Ontario Home Builder - Early Spring 2023

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Congested highways are putting transit-oriented projects in the fast lane

The missing middle is right on target P.34


The Leslieville Laneway house is a project in the Toronto area. his discovery home is built for climate change.

It Features superior woodfi bre insulation combined with energye cient HVAC and grey water recycling. The innovative design creates e cient spaces for more occupants, resulting in a reduced carbon footprint building. The project is targeting LEED Platinum.




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28 On the Fast Track

With traffic jams aplenty, projects along rail and bus lines are in the express lane

9 Ontario Report

A checklist for the Ontario Finance Minister, Aurora’s Delmanor seniors community makes energy history, a milestone in Kingston, and Perth-Huron is attracting new labour.

17 Inside Storey

Building code changes have experts concerned.

23 Trending

From composite siding to linear bricks, the latest products for builders and renovators.

49 Building Buzz Chilling trends for newhome numbers, HCRA starts laying fines, Formica turns 100, Daniels shows a builder’s community impact and more!

55 Product Focus

Remember the good old days of granite countertops? Well, from porcelain to limestone, kitchen surface technology has gone next-level.

62 Frame of Mind

A UK project reminds us that designing for high density doesn’t mean it can’t be attractive.

34 Between Jobs

Why the new ‘missing middle’ is ripe with opportunity

41 Brand New World

You want to be noticed, but when is changing your company name the right call?

ON THE COVER Dream’s LeBreton project in Ottawa will shine for its accessibility to t r ansit, but also for its affordable housing content.

ohba.ca @onhomebuilder ONTARIO HOME BUILDER EARLY SPRING 2023 5


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Ian Sullivan Cant


Barbara Chambers


Tracy Hanes, Alex Piccini


Cindy Kaye, ext. 232 cindy@laureloak.ca


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Sheryl Humphreys, ext. 245 sheryl@laureloak.ca


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The official publication of the Ontario Home Builders’ Association Early Spring 2023| Vol. 39 Issue 2
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The Budgets of Buyers Improving housing attainability for all Ontarians

Wearing new shoes on budget day is a unique ritual among Finance Ministers in Ontario. It’s a timehonoured tradition, and perhaps even adds a spring to their step. Either way, it is a key indication that the provincial budget is about to be delivered and that the province will indicate its priorities for the year ahead.

As the Ontario Finance Minister prepares the provincial budget, there are numerous considerations that go into the document. Changes to spending, policy and programs all impact our province and the new-home

construction sector. For many Ontarians, a key priority remains the attainability of housing and increasing supply so that more individuals and families can find a home. While significant changes to increase supply are critical, there are also fiscal options available to the provincial government that can dramatically increase housing attainability.

There are key fiscal measures that should be considered to help put the dream of homeownership back within reach of more Ontarians. These recommendations include

several policy options available to the provincial government, which would have a meaningful impact on restoring attainability over the long term and providing more housing options.

One bold change the province can consider is eliminating the provincial portion of the HST on new housing entirely and to offset that shift in revenue with a flat tax on all home sales (both new and resale) in Ontario. This option to support newhome buyers is a courageous measure that would immediately increase housing affordability and stimulate economic growth. This change would help close the gap between new and resale homes, increasing attainability for homebuyers and improving competitiveness.

Second, to directly help firsttime homebuyers, the province should consider increasing the Land Transfer Tax Rebate from a maximum refund of $4,000 to $10,000 for qualifying buyers. Not only would this create more options for those looking to enter the housing market for the first time, but it would also help increase competition within regional housing markets.

Third, the province can look at how Ontarians can improve their home and its livability. Home renovations are vital to Ontario’s residential construction sector and the province’s economy. Professional renovations span a wide variety of focuses, from adding a second unit to a home to energy-efficient retrofitting, benefiting both consumers and the local community. A Home Renovation Tax Credit would help encourage existing homeowners to renovate their homes and could be targeted to incentivize the construction of additional units, increasing housing supply and providing new rental options.

These measures are substantial steps that could have an important and immediate impact on housing attainability. The bold pursuit of these recommendations would help put the dream of homeownership back within reach so that more Ontarians can find a place to live, work and raise a family. OHB

Ontario Report

Energy Star Multifamily Certification Leading the Way to Energy Efficiency

The Delmanor Seniors Community in Aurora has made history by becoming the first building in Canada to receive the Energy Star Multifamily certification.

Energy Star-certified multifamily mid- and high-rise buildings must be at least 15% more energy efficient than those built to the provincial building code and must meet certain building envelope and mechanical requirements. The program assists builders, developers, designers and contractors in constructing more energy-efficient buildings, supports private-sector investment in high-performance buildings, increases comfort for residents, lowers operating costs for owners and reduces emissions for all.

Modelling on the success of the Energy Star New Homes program, EnerQuality began working with Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) and a small group of builders, engineers, energy advisors and architects committed to building better. This teamwork resulted in the Energy Star

Multifamily certification program, a voluntary, industry-led building standard and certification.

“We are incredibly honoured to become the first Energy Star-certified multifamily building under the program. We worked closely with EnerQuality to navigate the certification process,” says Delmanor CEO Adam Fineman. “We see this is an important initial step in not only reducing our carbon footprint, but in ensuring we are capable of providing the best possible service to our many residents.”

EnerQuality certifies energy-efficient new homes and buildings under a license agreement with NRCan, and facilitates the certification submission, review and approval process. The Delmanor Seniors Community in Aurora exemplifies how advancements in technology and construction processes can lead to energy efficiency and sustainability in buildings.

“Certification in new multifamily buildings will enhance environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting

and support industry capacity to build toward net zero,” said Monica Curtis, president and CEO, EnerQuality.

“Thanks to our partnership with EnerQuality, the entire process was seamless from start to finish,” adds Mario Cimicata, Senior V.P., Construction Management, at Deltera. “Delmanor Seniors Communities serves as an important example of what’s possible with the many advancements being made in technology, construction processes and other areas of our industry.”

The Energy Star Multifamily program is growing. In addition to the Tridel Group of Companies, the Molinaro Group, FRAM + Slokker, Minto, QuadReal and others are exploring this certification. They are supported by leading licensed professionals, including EQ Building Performance, SRS Consulting Engineers, Purpose Building, RDH Building Science and Morrison Hershfield. OHB

For more information, visit EnerQuality at enerquality.ca/esmfhr.

10 ONTARIO HOME BUILDER EARLY SPRING 2023 ohba.ca Ontario Report
Celebrating the inaugural Energy Star Multifamily certification of the Delmanor Seniors Community in Aurora are (left to right): OHBA Past President Bob Schickedanz, EnerQuality Board Director Larry Brydon, EnerQuality President & CEO Monica Curtis, Delmanor Communities President & COO Adam Fineman, Tridel President and CEO Jim Ritchie, Ontario Minister for Seniors Kamal Khere, Aurora Mayor Tom Mrakas, Aurora-Oak Ridges-Richmond Hill MP Leah Taylor Roy and Mario Cimicata, Senior V.P., Construction Management, Tridel/Deltera.

Kingston Construction Industry Students Celebrate 100th Home

When John Armitage first heard about the opportunity, he jumped at the chance to help students find their way into the building trades.

“We have a continuing crisis in construction,” says Armitage, who celebrates his 50th year of membership with the Kingston Home Builders Association this year. “Through the Building Construction Internship Program, established some 40 years ago through the Limestone District School Board, we have been able to expose students to home building in a real, hands-on way, and some have gone on to careers in the trades.”

Over the years, companies have contributed to ensure this program stays strong, and incredible partnerships have been forged along the way including this year’s project, a series of Tiny Homes built for Habitat for Humanity Kingston Limestone Region. Local students are not only learning skilled trades but are part of offering a hand-up to people in need of affordable housing. It makes this year’s milestone all the more special: their 100th home together.

Former KHBA President and current Habitat KLR Chair Jacqueline Collier is proud of this year’s project, which involves building eight Tiny Homes for people in need of safe housing, in partnership with the City of Kingston.

“The construction industry is responsible for every piece of infrastructure in a community,” says Collier. “Affordable

housing is critical, and for many it is out of reach. These partnerships are bringing hope and changing lives for the people who will call this project ‘home.’”

Both Collier, who sits on the City of Kingston’s Housing and Homelessness Advisory Committee and works for Tamarack Homes, and Armitage, president of Brookland Fine Homes, commend local educators and students.

“It has taken over 30 years to reach 100 builds,” says veteran teacher Dan Fisher of Ernestown Secondary School, host of the Building Construction Internship Program. “The program began with school administrators and community partners willing to take risks, and our success continues to open new possibilities.”

Fisher knows what it takes, having participated in about a quarter of the builds. John Godden, founder of sustainability consultancy Clearsphere, agrees. “We wanted to build the healthiest and most energy-efficient homes possible,” Godden says. “That includes new technologies that will make a difference in people’s lives.”

The milestone achievement is truly about community. “The short-term goal is to build a house,” says Armitage. “The long-term goal is to build people.” OHB

The author, Sarah Margolius, works for Panasonic, which has donated equipment for this project. Ernestown Secondary School teacher Dan Fisher and students hold a Swidget box. The smart-home technology, first created in Kingston, is being featured in Tiny Homes.


“Become intrigued. Be inspired. Engage the futures of youth.” These are the goals of a recent community initiative that has been designed to support Huron-Perth region students, teachers and employers. This collaborative effort between local employers, partners in employment, the Perth-Huron Builders Association, the Huron Perth & Area Ontario Health Team and both the Avon Maitland District and Huron-Perth Catholic District School Boards was created to support and engage local youth, showcasing tangible opportunities to experience the diversity of local career choices.

The region is experiencing a skill and labour shortage that is dramatically impacting its economic growth. Youth represent the future and are integral to addressing this crisis.

A series of youth-driven videos has been created to bring awareness and engage students to actual career opportunities available in the region to allow youth to make informed career decisions. Primary sectors include construction,


Stratford & Area HBA has recently changed its name. Introducing the new Perth-Huron Builders Association logo!

health care, hospitality, agriculture, transportation & logistics, and administration & social services/government relations. The series hopes to continue to expand.

By adding these virtual employer tours to the curriculum, open dialogue begins in the classroom and provides increased opportunity for workforce alignment, addressing themes of supporting informed career decisions, training, experiential learning and the engagement of frontline influencers.

The target audience for these videos is youth ranging from Grades 7-12. These engaging and informative videos are being shared digitally through partner websites, social media posts, and school boards and classrooms.

Being aware of available options in the region and being given the opportunity to dream and engage is an essential component of an effective job search for youth who are seeking current and future employment opportunities.

For more information, contact Melissa Schenk, executive officer for PHBA, at (519) 276-0006. OHB



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NBC 2020 changes bring harmonization, but at what cost?

EVERY PROVINCE has its unique challenges—weather included—which has led to a diverse set of building codes across Canada. But that different set of rules has long made life difficult for companies doing business in Canada. And that’s a critical element of the new round of national code changes coming online at the start of 2024, says Andy Oding, V.P. and Director of Building Science at Building Science Canada.

“This building code harmonization is about a lot more than energy,” Oding suggests. “The reason this change is taking place is because of the Free Trade Act. Because of the varying building codes between Ontario, Quebec and the rest of Canada, it was very difficult for manufacturers and industry members around the world to get approvals. So this will enhance free trade and bring innovation.”

