05/09/2017

New Condo Authority launches online resources for condo owners and directors

Condo owners, residents and directors will now have access to a trusted source of information and resources thanks to the Condominium Authority of Ontario (CAO), a new organization created to support condominium living across the province.

"The Condominium Authority of Ontario will play a pivotal role in addressing the growing needs of condo communities in Ontario so that people who call a condo their home can enjoy peace of mind," said Tracy MacCharles, Minister of Government and Consumer Services. "I would like to thank the Condominium Authority of Ontario's board and team for their efforts in helping to build more sustainable communities across our province now, and for years to come."

Ontario's newest administrative authority will offer:

Information about condo ownership and condo living information, including a guide for condo buyers
Free, online training for condo directors to ensure that condo boards run smoothly
Self-help tools for members of the condo community who have questions or want to resolve disputes on their own
A new online dispute resolution tribunal that will include online guided negotiation, mediation and adjudication to help resolve issues and settle disputes
"As the first designated authority for the condominium sector in Ontario, the CAO is focused on supporting condo living," observed Tom Wright, CAO Chair. "As part of the government's consumer protection initiative, we will assist condo owners and residents by providing timely, relevant information and resources to foster healthier condo communities as more and more residents choose condominiums as their homes."

The CAO will enhance consumer protection for condo owners by helping them understand their rights, and by providing condo board directors with the training they need to understand their roles and responsibilities under the new legislation.

Given the breadth of services it will offer, the CAO is phasing its launch. In addition to continuing to enhance information and tools, key dates include:

September 1, 2017 – CAO begins operations; launches website with online tools and information for condo living in Ontario
November 1, 2017 – CAO to launch free, online training for condo board directors
November 1, 2017 – CAO, through the Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT), will initially provide online dispute resolution services for condo owners seeking access to condo corporation records
"The CAO is very pleased about launching the website for Ontario's condo owners, residents and directors. Our goal is to empower condo communities through information about their rights and responsibilities, as well as easy to follow steps for resolving common issues," said Robin Dafoe, CAO Executive Director. She added, "This new 'beta' website is just the beginning. As we continue to roll out supports and services, we look forward to hearing from condo communities about how best we can enhance and build our services to meet their needs. This is an exciting first step in supporting condo living and maximizing the enjoyment of condo home ownership across Ontario."

For more information about the CAO and its services, please go to the website.

Mandatory licensing and training requirements for condominium managers will be the responsibility of a separate administrative authority, the Condominium Management Regulatory Authority of Ontario (CMRAO), which is scheduled to begin operations on November 1, 2017. Visit www.cmrao.ca for more information.  


25/08/2017

Half of Ontarians don't believe that putting solar panels on their house is affordable despite it being no cost to the homeowners: Grasshopper Solar

Sales of new construction homes slowed down in July, while the overall supply of new homes continued its unprecedented decline and prices of available homes continued to increase, the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) announced today.

 For those contemplating solar panels, now is the time to take advantage of the Grasshopper Solar's no cost* Guaranteed Funding Program before it expires at the end of December 2017. Canada's largest solar company is offering homeowners in Ontario solar panel systems and will cover the cost of design, installation, maintenance, after care, insurance and warranty. Applications will be accepted until December 28, but with nearly half of the capacity already gone, spots are expected to be filled by November.

"Renewable energy sources like solar can reduce your home's carbon footprint and help the environment, while adding value as a long-term profitable asset," says Jason Hibbard, VP, Residential Solar Division, Grasshopper Solar. "Housing accounts for 17% of secondary energy use in Canada and 16% of the country's greenhouse gas emissions. Our goal with this program is to offset as much of those power needs as possible, while putting more money into homeowners' pockets. With Ontario's microFIT Program coming to an end this year, along with the Guaranteed Funding Program, those who qualify should certainly be looking to take advantage of this no cost opportunity."

In a recent poll conducted by Leger on renewable energy habits, half of Ontarians (49%) do not believe switching to solar energy is affordable, yet more than three in five (62%) understand that switching to solar energy can be profitable. Further, three-quarters of Ontarians (76%) admit that they would be more inclined to use solar energy if they had monetary support.

To help educate Ontario residents on the smart home investment of solar panels and the no cost benefits of the Guaranteed Funding Program, the company has teamed up with real estate and renovation expert Scott McGillivray.

"Your home is one of the most expensive assets you own, but it can also reward you financially — and you don't have to spend money to make money," says Scott McGillivray, Real Estate and Renovation Expert. "A piece of advice I often tell my clients, is to find a way to make money from an otherwise unused asset in your home, like your basement or roof. The Guaranteed Funding Program offers solar panels at no cost for qualified roofs and gives you cheques to bring to the bank."

Ontario's microFIT Program launched in October 2009 to increase the amount of renewable energy produced in the province and is part of the largest clean energy programs in North America. Under microFIT, homeowners who go solar are currently guaranteed a fixed rate of 28.8 cents per kWh for 20 years from the province, earning them up to $3,600 per year based on annual solar production of 12,500 kWh. Under the Guaranteed Funding Program, qualified homeowner's can participate in Ontario's microFIT Program and have Grasshopper finance the entire solar panel system from design to connection and finally to ownership by the end of your lease, including insurance and maintenance of the LG Electronics panels.

"In keeping a close eye on capacity, we want our customers to know that we will do all we can to ensure applications are accepted," explains Jason. "We are hoping to guarantee spots for those who apply by end of October."

To see if your property qualifies for Grasshopper Solar's Guaranteed Funding Program, please visit: http://www.grasshoppersolar.com/solarprograms/guaranteed-funding-program/. You can also follow Grasshopper Solar on Facebook and Twitter.

Additional Poll Results:

More than eight-in-ten (84%) Ontarians see solar energy becoming more common in the future, and 79% agree that using solar energy today is an investment for future generations.
The vast majority (92%) of people do not currently use renewable/solar energy in their residence.
Price, knowledge, and not giving the idea too much thought are the main reasons Canadians are not currently using renewable/solar energy.
72% of Ontarians feel that they can impact the environment in a positive direction by using solar energy.
Half of Canadians do not believe they are knowledgeable about solar energy (50%), do not believe they can make an environmental impact (52%) and do not believe that solar energy is affordable (49%).
About Guaranteed Funding:

The Guaranteed Funding Program offers up to $30,000 to homeowners towards owning a new solar panel system. With a qualified roof, Grasshopper Solar takes care of the entire cost of installing a solar panel system from design to connection, including insurance, warranty, maintenance and after care to help homeowners take advantage of Ontario's microFIT Program.

About Grasshopper Solar:

Grasshopper was founded in 2007 by Azeem M. Qureshi to address the need for efficient deployment of solar energy generation, energy efficiency & related services by creating a vertically integrated platform to deliver end to end solutions. Through the last 10 years the company has grown to become the largest solar provider and asset owner with $250M of solar assets in Canada with a team of 300+ people and projects under development in countries like US and Japan. Grasshopper Solar has been the recipient of multiple national industry awards including Solar Innovator of the Year, Project Finance Innovator of the Year and Solar Developer of the Year for continued industry leadership.

www.grasshoppersolar.com/


25/08/2017

Pace of GTA new home sales drops while inventory continues to decline and average prices increase

Sales of new construction homes slowed down in July, while the overall supply of new homes continued its unprecedented decline and prices of available homes continued to increase, the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) announced today.

There were 1,752 new home sales in July, according to Altus Group, BILD's official source for new-home market intelligence. That was significantly fewer than a year ago, well below the 10 year average and down from the brisk pace of recent months.

BILD President and CEO Bryan Tuckey cautioned against reading too much into the dip in sales. "July is typically a slow month and many builders wait until fall to launch developments and bring product to market. We are not seeing an increase in unsold product sitting on the market," said Tuckey, adding, "in fact we are seeing new housing supply continue to shrink from what are already depleted levels."

The supply of new housing is often measured by the amount of new housing that is available for purchase in builders' inventories at the end of the month. In July, builder inventories in the GTA dropped to 7,801 units, another new low. A year ago there were 16,900 new homes available to buyers in the GTA and a decade ago there were 28,358 new homes.

While the number of low-rise single-family homes, which includes detached and semi-detached houses as well as townhomes, increased by about 100 homes to 1,713, the supply of multi-family condo apartments in high-rise and mid-rise buildings and stacked townhomes dropped to 6,088 units. A year ago there were 15,298 of these types of homes available to prospective purchasers.

Prices of the new homes available in builders' inventories continued to increase in July. The average price for available new low-rise single-family homes was $1,316,693, up from June's $1,250,262 and 45 percent more than a year ago when the average price was $906,508.

Meanwhile, the average price of available new condo apartments in high-rise and mid-rise buildings and stacked townhomes in the GTA was $665,041 in July. That is a 40 percent increase from a year ago and up $38,000 from June's average price.

The price increases for available new condo apartments in the GTA were the result of both increases in average unit size and growth in the price per square foot. The average unit size in July was 871 square feet, whereas a year ago it was 801 square feet. The average price per square foot last month was $764, up significantly from the July 2016 average of $594.

Sales of new multi-family condo apartments in high-rise and mid-rise buildings and stacked townhomes were down from the record high volume of recent months, but the 1,615 units sold were still four percent above the 10 year average for July sales.

Condo apartments accounted for 92 percent of July's new home sales in the region. Sales of low-rise single-family homes, which includes detached and semi-detached houses as well as townhomes, were down dramatically. There were only 137 sales recorded last month, which is the fewest seen in decades in the GTA.

"You can't buy what isn't there", said Patricia Arsenault, Altus Group's Executive Vice President of Research Consulting Services. "There are typically few new home project openings in July and this year was no exception. And among the limited number of new single-family homes available to purchase in builder inventories, the majority are simply not affordable to most potential buyers. Trying to find a new single-family home today in the GTA priced at less than $1 million is a daunting task."

"One month does not a trend make," said Tuckey. "While overall sales may have slowed down a bit in July, it is likely that things will pick up again in the fall as more product comes to the market, and despite the dip in July we are on pace for a record year for new home purchases in the GTA."

As of the end of July, 30,727 new homes had been purchased in the GTA, which is almost 2,000 more than at the same point last year and well above the 10 year average of 22,680. Multi-family condo apartments in high-rise and mid-rise buildings and stacked townhomes accounted for almost 80 per cent of 2017 year to date sales with 24,411 units sold.


24/08/2017

Fraser Institute:  Taxes -- not housing and basic necessities -- are largest Canadian household expense

Despite high housing costs across the country, the average Canadian family spent more on taxes in 2016 than housing, food and clothing combined, finds a new study released today by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank.

"Many Canadians may think housing is their biggest household expense, but in fact the average Canadian family spent more on taxes last year than on life's basic necessities -- including housing," said Charles Lammam, director of fiscal studies at the Fraser Institute and co-author of the Canadian Consumer Tax Index, which tracked the total tax bill of the average Canadian family from 1961 to 2016.

Last year, the average Canadian family earned $83,105 and paid $35,283 in total taxes compared to $31,069 on housing (including rent and mortgage payments), food and clothing combined.

In fact, the average Canadian family paid nearly twice as much of their income in taxes (42.5 per cent) as they did for housing (22.1 per cent). The basic necessities of life, which include food, clothing and housing, amounted to just 37.4 per cent of income -- still less than the percentage of income going to taxes.

This represents a marked shift since 1961, when the average Canadian family spent much less on taxes (33.5 per cent) than on food, clothing and housing (56.5 per cent).

The total tax bill reflects both visible and hidden taxes that families pay to the federal, provincial and local governments including income, payroll, sales, property, carbon, health, fuel and alcohol taxes and more.

Since 1961, the average Canadian family's total tax bill has increased by a staggering 2,006 per cent, dwarfing increases in annual housing costs (1,527 per cent), clothing (677 per cent), and food (639 per cent).

Even after accounting for inflation, the tax bill has still increased 157.6 per cent over this period.

"Taxes help fund important public services that Canadians rely on, but the issue is the amount of taxes governments take compared to what Canadians get in return," Lammam said.

"With more than 42 per cent of their income going to taxes, Canadians might ask whether they're getting good value for their tax dollars." 


17/08/2017

Fraser Institute: Lower interest rates and rising incomes more than doubled amount Canadians can borrow for a home

 Canadians have been able to qualify for much larger mortgages over the past two decades because of declining interest rates and rising incomes, and that has more than likely translated into higher home prices, finds a new study by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank.

"Increased borrowing power, brought about by falling interest rates and rising incomes, is potentially the most overlooked and least understood factor influencing home prices across Canada," said Niels Veldhuis, president of the Fraser Institute.

The new study, Interest Rates and Mortgage Borrowing Power in Canada, finds that between 2000 and 2016, interest rates fell from 7.0 to 2.7 per cent, which increased Canadians' mortgage-borrowing power -- the maximum size of mortgage homebuyers can qualify for -- by 53 per cent.

Rising incomes across Canada during that same time -- also up a nominal 53 per cent nationwide -- amplified the increased borrowing power for homebuyers.

Coupled together, the falling interest rates and rising incomes increased Canadians' mortgage-borrowing power by a staggering 126 per cent.
In major urban areas across Canada, Calgary saw the greatest increase in mortgage-borrowing power at 161 per cent, more than Vancouver (118 per cent), Montreal (115 per cent) and Toronto (100 per cent).

"This increase in borrowing power -- in simple terms -- means that an average Canadian family, dedicating the same share of their income to monthly mortgage payments, can afford a mortgage that's more than twice as big now as it would have been in 2000," Veldhuis said.

The increased capacity to borrow means that homebuyers can bid up the price of homes since the supply of housing is not immediately responsive to changes in demand.

"As would-be homebuyers and governments contend with rising prices across Canada, policy makers should look closely at the impact of interest rates, rising incomes and increased mortgage borrowing power on home prices," Veldhuis added.


08/08/2017

Canadian Housing Starts Trend Increased in July

 The trend in housing starts was 217,550 units in July 2017, compared to 215,175 units in June 2017, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This trend measure is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts.

"In July, Canada's pace in housing construction ramped up for a seventh consecutive month," said Bob Dugan, CMHC's chief economist. "British Columbia and Alberta were the main contributors to the higher trend in housing starts. While BC's construction coincides with near-record low completed and unsold units in the past few months, Alberta's inventory of new unsold homes is ramping up, highlighting the need for managing inventories."

Monthly Highlights

Toronto

Total housing starts in the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area trended lower in July. Lower trending apartment and single-detached starts were mainly responsible for the decline. Overall, total housing starts were still trending close to the average level seen so far this year. Strong increases in semi-detached and town home starts pointed to affordability concerns driving demand for less expensive housing types.

Vancouver

Vancouver CMA housing starts were up slightly in July due to the construction of more townhomes and apartments getting underway. The largest increase in construction activity occurred in Burnaby, New Westminster and Coquitlam, as the relative affordability of more modestly priced townhomes and apartments in these communities supported consumer demand. The number of units under construction in the Vancouver CMA remains near record highs, and developers will be keeping an eye on market conditions as these projects are completed in the coming year.

Calgary

After a slow start, the trend in new home construction this year has increased, moving closer in line with historical averages. Multiple starts in particular have been strong in recent months, including July, despite inventories sitting at near record highs. If the current pace of production does not ease, there is the possibility that inventories will stay elevated for an extended period of time.

Ottawa

July housing starts trended up on the back of strong multiple construction. Multiple starts this year have been driven by the rise in rental apartment starts, which to July reached about 1.5 times their level for 2016 as a whole. Builders are diversifying high-rise product as a substantial number of completed condominium apartment units remain unsold. In addition, an ageing rental stock, and robust rental demand are contributing to increased building activity for rental units.

Gatineau

With construction getting under way on several large rental projects at the same time, housing starts in the Gatineau area were up considerably in July. The rising demand, supported in part by stronger employment, will help residential construction stay on an upward trend over the coming months.

London

Single-detached starts in both the City of London and London CMA posted the highest levels for the month of July since 2007. The continued elevated number of single-detached starts is driven largely by demand spillover from the resale market, which has seen a dramatic increase in the sales of homes priced at $500,000 and over. Also, the price gap between single-detached homes in London and comparable homes in Toronto has continued to remain wide, making London an attractive destination for buyers from the Greater Toronto Area.

Greater Sudbury

Housing starts in Greater Sudbury trended lower in July, due to a decline in both single detached and multiple starts. The trend dipped for the seventh consecutive month, reflecting declines in full-time employment and a healthy supply in the resale market.

Nova Scotia

Construction in both the singles and multiples markets in Halifax continues to show strength in July with year-over-year starts increasing by 15% and 31%, respectively. Year-to-date, the singles market has witnessed the strongest number of starts since 2013, while the multiples market continues to be a driver of residential construction, especially on the Halifax Peninsula and Mainland North regions.

CMHC uses the trend measure as a complement to the monthly SAAR of housing starts to account for considerable swings in monthly estimates and obtain a more complete picture of Canada's housing market. In some situations analyzing only SAAR data can be misleading, as they are largely driven by the multi-unit segment of the market which can vary significantly from one month to the next.

The standalone monthly SAAR of housing starts for all areas in Canada was 222,324 units in July, up from 212,948 units in June. The SAAR of urban starts increased by 5.5 per cent in July to 206,122 units. Multiple urban starts increased by 10.4 per cent to 141,950 units in July and single-detached urban starts decreased by 3.9 per cent, to 64,172 units.

Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 16,202 units.

Preliminary Housing Starts data are also available in English and French through our website and through CMHC's Housing Market Information Portal. Our analysts are also available to provide further insight into their respective markets.

As Canada's authority on housing, CMHC contributes to the stability of the housing market and financial system, provides support for Canadians in housing need, and offers objective housing research and information to Canadian governments, consumers and the housing industry.


01/08/2017
Consumer Alert - The next time you move, dodge the "rogue movers" who take your belongings hostage
We are in the peak moving season. Families want to settle into new homes before the school year starts. Military personnel across the country are receiving new assignments. College and university students—leaving the nest for the first time or returning for the fall term—are moving into residences and apartments. No matter the reason for your move, your belongings are precious.

You should be wary of the "rogue movers" scam, which is a real threat!

Typically, rogue movers will find victims through ads on popular classified postings websites, such as Kijiji or Craigslist. They will quote a low price and claim that there are "no surprise fees" or that "everything is included." The fraudsters will deal with you by phone, insisting that a verbal contract is enough and that the paper copy can be signed on the day of the move.

However, when they arrive at your doorstep, they present you with a very different contract, containing unexpected clauses and piling on extra charges, such as warehousing and pickup fees. They pressure you to sign the contract or be left without a mover. In some instances, the fraudsters will hold your possessions hostage until you pay another amount for their delivery. You are left scrambling to find the money, hoping that you will get everything back in one piece.

Moving is already stressful without these unpleasant surprises. Follow these tips to make sure that your move goes off without a hitch.

Look for certification: Some provinces require professional movers to have specific permits or registrations. This is a good starting point to find a legitimate company. Consult your provincial consumer protection agency for more information.
Check the company roadmap: Take the time necessary to research the company and consult multiple reviews. Contact your provincial consumer protection agency or the Better Business Bureau to see if they have received complaints about the company.
Get an estimate: Legitimate companies will send representatives to assess your needs, ensuring your quote is detailed and complete. This is an opportunity to inquire about any surcharges, insurances or additional fees and to ask questions.
Get it in writing: Do not trust companies providing quotes or contracts over the phone. Get both in writing before the move and take the time to read the information carefully. Ask questions if clauses are unclear and keep records of responses.
Trust your instincts: If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
If you have been the victim of a rogue mover or other fraud, or if you have information about this type of scam, report it to the Canada Anti-Fraud Centre, the Competition Bureau or your local police. You can also file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau or your provincial consumer protection agency to help others who might consider hiring the same company.
Toronto is the Capital of Canada for Bed Bugs
With the summer travel season in high gear, the country's largest pest control company is warning about an unwelcome visitor that could affect locals and tourists.

Orkin Canada expects this to be a bumper year for bed bugs. The warning comes as the company unveils its first ever list of bed bug cities. The findings by Orkin Canada are based on the number of commercial and residential bed bug treatments carried out by the country's largest pest control provider. The top ten cities:

Toronto
Winnipeg
Vancouver
Ottawa
St. John's
Edmonton
Halifax
Sudbury
Scarborough
Calgary

Entomologists say having a clean room does not prevent bed bugs; and two bed bugs can lay up to ten eggs in one day. Anyone detecting signs of bed bugs are advised to seek expert advice to prevent widespread infestation.

Tips for homeowners and vacationers:

Inspect thoroughly the beds, soft furnishings and framed pictures – look for insects, blood stains, dead bugs and eggs
Keep all your luggage elevated and away from soft furnishings
When returning home, leave your luggage in the garage and put all clothing in the dryer at the highest appropriate temperature for at least 15 minutes
For more information about bed bug prevention, visit orkincanada.ca

27/07/2017
Quarterly comparison shows detached housing values continued to climb in 40 per cent of GTA neighbourhoods in Q2, says RE/MAX
Against a backdrop of sliding home sales in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), the average price of a detached home continued to rise in 40 per cent of Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) districts in the second quarter of 2017, according to a release issued today by RE/MAX INTEGRA, Ontario-Atlantic Region.

RE/MAX examined 65 neighbourhoods in the Greater Toronto Area in the first six months of the year, comparing first quarter performance to that in the second quarter. Statistics show that affordability played a significant role in price growth, with half of TREB districts in the 905 reporting an upswing in the average price of a detached home in the second quarter (46.7 per cent), compared to the first quarter of 2017, while just over 34 per cent of communities in the 416 experienced an increase. The vast majority of upward trending markets in the 905 were priced under $1,000,000, while in the 416 area code, increases were reported at price points ranging from under $1 million to over $4 million.

"Homebuying activity in the GTA has been a tale of two markets — a tight, record-breaking first quarter and a softer second quarter, characterized by easing sales and overall average price — a result of the introduction of the provincial government's Fair Housing Plan," says Christopher Alexander, Regional Director, RE/MAX INTEGRA, Ontario-Atlantic Region. "The first quarter of 2017 shattered all existing TREB records for Q1 dating back to 2007, with over 25,000 residential unit sales reported, an increase of 12 per cent over Q1 of the previous year, and average price appreciation of 29 per cent during the same time period. Given current conditions, it's really quite remarkable that, against the unprecedented strength of the first quarter, we still saw 40 per cent of GTA neighbourhoods outperform Q1 price appreciation."

Leading in terms of percentage increases in the average price of a detached home is the community of Brock, with an 11.73 per cent upswing between first and second quarters ($562,711 vs. $503,630). Values in Caledon are up 8.61 per cent over the first quarter, rising from $1,037,997 to $1,127,414. Halton Hills climbed 7.75 per cent to $841,155 in the second quarter, up over the $780,644 reported in Q1. Two neighbourhoods in the 416 round out the top five, including Riverdale, Greenwood-Coxwell, Blake-Jones (E01), rising 7.59 per cent to $1,298,439 and Dovercourt-Wallace Emerson - Junction, Junction Area, High Park North, Runnymede-Bloor West Village, and Lambton-Baby Point (W02) appreciating 6.91 per cent to $1,390,342, up from $1,300,518 in the first quarter.

"The resilience in housing values may help to explain why homes sell faster here than in any other Canadian centre," says Alexander, noting that days on market in the GTA sat at 15 in June, a figure on par with healthy year-ago levels. "The current lull may represent the best buying opportunity in recent years, with more than 19,000 properties available for sale. Buyers waiting on the sidelines for a better deal may not find it in the GTA's hot pocket areas, but they may come across attractive options in neighbouring communities."

Demand for homes in the third quarter will likely reflect the softening that typically occurs over the summer months, followed by renewed strength in the final quarter of the year.

"As stability returns to the market, strong underlying economic fundamentals in the Greater Toronto Area and the province of Ontario are predicted to bolster activity, particularly in Q4," says Alexander. "Unemployment in the GTA hovers at 6.8 per cent, corporate profits are up, with more employers investing in new equipment and hires, and consumer confidence is rising, albeit slowly. The slight uptick in interest rates may also propel some buyers into the market in anticipation of higher rates down the road."

Density will also play a key role in the GTA moving forward, explains Alexander. "As long as development of single-family homes is stifled, solid demand will exist for this type of product, keeping the outlook for price growth on an upward trajectory."
Most Canadian parents prefer to give their adult kids money than live with them: CIBC Poll
The majority of Canadian parents with a child 18 years or older (76 per cent) say they'd give their kids a financial boost to help them move out, get married, or move in with a partner, with nearly half of them giving an average of about $24,000, a new CIBC poll finds. And, when given the option, almost two-thirds of parents would prefer to give cash rather than have their adult child and partner/spouse live with them.

Yet, most Canadians (68 per cent) either misunderstand or say they don't know the tax and other financial implications of gifting.

"The poll findings show that while many parents are thinking about giving their kids a financial boost to leave the nest, there are a lot of misconceptions about gifting," says Jamie Golombek, Managing Director, Tax and Estate Planning, CIBC Wealth Strategies Group, in his new report, Give a Little Bit… "Unlike in the U.S., we don't have any kind of gift tax, which means if you have what's called 'never money' – money you'll never spend in your lifetime – it's worth considering making a financial gift while you're alive to help your kids get started in life."

Mr. Golombek addresses the misconceptions about financial gifting and provides important tips on tax considerations in his Give a Little Bit… report and accompanying video.

Key poll findings:

76 per cent say they'd give financial support to help an adult child move out, marry or live with a partner, while 24 per cent wouldn't provide any financial support.
Of parents providing financial support:
47 per cent would give money in the form of a financial gift
28 per cent would let their adult child and his/her partner live with them
25 per cent would act as a guarantor on a mortgage
65 per cent of parents would prefer to give a financial gift than have their adult child and spouse/partner live with them
$24,125 is the national average gift size; Those with household incomes of more than $100,000 gift nearly double that amount ($40,558) with as many as 25 per cent giving over $50,000.
68 per cent of Canadians either misunderstand or don't know what taxes exist on financial gifts
Gifting risks

The poll finds that parents are split on whether or not to tie a financial gift to major or special milestones like buying a home, graduation, birth of grandchildren, or settling down with a spouse. Further, more than half (55 per cent) of parents are concerned about gifting to their children, with two-in-five of them admitting they may need the money later and almost a third (29 per cent) worrying that their son or daughter won't use the money 'wisely'.

