The first day of Fall is a few days away! With the scent of changing leaves in the air and changing permitting processes at the forefront of conversation this season, one thing has been brought to the top of my mind again… 🌲Trees. 🌳 As I discuss in nearly every post, BC is in dire need of new housing options. This, of course, requires new development—which requires municipal planners to debate trade-offs & priorities. This is the case with the current conversation around trees… or more specifically, the preservation of trees. As a lover of the outdoors and wildlife, I’m not cavalier about the environmental considerations of new developments. In fact, much of my work as a consultant has revolved...
“Could have been an email”
September 13, 2023
Was the meeting necessary? Could it have been an email? Picture it. It’s 9:30 am in your very busy second week of September. You have a million other things you need to be doing… Instead, you’re trapped in a meeting, your mind is wandering to your long to-do list, and you are wondering if this meeting will ever be over. We’ve all been there (even this week!). From inviting more people than are needed, to ill preparation, to poor communication, ineffective meetings can transpire for a lot of different reasons. But—what if your next meeting left everyone feeling… ➡️That the conversation was a valuable use of everyone’s time and talent? ➡️That momentum had been created? ➡️That all...
Your next difficult conversation
September 6, 2023
If you’re like my clients, you’re starting to be laser focussed on what needs to be done in the next few months to achieve your 2023 goals and prepare for 2024. Over the past week, each one of my clients and I have discussed the importance of our leadership approach and difficult conversations with stakeholders that need to happen to reach project goals. As someone who has been managing people and projects for 25 years, I believe the ability to plan and lead difficult conversations is invaluable. And – I am acutely aware that planning and leading difficult conversations is easier said than done.
Changing the game
August 31, 2023
Lately, we’ve spoken a lot about struggles related to funding the permitting process for a new development or redevelopment project. For landholders who want to unlock the value of their property, accessing the capital needed to resource their team can be one of the biggest challenges. As a consultant who specializes in land use approvals, this is the most common struggle I see potential clients facing. I see this with families, non-profits, and other groups that are land rich and cash poor. They’re often unable to foot the bill for design and permitting. They want to invest in expert support. They want to unlock the true value of their property. Typically, I do my best to be able to offer creative funding ideas to clients…...
Who’s in your corner?
August 24, 2023
Do you remember how it felt, back in grade school, to be selected as a team captain? Maybe it was in gym class. Or maybe you were just playing outside with your friends. At some point though, you were probably tasked with assembling a group of peers to work together towards a common goal. Kickball, freeze tag, red rover, or some other playground shenanigans. In that moment, you knew—even as a child—that the people you selected would make all the difference in your ability to succeed. That not every player would come to the table with equal abilities. And that getting those 2-3 key people onto your team was a MUST if you truly wanted to win. Now, as you start to assemble a team to help you develop your...
The bottom line
August 21, 2023
Have you ever heard the expression “land rich, cash poor”? So many Canadian landholders find themselves in this place right now. They’re sitting on a goldmine of undeveloped or underdeveloped property—but without the resources needed to invest in a development project. For people in this situation, investing in work with a development consultant can be especially terrifying. It’s a meaningful investment, and one that signifies a certain level of commitment (emotional, financial, and otherwise) to change or intensify how they’re using their land. But what if you could go into this process backed by an expert —and armed with the confidence doing so was a smart, strategic financial decision? A decision...
The ways AI might impact our industry in the years to come
August 16, 2023
Recently, I was hanging out in the Gulf Islands with some brilliant friends when the conversation turned (as many of mine are wont to do) to the state of housing, development, and land use approvals in Canada. I’ll spare you the details—but long story short, we ended up in a back-and-forth about the ways AI might impact our industry in the years to come. While some people are understandably nervous about whether AI can handle applications and permitting with the required nuance. …And others are anxious that AI could make some municipal positions redundant. …we’d be remiss to ignore the opportunity we’ve been afforded by these new technological advancements. This belief isn’t based on hypothesis or theory....
Those rising construction costs… should you wait to develop?