Harmonization will pose a significant change for Ontario builders in both adoption and implementation. Ensuring industry members are ready to navigate those challenges is essential, notes OHBA CEO Luca Bucci. “To ensure that members are able to successfully apply these changes, OHBA is aligning our strategic plan so that members have technical resources within the association to rely upon.”

“Big changes for builders have a ripple effect throughout the design and construction processes,” adds Mike Memme, the Chair of OHBA’s Building Code Subcommittee. “OHBA has been working in partnership with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing so that they are fully aware of how the building code changes will impact builders in Ontario.”

We spoke to four experts on the front lines regarding the code changes:

Memme; Oding; John Lane, V.P. of Ontario Building Officials Association; and Miyoko Oikawa, Manager of Research and Innovation at Doug Tarry Homes, who has been working alongside lawyer and LEED Green Associate Victoria Coffin to establish a broad stakeholder council to support the implementation and harmonization of the National Building Code within Ontario.


ANDY ODING: “I was originally involved with the development of the previous SB12 standard as a builder in 2012 and 2017, and participated in the development of the new NBC 2020 9.36 Energy Efficiency Guidance. We have performed analysis with a number of Ontario builders, looking at costs and applications. It looks like about a 15% increase over SB12 2017 in current energy efficiency. Prescriptive compliance with NBC 9.36 (Tier 3) will likely add $2,000 to $3,000 per single detached home, similar to the 2012 and 2017 changes. However, performance compliance with NBC 9.36 (Tier 3) will enable builders to meet code for significantly less—e.g. $150-$1,500 per home.”

MIKE MEMME: “There are proposed code changes that will clean up some areas of concern that builders have with the Ontario code, but there are other changes that are going to add costs. When you raise the energy efficiency bar, you raise the cost. You save on energy, but it’s a case of diminishing returns. There’s a little runway left, but we’re approaching that tipping point with this next code change where the extra cost no longer makes sense.”

ANDY ODING: “You’d think a company like ours, which deals with

ohba.ca @onhomebuilder ONTARIO HOME BUILDER EARLY SPRING 2023 17
Inside Storey

energy efficiency and building science, would love them, but they’re the bane of our existence. It creates a different code in every area for builders and developers. I frankly feel sorry for planners and building officials, since they’re being asked to administer something that’s very complex and the enforcement of such is often questionable under the Ontario Building Code Act. Some municipalities are telling developers/ builders, ‘Do net-zero!’ And we’re asking, ‘Net-zero what? NZ Energy or NZ Carbon? Operational carbon or embodied carbon?

“Consistency in the codes is important in keeping homes affordable and effective in meeting climate change challenges. We have to be a little careful with not-so-well defined municipal guidance and goals. While they may be concerned with the environment and climate change, what’s often forgotten about is building science. We’ve seen some municipalities pushing hard on increasing efficiency of new-home developments, only to find out that without balanced consideration to operational and embodied carbon it can unintentionally result in increased levels of carbon and more expensive operation of the home.”

MIKE MEMME: “The problem with municipalities asking for higher code requirements is that the building departments are not allowed to ask for anything above code, so now we’ve got planning departments doing it instead. And so we have those who least understand the code making changes to it. That was never anticipated by the code development folks. Some building departments don’t even know that their planning department is requiring a higher level of energy efficiency. So it’s challenging, and with the new code it’s going to be more challenging. The new code has five tiers, and to get to the fifth tier you may actually burn more carbon than you’ll ever get back through energy savings.”

MIYOKO OIKAWA: “From a builder’s perspective, it’s difficult to have that dialogue with municipalities where green standards are being implemented without a full technical analysis to support it. Or perhaps the technical analysis was done by a third party without expertise on the construction side.”


MIYOKO OIKAWA: “Initially, when this next round is adopted, we could see a delay in permit applications as building code officials and industry come up to speed with the new requirements and a new prescriptive approach to getting your permit.”


MIYOKO OIKAWA: “Increased costs and confusion amongst industry and plans examiners. If you look at Part 9 (of the NBC), even prescriptive compliance, a lot of the tables use different language than we’re used to. If we’re talking about the general RSI (thermal resistance) of a wall assembly, is that going to be generally accepted or will I have to show a calculation, and will the method I’m using be the same that an examiner is using? Currently, I feel that the shortened implementation timeline will have significant immediate impacts on different sectors such as permit delays and confusion in interpretation and enforcement.”

JOHN LANE: “The number of tiers is not so much the issue as the number of potential variations for designers within each tier. And the more complicated the portion of the code becomes, the more room there is for errors. In the end, building officials, especially in rural areas where they may not have the expertise, may require all submissions to be from an energy advisor, which will only add to development costs and create

backlogs. Another concern is the chronic shortage of building officials across Ontario.”

MIKE MEMME: “One thing Ontario home builders will have to get their heads wrapped around is the move from a ‘packages’ energy system, which we’ve been using in SB12, to the ‘points’ system used in the new 9.36. The Ontario code has packages that builders can choose from. The national code does not. There, builders meet certain tiers through the points they receive by making energy efficiency implementations.”


JOHN LANE: “When a building official gets to a site and has a question, they need to reach out to the Ministry to get interpretations of the code. This can cause delays, especially around technical provisions that are interpreted differently depending on which municipality you’re building in. To address this, the OBOA has created BCAS, the Building Code Advisory Service. It’s a group of building officials who will receive code interpretation questions and dispense advice in a timely fashion. The sooner building officials can respond back with a rock-solid technical interpretation of the code, the sooner a project can carry on. It’s our hope this will be a driving factor in streamlining the home building industry.


MIYOKO OIKAWA: “If you consider how much of Canada that Ontario makes up in terms of new housing starts, that really should be worked into the governing structure. Ontario should have more weight in decision making. How will we have a separate voice, since we have our own supply chain and costs problems that are specific to Ontario that we need to advocate for?”

ohba.ca @onhomebuilder 18 ONTARIO HOME BUILDER EARLY SPRING 2023
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ANDY ODING: “There’s a big number of Ontario-based participants on the NBC standing committees. That said, the harmonization with national codes poses a challenge in that the provincial HBAs need to lead a well-coordinated participation and timely response to both national code work and to the provincial adoption process. Most of the other provincial HBAs have full-time staff members who actually work on technical code review, guidance and coordination of local and provincial builder feedback and education. The world of codes and standards is becoming increasingly complex. We love being active members of OHBA and four local Ontario HBAs, but if there’s any place we can put our membership money to good use right now, it would be putting good people in paid positions at the OHBA to be active at the national code development level, fronting Ontario’s interest and builder/developer industry and providing ongoing guidance to the Ontario industry regarding technical challenges and opportunities. Our neighbours in Alberta and B.C. have this, and the other provinces as well. It’s a paradigm shift for us, but I think it’s what needs to happen.”

THIS IS GOING TO BE A TIGHT WINDOW TO MEET DEADLINES. MIKOYO OIKAWA: “You know that horrible nightmare you have, where the exam is tomorrow and you haven’t studied? Well, this code change is like that. We had a 45-day consultation period. Sometime early this year, the changes to the Ontario Building Code need to be shown to industry. They will come into effect probably January 2024. Hypothetically, if they’re released in March, we’d have less than 12 months to adopt and understand them and put them into play for our 2024 projects.”

JOHN LANE: “OBOA was advised by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing that there are 7,000 code provisions and over 2,000 anticipated changes in the next round of amendments, with another equal number of harmonization changes following the release of the next

ohba.ca @onhomebuilder 20 ONTARIO HOME BUILDER EARLY SPRING 2023
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National Building Code in 2025. It’s unrealistic to expect the industry and practitioners to be prepared for the significant amount of change in less than 18-24 months from the release of the next edition. And in that same time frame, it would not be unexpected for the next batch of code harmonization changes to be released for our consultation review. So we’re trying to learn the new code changes while also volunteering our opinions on the pending code changes. It’s unrealistic to expect the industry, including the OBOA and George Brown College and other educational institutions, to alone fund the training and education needed to bring practitioners up to speed. By our own estimate, 3,000 to 4,000 person hours will be required to revise existing materials just in this round of changes. I expect permit fees to go up.”

ANDY ODING: “I’m worried less about the nuances and technical details and far more about the time frame. In 2006 we had this new thing called an energy code in Ontario, and that only took us until 2012! Now we have basically one year. Retraining BCIN (licensing) in class with all your staff between now and then, well, good luck! I think that’s why we have to separate the harmonization effort from the technical performance increase. With the NBC 2020 9.36, we now have five tiers, Tiers 4 and 5 being considered Net Zero Ready. Already the work is underway for 2025 to tweak some of the technical guidance, but also to develop a building code for alterations to existing homes and buildings. As an Ontario builder/renovator, if you have concerns, you need to get involved in the code process. There is now intention to provide some guidance for operational carbon reduction within the 2025 NBC. We may see some guidance on embodied carbon reduction by 2030, along with enhanced resiliency requirements. Working groups are already in place, where they’re exploring whether air conditioning should be required as a mandatory item in some areas of Canada. So get used to this pace, because I don’t see it changing very much.” OHB

ohba.ca @onhomebuilder ONTARIO HOME BUILDER EARLY SPRING 2023 21
Get creative with brick! A brick exterior not only adds lasting value and protection to a home, it’s also a creative choice for one-of-a-kind designs. canadabrick.com Download our new Brick Selections brochure to be inspired by our beautiful colour palette. canadabrick.com/resources MODERN BRICK



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Vintage Flooring has launched a Chevron pattern in its prefinished hardwood flooring. Available in 24 colours of White Oak, in smooth or wire-brushed textures, all Chevron boards are exactly the same shape and size to help installers easily produce a classic V-shaped zigzag pattern, since the sides meet at a point. But the board configuration also allows for the creation of countless patterns to customize designs for your clients.




Arriscraft’s eye-catching Architectural Linear Series Brick offers a unique distressed finish not possible with regular clay brick. This calcium silicate product, like all Arriscraft stone, features consistent texture and colour throughout each unit. Higher absorption rates and lack of core holes, meanwhile, allow installers to achieve high production rates and employ a variety of deeper tooled joints for an accentuated linear aesthetic. This popular long brick comes pre-blended, with lengths up to 23-5/8” and in four designer colours. ARRISCRAFT.COM



Toronto-based Kreitmaker has become the exclusive North American distributor of SlurryTub, a portable filtration system that provides an ecofriendly and cost-effective solution for disposing of your leftover slurry. The easy-to-use SlurryTub captures and filters wet trade slurry, leaving visibly clear water to drain within the designated washout areas or be recycled on the job. When dry, simply dispose of the hardened waste, along with the biodegradable filter. KREITMAKER.COM


Schlage’s new Encode Plus Smart WiFi Deadbolt , the brand’s next-generation smart lock, is among the first to support Apple’s latest enhancement to the HomeKit experience, with Home Key capability while still offering consumers the robust Schlage experience. With Home Key in Apple Wallet, consumers can tap to unlock the Schlage Encode Plus deadbolt using their iPhone and Apple Watch for easy and secure access to their home. SCHLAGE.CA

Designed for both retrofit and new construction residential applications, Navien’s H2Air Kit allows for forced-air space heating and DHW system integration between NPE-A2 Series tankless water heater models and a hydronic air handler. It’s also compatible with NPE-S2 (additional parts required). When sized correctly it can provide endless domestic hot water and continuous space heating. H2Air is compatible with hydronic air handler models that require W1/W2/R terminals along with single- or dual-stage thermostats. The included Outdoor Reset Sensor provides optimum performance and efficiency for space heating. NAVIENINC.CA




Designed for tough fastening jobs on the worksite, DeWalt’s new 20V Max XR 1/4 in. 3-Speed Impact Driver boasts 30% more torque. Delivering 1,825 in-lbs of max torque and 3,400 RPMs (no-load) through a brushless motor, it’s ideal for applications that demand power and efficiency. Further, the three speed modes, variable speed trigger, forward/reverse switch and ergonomic grip help put the user in control when completing applications in various materials. DEWALT.CA


For custom builders and high-end renovators and designers comes the stunning Serpentine Light by Front ($1,347) from Canada’s Robinson Light & Bath. Part of the new Moooi collection, this airy suspension lamp features elaborate twists and turns, with its dark lines creating the effect of an endless upward spiral, while the flow and curve of the almost translucent material diffuses the light evenly.


