By Sue Wastell, CHBA President
Since beginning my term as President in February, I’ve had the opportunity to travel to several of our local/provincial associations across the country and speak with members about issues that CHBA is working on that matter to you. I genuinely enjoy meeting members and HBA staff and learning more about your businesses, challenges and priorities. CHBA is the voice of residential construction in Canada, and when you share your experiences, it helps ensure that voice reflects the priorities in our industry across the country.
Home Building Week
I stayed in Alberta after my inaugural address at CHBA’s Home Building Week in Canada in Banff to engage with members of BILD Central Alberta in Red Deer. They greeted me warmly, and it was a wonderful event to kick off my presidency and hear more about the housing market in the province. From there I headed to BILD Lethbridge’s AGM, where they are doing some very interesting work helping to bridge language barriers for newcomers who want to work in our industry, to help support the skilled labour shortage that most companies in Alberta – and the rest of Canada – are experiencing. CHBA is helping to support local initiatives like these at the Federal level, where we are calling for updates to the immigration system to proactively attract more skilled workers in residential construction, as well as promoting careers in our industry via a new promotional information section on the chba.ca website.
In March, I was invited to Guelph and District HBA’s President’s Ball and Awards of Distinction, where we celebrated the companies doing incredible work in the area. Later that month, I visited with members in New Brunswick at their Awards of Excellence gala. Our local, provincial and national awards programs are a wonderful showcase of the great work being done by our members, and are a huge marketing boon for finalists and winners. At both events, we also celebrated long-term volunteer individuals – it takes a lot of time and commitment to serve in these leadership positions on behalf of your fellow members, and without volunteers at the local, provincial and national levels, our association would not be anywhere as strong as it is today. And invariably, they say they got more out of their volunteer time than they had to put in – a great message for the volunteer leaders of the future.
April and May kept me in my home province of Ontario, where I attended a Net Zero Home ribbon cutting in Markham, and lunch and dinner meetings in Brantford, Windsor Essex, London and Haliburton. These more informal events are great for members to network with each other or learn more on topics relevant to your businesses. For myself, they’re a chance to meet and speak with you about what’s happening on the ground in your area, and where you need more support.
This spring, in addition to labour shortages across all businesses, the big topic of conversation has been slower sales traffic for new home construction. For land developers, it has gotten to the point where projects are being paused or fully cancelled due to the lack of sales and the uncertainty of what will happen with interest rates in the coming months, given the effect they have on demand. And this is coming at a time when Canada needs to be doubling its housing starts.
These boots-on-the-ground examples help CHBA explain to federal policy makers the effect that interest rates and mortgage rules are having on Canadians who want to buy a home. When leading members of CHBA and HBA staff met with MPs and government officials for CHBA’s Day on the Hill in May, it was these types of stories that helped them understand the impact that policy has on the industry, and how it can hinder the government’s own priority of building more supply.
I’m looking forward to meeting with more of you in the coming months and not only sharing the good work that CHBA is doing at the national level to complement and support the equally important work that’s happening in your local and provincial associations, but in hearing how things are going for you and how the association can help support your business during its busiest season of the year.