August 9, 2023
If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll already know how strongly I feel about addressing the fact that in Canada we are in dire need of housing options. So many locals are sitting on a wealth of land, with a deep desire to impact the housing crisis, create a new income stream, and do something that really matters with their property… But, so many are intimidated by the cost of development right now. Frankly, I can’t blame them. Between rising interest rates, inflation, and the skyrocketing cost of construction, this is a challenging time to develop in Canada. And yet—one of the smartest moves you could make right now is to kick off your project anyway. “What??” You may be thinking. “Why would I...
607,782…more than half a million people needing homes??
August 4, 2023
In recent years, Canada has welcomed record numbers of immigrants and non-permanent residents. 2022 alone saw a net increase of more than half a million people—607,782, according to Reuters. While our cities are being flooded with new people more than ever, housing supply remains one of our biggest challenges as a nation. It’s not that we have a shortage of options. Even though “simple-to-develop” properties are now scarce, we actually have a wealth of undeveloped land and properties that could be redeveloped. The real issue? Landholders have the seemingly impossible task of navigating the approvals and permitting process. The unfortunate reality is, many of the systems and processes our municipal governments rely on to...
Seeking the Peak
July 25, 2023
Every year in early summer, a group of determined individuals competes in Seek the Peak—a challenging race that ambles its way through West Vancouver, kicking off at Ambleside Beach and winding its way up the legendary Grouse Grind to The Peak of Vancouver. The course is grueling, to say
What if we’ve got it all wrong?
July 13, 2023
Have you ever been faced with a development-related conundrum and felt like your back was against a wall? This happened recently to one of my clients. And to be frank, this happens all the time because there are no easy sites left… To make a long story short, there are some servicing issues with their property. They needed access to a neighboring property’s parking area in order to unlock the full value of their project. So they immediately jumped to the conclusion—they needed to write the neighbor a big fat cheque and make their problem go away. Now, I’m not talking about small numbers here. In their estimation, this cheque would have increased their project budget by seven figures. They were gung ho to keep...
What we can learn from university students
June 29, 2023
This month, I’ve been spending a LOT of time thinking and talking about my daughters. My youngest, Charlotte, graduated from high school this month. Soon, she’ll be off on her own adventures just like my older daughters. I couldn’t be more proud of her and excited for her. She’s about to make a BIG jump into life as a university student—and the only reason I’m not freaked out about that, is that I know she’ll have amazing mentors. See, she’s heading off to the same University as her older sisters, Ashley and Maria. Sure, she might experience some stressful moments even knowing they are nearby. And there are decisions she’ll have to make and situations she’ll have to navigate on her own. But how...
Lessons from Barcelona
June 22, 2023
When I was in Barcelona visiting my daughter Maria this spring, I was taken aback by something odd… It was the sort of thing most tourists probably wouldn’t have blinked at. But thanks to 2.5 decades of thinking about development, land use, local policy, and housing issues, it caught my attention. Many buildings had no balconies. “Okay…” you may be thinking. “So what?” Unless—you’re someone who’s had the misfortune of having to navigate regulatory requirements around balconies in British Columbia. In which case, you’re probably laughing right now. Because you understand the costs that can be avoided by nixing balconies altogether. And the thing is, it’s not...
What I learn from Travelling the World’s Greatest Cities
June 13, 2023
Over the past year, I’ve had the opportunity to travel to some of the world’s greatest cities (both for business and for pleasure). From New York City, to Melbourne, to Montreal, Barcelona, Sydney, and so many incredible places in between, as an urban planner, I continue to learn so much from my experiences in world cities. There is community in activated public spaces. Density and diversity of development equates to easeful and safe public transit options. And—the wide variety of creative solutions different cities have found for high-density housing options. It’s no secret that here in Vancouver, we’re in the midst of a severe housing crisis. While no major city can boast a homeless population of zero,...
About Those Interest Rates
April 20, 2023
With rising interest rates and challenges in securing new properties for development, many are wondering—what will the next few years look like for those interested in developing properties? After more than 25 years in the land development space, I’ve seen my fair share of industry shifts, trends, and even dips. Now, working closely with landholders who are eager to develop, I see one thing to be true: ** Now may not be the best time to buy —but it IS the ideal time to add value to lands you already own. So many Canadians are sitting on huge tracts of land. Holdovers purchased by past generations, with no real plan or vision for future development. They know in their heart of hearts that they could leverage this property...
