The REMI Network’s award-winning editorial team takes a look at the top stories from 2017 and how they will continue to impact the commercial real estate management industry in 2018. The articles appear in no particular order and are based on reader traffic.
Cultivating and diversifying the real estate workforce
Barbara Carss, editor, Canadian Property Management: Demand for nimble operations in disruptive times means that leadership, professionalism and succession planning will continue to be topics for industry reflection in 2018. Employers and educators are collaborating to nurture needed skills and promote commercial real estate’s multidisciplinary career opportunities. Mentoring, employee engagement and competitive compensation underpin strategies to attract and retain new generations of professionals and better reflect modern Canadian demographics.
Even more Ontario condo law changes
Michelle Ervin, editor, CondoBusiness and Canadian Facility Management & Design: Significant changes to Ontario’s condo laws started to come into force last fall — and the newly established Condominium Authority of Ontario (CAO) was at the centre of it all. The non-profit corporation developed mandatory online training for new condo board directors and established an online tribunal tasked with resolving disputes about access to condo records. The CAO is currently working on getting all of the province’s condo corporations registered by Feb. 28, 2018. As changes to Ontario’s condo laws continue to be phased in, condo corporations can anticipate new rules for reserve funds and developers can anticipate new disclosure requirements.
Pushing mass timber innovation
Cheryl Mah, editor, Design Quarterly, Construction Business: Wood design and construction will continue to play a leading role in ground-breaking and distinctive structures in 2018. The industry is increasingly exploring the use of mass timber and pushing the envelope with new technologies and hybrid systems. The Brock Commons Tallwood House is just one example of how the industry is garnering worldwide attention for innovative and efficient solutions.
Rebecca Melnyk, online editor, Canadian Property Management, Facility Cleaning & Maintenance: Last summer marked the beginning of Montreal’s first vertical, smart community. When the HUMANITI development broke ground, promising a hotel-office-condo community, it reflected a real estate trend popping up in other cities like Toronto. A city within a city, smart, mixed-use neighbourhoods are part of the next generation of real estate. Some, however, are going beyond the live-work-play trend to infuse the idea of community sharing and wellbeing. The HUMANITI development plans to connect users via its own mobile app that will offer an array of services, from electric vehicles and janitorial services to hotel concierge access. Mixed-use amenities are now an imperative, and some projects are connecting more than buildings; they are connecting people.
Impact of new legislation on Ontario apartment owners
Erin Ruddy, editor, Canadian Apartment Magazine: On April 20, 2017, the Ontario Provincial Government released a 16-point plan developed to address Ontario’s rental housing shortage and “help more people find affordable homes, increase supply, protect buyers and renters and bring stability to the real estate market.” But the plan—which includes the removal of the 1991 exemption, restrictions on above guideline rent increases and the introduction of a new standard landlord-tenant lease—has reportedly had negative effects on rental housing development. Two studies by Urbanation, commissioned by the Federation of Rental-housing Providers of Ontario (FRPO) warn of a massive Ontario rental supply shortfall, which will continue to diminish unless at least 6,250 additional new rental units are built each year for the next decade, in addition to the expected level of new development. As repercussions of the new legislation continue to unfold, we look forward to tracking this contentious issue.
Elections and other political deadlines
Barbara Carss: The Ontario government unveiled its 2018 campaign narrative in 2017 with the introduction of three new pieces of legislation with the word “Fair” in the title. Those initiatives — addressing electricity costs, housing and employment standards and labour relations — all had implications for the commercial real estate sector. Meanwhile, pending provincial budgets could be more speculative in Ontario and Quebec as both governments will have a smaller window to carry out their agendas before facing electors later this year. Two federal political deadlines also bear watching: July 1 for the legalization of marijuana and September 1 for provinces to have their carbon pricing strategies in place.
Adopting Passive House design to meet goals
Cheryl Mah: The City of Vancouver is aiming to have all new buildings produce zero emissions by 2030, while the B.C. government is setting all new buildings be net-zero by 2032. These ambitious goals will require the construction industry to find innovative solutions for future projects. Passive House is the rigorous building standard that leading edge companies must adopt to meet these goals. The proposed Alberni Street project in Vancouver will set a precedent.
Movement added to the sit-stand mix
Michelle Ervin: Facility managers resolving to get their organizations off on the right ergonomic foot in 2018 may be in the market for sit-to-stand workstations — the solution du jour. If sitting is being compared to smoking for its health consequences, then standing must be the remedy. Well, not exactly. Expert analysis finds that while, used correctly, sit-to-stand workstations can help improve comfort, they do little to counter sedentary behaviour. Adding movement to the workday may be the next big trend in 2018. The Region of Peel recently piloted active design strategies aimed at doing just that.
High-rise safety concerns in wake of a brutal tragedy
Erin Ruddy: Apartment fires are all-too common despite stringent safety procedures and improved Building Code regulations, and sadly, 2017 saw one of the deadliest fires in recent history. The infamous Grenfell Tower fire that ripped through 24-storeys in a matter of hours resulted in an estimated 80 deaths and dozens of injuries. As the grisly scene unfolded, industry experts and onlookers speculated about the building’s cladding system, an aluminum composite material (ACM) with polyethylene filler and foam insulation. Laboratory efforts to replicate the conditions have since underscored what was already believed to be true: that several combinations of commonly available panels and insulation do not meet performance criteria set out in guidance documents for high-rise building regulations. Follow along in 2018 for more on high-rise fire safety, cladding concerns, and the ongoing Grenfell investigation.
More infection prevention in non-clinical facilities
Rebecca Melnyk: In 2018, expect more educational resources and awareness regarding infection prevention and control in all types of facilities. While the issue is an ongoing priority in healthcare settings, it is often overlooked in places like schools and gyms. Members of the cleaning industry are looking for new methods of infection control, while more schools are educating their teams on best practices for cleaning and disinfection. At the Canadian Association for Environmental Management conference last fall, guest speakers stressed how important it is to use the guiding principles of hospital cleaning in a non-clinical environment. There is potential for cross contamination on environmental surfaces wherever people congregate.
A code of ethics for condo managers
Michelle Ervin: 2017 was a milestone year for Ontario condo managers and condo management companies alike. New legislation regulating the profession started to come into force in the fall, setting a Jan. 29, 2018, deadline to apply for the new, mandatory licences required to continue providing condo management services in the province. Regulations establishing a code of ethics for condo managers as well as complaints and discipline procedures are due to kick in Feb. 1, 2018. The board chair of the newly established Condominium Management Regulatory Authority of Ontario (CMRAO) has previously said it will take a compliance-based approach to addressing concerns about professional conduct in the industry.
Communal workspaces rising in popularity
Cheryl Mah: The workplace is continuously changing to meet new technology and to support employee needs. Communal workspaces are rising in popularity due to economics and demographics. Businesses of all types, including the design sector, recognize the value of flexibility, community and shared resources. Due to the high cost of office space, especially in cities like Vancouver, it is expected that 20 per cent of office space will be shared workspaces in the next 10 years.