Miele’s 24” KM6092 EasyControl Convection Oven and H2265-1I induction cooktop make the perfect high-rise condo kitchen pairing. Sold only as a set ($5,949 retail) and featuring a combined control panel, the induction cooktop, which provides a safer, more efficient cooking technology, plugs into its partnering wall oven, which, in turn, plugs into the wall. That means one fewer electrical connection for builders, with lots of energy savings for homebuyers. MIELE.CA


Westlake Royal Building Products’ Celect Cellular Composite Siding features a palette of 15 deep, rich colours, allowing for the individualization of a home’s exterior, including mixing colours to accentuate different home sections. Available in 7” Horizontal Lap and 8” and 11” Board & Batten, it matches wood, puts visible seams into hiding, makes deterioration extinct and renders maintenance obsolete, while being able to expand and contract with Ontario’s climate. WESTLAKEROYALBUILDINGPRODUCTS.COM




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Taking advantage of transit line development

With ‘transit-oriented communities’ (TOC) becoming entrenched as an Ontario government mantra, developers are hopping on board in the search for prime development sites along GO, subway and other transit lines. The Ford government’s vision is to integrate residential units (including affordable housing), commercial space, parks and other amenities close to transit, thus easing gridlock and creating more economic opportunities and jobs in the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

Building in these locations has unique opportunities and challenges. Most of those involved have procured their own sites, with one developer partnering with Metrolinx to transform one of its Toronto locations.

Dream Unlimited Corp./Kilmer Group have been selected to rezone and redevelop Metrolinx’s 1.01-acre site at 433 Front St. W. in downtown Toronto into a high-density, mixeduse development that will connect to the future Spadina-Front GO Station. The goal is to create a place where people can live, work, shop and play, as well as have transit access.

Currently, the site serves as the North Bathurst Yard, where GO trains are stored during non-peak times. Building on a tight site on an active rail corridor is complicated; thus, Metrolinx issued a two-stage Request for Qualifications (RFQ) and Request for Proposals (RFP) through an open competition. According to a press release, Dream Kilmer was selected based on its qualifications and experience in mixed-use and infrastructure development. Its proposal will integrate the at-grade GO station with the new development, with connected station entrances on Front St. W. and Spadina Ave. Dream/Kilmer will work with Metrolinx and ONxpress (the GO expansion proponent) on a two-year GO expansion development phase to ensure seamless integration of the scope, design and construction schedule, while working with the City of Toronto through the approvals process.

“The process we’re going through with Metrolinx is fairly typical of other government agencies in terms of procurement,” explains Jason Lester, vice-chair, development at Dream. “A lot of government proposal calls align with Dream’s core values, as they often include sustainability, inclusiveness and affordable housing.”

Molinaro Group’s Paradigm development is situated alongside the Burlington GO Station.

However, these types of proposals surpass the typical complexity of a development, Lester adds. “There is greater risk in terms of execution, and you are dealing with multiple stakeholders—more than you’d normally have. With a typical project, you are dealing with the neighbourhood and city. At 433 Front Street, you also have Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario. There is no question, 433 Front will be complex. It’s a tight site with The Well (a massive mixed-use community) under construction (across the street), a busy downtown and a live rail yard.”

However, Lester says the build program itself doesn’t tend to add complexity, unless “you want to raise the bar for sustainability and affordability.” He said while that might require additional time up front, it doesn’t necessarily add time during design and construction. But building in close proximity to a rail line does add another layer, requiring coordination with the rail line and city.

“Historically, we were more concerned about vibration and that it could migrate to the site. And in the days of diesel, you had to be mindful of fumes from diesel engines. Now there are engineering solutions to all of this. You often have development sites right up against 400-series highways. Noise goes up when it disperses and you have to be mindful of how you do the design. It’s the same thing for building next to transit, and you don’t have as many trains going by a day as you do cars on a major highway.”


Another transit-oriented project by Dream is 2200 Eglinton Avenue East, along the future Eglinton Crosstown LRT at Birchmount Road, along Scarborough’s Golden Mile. The plan will transform the partially vacant and underutilized 16-acre office/commercial/industrial site into a mixed-use development, with residential and employment uses in a

connected open-space network. It will include six towers standing between eight and 46 storeys, with the LRT station out front and two stops from the major hub at Kennedy station.

Shannon Adams, director of project and development services for Canderel, is currently working on Forêt Forest Hill, a condo by Canderel and KingSett Capital at 490 St. Clair Ave. W., steps from a subway station. “Canderel has a hyper-awareness of community needs,” says Adams. “We pride ourselves on finding sites on transit, as these are the most amenable sites to community building. You want to create a village where people don’t need cars.”

Adams says projects such as Forêt that are close to municipal infrastructure have additional layers to the approval process; in this case, with the Toronto Transit Commission. The TTC mandates its own technical review process with its own engineering department. That adds time up front to ensure a project is complying with TTC standards as well as to the

“A lot of government proposal calls align with Dream’s core values, as they often include sustainability, inclusiveness and affordable housing.”
Being located close to municipal infrastructure adds additional layers of approvals, as experienced by Canderel’s Forêt Forest Hill.


such as bus, subway or light rail, and is based on distance to a transit stop, type of route and frequency of route.

The Forêt proposal is working through the site plan approval process, but so far has been received positively, says Adams. “The city wants these types of developments; it wants new housing and community-building. This will bring positive elements to a historically vacant corner at St. Clair and Bathurst. There will be three residential towers with 1,150 units, plus retail and community amenities, such as dedicated public parkland and retail at grade.”

Because Canderel has to work through additional steps, Adams says “it’s on us to ensure we are managing our time and running as many processes concurrently as possible.” The plan is to start shoring and excavation work in fall 2023. The underground footprint will take up the entire site, except for the dedicated parkland, and with five levels of underground parking, so there is no space for staging or construction infrastructure. “You have to be very clever. Even a year before, a lot of thought goes into the construction management plan.”

In Ottawa, Dream Asset Management and Dream Impact have partnered with non-profit MultiFaith Housing Initiative on another transit-oriented community, Dream LeBreton in the Library Parcel of LeBreton Flats. Set to break ground this spring, the two-tower project is intended to be a model for inclusive, affordable and sustainable housing.

building code. There is also a peer review of noise and vibration, and there may be requirements to add insulation or isolation to accommodate homeowner comfort above grade. There may also be additional structural engineering design parameters below grade to accommodate loading of streetcars, for example. Fortunately, these are issues Canderel has dealt with before. Its 900 and 908 St Clair W. projects are on streetcar lines, and

College Park, Aura and YC Condos are all in Yonge/College/Bay, steps from transit. All have a Transit Score of 100/100. Transit Score is a measure of how well a location is served by public transit. It is scored on a scale from zero to 100, with 100 representing a perfect score. It, like Walk Score, is a patented, open-source measure of a neighbourhood’s built environment. It scores how well a particular address is served by public transportation,

The Library Parcel marks the westward expansion of Ottawa’s core. Dream LeBreton will connect to the Pimisi LRT station as well as the Canadian War Museum and the upcoming central library branch, Ādisōke. The 2.5-acre site will become one of the first developments in the growing neighbourhood that is part of the National Capital Commission’s Master Concept Plan.

The design is led by Perkins+Will and KPMB Architects and is supported by Two Row Architect and Purpose Building. Other collaborators include landscape architect PFS Studio, construction manager EllisDon and an Indigenous engagement consultant, Innovation Seven.

Of the 601 rental units, 41% will be affordable and the 247 affordable units

Dream LeBreton is being developed next to the Pimisi LRT station. It will include 601 residential rental units, 41% being designated for affordable housing.

will be earmarked for five target populations in need: Indigenous communities; women and children; immigrants/ newcomers; veterans; and adults with cognitive disabilities.

The development aims to be operationally net-zero carbon, LEED Gold and One Planet Living-accredited.


Toronto, meanwhile, has a bevy of transit-oriented opportunities coming to the city. The Ontario government recently announced a partnership with the private sector and the City of Toronto to create nine TOCs along the upcoming 15-stop Ontario Line running from Exhibition Place to the Ontario Science Centre.

The GTA overall presents opportunities for developers. The province has committed to a multibillion-dollar expansion of the transit network across the Greater Golden Horseshoe, and Metrolinx is creating partnerships to create TOCs at new and existing transit stations.

Vince Molinaro, president of the Molinaro Group, says his company “saw the writing on the wall that the province wanted intensification around transit” and bought a Fairview St. site in downtown Burlington next to the GO Station eight years ago. “We saw it early and saw the merits in developing there. The first phase with three towers and 550 units is sold out. People love it and we’re now moving to Phase 2, with two 18-storey towers and 364 units that are 60% sold.”

The Burlington GO is full-service, Molinaro notes, with trains running every half hour, and easy commuter access to Niagara, Hamilton, Toronto and beyond.

When the Molinaro Group purchased the site, the previous owner had already been to the Ontario Municipal Board and had approval for five 20-storey buildings. “All we had to do was go for the site plan approval,” says Molinaro. However, the city approval process dragged on for two years. Approval also had to come from Metrolinx, since the site is adjacent to its property and the property line is within metres of the tracks—and that involved repeating the entire process, says Molinaro.

“I understand Metrolinx’s point fully,” says Molinaro. “They want to avoid any

disruption of service. We had to build a crash wall along the property line. That process was quite lengthy and we had to go through the city to get structural, shoring and excavation drawings approved. We had to have heavy insurance above what we do normally. We call the crash wall the million-dollar wall— it’s five feet thick and two storeys tall, as it has to withstand a derailment.”

Any residences had to have a 15-metre setback from CN rail lines, but Molinaro was allowed to create an amenity closer than that on top of the three-floor, above-ground parking structure. “We put a nice rooftop terrace there. One side is more tranquil with barbecues and seating, while the other side has circuit training. We took a curve ball and made it into something cool.” The development, called Paradigm, is mixed-use with 20,000 square feet of commercial space at grade and 20,000 square feet of office space on the second floor.

