The Calgary residential construction industry’s view on government policy at any level often hinges on housing affordability and choice, and these issues remain a point of emphasis for builders and developers as candidates for mayor and council hit the campaign trail.
Calgarians will go to the polls on Oct. 18, 2021. There are currently 27 candidates looking to replace Naheed Nenshi, who will not seek a fourth term as mayor. City council will also receive a significant makeover, with 10 of the city’s 14 councillors not seeking re-election.
“Our members are looking for candidates that are going to support policies and approaches that support customer choice,” said Brian Hahn, CEO of BILD Calgary Region, an industry group whose members include builders, developers and renovators, as well as tradespeople, manufacturers and suppliers related to residential construction.
In recent months, growing costs of building materials, such as lumber, have created uncertainty for builders. This underscores the industry’s desire for predictability around expenses wherever possible.
“Consumers can afford what consumers can afford,” said Hahn. “That creates a lot of compression along the value chain as to where (companies) are going to earn their margin and put bread and butter on the table at the end of the day.”
Looking at affordability, he adds, candidate platforms that “(don’t) make that worse is another important piece of the equation.”
“It needs to be a primary focus for any of the mayoral candidates to really try and drive investment into the city that would ultimately attract population growth – whether that’s immigration or interprovincial migration from any of the provinces, because that will drive real estate.” – Jackson Cornelius, Urban Analytics
He says the industry is looking for a mayor and council “that looks to a stable cost environment for policy and is supportive of the economic development and employment that the industry supports, as well.”
Another topic they’ll keep an eye on is off-site levies, which are currently under review with an update expected in 2022.
“The last time levies were determined, the mayor said growth pays for growth and we do believe growth pays for growth,” said Hahn.
“We’re all about everybody paying what their fair share is, but no more than their fair share . . . It should be what is required to keep everyone whole or even in the equation.”
Municipal election candidates with big ideas for attracting more people to the city will also be top of mind for Calgary’s builders and developers, says Jackson Cornelius, market and advisory manager for Alberta with market research firm Urban Analytics.
“It needs to be a primary focus for any of the mayoral candidates to really try and drive investment into the city that would ultimately attract population growth – whether that’s immigration or interprovincial migration from any of the provinces, because that will drive real estate.”
To that end, Cornelius calls the revitalization of downtown Calgary critical.
“If we are going to attract businesses, then we are going to need to have a downtown core that is vibrant. We need to have housing surrounding that,” he said. “It’s a multifaceted approach, but you need to start with that investment into the city.”
If you’d like to learn more about where Calgary’s leading mayoral candidates stand on the most pressing issues surrounding real estate and housing, register for CREB®’s 2021 Mayoral Forum livestream on Sept. 14. Registration is free and open to all members of the public. To register, click here.