OHBA appoints new CEO, replacing Lucca Bucci

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Mark Buckshon

Ontario Construction Report staff writer

The Ontario Home Builders’ Association (OHBA) has appointed an interim chief executive officer “to ensure continuity” after former executive officer Luca Bucci left abruptly on Aug. 1.

The association didn’t give a reason for Bucci’s departure, but a published article in Stratford Today suggests a link between Bucci and the government’s decision to allow new developments within the Greenbelt, which resulted in the resignation of former housing Minister Steve Clark and an apology and policy-reversal by Premier Doug Ford.

Neil Rodgers will be the association’s interim CEO, the association said in an Oct. 5 statement.

“The need for this hire is to ensure continuity in OHBA’s operations and in fulfilling our mission to represent and advocate for the interests of Ontario’s home building industry,” said president Dave Depencier.

Rodger’s appointment comes a little more than a month after Bucci left. “I am reaching out to advice that Luca Bucci (CEO) is no longer with the Ontario Home Builders’ Association, effective today, August 1, 2023,” OHBA president Louie Zagordo wrote in a letter to association members. The letter didn’t give a reason for Bucci’s departure.

However Stratford Today reported that Bucci had “spent much of the last decade working in Conservative politics and was (Housing Minister Steve) Clark’s chief of staff from January 2021 to April 2022.”

“His move to the OHBA in June of that year prompted the leader of the Official Opposition to allege in an affidavit submitted to the province’s integrity commissioner lats December that he engaged in illegal lobbying,” the Stratford publication reported.

“NDP leader Marit Stile’s complaint alleged that the lobbied his former employer on behalf o of the OHBA before a required one-year cooling-off period was completed.

“Stile’s complaint mainly concerned the government’s decision to open parts of the Greenbelt to developers,” Stratford Today reported. “In it, she associated Bucci with a particular piece of land in King Township that was sold less than two months before the government’s Greenbelt announcement.

“Stiles said the land was sold by a company whose principal was president of the OHBA at the time of the sale, and noted Bucci was CEO at the time,” the published report says.

Ontario Construction News reached Bucci briefly by phone shortly before Thanksgiving. “I’m in Italy,” he said. “Could you call me back on Tuesday (Oct. 10)?” Bucci did not respond further.

The OHBA statement says that new interim CEO Rodgers has extensive experience, with “over 35 years of land use planning and development industry expertise. With more than 20 years of experience and a strong track record of volunteerism with the industry association sector, Neil is well prepared to lead OHBA during this transition period, the statement says.

Rodger’s “extensive background in association management, public policy and government relations makes him an ideal candidate to steer OHBA forward, Depencier said in the statement. “The OHBA welcomes his valued expertise, counsel and organizational acumen as we navigate this transition phase.”

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