Albany Street Investments Ltd. is

capitalizing on future transit plans with a site at 63 Albany St. within Oshawa’s designated Downtown Main Central Area and across the street from a proposed multi-modal transportation hub that will include train, bus, rapid transit, walking and cycling. The hub is to serve as the southern anchor for Metrolinx’s proposed rapid transit route on Simcoe St., creating the city’s first north-south rapid transit corridor. In May, Premier Doug Ford promised to spend $730 million to add four GO stations to Durham Region—local residents have been waiting 30 years for expansion of GO service. One of those new stations will be part of the hub, along an existing CPR freight line on land formerly occupied by Knob Hill Farms. It will replace Oshawa’s current GO station south of Highway 401. That station shares property with VIA, but the parking lot is fully used and is constraining access to GO service for the city’s and Durham Region’s population.

“The current owners (of the Albany

Albany Street Investments’ new Oshawa project takes advantage of a location across from a proposed multi-modal transportation hub.

St. site) are based out of Hamilton and were looking at development sites where they could add value,” says Matt Johnston, principal of Urban Solutions Land Planning and Development and 2018 president of the West End Home Builders’ Association. His company is the planning consultant for the Oshawa property. “This site was brought to us for consideration. The previous approval didn’t take full advantage of what the site permits, as there is a fair amount of density permitted. It was a good candidate to bring more density.”

Previous approval was for a six-storey building with 99 units. Based on subsequent changes to the provincial policy statement, Growth Plan and Oshawa Official Plan, Johnston says his client will seek approval for 286 units in two towers (15- and 10-storey) plus 18 townhomes. Units will range from studios to threebedroom units. The application was submitted in May with meetings with the planning committee slated for fall.

“Most residents want to see something happen there,” says Johnston. “This is a good candidate for some infill.” He says there will be requirements to evaluate noise and vibration, but that will be down the road as they move on to the site plan application.

Johnston and the others interviewed here say the approval process is the most challenging aspect of TOCs. Adams recalls a project she worked on previously where the approvals took somewhat longer than anticipated: “I joke that I made two humans in the time it took to get those approvals.”

Adams says it’s definitely helpful to have a councillor who is interested in bringing transit-oriented development to their areas, and hopes proposed changes will reduce wait times. The Ontario government is proposing changes to the Planning Act and City of Toronto Act, 2006 to streamline approvals and reduce barriers and cost to housing development.

As challenging as the sites can be,

they also have clear positives. Molinaro, Lester and Adams have found there is strong buyer demand for units on transit lines—not only from people who do not want to have to rely on a car to access amenities or get to work—but also from investors who know that there will be a pool of eager renters. Molinaro estimates “well over 50%” of his Paradigm buyers in Burlington are investors. Another plus can be the reduced number of required parking spots, since the sites have access to transit—or in the case of some downtown Toronto projects, no parking spaces.

They do caution that it’s not simply a matter of ‘transit + new housing = success.’ Johnston is hoping the provincial government will soon roll out more announcements that will include the new Oshawa GO station (recently Doug Ford announced construction is starting on a Stoney Creek station). But Johnston says the Oshawa development proposal he’s involved with won’t be solely dependent on the anticipated GO facility. “With or without GO, the site’s a good candidate,” he says. It’s just south of the downtown core, close to Highway 401 and bus routes. Oshawa is a regional centre for shopping, postsecondary education and health care, plus new jobs at the reopened General Motors plant. “Oshawa’s gotten to the point where it’s ready for this type of development and the appetite is there. The renaissance is here and it’s happening.”

Lester says the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre and its transit station is proof of how transit-oriented approach can spur positive development. “You have developers in and around that station, then concentric rings. Those were very, very successful developments when they came out. I can’t think of a better example of adding density and mixed-use around transit. Vaughan is a combination of specific factors—it’s three stops from York University, it has connectivity, amenities and placemaking attributes.

“It made a lot of sense and there was a very supportive local government promoting that type of density,” Lester says. “It’s not just the vision. It had support from different levels of government and great ‘demand drivers’ nearby. Because of York University, investors came out, not just end users. It made it an attractive investment.” OHB

Above, the yoga room at Paradigm. At left, Metrolinx required Molinaro Group to construct a pricey fivefoot-thick, two-storey steel crash wall as a prerequisite for the development’s approval.


BDP Quadrangle and NVSBLE’s Biblio on Queen St. East in Toronto showed both the beauty and lingering challenges of such projects.



Brendan Charters’s company Eurodale Design Build bought a run-down single-family home at 31 Roslin Ave. in Toronto in late 2019. The plan to transform the shabby structure into an attractive triplex made good sense. The Lawrence Park North neighbourhood, like many in the city, lacked family-sized rental suites. What Charters, the development manager at Eurodale, didn’t anticipate was the fierce opposition to the project and the lengthy approvals process that ensued, especially as Eurodale had constructed custom single-family homes on the same street before with no issue.

Apart from a few variances, the project conformed with the City of Toronto’s official plan and zoning bylaw, yet the triplex plan faced backlash from residents, with support from the local councillor. It took an extra year and an additional $100,000 in planning, legal and carrying costs to get the project approved—and only after a successful appeal to the Toronto Local Appeal Body (TLAB).

Charters still doesn’t understand why his multiplex was limited to a maximum depth of 14 metres, while a single-family home is allowed 17 metres. The triplex, with two 800 sq. ft. two-bedroom units and an upper 1,538 sq. ft. four-bedroom unit, was completed in November 2022 and fits seamlessly into the upscale neighbourhood. It quickly was fully tenanted.

He and others in the housing industry hope the Ontario government’s Bill 23 (the More Homes, Built Faster Act), Ontario’s Supply Action Plan 2022-23 and the new HousingTO Plan will remove many of the roadblocks to building ‘missing-middle’ housing that fills the

New legislation has helped clear the path for missingmiddle projects, but roadblocks remain

gap between single detached homes and high-rise towers. Prior land use planning policies concentrated urban growth in limited areas and protected many residential neighbourhoods from modest projects such as triplexes or small rental buildings. But the new plans aim to reduce bureaucratic costs and red tape, promote building near transit and to encourage ‘gentle’ density and affordable housing. The policies would also help to neutralize rampant NIMBYism, one of the biggest threats to affordable housing.

“When we talk about missing-middle housing, it’s not simply a conversation about the built form, it’s really about the people that are missing from our neighbourhoods,” says Councillor Brad Bradford, chair of Toronto’s Planning and Housing Committee. In 2020, Bradford supported bringing a missing-middle pilot project to his Ward 19 (Beaches-East

York). “Toronto’s promise is predicated on the notion that anyone who wants to come and live here has the option to do so. In fact, the future success and sustainability of our city depend on this holding true.”

Bradford says a generation has been locked out of entire Toronto neighbourhoods by virtue of the housing that’s actually available. “Despite the significant population growth that we continue to see in Toronto, communities like mine continue to experience population decline because people from all walks of life—new families, recent immigrants, essential workers, artists, young professionals—simply cannot afford to live there. That’s why the City of Toronto is bringing forward a framework to legalize multiplexes that will go beyond notionally allowing for the creation of

additional units within existing homes and actually provide the increased permissions that are needed to successfully build these housing forms within our neighbourhoods.”


Leith Moore, principal and co-founder of R-Hauz, a Toronto-based company that builds prefabricated laneway suites and mass timber avenue housing up to six storeys, is encouraged by the policy changes. In 2022, R-Hauz’s staff grew from 13 to 21 people and added former Evergreen founder Geoff Cape as its CEO. In the last two years, R-Hauz has built a six-storey pilot avenue housing project on Queen St. East in Toronto and a laneway pilot project that was completed in four months. In 2022, it finished its first rapid-build transitional housing

“When we talk about missing-middle housing, it’s not simply a conversation about the built form, it’s really about the people that are missing from our neighbourhoods.”
Larger projects such
Gairloch’s Leaside Common are both more economically viable and easier on the approvals process.

project, Passage House, a two-storey, 18-unit mass timber building that was constructed in seven months.

Moore says for his company in the “small is beautiful realm,” Bill 23 “is a game-changer” in mandating secondary units everywhere. “Toronto has been ahead of the curve on laneway and garden suites, already waived development charges and has been pro-active,” says Moore, who highlights other areas such as Brampton and York Region as having recently embraced ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit) zoning, and that the Province is requiring others to follow suit.

“Intergenerational housing is going to live on the back of ADUs and it’s going to a create a market that companies like mine can scale for. Then we can offer the most cost-effective pricing,” says Moore, who applauds the moves the City of Toronto is making. “I think with the provincial legislation, if we stick to the missing-middle concept, man, it’s

exciting! I’m looking forward to seeing what Toronto is doing and what will show up in every municipality.

“With my pilots, I really worked with the City and showed the hardships of not having the zoning. There was a whole host of barriers,” adds Moore, who offers kudos to Bradford and Toronto’s Chief Planner, Greg Lintern, in trying to navigate those barriers. “I think this year the city is going to address the next round of realities and have proper zoning on the avenues and is looking hard at ways to open missing-middle housing.”

R-Hauz has a busy 2023 ahead, with regular housing projects, non-profit housing, as well as lane and garden suites on the books for clients. Moore says he’s been overwhelmed with how much the business has grown in a short period of time.

“Our prefabricated/pre-designed system is really appealing to the nonprofit sector,” he notes. “It’s faster and

cheap, it’s all wood and very sustainable, and is moving to carbon sustainability objectives for municipalities. It’s a turn-key solution.”


Heather Rolleston, principal at Quadrangle Architects, says missing middle is a term that “is thrown around a lot and people lump it with mid-rise and smaller projects, and that’s a bit of a misnomer. Missing middle also has to do with price point and offering an option between houses and high-rise condos.” It describes a range of housing types that has gone missing in the last 60 to 70 years, she explains.

One project Rolleston believes exemplifies missing-middle housing is Leaside Common by Gairloch Developments at 1720 Bayview Ave., a nine-storey, 200-unit building that is 103 metres in length. It features

R-Hauz’s business has rocketed skyward since its six-storey pilot on Queen St. East.

textured modern masonry with a design that took cues from a block of 10 heritage four-plexes across the street. Unit prices started in the $500,000s. Having a larger building like Leaside Common makes it more financially feasible for a developer, says Rolleston, as they can provide more units. Small boutique buildings have proven to be more difficult in terms of approvals and costs.

It has been far easier to get approvals for high-rise condo towers, she says. Mid-rise projects are more nuanced and challenging and require a closer relationship with neighbours. Rolleston also designed Biblio, a small boutique project on Queen St. E. by NVSBLE Development Inc.

“There’s an example of a project you think should have been given an easy ride,” Rolleston said in January. “The red carpet should have been rolled out for that project, but it’s been a tough slog getting it approved and it’s not fully approved yet. It has tiny protrusions on the angular plane on the north side, no shadow impact and those are very tiny issues.”

Craft (also by Gairloch) is an eightstorey luxury mid-rise project also mired in a lengthy process. “Approvals have been challenging and very time-consuming. Craft doesn’t have a decision from the OLT (Ontario Land Tribunal) yet and it’s been almost a year since the hearing (in March 2022). This is not a large project, in an area where people need housing, in an area where we had great community consultation.”

Rolleston is hopeful developers will see improvements in timelines. “Right now, missing-middle projects that are not of a certain size are taking hits from all sides. Construction prices are high, trades are stretched thin, approval times are long. If one of those prongs can be eased, it’s going to help. We are going to see a bit of a market correction in terms of construction costs. I’m hoping a couple of missingmiddle projects that are on hold right now will be able to start.”