As well, more than a third (37 per cent) of all parents say they're comfortable taking on debt to help their kids get a good start. However, few parents will actually tap into their credit lines or borrow from family and friends and most (80 per cent) of those giving money will draw from cash and savings to fund their gifts.

"The caveat to making any financial gift is that you generally don't want to put your own finances at risk," says Mr. Golombek. "You need to map out the lifestyle you want in retirement and the money you'll need before making a financial gift."

Bequeathing Boom

Over the next decade, baby boomers are expected to inherit an estimated $750 billion, according to a CIBC Capital Markets report. Based on the findings from the CIBC Gifting Poll, likely a good chunk of the bequest boom will skip a generation as 74 per cent of parents aged 55+ say they would pay forward their inheritance or a portion of it to their children or grandchildren if they received an inheritance today.

When it comes to gifting their own money or assets, over half (56 per cent) of boomer parents who have given or plan to give a significant gift or an early inheritance say they'd feel obligated to give to every child or grandchild (73 per cent), although not necessarily the same amount. Most wouldn't attach any strings to the gift; 60 per cent say it's none of their business what their adult kids do with the gift.

"When you gift during your lifetime, you're able to enjoy seeing your beneficiaries use the money while at the same time reaping potential tax savings opportunities," Mr. Golombek says. "In addition, by gifting assets before you die, these assets will not be subject to probate fees because they will not be part of your estate."

He also points out that the types of gifts and amounts given to children/grandchildren can create family conflict if not handled with sensitivity and forethought. "Sitting down together with an adviser can help you sidestep potential familial issues and craft a well-thought-out, tax-efficient plan for gifting money or assets," he says.

Five tips to gifting:

Talk to your financial advisor to determine how much 'never money' you may have
Gift cash in Canada with no tax implications (gifting appreciated property may trigger capital gains tax)
Minimize taxes for the entire family by gifting property to family members in lower tax brackets
Use strategies to avoid probate tax of up to 1.7% (depending on the province/territory) of the estate's value
Help kids buy a home or pay down debt with a secured mortgage
Poll findings:

Canadian parents who would give financial support to help an adult child move out, marry or live with a partner:

Yes
76 %
No
24 %
Among Canadian parents who would give financial support to help an adult child move out, marry or live with a partner:

Give my adult child a monetary gift to help them get a good start
47 %
Permit my adult child and his/her partner to live in my home to help them save money for a home
28 %
Act as guarantor to help them get approved for a mortgage to buy a home
25 %
Average gift size among Canadian parents who will give their adult child(ren) a monetary gift:


All CDN
<$50K Income
$50-99K Income
$100K + Income
$0-999
12 %
17 %
11 %
3 %
$1,000-$4,999
23 %
28 %
25 %
16 %
$5,000 - $9,999
21 %
23 %
20 %
18 %
$10,000 - $19,999
17 %
9 %
21 %
22 %
$20,000 - $49,999
13 %
12 %
11 %
16 %
$50,000 +
15 %
12 %
11 %
25 %
Mean
$24,125
$22, 784
$17,926
$40,558
Percentage of Canadian parents who would pass along a sum of money directly to children or grandchildren if they received an inheritance today:

Yes
71 %
No
17 %
I don't know
12 %
Among parents who have concerns about giving their adult children a financial gift, top concerns:

I may need the money later
40 %
My child wouldn't use the money wisely or spend it responsibly
29 %
My gift could be lost or impacted in the event of a marital/relationship breakdown
12 %
I wouldn't have control over how they spend it
14 %
My gift would cause family conflict
5 %
Milestone or special occasion that parents gave or would give a significant financial gift to children or grandchildren:

When my child buys his/her first home
23 %
For my child's marriage/union or co-habitation with a partner
16 %
When my child moves out on their own
10 %
For my child's graduation from college or university
9 %
At the birth of a grandchild
5 %
None, I did not or would not tie the gift to a specific milestone
38 %
Percentage of all Canadians' responses when asked 'what taxes exist on financial gifts to a child or relative in Canada?':

I don't know
57 %
None, there are no taxes on monetary gifts*
31 %
The entire gift would be taxed as income to the recipient
5 %
Any amount over $14,000 per year would be taxed as income to the recipient
4 %
Any amount over $14,000 per year would be taxed to you
2 %
* Indicates correct response

Rise of the robot realtor? Canadians amongst the most 'digitally-active' homebuyers in the world

 New technologies are transforming the way people in Canada and across the globe are buying a home, with significant implications for consumers and the property industry as a whole. This, according to HSBC's latest global report, Beyond the Bricks: The future of home buying, based on a survey of more than 9,000 people in nine countries with insights from leading property technology (PropTech) experts.

The research suggests that we will see radical changes across the globe over the coming years, with funding of disruptive property technology firms increasing globally from USD$221 million in 2012 to over USD$2 billion in 20161.

"From online mortgage specialists to paperless mortgage renewals, technology is rapidly changing how we engage with and serve our customers in Canada and across the globe," said Larry Tomei, Executive Vice President and Head of Retail Banking and Wealth Management, HSBC Bank Canada. "This latest research suggests that the property industry is poised for technological disruption, significantly changing how home buyers approach each of the three key phases of home buying: researching, financing and purchasing."

Key highlights: Canada vs. the world

A drone's eye view of the property market. Canadians are amongst the most digitally-active home hunters, with 90% using online channels to research their recent property purchase (first is the UK: 93%, global average: 83%). Indeed, experts suggest there may no longer be a need for traditional open house viewings, with new virtual reality tools allowing home buyers to view more homes, narrow down their choice and then 'live' in a virtual version for several days to truly "try before they buy".

"We're not the droids you're looking for…at least not yet." While 11% of Canadians surveyed have embraced the idea of using robo-advisers such as chatbots and humanoids for mortgage advice, banks and mortgage brokers are still the most trusted sources of mortgage advice (41% and 35% respectively). 2 When it comes to how they research home-buying finances, almost three-quarters (74%) of recent home buyers in Canada researched finance options online, on par with the global average.

Realtor 2.0: From key gatekeeper to expert advisor. Traditionally, the estate agent has played a key role in the purchasing phase of the process. Today, even this most human part of the process is shifting online: more than a quarter (29%) of recent home buyers in Canada started talking to a real estate agent online (global average: 31%).

Not a people person? You're not alone. Just over one in four (27%) of those surveyed in Canada say that dealing with the many people involved (real estate agents, lawyers, sellers and developers) was the biggest 'pain point' in the home-buying process, followed by fees (23%), negotiating the price (22%) and understanding the legal paperwork (20%). (Global averages: 37%, 28%, 29%, and 24%, respectively).
Added Tomei, "The research supports what we already know: while more and more Canadians are embracing disruptive technology in new and exciting ways, the need for the human touch hasn't diminished. For us, it's about giving customers the choice and flexibility to bank how they want, when they want – be it in-branch, via phone, on their smartphones, or any combination of those options."

Practical steps for buying a home in a digitally-enhanced marketplace

Make informed decisions. Make the most of online tools and services to help you to find out more about the properties and areas you are interested in and the financial options available to you. For example, check out HSBC's helpful suite of online mortgage calculators.

Be clear on your priorities. New tools are on the way to allow you to view properties in much more detail from the comfort of your own home. With such visibility, being clear on your priorities for a property will help you narrow the search quickly and efficiently without getting distracted by "bells and whistles" not intrinsic to your search.

Understand how technology can help you. Digitization of property and personal information should help streamline the purchase process in future. Keep yourself up-to-date with new technology to ensure you feel comfortable using it to help you.

Consider the experts. As buying a home becomes a more digital/online process, think about which tasks you feel comfortable doing yourself and where you may benefit from expert advice to help you navigate the home purchase process more successfully.

 
Renting in Toronto? Get Ready For A Better Way at The Livmore
 
Photos and story by KJ Mullins
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In downtown Toronto high quality rental options are very limited. Most renters that have the money are forced to take a chance at luxury condos with no guarantee that their home will be long-term. GWL Realty Advisors (GWLRA) launched their flagship purpose-built rental building and the largest of its kind in terms of number of units currently under construction in Canada this week at the southeast corner of Bay and Gerrard Streets. When completed The Livmore will be a 43-storey apartment tower offers extensive amenities and features: media room, party room with kitchen facilities and dog run. The first renters at The Livmore should be home by late spring 2018.

Owning a home is not for everyone, in fact for some renting is the best choice. Renters know what their monthly housing budget is, there is no unseen costs of repairs, high price mortgage insurance and property taxes. Houses don't generally come with fitness centres, lounges, dog runs and party rooms like The Livmore and condos that do have huge fees adding on to that monthly mortgage.

City Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam is very excited about the project going up in her ward. "Purpose-built rental is in high-need, particularly in the downtown core,” said Wong-Tam. “Toronto is now the 4th largest city in North America and growing.  As our city expands, there needs to be a selection of housing options and I am pleased that GWL Realty Advisors is at the table to serve this demand."

Wong-Tam also likes that the project is adding a fun dynamic while in the construction phase. She took time to “play” on the 8-foot high interactive hoarding running along two sides of the construction site. The first of its kind in Canada, the hoarding features an xylophone and drums that people can actually play, an interactive word puzzle and funhouse mirrors, all meant to evoke the spirit of doing more with life through the freedom of renting. Wong-Tam hopes that this vision will take root in other developers in the city, offering something extra for residents instead of the usual construction views.

GWL Realty Advisors has been developing and managing commercial and multi-residential properties for over 25 years with a number of award-winning, in-demand projects across Canada. Under its Vertica Resident Services property management division, GWLRA has a sterling reputation for creating stable, well-maintained rental housing. “Over time, we’ve acquired specialized skills and expertise unique to rental developments – The Livmore represents putting that expertise to use by bringing to market something we feel will change apartment rental in Toronto,” said Paul Finkbeiner, president of GWL Realty Advisors.

Todd Nishimura, Director, Leasing and Marketing of Vertica Resident Services said at the launch Tuesday that The Livmore will have programming geared to their residents needs. "We are dedicated to making sure that all residents will be taken care of." With dedicated space for pets already in the plans Nishimura assured that young families will also have special monthly events taking place that will entertain kids and their parents as well making The Livmore completely family friendly. “We wake up each morning with a focus on providing the best experience for the renter, with an on-site team available to help. We provide quality, professional service that strives to be the best in the property management business.”

When you own relocation for a new job is a headache while renting offers you the flexibility of picking up and snapping those better offers! Renting at an apartment property also provides the security of tenure-no one will sell your unit forcing you out the door.

The reality is that most people in the GTA cannot afford a new home without becoming house poor. The Toronto Real Estate Board reports that  the average price of a house in Toronto is $916,000, up 33% from last year’s $688,000; the cost of a detached home in the heart of the city nears $1.6 million; the average cost of a condo today in the city of Toronto is $550,000, up 24% from the previous year. More Millennials are moving out of Toronto to smaller cities like Guelph, Hamilton, Waterloo, in search of cheaper accommodation; as well major corporations are relocating offices to these satellite cities; creating a mini brain drain to the burbs. Toronto needs homes like The Livmore to thrive for young professionals and families who want to have secure roots without going broke.

To learn more about refined rental living and to receive construction updates and rental information as it becomes available please register at thelivmore.com.
 
11/07/2017
Toronto Shatters Luxury Records as New Market Dynamics Emerge Across Canada, According to Sotheby's International Realty Canada
A report released today by Sotheby's International Realty Canada highlighted new market dynamics within each of the country's major metropolitan top-tier real estate markets during the first half of 2017. While the Greater Toronto Area remained the leader in $1 million-plus residential real estate sales, all markets shifted to reflect changes in underlying market influences.

The Greater Toronto Area (Durham, Halton, Peel, Toronto and York) continued to lead Canada's $1 million-plus residential real estate market in the first half of 2017 with sales gains of 41% year-over-year, while luxury sales over $4 million close to doubled with a 93% surge in activity. The introduction of the Ontario Fair Housing Plan in April 2017 has cooled consumer sentiment, and top-tier activity contracted in the months immediately following.

Following a sales slowdown in the latter half of 2016 due to the implementation of a 15% foreign buyers tax in August 2016, the pace of sales activity calmed in Vancouver's $1 million-plus real estate market in the first half of the year as sales decreased 23% year-over-year and $4 million-plus activity fell 52%. However, monthly data from the beginning of 2017 revealed uneven performance in top-tier real estate activity, as the market shifted from a period of clear uncertainty earlier in the year to resumed market participation by May 2017. Although the $1 million-plus market slowly regained traction as months progressed, affordability remained a flashpoint for Vancouver homebuyers as prices continued to rise.

Following unprecedented gains in 2016, $1 million-plus residential real estate sales in the Greater Toronto Area (Durham, Halton, Peel, Toronto and York) continued to shatter records in the first half of 2017, cementing the region's position as the national leader in top-tier sales for the third straight year. Despite a slight contraction in sales activity resulting from newly implemented policy in the second quarter, continued economic strength, steady in-migration and immigration, and low interest rates contributed to a market characterized by sales and pricing increases across every residential housing type.

During the first half of 2017, 14,292 properties (condominiums, attached and single family detached) over $1 million sold in the GTA, a 41% increase compared to the same period in 2016. Sales over $4 million saw the greatest year-over-year percentage gains with a 93% leap to 258 units. In the City of Toronto, sales over $1 million increased 25% year-over-year to 5,208 units, and sales over $4 million experienced 84% gains to 189 units.

Top-tier single family home sales sustained continued growth in the first half of 2017: sales over $1 million were up 33% in the GTA to 12,146 units and sales over $4 million increased 92% to 240 units. With consumers seeking alternatives to limited single family home options, $1 million-plus condominium and attached home sales soared. GTA condo sales over $1 million rose 98% year-over-year to 758 units sold in the first half of 2017 while sales over $4 million were up 150% year-over-year to 15 units. Sales of attached homes over $1 million experienced the greatest percentage gains of the residential housing types during the first half of 2017, up 111% from the same period in 2016 to 1,388 units sold and with 80% of those homes sold over list price.

A strengthening economy and emboldened consumer confidence lifted Montreal's $1 million-plus real estate sales by 17% year-over-year in the first half of 2017, building on several years of healthy, annual sales gains. The luxury condominium market surpassed expectations with a 51% year-over-year surge in sales over $1 million. Top-tier real estate activity in Calgary renewed in the first half of the year, as consumer and industry sentiment transitioned to cautious optimism, resulting in sales gains of 24% compared to the first half of 2016.

"New market dynamics emerged in metropolitan luxury real estate markets across Canada in the first half of 2017," says Brad Henderson, President and CEO of Sotheby's International Realty Canada. "There were several underlying factors that contributed to these shifts. Amongst them were the ongoing repercussions of recently implemented policy interventions in the high demand and low supply Toronto and Vancouver markets, as well as bolder economic and consumer confidence in both Montreal and Calgary, which ultimately strengthened the top-tier real estate markets in these regions."
According to Henderson, $1 million-plus real estate sales are expected to stabilize in the third quarter of 2017 in the Greater Toronto Area. Vancouver's top-tier market is expected to regain tentative, albeit inconsistent traction in key segments, particularly in the condominium market. Montreal's high-end real estate market is poised for new levels of growth, while an increased uptick in activity in Calgary's top-tier real estate market is expected to continue into the fall.
Canadian Housing Starts Trend Increased in June
The trend in housing starts was 215,459 units in June 2017, compared to 214,570 units in May 2017, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This trend measure is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts.

"The trend in housing starts for Canada reached its highest level in almost five years", said Bob Dugan, CMHC's chief economist. "So far this year, all regions are on pace to surpass construction levels from 2016 except for British Columbia, where starts have declined year-to-date after reaching near-record levels last summer."

Monthly Highlights

Prince Edward Island

Prince Edwards Island's housing starts continued to trend up during the month of June. Starts of single family homes have been particularly strong the first six months of this year, up 97 per cent compared the same period in 2016.

Québec CMA

In June, housing starts trended higher in Québec as a result of the construction of a large condominium project. However, in the conventional rental housing segment, year-to-date results show a 22 per cent decrease in housing starts compared to the same period in 2016. This decrease can be explained, in part, by the period of strong activity observed in this segment in 2015 and 2016 and the rise in the vacancy rate.

Toronto

The total housing starts trend in the Toronto CMA remained virtually unchanged in June compared to the previous month. The pace of new home construction has been stable across all housing forms. A minor decline in the single-detached starts trend was offset by gains in the multi-family sector. Glancing further back, construction of ground-oriented homes, which includes single-detached, semis and town homes, have gained momentum throughout 2017, as housing starts so far this year have reached a five-year high. Limited resale supply in combination with strong home buying demand in Toronto have led more buyers to purchase pre-construction units.

Barrie

Higher trending single-detached and row starts have pushed Barrie's total housing starts up for the second month in June. Demand for new homes continued to fuel home starts in the town of Innisfil instead of the land-scarce city of Barrie. The town of Innisfil has become the prime location for the construction of low and medium-density homes in the Barrie CMA.

Oshawa

Oshawa CMA had a record level of seasonally adjusted starts in June 2017, the pace of construction being nearly three times higher than the average seen over the past three years. While all housing types saw increases in June, the row and apartment segments were the clear leaders. Price weary buyers from the Toronto CMA continue to fuel demand for new homes in Oshawa.

Fort McMurray/Wood Buffalo

Fort McMurray has experienced strong rebuilding activity after the wildfires last May. Since January, 785 housing starts have been recorded, twice as many as in the last two years combined. The majority of these new starts have been replacement single-detached homes.

Victoria

Housing starts trended higher in the Victoria CMA last month as new rental projects were initiated in Langford. Total starts for 2017 remain elevated but reduced from the record-setting pace last year. Multi-unit starts have been sluggish to date compared to singles, which are slightly above expectation. However, multi-unit construction remains elevated at 30 per cent above the five-year average. Developers will be keeping an eye on how the market responds to a higher completion rate going forward.

Vancouver

Vancouver CMA housing starts trended downwards in June, driven by a decrease in apartment starts. In the first six months of 2017, there were 880 ownership apartment starts in the City Vancouver, compared with 3,290 in the first half of 2016. Given the strong housing starts activity in the past year and the record number of units now under construction, it is not surprising to see starts trend downward according to industry capacity.

CMHC uses the trend measure as a complement to the monthly SAAR of housing starts to account for considerable swings in monthly estimates and obtain a more complete picture of Canada's housing market. In some situations analyzing only SAAR data can be misleading, as they are largely driven by the multi-unit segment of the market which can vary significantly from one month to the next.

The standalone monthly SAAR of housing starts for all areas in Canada was 212,695 units in June, up from 194,955 units in May. The SAAR of urban starts increased by 9.6 per cent in June to 194,773 units. Multiple urban starts increased by 9.4 per cent to 127,944 units in June and single-detached urban starts increased by 10.1 per cent, to 66,829 units.

Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 17,922 units.

Preliminary Housing Starts data are also available in English and French through our website and through CMHC's Housing Market Information Portal. Our analysts are also available to provide further insight into their respective markets.

As Canada's authority on housing, CMHC contributes to the stability of the housing market and financial system, provides support for Canadians in housing need, and offers objective housing research and information to Canadian governments, consumers and the housing industry.

Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter help build 150 homes across Canada with Habitat for Humanity

Thousands of volunteers are joining Habitat for Humanity's 34th Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project in Canada to build 150 homes in celebration of Canada's 150th anniversary. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and former first lady Rosalynn Carter will build alongside future homeowners in Edmonton, Alberta, and Winnipeg, Manitoba, with additional projects taking place in communities across the country.

The first day of building kicked off July 10 and will continue through July 14. Projects during the week include: 75 homes in Edmonton and Fort Saskatchewan, 25 homes in Winnipeg and 50 homes in territories and provinces across Canada.

"Rosalynn and I are pleased to be bringing together volunteers to build alongside families during this year's Carter Work Project," said President Carter. "Housing affordability in Canada is at an all-time low. We are proud supporters of Habitat for Humanity and grateful to everyone who is joining us in our efforts to bring affordable housing to families across the country."

Achieving access to an affordable home is increasingly difficult for many Canadians, with 91 percent saying high costs are the biggest barrier to homeownership, according to a recent survey by PSB conducted on behalf of Habitat for Humanity. Additionally, 1 in 7 Canadian households, including 735,000 children, are in core housing need, according to data from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation – meaning that too many families do not have a safe, decent, affordable place to call home.

"The homes we are building in Canada will bring much needed stability to so many families," says Mark Rodgers, president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity Canada. "We are thrilled to be welcoming President and Mrs. Carter to Canada and to see so many communities across the country coming together during this one week to help empower families through affordable homeownership."

"A stable home can unlock infinite possibilities for families," said Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International. "We are grateful to the many volunteers and sponsors and especially to President and Mrs. Carter for being a voice for affordable housing and working with future homeowners who are building better lives for themselves and their families."

Since 1984, President and Mrs. Carter have traveled around the world with Habitat, donating their time and voices annually to build and improve homes and raise awareness of the critical need for decent and affordable housing. Inspiring millions over the last three decades, President and Mrs. Carter have worked alongside nearly 100,000 volunteers in 14 countries to build, renovate and repair more than 4,000 homes.

Country music stars Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood will also lend their hands in Edmonton. Brooks and Yearwood, who along with the Carters were named inaugural Habitat Humanitarians, have volunteered their time, skills and voices to Habitat since 2007. In Winnipeg, long-time Habitat Canada supporter and HGTV star Scott McGillivray will be building homes with volunteers during the week.

Habitat's work is made possible thanks to the incredible commitment of our homeowners, volunteers, sponsors, donors and community partners. We would like to thank the many supporters of the 34th Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project, including: City of Edmonton; City of Fort Saskatchewan; Province of Alberta; Province of Manitoba – Manitoba Housing; Dow Chemical Company; Hunter Douglas Canada; Lafarge; Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries; The Rossy Family Foundation; CGC; Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation; Floform; The Home Depot; Kristie Charitable Foundation; Lowe's; Nissan Canada Foundation; Owens Corning; Qualico; Schneider Electric; Stanley Black & Decker; Stantec; TELUS; and Wall Grain.

05/07/2017
Fraser Institute News Release: Toronto housing boom driving economic growth in Ontario; masks weak business investment
 Weak business investment in Ontario has the provincial economy increasingly dependent on Toronto's housing market for growth, leaving the province especially vulnerable if the market slows, finds a new study released today by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank.

"Toronto's hot housing market is the one leg propping up Ontario's otherwise weak and vulnerable economy, making the spectre of a possible housing bubble burst or even just a slowdown all the more worrying," said Philip Cross, former chief economic analyst for Statistics Canada and author of Ontario's One Cylinder Economy: Housing in Toronto and Weak Business Investment.

The study finds that housing -- both homebuilding costs and record high prices -- accounted for more than a quarter (29.0 per cent) of Ontario's economic growth in 2016.
And in the first quarter of 2017, housing starts in Ontario reached more than 85,000, the highest level on record going back to 1990. More than 60 per cent of these new homes were in the GTA.

Unfortunately, Toronto's housing market is increasingly driving the entirety of Ontario's economy because of anemic business investment.

Crucially, firms plan to invest only $50.9 billion in Ontario in 2017, less than the pre-recession peak of $53.8 billion in 2008. This is particularly true in manufacturing -- still the third largest employer in the province -- where firms invested nearly $8.5 billion in 2007 compared to a planned $6.2 billion this year.

The paper identifies several factors that are currently working to discourage business investment in Ontario.

High electricity costs: Industrial users (auto plants, for example) in Ontario typically pay more than $80 per megawatt-hour -- approximately 40 per cent more than in Quebec. And according to Ontario's auditor general, provincial government policy mistakes increased hydro costs for Ontarians by $37 billion between 2006 and 2014.

High labour costs: Ontario's labour costs are the highest in the country outside of Atlantic Canada, according to Statistics Canada. And even though Ontario already had one of the highest minimum wages in Canada, the provincial government increased it again in January and is now proposing an increase to $15 an hour by 2019.

High taxes: Ontario has the second-highest marginal personal income tax rate of any province or state in North America at 53.5 per cent, nearly 10 percentage points higher than neighbouring Michigan. Ontario's corporate income tax rate, while more competitive, is the 18th highest out of 44 jurisdictions in developed countries.

"The entire provincial economy is so reliant on Toronto's housing market for growth, that a cooling off -- or worse, a burst -- would be felt across Ontario, not just in the GTA," Cross said.
New data reveals ownership of rental housing and highlights differences among major Canadian markets
 Most of Canada's purpose-built rental apartments are owned by individual investors or private corporations, according to a new Housing Market Insight report released today by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

This report, entitled "Rental Ownership Structure in Canada", is part of an on-going effort to address "data gaps", focussing on the ownership structure of the purpose-built rental market and the extent of foreign ownership within that segment of housing in Canada. The data upon which the report is based comes from a new set of questions added to CMHC's 2016 Rental Market Survey.


Roughly 90 per cent of purpose-built rental apartment units in Canada are owned by individual investors and private corporations.

Units owned by individual investors tend to have lower rents than units owned by other ownership types, but the difference is smallest in the most expensive markets.

The share of foreign ownership of purpose-built rental apartments is small. Nationally, it stands at 2.4 per cent.
To access further reports from CMHC, please subscribe to Housing Observer Online.

As Canada's authority on housing, CMHC contributes to the stability of the housing market and financial system, provides support for Canadians in housing need, and offers objective housing research and information to Canadian governments, consumers and the housing industry.

29/06/2017

Concord Canada House to honour Canadian culture

 Through its extensive work transforming railway lands into a vibrant, vertical community, Concord Adex has helped to shape present-day Toronto. However, its newest project, Canada House, is sure to cement itself as a significant piece of the city's future. Being touted as the crowing jewel of the CityPlace community, the 68- and 79-story buildings will act as a permanent tribute to Canadian culture. Concord will celebrate the project in a big way this July 1st adjacent to the other CN Tower activities and fireworks.

Concord Canada House will draw heavily on Canadian symbolism, including a 19th century schooner that was discovered onsite and predates Canada's confederation. The ship will feature prominently at an historical exhibit that will be on display throughout the holiday long weekend and serve as the inspiration behind a large commissioned art piece that will make its home on the 10th floor of the development.

"Every Concord community in Canada is special, but Concord Canada House is our opportunity to honour this terrific country," said Terry Hui, President and CEO of Concord Pacific and Concord Adex. "With the maple leaf – a quintessential symbol of Canadian pride – as one of the central design themes, my personal goal with this development is to create a homage that has never been seen before."

