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The development manic meter

We have a running joke in our office about the manic nature of the development business. Sometimes you feel like you’re having the best day of your life and everything is clicking and moving forward. And sometimes it feels like you’re about to die (slight exaggeration). Things are stuck, nothing is moving, and/or a new problem has just popped up. So our team likes to joke that we have a “manic meter” in our corner of the office. Sometimes it’s up and sometimes it’s down.

Part of the challenge is that progress in the world of development generally takes a very long time. Whenever I talk to someone who isn’t in the industry and I explain our timelines, they are usually shocked and question why things move so slowly. For example, we just spent the last 82 days trying to pull a building permit that realistically could have been issued in an afternoon. That is frustrating. Meter down. We have also spent more than half a decade working on some planning approvals. That’s even more frustrating. Meter down.

The way I have learned to respond to this dynamic is to try and move as fast as possible. Never assume you have enough time, because things will generally always take longer than you expect. You need to be constantly moving and pushing. So you need to be impatient in the short-term. I also find it helpful to break big projects down into smaller projects so that you have wins to celebrate along the way and you can feel some accomplishment. Having hobbies that don’t take decades to come to fruition may further help.

But alongside being impatient in the short-term, you also have to be patient in the long-term. Our team started working on One Delisle in 2015. We are now in 2021 and preparing to start construction. That’s a marathon, not a sprint. So what you need to do is find the right balance between short-term impatience and long-term patience. This, I guess, is part of the manic nature of this business.

Meter up.


  1. doug pollard

    I certainly understand and have experienced the time lines you describe, In one of my positions I encountered a series of Chinese delegations who could never understand (and criticized us for) taking too long for everything. I had the opportunity to go see some of what is built there,,,, a lot of it is pretty shoddy and the other day someone sent me a video of multiple building failures any one of which would be a subject of intense scrutiny here. I believe the other day you commented on their over building too and then there is their “planning a lot of gravestones all spaced to get some sun. As maddening and expensive as it is perhaps the Canadian approach has some merit.. 6 years however may be a bit of a stretch


  2. Pingback: Junction House just got its placemaking art – BRANDON DONNELLY

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