris and Berlin committed to banning or restricting car traffic. Even as France’s Gilet jaune battled gas taxes, CityLab’s Feargus O’Sullivan wrote, “authorities across Europe were working to curb the use of cars with a new set of laws imagined on a scale not seen before.” Helsinki, therefore, is not Europe’s only transformative mobility hub. But as a northern, relatively young city with a metropolitan population of 1.6 million, it provides an aspirational option for many Canadian cities. A 2015 Eurostat table shows that out of 31 European capitals, Helsinki was near the bottom of those where the principle means of going to work was by car but near the top for public transit, biking and walking. Its Strategic Plan 2050, approved in 2016, calls for continued densification, conversion of freeways to mixed-used boulevards and completing an extensive LRT network interlinking the entire region. Even before its approval, press were ebullient: Fast Company’s Adele Peters wrote, “In 2050, you might want to be living in Helsinki,” and more recently, Bloomberg summarized “How Helsinki Arrived at the Future of Urban Travel First.” Bloomberg situates Finland as the birthplace of MaaS, outlining how Helsinki’s Whim app, developed by local firm MaaS Global, is now an all-inclusive functioning mobility

app for trip planning and payment that “remains a distant future in many trend-setting cities.” Whim, says Helsinki News, “combines different transport options into one, including public transport, taxis, rental cars and even bike share, working out the best option for the riders’ needs and travel preferences.” The also locally developed Kyyti app integrates shared minibus rides with other travel services. Both apps are supported by Helsinki’s open interfaces and data access. Since 2016 the city has been experimenting with on-demand transit and driverless electric EZ10 buses. In May 2018, the latter commenced a single, regularly scheduled autonomous minibus on public roads. A fleet will be introduced in 2021, primarily as a solution to the notoriously expensive “last-mile” trip. While Helsinki targets 2025 to be car-free, there is a major caveat for North America. Well back in the analogue-age, the city intensified its land-use policy of growing only through dense, mixed-use “urban villages” linked by a rich transit system of rail, bus, trams and LRT/subway. A Market Approach: Too little, Too Late? Knorr argues public policy can only “nudge big actors” in the right direction. Real change will “take creative and out of the box thinking and some bold vision around transportation infrastructure.” Realigning Canada’s car-based urban landscape, finding resources for transformative public transit and nurturing a broadly accepted socio-cultural revolution may only emerge if climate change fears precipitate planning and implementation on a war footing.

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in their words At The Wheel

Rhys Phillips gets in the passenger seat and talks with Aaron Knorr, lead researcher and author of the Perkins+Will 2018 report, Designing For Future Mobility: Developing A Framework For The Livable Future City.

What do you see as the key innovations transforming urban mobility? I see four instruments of disruption in my report. [The first] is self-driving cars, which is getting a lot of attention but is probably the least visible right now. [The second] are data networks which are the most disruptive and are totally transforming the way people are getting around cities in a very short period of time, whether through apps that work with ride hailing services or just the way that we navigate around cities today. Uber and Lyft may see themselves less and less as mobility companies and more as information companies. What they are offering is the ability to synchronize trip planning with payment and other services that change the way we move around cities. [The third] is shared mobility. In many cities not so long ago, not owning a car was not an option for many people. The options for moving around were mostly limited to owning a car in order to access most services. But there has been this enormous growth over the last decade in shared modes that offer people more options to move around the city without having to own the means. The fourth is electric and we are starting to see the tangible impacts of that too. If we look at the statistics last year, there was a 60 per cent increase in electric vehicle sales. Although the overall number is relatively low, it is increasing dramatically and I think a lot of the things we are seeing countries putting in place will drive this. But do the statistics really support substantive movement toward electric when four-door cab trucks are the fastest growing sales? Is the market driving innovation or does the market make absorbing these new technologies much slower? I think that is where policy really comes into play. For example, if we see policies requir-