The Current Development Landscape
April 14, 2023
Thank you Mackenzie Biggar, Tom Burr, and Kendal Harazny for a great discussion at the Western Canada Apartment Investment Conference on April 4, 2023 in Vancouver. We had fun! And, we learned a lot from one another! We spoke in depth about case studies and specific actions that groups are taking to manage risk in apartment housing development in the current environment. Even as someone who works in this field every day (and has for 25 years), it was an eye-opening conversation. >> We started with a look at how real estate developers are approaching the continuing turbulence in the land development space. >> We chatted about some of the specific challenges developers in Vancouver, Calgary, Victoria, and...
Channel’s Experience with Permitting Process Improvements
December 20, 2022
In 2023, Channel Consulting will be working with municipalities in BC to improve permitting processes. Permitting process improvement projects are complex and it will take time for applicants to experience the benefits of changes that will be implemented. Here is some background on Tegan’s experience overseeing permitting process improvements for the port authority. In Tegan’s role as Manager of Planning at the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority from 2016 to 2018, she was responsible for the port authority’s Project and Environmental Review (PER) permitting process and development of land...
Surrey Development Industry Forum: Challenges and Solutions to BC’s Housing Crisis
October 31, 2022
Recording on YouTube | Presentation at 1:25:32 Transcript | October 28, 2022 Thank you Surrey Board of Trade for hosting this important conversation. It is a privilege to contribute to collaborative dialogue about BC’s Housing Crisis with government officials and the development industry. Congratulations Mayor-elect Brenda Locke. I am addressing the housing crisis in BC through my work as a project facilitator. I hold space and lead collaboration between the project team and the municipal team. I work...
Advice Following the Municipal Election
October 18, 2022
Following the October 15, 2022 municipal election, here is how we are advising clients right now. City of Vancouver There have never been more development applications. Sites are more complex than ever. The City’s zoning team is currently understaffed. The first development applications to be approved are those of the highest quality. Time and again, architects, environmental professionals, and engineers focus on their subject area and their submissions do not fully align to the applicable land use regulations. This leads to extra rounds of comments, which adds several...
Municipal Election 2022: 10 Issues to Discuss with Council Candidates
October 4, 2022
The Municipal Election is on October 15th in B.C. and it is Really Important. Here is a list of 10 issues that would be helpful to discuss with candidates: Increasing complexity of sites Difficulty with role clarity between government agencies Public and stakeholder interests Clarity on the land use approvals process Transportation and public realm plans Indigenous engagement Construction costs and labour shortage Inflation and interest rates Market conditions Rising land value There are over 20 municipalities in the Lower...
Two pain points that will cost you
August 30, 2022
Land use approvals are a partnership. The truth is that most private, non-profit and government project leaders struggle to establish the type of partnership that will unlock land use approvals on their development project. The two urgent pain points in the development review and approvals process right now are: (1) The great resignation. There is a lack of staff at municipalities, the port, provincial and federal regulators. Because of this, you need to take active leadership in proposing solutions. You need to be clear on how you will meet expectations and timelines. (2) The volume of applications. There have...
Current challenges facing the non-market housing sector
July 13, 2022
Please join Channel Consulting in thanking Liam Griffin and Brightside Community Homes Foundation for generously sharing these insights on current challenges facing the non-market sector. Building Non-Market Rental Homes Amid Rising Uncertainty Renters in Metro Vancouver continue to face record shortages in available housing and a vacancy rate barely exceeding 1% in most municipalities. For many, current market rental rates for homes that are available – frequently, but not exclusively the newer, purpose-built rental buildings – are far from affordable and often constitute well over 50% of a household’s income. The solution is more complex and immediate than building more supply, as the...
Guest Blog – Journeying Towards Reconciliation
June 22, 2022
Channel Consulting is proud to present Stephanie Bartlett’s guest blog about land-practice and protocols. Please join me in thanking Stephanie for offering the Channel community four thoughts for beginning or enhancing our journey towards reconciliation. Land-Practice and Protocols: 4 Thoughts for Beginning or Enhancing Your Journey Towards Reconciliation Many of us are familiar with land acknowledgements as a way of addressing the 2015
Intensive Use of Industrial Lands in the Vancouver Region
April 11, 2022
This is a guest blog from Eric Aderneck. Eric is a Vancouver region guru on land use policy, government relations, and large-format multilevel industrial buildings. Eric and I were both actively involved in the development of the Metro Vancouver Industrial Lands Strategy, City of Vancouver...