Rolleston says developers that take on these projects should be commended, given the challenges. Relationships with the community are going to be more personal than with

larger projects, and “with these developments, you have to try to snuggle in with the streetscape and, in many cases, mimic what’s going on next door. There are lots of transition issues, which are sensitive issues. You have to go in with your eyes open.”

Bill 23’s mandate is very clear, says Rolleston, who is optimistic that it and Toronto’s new plan should cut through minor objections, as up until now, ratepayers with deep pockets could create a lot of delays and extra expenses for a developer.

Rolleston says great missing-middle projects offer more than exceptional built forms and cites Reina, a brick and precast condo project on The Queensway, as an excellent example. It was created by the first all-female development team in Canada and is a full-block, nine-storey building with 197 units.

“The developers really had a sense for the feeling of community within the building. They did a lot of outreach and had an ideas competition for university and college students. Some of the

amenities were thinking outside the box—messy rooms for kids, a sharing library for kitchen appliances, a snack shack. That feeling of community within the building itself is a key ingredient to missing middle, not just ticking all the boxes to massing and transitions. It’s giving something back. One of the positive things of Bill 23 is that developers who are creative and game will be able to see opportunities.”


Allowing triplexes in residential neighbourhoods (yellow belt areas) is one of the good things the province is doing, says Gabriel Fain of Gabriel Fain Architects. But the ability to build laneway houses and small multiplexes without a lengthy planning process is just part of the bigger issue, he says. While the province is trying to encourage more buildings of six to 12 storeys, they remain extremely challenging,

Eurodale’s Lawrence Park North triplex required an extra year and $100,000 in administration fees to complete.

says Fain, with limited height, scale and density and, more often than not, opposition from neighbours. “Generally, ratepayers have so much political power and pull,” Fain observes.

With immigration increasing and the province’s expectation to build 1.5 million more homes in 10 years, more Toronto housing is desperately needed, he says. “Where are these people going to live? Why aren’t we building crazy density around transit hubs?”

While Fain says there is enough land in the city to accommodate a lot of that need, half the transit hubs are in neighbourhoods, and ratepayer backlash is formidable.

Instead of putting towers in localized places, Fain would like to see beautiful avenues “like you see in every European city,” lined with six- and 12-storey buildings, such as along St. Clair Avenue. “But you can’t have that and all these zoning restrictions.” Fain says six-storey buildings are incredibly difficult to make work in Toronto at the present time, with rising interest rates and increased costs.

A lot of acceptance of such projects comes down to architecture. He says until recently, a lot of new building design was lifeless and didn’t integrate well into existing neighbourhoods. “You had to deal with market conditions at the time and people wanted glass buildings. There is a trend towards more sustainable buildings, more thoughtful buildings. We have to get away from all that glass. That shift will happen. We are starting to do projects that have meaningful dialogue with neighbourhoods.”

The Junction is one of the up-andcoming Toronto neighbourhoods that offers missing-middle opportunities, says Fain. “We have a new project there and we took photos of the buildings on Dundas St.—some are incredible 100-year-old brick buildings—and did a take on our building in a contemporary way, and it’s all brick. When you have a building like that, it makes sense and looks like it’s always been there.”

But while Fain says architects can shape buildings, it’s up to urban planners to make a bigger difference. “With rising costs, we can’t build what the

city has been asking for, with a lot of terracing. That is highly inefficient and drives up costs. Every bylaw that shapes a building has a cost implication.”

In many cases, terracing is done to protect “someone in one house who may get a little bit of shade in their yard at noon,” Fain says. “We have to shift how we are thinking about building. There is so much to unpack in what the province is doing.”

Fain believes private developers have been the ones being tasked with solving a political and societal problem. “In the past, government used to create social housing and that’s now in the hands of private developers. You can’t paint them as the enemy when they are the ones trying to find the solution.”

Fain’s practice recently designed a fourplex in the Rhodes and Dundas area. “It is a good example of working with neighbours and working with the city. The shadowing question came up and we had to shape the building to mitigate that. That makes for a challenging build. The owners are beyond happy. The parents have accessibility issues and moved into the ground-floor unit, two units have been rented to tenants and I believe the homeowners took the fourth unit.”

Charters agrees that having a building that respects the neighbourhood context is important. His Roslin St. triplex presents as an upscale singlefamily home similar to others Eurodale designed and built on that street and surrounding ones.

“Inside, it performs above its weight class, and we are proud to be able to use this project as an example of what is possible in our city without disrupting the character and fabric the current residents are clutching onto,” he says. “Missingmiddle housing in this low-rise built form is a great alternative to high-rise condos and a building type that fits in very well with its surroundings.”

Despite the headaches involved in getting the triplex completed, mainly due to local residents’ “fear of the unknown,” Charters plans to keep building similar projects and is hopeful the new Ontario and City of Toronto policies will smooth the process. And if it’s still challenging, he’ll press on regardless.

“I want to be on the right side of history,” he says. OHB

Gabriel Fain’s recent four-plex on Dundas.
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A name change might be just what your organization needs, provided you know what you’re getting into…and why


An acquisition or merger. Changes in the economy. Shifts in customer demographics or social attitudes and norms. Corporate succession or a realignment of management relationships. The realization that the existing brand just doesn’t cut it anymore.

There are any number of reasons for an organization to revisit its brand—or perhaps to seriously address it for the first time. But the most common impetus? “New management,” says Glenn Marshall, president of Greening Media, a Hamilton-based agency that has worked with several clients in the home building space to give their brands everything from a tweak to a complete overhaul. “When a new director or CEO comes in, it’s very common for them to want to put their thumbprint on the company and do something different. Changing the brand is a very visible, obvious way to look like you are ‘doing something’ or ‘shaking things up.’”

But those are lousy reasons in Marshall’s book. Rebranding should be about finding the best way to convey your company’s identity and message, he says, and that doesn’t mean throwing things out just for the sake of being new. “Make sure that your brand is still recognizable and retains the goodwill and recognition it’s developed over its lifetime.”

“We don’t look at rebranding from the aesthetic perspective of just changing a logo,” says Lianne McOuat, creative director at McOuat Partnership in Markham. “It really is a deep dive into the culture of the company and their own personality. We often describe it as a bit of psychoanalysis.”

“It involves discussion and questions that clients seldom ask themselves,” adds Geoff McOuat, creative director at the partnership. “Hopefully, when we’re discussing some of the deeper issues and what the company stands for—why you do what you do—they learn something, and we learn something.”

“A large number of companies, especially in the home building sector, have created an image for themselves without thoroughly exploring the ‘why.’ It’s much more of a ‘what’—as in, ‘This is what I want it to look like,’ Geoff says. “But the deeper question becomes, ‘What is your

company about and how is that reflected in your brand?’”

For McOuat, “purpose” is the most important word when talking about branding. “‘Why are we here? Why are we doing this?’ That’s really the essence of what a brand is all about,” Geoff says.

But many companies may not fully grasp how deeply rooted their current brand is, Lianne cautions. “Sometimes they don’t think about all the places their brand/logo appears—the customer service van, head office, letterhead, business cards. It can stretch six months to a year before the logo is changed in every location. And when we put together a planning grid and overall budget, they’re like, ‘Oh, I think we’re going to stage this out.’”


For the Hamilton-Halton Home Builders’ Association, the brand was certainly well-rooted, but it didn’t say much about how the OHBA local saw itself. So the association decided to address the issue in late 2019.

“Our goal was to select a brand that reflects the inclusiveness and business diversity within our industry—one that better represents our membership, which is more and more geographically diverse,” says the local’s Past President, Bianca Bruzzese. “Many components needed to be taken into consideration—a new marketing strategy, vision, new logo, tagline, brand colours and guidelines, as well as the hours of research that go into the project when considering a new name. Our staff and volunteers didn’t have the capacity. We needed a trusted partner who was familiar with our purpose and identity, who would lead this exercise and guide us through the process.”

Enter Greening Media, an OHBA member itself. Saddled with the clumsy HHHBA acronym, Marshall and his team were charged with a double task: Combine Bruzzese’s “collective” concept, which would stress the multiple disciplines that make up every local home builders’ association, with the

geographic location of Hamilton-Halton.

Working with a tight two-month window to execute the rebranding, the Greening crew began cobbling together ideas for each. And then one day, as Marshall’s eyes rotated back and forth across three whiteboards of concepts, the symbiosis of the “west end” regional description and the “we” team concept suddenly hit him like a thunderbolt.

“You almost never get a ‘eureka moment’ in this business, as you go back and forth with clients on ideas,” he says. “But that’s what we had with this one—the “WE” acronym worked perfectly for both sides of the equation.”

And thus was the WE HBA brand born.

The process was complete in time for the new brand to be presented at the association’s industry luncheon in February 2020. Bruzzese says that the “WE” in the new acronym “connotes the strong collaboration within the industry, and it recognizes all the various trades, services and other intermediaries that come together to make this industry possible.”

The rebranding needed to be managed like any other major corporate project, Bruzzese notes. “Organizations need to be agile and willing to consider the ever-changing market around them and adjust accordingly. They should regularly examine their identity to ensure it aligns with their mission, values and strategic plan. But it is very important to define the scope of the rebrand and understand your strategic goals early in the process. And making sure that the right team is involved is paramount.”

The widespread, unabashed embracing of the new brand has caught even Marshall by surprise. “I have never had a project that was that universally well-accepted right away,” he laughs. “And, frankly, I can’t imagine what a second option would have been that would have compared.”


For Huron Creek Developments, it was a change in the tide of corporate philosophy that motivated a new look back in 2015.

“It’s not that there was anything wrong with (our previous) Eastforest Homes brand, Huron Creek Developments VicePresident Rick Martins explains. “At Eastforest, we had successfully built over 10,000 units in South and Central Ontario. Energy Star was our standard, but Peter [president and CEO Peter Catana] and I wanted to give back to the community even more. Our staff also believed in where we wanted to take the company, and the political climate was one of environmental sustainability.”

The Huron Creek rebrand process lasted six months. The company did not engage a branding specialist, although they did reach out to consultants, engineers and community partners to get a sense of what the market was looking for.

Martins lists red tape and supply issues, as well as the training and education of customers and partners (as well as internally), as some of the primary challenges, with municipal roadblocks heading the list. Looking back, Martins says he would have secured the buy-in of municipal officials much earlier in the process.

Despite the hurdles, the change paid dividends. “The results were better than we would have believed. In our first project, our visitable units sold out the quickest,” says Martins of the company’s homes that embrace accessibility features. “This was a different trend, as usually the less expensive units tend to go first.”

Further, Martins says that many customers came to understand the significance of the changes once they moved into the units and experienced first-hand the difference in their quality of life and the performance of the home.

“The rebrand was a huge success, but the mind shift in our culture has been the biggest accomplishment,” Martins adds.

“Our goal was to select a brand that reflects the inclusiveness and business diversity within our industry...one that better represents our membership.”

“Trades, suppliers, customers and staff are all helping us move forward and pushing boundaries with the goal of creating attainable housing.”


While Huron Creek managed the process on its own, outside expertise tends to be a prerequisite when it comes to branding a particular project or company. The support offered to DeSantis Homes by McOuat Partnership has been invaluable in guiding identity development for a number of the builder’s distinctive projects, says Serina Carbone, director of sales and marketing at DeSantis. And while consistently taking an ‘outside the box’ approach when bringing projects to market can present challenges, the payoff can be more than worth it.