In addition to the maple leafs and the schooner, the development will also have a skating rink that is inspired by Ottawa's Rideau Canal.

To help establish Concord Canada House as a truly Canadian monument, Concord Adex is collaborating with Douglas Coupland, world-renowned Canadian artist, to create an original art installation that encapsulates Canadian culture. This will be Douglas' second partnership with Concord Adex. His first piece of public art is the entire Canoe Landing Park with Canadian themed objects within it such as a red canoe, giant bobbers and landform which recalls the bluffs of Toronto. The park has become synonymous with the community.

"Throughout my career I have tried to investigate Canada's identity through my art," said Douglas Coupland. "I am excited to be working with Concord Adex on a development of such prominence and scale and to, once again, create something undoubtedly Canadian that will live on with the community."

While Canada House won't be completed until 2021, Concord is excited to celebrate the project on Canada's 150th birthday with a Concord Canada house schooner exhibit, celebration and giveaways and a "future skyline of Toronto" drawing contest open to children across the country. The company has pledged $25,000 in RESPs in prizing and will be announcing winners on July 6, 2017.

For more information about the contest, or the Canada House project, please visit: www.concordcanadahouse.ca.


27/06/2017
EXIT Realty Corp. International to Support Habitat for Humanity's 2017 Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project in Canada
Young Canadian families look to unique financing methods to support dream of recreational property ownership
 As real estate prices remain high in Canada's urban centres, young families are looking for unique ways to finance their dreams of recreational property ownership. In a recent survey conducted by Leger, more than a quarter (28 per cent) of Canadians with children under the age of 18 indicated they would consider selling their primary residence in the city in which they live in order to purchase a cottage, cabin or ski chalet.

"Many Canadians with young families are determined to own a cottage or cabin and are willing to explore avenues to turn this dream into a reality," said Christopher Alexander, Regional Director, RE/MAX INTEGRA Ontario-Atlantic Canada Region. "As real estate prices in areas of Canada remain high, more buyers are exploring unique financing options such as fractional ownership in a shared property, purchasing a recreational property with a friend and even selling their primary residence and putting the equity into a cottage or cabin."

In a separate survey of RE/MAX brokers and agents, 73 per cent of regions indicated that young families with children were a key driver of demand in their market, including established recreational regions such as the Okanagan Valley in B.C., Canmore, AB, Collingwood, ON and the Laurentians in Quebec. Retirees were also a key driver of demand across Canada, with more than half (55 per cent) of regions surveyed reporting an increase in retiree buyers this year compared to last year.

"Large numbers of retirees and Baby Boomers nearing retirement are putting the equity they received from the sale of their home in cities like Toronto and Vancouver into the purchase of a recreational property," said Elton Ash, Regional Executive Vice President, RE/MAX of Western Canada. "Significant price appreciation in those regions has made recreational property ownership a relatively affordable option for many retirees. This has in turn resulted in the price appreciation that we've seen in popular recreational property markets such as Whistler in B.C. and Haliburton in Ontario."

The RE/MAX survey of brokers and agents found that 39 per cent of regions experienced an increase in demand from buyers leaving either the GTA or B.C.'s Lower Mainland compared to last year. More local markets such as Salt Spring Island, located a few hours away from Vancouver and the Kawarthas in Ontario, experienced significant increases in demand as a result of this trend. Regions as far away as Ottawa's Rideau Lakes Region and P.E.I's north and south shore also received a boost from buyers leaving the GTA who are looking for great value on properties further out from the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

Millennials keen to enter recreational markets

In Leger's survey of Canadians, almost two-thirds (65 per cent) of millennials (18-34 years old) expressed interest in purchasing a cottage, cabin or ski chalet in the next 10 years. A quarter of respondents also indicated they would consider purchasing a recreational property as an investment vehicle to help finance retirement. At the same time however, many millennials feel that high real estate prices in the city in which they live will negatively impact their ability to buy a recreational property in addition to owning a primary residence.

To overcome this gap between demand and affordability, many Canadian millennials are willing to turn to unique financing methods to help purchase a recreational property. Nearly half (44 per cent) of millennials said they would purchase a property with a family member, while 39 per cent would purchase a property and rent it out using a vacation rental site such as AirBnB. Additionally, over a quarter of young Canadians (age 18-34) said they would consider selling the primary residence in which they live, while one in five millennials said they would consider both fractional ownership of a shared property or buying with a friend.

Key Findings from 2017 RE/MAX Recreational Property Report Omnibus Survey

Almost half (43%) of Canadians would consider buying a recreational property in the next 10 years
Almost two-thirds (65%) of Canadian millennials (18-34) would consider buying a recreational property in the next 10 years

Nearly 1 in 3 Canadians (30%) that currently own property would consider selling the primary residence in the city in which they live in order to help finance recreational property ownership

Almost one in five Canadians would consider buying a recreational property in the next 10 years as an investment vehicle to finance retirement:
Canadians 18-34 (Millennials): 24%
Canadians 35-44 (Gen X): 26%
Canadians 45-54 (Gen X): 21%
Canadians 55 – 64 (Boomers): 13%
Canadians 65+ (Boomers): 7 %

38 per cent of Canadians feel that high housing prices in their primary housing market will discourage them from purchasing a recreational property in addition to owning a primary residence
Atlantic Canada: 23%
Quebec: 34%
Ontario: 41%
Manitoba/Saskatchewan: 32%
Alberta: 36%
BC: 46%

More than 1 in 4 Canadians (28%) would consider buying with a family member in order to help finance recreational property ownership
Atlantic Canada: 36%
Quebec: 23%
Ontario: 27%
Manitoba/Saskatchewan: 31%
Alberta: 26%
BC: 32%

Millennials (18-34 years old) willing to explore alternative methods to finance the dream of recreational property ownership
44% of Canadian millennials would consider purchasing with a family member
39% of Canadian millennials would consider renting out their property on a vacation rental site
28% of Canadian millennials would consider selling their primary residence in the city in which they live
21% of Canadian millennials would consider purchasing fractional ownership in a shared recreational property
20% of Canadian millennials would consider buying with a friend

Canadians with young families (children under 18 years) are willing to explore alternative methods to finance the dream of recreational property ownership
42% of Canadians with children under the age of 18 would consider purchasing with a family member
38% of Canadians with children under the age of 18 would consider renting out their property on a vacation rental site
28% of Canadians with children under the age of 18 would consider selling their primary residence in the city in which they live
23% of Canadians with children under the age of 18 would consider purchasing fractional ownership in a shared recreational property
19% of Canadians with children under the age of 18 would consider purchasing with a friend

Features and amenities rated most important when thinking of a weekend at a cottage or cabin:
All Canadians:
1. Find peace and quiet: 56%
2. Spend time in nature: 51%
3. Spend time with family: 44%
4. Relax after a busy work week: 32%
Canadian Millennials (age 18-34):
1. Spend time in nature: 56%
2. Find peace and quiet: 53%
3. Spend time with family: 49%
4. Relax after a busy work week: 46%
Atlantic Canadians:
1. Find peace and quiet: 62%
2. Spend time with family: 49%
3. Spend time in nature: 42%
4. Relax after a busy work week: 32%
Quebec:
1. Spend time in nature: 55%
2. Find peace and quiet: 53%
3. Spend time with family: 34%
4. Relax after a busy work week: 27%
Ontario:
1. Find peace and quiet: 58%
2. Spend time with family: 49%
3. Spend time in nature: 49%
4. Relax after a busy work week: 34%
Manitoba/ Saskatchewan:
1. Find peace and quiet: 54%
2. Spend time in nature: 53%
3. Spend time with family: 47%
4. Relax after a busy work week: 37%
Alberta:
1. Find peace and quiet: 56%
2. Spend time in nature: 53%
3. Spend time with family: 44%
4. Relax after a busy work week: 39%
BC:
1. Spend time in nature: 56%
2. Find peace and quiet: 54%
3. Spend time with family: 44%
4. Participate in some of my favourite outdoor activities: 36%
EXIT Realty Corp. International will be part of Habitat for Humanity Canada's biggest build project ever. Habitat for Humanity's 34th Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project will take place in every province and territory across Canada with a goal to collectively build 150 homes to mark Canada's 150th anniversary of Confederation. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn will be visiting Canada from July 9-14, 2017, focusing their efforts in Edmonton, Alberta, and in Winnipeg, Manitoba. EXIT Realty Agents, Brokers and headquarters personnel will be swinging hammers in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario and Alberta.
Habitat Canada has a long history of creating affordable housing opportunities in the country. People living in Habitat homes not only help to build their own houses, they also pay affordable mortgages. Habitat's innovative approach helps working families on a new path to better, affordable living conditions that lead to improved health and stronger childhood development, as well as a decrease in reliance on food banks.
"We applaud the Habitat organization for their vision and initiative in building 150 homes across the country to coincide with the milestone 150th birthday of this great country," said Joyce Paron, President of the Canadian Division of EXIT Realty Corp. International. "We are all so thankful and fortunate to call Canada home and to have the opportunity to contribute and participate in this unprecedented project. Our associates support Habitat for Humanity's important work because we believe that everyone in Canada has the right to a safe, affordable and decent place in which to live."
A portion of every transaction fee received by EXIT Realty Corp. International is pledged to its non-profit organization of choice, and to-date $3 million dollars has been pledged to Habitat for Humanity. EXIT Realty's affiliation with the non-profit began in 2004 when the company sponsored its first Habitat for Humanity home build in West Palm Beach, Florida. Since then they have sponsored 18 additional home builds in Canada and the US, have participated in a community revitalization project and the Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project in the U.S. In 2016, the EXIT & Habitat: Dollar-for-Dollar Matching Program was launched. Through this initiative, the company's involvement with Habitat for Humanity can potentially reach every community where an EXIT office exists. EXIT Associates anywhere in North America can work in conjunction with their local Habitat for Humanity office to raise funds for a specific project and submit a proposal to EXIT Realty Corp. International for those funds to be matched dollar-for-dollar from EXIT Realty's pledged pool of funds to Habitat for Humanity International.
Since 1984, President and Mrs. Carter have traveled around the world with Habitat to build and improve homes. Their time and effort helps to raise awareness of the critical need for affordable home ownership around the world. Inspiring millions over the last three decades, President and Mrs. Carter have worked alongside nearly 100,000 volunteers in 14 countries to build, renovate and repair more than 4,000 homes.
To donate or learn more about the 34th Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project, please visit habitat.ca/150ReasonsToBuild.
About EXIT Realty: Founded in Canada in 1996 with offices across the continent, EXIT is a proven real estate business model that has to-date, paid out more than a third of a billion dollars in single-level residual income to its associates across the U.S. and Canada. State-of-the-art technology including geolocation Smart Signs™ gives home sellers the edge in a competitive marketplace. A portion of every transaction fee collected by EXIT Realty Corp. International is pledged to our non-profit of choice and to-date, $3 million has been pledged to Habitat for Humanity. For more information, please visit www.exitrealty.com.
About Habitat for Humanity Canada: Founded in 1985, Habitat for Humanity Canada is a national, nonprofit organization working toward a world where everyone has a decent and affordable place to call home. Habitat for Humanity brings communities together to help families build strength, stability and independence through affordable homeownership. With the help of volunteers, Habitat homeowners and 56 local Habitats working in every province and territory, we provide a solid foundation for better, healthier lives in Canada and around the world. For more information, please visit www.habitat.ca.

21/06/2017

New Affordable Rental Homes for Indigenous Peoples in Hamilton

​The federal and provincial governments are proud to celebrate affordable rental housing for Indigenous residents in Hamilton as part of National Aboriginal Day.

The celebration of a six-unit apartment complex at 274 Main Street West in Hamilton was held today on the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the New Credit and the Haudenosaunee. The facility provides affordable and accessible housing for Indigenous individuals and families.

Sacajawea Non-Profit Housing received $660,000 from the Canada-Ontario Investment in Affordable Housing agreement to support the development.

Ted McMeekin, Member of Provincial Parliament for Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale, on behalf of the Honourable Chris Ballard, Ontario's Minister of Housing and the Minister Responsible for the Poverty Reduction Strategy made the announcement along with a representative from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

"Through investments in affordable housing, our Government is providing assistance to those who need it most here in Ontario and in all corners of the country. We are committed to making communities stronger through projects like these," said Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development and Minister Responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

20/06/2017
Allstate Canada poll finds home is where the heart is for Canadians
When it comes to possessions they treasure, home is truly where the heart is in Canada, as Canadians say they value their homes above all else. These are the findings of a new poll commissioned by Allstate Insurance Company of Canada, which also found that family keepsakes and personal technology items rank highly among the possessions thought to be the most important.

The poll, conducted by Leger, asked Canadians to evaluate the importance of a number of possessions, ranging from their home and vehicles, to their collections and family heirlooms. While nearly 9-in-10 Canadians (88 per cent) deem their home to be important, nearly 8-in-10 (78 per cent) indicated their personal keepsakes and family treasures are important, and almost 6-in-10 (58 per cent) said the same about their personal technology.

"For Canadians, our possessions are often more than just the 'stuff' we own - they represent our memories, our hobbies, our keepsakes, and the things we worked hard to achieve," says Dave MacInnis, Vice President of Product Operations, Allstate Insurance Company of Canada. "What we learned from our poll is that while Canadians care about their belongings, there are particular items that are closer to their hearts and those are the items that matter the most."

Home is valued above all else

When it comes to their most treasured goods, Canadians far and wide put their home at the top of the list. At a provincial level, certain generations came in even higher than the national average, including millennials in Nova Scotia (98 per cent), Gen-Xers in Alberta (90 per cent), and baby boomers in Ontario (95 per cent) and Alberta (93 per cent).

Personal keepsakes and family heirlooms hold high esteem

Canadians recognize that not all personal effects are replaceable. While nearly 8-in-10 (78 per cent) consider their personal keepsakes and family heirlooms to be important to them, these items ranked as the top selection to salvage in the event of an emergency, with 4-in-10 (42 per cent) opting to grab these items first; aside from their family members and pets.

Provincially, residents of New Brunswick consider these items to be even more important than their home, with 83 per cent indicating their personal keepsakes and family treasures are important to them, compared to 75 per cent who say the same about their home. Millennials in Nova Scotia (93 per cent) and New Brunswick (84 per cent) were also more likely to say that these items are important, while millennials in Alberta were less likely to say the same (70 per cent).

There is a lot of value in personal technology

In today's growing digital world, Canadians recognize the importance of staying connected. Nearly 6-in-10 (58 per cent) consider their personal technology to be important to them, and nearly one-third (30 per cent) would grab it first in an emergency situation.

Provincially, millennials in Ontario placed a higher importance on personal technology then the rest of Canadians, as 65 per cent consider this item important, compared to 58 per cent nationally. Millennials in New Brunswick were the least likely to call this item important, with just 43 per cent saying as such.

Canadians take pride in their homes

Canadians not only cherish their homes – they also take a lot of pride in them, as more than two-thirds (68 per cent) have made an upgrade to their home in the past five years. Across Canada, millennials were less likely to have made an upgrade to their home compared to the rest of Canada, especially in Alberta where they placed well below the national averages across the board (59 per cent).

"Canadians have a sense of pride in their home because it's more than just a dwelling – it's at the centre of their memories and dreams," says MacInnis. "At Allstate, we know that every family has unique needs, which is why we work with our customers to ensure they have the right coverage for their home. Your home will likely be your largest purchase, the place you raise family and your oasis. Your insurance coverage should reflect that."

It's not all about our things

As much as Canadians love their belongings, it is not the only thing they value. The poll found that the top item Canadians are saving up for, with one-quarter (24 per cent) of respondents indicating this, are vacations and other experiences. Other items worth putting money aside for include a home (15 per cent) and vehicle (13 per cent).

Generationally, millennials are significantly more likely to indicate they're saving up for a home (24 per cent, compared to 15 per cent nationally). This is especially true in markets like Ontario (28 per cent) and Alberta (30 per cent), where housing costs have been higher.

What you see is what you get

Your belongings can say a lot about you and what you value. When asked, 4-in-10 Canadians (42 per cent) say that their possessions reflect that they put their family first. Nearly one-third (30 per cent) feel that what they own shows that they love their creature comforts and that their most treasured possessions, regardless of what they are, are invaluable to them. Baby boomers were found to have a stronger response to putting their family first than the national average (52 per cent).

"No matter what your belongings say about you, it's safe to assume they hold a special place in your heart," says MacInnis. "This is why Canadians should consider having an annual conversation with their insurance provider to confirm that they have the right coverage in place."

Allstate Canada has prepared a blog article and infographic to further demonstrate how Canadians view their possessions. For more details about how to keep one's home safe, visit Allstate Canada's GOOD HANDS® blog at goodhandsadvice.ca.

About the Leger Study:
A survey of 1,801 Canadians was completed online between April 3-7, 2017, using Leger's online panel, LegerWeb. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/- 2.3%, 19 times out of 20..
Nine out of ten Canadians believe we need affordable housing solutions
 A majority of Canadians have made it clear: we are not paying enough attention to affordable housing needs and solutions, according to a new Habitat for Humanity Affordable Housing Survey.

"Ten years ago, affordable housing was a hidden issue – it affected so many people and yet no one was talking about it," says Mark Rodgers, Habitat for Humanity Canada's President and CEO. "It's clear from the results of this survey that people understand how important having access to decent and affordable housing is – but they feel that not enough is being done to solve the problem. At Habitat we'll continue to partner with communities, governments, as well as the not-for-profit and private sectors to provide long-term solutions to affordable housing issues for working families, while urging the government to include affordable homeownership as part of the solution as it develops a national housing strategy for all Canadians."

On behalf of Habitat for Humanity, PSB surveyed 1,000 people in the United States and Canada, examining the perceptions, challenges and benefits of affordable housing in both countries. The survey was conducted ahead of Habitat for Humanity's Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project, which will build over 150 homes in Canada this summer.

Affordable housing issues and aspirations

Homeownership remains a top achievement for most people. Nine out of 10 Canadians (91 per cent) say that owning a home is one of their greatest achievements in life. Among renters, a majority of Canadians (77 per cent) cite owning a home as one of their top goals.

While homeownership has become much more challenging for Canadians, it remains completely out of reach for many low-income families. That means too many are without access to safe, secure and affordable housing. Habitat's model of affordable homeownership bridges a gap for people, providing working families on low incomes with the opportunity to purchase their own Habitat home.

Barriers to homeownership

Survey respondents identified high cost as the top barrier to homeownership (91 per cent in Canada), followed closely by difficulties obtaining a mortgage (75 per cent). Most do not expect the situation to get much better: a majority of Canadian respondents (84 per cent) believe housing costs will go up in the next five years.

According to the survey, most Canadians have struggled with housing costs at some point in their lives, and over 40 per cent currently struggle to pay housing costs. In order to pay those housing costs, many have had to cut back in other important areas such as food (40 per cent), dental care (30 per cent) or education (12 per cent).

Benefits of homeownership

Habitat's model of affordable homeownership helps families build strength, stability and independence – and builds stronger, healthier communities at the same time. Affordable housing is a foundation for reducing poverty and achieving economic growth, with the potential to positively impact an even wider range of societal issues.

A 2015 Boston Consulting Group report on Habitat for Humanity Canada's social impact calculated that for every $1 invested in Habitat, there are $4 worth of benefits to the community, resulting in almost $48 million of benefits in 2016. According to the survey, many Canadians know that access to decent and affordable housing can contribute to a community's overall health and help kids do better in school. At least eight out of 10 Canadians agree that having affordable, stable housing contributes to public health (87 per cent), community safety (90 per cent), economic growth (92 per cent) and children's education (91 per cent).

Continuing Habitat's action on this issue, from July 9 to 14, former US President Carter and his wife will be building homes as part of Habitat's Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project. While President and Mrs. Carter are focusing their efforts on Edmonton and Winnipeg, almost 50 communities across Canada will be participating, helping build over 150 homes alongside 150 families to mark Canada's 150th. To find out more, visit habitat.ca/150ReasonsToBuild.

Click here to access the 2015 Boston Consulting Group report: Transforming Lives: The Social Return on Habitat's Work in Canada.

PSB conducted the survey on behalf of Habitat for Humanity and Habitat for Humanity Canada between April 14 and April 24, 2017. Five hundred Canadians and five hundred Americans aged 18+ were surveyed.
15/06/2017
While 3 in 5 Canadians agree a great neighbourhood is one where everyone knows each other, only 34 per cent feel connected to their neighbours
 It's no surprise a recent study commissioned by Whirlpool Canada suggests Canadians feel the most connected to their immediate family (82 per cent). What's unexpected is who respondents feel the least connected to: their neighbours. In fact, more Canadians feel connected with the people they interact with on social media (40 per cent) than they do their own neighbours.

Despite this lack of connection with their neighbours, Canadians see many benefits that arise from living in a connected neigbourhood. Some of these benefits include: feeling safe (78 per cent), asking for help (71 per cent) and a good environment for raising children (68 per cent).

"This research puts into numbers something we inherently know in our hearts – there are so many reasons why it's great to know our neighbours," says Michelle Domet, senior marketing manager at Whirlpool Canada. "In today's busy, technological world, sharing a meal can be a great way to connect. While food preparation may feel like a small act in itself, it's these small acts of care that we believe have lasting impacts and have inspired our product innovations over the past 100 years."

Whirlpool Canada has enlisted the help of food and lifestyle expert Pay Chen to share tips about how preparing and sharing food can help grow relationships within communities.

Share something that you enjoy making: If you know someone is new to your neighbourhood, or new to Canada, make and share something that reflects you or your background. Sharing new foods is a great way to get to know a neighbour as you can bond over the ingredients, cooking techniques or the preparation of the meal.

Spread the bounty by offering extras: Summer is a great time to grow fresh vegetables or herbs in your own garden, or buy in abundance from the local farmers markets. Often these hauls of leafy greens or fresh tomatoes are more than you need in a week, why not offer this farm-fresh produce to a neighbour?

Try new ingredients: Being exposed to a different culture's cooking techniques, gives us the opportunity to try many new foods and flavours. Accompanying a neighbour to their favourite local store, or in return, inviting a neighbour to join you on your weekly trips, is an easy way to learn of new ingredients to try. Ask your neighbour to even teach you how to use that ingredients while they prepare this meal in their home.
Further interesting survey data includes:

44 per cent of survey respondents said some of the "best conversations" they've had were over meal preparation.

Respondents under 35 are the least likely to feel connected to their neighbours (21 per cent).

4 in 10 Canadians say they "hardly know" their neighbours.
Whirlpool Canada will continue to share further insights gathered from its survey on its social channels in the coming months. The public is encouraged to join the conversation with the hashtag #EveryDayCare.

About the Survey
The national online survey of 1,809 Canadians was conducted from May 12th to 23rd, 2017. The data was weighted to Census population figures to achieve representation for age, region and gender. The margin of error associated with a probability based sample of 1,809 is 2.3%, 19 times out of 20.
Canadian home sales drop sharply in May 
 According to statistics released today by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national home sales posted a sizeable decline in May 2017.

The number of homes sold via Canadian MLS® Systems fell by 6.2% in May 2017 compared to April. The month-over-month (m-o-m) percentage decline was the largest since August 2012.

While May sales were down from the previous month in about half of all local markets, the sizeable national decline largely reflects a 25.3% m-o-m drop in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Activity was also down significantly from the previous month among other housing markets across the Greater Golden Horseshoe region, including Oakville-Milton, Hamilton-Burlington and Barrie. By contrast, activity rose to multi-year highs in Montreal and Quebec City.

Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity was down 1.6% on a year-over-year basis in May, with year-over-year (y-o-y) gains in about 60% of all local housing markets offset by the sharp drop in the GTA (20.8% y-o-y). Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa and Montreal were among a number of urban centres where May sales surpassed year-ago levels.

"Recent changes to housing policy in Ontario have quickly caused sales and listings to become more balanced in the GTA," said CREA President Andrew Peck. "Meanwhile, the balance between supply and demand in Vancouver is tightening up, while many places elsewhere in Canada remain amply supplied. All real estate is local, and REALTORS® remain your best source for information about sales and listings where you live or might like to."

"This is the first full month of results since changes to Ontario housing policy made in late April. They provide clear evidence that the changes have resulted in more balanced housing markets throughout the Greater Golden Horseshoe region," said Gregory Klump, CREA's Chief Economist. "For housing markets in the region, May sales activity was down most in the GTA and Oakville. This suggests the changes have squelched speculative home purchases."

The number of newly listed homes edged up a further 0.3% in May following April's jump of almost 10%. New listings in May remained high in and around the GTA; however, the York Region of the GTA posted the largest month-over-month decline in new supply. Similar percentage declines were also evident for new listings in Oakville-Milton and Barrie.

With sales down considerably in May, the national sales-to-new listings ratio moved out of sellers' territory and back into balanced market territory for the first time since late 2015. The ratio stood at 56.3% in May 2017, down from 60.2% in April and the high-60% range over the first three months of this year.

A sales-to-new listings ratio between 40 and 60 is generally consistent with balanced housing market conditions, with readings below and above this range indicating buyers' and sellers' markets respectively.

The ratio was above 60% in more than half of all local housing markets in May, the majority of which are located in British Columbia and southwestern Ontario. The ratio is above 70% for Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley and above 60% for Montreal. By contrast, the ratio softened sharply in the GTA, closing out the month at 41%.

The number of months of inventory is another important measure of the balance between housing supply and demand. It represents how long it would take to completely liquidate current inventories at the current rate of sales activity.

There were 4.7 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of May 2017, up from 4.3 months in April and 4.1 months in March. This returns the measure to where it was for much of 2016.

With new listings having surged and sales having declined in some markets within the Greater Golden Horseshoe, the number of months of inventory in the region is up from all-time lows. That said, housing markets in the region remain among the tightest in Canada, with most urban centres in the region still registering less than two months of inventory.

The Aggregate Composite MLS® HPI rose by 17.9% y-o-y in May 2017 compared to 19.8% in April. Price gains slowed sharply for single family homes.

Price gains accelerated for apartment units, which posted the largest y-o-y gains in May (+20.5%). Meanwhile, prices gains braked for benchmark low-rise homes (townhouse/row units: +19.3% y-o-y; two-storey single family homes: +18.4% y-o-y; one-storey single family homes: +14.5% y-o-y).

While benchmark home prices were up from year-ago levels in 11 of 13 housing markets tracked by the MLS® HPI, price trends continued to vary widely by location.