Public Engagement – How Strategy Builds Trust
April 7, 2022
This is a guest post from Mairi Welman. Mairi is a career strategic planning and communications professional with over 30 years’ experience across a variety of industries within the private and public sectors. Mairi has helped Channel’s clients to meaningfully engage input on their projects. Clients trust Channel to build long-term relationships with stakeholders and government partners. She has proven time and again that strategy builds trust. Guest Blog | Mairi Welman, Strategic Communications & Engagement Advisor When you get right down to it, the goal of public engagement is to build...
Invitation to support Council candidates with great information
March 18, 2022
May 17th at noon, I will be leading a workshop to help project leaders be well-prepared to help inform Council candidates about how they can be most effective if elected in the October 15, 2022 municipal election . You will come away from this workshop with a clear plan to build constructive and trusting relationships with Council candidates. Sign up here. I am listening to clients hopes for the Fall 2022 municipal election in BC. I am hearing from private, non-profit and government project...
Capilano River Hatchery Rebuild – Channel’s Engagement Framework
March 3, 2022
This blog shares about our work supporting the Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and Ingenium Canada with government and stakeholder engagement on the Capilano River Hatchery Rebuild project. The project by Fisheries and Oceans Canada is on Squamish territory, on Metro Vancouver titled land, in the District of North Vancouver. This is one of our favourite projects and here is why: Channel has the opportunity to facilitate action on reconciliation. We thrive in listening and connecting to build long-term relationships. Teamwork makes the dream work. Channel serves the Capilano River Hatchery Rebuild project as a third-party independent resource assisting DFO with streamlining its land use approvals and...
The questions diligent groups are asking about land use approvals
February 28, 2022
Institutional investors are very active in Vancouver real estate right now. Every municipality in the Lower Mainland has different policies that impact land development. What can be done in one municipality may not be possible in another (e.g., because of view cones, below market rental requirements, etc.). Unless your base case thesis is escalating land value, your investors are looking for diligent research exploring development scenarios. REIT, private equality, and private development groups are asking questions right now, like: 1. What policy changes are anticipated before/after the October 15, 2022, BC municipal...
Channel’s Role on Xchange Business Park
February 22, 2022
This blog discusses Channel Consulting’s work on the 140-acre Xchange Business Park by Hungerford Properties and QuadReal in Abbotsford BC. Xchange is the largest greenfield land development in the Lower Mainland of the past decade. Land use approvals and government relations for this project are extremely complex. The executives overseeing the project relied on Tegan to work with all of the government organizations and engage input from subject matter consultants on a daily basis for over four...
Guest Blog Series | Launches March 2022
February 22, 2022
Starting in March, Channel is proud to present a series of guest bloggers’ industry insights on land use approvals, government relations, and Vancouver real estate. Topics will include affordable housing, indigenous knowledge, Metro Vancouver industrial market, Vancouver market conditions, dog parks and community building, strategic communications, DCCs and servicing costs, municipal government approvals, and more! Please invite your colleagues to follow Channel’s blog. Subscription remains
Need to be more accountable in 2022?
February 9, 2022
So far in 2022, my experience is that project leaders are under more intense pressure to have better INFORMATION about their land and projects. Are you feeling this too? There is a new level of energy and diligence from project leaders, Boards, investment committees, and capital committees, as we all start to anticipate the end of the pandemic. Decision-makers are asking a lot more QUESTIONS and looking for greater accountability in 2022. Channel helps project leaders as well as investment committees, capital committees, and Boards to be ACCOUNTABLE. Do you know the TRUTH about approvals risks and your business plan...
Find it easy to believe the bad stuff?
January 24, 2022
Have you ever found yourself assuming that someone has negative intensions? Last week, I received a call from an applicant. After a few unreturned government calls, the assumption was that their land use application had been tossed aside. They believed that the government review team was not looking at their application. When I asked government staff about it, I learned they were navigating a potential conflict of interest and considering who would make the final decision on the file. The truth is that a decision is coming. The truth is that when something does not seem right, sometimes our brains trick...