“If you’re not pushing the envelope and doing something different every single time, you’re stagnating,” says Carbone, whose company’s Century Condos earned Project of the Year honours at OHBA’s most recent Awards of Distinction after the development required a rebranding due to years of delays brought on by politics and Covid. “It’s a very busy and crowded marketplace we’re in, and you’ve got to constantly be looking for ways to surprise.”

“One of the things Geoff likes to say is that if you don’t feel just slightly uncomfortable about a campaign, you probably haven’t gone far enough.’ It’s something I like repeating, because I think it can get clients to realize that they’re being too safe, and the safe space isn’t always where consumers are going to remember you,” Lianne McOuat says. “An example is the ‘What if?’ campaign we’re running right now for National Homes—a whale flying like a zeppelin through the air with a prop plane suspended

below. It’s a little bizarre. But all the campaigns we’ve done for them over 30 years have seemed a little wild at the start. But that client is fully on board.”

Of course, in the end there can always be creative differences of opinion. Every marketing firm has launched beloved concepts only to see them scuttled by a client’s rocky reception. “Our dreams get dashed on a weekly basis,” jokes Lianne McOuat.

Fortunately, the flying whale wasn’t one of them. “National Homes’ motto is ‘You are the Blueprint,’” Geoff explains. “They listen to their buyers, ask them questions and then bring those ideas to life. That means the innovation and the bright ideas that National creates in their communities all start with the question, ‘What if?’ The point is to ask the consumer and ourselves, ‘What can we do to make their home better and to push the boundaries further?’ So I was looking for ways to express the fact that the ideas of their customers matter, that their dreams and their imaginations are a key part of the research that helps to create a National Homes community. Could we have taken that exact same idea and given it to another builder? Probably not. You have to tailor your campaign to the brand and the builder. You have to come up with the right expression of what the truth is about this builder and that particular brand to help draw people to that product.”

A year ago, custom home builder Timberworx decided that connection was missing, and that its brand needed an overhaul more in keeping with its luxury positioning. Consequently, president Shawn Marsh looked to web design and development agency Pixelcarve for professional support in guiding the process. The rebrand was thorough, involving a new

It’s important not to fly in too safe a space, notes McOuat Partnership, as examplified by their ‘What if?’ campaign for National Homes.

The change from Timberworx to Claxton + Marsh better expresses the home builder’s upscale custom designs.

Eastforest Homes’ transition to Huron Creek Developments, which stresses its environmental focus, was part of a six-month process.

logo, redesigned website, new signage and a new name— Claxton+Marsh (the “Claxton” half representing the company’s dedicated design and realty specialist Eve Claxton).

“We wanted a new image to incorporate a brand that defined us in a way that was more in line with who we were and the kind of product we offered—a true luxury brand that focuses more on design/build than on construction,” Marsh says. “Pixelcarve is an extremely talented group who overdelivered on our new vision for the future of our company and campaign.”

The biggest concern was to avoid losing the market reputation and credibility the Timberworx brand had built since the company’s 1987 founding. “Having many years of awareness of our existing brand within the community and surrounding areas with social media, TV, signage, philanthropy and reputation, we wanted to be recognized as the same company with a new name,” Marsh says.

While the main elements of the rebranding are in place, the process is continuing, and Marsh says the results have been very positive. “The new image was essentially our names, which were already well known, so the optics fell into place, and it has been a fairly seamless and smooth transition.”


Rebranding need not be an overly pricey or time-consuming process, says Marshall. But there are some things to watch out for. “One of the more expensive but essential parts of the process that we recommend is trademarking your logo, slogan or brand statement.” At the same time, Marshall cautions that a new logo or brand identity is only the first step, and if you blow

the budget on that, you’re wasting your time.

“We’ve had clients who spent a fortune on new artwork and a glossy brand standards brochure, but never explained to their audience why they changed the brand or what the new brand means,” Marshall says. “They never communicated the message; their rebranding had no marketing plan. This is one of the greatest mistakes a company can make. If the general public don’t understand why the rebrand has taken place, or doesn’t even know about it, you’ll just be creating confusion.”

Marshall points out that tools like a ‘Brand Report Card’ can be helpful in evaluating the success of rebranding. Usually administrated by a third party, they poll the public to measure the consistency and relevancy of the brand and to assess how the company is perceived and recognized. “Doing one of these studies before and after can certainly show the impact of your rebranding,” he says. It’s also important to set communications and marketing goals with regard to social and traditional media reach.

Part of helping a new brand to become entrenched requires a song sheet for company staff, McOuat notes. “We will often be called upon to come to the client’s office and present the new brand to the team,” Lianne says. “We might do mission plaques for their head office or construction office and do mission cards that they can carry around in their wallet. We’ve often presented the new brand to the trades at a kickoff event, so that everyone on the team, including the front-line people, know what the client stands for. And then when new staff members come aboard, they’re given a brand book.”

It’s a reminder of the many steps in the journey of a name change, and the length of the learning curve in a brand new world. OHB

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Building Buzz


New Finder report says recession is imminent, if not already occurring

While the latest rate hike from the Bank of Canada was a mere 25 basis points, a new report from Finder Canada notes that 41% of its experts suggest no increase should have occurred at all.

“Inflation is quickly normalizing, faster than the Bank of Canada expected,” says Taylor Schleich, rates strategist for National Bank of Canada. “There’s mounting evidence that rate hikes are working and the Bank needs to be forward-looking, understanding that effects of earlier hikes haven’t fully been felt by the economy.”

Still, in experts’ minds, rate holds are on the horizon, with just 18% calling for another increase in March and absolutely no one calling for a rate hike in April, while 12% are calling for another hike in June, the report notes.

“We anticipate a pause through 2023 as higher rates curb economic performance and inflation,” explains Bryan Yu, chief economist lecturer at Central 1 Credit Union.

Recession talk dominated in 2022 and speculation that Canada is ripe for an economic downturn doesn’t seem to be abating into 2023. When asked if Canada would go into recession between now and 2025, the majority of experts (78%) anticipated that we would. Onethird (33%) believed we are already in a recession, or on the verge of one in Q1 2023, with another 6% expecting a recession in Q4 2023. The most popular response, from 39% of Finder’s panellists, is that a recession will come at some point in the near future.

The average price of a Canadian home sold in December was $626,318,

a year-over-year decline of more than 12%, according to the Canadian Real Estates Association (CREA). When asked what the price action will look like in 2023, every expert on Finder’s panel believes Canada’s real estate market will remain in a macro downtrend for the entirety of 2023, with 77% seeing home prices dropping between 10% and 20% by end of the year compared to November 2022.

Asked if there is anything specific the Bank can do to improve affordability, Finder’s panel indicated that the most effective action hinges almost entirely on interest rates. Holt from Scotiabank says, “(the Bank can) stay the course through tightened monetary policy in order to dampen inflation by reining in interest-sensitive sectors like housing. If it eases up too quickly,


Building Buzz

house prices may jump higher again and damage affordability once more.”

However, Moshe Lander, a senior economics lecturer at Concordia University, believes “the only thing the Bank can do to help housing affordability is keep interest rates so high that it pushes some Canadian households to default on their mortgages…and other Canadian households into a fire sale as they cash out their remaining equity. The solution to Canada’s ‘unaffordable’ housing situation is looser zoning laws, and that is a municipal issue, not a provincial or federal issue, and certainly not a Bank issue.”



The latest CHBA Housing Marketing Index (HMI), a leading indicator of the current and future health of the residential construction industry, shows the degree that interest rate hikes are having on reducing housing starts for 2023. CHBA’s 2022 Q4 HMI results showed industry sentiment dropped yet agan, reflecting lower sales and buyer traffic that will translate into fewer housing starts.

The HMI, which is on a scale of 0 to 100, was at an all-time low for both single-family builders (26.2) and multi-family builders (26). The HMI peaked in Q1 last year at 89.4 for single-family builders and 88.8 on the multi-family side, and has been declining since. With the HMI being a precursor to what can be expected in terms of starts in about six months, panellists are anticipating 28.5% fewer starts this year compared to last.

Rising interest rates are the primary culprit, CHBA says, having greatly curbed sales and overall traffic of prospective homebuyers, with some delaying purchases and others having difficulty qualifying for mortgages. At a time when more housing is needed, 72% of builders now say they expect to

have fewer starts in 2023, and 30% have cancelled projects.

The Bank of Canada’s expectation to pause interest rate hikes in the coming months while it assesses the impact of the cumulative increases is critical for the home building business, CHBA notes. If core inflation has peaked, prospective homebuyers who have been waiting on the sidelines may have the confidence to start looking at home purchases again, helping to get new home construction back on track.

However, headwinds are still present in the market, as some who purchased homes over the past couple of years that are now being completed will have trouble getting financing at closing in the higher interest rate environment.



Marking its second year of operations, the Home Construction Regulatory Authority (HCRA) may now impose administrative penalties—similar to a fine—on Ontario home builders or vendors who breach their legal and ethical obligations.

“These penalties are not just a cost of doing business; this is a clear message and reminder to the industry that unethical conduct and violations of the rules will not be tolerated,” says Wendy Moir, the HCRA’s Chief Executive Officer and Registrar.

The recent legislative and regulatory changes to the New Home Construction Licensing Act, 2017 (NHCLA) include allowing the HCRA to use the proceeds of administrative penalties to provide funds to negatively impacted consumers, depending on the circumstances.

Ontario is Canada’s first jurisdiction to provide such funds to consumers harmed by unethical and illegal behaviour of new-home builders and vendors. Penalties can also be imposed on people or companies who operate without a licence, which is illegal.

“These penalties—up to $50,000 per occurrence, depending on the contravention—are a first for the industry and will support an enhanced, fair and safe marketplace,” Moir says.

Ongoing education to facilitate compliance with the requirements under the NHCLA and Code of Ethics regulations will be critical to building an enhanced new home construction marketplace, HCRA notes. To support an informed industry, it has issued several advisories to licensees, reminding them of their conduct expectations and the potential consequences for not following the rules. The HCRA has also enhanced the Ontario Builder Directory to support consumers in their homebuyer journey by providing additional disclosures on builders, including information on condominium contract terminations.



Want to know how much of a difference developers can make on the communities they build in? The Daniels’ 20212022 Impact Report, a follow-up to its inaugural report last year, is chock-full of statistics that demonstrate the degree in which the Daniels Corporation has affected its communities over the past 38 years, but 2021-2022 specifically.

The report outlines the builder’s commitment to creating vibrant, inclusive and sustainable communities that include social and economic infrastructure. The 2021/2022 section highlights the release of 33 accessible homes for sale or lease through the Daniels Accessibility Designed Program, with $197,000 being invested to support


initiatives that accelerate accessibility.

Daniels also spent $903,000 in social procurement, including $638,000 in local art, built 284 new urban agriculture plots in its communities and engaged 400 new residents in garden programming. It also committed $5 million to the Daniels Partnership for Affordable Homeownership program.