After having dipped in the second half of last year, home prices in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia have been recovering and have either reached new heights or are trending toward them (Greater Vancouver: +8.8% y-o-y; Fraser Valley: +14.7% y-o-y). Meanwhile, y-o-y benchmark home price increases remained in the 20% range in Victoria and elsewhere on Vancouver Island.

Price gains slowed on a y-o-y basis in Greater Toronto and particularly in Oakville-Milton but remain well above year-ago levels (Greater Toronto: +29% y-o-y; Oakville-Milton: +23.9% y-o-y). Price growth remained in the mid-20% on a y-o-y basis in Guelph.

Calgary and Regina traded places in May, with Calgary prices having posted the first y-o-y gain (+0.2%) in almost two years and Regina prices having moved into negative territory (-1.7%) for the first time since January 2016. Saskatoon home prices remained down from year-ago levels (-2.8%) for the 22nd consecutive month.

Benchmark home prices rose by more than the rate of overall consumer price inflation in Ottawa (+4.4% overall, led by a 5.4% increase in two-storey single family home prices), Greater Montreal (+3.6% overall, led by a 4.6% increase in two-storey single family home prices) and Greater Moncton (+6.1% overall, led by a 13.1% increase in prices for townhouse/row units).

The MLS® Home Price Index (MLS® HPI) provides the best way of gauging price trends because average price trends are prone to being strongly distorted by changes in the mix of sales activity from one month to the next.

The actual (not seasonally adjusted) national average price for homes sold in May 2017 was $530,304, up 4.3% from where it stood one year earlier.

The national average price continues to be pulled upward by sales activity in Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto, which are two of Canada's most active and expensive housing markets. Excluding these two markets from calculations trims more than $130,000 from the national average price ($398,546).

PLEASE NOTE: The information contained in this news release combines both major market and national sales information from MLS® Systems from the previous month.

CREA cautions that average price information can be useful in establishing trends over time, but does not indicate actual prices in centres comprised of widely divergent neighbourhoods or account for price differential between geographic areas. Statistical information contained in this report includes all housing types.

MLS® Systems are co-operative marketing systems used only by Canada's real estate Boards to ensure maximum exposure of properties listed for sale.

The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) is one of Canada's largest single-industry trade associations, representing more than 120,000 REALTORS® working through some 90 real estate Boards and Associations.

Further information can be found at http://crea.ca/statistics.

14/06/2017

Havas Canada makes it easy to get involved with Habitat GTA

Habitat for Humanity GTA (Habitat GTA), in partnership with Havas Canada, announced the launch of the new HabitatGTA.ca website.

​In response to the growing need for affordable housing in the Greater Toronto Area, Havas Canada volunteered to help Habitat GTA re-imagine, and ultimately transform their web experience. The transformation took 10 months and involved a number of teams, including: digital strategy, user experience, design, development, and delivery in order to launch the site that moves Habitat's digital experience forward.

"Habitat GTA is a complex organization with a simple mission. Our model can be difficult to demonstrate and explain. This newly designed website allows us to overcome this barrier, and engage supporters online in a simple yet dynamic way that we have never been able to do before," says Ene Underwood, CEO of Habitat GTA.

Alex Chepovetsky, Chief Digital Officer at Havas Canada, who spearheaded this initiative, says "From the very beginning, we set out to gain a deep understanding of Habitat's mission in order to identify the areas where we could make an impact. By dramatically simplifying the experience, we made it easier for people to see the impact their involvement makes on families in the GTA by donating their time, money and stuff."

"When Alex volunteered his teams and resources to give us a much needed upgrade, we were so thankful; their generous support will make a huge difference in helping more families move from crowded, unhealthy living conditions into a safe, affordable Habitat homes," continues Ms. Underwood.

The new website offers a responsive interface and a brand new design, paving the path for volunteers to get involved and for families to have access to affordable housing.

"This is where we live, work, and play. Given the state of the housing market in the GTA, our team decided to get involved and help make a difference for families in need, and we're grateful that we're able to give back in this way," says Alex Chepovetsky.

13/06/2017

Genworth Canada to support Habitat for Humanity's 2017 Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project in Canada

Genworth Canada will be part of Habitat for Humanity Canada's biggest build project ever. Habitat for Humanity's 34th Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project will take place in every province and territory across Canada with a goal to collectively build 150 homes to mark Canada's 150th anniversary of Confederation. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn, will be visiting Canada from July 9-14, 2017, focusing their efforts in Edmonton, Alberta, and in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Habitat Canada has a long history of creating affordable housing opportunities in the country. People living in Habitat homes not only help to build their own houses, they also pay affordable mortgages. Habitat's innovative approach helps working families on a new path to better, affordable living conditions that lead to improved health and stronger childhood development, as well as a decrease in reliance on food banks.

"Genworth Canada is committed to helping more Canadians achieve affordable homeownership, and by participating in the Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project we are helping to make this possible for 150 families," said Stuart Levings, president and CEO of Genworth Canada. "We support Habitat Canada's important work because we believe that everyone in Canada has the right to a safe, affordable and decent place to live in."

Since 1984, President and Mrs. Carter have traveled around the world with Habitat, to build and improve homes. Their time and effort helps to raise awareness of the critical need for affordable homeownership around the world. Inspiring millions over the last three decades, President and Mrs. Carter have worked alongside nearly 100,000 volunteers in 14 countries to build, renovate and repair more than 4,000 homes.

To donate or learn more about the 34th Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project, please visit habitat.ca/150ReasonsToBuild.

About Genworth Canada

Genworth MI Canada Inc. (TSX: MIC) through its subsidiary, Genworth Financial Mortgage Insurance Company Canada (Genworth Canada), is the largest private residential mortgage insurer in Canada. The Company provides mortgage default insurance to Canadian residential mortgage lenders, making homeownership more accessible to first-time homebuyers. Genworth Canada differentiates itself through customer service excellence, innovative processing technology, and a robust risk management framework. For almost two decades, Genworth Canada has supported the housing market by providing thought leadership and a focus on the safety and soundness of the mortgage finance system. As at March 31, 2017, Genworth Canada, had $6.7 billion total assets and $3.8 billion shareholders' equity. Find out more at www.genworth.ca.

About Habitat for Humanity Canada

Founded in 1985, Habitat for Humanity Canada is a national, nonprofit organization working toward a world where everyone has a decent and affordable place to call home. Habitat for Humanity brings communities together to help families build strength, stability and independence through affordable homeownership. With the help of volunteers, Habitat homeowners and 56 local Habitats working in every province and territory, we provide a solid foundation for better, healthier lives in Canada and around the world. For more information, please visit www.habitat.ca.

About Habitat for Humanity International

Driven by the vision that everyone needs a decent place to live, Habitat for Humanity began in 1976 as a grassroots effort on a community farm in southern Georgia. The Christian housing organization has since grown to become a leading global nonprofit working in more than 1,300 communities throughout the U.S. and in more than 70 countries. Families and individuals in need of a hand up partner with Habitat for Humanity to build or improve a place they can call home. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. Through financial support, volunteering or adding a voice to support affordable housing, everyone can help families achieve the strength, stability and self-reliance they need to build better lives for themselves. Through shelter, we empower. To learn more, visit habitat.org.

12/06/2017

Housing co-ops gather in Niagara Falls to protect and expand Canada's stock of co-op homes

Over 700 members and supporters of Canada's housing co-ops are gathered in Niagara Falls for the annual meeting of the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada (CHF Canada). Among other things, they are exploring exciting new initiatives for investing and partnering towards the creation of more co-op housing to address Canada's growing housing affordability crisis.

The federal government's National Housing Strategy is expected later this year, and many provincial and municipal governments eager to address an urgent need for affordable housing. CHF Canada members will consider proposals to potentially leverage billions of dollars worth of existing co-op housing real estate to secure new investments and partnerships required to develop new co-op homes.

Such development is already taking place thanks to innovative community land trusts in Ontario and British Columbia. This has led to the construction of Fraserview Housing Co-op in Vancouver, scheduled to open as BC's largest housing co-op in 2018 thanks to a creative partnership between the CHF BC, the City of Vancouver and other public and private partners.

"This model could be applied very successfully elsewhere across Canada," said CHF Canada Executive Director Nicholas Gazzard. "And if members approve today's resolution CHF Canada will work to bring financial and real estate assets of Canada co-op housing sector to the table in partnership with government and the private sector to develop secure, community-oriented affordable co-op housing for the benefit of Canadians."

Another concern of Canada's housing co-ops is the looming end of federal operating agreements and rent subsidies for over 20,000 co-op households which threatens residents with homelessness unless action is taken. Although the federal government promised to address this issue in Budget 2017, housing co-ops are still waiting to hear the details of a solution so they can assure low income households that the future of their housing is secure.

"The people most at risk here are Canadians with low incomes, the elderly, people with disabilities and new Canadians," said CHF Canada President Nicole Waldron. "We look forward to getting news to these vulnerable households that their housing will remain affordable."

CHF Canada's Annual Meeting also includes education workshops, a national business meeting and tourist activities designed to give conference participants a taste of Niagara Falls.

CHF Canada is the national voice of the Canadian co-operative housing movement. Its members include over 900 non-profit housing co-operatives and other organizations across Canada. More than a quarter of a million Canadians live in housing co-ops, in every province and territory. 

Turning Pipe Dreams Into Reality: The Seasons in Midland, Ontario

​KJ Mullins
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  Image living at the cottage year round. It is possible with today's more remote workplace and more importantly less expensive than living in the city. The Seasons on Little Lake is a planned community designed for all stages of life, from singles, young families to empty nesters.

The average cost of a home in Toronto has passed the $1.5 range with tiny condo dwellings over $500,000. With the price tag so high more families are having to look further out of the city to be able to have a chance of owning their own house. To be able to have a house and a cottage get-away is a pipe dream for most living in Canada's busiest city.

As the market soars in Toronto more potential homeowners are looking to live outside of the city. More businesses are making this easier by allowing their employees to work remotely for most of the work week.

One of the newest developments on the market is situated in Midland, Ontario just an hour and a half outside of the city. The Seasons on Little Lake is a master-planned community with all the comforts of condo living, cottage life and spacious houses. The Hanson Development Group is currently selling property in the first phase of this 1,200 home community placed in cottage country.

“My development philosophy evolved from the realization that great lifestyle communities are created by first truly understanding the needs, desires and aspirations of the individuals and families that will call it home,” says Mark Hanson, President of Hanson Development Group. “Over the last few years, I have assembled an extraordinary team of professionals to assist in what will surely be a revolution in life enrichment, master-planned communities for Ontarians, from first time home buyers to those approaching or in their retirement years.”

Homes will range from 724 – 2000 sq. ft. with condo semi-detached and townhouse dwellings. Each home features nine-feet ceilings and a front porch with prices from the low $200,000s for a one bedroom to the mid $400,000s for a 3 bedroom.

When completed there will be homes of all types including bungalows, one-storey, two-storey with an unfinished attic – great for storage.
The proterties will have deluxe kitchens with quartz countertops and Shaker-style cabinets bringing a true cottage feel lifestyle home.
Bathrooms include porcelain tile floors, subway tile shower walls and glass enclosures according to the plan.

Nestled in Midland, The Seasons sits along the shore of Little Lake with a vast array of green space. Trails, ponds and lakes have been planned to offer a lifestyle that you just can't get in the city. Almost 100 acres will remain as parkland and pristine open space and 13 kilometres of on-site trails connecting to a larger regional trail system will allow the residents an unending array of healthy year-round outdoor activities.

The first homes will be ready to move into in the Fall of 2018. With 40 percent of the homes already purchased now is the time to jump. The Seasons is working with TD Bank which is capping mortgage rates until closing.


The Town of Midland is situated at the gateway to Georgian Bay’s picturesque 30,000 Islands. The culturally rich town has become the nerve center of North Simcoe for economic prosperity, envious s lifestyle in idyllic surroundings and an abundance of recreational pursuits. A very safe, clean and hospitable community, Midland has a population of over 17,000. It is the economic hub of Southern Georgian Bay, which boasts a population exceeding 48,000 within a 25 km radius. In summer months, the area population grows to over 100,000 due to over 8,000 cottages, the resort hotels and the provincial and national parks.

Presentation Centre: 16831 Highway 12 at Sumac Lane, Midland ON, L4R 0A9.
HOURS: Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday 11:00 am – 5:00 pm; Sunday 12-4 pm.
Call 705-526-2700
Email: info@seasonslittlelake.com
Website: seasonslittlelake.com.




Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, Academy Award Winner Robert De Niro, and Hollywood Producer Meir Teper Unveil Plans for the Very First Nobu Residences in the World
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Nobu Hospitality principals renowned Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, Academy Award winner Robert De Niro and Hollywood producer Meir Teper, principals of Nobu Hospitality, along with principal developer Madison Group unveiled plans for Nobu Residences Toronto at a press conference inside the soon to be open Nobu Residences Toronto Presentation Centre.

Pre-construction sales of the residential units will begin in mid-June, it was announced today.

Nobu Toronto, a dynamic project featuring the world's very first Nobu branded high-rise residences as well as Canada's first Nobu Hotel and Nobu Restaurant will be located in the heart of the entertainment district, transforming Mercer Street with its landmark design. Nobu Residences Toronto will rise 45 storeys above the historic Pilkington Glass Factory with two dramatic residential towers, featuring 660 units with enviable views of Toronto.

"I am very proud to have my name on this building," said Chef Nobu Matsuhisa. "It will be very special, and we are happy to be in Toronto. We want people to be happy."

"Toronto is a great city," said Robert De Niro. "I've filmed here, I've been here for the Film Festival, which is excellent, and I'm looking forward to spending more time here once Nobu Toronto opens."

Acclaimed Toronto-based Teeple Architects and Studio Munge have created the incomparable residences to feature distinctive amenities that span two floors of the podium level at Nobu Residences Toronto. The outdoor terrace and Nobu Athletic Club are connected by a two-storey glass atrium and anchored by an oculus that cuts through the podium, culminating in an artistic reflecting pond centering the Nobu Athletic Club. The Nobu Athletic Club amenities include a private massage room, yoga studio, spin studio, wet steam, dry sauna, hot tub and cold plunge in addition to state of the art fitness equipment.

In keeping with the Nobu lifestyle, which integrates energized public spaces that offer both excitement and escapism, Nobu Residences Toronto will feature Nobu Villas. The villas are highly designed private entertaining spaces available exclusively to its residents. Nobu Villas include billiards, fireplaces, a private dining area with chef's table, the chic Nobu outdoor terrace and four barbeque prep decks.

Nobu Residences Toronto will also feature a private theatrical screening room, conference room, dedicated bicycle elevator with direct access to bicycle storage and a dog spa located in both the east and west residential lobbies.

Nobu is one of the world`s most celebrated luxury hospitality brands renowned for its award-winning "new style" Japanese fusion cuisine and exceptional hotel offerings in the world's most desirable locales. Founded by Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, Robert De Niro and Meir Teper, the growing Nobu Hospitality portfolio caters to vibrant international customers, celebrities, tastemakers and powerbrokers.

The exclusive Nobu Hotel Toronto will offer a collection of exceptionally appointed guest suites located atop the west tower, with stunning panoramic views and featuring the best of everything – from distinctive service to energized public spaces.

A cornerstone of the Nobu Hotel and Nobu Residences Toronto is Nobu Restaurant with its approximately 15,000 square foot, two-level restaurant, signature bar lounge, outdoor seating and chic private dining rooms.

"Chef Nobu, Robert De Niro, Meir Teper and everyone at Nobu Hospitality have shown an unwavering commitment and passion for this project," said Josh Zagdanski, Vice President - High-Rise, Madison Group. "We are so thrilled to bring the Nobu lifestyle to Toronto."

Those interested in learning more about Nobu Residences Toronto are encouraged to register at NobuResidences.ca and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Story and Photos by Walter Tautorat
The Roundhouse, Open Doors May 28 2017
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The big doors swung open, this weekend, to the long and important history of rail transit in Canada.

The Toronto Railway Historical Association was part of Open Doors, a yearly chance to check out some of approximately 150 or so buildings. While this year’s theme was buildings from the 60’s and 70’s the roundhouse was actually built in the 1920’s. The 120 foot long locomotive turntable originally sat amongst 43 structures and many miles of track on 16 acres of what is now prime Toronto real estate.

Roundhouse Park was created in 1997 ands sits on top of the parking garage for the Convention Centre.

Aside from some of these incredible locomotives and cars from the past, the sight also contains the original Don Station and Cabin D, built in 1896 by the Grand Trunk Railway.

This fully restored cabin used to sit at the railway junction west of Bathurst and until 1979 controlled the track switches and signal lights for that junction.

The museum itself resembles more of a workshop than a showcase and it seems that a long labour of love lies ahead to restore some of these incredible behemoths to their former glory.

With long term resident The Steam Whistle Brewery and continued efforts a vibrant link to our past has been given a new life and will become another fun place to visit for generations to come.

The park features a live steam powered miniature train to give riders the actual feel of being moved by steam.

Nice way to spend a day and if your not careful you might even learn a thing or two. As always enjoy Toronto!

Story and Photos by KJ Mullins
Billy Bishop Airport Opened Its Door on Saturday
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The cloudy skies and swollen lake couldn't keep people away from Billy Bishop Airport Saturday. For the second year in a row the 'Island Airport' took part in Open Doors Toronto 2017 showcasing "Fifteen Decades of Canadian Architecture".

Visitors entered the tour through the s award-winning underwater pedestrian tunnel. At the end of the tunnel and up the two long staircases, under an antique airplane, was the island atrium filled with booths and a photo exhibit about the real Billy Bishop.

Guests were allowed access to the airport's fire hall and maintenance facility that is generally off limits to the public. Children were amazed by the Ornge exhibit seeing the helicopters that carry people to medical care in an emergency. Toronto's award winning EMS was also on hand to give CPR tips and show kids what an ambulance looks like for ground travel to the hospital.

Many are unaware of all the partners that are at Billy Bishop. Canadian Border Patrol officers had a display of the scary types of weapons that have been seized in Toronto. A drug sniffing dog was on hand to show kids what his job is. (And it has to be the cutest working dog in the city)

From giant snow plows to bomb dismantling robots the airport is filled with special vehicles.

Billy Bishop Airport is Canada's ninth-busiest airport and welcomed 2.7 million business and leisure travellers in 2016. The airport is also Canada's sixth-busiest airport with passenger service into the United States. Offering service to more than 20 cities in Canada and the U.S., with connection opportunities to more than 80 international destinations via our airlines' networks, Billy Bishop Airport is an important international gateway and a key driver to Toronto's economy, accounting for more than $2.1 billion in economic output each year and supporting 6,500 jobs, including 1,960 directly associated with the airport operations.

For more than 100 years PortsToronto has worked with its partners at the federal, provincial and municipal levels to enhance the economic growth of the City of Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area. PortsToronto owns and operates Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, which welcomed more than 2.7 million passengers in 2016; the Outer Harbour Marina, one of Canada's largest freshwater marinas; and, Terminals 51 and 52, which provide transportation, distribution, storage and container services to businesses at the Port of Toronto. PortsToronto is committed to fostering strong, healthy and sustainable communities and has invested more than $9 million since 2009 in charitable initiatives and environmental programs that benefit communities along Toronto's waterfront and beyond. PortsToronto operates in accordance with the Canada Marine Act and is guided by a nine-member board with representation from all three levels of government.

26/05/2017
The 45th edition of the Canadian Furniture Show opens today!
The annual gathering of the Canadian furniture industry gets underway today! The 45th edition of the Canadian Furniture Show is being held today through Sunday in the Toronto area. Ranked among the top five trade shows in Canada, the country's only national furniture show will be playing host to local as well as international exhibitors and visitors. The event has continually been revitalized over the last three years, and the 2017 edition is no exception, since it will feature 80 new exhibitors who will be displaying their new products to the thousands of Show participants.

"The 2017 Show will be very lively. All of our pre-event indicators are up from 2016: pre-registration is up 8%, hotel bookings are 14% higher, and we will be featuring more exhibit space than last year," said Pierre Richard, President and CEO of the Canadian Furniture Show.

In addition to unveiling new products, the 2017 Show provides visitors with a program geared toward discovery and trends, along with insightful advice, as well as networking opportunities. The visitor experience will be further enhanced by the new Lunch & Learn Speaker Series. Sarah Richardson, the award-winning designer and internationally acclaimed TV personality, will launch the Series today. She will be followed on Saturday by David Coletto, the CEO of Abacus Data and an expert on Canadian Millennials. The third speaker in the Series, scheduled for Sunday noon, is Kimmberly Capone, a furniture retailer who reinvented the family business and quadrupled sales in the process! Networking activities, meanwhile, include the industry's major cocktail reception, to which all Show participants are invited this evening; and, throughout the three days of the event, visitors will be able to enjoy the rest and entertainment areas, including The Spa and The Pub, which are both conducive to casual conversation and relaxation.

"The new features introduced this year are in response to the industry's requests, which we survey every year; in this respect, we also benefit from the astute advice of the 15 members of the National Advisory Committee," said Pierre Richard. "We are exceedingly proud of this diversified program of activities, which will be presented in a reconfigured and optimized space. In fact, this year we are concentrating the activities in Halls 1 to 4, in addition to the Conference Centre, the Toronto Area Showrooms and SOFA Showrooms. In recent years, the Show floor wasn't being fully utilized and there were some empty spaces. The 2017 layout includes enough square feet of space to stage a bigger Show than the 2016 edition. And this plan will be more efficient for the visitors to get around."

The Canadian Furniture Show has been held since 1972 and is produced by the Quebec Furniture Manufacturers' Association. It brings together industry professionals, manufacturers, importers, retailers, designers and others, from Canada the United States and worldwide, to discover the latest collections and conduct business. The 2017 Canadian Furniture Show will be held from Friday, May 26 to Sunday, May 28, at The International Centre, in Mississauga, Ontario. For full details, please visit our website at canadianfurnitureshow.com.

25/05/2017
Better drinking water infrastructure for Regional Municipality of Halton residents
The governments of Canada and Ontario are committed to investing in local infrastructure that ensures Canadians and their families have access to modern, reliable water and wastewater services that meet their needs. These investments safeguard the health and well-being of residents, protect waterways and preserve local ecosystems, while also laying the foundation for new economic opportunities to strengthen the middle class across the province.

The Honourable Karina Gould, Minister of Democratic Institutions and Member of Parliament for Burlington, on behalf of the Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities; the Honourable Eleanor McMahon, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, and Member of Provincial Parliament for Burlington, on behalf of the Honourable Bob Chiarelli, Ontario Minister of Infrastructure; and Gary Carr, Regional Chair of the Halton Region; today announced that a vital new drinking water project for the Region of Halton has been approved under the Government of Canada's Clean Water and Waste Water Fund. The federal government is providing up to 50 per cent of funding for this project—over $26.5 million. The provincial government is providing up to 25 per cent of funding for this project—just over $13.2 million of total eligible costs, and the Regional Municipality of Halton will provide the balance of funding.

Gould said, "Investing in water and wastewater treatment infrastructure is essential to maintaining a healthy environment and providing access to clean, reliable drinking water. The Government of Canada is working with provinces, territories and municipalities across the country to support important projects—like those being announced today for Burlington, Halton Hills, Oakville and Milton—which help to ensure that Canadian communities are healthy and sustainable now and for years to come."

Thanks to this investment, the Burloak Water Purification Plant will have a second, large feedermain to supply it with vital water from the Washburn Reservoir and Booster Station. As well, smaller distribution watermains will be part of this project. This investment is essential to ensuring residents have a dependable source of clean drinking water, and to keeping our communities healthy and livable.

Carr said, "Halton Region is committed to the important responsibility of providing safe, clean drinking water to our residents. Halton has been advocating to the federal and provincial government for infrastructure funding, to support growth and maintain the high quality of service delivery for Halton's community, and I am pleased with the investment being made in our community today. Together we will continue to ensure that Halton remains a great place to live."

In addition to this project, over $5.1 million in federal funding for 18 water and wastewater projects will benefit four other nearby communities in Ontario.

This investment is part of an agreement between Canada and Ontario for the Clean Water and Wastewater Fund.

Story and Photos by Walter Tautorat
High Water At Sunnyside Beach ,Toronto on  May 22, 2017
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​Victoria Day Monday, as the rain stopped, I took a walk to what used to be Sunnyside Beach.

A shorter walk than previous ones, seems the lake is coming to meet the city. Quite the sight.

The barrier that separates the lake from an inner safe channel lies buried under water. At some points the water comes right up to and has gone over the boardwalk.

The area in front of the pavilion would by now be host to a multitude of Volleyball games. The vast amounts of rain we have experienced have certainly taken their toll.

Frightening and worrisome as it may be, it does change the landscape and in my 58 years, I’ve never seen it like this!

As always, enjoy Toronto but with all these swollen waters, be safe!

24/05/2017
Flooded Homeowners Urged to Take Action After Water Recedes
Homeowners affected by the recent flooding are being advised to examine their properties for pests as water levels recede. Orkin Canada is warning that the extreme weather forced many types of pests out of their natural habitat and some may have sought shelter and food in nearby properties.

"People can expect to see more activity as the pests seek shelter on higher grounds and forage for food in areas closer to humans," said Alice Sinia, PhD, Entomologist at Orkin Canada. "Likely, there were many animals that drowned during the flooding. Carcases and sewer overflow provide breeding grounds for filth flies that are a potential health hazard because they transmit pathogens, such as salmonella and E. coli."

Orkin's entomologist also warns that stagnant water and wet or soggy soils provide breeding grounds for mosquitoes, fungus gnats and midges and say homeowners in affected areas can expect to see more activity from:

Rodents (rats and mice)
Raccoons
Ants – especially Carpenter Ants
Ground Beetles
Fungus Gnats
Midges
Flies
Mosquitoes
Cockroaches

The following are proactive tips for concerned homeowners:

Check all crawl spaces, attic areas, basements and storage sheds
Ensure all spoiled food is put in sealed containers and disposed of correctly
Make regular checks of water damaged wood structures for carpenter ants
Remove standing water to eliminate mosquito breeding sites
Rake flower beds, gardens or water soggy soils, so they can aerate and dry, to help prevent mosquitoes, midges and fungus gnats from breeding

The debt truth: Unexpected expenses could spell big trouble for Millennial homeowners

Mortgage debt increased by 11 per cent1 to $201,000 last year and more than half (52 per cent) of Canadian mortgage holders lack the financial flexibility to quickly adjust to unexpected costs, per a new Manulife Bank of Canada survey. This despite 78 per cent of Canadians having made debt freedom a top priority.