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ing manufacturing to shift to electric vehicles, that is going to be a real driver. The automobile is a slow moving business and it takes years or even decades to turn over vehicle fleets. But I think having that policy in place, having the foresight to anticipate that change and nudge those big industry players in that direction will ultimately determine the success of the adoption of that technology. By the 1970s we knew the biggest challenge for urban planning was to undo the damage urban planning had done. We have known about TOD for 40 years yet we have so little TOD and less-than-optimum investment in public transit. Why should we be optimistic? There is a tendency to look at all this technology and to see it as a solution to all the ills and challenges we are facing today in cities. Those technological disruptions will not, in and of themselves, make cities more livable places. In fact, there is a pretty good body of evidence that suggests that left to their own devices, these technologies could take us even further from where we want to be. Ride hailing today is a very good proxy for a hypothetical shared, self-driving future, and numerous studies are showing that increased availability of these services is negatively impacting congestion and transit ridership in major cities. Self-driving cars are quite likely to be a cheaper, easier way to get around than car ownership today, making it easier to move even further from the types of communities that promote walking, biking, and other forms of low carbon mobility. To achieve more livable cities, I think it comes back to some old ideas like making communities that are walkable, giving people as many choices as possible to get around, improving access to transit, [all of which] could minimize congestion and our carbon footprint. One of the reasons self-driving

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cars are not a solution, in and of themselves, to the mobility challenges we face is that the car is an inefficient way of moving a large number of people compared to public or active transportation. What these other modes have in common is that they make more efficient use of limited road space, something cities are not getting any more of. To the extent that technology can improve the viability of shared and high-occupancy modes that make the most of limited resources, there is a real opportunity to make a difference in the design of cities. Have we not had many of the solutions for years, even pre-digital, but failed to implement them effectively? One of the takeaways worth reinforcing is that we cannot give up on transit because technology is not going to solve the fundamental geometry problem of moving large numbers of people with our limited street capacity. It is really about reinvesting in transit and thinking about ways to use technology as a tool to improve service in order to leverage high occupancy transportation. For example in Vancouver, TransLink is

working on a micro-transit pilot on Bowen Island, which is a confined municipality in the larger district. They are testing a phone app to have access to on-demand transit to make it more appealing, relative to single occupancy vehicles. Same in Belleville, Ont. where they are piloting on-demand late night transit. It is this type of service [we need] as well as investing in facilities for people to bike. How technology can help make these types of shared commuting experiences better and more efficient for people is important. In The Rise and Fall of American Growth, Robert Gordon argued that it took the Great Depression and World War II for the state to take control but not ownership of the economy to spur the advances of the second industrial revolution into a remarkable transformation of the human condition. Do we need something similar to truly realize digital technology’s transformative potential? You’re right, it’s about collective decisions. That has always been the role of public sector

investment in infrastructure and that [investment] always moves more slowly than technology. But it also reminds me of The Fall and Rise of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs. Her attitude was to push back at the public sector, like Robert Moses, and decisions made in the name of growth and progress that were counter to the well-understood principles she identified for livable cities and building meaningful communities. Jacobs said “Automobiles are often conveniently tagged as the villains responsible for the ills of cities and the disappointments of city planning. But the destructive effects of the automobile is much less the cause than a symptom of our incompetence at city building.” Her point is that it is not so much about the technology than it is about the decisions we make about city planning. The Interstate highway system in the United States absolutely improved productivity and promoted growth. It was effective at connecting cities, but was at the same time destructive in the way it tore cities apart, divided neighbourhoods, and undermined other options and forms of transportation. We have to balance the economic, the social, the climate impact and benefits of these technologies but it is going to take a focused and concerted effort on the part of government as well as private industry. What will create the tipping point? As designers, our role is not only to advocate for but also to build the types of spaces and infrastructure that are going to spur interest in more livable models. In the report, there are examples of present-day opportunities to apply design thinking to a range of different urban design typologies. There are a lot of opportunities in the work we are doing both in terms of architecture and urban design to create those types of [projects] that lend themselves to support livable city design, that create places where people are going to have a real excitement for, and continue to invest in. That is one of the key roles of design, imagining and realizing places that people will be passionate about. It will take big thinking; it will take creative and out of the box thinking and some bold vision around transportation infrastructure. I think the promise of a lot of these technologies is that they open possibilities for cities of all sizes that are there to be taken advantage of and if leveraged can make a meaningful difference for our cities.

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Let’s Ride! Finding Cycling Inspiration from the Dutch By Melissa Bruntlett and Chris Bruntlett

Ubiquitous on Canadian streets for the first half of the 20th century, the humble bicycle is currently enjoying a 21st century renaissance, as cities of various sizes (and climates) invest in complete, comfortable networks of physically separated cycle tracks, traffic-calmed boulevards, and off-street trails. But when viewing this reallocation of street space through the lens of the local media—accompanied by predictable “bikelash”—one can’t shake the feeling these politicians and planners are attempting to reinvent the wheel, rather than learn from the past mistakes and successes of their peers in cycling cities around the world. And when it comes to embracing—and maintaining—the bicycle as a legitimate form of transportation, no other nation on earth could be considered as triumphant as the Netherlands. It is, after all, the only country in the world where the number of bikes (22.5 million) exceeds the number of people (18 million); a country where citizens take 4.5 billion bicycle trips per year, during which every man, woman, and child pedals an average of 1,000 kilometres. Bicycles now outnumber cars in a staggering 202 different cities and towns across the Netherlands, a testament to how Dutch planners have applied these ideas to a variety of contexts, scales, and urban fabrics. Bring these accomplishments up in conversation, though, and one is immediately greeted with the dismissive assertion, “That would never work here,” followed by a number of other misguided claims. But the Dutch don’t cycle because their coun-


