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Ontario’s Architecture Profession and the 2019 Federal Election

What Questions Should You Be Asking Your Candidates?

The federal election is on October 21 and all OAA members are encouraged to vote. Architects are a small, but critical, profession—voting is an important way to have your voices heard. As an Ontario regulator, much of the Association’s focus is at the provincial level; nevertheless, there are many ongoing OAA initiatives that are relevant nationally. In particular, climate change crisis and housing affordability remain pressing at all levels of government. As such, some talking points and questions regarding each of these is highlighted below.

Members are encouraged to forward this information along to their local candidates or use the questions as conversation-starters when candidates visit homes and practices over the next couple of weeks. If you do get responses, please feel free to forward the information to Sara Trotta, Policy Analyst, at sarat@oaa.on.ca

Climate Change Crisis

The OAA Headquarters was designed by architect Ruth Cawker, winner of a 1989 province-wide design competition. It had been built to the R2000 standard, which was better than the norm (from an energy efficiency point of view) at the time. After serving the Association and its members for more than 25 years, the building began requiring extensive maintenance.

Further, its energy use was significantly above average for a new low-rise office of its kind due to its outdated mechanical system, which reheated cooled air—even in the summer. After OAA Council carefully reviewed the options of revitalizing the current building or looking for a new one, it decided the environmental and financial costs of moving would outweigh any advantages. Therefore, OAA Council opted to replace outdated systems with energy-efficient ones and change interior space layouts, achieving a renewed building with zero net carbon performance. 

Given the current climate crisis, buildings need to last for longer than a few decades. They have to adapt and improve with time. Can your party commit to adopting zero net carbon performance in all new federal buildings and renovations of existing federal buildings?

Housing Affordability

Housing affordability was once a problem limited to major cities, but is now an issue throughout the province. Through consultation with architects across Ontario, as well as its own commissioned research, the OAA strongly believes that regulatory issues in the planning approval process are among the highest contributors affecting housing affordability. In 2018, the OAA commissioned a report that found the broken site plan approval process costs the province upward of $1 billion annually due to the resulting major development delays.

At the provincial level, the Association continues to recommend changes to site plan approval in order to create a more efficient planning approval process that gets more homes to the market faster.

Does your party plan to address regulatory reforms at the federal level to combat the housing affordability crisis?

The cost of owning or renting a home in Ontario is well above the national average. What solutions does your party to address the housing affordability crisis in the province?