The problem is most acute among Millennials, who saw their mortgage debt rise more than any other generation. Millennials are also most likely to have difficulty making a mortgage payment in the event of an emergency or if the primary earner in the household were to become unemployed.

"The truth about debt in Canada is that many homeowners are not prepared to adjust to rising interest rates, unforeseen expenses or interruption in their income," says Rick Lunny, President and Chief Executive Office, Manulife Bank of Canada. "However, building flexibility into how they structure their debt can help ease the burden."

Overall, nearly one quarter (24 per cent) of Canadian homeowners reported they have been caught short in paying bills in the last 12 months. The survey also revealed that 70 per cent of mortgage holders are not able to manage a ten per cent increase in their payments. Half (51 per cent) have $5,000 or less set aside to deal with a financial emergency while one fifth have nothing.

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1 The percentage change in average mortgage debt controlled for regional, age and income differences between the samples. However, different research providers were used for each wave of the study which may impact trended results.

Millennials not alone

Despite generally having more equity in their homes, many Baby Boomers face the same challenges as Millennial homeowners. Some 41 per cent of Baby Boomers said that home equity accounted for more than 60 per cent of their household wealth and for one in five (21 per cent) it makes up more than 80 per cent.

This indicates Boomers may need to rely on the sale of their primary residence to fund retirement, since much of their household wealth is wrapped up in home equity. However, more than three quarters (77 per cent) of Baby Boomer respondents want to remain in their current homes when they retire.

"Many Boomers approaching retirement share the same lack of financial flexibility as Millennials," said Lunny. "They want to remain in their current homes, but their home makes up a big part of their net worth. Instead of downsizing, or even selling and renting, homeowners in this situation could consider using a flexible mortgage to access their home equity to supplement their retirement income."

Helped into the housing market

Almost half (45 per cent) of Millennial homeowners reported that they received a financial gift or loan from their family when purchasing their first home. By comparison, just 37 per cent of Generation X and 31 per cent of Baby Boomers received help from family members when they purchased their first home. Conversely, almost two in five (39 per cent) Boomers, many of whom are the parents of Millennials, still have mortgage debt.

The generational increase in new homeowners requiring family support comes despite a long-term trend toward two-income households. The number of Canadian families with two employed parents has doubled in the last 40 years, but housing costs are growing faster than incomes2.

"With higher home prices and larger mortgages, it's more important than ever to find the mortgage that's right for you," says Lunny. "A flexible mortgage that offers the ability to change or skip payments, or even withdraw money if your circumstances change, can help you ride out financial difficulties more easily."

Manulife Bank recommends that Canadians have access to enough money to cover three to six months of expenses.

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2 Statistics Canada. May 30, 2016.

Quebec homeowners most at risk

In addition, the Manulife Bank survey found that:

Mortgage holders in Quebec (76 per cent) would have the most difficulty with an increase of 10 per cent to their mortgage payment and are more likely to be impacted should they have a fiscal emergency, as almost 30 per cent have no emergency funds.
British Columbia had the highest instance of homeowners getting help from family members when they purchased their first home, with almost half (45 per cent) saying they either borrowed or were given money.
Compared with other regions, homeowners in Manitoba and Saskatchewan (73 per cent) prefer most to own and live in their current home when they retire.
Debt management should begin at an early age

More than two in five (44 per cent) learned "a little" or nothing about debt management from their parents—and were also most likely to have been caught short financially in the past 12 months (28 per cent).

"Kids who learn about money and debt management are more likely to become financially healthy adults," says Lunny. "One of the best lessons we can teach our children is the importance of saving for a rainy day. Being prepared for unexpected expenses is good for our financial health, good for our mental health and gives us the freedom and confidence to deal with the unexpected expenses and opportunities that come our way."

About the Manulife Bank of Canada Debt Survey
This survey was conducted online within Canada by Nielsen on behalf of Manulife Bank of Canada from February 1 to 14, 2017, among 2,098 Canadian homeowners aged 20 to 69 with household income of $50,000 or more. The data were weighted by age, province of residence and household income where necessary to bring them in line with their actual proportions in the Canadian homeowner population.

23/05/2017

Ease GTHA housing crisis by boosting family-sized rentals and 'missing middle' homes, report suggests

 At the heart of the GTHA housing crisis, a report released today says about 70% of Ontarians live in homes with too little or too much space for their households.

The report by the Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis (CANCEA) is called "Understanding the Forces Driving the Shelter Affordability Issue." Launched this morning at Ryerson University, the report uses big data analytics that consider more than 40 factors affecting housing affordability.

The analysis demonstrates that the housing affordability crisis in Ontario (and the GTHA specifically) is being driven by these linked issues:

Insufficient housing choice: There is an availability mismatch in terms of size, location/transit access and tenure.
A lack of housing productivity: the construction of ground-oriented, medium density housing within existing urban areas will improve the productive use of land.
Many families forced into worse options: people buy when they should rent, or move farther away in search of more affordable housing.
"According to our research, at least $100 billion in rental units will be needed over the next 10 years in Ontario, particularly family-sized space," says Paul Smetanin, CANCEA president and CEO. "Since 1990, primary rental stock per capita has dropped in the GTHA by one-third. A greater supply of rental housing would slow down the rising cost of all forms of housing and provide shelter to more people."

Thousands of Baby Boomers are among more than 50% of Ontario households with too much living space. In fact, CANCEA's data found there are five million unused or spare bedrooms in Ontario.

"Unfortunately, these homeowners have limited options to move within the region if they want to downsize into appropriate housing," Smetanin says. "One possible solution is an increase in the supply of 'gentle density,' also known as the missing middle."

So, what is the 'missing middle?'

It includes semi-detached homes, row homes, townhomes, multiplexes and courtyard apartments. Even a minor increase in this type of residential intensification would result in more people moving into smaller living spaces, as directed by the provincial Growth Plan, and could slow down rising housing costs.

According to the building industry consortium that commissioned the report, three other keys to easing the housing crisis and improving affordability are:

Eliminate barriers or create meaningful incentives to increase the supply of purpose-built rental stock.
Encourage more transit-oriented development as part of the planning process for both new residential and mixed-use projects. CANCEA's research says about 70% of GTHA commuters use cars but only 20% use transit – these numbers must shift as the population increases.
Facilitate more mid-rise residential and mixed-use development through pre-zoning.
Click here for the report.

WHAT IS CANCEA?

CANCEA is a state-of-the-art interdisciplinary research organization that is dedicated to objective, independent and evidence-based analysis. They have a long history of providing holistic and collaborative understanding of the short- and long-term risks and returns behind policy decisions and prosperity. For more, go to cancea.ca.

WHO COMMISSIONED THIS REPORT?

The construction industry sponsors of this report include the Ontario Association of Architects (OAA), the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON), the Residential and Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario (RCCAO), and the Ontario Construction Secretariat (OCS).

Better stormwater management infrastructure for Region fo Peel residents

The governments of Canada and Ontario are committed to investing in local infrastructure that ensures Canadians and their families have access to modern, reliable water and wastewater services that meet their needs. These investments safeguard the health and well-being of residents, protect waterways and preserve local ecosystems, while also laying the foundation for new economic opportunities to strengthen the middle class across the province.

The Honourable Navdeep Singh Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, on behalf of the Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, Minister of Seniors Affairs, the Honourable Dipika Damerla, on behalf of the Honourable Bob Chiarelli, Ontario Minister of Infrastructure, and Frank Dale, Regional Chair and Chief Executive Officer for the Region of Peel today announced that 30 new projects in the Region of Peel have been approved under the Government of Canada's Clean Water and Waste Water Fund. The federal government is providing up to 50 per cent of funding for these projects—over $69 million. The provincial government is providing up to 25 per cent of funding for these projects—over $34 million, and the recipient will provide the balance of funding.

Bains said, "Investing in water and wastewater treatment infrastructure is essential to maintaining a healthy environment and providing access to clean, reliable drinking water.The Government of Canada is working with provinces, territories and municipalities across the country to support important projects like those in the Region of Peel, which ensure that Canadian communities are healthy and sustainable now and for years to come."

The Government of Ontario is making the largest infrastructure investment in hospitals, schools, public transit, roads and bridges, and water and wastewater infrastructure in the province's history – more than $190 billion in public infrastructure over 13 years, starting in 2014–15. To learn more about what's happening in your community, go to Ontario.ca/BuildON.

Thanks to this investment, residents in the Region of Peel will benefit from a number of sewage pumping stations being rehabilitated or replaced, as well as equipment at several water pollution control plants being replaced. These projects are essential to keeping our waterways clean and our communities healthy and livable.

In addition to these projects, $7.2 million in federal funding for 16 water and wastewater projects will benefit four other communities across Ontario.

This investment is part of an agreement between Canada and Ontario for the Clean Water and Wastewater Fund.
 

Why we need a Dignity Walk in Toronto!

As we see an increase in hateful protests and counter protests across the city, it's now more important than ever before to unite diverse communities to raise awareness and funds to support vulnerable people locally and abroad.

On May 20, 2017, IDRF (International Development and Relief Foundation) will host its first Dignity Walk at Queens Park in Toronto.

The Walk has been spoken about since last fall when IDRF launched its Dignity Tour to travel the country and speak to social progressives, activists, advocates, young professionals and youth about the need to ensure that all people locally and abroad have access to basic human rights, food, shelter, water and safety.

IDRF which has been in existence since 1984 and has been saving lives and rebuilding communities locally and internationally and follows the Islamic principles of Human Dignity, Self-Reliance and Social Justice is committed to ensuring that everyone, including those living right here in Toronto can walk the streets safely no matter who they are and what they believe.

The walk is set to begin at 9 am with opening remarks by IDRF Chair, Zeib Jeeva, O.Ont at 9:30am followed by speeches from diverse community leaders and dignitaries. At 10am the walkers will proceed to walk down Nelson Mandela Boulevard (University Avenue) and then towards Gerrard St, down Bay to Front street and then return to Queens Park with closing remarks at by IDRF's Executive Board member Yasmeen Siddiqui.

Dignitaries confirmed for the event include:

Minister of Research, Science and Innovation – Reza Moridi
MPP & Federal Candidate Jagmeet Singh
Mayor John Tory
Event speakers include:

Jessica Ferne, Programs Director, IDRF
Dawn Martin-Hill (Six Nations)
Nigel Barriffe (Canadian Urban Alliance on Race Relations)
Sandra Noe (Federation of Muslim Women)
Musleh Khan (Chaplain, Toronto Police)
Dr. Doobay (Vishnu Mandir)
Alex Wilson (Presbyterian pastor & Community Leader)
John Cartwright (Toronto & York Labour Council)
Each speaker will have 2-3 minutes to explain what Dignity means to them and their respective community.

The event will be emceed by Farheen Khan, Advocate, Writer, Former Federal Candidate (2015) & now Director of Fund Development at IDRF, and Jeewan Chanika, Educator and Community Activist.

Zeib Jeeva O.Ont, IDRF Chair, emphasizes why this walk closely aligns with IDRF's core mission.

"At IDRF, we believe that dignity is about ensuring that people around the world and at home in Canada, have the right to be safe and self-sufficient."

19/05/2017

Ikea Classic Furniture Are You Sitting On A Fortune? 

 It may be ironic the staple of dorm rooms and first apartments – Ikea furniture – is now in demand at auction. A 1950s Ikea "Åke" sofa recently sold at auction for $3,700, while a set of Ikea "Vilbert" chairs by designer Verner Panton sold for $2,875.

Barnebys.com, a metasearch engine that compiles data from hundreds of sites, puts thousands of auctions and millions of items at buyers' fingertips in a simple, single search. Through its unique platform, Barnebys tracks global auction trends and prices and gives savvy collectors the power of its digital platform to seek out classic vintage design.

"Ikea is known for its affordable collections that appeal to a wide audience," said Pontus Silfverstolpe, auction expert and Barnebys.com co-founder. "Ironically, the most expensive Ikea auction items today are almost always Ikea's flops – items that weren't popular or that were produced for only a limited time."

7 HOT COLLECTORS' ITEMS FROM IKEA

The "Åke" chair made by Ikea from 1952-1956 originally sold at Ikea for $12. They have sold at international fairs for up to $65,000.
The chair "Vilbert" by Verner Panton (1993) originally sold at Ikea for $74; now selling for $900.
Bestselling bookshelves, "Tema" by Gillis Lundgren, sold through the 1950s and 1960s at Ikea, today sell for up to $3,900.
A sideboard table from Ikea sold in 1993 for about $440. Now selling for up to $2,900.
Armchairs by Erik Wörtz made during the 1960s. Now selling for about $1,900.
Ceramic Terrine "Nejlika" by Ikea (1993). Now selling for about $1,500.
The steel and leather chair, "Amiralen" by Karin Mobring made by Ikea during the 1970s. Now selling for up to $1,100.

56 Percent of Homebuyers Believe the Idea of the "Forever Home" is Outdated 

The American concept of a "forever home," or a house that will last through all phases of a person's life, is outdated, according to Taylor Morrison's 2017 Consumer Survey. The survey, conducted by Wakefield Research earlier this year on behalf of Taylor Morrison, took a look at 1,000 U.S. adults who have purchased a home in the last three years, or who are likely to purchase a new home in the next three years.

In fact, the survey found that more than half (58 percent) of prospective millennial homebuyers expect to change where—and the way—they live over time as their lifestyle evolves; the concept of a forever home is outdated. This sentiment is shared by 56 percent of all homebuyers. Additionally, the data shows that a third of these millennial buyers intend to live in the next home they buy for less than 10 years, with 80 percent equally or more interested in a newly constructed home over a resale home. Of all of those surveyed, 26 percent stated that the principal advantage they see in buying a newly constructed home over a pre-owned one is floor plans that fit their current lifestyle top the list.

"Understanding the lens in which homeowners and homebuyers are seeing the market is integral to our strategy," said Sheryl Palmer, Taylor Morrison president and chief executive officer. "In the last decade so much about the housing industry has changed—from locations where people want to live, to the types of homes people want to buy. Taylor Morrison offers great homes in excellent locations for a wide range of lifestyles and demographics, and I believe our business model is aligned with what homebuyers want. We offer homes for every phase of life."

Prospective homebuyers have specific views on the type of home they wish to buy, and the expectation for higher mortgage rates does not seem to be swaying their decision. In fact, recent and prospective buyers both believe that owning a home is appealing enough that they would be willing to take on low double-digit interest rates before being deterred by the home-buying process, with millennial shoppers having an even higher rate threshold.

"While we are unlikely to see double-digit interest rates in the foreseeable future, consumers' tolerance for higher potential rates signal a real commitment among prospective buyers to make their home purchase a reality," said Tawn Kelley, Taylor Morrison Home Funding executive vice president and president of mortgage operations. "Customers appreciate that we may be heading into a rising interest rate environment and are not deterred by the potential for further rate volatility going forward. In fact, the buyers that Taylor Morrison Home Funding is attracting are well within their qualification range, and by using finance as a sales tool, we expect to see our home closings continue to climb."

17/05/2017

Record number of Canadian beaches and marinas to fly the prestigious Blue Flag

As Canadians celebrate Canada's 150th birthday this summer, they will also be able to visit more clean and eco-friendly beaches and marinas.

This year, a record 27 beaches and eight marinas across the country have earned the Blue Flag—a world-renowned eco-certification for beaches and marinas. To receive a Blue Flag, beaches and marinas must meet high international standards in water quality, environmental management, environmental education, and safety and services.

The latest beaches to fly the flag are Moonlight Beach in Sudbury, Ont. and Outlet Beach at Ontario's Sandbanks Provincial Park. Colchester Harbour Marina in the Town of Essex, Ont. will also raise the Blue Flag for the first time this year.

"Millions of people around the world look for the Blue Flag when choosing a beach or marina to visit. And there's a good reason for that," said Brett Tryon, Blue Flag Program Manager with Environmental Defence. "A Blue Flag means that a beach or marina is clean, sustainably managed, and meets high safety standards. It is truly a symbol of excellence."

The Blue Flag is administered in Canada by Environmental Defence and is managed internationally by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE). More than 4,000 beaches and marinas in 47 countries fly the Blue Flag. This year marks the 30th year for the program internationally.

Here is the list of the 27 beaches and eight marinas that have received the Blue Flag in Canada this year:

British Columbia:

Gibsons Marina (Gibsons)
Manitoba:

West Grand Beach (Grand Beach Provincial Park)
Winnipeg Beach (Winnipeg Beach Provincial Park)
Nova Scotia:

Birch Cove Beach (Dartmouth)
Halifax Waterfront (Halifax)
Ontario:

Bayfield Main Beach and Bluewater Marina (Municipality of Bluewater)
Bell Park Beach and Moonlight Beach (Sudbury)
Bluffer's Park Beach, Centre Island Beach, Cherry Beach, Gibraltar Point Beach, Hanlan's Point Beach, Kew-Balmy Beach, Ward's Island Beach and Woodbine Beach (Toronto)
Canatara Park Beach (Sarnia)
City of Barrie Marina (Barrie)
Colchester Harbour Marina (Town of Essex)
Grand Bend Beach, Grand Bend Marina and Port Franks Marina (Municipality of Lambton Shores)
LaSalle Park Marina (Burlington)
Outlet Beach (Sandbanks Provincial Park)
Port Glasgow Beach (Municipality of West Elgin)
Port Stanley Main Beach (Municipality of Central Elgin)
Victoria Beach (Cobourg)
Wasaga Beach areas 1, 2 and 5 (Wasaga Beach Provincial Park)
Waubuno Beach (Parry Sound)
Quebec:

plage de l'Est, plage de l'Ouest, and plage des Cantons (Ville de Magog)
More details about the Blue Flag program and the certified marinas and beaches can be found at BlueFlag.ca. 
Story and Photos by Walter Tautorat
A Walk In The Park, High Park Toronto May 14, 2017
As a young boy I always had a love for books. In reading I could travel to the most fascinating and enchanting kingdoms and forests imaginable. Places where the world around me disappeared for a time.

From a very young age this park was always the physical embodiment of those places. I would try to imagine what is was like for those Grenadiers that came here on leave and surely if there was a Robin Hood, this is where he would live.

As I got older life took many turns and twists but I have been fortunate to be able to maintain my fascination with and love for High Park. No matter what part of the city we lived in we always found a reason and a time to come back here.

There is life here. Life that was here long before me and will be here long after I am gone. Year in and year out. Every year somewhat different from any before. I have over the years and my many visits had the pleasure of meeting and photographing all manner of wildlife.

From a fully grown female deer to coyotes and foxes and more different species of birds than I ever knew existed. In all those years the fascination and enchantment of this place has never left me.

I come here often, to watch, to learn, to breathe, to get my zen but most importantly to let the world around me disappear for a time. Toronto is blessed with many such places. People come for many reasons. This particular day happened to be Mother’s Day and while I sat and reminisced on the many memories this place holds for me, I didn’t have to look far to see many others in the process of creating their own.

Hope everyone had a Happy Mother’s Day and I really hope everyone in Toronto and those visiting get out to one of these magical places.

The memories you make will last a lifetime!~

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12/05/2017
Riyadh is building the world's largest public transit system …in just 5 years
The City of Riyadh, capital of Saudi Arabia, is building the world's largest public transit system --- in just five years. It will be presenting the project at the Palais des Congrès, in Montreal, Quebec, during the global summit of the Union Internationale des Transports Publics (UITP), May 15 to 17, 2017.

Managed by The High Commission for the Development of Arriyadh (HCDA), this massive project includes six metro lines covering 176 km and 85 stations, in addition to 24 bus routes covering 1,900 km and 3,000 stations and stops. At a total cost of $ 27 billion, it is Saudi Arabia's first public transportation network and the largest infrastructure project worldwide. The project will be showcased at UITP on Monday May 15 at the 11 AM session, by Dr. Jalal Nafakh, Chief Transportation Planner at HCDA.

The International Association of Public Transport (the English name of UITP) is the biggest public transit gathering in the world and covers all urban and regional transportation modes. The summit has a history dating back to 1886 and takes place every two years. It was last held in Milan in 2015.

"It's the first time HCDA makes a presentation during a UITP global summit and we are very pleased to do so here in Montreal, Canada", said Dr. Nafakh, on the conference sidelines. "At HCDA, we have many urban development success stories we are happy to share with our counterparts from other countries".

Riyadh's population of 6.5 million today is expected to reach 8.3 million by 2030. Its streets currently handle 9 million car trips daily, making the need for a public transit network imperative. "Initially, we were planning to build two metro lines in seven years. We've ended up with six lines, in five years!", said Nafakh.

Because of the tight time-frame for a project of this size, HCDA had to work in parallel. Three consortia were awarded the project, made up of 35 international firms specializing in construction, design, operations and maintenance. Today, more than 52,000 people are working on the project, in 23 different languages.

For its rolling stock, HCDA commissioned three different global manufacturers: Siemens, Bombardier and Alstom. Mercedes Benz and MAN will provide its fleet of buses. In order to implement its multi-supplier strategy, HCDA had to unify the design of its metro cars and buses, so all manufacturers will provide a finished product with an identical look and feel. In addition, certain cultural elements have been integrated in the interior design of the vehicles.

The new transportation system will include 85 metro stations. To come up with iconic designs for Riyadh's four most important stations, HCDA launched an international architectural contest. The winners were Zaha Hadid, of London, for the King Abdullah Financial District Station; Gerber Architekten, of Germany, for the Olaya Station; SnØhetta, of Norway, for the Downtown Station and Omrania, of Saudi Arabia, for the Western Station. These innovative stations will change the skyline of Riyadh.

Construction of the project will finish at the end of 2018. Testing of the service will start simultaneously in the last quarter of the same year, with the objective to begin service to the public in the second half of 2019.

CMHC Releases 2016 Annual Report "Innovating for Better Housing Outcomes"

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) today released its 2016 Annual Report titled "Innovating for Better Housing Outcomes".

In 2016, CMHC supported over 500,000 Canadian households through long-term social housing commitments and provided mortgage loan insurance for more than 350,000 homes. The report captures how CMHC, as Canada's authority on housing, contributes to the stability of the housing market and financial system while providing support for Canadians in housing need.

Contributing to Stability of the Housing Market and Financial System

Mortgage loan insurance facilitates access to housing finance for qualified Canadian homebuyers, supporting the stability of our financial system and economic growth. In 2016, CMHC provided $64 billion of mortgage loan insurance for more than 350,000 homes. Of our approved homeowner applications, 14.1% were in rural areas and 64.3% supported first time home buyers. As at 31 December 2016, total insurance-in-force stood at $512 billion.

CMHC's securitization programs facilitate access to funds for residential mortgage lending. This contributes to the stability of Canada's financial system and supports competition in the mortgage market. In 2016, CMHC provided $144.4 billion in guarantees through its securitization programs.

CMHC's mortgage loan insurance and securitization activities operate on a commercial basis without the need for funding from the Government. As a result of these activities, CMHC generated a net income of $1.4 billion for the year ended 31 December 2016. At year end, total mortgage insurance capital available was $18.6 billion, representing 384% of CMHC's minimum capital target. On the continued strength of our performance, CMHC will be implementing a dividend framework and will begin paying a dividend to the Government of Canada in 2017.

CMHC is focussed on becoming a world leader in housing risk management. In 2016, CMHC worked with the Department of Finance to strengthen our housing system through changes to the rules for mortgage loan insurance and supported the development of a lender risk sharing proposal that aims to rebalance risk in the housing finance system.

CMHC is committed to transparency and aims to lead through information and insight. In 2016, CMHC expanded its research and analysis activities to provide decision-makers with timely and relevant data about housing in Canada. Information diffusion is a key tactic in developing better ideas; gathering and sharing data and analysis remains a priority for the future.

Providing Support for Canadians in Housing Need
CMHC provides federal funding in support of housing programs so that Canadians in need have access to affordable and suitable housing, including on-reserve. In 2016, in addition to the $2 billion the Government already invests in housing each year, CMHC was entrusted with delivering more than $4 billion in new investments to improve access to affordable housing. CMHC supported over 500,000 Canadian households in housing need through these investments.

In 2016, CMHC led consultations with Canadians to inform Canada's first National Housing Strategy. A summary report of Canadians' views, ideas and insights was released in November 2016 and identified affordability, sustainability, inclusivity, and improving quality of life as among the most important housing outcomes to address in the Strategy. Reducing core housing need by supporting the development and implementation of the National Housing Strategy in one of CMHC's main priorities for 2017.

"In 2016, CMHC truly re-emerged as Canada's authority on housing. We significantly increased our support for Canadians in housing need through renewed investments in affordable housing; we led a national consultation to inform Canada' first National Housing Strategy all while supporting Canadian's access to housing finance through our ongoing mortgage loan insurance and securitization activities."

- Evan Siddall, President and CEO

"The overall quality of our mortgage loan insurance portfolio continued to improve. Combined with our securitization operations, CMHC generated $1.4 billion in net income for the year."

- Wojo Zielonka, Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice-President, Capital Markets 

09/05/2017

Land Lease: An Alternative Solution for Canada's Housing Challenges

According to Canada's 2016 census results (released on May 3), the country is witnessing an increasing number of seniors (up 20% since 2011) amid affordability concerns and growing demand for alternative housing solutions. These factors have major implications for the housing market, particularly as the "empty-nest" population looks to downsize – but land lease communities are offering a unique solution as a high-quality, yet affordable, home ownership model.

"Land lease is an attainable housing alternative that allows people to own their home without having to buy the land," said Andrew Blair, President & CEO of Parkbridge Lifestyle Communities. "These high-quality homes offer significant savings relative to freehold homes, which help people free up their financial resources for other priorities like travel, family and leisure."

Historically, when people thought of land lease, they thought of trailer parks. While trailer parks were an early version of land lease, the land lease home ownership model has evolved dramatically. Land lease homes are now both manufactured off-site and "stick-built" on location and, at-a-glance, typically look no different than freehold homes. They generally cost 30 per cent less than a freehold home, which means a lower down payment, lower monthly mortgage payments and no land transfer taxes.

"Most residents in our retirement communities were looking to escape city-life, but still wanted an active social life and convenient access to amenities," added Blair. "At Parkbridge, we offer services such as lawn maintenance and snow shoveling, which allow homeowners to focus on the important things during retirement – not house upkeep."

