Who caused Canada’s housing shortage? We’re looking at you, city hall (via The Globe and Mail)

Article reposted via The Globe and Mail



A condo building under construction in Toronto on July 13.


Evan Dunfee won an Olympic bronze medal in the 50-kilometre racewalk last summer in Tokyo. This fall, the 32-year-old is running for city council in his hometown of Richmond, the fourth largest municipality in Metro Vancouver.

A top election priority is getting more housing built in a city that, like much of Canada, is a sea of low-density, detached homes. With housing a hot political issue, there’s been a tendency for politicians to promise the easy and vague – which usually involves pledging to get lots of new homes built, without specifying how.

Mr. Dunfee is getting more specific, as are some other candidates in municipal elections this month in British Columbia and Ontario. He’s talking about the mechanics of how. Among his specific ideas are loosening rules around minimum lot sizes to allow more homes on less land, ditching parking minimums and allowing townhomes to be built in older neighbourhoods.

This country’s housing problems start at city halls. Restrictive rules around what can be built where have long prevented enough construction, particularly in those places where most Canadians want to live and where most jobs are. Last week, Statistics Canada reported another national population surge, to 38.9 million, up 285,000 in just three months. Governments continue to ignore the consequences of this, with most residential land still reserved for detached homes.

Amid all this inaction, there are calls for higher levels of government to intervene, as happened last year in California – a state where bylaws that ensure little new building gets done are strangling economic growth.

Upper levels of government riding in to fix things may at times be necessary. But it’s an emergency manoeuvre. It would be better if cities tackled a problem they created.

With civic votes in B.C. and Ontario – where the housing crunch is worst – there’s a chance for a direct and detailed pitch to voters about exactly how the rules need to change, and why.

Last February, an expert panel produced an needed list of changes for the Ontario government. It was headlined with the goal of building 1.5 million new homes in a decade – double the current pace of construction. The Ford government latched onto that number, but it shelved reforms needed to make it a reality.

Pretend housing reformers embrace slogans for change, such as “missing middle.” The phrase captures a great idea, namely allowing denser and cheaper housing options, such as fourplexes and low-rise apartment buildings, in established neighbourhoods long reserved for single-family homes. But if zoning rules stay as they are, it’s just idle talk.

In Vancouver, city council recently passed a plan designed to create more density. Mayor Kennedy Stewart, running for re-election, is pitching the idea of 220,000 new homes in a decade. Great. But that can only happen with major zoning changes, and his platform doesn’t detail any. A rival party, OneCity, has pitched specific changes, such as allowing small apartment buildings throughout the city.

In Toronto, Mayor John Tory is running for his third term, and started his campaign with a promise of missing-middle housing and “greater mid-range density” on major roads and areas served by transit. Again, great ideas. However, his platform is thin on details about what it all means or how it is to be achieved. Toronto has been looking at these ideas for years and, so far, not much has happened.

There’s a reason why higher levels of government are talking about seizing the reins. The likely next premier of B.C., David Eby, on Wednesday outlined a list of new density requirements for cities that the provincial government would pursue. Federally, both Liberals and Conservatives have ideas for using Ottawa’s money to force zoning reforms.

To build more housing we need to make better use of existing land. It is local political leadership in cities that can and should be taking action. Civic election day in B.C. is Oct. 15 and Ontario’s is Oct. 24. Politicians need to talk more about things such as easing up on lot sizes, so urban and, especially, suburban areas – where most land has long been reserved for low-rise homes – can welcome new housing and more people into old neighbourhoods.

It’s easy to promise “missing middle” housing. It’s easy to talk about 1.5 million new homes. But until zoning rules change, it just won’t happen.

BAM + Google: Here’s how we’re setting ourselves above the rest

Hey there. We’d like to take a moment to give ourselves a big pat on the back. Today, we are very excited about Google AdWords – particularly after our amazing Quarterly Business Review with the good folks at Google.

Here in the BAM digital department there are plenty of things that get us excited. After all, we place a premium on digital advertising and praise its efficacy as a channel for new home and condo sales, so we quite literally live and breathe digital. We want to have the best ads, the best performance, and the cheapest clicks, so that we can convert those efficiencies into profitable new home sales.

Over the past 3 quarters BAM’s digital advertising team has worked tirelessly with new Google technologies, web development teams and clients to streamline the advertising process from start to finish. Efficiency is the name of the game, and BAM has innovated in ways to capitalize on efficiencies.

