🏠 Zoned out

What can we learn from the Kiwi zoning experiment?

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Good morning! It’s not as easy as it looks, folks. Troubled rap star Kanye West can now add construction to his list of recent woes. Yeezy Construction, West’s own construction company, was quietly dissolved late last year and the mogul’s $57-million mansion is now literally falling apart.

Today's reading time is 5 minutes.

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Markets: New data shows that 2022 marked the first time that more than half of investors in newly-completed Greater Toronto Area condos were losing money on their rental properties. Experts from the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce say the trend could continue.


What can we learn from the Kiwi zoning experiment?

The sun sets over Auckland. The New Zeleand city was the subject of a recent housing study.

The year was 2016. Pokémon GO was released, Brazil hosted the Summer Olympics and the Chicago Cubs ended the longest World Series drought in baseball history. It was also the year the city of Auckland, New Zealand relaxed residential zoning on large chunks of the city.

What they did: The Auckland Unitary Plan upzoned approximately three-quarters of residential land, predominantly in areas close to transportation links and between 5 and 25 km of the central business district in hopes of increasing housing.

Following the homes: This gave researchers a rare case study for the design and implementation of large-scale zoning reforms. University of Auckland experts tracked the reforms and found that 21,808 additional dwellings were permitted in the five years after the zoning reform, making up approximately four per cent of Auckland’s housing stock. The study concluded that there was strong evidence the bold policy success stimulated housing supply in the areas targeted for increased capacity.

More isn’t always better: Did it help make homes more affordable? Not particularly. Recently Auckland ranked a dismal 88th in affordability out of 94 markets. The study’s authors noted some evidence that shows that, ironically, upzoning can actually increase the land value of a single-family lot because more units can be built on a single parcel. A separate report from the U.S. found that upzoning increases housing supply, but mostly at the higher end of the rent price spectrum.

Meanwhile in Canada: Provinces like B.C. are also experimenting with upzoning. Premier David Eby plans to overhaul municipal zoning rules that will allow three to four units on a traditional single-family detached lot, and even higher density in areas close to transit hubs. Toronto plans to allow multiplexes in all neighbourhoods.

The bottom line: Policies like this are likely to create more housing and that’s great. Those units are sorely needed. But the other problem to be mindful of is creating cities that only a smaller and smaller pool of people can afford.


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As part of our mission to equip, educate and elevate the construction sector, the Top 25 Innovators in Construction awards will shine a spotlight on those blazing a trail for the rest

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The week's headlines

Crosstown Elementary is an example of public housing above public assets in B.C. - Francl Architecture

🏡 Municipalities in B.C. are increasing non-market housing above public assets, including fire halls, schools and city buildings. The move has been strongly encouraged by Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon, who called the strategy part of the future.

👷 The BC Construction Association (BCCA) has paid out more than $5 million to contractors during one of the largest apprentice drive’s in the province’s history. The milestone was achieved when the Muchalat Group of Companies registered four first year apprentices and received $40,000 in financial incentives. $9 million is still up for grabs.

🔋 Pressure around a $5-billion electric vehicle battery facility in Windsor, Ont. continues to build. It’s been two weeks since Stellantis partially halted work on the project, demanding more financial support from the federal government. Windsor officials called the delays unacceptable and are circulating a petition to push Ottawa to finalize a deal.

🦺 PCL Construction is launching its own investigation into a fatal incident that occurred during work at the Regina International Airport. One worker was killed last Friday while working on the airport’s runway overlay project late at night.


People Moves

While we celebrate the ramp up to the summer construction season, we are also celebrating the comings and goings of construction sector professionals. This month’s “moves” included major boardroom shuffles, founders moving on, association presidents pursuing new ventures, project managers, engineers, recruiters and more. Some of the companies we highlighted include QuadReal Property Group, Mattina Mechanical, ROC Modular and Chard Development.


Ontario Architect reimagines 200-acre wilderness

A charcoal drawing shows part of Howard Rideout’s award winning design. - Howard Rideout

In pursuit of peace: Nope, that’s not an album cover for some edgy band you’ve never heard of. It’s architect Howard Rideout’s response to growing climate change anxiety and it just won him and his team a major award from the Ontario Association of Architects (OAA). Rideout has been working to create his own 200-acre wilderness preserve in Muskoka, Ont. that he hopes will become a place for visitors to reflect on nature and their place within it. The project will feature a series of trails and sculptural elements that Rideout has detailed in a series of beautiful charcoal drawings. His project is one of five that was honoured by the OAA’s 2023 SHIFT Architecture Challenge.


The Post, Amazon’s epic Vancouver office, is nearing completion

Alberta delays Highway 27 overlay project due to unfinished municipal work

B.C. regulators are requesting plans from Ksi Lisims LNG to attain net-zero emissions

Wesgroup just wrapped up B.C.’s largest solar project ever with Lululemon

Ontario breaks ground on long-term care home in Oxford Country


LiUNA Local 1059 celebrates its latest apprentices. The union recently held a trades showcase event in London, Ont. to attract more people to construct careers. - LiUNA Local 1059

READ: ⚒️ London showcase highlights trades careers

PHOTOS: 🦕 Ice age fossil unearthed at Alberta job site

TWEET: 🌍 Can you guess which country has the most skyscrapers on the planet?

PHOTOS: 🚒 Former Montreal monastery from 1846 goes up in smoke

READ: 🏗️ Naloxone is mandatory for Ontario sites starting next month

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