The report also outlines major efforts toward sustainability, as well as collaboration with several not-for-profit, institutional, private and public sector partners to create pathways to affordable housing and economic and social development opportunities. This resulted in 34 mother-led families successfully moving into affordable homes at Evolv Rentals in Regent Park—made possible through a partnership with Sun Life, Woodgreen Community Services and the City of Toronto. Daniels also provided 41 youths with paid training and job placements in the past two years, and $158,000 was generated for the local economy through youth employment initiatives.



and notable Formica Laminate interiors since it opened in 1913.

It was originally founded as an industrial laminates company, but quickly pivoted to decorative laminate surfaces used in homes, restaurants and a wide range of other commercial settings. Its pop culture appearances have included the Brady Bunch kitchen.



Westlake Royal Building Products USA Inc. has completed the purchase of the Palight Trimboard business from Palram Americas, Inc. Based in Pennsylvania, Palram is a manufacturer of extruded thermoplastic sheets, panel systems and finished products. With the acquisition, Westlake Royal will expand its portfolio of brands offered under Westlake Royal Trim & Mouldings Solutions, which provides the finishing touch for the interior and exterior of a home.

“This strategic acquisition will add another high-quality brand of PVC trimboard to our growing portfolio of building products,” said Scott Szwejbka, V.P. and G.M. of Westlake Royal Building Products.



revenue generation,” according to the company, which produces high-performance air and moisture barriers for commercial and residential construction sold under the Delta brand name.

Jablonka brings a wealth of experience to the role, with almost 25 years of dedication at Dörken Systems. A hands-on leader with an engineering and business background, he is highly knowledgeable in manufacturing, marketing, product management, applied building science, and advanced building products and technologies.

For the past six years as V.P. Operations & Marketing, his core focus was on developing and implementing new production technologies through the rapid expansion of Dörken Systems’ North American operations, which nearly doubled during that time.

Knobloch, meanwhile, will lead the sales, customer service and marketing team in North America, with the objective to profitably grow the business.

Knobloch joins Dörken with 15 years of sales experience in the building materials industry, starting his career with James Hardie Building Products. For the past 10 years, he managed multiple sales territories for TAMKO Building Products LLC, focusing on residential and commercial roofing products.



Formica is celebrating its 110th anniversary this year. The company, whose Canadian HQ is in Saint-Jeansur-Richelieu, Quebec, is a leader in the design, manufacture and distribution of innovative surfacing products.

To commemorate the milestone, the company is releasing a calendar and book featuring classic patterns

Dörken Systems has featured two major appointments. Marcus Jablonka has been appointed President and CEO, while Brandon Knobloch has been welcomed as the company’s new V.P. of Sales & Marketing.

“In his new role, Jablonka will lead and bring fresh perspectives to the company’s strategy, as well as plans for sustainable growth and profitable

Settimo Vilardi has been named President of the Council of the Ontario Association of Architects (OAA), the regulating body for the province’s architecture profession. The Windsorbased architect was acclaimed to the one-year position at the first OAA Council meeting of 2023.

“I’m excited to see projects and initiatives I have been a part of reach their successful conclusion,” says Vilardi, previously the chair of the Windsor Region Society of Architects. Vilardi

O NTARIO HOME BUILDER EARLY SPRING 2023 51 ohba.ca Building Buzz

Building Buzz

served last year as the OAA’s Senior V.P. and treasurer, and has been a key participant on various Association committees relating to practice, government outreach and finance. He has also been outspoken about the need for better education among architects in determining fair and reasonable fees.

As a member of the Governance Committee, Vilardi played an integral role in the final development of the Association’s new five-year strategic plan, which includes a commitment to using equity, diversity and inclusion, as well as climate action as lenses through which the OAA carries out its work.


presence and involvement through numerous community initiatives and by forming partnerships with organizations and institutions that share similar vision and values.



OHBA members claimed 16 honours at the CHBA National Awards for Housing Excellence in Banff last month. Here’s a look at the Ontario members who were cited as Canada’s best.


Best Signage

Activa, Waterloo: “Net Zero Model Home”

Best Brochure/Kit

DeSantis Homes, Grimsby: “Century Condos” with KNYMH Inc., McOuat Partnership and Tomas Pearce Interior Design Consulting Inc.

Best Website

The West End Home Builders’ Association received the Home Builders’ Association of the Year Award at the Canadian Home Builders’ Association Leadership Awards last month in Banff. The award acknowledged WE HBA’s groundbreaking changes and strategic initiatives put in place over the past year, including supporting the business success of members and their ability to provide affordability, quality and choice in housing for consumers.

In 2022, WE HBA finalized and approved a new strategic plan to guide the association for 2022-2024 and took bold steps through advocacy efforts, resulting in important public policy changes toward addressing the housing crisis. During the past year, WE HBA also strengthened the member experience, pivoted its communication efforts and managed to grow the membership and quality of services. It also significantly increased its community

Branthaven Homes, Burlington: “Millcroft Towns” with II by IV Design and ADHOC STUDIO

Best Digital Advertising Campaign

Branthaven Homes, Burlington: “Millcroft Towns” with II by IV Design and ADHOC STUDIO

Best Virtual Tour Experience

Tridel, Toronto: “Queen Church” with Kirkor Architects, The Brand Factory and Pureblink

Best Sales Office

Poetry Living, Vaughan: “CityPointe Heights” with Flora Di Menna Design and Impact North Inc.

Best Long Video

Armour Heights Developments, Toronto: “89 Avenue Yorkville” with Gladstone Media, McOuat Partnership and Pureblink

Best Renderings

Armour Heights Developments, Pureblink and McOuat Partnership, Toronto: “89 Avenue Yorkville”


Best Bathroom Renovation

Gemstone Corporation Inc, Ottawa: “Opposites {Elegantly} Attract”

Best Whole Home Renovation

– $300,001 to $500,000

Pionova Inc., Thornhill: “Wiarton Residence”


Best Mid-to High-Rise Building (Planned)

Armour Heights Developments, Toronto: “89 Avenue Yorkville” with McOuat Partnership

Best Detached Custom Home Over 5,000 square feet

Trademark Homes, Oshawa: “The View on Balsam”


Best Bathroom

Mountainview Building Group, Thorold: “The Beaches, Penthouse Suite” with Aristocrat Floors of the World, Dell Smart Home Solutions Inc. and Nickerson Home Appliances

Best Bedroom/Suite

Mountainview Building Group, Thorold: “The Beaches, Penthouse Suite” with Aristocrat Floors of the World, Dell Smart Home Solutions Inc. and Nickerson Home Appliances


Best Production Net

Zero Home

Terra View Custom Homes Ltd., Guelph: “The Avonlea Elevation C, model home at Hart Village” with EnerQuality, Building Knowledge of Canada Inc. and Bluewater Energy Inc.


Marketing Excellence Award

Branthaven Homes, Burlington OHB

EARLY SPRING 2023 ohba.ca

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Product Focus


High-tech countertops, multi-service islands among emerging kitchen trends

ISLAND LIFE has never been more appealing. Yes, we could all use a vacation, but the expression also applies to the modern home, where kitchen islands are increasingly expected to serve multiple purposes, according to 2023 Design Trends report from the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA).

How much so? In identifying emerging trends, NKBA members, from designers and retailers to contractors and manufacturers, cited “areas for

charging phones or other devices” as actually outranking “areas to eat meals” and “areas for food prep” as the most prominent features for islands in the next three years. But all three functions rank almost equal in importance as clients demand more and more from this central anchor.

As far as the industry as whole goes, NKBA, the world’s leading notfor-profit trade association for the kitchen and bath industry, says “the overall market index of 63.2 is the

lowest it has been since Q3 2020, and the ‘future conditions’ rating of 55.4 is at its lowest level since Q1 2020. Both are indicative of industry professionals’ prediction that the current economic slowdown will continue.”

On its 100-point scale, any rating above 50 indicates industry growth, but flexibility is still vital in these economic times, the report notes. “As a result of current trends, industry professionals are proactively adapting their business strategies. Design firms

Durability and design flexibility are highlighted in Caesarstone’s new Porcelain surface.

have altered materials/finishes used on projects; building and construction firms have limited estimates to 30 days, and retailers have scaled back on orders from manufacturers.”

For Q4 2022, 31% of design firms were expecting a decrease in new project leads. The good news is that “the kitchen & bath industry still has pricing power,” the report adds— for now anyway. “Despite steadily increasing inflation impacting nearly every product category, 61% of industry professionals report margins on par with a year ago. As consumers become increasingly budget-conscious, however, they are pushing

back on price increases and/or pausing remodelling projects, likely causing pricing power to wane.”

“One lesson we have all learned over the past two years is that adaptability is the key,” says NKBA CEO Bill Darcy. “For instance, we see it with design firms currently leveraging new brands for better lead times and availability.”

Another takeaway from the report is that “remodelling will sustain the industry in 2023,” since 86% of outstanding mortgages are locked in at rates below 5%, meaning “these homeowners are choosing to remodel rather than to move.”

And while growth may have slowed

to a crawl, the average project scope decreased for only 2% of respondents, with 60% noting a typically similar project size, and a whopping 38% reporting larger, more involved kitchen projects than the previous year.

That’s in line with a recent NKBA interview with Sam Kim, president of Home Appliances for LG Electronics USA. Despite the slowdown in home sales, “the luxury space seems to be a little more resilient than the core part of the appliance business,” Kim says. “We anticipate some mix-down, as customers may choose a lower-priced alternative to finish projects.”

To support the trend, Kim’s

56 ONTARIO HOME BUILDER EARLY SPRING 2023 ohba.ca Product Focus
Areas for charging phones, devices Areas to eat meals Areas for food prep Multiple sinks — food prep, one for cleanup Areas to work from home/ schoolwork Wine storage Zones for specific tasks Double island — prep/ cleanup & serving/eating Areas for meal cleanup Adjustable height countertops 73% 72% 69% 53% 46% 39% 36% 33% 31% 18%
Prominent island features from NKBA’s 2023 Trends Report include tech charging and food prep areas.
New to the market, Laminam’s ‘Le Terre’ collection includes the volcanic earthinspired hue of Terra di Pompei.

Large islands that function as dining tables

Taking down walls so kitchen is open to other areas of home

A working pantry

Easy to clean flooring

Outdoor living areas

Sanitary counter surfaces

Wall/doors for hidden workspaces, appliances, food prep areas

Attached mudrooms

Flexible space for home office activities

Touchless fixtures

Large fresh food storage

Flexibility for multiple generations

Extending home footprint to increase kitchen size

Double islands – one for food/meal prep & other family activities

Open visible storage for frequenly used items

Cozy conversation areas

Sustainable food sources in the home

Secure areas to leave deliveries

Study space for children

Adjustable countertop heights

Traditional stand-alone kitchen tables

company has relaunched “the LG Studio brand, aimed at the mass-premium category, which we expect will keep growing,” although “the luxury segment continues to have extended lead times to just produce products that were sold over the last year.

“Replacement is still the lion’s share of the appliance business,” Kim says. “Inflation is a big factor, and I think it makes most people evaluate where they can save. Instead of replacing both washer and dryer together, they might just replace the unit that’s not working.”

As far as new tech goes, LG’s SKS (Signature Kitchen Suite) has brought

the first-of-its-kind 48” French door refrigerator to market, “allowing designers to offer clients unprecedented capacity and functionality in the French door configuration,” Kim says. “We’re also bringing some exciting additions to our culinary lineup, and a new dishwasher with a one-hour complete cycle.”