Since 1998, Parkbridge has been building and operating residential and recreational communities, and currently owns and operates close to 115 communities across the country. Additional benefits of the Parkbridge land lease model include:

Invested partnership – Parkbridge stays, investing in communities alongside homeowners to ensure there is ongoing, thoughtful investment in community infrastructure, standards and amenities.
Vibrant communities – Parkbridge fosters vibrant, active communities by ensuring homeowners have access to well-maintained shared amenities and feel safe, proud and connected to the communities in which they live.
Quality and responsible development – Parkbridge offers a range of residential and recreational property options, which are built with a commitment to quality and environmentally-friendly features.
Attractive to municipalities – with a decline in the population residing outside large cities, Parkbridge offers growth and revenue opportunities for rural municipalities.
For more information on Parkbridge land lease communities visit www.parkbridge.com.
Story and Photos by Walter Tautorat
Global Marijuana March, Toronto, May 06,2017
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On Saturday May 6th, Toronto’s 19th edition of the Global Weed March took place at Queen’s Park.

The rain stopped just long enough for the thousands to gather amongst the bodies of water that used to be the north lawn.

As legalization of weed becomes a reality there are still lots of battles to be fought. What do John Turner, Ernie Eaves and George Smitherman have in common? Not much in general, except for the fact they are all CEOs of legal marijuana growing companies in Canada.

As a new lucrative industry is in it’s first steps it is clear that the political and corporate elite are busy sinking their teeth into it.

These events are always a lot of fun. A gathering of the grassroots faithful. A crowd as diverse in age and race as any.

People dressed up, brought signs and flags and most importantly, people brought themselves.

Some sold, some bought, all smoked and ate and gathered in numbers to celebrate and enjoy. There are indeed many issues that still need to be addressed and policies still to be formed.

All this fuss for a plant that grows freely and can do a lot of good. As always an enjoyable time.

I am always blown away by the amazing people you meet at these gatherings. Next year will mark the 20th and maybe last march in this format. Time will tell and as always I hope that the little guy gets his fair share of the big pie!

05/05/2017
New Provincial Rental Legislation Already Hurting Ontario Tenants
The Federation of Rental-housing Providers of Ontario (FRPO) today released the results of a new survey of its members, conducted following the Wynne government's recent introduction of new rental housing policies. The survey shows that the announced policy revisions have put the development of 20,000 planned new purpose-built apartment units under review.

Through the survey of FRPO members either in the approval phases or planning to launch new rental developments prior to the April 20th announcement, the organization identified at least 20,000 units which will now be reviewed before proceeding due to the proposed rental legislation. FRPO calculates that the potential investment in Ontario rental housing now at risk, should these projects not proceed, is $6.5 billon.

"I'd like to believe the risk to tens of thousands of new purpose-built rental suites, and the loss of billions of dollars in investment in Ontario were the unintended consequences of last month's policy announcement by the government," says Jim Murphy, President and CEO, Federation of Rental-housing Providers of Ontario.

"This year was on track to be the best for new rental construction in decades, but this sudden decision to change the rules has thrown that all into doubt" adds Murphy. "FRPO anticipated the potential harm these sweeping legislative changes would have on the industry- and on tenants- and sought opportunities to work with the government on viable alternatives. Our efforts to engage were not successful, and we are now seeing the consequences of the government's decisions."

While the results of the survey do not demonstrate that all planned rental projects will be paralysed by the new rental environment, thousands of units will fail to move forward, while thousands of others may be converted to condominium housing.

Some of Ontario's biggest and most respected rental housing providers, including companies like Medallion Corporation, Effort Trust, and Capreit, responded to the FRPO survey, indicating that the new policies are forcing the review of planned purpose built rental projects.

An established rental developer in the Golden Horseshoe, Effort Trust's David Horwood, says that developers outside the GTA were proposing new rental buildings in communities like Hamilton, Ancaster, Stoney Creek and Dundas, however, "the elimination of the 1991 Exemption and limits to legal above guideline increases will force us to consider completing new developments not as rental, but as condominiums. A market in which our development and financing costs aren't fixed, but our revenues are fixed, makes purpose built rental high risk for tenants in our communities."

03/05/2017
Vast majority of Canadian parents want access to school information during home search
s home buyers enter the spring and summer housing markets to buy before the next school year begins, RE/MAX releases new data revealing buying a house within preferred school catchment areas is a critical factor for Canadians, especially for the millennial generation.

A recent RE/MAX survey conducted by Leger found most Canadian parents (84 per cent) want access to information on schools during their new home search. Millennials with children scored the highest in this category with 87 per cent saying they want easily accessible information as part of the property search process.

The Leger survey also found nearly four out of five (79 per cent) millennials with kids suggest proximity to preferred schools is "an important factor" in the home buying decision.

"We know there are many factors that influence the decision to purchase a particular home, from proximity to work, to overall cost, neighbourhood culture and access to green space," said Christopher Alexander, Regional Director, RE/MAX INTEGRA Ontario-Atlantic Canada. "The RE/MAX / Leger study makes it clear that access to quality education is a critical factor in the residential home decision-making process for Canadians, especially for millennials and their growing families."

To help match this interest from home buyers, RE/MAX is the first Canadian real estate brand to introduce an online tool mapping residential properties to school catchment areas across Canada. The easy-to-use search tool allows users to view schools on the map, select a specific school, view properties within that school's catchment area, and match schools to a specific home address. The new feature can be found at remax.ca within the online search and mapping function.

"We're listening to Canadians and we're focused on matching the needs of home buyers with the most effective technologies and information to assist in their search process," said Elton Ash, Regional Executive Vice President, RE/MAX of Western Canada. "We're excited about the RE/MAX school mapping tool because it puts home buyers in the driver's seat whether they are reviewing school options for a particular street address, or looking for available properties in a specific school catchment area."

Story and Photos by Walter Tautorat
Cherry Blossoms, High Park,
Sunday April 30 2017
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Every spring thousands of people make the trip to High Park to walk amongst and admire these beautiful blossoms.

The first 2,000 of these Sakura trees had been given as a gift from the ambassador of Japan to the people of Toronto, in 1959, for accepting re-located Japanese-Canadians after the second world war. More gifts followed over the years and this particular grove, on the east side of the park, was planted in 1984.

The custom of hanami (flower viewing), originally limited to Japanese nobility, has become a rite of spring for many thousand Torontonians and visitors.

The Japanese legend says that each spring a fairy maiden hovers in the warm sky and awakens these beautiful trees with her delicate breath. The window of opportunity is relatively small as these blooms only last for a couple of weeks and in some years don’t really bloom at all.

Some say these blooms are a metaphor of life. Beautiful but quite short lived, a fleeting moment of beauty. While not native to the park these Sakura trees have become an important part of this wonderful

After the pretty blooms pass these trees will create fruit that helps feed many native song birds and small mammals as well as providing living space for small animals and insects. As they say, ” get while the getting is good”, these wonderful flowers will be gone soon, not to be seen for at least another year!
Story and Photos by Walter Tautorat
4-20 2017, Yonge Dundas Square, Toronto
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Thousands gathered in Toronto yesterday to celebrate 420. A celebration of all things cannabis.

What started many years ago as a protest has taken a somewhat different tone. As everyone knows Canada is on the doorstep of complete legalization. As shown in U.S. states that have done so already there is clearly good money to be made.

A majority of Canadians are in favour of legalization and in fact a good percentage of good, hard working ordinary folk are also happy participants. Be it for medical or recreational reasons this is a huge growth industry. There is money to be made and sadly that also means hordes of politically connected players filling their pockets.

A glance at the list of CEOs of the current legal growers will make your head spin. Lots of “hooked up” players including a former Premiere, former political big-wigs including ex Prime Minister John Turner.

The people attending where of all ages and stripes. People who have been in the fight against the racially and economically motivated prohibition of marijuana that started so many years ago. Yet on the doorstep of legalization reality is that the 1% are set to line their already full pockets at the expense of the sacrifices made, over many decades, by those people in the movement.

Thousands and thousands imprisoned, parents losing their children, the stigma of being branded a felon, all victims in the now infamous war on drugs. To quote Marc Emery in his address to the crowd, “Having Bill Blair in charge of the process of legalization is somewhat like having the KKK draft human rights legislation.”

This protest not so much about the legality of pot but about allowing those who have sacrificed so much over so many years the chance to enjoy the benefits of their efforts. Many of the speakers encouraged people to grow their own, each household being allowed to grow 4 plants.

Also got a packet of seed from an initiative called Overgrow Canada. Run by activist Dane Larsen, the program aims to give out many millions of seeds across Canada and urge people to plant them in public places where they will be seen but undisturbed. People then encouraged to send photos of these plants to their website.

The rain and chilly weather did nothing to dampen the mood and the crowd was estimated by organizers to be in the 15,000 range.

A fun event as always, great entertainment, from comedians, to dancers to an awesome couple of bands, umbrellas up, beach balls flying, hope everyone had a safe and happy 420!   

Vancity invests in GTA to build healthier communities

Vancouver City Savings Credit Union (Vancity) is today relaunching its national subsidiary to create Canada's first Schedule 1 community-investment bank focused exclusively on the triple bottom line. Vancity Community Investment Bank -- previously known as Citizens Bank of Canada -- will offer financing and expert advice to organizations addressing local community issues, such as impact businesses, social enterprises and not-for-profits.

The Bank will initially focus its efforts on the Greater Toronto Area, working with organizations tackling complex social, environmental and economic issues that lack the necessary capacity or capital. Vancity Community Investment Bank will lend to these organizations, as well as offer advisory services to help them grow and be sustainable.

The Bank will also provide opportunities for institutions -- and eventually, individuals -- to invest in these community projects and put their money to good. Through these partnerships, the Bank will help to build affordable housing, expand renewable energy, grow local mission-based businesses, and meet other critical community needs.

Vancity, a BC-based credit union, has proven that it's possible to build healthier communities while also being profitable through values-based banking. It has been a member of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values, a network of the world's leading sustainable banks, since 2010. The 70-year-old credit union will stay true to its local roots and remain provincially regulated in B.C.; however, today's relaunch allows Vancity to bring its vision to national scale through Vancity Community Investment Bank.

Citizens Bank has been doing business across the country since 1997, with offices in Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto, providing foreign exchange, Visa card and commercial real estate services. Vancity Community Investment Bank will continue to deliver these services as it builds a suite of financial tools for impact businesses, social enterprises and not-for-profits.


20/04/2017

Government of Canada Takes Historic Action to Create New Rental Housing

 By investing in the construction of more than 10,000 new rental housing units, the Government is taking action to improve the lives of hard working Canadians. It will allow more middle-class Canadians to spend more time with their children by living closer to public transit, schools and services.

Adam Vaughan, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development and Member of Parliament for Spadina-Fort York, was in Toronto today to announce the launch of the Rental Construction Financing initiative.

Vaughan said, "Our Government's new lending initiatives will leverage billions of dollars for investment in affordable housing to improve the quality of life for families across Canada. We are making smart, strategic investments that will grow Canada's economy, lift more Canadians out of poverty and contribute to strong and more inclusive communities."

The Rental Construction Financing initiative will provide $2.5 billion in low-cost loans to support the construction of new rental housing, relieving pressure in rental markets that are experiencing low vacancy rates and high rents.

The initiative will complement commitments made in Budget 2017, which will invest more than $11.2 billion over 11 years for initiatives designed to build, renew and repair Canada's stock of affordable housing. These significant investments are made as part of a new National Housing Strategy that will be launched later this year and help ensure that Canadians have housing that meets their needs.

Survey of provincial rental providers shows changes to rent control legislation will chill housing development

 The Federation of Rental-housing Providers of Ontario (FRPO) today released the results of a recent qualitative survey it conducted with a focus group representing the province's largest rental housing providers.

Through a sampling of its biggest members, FRPO has sought to understand and highlight the potential impacts of the rumored legislative changes to rent control legislation and the so-called "1991 Exemption". Albeit a small sampling of the membership and only a snapshot of the purpose-built rental developments currently being proposed in Ontario, the results of this qualitative survey demonstrate that thousands of planned new rental units and billions of dollars in gross investment are at risk.

"This outreach to a subset of our membership shows not only a significant intention to create new, badly needed purpose built rental housing developments in Ontario, but also the vulnerability of the projects should the current environment suddenly change without consultation or consideration," says Jim Murphy, President and CEO, Federation of Rental-housing Providers of Ontario. "The results of our survey are clear, and they are clearly concerning. While the majority of members surveyed indicated plans to develop new, purpose-built rental projects, respondents also indicated that the majority of these projects would be at risk of proceeding if the government moved to make significant changes to the industry's current legislative environment.

Of the fifteen members surveyed, fourteen indicated current plans to develop new purpose-built rental projects, representing the addition of more than 9000 units to Ontario's portfolio of purpose built rental suites. This represents $2.7 billion in gross investment that would be put at risk if changes to the current legislation were made.

FRPO's focus group results support the existing data provided by analysts like Urbanation, which proves that the current legislation is having the intended impact on the market. A recent report from Urbanation reported a 50% increase in planned rental projects in 2016 over 2015, and their analysis shows 27,000 new purpose built rentals currently in the planning pipeline.

"The data shows that the current legislation is working as intended," says Murphy. "Successive governments, for many years, have recognized that the best approach to limited rental supply was to encourage new rental development, and the results are now proving the efficacy of this policy decision. But the data is also showing that any sudden changes to the current rent control environment will chill the creation of new rental developments. While we support the government's interest in ensuring viable rental options for Ontarians, well intentioned yet dramatic changes to rental policies intended to improve options for renters will have unintended consequences, resulting in a stagnant rental industry, declining rental assets, and less choice for today's tenants."

18/04/2017

Overheated Price Appreciation in Greater Toronto Area Reaches New Heights in the First Quarter of 2017 

The Royal LePage House Price Survey1 released today showed double-digit growth in the prices of homes across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). In the first quarter of 2017, the aggregate2 price of a home in the region rose by an astounding 20.0 per cent year-over-year to $759,241.

When broken down by housing type, in the first quarter of 2017, the median price of a two-storey home and bungalow in the GTA climbed 21.9 per cent and 19.3 per cent year-over-year to $894,919 and $752,114, respectively. Condominiums within the region also witnessed significant price appreciation, increasing by 11.0 per cent to $408,909 over the same period.

During the quarter, the strongest growth came from the suburban areas outside of the downtown core, as buyers continued to push outwards in order to find affordability, placing significant strain on supply within many regions across the GTA. As a result, each city found in the regional composite appreciated by at least 17.0 per cent on an annual basis, with Richmond Hill and Oshawa significantly outpacing the rest, surging by 31.5 per cent and 28.2 per cent when compared to the same period last year, respectively.

"With prices coming back to earth in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, the Greater Toronto Area has claimed the title of Canada's hottest housing market this quarter," said Dianne Usher, senior vice president, Johnston and Daniel, a division of Royal LePage. "A serious lack of inventory due in part to rezoning processes that don't permit intensification in many populous areas within the region, coupled with incredible demand fueled by a strong economy, immigration, high household formation and continued low interest rates, has driven the market into a frenzy, causing ultra-hot home price appreciation."

Recently, in an effort to shield themselves from the GTA's highly competitive market, many homebuyers have begun to venture well outside of the municipality's borders in search of property, causing all regions studied within a two-hour drive radius of the province's capital to experience double-digit price growth in the first quarter of 2017.

"As affordability across the GTA continues to erode, many homebuyers have increasingly begun to search for property elsewhere in southern Ontario where market factors are more favourable," Usher continued. "However, the fact remains that many of these regions are not built to support large volumes of demand, causing market conditions in these areas to quickly intensify."

Greater Toronto Area Market Summaries

Toronto continued to witness double-digit growth in house prices in the first quarter of 2017, with the region's aggregate price rising 17.0 per cent year-over-year to $763,875. A prolonged period of low interest rates and increased interest in this world-class, urbanized environment continued to attract prospective homebuyers to the region, creating a severe shortage in inventory and leading many to divert their attention to the condominium market for its relative affordability.

Scarborough remained one of the most affordable areas outside of the downtown core, with its aggregate price climbing 17.3 per cent year-over-year to $625,487 in the first quarter. Increased demand driven by the region's affordability and close proximity to the GTA has created a situation where many homes for sale are bombarded by multiple offers.

York Region continued to see significant growth in the first quarter, with Richmond Hill experiencing the largest gains in appreciation in the country. During the first quarter, the aggregate price of a home in the area rose 31.5 per cent year-over-year to $1,209,741, as immigration and foreign investment continued to influence the market, resulting in a severe inventory shortage and steep price appreciation. Homes in Vaughan also appreciated significantly, experiencing the third highest appreciation nationally, with the aggregate price of a home increasing 25.8 per cent to $985,534.

International interest continued to drive prices higher in Markham, much like certain other regions of the GTA, with many choosing the area to take advantage of its top high schools and close proximity to the downtown core. Despite sellers beginning to decide to cash in on current rates of appreciation in the region, an extreme pre-existing lack of inventory has helped home values jump higher, with the aggregate house price rising 23.2 per cent year-over-year to $970,216.

Brampton continued to witness significant appreciation in the first quarter of 2017, with the aggregate price of a home climbing 19.7 per cent year-over-year to $633,580. Increased migration into the region from higher-priced areas in the GTA, including Richmond Hill, Vaughan, Mississauga and the City of Toronto has put an upward pressure on home prices within the market.

A remarkably low supply of listings in Mississauga contributed to rising home prices in the region in the first quarter. The aggregate price of a home within the region climbed 18.6 per cent year-over-year to $665,827, as migration from other parts of the GTA, as well as a lull in new home builds and continued interest from investors placed upward pressure on the market.

The aggregate price of a home in Milton climbed 18.0 per cent year-over-year to $680,237 in the first quarter. The region's small town atmosphere continued to attract buyers spilling over from other higher-priced markets in the GTA, including millennials and investors looking to take advantage of inventory in and around the new Wilfrid Laurier University campus.

Historically low inventory levels across Oakville continued to drive prices higher in the first quarter of 2017, resulting in a significant year-over-year aggregate price increase of 23.1 per cent to $987,001. A higher representation of foreign buyers, paired with an influx of demand from other areas of the GTA have virtually cut inventory levels in half, giving way to the prominence of bidding wars within the region.

The Durham Region continued to attract prospective homeowners in the first quarter of 2017, largely because of its relative affordability. Oshawa saw one of the strongest rates of appreciation in the GTA, with the aggregate house price increasing by 28.2 per cent year-over-year to $500,105. Whitby also experienced strong gains in the first quarter, with the aggregate home price rising by 19.0 per cent year-over-year to $623,784. During the same period, Pickering and Ajax experienced noteworthy increases in aggregate house prices, increasing by 17.0 per cent and 22.7 per cent year-over-year to $655,797 and $640,041, respectively.

14/04/2017

SmartREIT, Mitchell Goldhar and CentreCourt Set to Launch Transit City

Joint venture partners Smart Real Estate Investment Trust, Mitchell Goldhar and CentreCourt Developments (CentreCourt) released details of a planning application for the development of Transit City, the first residential condominium tower in the SmartCentres Place, the largest urban development in the province. The 55 storey tower will be the tallest development in York Region and will be located steps from the TTC's new Vaughan Metropolitan Centre (VMC) Subway Station. Transit City will have a stunning lobby featuring a BUCA-branded restaurant and BAR BUCA operated by the renowned hospitality provider King Street Food Company and residents of Transit City will have access to a state-of-the-art 100,000 square foot YMCA adjacent to the tower.

"We are very excited about the upcoming sales launch of Transit City," says CentreCourt's Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Hoffman. "We are thrilled to be partnering with Mitchell Goldhar and SmartREIT on the first residential phase of one of the largest development projects in Canada. On a prime site right next to the new subway station, Transit City's location will be unparalleled."

Given the site's location and the nexus of transit infrastructure at its doorstep including subway, regional transit and major highways, Transit City will offer residents efficient commute times to all parts of the GTA including downtown Toronto. The tower's elegant form and height will prove iconic, and its best-in-class transit connectivity, world class urban landscape design features and amenity programmes, including a 5-star BUCA experience in the lobby and access to a YMCA facility, will make Transit City the most highly anticipated residential development of the year. Featuring distinctive architecture designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects Inc., as well as contemporary interior designs by the award-winning firm of Figure3 and grand landscape plans by internationally renowned landscape architect Claude Cormier, Transit City will be highlighted by a luxurious boutique hotel-inspired lobby space which will include a new BUCA-branded restaurant and BAR BUCA within a glass "jewel box" at-grade.

Engaged to design both the restaurant and the lobby space in which it will be located, BAR BUCA and the new BUCA-branded restaurant will offer morning to evening service and exclusive food delivery for residents.

"The growth of the Region, the impact of the new subway, and the vision for Transit City immediately intrigued us," said Peter Tsebelis, Partner, King Street Food Company. "The opportunity to work with the developers of Transit City and contribute to their desire to bring a chic urban lifestyle restaurant concept to the project -- coupled with the area's passion for authentic Italian cuisine -- convinced us that this would be a great venture to help us grow the BUCA brand."

Transit City represents the BUCA brand's first foray outside of downtown Toronto and signals a long-term commitment to the neighborhood.

Transit City is the first condominium building to be proposed within the 100-acre SmartCentres Place which will include 17 million square feet of residential, office and retail space upon completion, as well as a nine-acre park, designed by Claude Cormier & Associés.
"The VMC is where you can see policy, politics and business in complete sync. For SmartREIT and myself, Transit City is the inaugural residential development that we expect will be the first of many at SmartCentres Place and elsewhere across Canada," says Mitchell Goldhar, Chairman of the Board of SmartREIT.

In addition to access to all the amenities of Transit City, residents will receive the benefits of a membership at the brand new 100,000 square foot, purpose-built YMCA community centre which will be adjacent to the condominium. Featuring extensive health and wellness focused amenities, residents of Transit City will have full access to the YMCA's state-of-the-art fitness facility and gym, swimming pool, basketball courts, daycare and a City of Vaughan library.

Transit City will offer purchasers an unsurpassed residential experience in a master-planned mixed use community, while its location in the heart of the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre, and its connections to higher order transit will offer unparalleled access to the Greater Toronto Area.

Transit City is currently being considered for approvals by the City of Vaughan and the development team anticipates launching the project for sales later this spring.

Angie's List Survey Breaks Down Definition of "Home" 

When it comes down to what makes a house a home, it's not price. It's not its size. And it's not its décor, according to an analysis of an Angie's List (NASDAQ: ANGI) member survey.

"There really is no place like home," said Angie's List founder Angie Hicks. "And most of us define 'home' the same way: a comfortable place for the people we love."

To make 20 families' homes even more comfortable Angie's List has launched a free-to-enter sweepstakes with a cash prizes of $10,000, $5,000 and $500.

"Whether you're using your tax refund check or have already budgeted for a home improvement project this year, we want to help you do it," Hicks said. "We can't wait to see what our winners will do to make their homes even cozier."

More than 700 of the 1,245 members who responded to the larger Angie's List survey in January answered an optional, open-ended question: "What makes a house a home?"

"We were really curious to see what people would say, unprompted. We didn't give them a list of words to select from. We wanted to hear what their first thought was," Hicks said. "We found that 'home' doesn't have to be exquisitely decorated or even particularly clean."

The most common words cited regardless of age; size of home, family or income; cost of home; or presence of children were people and comfort.

54 percent cited "family," "people," "friends," "spouse," "children" or "kids"
49 percent cited "comfort" and/or "comfortable."
5 percent cited "dog," "cat" or "pets" (Dogs won over cats by a whisker.)
"Clean" accounted for only about 2 percent of the answers.
To enter the sweepstakes, simply sign in to the Angie's List site between April 1 and June 30 and check the List for a service pro. Entrants' names will be randomized and winners chosen in July. There will be one winner each for the $10,000 and $5,000 prizes. Ten others will win $500.

The sweepstakes is timed to award prizes at the traditional start to the home improvement season so homeowners can bolster their existing plans or dream up new ones. View contest rules here.

In addition to launching the sweepstakes, Angie's List is also switching up its national advertising themes, focusing on what makes a house a home and why the company that says "home is where our heart is" is a great resource to keep it that way.

The Angie's List survey was conducted in January 2017. It queried 1,245 members across the U.S. on several home improve topics. The Angie's List survey showed 72 percent of respondents are planning to invest as much or more in their homes this year as they did last year.

10/04/2017

Cadillac Fairview Announces Innovative Design for New CF Toronto Eaton Centre Pedestrian Bridge

 Cadillac Fairview (CF) unveiled plans today for a new pedestrian bridge across Queen Street to better integrate CF Toronto Eaton Centre with the Hudson's Bay and Saks Fifth Avenue flagship locations in downtown Toronto. Construction is slated to begin this month.

CF sees the project as a significant investment in, and contribution to, the public realm by replacing the existing structure with an exciting new connection between two major retail landmarks, creating a more integrated CF Toronto Eaton Centre complex.

"Beyond the simple utility of construction of a bridge across Queen Street, this pedestrian bridge will serve as a unique architectural icon and impressive space in its own right," said Wayne Barwise, Executive Vice President, Development, Cadillac Fairview. "CF Toronto Eaton Centre is celebrating its 40th Anniversary this year and with approximately 2 million people using the bridge annually, it was time to enhance both its aesthetics and functionality for our shoppers and the public by creating a sculptural urban feature, as well as a unique identifier for the city."

The new bridge represents another significant milestone in the redevelopment of CF Toronto Eaton Centre, helping to realize the company's vision of including Hudson's Bay and Saks Fifth Avenue as part of CF Toronto Eaton Centre and its promise of delivering a premium shopping experience.

Prior to installation, the bridge will be assembled adjacent to the shopping centre on James Street and lifted into place once complete, with the new bridge opening this fall.

CF held an international design competition and ultimately selected world-renowned architects WilkinsonEyre based on its exemplary design (design pedigree) and relevant experience. Featuring glass and etched bronze cladding panels, the structure will provide memorable vantage points for both users looking outward and street-level pedestrians looking up at the new bridge. The effect is one of creating a feeling of engagement between levels and the two retail destinations.

