By Ted McIntyre
CALL OF DUTY
Continuing commitment to multiple causes earns Deveaux prestigious honour
Steve Deveaux doesn’t like to boast about the amount of time he dedicates to causes beyond his role as Vice-President of Land Development at Tribute Communities. Part of the reason is that it might shock his boss, Tribute co-founder Al Libfeld. The other reason is that Deveaux cares too deeply for the Ontario Home Builders’ Association to possibly dissuade others from donating their time and effort to the cause.
“I don’t want to scare off anyone from potentially volunteering,” he laughs. “But I’m a firm believer in finishing what you started, so a lot of the legislative reform that I was intimately involved in as Chair of BILD (Building Industry and Land Development Association), I wanted to see through to fruition. Whether it’s related to Ontario Municipal Board reform or inclusionary zoning, I’ve been quite active on those files so that we have that continuum of knowledge through the process.”
It’s that sort of dedication that earned Deveaux the nod as 2017 OHBA Member of the Year. His passion for the industry and its associations has included work alongside OHBA on government advocacy efforts on the above-mentioned issues, with presentations at joint meetings to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and PC Leader Patrick Brown, as well as many deputations to Queen’s Park Standing Committees in support of OHBA positions.
“You can count on Steve,” says OHBA President Pierre Dufresne. “He always answers the call and has been an important partner with OHBA as we worked together to develop association strategy and policy positions. Also, you will almost always find him at a major OHBA event—his support and expertise are much appreciated.”
“It has been a challenging couple of years for our industry, dealing with this provincial government and their unending revisions and updates to legislation,” Deveaux admits. “But what I’m most proud of is how as an industry we’ve continually provided expert, factual information to the Province. We’ve never shied away from telling the truth. Positions we put forward were entirely credible and correct, if often ignored.
At times it was tough to find some of the successes amid the challenges with legislation that hurts our industry, but we held the line of staying away from rhetoric and focused instead on providing evidence and solutions to back our position.”
The Growth Plan is one example, Deveaux cites. “When the Province was reviewing the Growth Plan and looking at projected intensification numbers for how new areas within the urban boundary were going to grow, their assumptions on the amount of land that was actually built out was entirely understated, which resulted in a built form that, quite frankly, we believe the majority of Ontarians would not be supportive of, particularly if you moved further and further away from the city. It was through the evidence and fact-finding that we provided in the multitude of conversations with regional chairs, politicians and planning commissioners to show them how flawed the numbers were that caused the Province to take a bit of a pause on their legislation and allow more opportunities for municipalities to come up with variations of the intensification numbers to suit their particular municipality. Without our efforts and the integrity of the background work we did, things would have never gotten there.”
Deveaux says his time as Chair with BILD helped him appreciate both sides of the debate a little better. “I’ve been volunteering my time for a long time, but really dealing with politicians and municipal and provincial staff on much more macro policy levels, and seeing the big-picture items that will really shape the region for years to come, helps put things in perspective when you’re having different conversations with staff and politicians on your individual development applications,” Deveaux notes. “You can more readily relate it back to the provincial goals of intensification and making best use of the infrastructure aspects of planning.
Having an in-depth understanding of where the numbers come from when debating them at that level helps you in your everyday job.” But while his chairing duties with BILD are behind him, Deveaux remains dog-with-a-bone relentless in his support of current issues at all levels of the industry.
Why keep such a busy schedule? “Networking aside, I think it’s important to continue to stay relevant and understand what our industry partners are doing, and show support for one another as we collectively deal with this unending barrage of legislative reform,” Deveaux says. “Attending these events, whether educational sessions or a dinner, and being able to talk to people and share experiences and come up with solutions all reinforces that we’re doing the right thing and attempting to grow the region.
The camaraderie between different partners is definitely important. One such event was his presence on an recent expert panel at Greybrook Realty Partners, where his message was a positive one. “At the end of the day, the fundamentals of the GTA and surrounding region are incredibly strong,” Deveaux says. “Interest rates are low, immigration is high and it is still a relatively inexpensive market from an international perspective. The kind of investment activity that has found its way into the GTA over the past 10-15 years would be the envy of most of the world. But while it’s easy to take that for granted, you have to keep pushing for fair policies and fair taxation.”