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try is flat (if it were that simple, then Winnipeg would be the biking capital of Canada). The Dutch don’t cycle because the weather is nice (and anyone caught in a brutal wind- or snowstorm blowing off the North Sea will refute that idea). The Dutch don’t cycle because they’re morally superior to the rest of the globe (their electoral flirtations with far-right candidate Geert Wilders should put that myth to bed). No, the Dutch cycle because they’ve built a dense, 35,000-km network of fully separated bike infrastructure, equal to a quarter of their 140,000-km road network. The Dutch cycle because they’ve tamed the motor vehicle, with over 75 per cent of their urban streets traffic-calmed to a speed of 30 km/h or less. The Dutch cycle because their government spends an astonishing €30 (CAD $45) per person per year on bike infrastructure, 10 times the amount invested in most Canadian cities. By adapting a systematic, safe streets approach from Sweden (the same “Vision Zero” policy gaining traction across Canada), Dutch road managers established three road categories—and corresponding bicycle infrastructure—all prescribed in the CROW Manual. These five “Sustainable Safety” principles succinctly summarized their focus on engineering over enforcement and education; but none are as clear and concise as this: “Humans make errors and willingly or unwillingly break rules. This is a given that cannot be changed. So roads and streets should be designed in such a way that this natural human behavior does not lead to crashes and injuries.”

The returns on these investments are myriad and well-documented. Safer streets result in far fewer traffic fatalities, with just 3.4 annual deaths per 100,000 inhabitants (versus 6.0 in Canada), a rate that—if successfully transferred across the Atlantic— would save 1,000 Canadian lives per year. This intelligent and intuitive street design doesn’t just preserve human life. It adds years to it. A 2015 World Health Organization report predicted the Netherlands would be the only European Union country to reverse its rate of obesity in the coming years, projecting an 8.5 per cent rate in 2030 (versus almost 30 per cent in Canada), largely because they’ve incorporated physical activity into how people get from A to B. Current Dutch cycling levels are estimated by Utrecht University to prevent 6,500 premature deaths per year, saving the economy €19 billion (CAD $29 billion), about three per cent of their GDP. Similar cycling rates in Canada would save 14,000 lives each year. Then there are the immense quality-oflife improvements that come with prioritizing the bicycle as a mobility device, especially among the young and elderly. A 2013 study conducted by UNICEF found that Dutch kids topped the list for overall well-being when compared to children in the world’s 29 wealthiest countries, in part because of their ability to roam freely without parental supervision. The final—and perhaps most compelling—piece of this puzzle is the fact the Dutch have proven that a place that works for cycling also works better for driving. For three consecutive years, the navigation app

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Modacity Modacity

THIS PAGE The Dutch CROW Manual mandates separated cycle tracks on all “Distributor Roads,” like this one on Amsterdam’s Jan Pieter Heijestraat. Eindhoven’s now-famous overpass for cyclists, the Hovenring, has become a symbol for a city that embraces the future and the value of functional, innovative design.

Waze’s Driver Satisfaction Index named the Netherlands as the most satisfying place in the world to drive a car, referencing its “smooth traffic conditions” and “solid road quality.” It may seem counterintuitive, but a key ingredient in creating the world’s most enjoyable driving conditions is providing the freedom to leave the car at home. With the ability to walk or cycle for short trips, take a tram or bus for longer trips, and use a fast, accessible national rail system for inter-city trips, the car is viewed as a last resort by many Dutch families.