In the luxury market, SKS has also launched ThinQ Care, “a unique customer support innovation that uses artificial intelligence to help homeowners proactively monitor and maintain appliances. This comprehensive AI service analyzes usage patterns, reports on product

performance and alerts the homeowner if a potential service issue is detected. It also provides guidance on optimal usage and informs homeowners when supplies are low.”


Both from an aesthetic and performance standpoint, though, some of the most intriguing developments have been with kitchen surfaces. Burlington’s Select Stone, for one, has launched the Select Cascade, a North American limestone that is custom-fabricated to spec and comes in a variety of finishes. Although often used for custom landscapes or

O NTARIO HOME BUILDER EARLY SPRING 2023 57 ohba.ca Product Focus
76% 74% 72% 70% 60% 60% 53% 52% 49% 48% 47% 45% 45% 39% 26% 24% 22% 18% 17% 17% 15%
Top kitchen trends open the kitchen and hide clutter in the pantry; maximize island function and extend kitchen into the outdoors.

as architectural elements for custom homes, this particular product is also ideal for kitchen countertops and backsplashes, thanks to its low absorption. And it can be fabricated in large sizes up to 5x10 feet and comes in two formats: Fleuri-cut, studded with marine fossils; and Vein-cut, showing the sedimentary layers that make up the stone.

New to the Canadian market is Laminam, a global leader in innovative interior and exterior Italian surfaces. With new earth tone-inspired colours added to its extensive catalogue, its In-Side collection features a gradient of soft, muted colours that are deeply rooted in the Italian way

NKBA’s Prominent Kitchen Styles in the next 3 years

of life. The collection reveals new and unique architectural perspectives, particularly for interior design and facades, thanks to Laminam’s superior body and surface continuity being maintained even after cutting.

A part of that collection, the ‘Le Terre’ series features three new colours, including Terra di Pompei, which “captures the essence of hot magma dried in the Naples sun.” Featuring warm brown hues with light intrusions ranging from beige to champagne, the colour draws inspiration from volcanic earth, moving between form and structure. It’s offered in two finishes—Natural (a smooth to touch finish) or Fiammato

(a flamed textured finish)—both inspired by the effects of natural forces on the Earth.

Quartz surfacing pioneer Caesarstone, meanwhile, debuted its multi-material portfolio at IDS 2023 in Toronto in January, adding Porcelain and Natural Stone to its offerings. In the new Porcelain range, Caesarstone captures the visual qualities of a wide range of material types: from natural marble to the industrial aspects of concrete and metal. The heightened veining, textures and dynamic patterns are available in a range of 22 options.

The Porcelain line marks a leap forward in technology, functionality

Transitional Contemporary Modern Organic-Natural Farmhouse/Cottage Mid-Century Coastal/Beach Traditional Eclectic Industrial Craftsman Japandi Mediterranean/Old World 70% 59% 55% 51% 47% 35% 33% 26% 26% 21% 21% 8% 4%
The colour spectrum of Euro Tile’s eye-catching Terra Lucida porcelain tiles includes Cobalto, Grigio (below) and Nero (bottom).

16783 orndale Rd. orndale, Ontario, N0M 2P0

Tel: 519-461-1180

Toll free: 1-800-265-7086

Fax: 519-461-0903


Since 1974, TRS has o ered builders a single source supply network of wall panels, roof trusses, oor panels. Our supply and install expertise will make your next job faster, easier and more e cient.

O NTARIO HOME BUILDER EARLY SPRING 2023 59 ohba.ca C M Y CM MY CY CMY K SWD ad 7.125x4.826 OHB print.pdf 1 2023-03-02 2:52 PM Offering 40+ years of Arboricultural Consulting services for land development clients. Tree Preservation Plans Arborist Reports and Tree Inventories Monetary Valuations of Trees Expert Witness Testimony (LPAT/Civil litigation) Tree Risk Assessments and Hazard Evaluations CAD Equipped for Optimal Efficiency and Accuracy 7oakstreecare.ca (905) 773-1733 info@7oakstreecare.ca Est. 1976 Expert tree services for better builds. 7 Oaks Tree Care & Urban Forestry Consultants Inc. 7Oaks_OntarioHomeBuilders_QuarterPage 2.indd 1 2021-11-02 10:18 PM
Getting the Job Done Right!

and design specifically developed for countertop application, the company notes. Among its attractive properties is exceptional durability, enabling it to withstand heat, stains, scratches and outdoor elements—all with the same non-porous hygienic health and easy maintenance benefits as the company’s quartz offerings. And there’s the added design element of striking colour schemes and bolder veins, textures and patterns.

Natural Stone, for its part, is a curated collection of responsibly sourced, high-quality natural stone. “Stock will vary from location to location and will include some of the world’s most beautiful and exotic marbles, granites and quartzites,” the company says.

Certified as low-emitting by Greenguard and SNF-certified, “all Caesarstone manufactured surfaces are made from naturally occurring


Here are a few highlights from the NKBA’s 2023 Design Trends report on kitchens.

STYLES: 70% expect Transitional design to lead the way, with 59% citing Contemporary and 55% Modern. Natural, earth tones overwhelmingly dominate the colour palette, with greens and blues emerging in popularity.

TECHNOLOGY: There was a tie for top spot, with both steam cooking/air frying technology integrated into ovens as well as dedicated areas for mobile device/ laptop charging gaining 73% of first-place votes. Mobile apps to control appliances and motion sensor faucets were next in line at 51% and 50%, respectively.

minerals utilizing the purest particles moulded together with resins and pigments to create a sustainable product that is non-porous, non-toxic, hosts no bacteria, mould or mildew, and requires no sealants or wax,” Caesarstone says.

And for lovers of exposed brick and the warmth it provides inside a home, Euro Tile & Stone’s new Terra Lucida collection hits the mark with a glossy finish that enhances the brick style— all reinterpreted in a colour palette that ranges from white to black, passing through shades of beige, green and blue. The collection, available in two formats and seven colours, “brings elegance and warmth to a space by adding texture and mysterious light,” the company notes.

Just another high-end product aptly finding its way to the top of a market that is increasingly focused on surface materials. OHB

SURFACES: NKBA members see quartz continuing its dominance, with 81% picking it as the most popular covering in the next three years, with 55% citing quartzite—both being “influenced by their easy care and the desire for a sanitary surface.” Granite, at 32%, placed third.

BACKSPLASHES : Slab and ‘long subway’ will be the most popular, thanks to their reduced grout lines and maintenance.

FLOORING: Look for hardwood/engineered wood (48%) and luxury vinyl wood planks (46%) to head the list.

LIGHTING: While under-cabinet (73%), recessed (57%) and pendant (50%) lighting will increase in prominence, natural light is as attractive as ever, with large windows (74%) and glass doors (33%) and fewer panes.

60 ONTARIO HOME BUILDER EARLY SPRING 2023 ohba.ca Product Focus
The island, countertops and backsplash are adorned in Select Stone’s Select Cascade vein-cut stone. The brand highlights unique veining formed by layers of sediment.
O NTARIO HOME BUILDER EARLY SPRING 2023 61 ohba.ca “Helping Builders Finance Their Dreams since 1974” 300 John St. Suite 328, Thornhill ON L3T 5W4 B: 905-731-111 x 229C: 647-838-5061 www.cyrfunding.com rena@cyrfunding.com Project Financing:  Land  Land Servicing   Mezz Financing  Custom Homes  Subdivisions  Apartment Buildings  Inventory Units  Condo Management Financing   Commercial / Industrial  Special Purposes 647-283-1093 design@marisacarnovale.com Date: Oct 03, 2022 Filename_ Version# 2573_BV -Ontario Builders_Curved Corners_3.5x3_CLR Client: BEAVER VALLEY Built By: Desc: Artist: MC Supplier: Acct. Mgr: Trim: 3.5"W x3"H # Colours: 4C Safety/Live: 0" x 0" File Built at: 100% (1:1) PMS PMS A WIDE SELECTION OF NATURAL STONE AND PRECAST CONCRETE PRODUCTS www.beavervalleystone.com t: 905-886-5787 or t: 416-222-2424 Main Office & Yard: 8081 Woodbine Ave. SE Corner Woodbine/407 Office & Yard: 125 Langstaff Rd E., SE Corner Yonge/Hwy 7-407 Manufacturing Plant: 12350 Keele St., Maple We Deliver! Follow us on @BVSLimited Follow us on beavervalleystone 647-556-3664 @highburydoorscanada highburydoors.ca ONTARIO HOUSING UPDATES Keep Up to date on the latest from OHB!!! HB!!! ! @ ONHOMEBUILDER @ ONhomebuilder Product Focus


How to make high-density living more livable...and attractive

THE CALL TO LIMIT urban sprawl and build denser communities is sounding louder these days. But for any residential development to be feasible, it must appeal to potential homebuyers. In other words, be it a low- or highdensity development, the design must be attractive and livable. Therefore, the introduction and success of higher density housing prototypes will depend on design factors that are carefully thought out to create livable places. The advantageous aspects of single-family homes, such as privacy and open space, must be incorporated into these designs.

In general, urban density is a subjective term that relates to local culture. For example, an Asian neighbourhood is likely to be much denser than its North American counterpart. But what should the common yardsticks be of such neighbourhoods?

Combining planning features from low-density and high-density designs can introduce urban forms with unique character. Such designs can average 25 units per acre, with rear private parking and yards for each unit. Minimal, though acceptable, widths separate the houses. Moreover, open greenspace at the centre of the cluster can be made accessible from each unit.

Considering and incorporating the

effects of the sun on buildings into a design may reduce energy consumption by as much as 30%. Maximizing natural light and energy gains is important year-round, while orienting the house for passive solar gain can assist during winter. Houses should be sited in an east-west direction, such that one of the main facades faces south. Since winter heating is a bigger concern than summer cooling, orientations as close as possible to due south are recommended, ideally within 10° west of south.

What may such communities look like? Dujardin Mews was designed by Karakusevic Carson Architects in collaboration with Maccreanor Lavington Architects in Enfield, United Kingdom. The project consists of one- to fourbedroom homes and apartments aimed at individuals and families of different sizes. It’s located on remediated brownfield land that was previously inaccessible, but has now been transformed into a pedestrian-friendly neighbourhood.

The development provides a central pedestrian path within the site, with the houses’ main entrances all facing inward toward each other.

The townhouse typology used for most of the project maximizes density on the site without sacrificing an intimate scale. Doing so maintains a feeling

of community by promoting passive surveillance for safety, while facilitating social activities among neighbours. Most parking is located below ground to also promote social encounters.

The material palette is primarily brick, referencing typical London streets. The homes all have large floor-to-ceiling heights with substantial windows providing plenty of natural light and ventilation. The design has the benefit of reducing construction and energy costs due to the shared wall between units. Further, a portion of the roofs are topped with courtyard gardens, while others have solar panels, contributing to a greener community.

Different roof profiles, meanwhile, provide diversity to the street facades, while allowing more daylight onto the central community axis.

The homes bordering the school have enclosed backyards for more privacy, while first-level terraces make up for the lack of connectivity with the surrounding area.

In the search for dense but livable communities, Dujardin Mews might just provide the blueprint OHB

ohba.ca @onhomebuilder 62 ONTARIO HOME BUILDER EARLY SPRING 2023
Frame of Mind



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