After June, you’ll wait until 2023
January 18, 2022
Do you find hierarchical government organizations overwhelming to navigate? The truth is that when clients phone us, their nervous systems are jacked up, they’re frustrated and feel paralyzed by not knowing what to do next. For project leaders, every month that a project is under review with government, the viability of the project is threatened by escalation in construction costs. No matter the type of development or infrastructure, timeline is the major determinant of whether the project may go ahead. Our knowledge of land use regulations is valued equally by our clients as well as government staff. Read more +
Truth is the word for 2022
December 29, 2021
My word for 2022 is TRUTH and I continue to thank you for trusting me to seek the truth about the regulatory process and what you can do with your land. The work that Channel does informs decisions by development partnerships, investment committees, government capital committees, and non-profit Boards. The type of work that we do has become very necessary for clients, and we are responding to the market. We have invested heavily in technology and business process improvements to allow us to help more groups in 2022. We also grew our team to ensure that we offer clients the highest quality information. Our reports can be prepared within 30 days to...
What is the TRUTH about what you can do with your land?
December 6, 2021
The truth is that the #1 risk to your business plan is approvals. We bring transparency in our leadership to get projects approved. Our quest for truth brings us to the heart of complex issues that our clients face. Our land use reports are truthful about the probability that a business plan can be approved. Every land development project needs diligent research on land use regulations. In the Lower Mainland, the regulatory and political environment is complex. Some organizations have capacity to do this work on their own; others choose to invite our help. Investment partnerships often engage our help, as an independent third-party.
Never Split the Difference
November 12, 2021
What do we do well? SOLVE PROBLEMS. Have you read Never Split the Difference by Christopher Voss? He talks about the power of listening with the intention of truly understanding, to get results. You may find it worthwhile to watch his talks on YouTube. At Channel, our primary value is TRUTH and our pursuit of truth brings us to the heart of complex issues. It is a major problem when a project team does not correctly estimate approvals risks. Countless project leaders contact us after finding they’ve been working on a “wish and a prayer”. We are very direct with those project leaders about whether or not we can help.
October 18, 2021
Where are you with incorporating Indigenous consideration on projects? Have you have read, “21 Things You May Not Know about the Indian Act” by Bob Joseph? If you have not read it, I highly recommend. It’s a #1 National Best Seller, easy 160 pages. I am grateful to Bob Joseph for this book, which is one of the best resources available. Professionals in the industry are asking, “How do we meaningfully incorporate reconciliation into our work on projects”? Every relationship is different and so, who, what, when, where, and how we engage will vary greatly for every project and in every context. Therefore, it is critical to remain...
September 29, 2021
Have you experienced that when you embrace the confusion of approvals requirements, problems seem to melt away? After working on hundreds of real estate development and infrastructure projects, I wholeheartedly embrace the confusion of approvals requirements! Every municipality has different policies and different ways of applying them. Senior government approvals can take time. And, different Review Leads bring a different take on the rules. To truly embrace the confusion of approvals requirements and ensure effective problem-solving, I suggest following these 3 steps. 1. Know the ins and outs of land use regulations
September 15, 2021
Hi there, Do you feel unsure how best to approach Indigenous engagement on your project? Most project leaders care tremendously about how they engage Indigenous input. And, few project leaders feel they are equipped to lead discussions with Indigenous stakeholders. Indigenous engagement is complex for many reasons, including: There is much listening to do to understand what it looks like to be working together in true partnership to right these historic wrongs and advance reconciliation in concrete, meaningful, and lasting ways. The recent acknowledgement of unmarked graves of Indigenous children in residential schools has...
September 1, 2021
Federal, provincial and municipal regulations are impacting housing unaffordability. In C.D. Howe Institute “Gimme Shelter: How High Municipal Housing Charges and Taxes Decrease Housing Supply”, Benjamin Dachis notes that: Taxes and charges on new and existing homes are a key driver of the cost and supply of affordable homes for...
Support & Resources
August 18, 2021
We want to hear your great ideas… We want to hear from: – Municipal and other government permitting staff – Project leaders from private, non-profit, and government organizations – Professional colleagues that Channel collaborates with Feedback this summer has shown that municipal and other government permitting staff believe Channel’s involvement in a project makes the review more efficient. This past week, we started sharing client testimonials from Channel’s social media and
August 4, 2021
Have you read the Final report of the Canada-British Columbia Expert Panel on the Future of Housing Supply and Affordability? Have you been through the nine appendices? In their report, the panel made 23 recommendations to: – increase the supply of housing; and – deepen affordability. While a major emphasis of the report is on mandating municipalities to improve the permitting process, the report also makes recommendations to provincial and federal governments. The established culture in this province is that community benefits are provided by...