And so, as Canadian planners look to the Netherlands for two-wheeled inspiration, they’ll find a number of critical takeaways, but none more important than this: Every location is different, and it’s never as simple as copying-and-pasting their methods. Rotterdam’s postwar transformation offers up inspiration for other car-centric cities trying to tame their mean streets. In Groningen, courageous political leadership has been paramount in taming the car, and similar bravery is now manifesting itself in an “all ages and abilities” bike network in the emerging cycling city of Vancouver. In Amsterdam, citizen intervention persisted, narrowly saving their bicycle infrastructure from burial under freeways. In Utrecht, residents realized the goals of a human-scale city and car-first city are mutually exclusive. And in Eindhoven, leveraging cycling has reinvented their city from one of industry to one of technology, and the Prairie City of Calgary now hopes to follow in its tracks. Knowing the work of the world’s foremost cycling nation is never done, the Dutch are looking even further afield, embracing new ideas and technologies to continue decreasing the number of cars, vans, and trucks on their roadways. Electric-assisted bikes, cargo bikes, and cycle superhighways are being implemented and incentivized, as well as parking solutions that better connect bicycle and public transit (an amazing 50 per cent of all train trips in the Netherlands begin with a bicycle ride), all in the hopes of making the single-occupant vehicle a thing of the past. But one size won’t fit all, and—like Rome— the Dutch cycling utopia wasn’t built in a day. It took decades of incredibly hard work, some good fortune, and many forward-thinking decisions that extended far beyond the current political cycle. Only because of these factors do residents of the Netherlands enjoy a society that runs on the power of the bicycle, and the countless benefits brought to everyone, whether they ride or not. By building superior places to cycle, the Dutch have also built superior places to live. And the entire world has a great deal to learn from their story. Melissa and Chris Bruntlett are the co-authors of the book Building the Cycling City: The Dutch Blueprint for Urban Vitality, which is now available from Island Press.

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Register today for the architecture & design event of the year!

Image: Sam Morris/Las Vegas News Bureau

AIA Conference on Architecture 2019 June 6-8, Las Vegas

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site visit Democracy in the Details

A small Québec community finds civic purpose, pride and participation in its first-ever, purpose-built city hall. By Shannon Moore

THIS PAGE Located 50 kilometres west of Montréal at the confluence of the Rigaud and Ottawa rivers, Rigaud is noted for its natural attractions and historic village centre which dates back to New France. The east and north façades of the new city hall building, punctuated by a white aluminum colonnade, allude to the archetype of the classical temple whose form is associated with the birth of democracy. Photography by Adrien Williams

When Affleck de la Riva Architects was tasked with designing a new city hall for a small community in Québec, a guiding theme emerged: democracy. The modest, 10,500-sq.-ft.building would exude transparency and inclusion, and become an accessible and welcoming place where equality and freedom of expression thrive. Completed in 2018, the new Rigaud City Hall achieves

this and more, projecting a strong civic image through a classic-meets-contemporary architectural form. From the outside, the rectangular building stretches long and sits low to the ground, mimicking a traditional Greek temple through its white skin and vertical aluminum colonnade. As visitors approach the ground-floor plaza and entrance, the building’s main

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THIS SPREAD Luminous and unadorned, the building blends into the northern landscape of the Ottawa Valley. Fully glazed on three façades, the chamber represents democracy as a transparent activity. The integration of the building into the site’s topography creates three levels and buries the first level on the north side. Technical rooms are located in this buried area, while the offices on the south side are distributed over three floors with natural lighting and passive solar gains offered on each level. Photography by Adrien Williams


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attraction — a suspended council chamber — hangs effortlessly over their heads. “The purpose of the council chamber is for citizens to see, from as far as the neighbouring streets, that the lights are on, both figuratively and literally,” says Gavin Affleck, architect at Affleck de la Riva. “It’s important for them to know that people are working on and caring for their community.” Inspired by Hamilton, Ont.’s historic city hall and accessed through a two-storey, skylit atrium, the suspended council chamber sits at the heart of the building’s transparent, democratic design. The minimalist glass, wood and concrete accents that adorn the building’s exterior

continue in the palettes of the offices and administrative workspaces inside. Here, abundant natural light is accentuated by stark white ceilings and walls, whereas black window frames and furnishings add a sleek modernist touch. In addition to passive solar gains and natural water collection, the north side of the building is buried into the site’s topography to help control temperature and house technical equipment. The only prominent use of colour can also be found on this north side, where the city’s logo decorates the masonry façade. Beyond the building, Affleck de la Riva Architects’ project included urban design work to help revitalize Rigaud’s historic

village centre, which Affleck says has been in decline. “We redeveloped empty lots, made a new town square, added a new street and linked it all from Main Street to the Rigaud River,” he says. Together, the urban design work and new building bring order and fluidity to the city, while serving as a reminder of architecture’s role in establishing democratic ideals. “With everything going on in the daily news cycle, this project was an opportunity to explore where democracy starts — from a very small, grassroots place,” says Affleck. “Architecture can encourage pride and inclusion, and as a public building, Rigaud City Hall gives form to the function of the community.”