Quarter-over-quarter, BAM has reinvented the way it utilizes AdWords as part of the home selling process, and the results have started to pour in. Over the past 6 months, we’ve seen our overall account clickthrough rate on ads quadruple. From an average clickthrough rate of 2% in March, we’ve managed to up that figure to 8% through the end of Google’s Q3 in October.

Is that good? For comparison, other advertisers in our industry have seen modest increases from 2% to 3% in the same timeframe, which gives BAM a 172% advantage. When you see that kind of comparative improvement, excitement ensues. Check out the infographic below to see how BAM has upped its game with AdWords the past few months.

Augmented Reality: Bridging The Gap


This past weekend, we saw the digital world explode after the thunderous launch of the much-lauded Pokémon GO. Its footprint was so massive that four days in it surpassed a billion dollars in value, and bested Twitter for daily active users. It’s also a hyper example of how quickly the general public can adopt AR technology, and the possibilities it offers both brands and consumers. For those unaware AR refers to augmented reality, a playful interaction between the game/software and the real word; in the example of Pokémon GO, Pokémon appear on your phone’s display, overlaid into the real environment as captured by your device’s camera.

Ikea has recently been playing with AR. They introduced new technology that allows you to use their catalogue and app to overlay furniture into your home so that you can see exactly what it looks like in your space. You can even snap photos to share with family and friends to get their opinion. It’s this creative use of AR that should be of particular interest to our industry. Whether it’s allowing you to visualize flooring samples in the actual space, or give more depth to a home’s layout while still at the framing stage, the technology is widely available and requires less learning curve [for users]. As well, unlike VR, it doesn’t need any third-party hardware to enjoy it, which is especially important if your client or customers are at home, instead of at your site. They can grab an app and press go.

Augmented reality could change the way we visualize presentation centres and model homes. Imagine using oversized custom screens to explore the space, or perhaps supplied glasses, not unlike those you’d find at a 3D film. If Pokémon is any indication, the floodgate for AR is about to burst; now is a great time to ride the wave.

Next Level Townhome Sales At Triumph


If you’ve been following BAM over the past year, you’re aware of the strides we’ve been taking to help change the way buyers purchase homes. Earlier this year, we introduced a revamped Pine River website that included an online home reservation system that allowed potential buyers to choose the home and lot of their dreams and place a hold on it. Well, we’ve kicked things up a notch with the newly redesigned Triumph Phase 3 website for our client Highmark Homes. Not only did it let users book their appointment for the grand opening, but it featured an option that allowed VIPs to skip the line, and secure a home (for a nominal fee).

Buyers who were serious about starting a new life in one of Highmark’s stylish, modern townhomes in central Whitby paid a $500 fee – using PayPal – to become part of the VIP Advantage program. This allowed them to reserve their choice of home and lot online before the public, view, and lock-in, preview pricing, access a private VIP Advantage Event (with no line-ups) and view/download the APS and condo docs ahead of time. Now that’s next level. The program was a huge success with 20 customers selecting the option, and 17 making a purchase!

We’ve since extended the program, although customers no longer have to pay. They can visit the website and lock in their choice of a lot and home design online, similar to the Pine River site.

With the success of the launch, we can easily see this becoming a standard when it comes to launching new communities here in the GTA. Not only does this make the experience even more seamless for buyers, but also it’s a giant step closer to facilitating an entirely online purchase. We couldn’t be more excited — or proud!

BAM at The BILD Awards

Untitled.pngLast week, the BAM team was dressed to the nines and in attendance at the 36th annual BILD Awards, which recognizes excellence in sales, marketing, design and construction of new homes in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). As we had previously written, we were excited – and honoured – to be nominated for Best Digital Marketing Campaign — for three of our most exciting projects to date, in addition to Best Sales Video and Best New Community, Planned or Under Development for Queensville.

We were ecstatic to join our clients Zancor Homes and Lancaster Homes on stage to accept the Best Digital Marketing Campaign award for Pine River, which was one of our most ambitious digital projects to date. In fact, if you haven’t explored the website – complete with online reservation system – you can learn more about it here. We were also excited to join builders Countrywide Homes, Aspen Ridge Homes, and Lakeview Homes, on stage to accept the award for Best New Community, Planned (for Queensville). Queensville is the largest and most ambitious new project in Ontario, and we couldn’t be happier with what we’ve achieved there. Especially since the project recently sold out its first phase.

The results we’ve helped our clients achieve over the past year is something we’re very proud of. We’re lucky – and grateful – that they see our vision, trust, and allow us to take the risks we do. These awards are just icing on the cake. They’re truly a result of the hard work the entire BAM team has put into these massive projects.


Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: