Peter Gilgan: On redesigning the suburbs and why the housing bubble has popped

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    Peter Gilgan: On redesigning the suburbs and why the housing bubble has popped

    I have six siblings,

    but when you grow up like that, it’s normal. We’re all still alive and well. We’ve always got each other’s backs.

    I started as a chartered accountant. I learned a lot, because most of my clients were small and medium-sized businesses, and the principals would share their thoughts and aspirations and business plans with me—as well as imploring me to make sure they paid the least amount of taxes possible.

    It’s in my nature to think in three dimensions. I’ve got VR in the noggin. If we’re travelling, everyone always says, “Peter’s going to pack the van, because somehow he’s going to make all those suitcases fit.” My hands just put things in the right place. That’s really helpful when you’re designing and building houses—it’s not just lines on a piece of paper.

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    My career in construction started really simply, with two lots and a bank loan in Burlington, Ontario, and a desire to make homes that people really wanted to live in. When they pulled up in the driveway, it would put a smile on their face.

    My wide-lot design changed the face of the suburbs. I was standing in front of one of our developments, and I had a panoramic view down the street. I looked at this sea of brightly coloured 16-foot garage doors and I got a funny feeling in my stomach and thought, “This is the best you can do?” Why not build wider houses, with up to 60% more windows, and the garages set back a bit—putting the…

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