"We designed the bridge's form to connect together the two inherent geometries of each building, transforming from the historical, circular arches of the Hudson's Bay and Saks Fifth Avenue building to the modern rectangular geometry of CF Toronto Eaton Centre. This union of the two buildings is further reinforced by the use of bronze and glass cladding, inspired by the materials used on both buildings, which flow, wave-like in opposite directions across the bridge," according to Dominic Bettison, designer of the bridge and Director at WilkinsonEyre. "This meeting and blending of the two building's form and materials becomes a beautiful and metaphorical 'handshake' extending out over Queen Street."

Working closely with WilkinsonEyre is local Architect and longstanding property partner, Zeidler Partnership Architect, who designed the original bridge and CF Toronto Eaton Centre (in association with B+H). Other partners involved in the bridge redevelopment include: Construction Manager, PCL Construction; Electrical & Lighting Engineer Mulvey & Banani International Inc.; Structural Engineer; Read Jones Christoffersen Consulting Engineers; and Mechanical Engineer, Mitchell Partnership Inc.

To sell or not to sell? Hot housing market makes it a tough decision for many Canadians: CIBC Poll

 A new poll by CIBC (CM:TSX) (CM:NYSE) finds that while two in five Canadian homeowners with plans to sell their home are inclined to cash in and reap a profit amid continued strong housing prices, as many as two-thirds (62 per cent) are reluctant to sell due to the high price tag of buying another home.

"In today's market, homeowners are facing a conundrum as to whether to buy, sell or stay put," says David Nicholson, Vice-President, CIBC Imperial Service. "Buying or selling your home is one of the biggest decisions you'll make. That's why it's important to make the decision for the right personal and financial reasons and see past the noise in the marketplace. Evaluating the pros and cons as part of an overall financial plan can help you decide what's best for you."

Key poll findings:

41 per cent of Canadian homeowners with plans to sell say they are more inclined to cash in and 'sell to reap a profit.'
62 per cent planning to sell say high price tag of buying another house is making them 'reluctant to sell' their current home.
54 per cent of all Canadians surveyed expect housing prices will continue to rise, and 40 per cent think housing prices will drop in the next five years.
73 per cent of homeowners will one day sell their home, including 25 per cent who plan to sell within the next five years.
Nearly half (48 per cent) of homeowners, who are planning to sell, are concerned that government tax and policy changes will lower housing prices, and 28 per cent think that renting is a 'better option' given current house prices.
Boomers look to downsize

The poll also finds that as many as two-thirds (67 per cent) of baby boomers (aged 55+) plan to sell their homes with the top reason being to downsize to a smaller home, condo or nursing/retirement home (63 per cent). Financially, boomers say they're motivated to sell to boost their retirement savings or take advantage of high home prices, yet the high cost of buying again is also making them reluctant to sell their current home.

"Your home is where your heart is, but it's also likely your biggest financial asset, so there is a lot to consider as you enter or near retirement that can affect your decision to sell or not," says Mr. Nicholson. "It's important to determine what income you'll need in retirement to live the life you want and prepare for the unexpected."

For some, the dream of retiring by the water can sometimes be eclipsed by the reality of needing to be closer to family or medical services, which may in turn come with a higher price tag in today's market, he adds.

Buyer's remorse for cash-poor millennials

The poll also finds more than one-third (39 per cent) of millennials (aged 18-34) have made the leap into homeownership. The remainder (61 per cent) either rent or live with their parents/family, of which as many as 23 per cent believe they will never own a home and an almost equal number (29 per cent) aren't sure if home ownership is in their future.

Of millennials owning homes, the vast majority (81 per cent) plan to sell, citing these reasons:

63 per cent say mortgage and housing costs are making them cash poor.
57 per cent fret that rising interest rates will make it harder for them to meet their mortgage payments.
36 per cent feel that renting is the 'better option.'
Still, as many as two-in-five millennial homeowners with plans to sell (43 per cent) will upsize to a larger home.

"It's important to choose the house and mortgage that you can afford so that you can manage your cashflow and won't end up with buyer's remorse," says Mr. Nicholson. "A house can represent so much – a new start, independence, putting down roots, starting a family or building wealth. But, it's important to evaluate the pros and cons and crunch the numbers so it's the right decision for today and tomorrow."

Tips to selling your home:

Don't try to time the market
Estimate how much selling your home will cost you
Know where you're going to live next and how you will fund it
Aim to sell at top-dollar by taking care of any repairs and clearing away clutter
Talk to a financial expert and have a plan in place to invest sales proceeds
Green Living Show Taking Place this Weekend
Photos
The Green Living Show is taking place this weekend at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. It's a great way to check out the latest in ways to achieve a healthier lifestyle.

One of the ways to improve our health is by changing our diets. With more than 30 chefs on hand this weekend at the Green Living Show you will have lots of ideas for adding diversity to your dining table. The focus this year is using local ingredients that are sustainable to amp up your flavour palette.

“We are thrilled to offer visitors a culinary trip around the world, while highlighting ingredients that can be found in our own backyards,” says Laurie
Simmonds, President and CEO of Green Living Enterprises.

The chefs are also using 300 pounds of organic veggies that wouldn't make it to the grocery store because they are misshaped. The produce from Pfenning's Farms shows that just because a veggie isn't 'showroom' quality it still tastes amazing.

There's a special kids zone that brings the outside in! The area shows the fun of camping with volunteers that will provide ideas and tips on how to go fishing or pitch a tent.

MaRS Discovery District brings vistors the latests ideas with startups that are pushing the envelope. Green tech is big news and you'll be on the edge of what is coming.

Check out the IKEA exhibit to get some ideas of how to green up your home without breaking the bank.

This year entry is free when you show your metro pass or Presto Card. 
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06/04/2017

Wind energy poised to deliver climate, economic solutions

The strategic value of Canada's vast clean energy resources was in the spotlight as key political and wind energy industry leaders gathered for the Canadian Wind Energy Association's (CanWEA) annual Spring Forum, held April 4-5 at the Hilton Lac-Leamy Hotel in the National Capital Region.

The event featured a keynote address from the Honourable James Gordon Carr, the federal Minister of Natural Resources, who outlined his government's efforts to ensure Canada will compete and thrive in the ongoing global transition to a low-carbon economy.

Carr said, "It's clear that wind energy's time has come. My message is a very simple one: our government is committed to addressing climate change, and we know that wind power will play a critical role in those efforts."

The forum's line up of expert speakers examined wind energy's role in that shift, delving into the opportunity to foster economic growth with policies that signal the need for investment in new emission-free electricity and green infrastructure, and investment to encourage electrification and bolster clean energy exports.

Vice-president of public affairs at the American Wind Energy Association, Peter Kelley used his keynote address on the forum's opening day to discuss the future prospects for wind energy development in the U.S. and the potential impact of President Donald Trump's policies. Business leaders also weighed in on what the future holds for clean technology in the Trump era, concluding the new administration is unlikely to stop the rise of renewable energy in the face of plummeting technology costs and state-led climate change initiatives. In fact, delegates heard growing demand for carbon-free electricity in the U.S. Northeast represents a significant new growth opportunity for Canada's wind energy sector.

"To make real headway on cutting carbon pollution and to spark clean growth, we need to power more and more of our activities and industries with clean, emissions-free electricity. We have the resources and we have the technology. By pricing carbon, making strategic investments in new transmission infrastructure, and setting smart limits on emissions from natural gas generation, we can ensure Canada remains competitive in the rapidly advancing low-carbon economy," says Kelly.

Forum participants also heard about new wind energy procurement in Saskatchewan as it moves to 50 per cent electricity generation capacity from renewable energy by 2030, and how the industry is well-positioned to deliver new affordable, emissions-free electricity to Ontario and Quebec when it is needed.

Ecclesiastical: Spring has sprung -- are you flood-smart?

 Spring has sprung after an unusual winter that saw more snow than ever in some parts of the country and a lot less snow than expected in others. This is Canada, after all. So it follows that given potentially wild temperature swings and precipitation, the spring season present serious flooding risks. There are, of course, many variables: the amount of snow accumulation and frost in the ground; the rate at which temperatures rise; the possibility of extreme rain activity on top of snow; the capacities of our sewer and stormwater infrastructures -- these and other factors ultimately determine what we experience.
According to Colin Robertson, Vice-President, Operations and Risk Control at Ecclesiastical Insurance, it's best to prepare for a worst-case scenario. "Damage caused by floodwater can be devastating and getting a property and organization back to normal can take a very long time," he says.

To manage the risks and minimize the losses, Robertson urges everyone to be "flood-smart." That means having clearly defined Disaster Recovery, Business Continuity and Crisis Communications Plans.
Ecclesiastical's Risk Control specialists advise customers to establish pre-flood protocols, among them:

Check your insurance coverage -- building and contents -- to confirm that you are covered for flooding and that the values declared have been reviewed and are up to date.

Prepare a contact tree -- identify who needs to be contacted, for what reason and when. Ensure that all persons on the contact tree have a copy and know their individual responsibilities.

Be prepared to turn off electrical power, as well as gas and water supplies. Mark all appropriate switches.

Secure structurally unstable building materials; move electronic equipment, important papers and valuables to a safe, "high and dry" location; make sure that data is backed up on a regular basis and that hazardous material is protected and safely stored.

Once floodwaters have subsided, there are some practical post-flood steps that will help mitigate further damage:

Make sure it is safe to enter your property. Watch for hidden dangers in floodwater such as sharp objects, raised manhole covers and pollutants.
Wear waterproof outerwear -- gloves, boots and a facemask -- when cleaning up after a flood.

If the electricity supply is not already switched off at the main intake, get a qualified and licensed electrician to do this. Do not touch sources of electricity when standing in floodwater.

If using a pump or generator to get water out of your premises, position the generator outside. To reduce the risk of structural damage, only pump out when the flood levels outside the property are lower than inside.

Shovel any mud away from both sides of a wall, evenly. This also reduces the potential for pressure to build up and possible structural damage.

If drying the property naturally, keep all doors and windows open as much as possible. If dehumidifiers are used, close windows and doors.

If you have suffered damage, contact your insurance broker, who will notify your insurer on your behalf.

When it comes to weather education and preparedness, Robertson is emphatic. "Climate change is a fact of life. We need to prepare for the consequences of unusual weather patterns. We need to be far more proactive."

05/04/2017

Affordable Housing - Budget 2017's Commitment

 The benefits of public transit – shorter commute times, less air pollution, more time with family and friends, and stronger economic growth – are well understood. So too is the cost of inaction. The gridlock that results from traffic congestion costs Canada's economy billions of dollars in lost productivity every year.

The Honourable Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario said, "People in Ontario need to be able to get where they are going quickly and efficiently. Improved transit means more jobs and economic growth and a better quality of life. This is why Ontario is transforming the commuter rail network with GO Regional Express Rail. GO RER will deliver fast, electric trains as frequently as 15 minutes in both directions, serving communities in the GTHA and beyond, including the Waterloo Region and Barrie. It will add new stops and cut down travel times. It will mean that people can spend less time commuting and more time doing what they love. Over the last few years the province has made significant progress towards modernizing the entire GO network, allocating $13.5 billion towards GO RER and another $7.8 billion to upgrade and extend the GO network to include regular service to Niagara and Bowmanville. At $21.3 billion, the GO capital program is the largest commuter rail program in Canada. It is great that the federal government is now investing in this transformation. We welcome the Government of Canada's partnership as we build modern and seamless transit options for the people of Ontario."

To address these concerns, the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced that the Government of Canada will invest more than $1.8 billion in the GO Transit Regional Express rail project in the Greater Golden Horseshoe Area.

This investment – provided through the New Building Canada Fund – will create good, well-paying middle class jobs, and support a modern, efficient transit system, which will result in a faster commute, less time in traffic, and more money in Ontarians' pockets as they trade their cars for public transit.

Along with the province's contribution to the GO Transit Regional Express rail project, this investment will be the single largest transit project in which the federal government has ever invested‎.

Prime Minister Trudeau also announced today that more than 300 additional projects have been approved in Ontario under the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund. These projects will provide efficient and affordable transit services across the province, and transform the way Ontarians move, work, and live. "More families are choosing to settle in communities like Etobicoke – communities that allow parents to work in the big city, and allow kids to ride their bikes on the street. These communities are growing at a rapid rate, and investment in public transit needs to keep pace. That is why we're investing in the GO rail network and over 300 additional projects in Ontario to reduce commute times, decrease air pollution, and improve the lives of millions of Ontarians." 

04/04/2017

New Ontario Program Threatens The Current Real Estate Industry's Commission Model

 A new program has been launched, by Real Estate Advisors Inc., that threatens to change the real estate industry and the old commission based system.

The Ontario Real Estate Protection Program eliminates the listing agent commission fees at the time of sale, by joining a monthly membership program that will bring homeowners a vast amount of benefits and save them money in closing costs.

This program is removing the commission driven mentality of the typical Salesperson who pushes sellers to sell their property whether or not it is in their best interest.

This elimination allows for a more honest approach when seeking real estate advice. It will help save thousands of dollars for the members of the program whenever they choose to sell their property; without compromising a full real estate service.

Membership includes discount prices for restaurants, movies and many other venues, free monthly newsletters with useful updated information, and client appreciation events. Members of the program (subject to the chosen Membership level) will also have access to the Home Protection Kit that may include; new door lock installation, free alarm system, home warranty for at least 6 months, Home Insurance covered by the program, and Legal fees on your real estate transaction. This program will mostly benefit current homeowners who are planning to sell their home in the next 3-8 years.

It is important to emphasize that the Membership Fees are very affordable. Memberships start as low as $3.92 a day, which will save most members between $10,000-$30,000 on the sale of their property

Most real estate agents spend thousands of dollars in self-promotional advertising, whereas this program uses all that wasted money to pass the savings onto its members.

This is definitely something that most real estate agents don't want the public to know.

To learn more about the Ontario Real Estate Protection Program visit: www.RealEstateSecret.ca

Power Down this May with The Generator Project

When was the last time you turned your phone off, took a break from the hectic pace and looked someone in the eye? When was the last time you connected with old friends, maybe your extended family or maybe even the neighbours on your street? When was the last time you made a real face-to-face connection? In the fast paced world we live in today, these questions might be hard to answer. The Generator Project is back for 2017 and is challenging Canadians to power-down and re-connect face to face from May 5-7, 2017. The goal is to remind people about the importance of face-to-face social connections and inspire action through Generator Weekends. From Friday May 5th at 5:00pm until midnight on May 7th, The Generator Project is challenging Canadians to find some time to step off the treadmill, put down the technology and connect with friends, family and their community. To join the movement, register your Generator Project today at GeneratorProject.org.

"Canadians operate at a much faster pace than we did ten years ago and technology is an added pressure we feel to be "always on". The need for face-to-face connection is greater than ever," said Pete Bombaci, founder, The Generator Project. "We created The Generator Project to educate people about the importance of face to face social connection. Generator Weekends are intended to make it easy to take action. It can be as simple as having a coffee with neighbours, a BBQ with family and friends, or a ball hockey game with the entire street!"

"Connectedness promotes health whereas Isolation heightens the risk for illness. Our well-being and health is deeply tied to our connections with others," said Dr. John Oliffe, PhD, Professor at the School of Nursing, University of British Columbia. "Social Connectedness is a factor in improving mental health and well-being, anxiety and depression, self-esteem, empathy and even longevity of life. It's a basic human need and The Generator Project is working to remind us how important it is to stay connected.

From May 5-7th, celebrate Generator Weekend 2017 and see the benefits of taking a break from the things we think we need the most. Become a Generator by registering your event at GeneratorProject.org – together we can change the world around us one conversation at a time.

HOW TO JOIN THE MOVEMENT

Go to GeneratorProject.org check out ideas, download invitations, register your event
Power down and connect face-to-face for a period of time over the Generator Weekend, from Friday May 5 at 5pm thru to Sunday May 7th at midnight.
Share your amazing stories about getting connected after your event on our Generator Project Facebook, Twitter or Instagram accounts, but keep it till after the event so you can stay in the moment with friends, family or your neighbours!
For more information, or to connect with us online, please visit www.GeneratorProject.org.

Minister Del Duca and Mayors signal support for regional transit centre at Toronto Pearson

Today, at an event hosted by the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA), Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca and local mayors, including Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie, Toronto Mayor John Tory, Brampton Mayor Linda Jeffrey and Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic, were at Toronto Pearson to learn about the airport's transit vision. The GTAA shared new research that further supports a proposal for a regional transit centre located at Toronto Pearson, serving as a second major mobility hub for the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area (GTHA).

Tory said, "People's lives do not stop at our border with Mississauga and Brampton, neither do our economic challenges and opportunities. Through a connection of SmartTrack's Eglinton West LRT, the transit hub at the airport will provide an efficient and easy access for Toronto residents to jobs at the Airport Corporate Centre and in Mississauga and Brampton. This hub will help address the growing gap between the region's population and employment and the growth in transit service."

The research shows a growing demand for transit in the West GTHA, a region currently under-served by transit but experiencing rapid growth. Along with the quantified benefits of reduced congestion and GHG emissions and economic growth, the findings demonstrated strong demand for better transit in the West GTHA:

The West GTHA generates more than 4.5 million trips per day, representing 35 per cent of the GTHA's trips. Only seven per cent of these trips are by public transit.
Nearly twice as many West GTHA commuters travel across the top of the GTA to North Toronto and York Region, the "Northern Arc," than to downtown Toronto.
Despite greater demand to the Northern Arc than downtown, greater than 60 per cent of transit trips require at least one connection, with more than 20 per cent requiring two or more. Only 35 per cent of trips downtown require a connection.
Less than eight per cent of "reverse commuters," those travelling from Toronto to jobs in West GTHA, commute to work using transit, compared to 42 per cent of West GTHA commuters heading to downtown Toronto.


The Minister and Mayors participated in a briefing on the study, following which they spoke to media about the benefits to the region. The study confirmed that even if the airport did not exist, the area around Toronto Pearson would still be the logical place for a "Union Station West."

Last year, the GTAA announced plans to build a regional transit centre on airport property to support both its growth plans and the region's need for better transit connectivity. The GTAA has indicated it will fund the development and construction of the transit centre at Toronto Pearson. It continues to work with all levels of government to advance plans on priority lines connecting into the regional transit centre.

Located between three municipalities, four major highways and a number of planned and existing transit lines, Toronto Pearson's location has the unique ability to connect the surrounding region. It's also situated to effectively serve the transit needs of the West GTHA and those travelling along the 'Northern Arc,' while also offering a strategic link to the Toronto-Waterloo Region Corridor, which travels through other important economic areas in the GTHA West, including Brampton and Mississauga. Commuters trying to get around Toronto Pearson, as well as the daily one million trips generated within the Airport Employment Zone, the second largest concentration of jobs in the country, means that a regional transit centre in the area would enable the bundling of trips, increasing the frequency of transit services.

The GTAA will be publishing the full findings in coming months. 

31/03/2017

Governments of Canada and Ontario invest in public transit in Southwestern Ontario

 The benefits of public transit – shorter commute times, less air pollution, more time with family and friends, and stronger economic growth – are well understood. So too is the cost of inaction. The gridlock that results from traffic congestion costs Canada's economy billions of dollars in lost productivity every year.

The Honourable Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario said, "People in Ontario need to be able to get where they are going quickly and efficiently. Improved transit means more jobs and economic growth and a better quality of life. This is why Ontario is transforming the commuter rail network with GO Regional Express Rail. GO RER will deliver fast, electric trains as frequently as 15 minutes in both directions, serving communities in the GTHA and beyond, including the Waterloo Region and Barrie. It will add new stops and cut down travel times. It will mean that people can spend less time commuting and more time doing what they love. Over the last few years the province has made significant progress towards modernizing the entire GO network, allocating $13.5 billion towards GO RER and another $7.8 billion to upgrade and extend the GO network to include regular service to Niagara and Bowmanville. At $21.3 billion, the GO capital program is the largest commuter rail program in Canada. It is great that the federal government is now investing in this transformation. We welcome the Government of Canada's partnership as we build modern and seamless transit options for the people of Ontario."

To address these concerns, the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced that the Government of Canada will invest more than $1.8 billion in the GO Transit Regional Express rail project in the Greater Golden Horseshoe Area.

This investment – provided through the New Building Canada Fund – will create good, well-paying middle class jobs, and support a modern, efficient transit system, which will result in a faster commute, less time in traffic, and more money in Ontarians' pockets as they trade their cars for public transit.

Along with the province's contribution to the GO Transit Regional Express rail project, this investment will be the single largest transit project in which the federal government has ever invested‎.

Prime Minister Trudeau also announced today that more than 300 additional projects have been approved in Ontario under the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund. These projects will provide efficient and affordable transit services across the province, and transform the way Ontarians move, work, and live. "More families are choosing to settle in communities like Etobicoke – communities that allow parents to work in the big city, and allow kids to ride their bikes on the street. These communities are growing at a rapid rate, and investment in public transit needs to keep pace. That is why we're investing in the GO rail network and over 300 additional projects in Ontario to reduce commute times, decrease air pollution, and improve the lives of millions of Ontarians." 

30/03/2017

Housing affordability trends in Toronto and Vancouver diverge: RBC Economics

While home ownership costs remained historically elevated in Canada, they levelled out in the fourth quarter of 2016 after climbing steadily for a year and a half, according to the latest Housing Trends and Affordability Report issued today by RBC Economics Research.

"Owning a home at market price in Canada still took an abnormally large bite out of household income, but RBC's aggregate affordability measure was unchanged in the fourth quarter after a string of six quarterly increases," said Craig Wright, senior vice-president and chief economist, RBC.

Housing affordability is calculated as a share of household income. A higher number means housing is less affordable.

The affordability measure stood at 44.2 per cent in Canada -- still the most stressed level since late 2008.

There were minor changes within housing categories at the national level: the affordability measure for single-detached homes fell marginally to 49.2 per cent while the measure for condominium apartments edged up to 35.9 per cent.

Housing affordability deteriorated markedly in Toronto (to 64.6 per cent, from 63.8 per cent in the third quarter) along with other parts of Southern Ontario, and is bound to get worse in these markets.

"Further policy intervention would be wise to cool surging home prices in Toronto, as the market has become disconnected with economic fundamentals," said Wright. "The last time affordability in Canada's largest city was this poor, in 1990, the housing market subsequently fell into a deep and prolonged slump."

Although affordability improved in Vancouver for the first time in more than three years (to 84.8 per cent, from 90.0 per cent in the third quarter), buyers in Vancouver still face the highest affordability hurdle in Canada, by a long shot.

In most Canadian markets outside Southern Ontario and the Vancouver region, fourth quarter affordability levels were close to historical norms. Two exceptions were Calgary, where affordability was better than usual, and Victoria, where the affordability measure was more strained.

29/03/2017

Home builders welcome ideas to improve consumer protection in Ontario

 Home builders welcome the release of the "Cunningham Report" which provides many new ideas to improve accountability and consumer protection for buyers of newly built homes, including condominiums.

This report – part of the Ontario government's independent review of the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act and the Tarion Warranty Corp. – will change the landscape for consumer protection, said RESCON president Richard Lyall. He made the comments after the report was released at an event organized for Hon. Tracy MacCharles, Minister of Government and Consumer Services.

RESCON is particularly pleased to see that the report calls for dismantling Tarion's monopoly over new-home warranty service and moving to a multi-provider insurance system. "Competition will give new-home buyers more options," Lyall said. "Justice Cunningham's report encourages the Ontario government to enable new private-sector warranty-surety providers to enter the marketplace, just like British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Alberta. This recommendation aligns home builders with consumer advocates."

RESCON members support the restructuring of Tarion so that separate organizational entities take on the roles of regulator, adjudicator and warranty-surety provider. Separating the three roles will foster great accountability, transparency and public trust, Lyall said.

RESCON looks forward to working with the government and other stakeholders to strengthen the residential building sector.

28/03/2017

RECO issues public advisory regarding John Van Dyk

The Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) is warning members of the public not to engage in real estate transactions with John Van Dyk, of Chatham, Ontario. Neither he nor his company J. Van Dyk Realty Inc. are registered to trade in real estate.

In order to trade in real estate in Ontario, salespersons and brokers (commonly referred to as "real estate agents"), as well as brokerages, must be registered under the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act, 2002 (REBBA 2002). This is the law that regulates real estate trading in the province and which is enforced by RECO.

On June 23, 2016, Mr. Van Dyk was convicted under REBBA 2002 for improper handling of a trust deposit in a real estate transaction. As a result of that conviction, he was fined and placed on probation. On December 16, 2015, his registration under REBBA 2002 was terminated and he has not been registered to trade in real estate since that time.

Following an investigation of recent complaints about the conduct of Mr. Van Dyk and his corporation J. Van Dyk Realty Inc., RECO laid 3 charges under REBBA 2002 pertaining to him allegedly trading in real estate without registration.

27/03/2017

Buy a condo with the push of a button (in your pyjamas)

Don't feel like waiting eight hours in line at a sales centre to buy a pre-built condo? Great news: you can now purchase a new unit from the comfort of your own bedroom. Canadian brokerage and real estate marketplace, Casalova, has teamed up with Dream Maker Developments to be the first in Canada to offer a digital purchase option for pre-construction condos. Unit sales for the pre-built development open online April 3, 2017.

Traditionally, when potential buyers look into purchasing a unit before it is built, they have to visit a sales centre, wait hours in line only to find that units have sold out or that the floor plan they wanted is no longer available. Casalova is removing this tedious step by making the purchase process completely digital.

"We're the first brokerage and real estate marketplace in Canada to empower buyers to purchase a home online," said Ray Taaeb, CEO and co-founder of Casalova. "Buying a condo, or even looking for a rental unit, is incredibly stressful and time-consuming. We want to remove the legwork and make it as easy as possible to make the purchase. This feature will give homebuyers the opportunity to research and compare all units without any pressure before making an informed decision."

Taaeb notes that condos are the perfect place to test-market a "buy-now" option; while he concedes that buying a resale may require on-site visits, pre-construction plans and demonstrative technologies make online touring equally as effective as in-person.

Potential buyers will be able to review the details of each unit online, notably including the square footage, floor plans and condo features. To purchase a condo, buyers can complete and submit all paperwork online and put down a deposit using their credit card. Similarly to in-person purchases, buyers will still have a ten-day cooling off period after the transaction is finalized.

"Our team is thrilled to be working with Casalova on this new project. This digital approach appeals to a huge market of potential buyers and also saves resources that would otherwise be invested in model suites and sales centers," said Isaac Olowolafe, CEO of Dream Maker Developments. "Developers are always looking for new ways to reach more homebuyers and this offering modernizes how people purchase a pre-construction condo."

