Apr 20, 2005 - Growth management only as good as its implementation

April 20, 2005

Growth management only as good as its implementation:
Pull, don't push, builders say

April 20, 2005

TORONTO - New home builders in the Greater Toronto Area are prepared to embrace provincial growth controls, but warn that they could backfire if not implemented wisely.

The Greater Toronto Home Builders' Association, in a comprehensive brief submitted today to the Ministry of Public Infrastructure Renewal, applauds provincial efforts to guide development in a way that will ensure the future competitiveness of our local economies and preserve and improve our quality of life.

GTHBA president Julie Di Lorenzo notes that European Union countries have increased infrastructure spending in cities such as Dublin and Barcelona, making them highly competitive in the global economy. By contrast, she adds, Canada's leading cities are falling into decline.

"The province is saying the right things, and its growth controls are aimed at creating strong and vibrant centres," she says, "but the whole plan is underpinned by a single premise - increasing density in existing or emerging centres."

Without provincial leadership and infrastructure investment in both existing and emerging centres, combined with strong incentives to win local support for such intensification, builders could end up with nowhere to build once the door is shut on undeveloped land outside of these centres.
"Unless new capacity is created in roads, public transit, sewer and water, and other essential services and systems," the brief says, "the economic potential of this region will be artificially constrained and quality of life will deteriorate."

The difference between what provincial planners think will happen and what actually happens at potential building sites every day is well known to GTA builders.

Several recent development proposals in well serviced areas accessible to public transit have been delayed, scaled down or halted because municipal politicians have bowed to neighbourhood groups who don't want growth in their backyards.

"Local opposition to intensification is a fact of life," Di Lorenzo says. "The not-in-my-backyard syndrome cannot be ignored, especially if we are also denied access to raw land outside of built-up areas.

"Provincial restrictions on development in the countryside makes sense only if sufficient new homes can be built within designated growth centres. But if we can't build enough, or fast enough to meet the demand, the whole scheme will fail."

The home builders are calling on the province to come up with incentives that will win over local residents and politicians. "A combination of carrots and sticks is likely to be more effective than just issuing rules and regulations," Di Lorenzo says.

"Based on our experience, a 'push' approach to regulation does not succeed in the long term. We see the Growth Plan as an opportunity for a new model - a 'pull' approach that will produce a region that is environmentally sustainable and increasingly competitive in a global economy," Di Lorenzo added.

With more than 1,300 members, the GTHBA is the voice of the residential construction industry in the GTA.  Established in 1921, the association represents a full cross-section of the industry, consisting of home builders, developers, renovation contractors, subcontractors, manufacturers, suppliers, service, professional and financial firms.

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For a copy of the full report click here

For further information:
Suzanna Cohen, Director of Communications
Email: scohen@gthba.ca
416-391-3450 or 416-453-4214 (cell)

Stephen Dupuis, Executive Vice President
Email: sdupuis@gthba.ca
416-391-3453 or 416-948-8654 (cell)