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view point Walk With Joy

ULI Toronto’s Executive Director wonders if in trying to cut red tape we are actually overcorrecting? By Richard Joy

Richard Joy is Executive Director of ULI Toronto. Previously, he served as Vicepresident, Policy and Government Relations at the Toronto Board of Trade, and was the Director of Municipal Affairs and Ontario (Provincial Affairs) at Global Public Affairs. Follow him on Twitter @RichardJoyTO or email at


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After 15 years of public policy-loving provincial government, it is understandable that the development industry would seek a thorough review of the myriad legislative, regulatory, zoning, building code, and other provincial and municipal policy reforms that have come to force during this period. A strong case can be made that when combined, these reforms represent “red tape” that works against the broader objectives that they seek to achieve — or become the source of unintended consequences — but are we knee-jerking towards an over-correction? As North America’s fastest growing metropolis for over 20 years, it might not surprise an external observer that provincial and municipal governments have sought to harness and control this economic juggernaut. Public policies were introduced to ensure that development is consistent with such objectives as minimizing the cost and pressures of public infrastructure expansion; maximizing the opportunities to sustain public transit; reducing the use of carbon-producing energy; broadening the economic opportunities for more residents; protecting farmland; and rehabilitating old industrial lands. Whether public policy is entirely to credit, the Toronto region has evolved into one of the most compact urban regions in North America. With an urban density that rivals many great European cities and among the highest transit ridership of North American cities, Toronto amazingly ranks as one of the most resilient cities in the world according to a research report by Grosvenor, which cites good governance and planning as major factors. The GTHA has actually exceeded its greenhouse gas emission reductions, and socially, we are world’s most diverse population (more than 50 per cent foreign born) and consistently rank amongst the most liveable cities globally. A lot of things are going right. And yet, we have our share of challenges. Commute times, for example, are second only to New York City in North America. And of course the biggest failure is housing affordability, which now dominates the public policy discussion

and the politics that go with it. A recent report places Toronto as the fifth most unaffordable city in the world when factoring in the residential housing market relative to income. A 2018 Altus Group report helps explain why. Between 2009 and 2017, the average price of low-rise homes in the GTA increased by 167 per cent, while high-rise units rose by 80 per cent, versus a consumer price index inflation of 14 per cent. Such shocking spikes in prices have naturally led many to blame government actions and inactions: too much constraint on land supply; too slow and cumbersome an approval process; and too many charges layered on top of home purchase prices. Many believe the obvious solution is to undo most of the cumulative reforms of the past decade, unshackle the development industry and “flood the market” with an over-abundance of new housing supply. Undoubtedly, such a response could be achieved, and home prices could be bent further downward much as they have already over the past year. But where will this ultimately lead us? Will allowing more low-density greenfield expansion while reducing development charges not add costs to municipalities and ratepayers as they are forced to increase per capita infrastructure expansion, all while losing a traditional source of revenue? Doesn’t the push for a high-order suburban transit expansion become more challenging when new development or intensification targets no longer sustain necessary ridership growth? The laundry list of proposed public policy reforms is long and growing. This includes: curtailing the power of conservation authorities; weakening employment land protection; reducing rent controls; reforming (again) the planning appeal process; removing inclusionary zoning to create affordable units; embarking on regional governance reforms; uploading the subway system; and so on. It is a healthy thing for a new government to take stock of the policies of its predecessor, but great care should be taken to ensure that the fixes to current challenges not become the source of future ones.

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Introducing IKO Commercial’s new 2-IN-1 Insulated WRB System. When IKO Enerfoil® or Ener-Air™ polyisocyanurate insulation sheathing boards are used with IKO AquaBarrier™ Tapes, this innovative two-in-one system eliminates the need for separate membrane system. So it’s twice as smart because it saves you time and money. And the higher thermal values of both Enerfoil and Ener-Air products means they require less space than less efficient insulation systems to deliver the same level of performance or better. So don’t just get smart, get twice as smart, and choose IKO’s new 2-IN-1 WRB System for your next job. To learn more today, contact an IKO Representative, or call 1-855-IKO-ROOF (1-855-456-7663) or visit IKO.COM/COMM.

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Profile for IQ Business Media

Building February March 2019  

Canadaís national news magazine for building industry professionals with focus on real estate development and architecture including residen...

Building February March 2019  

Canadaís national news magazine for building industry professionals with focus on real estate development and architecture including residen...