July 21, 2021
Hi, Whether you are a private developer, government organization, or non-profit group, the dominant risk to a project’s business plan is the municipal approvals process. The next municipal election is on October 15, 2022. A year from now, Councils will stop making decisions. After the next municipal election, there will be turnover in who is elected, policies will need to be updated to address the platforms of the new Councillors, and staff who are disengaged by this will change jobs. The election will have an impact on your project requirements and timelines. Channel helps project leaders to address approvals risk. We typically work in three...
June 23, 2021
Hi there, It has never been more competitive than it is right now, as the economy re-emerges from the pandemic. Yesterday, at Bennett Jones Spring 2021 Economic Outlook, David Dodge, former Governor of the Bank of Canada noted that, provided that the virus does not continue to mutate, the Canadian economy will grow quickly in the last half of 2021. He noted that, “Output would return to its pre-pandemic level by the third quarter of 2021, and back to its pre-pandemic trend level by the end of 2022”. For Canada, Bennett Jones notes that we can expect that “growth will accelerate in the second half of 2021, before slowing during the next two years. Real GDP would grow 5.5% during 2021 (i.e., between the fourth quarter of...
Join me in reconciliation
June 9, 2021
Hi there, On May 27th, the world learned that the remains of 215 children were discovered at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School here in British Columbia. People around the world are mourning with the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc community. My thoughts and prayers are with the indigenous people of Canada, who are deeply hurting in the aftermath of thousands of Indigenous children being taken from their families and sent to residential schools and foster care, as part of a cultural genocide in our country. I have been wondering what I can do. To start, I have committed to: Preparing my mind and heart to be authentic in seeking truth and reconciliation. This means challenging my own biases...
Yes to your big idea
May 26, 2021
This email invites you to bring big ideas! In this City, we are surrounded by evidence that paying attention to diverse views gets results. This past weekend, our family had some fun cycling the seawall and enjoying Vancouver architecture from Olympic Village to Jericho Beach. The seawall experience exists thanks to big ideas and diverse input from City planners, provincial and federal environmental agencies, architects, expert consultants, community advisors, as well as investors in land development. Right now, we need big ideas and diverse input to address the housing crisis. BC Housing says middle income households earn $50,000 to $168,000 per...
Unlock 1,500 Rental Homes
May 12, 2021
Hi there, Are you ready to take the next step to help address the housing crisis? Home ownership is unattainable for most households in the Lower Mainland. While provincial and federal governments are doing what they can to enable affordable and rental housing, slow municipal approvals are stalling the development of housing options for people with low and middle incomes. Between now and the municipal election in October 2022, how can you and I work more closely with municipal partners to help unlock affordable and market rental housing projects? Starlight is working with the City of Burnaby on 1,200 purpose-built rental homes at Lougheed Village. Reliance is working with the City of Vancouver on 478 purpose-built rental...
Vaccine Roll Out
April 28, 2021
Hi there, Have you taken the vaccine? Last week, I took the first vaccine shot What changed after being vaccinated? Because of the variants and slow roll-out of the vaccination program here in Canada, not much seems to have changed. The slow pace of vaccine roll-out seems to be adding to people’s feeling of burn out. Non-profit leaders, real estate developers, and government staff say they need more support than ever to keep projects advancing. Projects need a strong lead who is responsible for facilitating approvals. Channel builds positive relationships that foster a safe, supportive learning environment. We find answers because we ask a lot of...
Secret to Success
April 14, 2021
Hi there, What is the secret to your success? What is generating results on your projects? What makes the difference for Channel’s clients is that every member of our team is values-driven and loves what we do! Here is a list of our values, and five little secrets about how they show up for clients and bank results: Achievement – We are the most highly skilled, diligent, and specialized in the Lower Mainland at policy analysis, stakeholder engagement, government funding partnerships, and project management. Relationships – We collaborate to get things done. We build long term relationships with...