July 2, 2014



Sprinkler Issue Emerging Again
Proof that history repeats itself can be found in renewed discussion of whether sprinkler systems should be required in all new homes. This is despite national studies dating back to 1989 that concluded the cost of sprinklers in new one- or two-family homes far exceeded benefits. Subsequent studies reached the same conclusion.

This did not extinguish the discussion. After failing at the national codes level, fire departments and sprinkler manufacturers turned to provinces and municipalities. That’s why the issue was on Calgary city council’s agenda in 2010 when it chose not to mandate sprinklers through a bylaw.

Now the issue may be coming back – again. Discussions of sprinklers for seniors care facilities at a recent fire summit in Edmonton could broaden into another debate about whether they are needed in all new homes. And there are questions in Calgary about whether a builder may have to install sprinklers in single family homes.

CHBA at the local, provincial and national level consistently supported cost-effective fire control measures for single family homes over mandatory sprinkler regulations. And while we’ve engaged in this long debate, the case for sprinklers has weakened further with a decline in deaths and injuries in residential fires. Inexpensive smoke alarms included in new houses since the 1980s are a key reason. 

This is a reminder that we must remain vigilant for attempts to revive misguided ideas and be prepared to act as advocates for evidence-based regulations for our industry and customers. 

Jim Rivait, CEO, CHBA – Alberta


Key Reviews of Legislation Underway
CHBA – Alberta is working hard to ensure our industry voice is heard on two key pieces of legislation this summer with potential implications for consumers. Both the Condominium Property Act (CPA) and the Municipal Government Act (MGA) have been under review for some time now, and CHBA – Alberta has been involved every step of the way.

The CPA Amendment Act was tabled in the legislature this spring to receive comments and recommendations from stakeholders. CHBA – Alberta has established a working group from throughout the province to identify concerns and propose solutions. While there are many positive elements in the revised legislation, there are a number of items identified by the group that would hamper the ability to provide multi-family housing in Alberta. The working group will be providing recommendations to the Minister in July, and following up in subsequent months to ensure a vibrant and affordable condominium sector is part of Alberta’s future.

Our latest submission as part of the MGA review, 10 Steps to a Stronger Municipal Government Act, was provided to Municipal Affairs in June. Building on our previous work, this document makes recommendations on the top issues we’ve identified through the process. We will carry these messages forward in continuing discussions with the Minister. As the review drills down to more specific items, it will be even more important to have the expert opinions of those in the industry to propose solutions that will lead to a 21st century MGA. 

T.J. Keil, External Affairs Manager 


Housing Starts Continue to Climb
Housing starts for June released in the next few days will provide the data for the first half of 2014. Through the first five months of the year, total starts in Alberta’s seven largest cities were up 5% from January to May 2013 to 13,690 units. Single-family starts in urban areas were up by 2% to 6,371 units while multiple dwelling starts were up by 8% to 7,319 units, largely on the strength of a resurgent new condominium apartment market in Calgary.

Statistics Canada also reported last month that Alberta’s population growth remains at the head of the pack in Canada, attracting close to 21,000 net newcomers in the first quarter of 2014. CMHC's rental market report showed apartment vacancy rates remain low while rents are rising. The combination of a growing population and a tight rental market will encourage many newcomers to buy homes once they become established in the province.
Check our website for complete market reports.

Richard Goatcher, Economic Analyst 


Notice of Annual General Meeting
CHBA - Alberta will hold its Annual General Meeting Friday, September 19 at 9 am at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. 
For complete AGM information and to get on the Voters' List click here.

Plenty to Hear at BUILD
We are excited to have a sold out conference and a great program in store for attendees.  CHBA - Alberta is thrilled to have keynote and Olympic Gold Medalist Jon Montgomery kick off our morning with a presentation on how one’s success as an athlete is directly tied to their ability to work collaboratively with their team. This Olympic star will be on hand to do a couple of photo ops with his 2010 gold medal at BUILD Sports Centre costume party Thursday and the following day at the trade show.  On
Saturday morning veteran political pundits Don Martin, host of CTV’s Power Play, and Rick Bell of the Calgary Sun will offer insight into Alberta politics and beyond.

Click here to be added to this year's waiting list.

Noteworthy Number of Award Submissions
The CHBA - Alberta Awards of Excellence in Housing received 420 entries to this year's competition.  The entries are now being judged by over 160 volunteer judges.  Watch for the finalists to be announced Wednesday, July 30.

Interested in sponsoring a housing award category?  Two sponsorships remain - click here

Laara Braz, Member Services Manager

New Home Buyer Protection Update
Although call volume is still high at the New Home Buyer Protection Office (NHBPO), calls are shifting from mainly builder and warranty providers to owner-builders. Turn-around time for corrections and deletion of entries to the New Home Buyers Database is still an issue, but additional computer programing staff and changes to the software in the first week of July should bring improvements. The NHBPO, CHBA – Alberta and warranty providers will meet on July 16 to deal with outstanding issues and clarifications. Some items up for discussion include clarifications about distribution and delivery systems, commencement dates, the BAR and communication from the NHBPO. CHBA – Alberta’s Provincial Technical Committee is also preparing to review the performance guide.

Check our website for complete July Technical Report.

Joan Maisonneuve, Manager, Policy & Industry Issues


WCB Seeks Input on Pricing Proposal
The Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) would like to make presentations to each CHBA Local in Alberta this summer to gauge members’ reaction to a new custom pricing option called the Experience Rating Option. This option was created for builders in the WCB Residential General Contractor category. It would increase the maximum discounts and surcharges allowed by an employer from 40% to 60%. It would not change the total premium collected from the industry, but it would adjust from which companies it is collected. Better performing employers will pay less, employers performing poorly will pay more. If CHBA – Alberta members favour the proposal, WCB will poll all companies under the general residential contractor industry code. Look for information on the sessions through your local CHBA.

First Employer Review Levied
In June, Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) levied its first Employer Review against a construction company in Alberta. Tickets are also being written. In June and July OHS is conducting a focused inspection program in the residential sector.  All of the information collected will go into the internal OHS database, allowing it to focus efforts on sectors, employers and prime contractors with safety issues.
Check our website for complete July Safety Report.

Joan Maisonneuve, Manager, Policy & Industry Issues


The next edition of the CHBA – Alberta newsletter will be distributed on Sept. 3. Have a great summer. 


Contact Us

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toll free  800-661-3348
Email: info@chbaalberta.ca


CHBA - Alberta
328, 9707-110 Street
Edmonton, AB T5K 2L9