Casalova's end-to-end real estate marketplace allows tenants and buyers to search for properties, schedule viewings, make offers online, and process payments directly through the platform. Units for purchase at Yonge & King Urban Towns in Richmond Hill opens on April 3, 2017 on the Casalova website.

For more information or to review the units available, visit Casalova.com.
Get Set For Spring This Weekend at Canada Blooms

KJ Mullins
10/03/2017
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This weekend may be snowy outside but in Toronto's Enercare Centre at Exhibition Place the flowers are in full bloom. Every where you look colourful blossoms light the way giving the illusion that its warm outside.

"Gardening is North America's #1 recreational activity, and garden tourism is becoming increasingly popular as city-dwellers look for more ways to connect with nature," says Harry Jongerden, executive director, Toronto Botanical Garden (TBG). "A great example is the thousands of people who visit the Direct Energy Centre every March to take in the displays at Canada Blooms. Here in Toronto it's just the beginning of what garden lovers can experience in 2017, thanks to the events and tours organized by TBG."

One of the most moving designs of this year's show is 'The Secret Path’ designed by Joe Genovese of Genoscape Inc. Landscape and Design Services. Among the beauty a heartbreaking story is told, one that needs to be brought out.

Chanie Wenjack just wanted to go home.

It was October 16, 1966, and Chanie, all of 12 years old and, for lack of a better word, stranded some 650 kilometres away from his family at the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School, did what so many Aboriginal children in residential schools did — he ran away. For six days, he and some friends made their way north. Then he went out on his own, determined, but ill-equipped for the unforgiving terrain of Northern Ontario and the freezing temperatures, rain and snow. Chanie’s lifeless body was found by some railroad tracks, some 50 kilometres from the school he fled, on October 22, 1966.

“The Secret Path chronicles a dark chapter in Canadian history, but it is a chapter we should all
know,” says Terry Caddo, General Manager of Canada Blooms. “We are proud to be able to
bring part of this tragic story to life at Canada Blooms and help spread awareness about the
mistreatment of Aboriginal children in the residential school system.”

“We are very excited about our garden this year,” explains Genovese. “Although we are very
enthusiastic to bring this story to life via our art form, we are also very humbled to be the
purveyor of this issue that has been very important to the Aboriginal community for a very long
time. We recognize that Indigenous people have known about these issues for a very long time,
have been calling for change for a very long time, and that we still have a long way to go.”

Canada Blooms is an annual world-class festival that connects people to the joys and benefits of nature
through experiences with gardens and flowers by promoting, educating, inspiring and celebrating all
aspects of horticulture. A not-for-profit organization that gives back to the community throughout the year by funding community garden projects around Ontario, Canada Blooms is also dedicated to providing the community with horticulture expertise, education and resources on an ongoing basis.

Now in its 21st year, Canada Blooms was founded by Landscape Ontario and The Garden Club of
Toronto. Each year it is supported by a committed group of partners, sponsors and volunteers. Canada
Blooms has been named One of Ontario's Top 100 Events by Festivals and Events Ontario and One of
North America's Top 100 Events by the American Bus Association.

The National Home Show is located at The Enercare Centre in the Exhibition Place in Toronto March 10 until March 19.

Enercare Centre
100 Princes’ Blvd.
Toronto, ON M6K 3C3

Adults: $20.00*
Seniors (65+): $17.00*
Youth (13-17): $16.00*
Children 12 and Under: FREE
Taking transit? Show your PRESTO card to save $5!
 

Women Empowerment Celebration Reaches Community at Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre

KJ Mullins
09/03/2017
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  The Waterfront Neighborhood Centre at the foot of Bathurst is a perfect example of female empowerment with 80% of the staff being women. On Tuesday the centre celebrated International Women's Day with fun, food and important information about one of the greatest hurdles facing women today-gender violence.

There have been many postive strides in empowering women in our lifetime but there are still roadblocks that need to be overcome. One of the most damaging is the fact that globally 1 in 3 women have or will experience some form of abuse during their lifetime.

The event at Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre began with a powerful workshop by Nadine Sookermany, Executive Director of Springtide Resources on Exploring Intersecotions of Gender-Based Violence and Disability. Sookermany spoke on the troubling fact that almost 100% of her clients have been the victims of some kind of violence. Looking at the issue from the front line compels her to raise her voice in order to educate the public about how to stop the violence by arming the public with knowledge. From children dealing with learning issues to disabled people losing their voice. Sookermany spoke to the audience about ways to empower themselves in order to stop the violence.

The workshop was followed by moving entertainment and a meal shared by the local community.

This year's annual Women's Day Celebration was a joint effort by the centre's senior and youth programs. Working together has been an important way that the community is bridging generational bridges said Karen Warner, Director – Fundraising, Communications & Community Gardens. Warner is excited about how everyone works together to create a thriving neighbourhood in the heart of the city.

Last year the centre changed its name from the Harbourfont Community Centre to Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre. Warner said that adding the word neighbourhood into their name was a very important choice, "This really is a neighbourhood and it was felt that it needed to be reflected in the Centre's name."    
Saturday Protests, Nathan Phillips Sq. March 04 2017

Walter Tautorat
06/03/2017
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A protest took place on Saturday, on the east side of the square.

Billed as pro free speech and against the new bill M 103 it didn’t take long to realize that a lot of what was said contained racist half truths and fear mongering. Sounding very much like the anti-communist McCarthy era we were warned that Islam is here to take over Canada, they could be hiding in your closet, as we speak.

At the same time a much larger group was gathering on the west side of the square. This group promoting an inclusive Canada. A place where all are welcome. Mistrust and division versus love and inclusion.

While things went mostly peacefully Toronto Police Services had their hands full maintaining a barrier between the two groups both on foot and on horseback.

Three arrests were also made by police, two of obstruction and one of assault. While many things were yelled in rage, cooler heads prevailed.

The power of the message felt, when the smaller group disbanded they were led out under protection of police. In recent times incidents of hate crimes against the muslin community are on the rise.

This woman’s reminder of the chilling mass murder recently in Quebec should hit home to us all. Nearing the end of the rally I sat on the side of the skating rink and chatted with another photographer. He asked me what draws me to these events and my only answer was to point to the mass of people and say, “Them”. People willing to get out in numbers, on a cold Saturday, just to make sure that the people in attendance and the media know that most of us Canadians believe in an inclusive society.

One built on peace love and understanding,

01/03/2017

St Patrick's Day Parade Society of Toronto announces Michael McCormack as 2017 Grand Marshal

The St. Patrick's Day Parade Society of Toronto is pleased to announce Michael McCormack as Grand Marshal for the 30th anniversary of the St. Patrick's Day parade in Toronto on March 19, 2017. The McCormack family has played a pivotal role in supporting the St. Patrick's Day parade in its modern day incarnation, as Michael's father, former Toronto police chief William McCormack, helped revive the parade in Toronto in 1987 following a hiatus. Sadly, he passed away last year, but his legacy, both as a 'policing legend' and a leader of the Irish community, lives on in one of the biggest annual civic events to occur in Canada.

Michael McCormack is an active member of the Toronto community, acting as a police officer in the Cabbagetown-Regent Park areas, and president of the Toronto Police Association since 2009. Michael has director experience with investments funds and associations having served on several boards including Covington Fund II Inc., the Police Association of Ontario, and the Canadian Police Association. He has been an organizer for groups such as PEACE (Police Enabling Action through Community Education), Building Bridges and Pathways to Education with a focus on assisting youth in at-risk communities. As Grand Marshal, Michael continues the McCormack family's dedication to both Toronto and Canada's Irish community through which William's spirit will live on.

This year, the St. Patrick's Day Parade Society celebrates both the 30th anniversary of the parade and Canada's 150th anniversary, commemorated in this year's shamrock-maple leaf hybrid logo. The organization invites the people of Toronto to join the celebration on March 19, 2017, for one of Canada's largest Irish events.

The St. Patrick's Parade Society are the custodians of a tradition to celebrate Ireland's history, culture and heritage through entertainment. It is a not for profit event staging organization responsible for The Grand Marshal Ball and The St Patrick's Day parade.

For more information on the festivities, visit us at our website stpatrickstoronto.com and at our social media outlets on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

IKEA Canada Invites Customers to Flip Pancakes in New Virtual Reality Kitchen

 Beginning today until May 21, 2017, IKEA Canada is inviting its customers to flip pancakes in a virtual kitchen at the IKEA Etobicoke store in Toronto, Ontario. As part of a global test pilot, this virtual reality platform has been developed as a tool to better meet customers' needs and to enhance the shopping experience at IKEA when it comes to purchasing a kitchen.

"IKEA strives to be an innovative company and is exploring virtual reality as a tool to better meet with our customers. We know that this technology is developing fast and will play a major role in the future for our customers," says Rob Kelly, Head of Sales, IKEA Canada. "Through this test, we want to learn if virtual reality experiences will help our customers to visualize their dreams and make informed choices when buying a kitchen."

IKEA Etobicoke is testing two new virtual reality experiences within the kitchen department of the store. The two experiences are called IKEA VR Pancake Kitchen and VR Kitchen Visualizer.

In the IKEA VR Pancake Kitchen, the user will explore IKEA's kitchen design solutions through the experience of making pancakes in a virtual kitchen. This experience was designed to support customers in knowing what to consider when planning and designing a kitchen.

The VR Kitchen Visualizer is a complement to the online IKEA Home Planner that is already offered in IKEA stores and on IKEA.ca today. VR Kitchen Visualizer allows customers to experience a basic version of their own finalized kitchen design in a virtual reality setting. This will support customers to bring their dream kitchen design to life and give them final confidence in their purchase.

The IKEA virtual reality kitchen experience was developed for the HTC Vive headset, which offers room scale virtual reality, enabling the user to explore the room. IKEA is still on an exploration journey regarding virtual reality and will continue to invest in new possibilities when it comes to this technology.

The tests will also be offered at IKEA Hasselt in Belgium, IKEA Västerås in Sweden and the IKEA service pick-up point in Enebyängen, Sweden. To learn more about the virtual reality kitchen experience that will be available at the IKEA Etobicoke store, visit www.IKEA.ca/etobicoke.

28/02/2017

Celebrating the 12th birthday of Ontario's Greenbelt

  First created on February 28, 2005, Ontario's Greenbelt has proven to be a lasting testament to Ontario's commitment to a prosperous and sustainable future. The Greenbelt is Ontario's most popular environmental initiative, consistently supported by nine out of ten Ontarians.

"The Greenbelt is not only a legacy for the next generation of Ontarians, but a powerful statement of who we are and what we value," said Burkhard Mausberg, Friends of the Greenbelt CEO. "The protection of farmland and the natural environment as the region grows is our road to a healthy and sustainable future."

To mark the occasion, the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation has commissioned a new slam poem by world-renowned Canadian poet Shane Koyczan, entitled "The Growers Prayer". The poem is a celebration of Ontario's farmland, forests, water, and life in the Greenbelt.

"The Growers Prayer" encourages everyone who values and supports the Greenbelt to share their stories and reasons for preserving the landscape with the hashtags #ShareYourVoice and #ONGreenbelt.

"Preserving green spaces and the environmental services they provide is essential to public health," said Dr. David McKeown, Chair of the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation Board and former Medical Officer of Health for the City of Toronto. "Healthy communities need a strong local food system and protected outdoor recreation opportunities for residents to thrive and grow."

As the Greenbelt turns 12, the Foundation is focusing on strengthening the Greenbelt through a campaign to Grow the Greenbelt to include significant headwaters and water resources. The Foundation will also continue to support farmers and local food with partners like the Greenbelt Farmers Market Network and Ontario Tender Fruit Growers.

New global study: 82% of millennials in Canada expect to buy their first home in the next five years, despite facing significant barriers

The home ownership dream is not dead, but deferred, for many millennials in Canada and around the world, with slow salary growth and house price inflation the greatest barriers to millennials buying a home.

This, according to HSBC's new global study, Beyond the Bricks: the meaning of home, an independent consumer research study on home ownership based on feedback from 9,000 people across nine countries – including 1,000 in Canada. It provides authoritative insights into peoples' attitudes and behaviour towards home buying, renting and funding in markets across the globe.



Larry Tomei, Executive Vice President and Head of Retail Banking and Wealth Management, HSBC Bank Canada said: "This study challenges the myth that the home ownership dream is dead for millennials – be it in Canada or around the world. In fact, more than three in 10 Canadian millennials already own their home, and more than eight in 10 are planning to do so in the next five years."

Key Findings: Canada vs. the world

Living the dream: Just over a third (34%) of millennials in Canada own their own home (global average: 40%), and of those who don't currently own, a whopping 82% say they intend to buy in the next five years (global average: 83%). This is slightly above the 70% of Canadians across all generations surveyed.

Budget-shmudget: Of millennial non-owners intending to buy a home in the next two years, 27% have no overall budget in mind and a further 53% have only set an approximate budget (global average: 31% and 54%, respectively). Furthermore, 42% of millennials in Canada who bought a home in the last two years ended up overspending their budget (global average: 56%).

Banking on mom & dad: More than one third (37%) of millennial home owners in Canada have used the 'Bank of Mom and Dad' as a source of funding, and 21% of millennial home owners moved back in with their parents to save for a deposit. The 'Bank of Mom and Dad' is in demand again when millennials who recently bought a home found they had exceeded their budget.

Millennials vs. baby boomers: The meaning of home is changing as our homes become places to work as well as places to live. In fact, 48% of millennials in Canada work from home and 33% would like to, whereas just 29% of baby boomers work from home and only 18% would like to. Further, 53% of baby boomers have never worked from home and do not want to.

Goodbye takeout (and other "luxury" expenses): Many millennials are willing to consider making sacrifices to afford their own home. In fact, 59% of Canadian millennials intending to buy would consider spending less on leisure and going out (global average: 55%), while 37% would be prepared to buy a smaller than ideal place (global average: 21%). Furthermore, almost a third (30%) – the highest proportion of all markets surveyed – would even be prepared to delay having children.
Added Tomei: "Despite a strong desire to take the homeownership journey, the findings also suggest that Canadian millennials face some significant barriers, with more than two thirds (70%) saying they haven't saved enough for a deposit nor do they have a firm budget in mind. The reality is, it`s a challenge – and so I can't stress enough the importance of having a good plan that includes getting the right financial services advice and support before and after you buy."

Here are some practical steps, drawn from the research findings, to help people bring their home ownership dream to life:

Plan early and don't underestimate the deposit. Start planning early to make home ownership a reality sooner. Include saving for the deposit – usually the first payment you will need to make – and any significant taxes such as land transfer taxes. Find a competitive mortgage to help make borrowing the rest more affordable. Check out HSBC's free online mortgage calculator tool.

Budget beyond the purchase price. Think about the extra things that will make the house you buy the home you want to live in, and make sure to include them in your home purchase budget.

Consider what sacrifices you can make. Consider cutting back on your day-to-day spending. Think outside the box about what could help you to buy a home, such as buying with a family member or friend.

Get a full view of your finances. Think of your mortgage as part of your long-term financial plan, not as a one-off transaction. Different types of home loan suit different needs and situations. Seek professional financial advice if you need help to make the right choice.
For more information about HSBC's Beyond the Bricks, visit www.hsbc.ca/beyondthebricks  

Winter Stations Design Competition, Kew Beach, Toronto
27/02/2017

Walter Tautorat
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For three years now the Winter Stations Design Competition has turned the East Beaches of Toronto into a wonderful outdoor art exhibit.

Whimsical, thought provoking and a good excuse to take a winter walk on the beach.

Each installation encompassing one of eight lifeguard towers.

The intent of all of this being to highlight Toronto’s amazing winter waterfront landscape and to entice people to come hang out at the beach in the middle of winter.

The competition runs from February 20th to March 27th.

For more info about the designers, winners etc. please check out http://www.winterstations.com and grab your significant others, kids and dogs and check this out.

Well worth the trip! I hope you enjoy these shots as much as I enjoyed taking them.

There is lots of good reasons to get out for a winter walk and this is certainly one of them.

Hamilton and CIRA join forces to measure Internet performance across the city

The City of Hamilton has partnered with the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) to launch an Internet performance test for the city. Residents can use the test to better understand the speed and quality of their Internet connections. The test is crowd-sourced, meaning that it produces better data with widespread participation. The municipal government and local Internet leaders can, in turn, use the data collected city-wide to create a comprehensive profile of broadband access within Hamilton's boundaries and move to address any areas of inequality.

The City of Hamilton encourages all residents and businesses to test their connections at https://performance.cira.ca/Hamilton.

As Hamilton prepares for the digital future, the municipal government is focused on ensuring "digital equity" - equal access and opportunity to digital tools, resources, and services to increase digital knowledge, awareness, and skills.

"As we make the transition from an industrial to a more digital-based economy we want to ensure that all of our citizens have the skills and tools to more fully participate. The Mayor's Intelligent Community Task Force is working to achieve those goals. We hope the data from this testing will mobilize even more community leaders, non-profit, public and private organizations to join us in working towards making Hamilton a digital leader recognized around the world," said Mayor Fred Eisenberger.

The Internet performance test will provide the Mayor's Intelligent Community Task Force with data it needs to promote its objectives, which include:

Examining and assessing Hamilton's IT infrastructure

Developing a city-wide digital strategy, supported by an action plan

Improving Hamilton's strengths and assets as they pertain to ICF indicators

Individuals and businesses can use the IPT to learn the quality of their own connection (including speed, performance, and adherence to standards) and use that information to help determine if they have the connectivity they need.

By measuring connectivity across the city, CIRA's testing methodology helps map areas with strong connectivity and those where a digital divide may be developing.

Hamilton's test is built on CIRA's Internet performance test infrastructure. CIRA's City-Internet performance test program allows local municipalities to quickly leverage CIRA's testing infrastructure to deploy a test using the standard global M-Labs protocol.

22/02/2017

West Queen West Launches “FREE WQW Wi-Fi”

       West Queen West (WQW), working with its partners from Besify, will be launching “Phase 1” of its “FREE WQW Wi-Fi” on Thursday February 23rd, 2017. WQW will be offering “FREE WQW Wi-Fi” along Queen Street West from Niagara Street to Markham Street.

"I’m excited, that now when I take a stroll along West Queen West, I can log on to the “FREE WQW Wi-fi”. I can enjoy the neighbourhood, the patios and all the great shops; while logged on to the “FREE WQW Wi-Fi”.  Great work West Queen West.”  Mike Layton, Councillor Ward 19 City of Toronto.

Visitors to WQW, between Niagara and Markham, will be able to enjoy their visit to WQW without having to ask, “What’s your Wi-Fi password?”.
They just log on to the “FREE WQW Wi-Fi”; shop, dine, enjoy a drink on a patio, and share all their WQW adventures on their “Social Media” without using their own data plans.
WQW along with its partners from Besify will be launching Phase 2 of the “FREE WQW Wi-Fi” this March.

Winter Relief Program has restored power to disconnected customers

​As of today, Hydro One's Winter Relief Program has successfully reconnected several hundred customers who had been disconnected due to unpaid and overdue bills.

"This enhances our winter moratorium, winter relief goes a step further and is part of our new commitment to listen and respond to our customers'," said Ferio Pugliese, Executive Vice President of Customer Care and Corporate Affairs at Hydro One. "We're advocating for our customers and working very hard to make electricity affordable in the long term, but in the short term, we believe it's important to show compassion for those customers in dire circumstances."

Introduced in December 2016, the initiative builds on the Company's commitment to pause disconnections during the winter and provides customers suffering acute hardship access to light and heat during the coldest months.

As part of the program, Hydro One waived all reconnection fees and worked directly with each customer to develop a payment plan and, where appropriate, enrolled them into assistance programs, such as the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program, the Ontario Electricity Support Program, the Home Assistance Program and other services.

Hydro One will continue to work with reconnected customers to ensure they are able to stay on top of bill payments and remain connected.

"From Hydro One's perspective, the job will not be done until we can get the lights – and in some cases heat – back on for all of our customers during the winter months," added Pugliese.

There are less than 90 customers who have not taken advantage of the Winter Relief Program, despite Hydro One's best efforts to reach them through letters, calls and home visits. The Company encourages any customer unable to pay their bill to contact the customer communications centre at 1-888-664-9376 or to visit our website to learn more about the Winter Relief Program.

Memorial For A Needless Loss, Toronto, Sunday February 19 2017

Walter Tautorat
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On Sunday afternoon about 60-70 people gathered in front of Mayor Tory’s swank $2.4M condo.

Firstly to pay respect to a young man who needlessly died on Toronto streets on a cold winter evening, and also to raise a frustrated voice in a plea to help a system that is bursting at the seams.

A young man, trying to get into a warming shelter on a cold night, turned away after being fed and given referrals for other parts of the city, wound up dead in a fast food restaurant bathroom of an overdose.

It seems this gathering on his front step, has upset our Mayor on a personal level but to listen to these brave, wonderful front line workers explain the current situation with tears in their eyes, they take this crisis on a very personal level too.

The more cuts that are made by City Hall to essential front line services, the higher the cost of living in this city continues to soar, the more and more people need real help. We all had that one dangerous intersection in our neighborhood. Our teachers and parents petitioned for a crosswalk, only to be turned away. Only after a child got fatally hit by a car did the crosswalk get installed.

How many humans have to slip between the cracks until that much needed help is made available. Toronto is an affluent city, surely solutions exist that with some political will, can be found.

As the flowers and candles were placed, everyone had that sombre moment. Yes this was a human life. A young man that perhaps didn’t need to die on that day.
Farewell To A Piece Of Toronto History

Walter Tautorat
20/02/2017
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It is always a sad moment when a piece of our history falls to the wrecking ball of urban renewal.

From early childhood memories of my mother taking my sister and I to wait in line Saturday mornings, to myself as a young man delivering coffee and tea in those back alleys for Hayhoe Foods, Honest Ed’s has been a part of my Toronto history for my entire life.

After several other failed business attempts, in 1946, the Mirvish’s started what would indeed become a “once in a lifetime” retail giant that has permanently etched itself into the history of Toronto.

As the business grew Ed Mirvish started to buy up the surrounding Victorian houses with the intent of tearing them down to create a parking lot. When the city denied his request and at the urging of his wife Anne, he rented these units out, at reasonable rates to artists, studios and unique retailers, thus creating a wonderful little enclave called “Mirvish Village”.

We said goodbye to “Honest Ed” Mirvish in July of 2007. The store closed in December of 2016 for good and Mirvish Village sits idle, like a ghost town, awaiting it’s final fate.

The signage has been spared demolition and will be saved and next weekend there will be a huge party at the store to officially say farewell to Honest Ed’s. Ed’s legacy will continue to live on through his love and legacy in the arts.

Hopefully whatever takes form on this iconic corner will reflect it’s history, but indeed a little piece of Toronto history has ended. 

17/02/2017

Inverness Design Build Group Ltd. to Host First Annual "Rock the Night" Event

Inverness Design Build Group Ltd., a Toronto-based homebuilder and renovator, is holding a unique thank you party for its clients, sub-contractors, friends and family on Saturday, Feb. 25.

The First Annual Rock the Night Event, to be held at the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel, will feature cocktails, dinner, and a performance by three-time Grammy nominee John Ford Coley. As a member of the group England Dan and John Ford Coley, the musician boasted 16 Top Ten hits before launching his solo career.

"We started this tradition of having rock concerts when we owned a hotel on St. Croix," says Peter Locke, President of Inverness Design Build Group Ltd. "The concerts were a thank-you for our hotel guests and they were tremendously popular. We have become good friends with most of our past clients and we wanted to get together to give them a great night out. We are confident our clients and sub-contractor friends will enjoy the evening."

Inverness Design Build Group Ltd. is a family-owned design build company specializing in additions, renovations and custom homes. Locke has more than 30 years of leading residential design build experience.

The company won awards for Best Design from Trusted Pros and Best of Houzz for customer service in 2016 and 2017.

For more information or to contact Inverness Design Build Group Ltd. visit www.invernessdesignbuild.ca or phone 416-746-7001.

16/02/2017

Focus spring legislative session on strategic infrastructure and lowering business costs to foster confidence: Ontario Chamber of Commerce

Today, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) formally released its 2017 pre-budget submission containing recommendations to the Ontario legislature as it looks to begin its spring 2017 session. The OCC's submission outlines four key budget priorities and 13 specific recommendations for Queen's Park to adopt in order to restore fiscal balance and spur economic growth. Specifically, the OCC is looking for immediate support for increased broadband infrastructure and for government to demonstrate fiscal prudence and sound budget management.

With more government services going digital, it is critical that citizens from all corners of the province have access to ultra-high-speed Internet. For some areas of the province, a lack of access to broadband has compromised Ontarians abilities to connect with essential government services, and has crippled businesses' capacity to compete in the technology driven economy. As cited in the OCC's submission, Government must "bridge the broadband gap" by considering this type of technology as a fundamental piece of infrastructure and address the inadequacy of ultra high-speed Internet in Ontario communities.

"The OCC, in partnership with our diverse Chamber Network, will continue to work with the provincial government to ensure that Ontario prioritizes reducing obstacles to business competitiveness," said Allan O'Dette, President & CEO of the OCC. "By taking more authoritative action on this issue, we can ensure that Ontario remains an attractive environment for capital investment."

In the submission, Ontario's Chamber Network is also calling on the government to send a clear message of fiscal stability by balancing the provincial budget by 2017-2018. Such action would result in a more attractive environment for business investment and growth as well as confront the challenge of mounting input costs, such as electricity prices. As signalled last week in the OCC's Ontario Economic Report, businesses are maintaining their operations and holding onto cash rather than expanding production or investing. This indicates that industry sees the Ontario economy as high-risk.

"The Government of Ontario must ensure that it utilizes the budget as a tool for economic growth to support Ontario businesses," added O'Dette. "Government must do more to reduce the costs of doing business in Ontario, support strategic infrastructure development and strengthen its efforts to bolster business competitiveness that allows communities to thrive."

Addressing the current fiscal context and achieving a balanced budget is an underlying theme throughout the OCC's pre-budget submission. The business advocacy organization and the Ontario Chamber Network are committed to working with the Ontario Government to ensure the future economic success of the province. The submission is largely comprised of policy recommendations that are supported by resolutions passed by the organization's provincial Chamber Network during their most recent Annual General Meeting.

Location, location, location
RESTORING WETLANDS THAT WORK FOR FARMERS, THEIR FAMILIES AND WILDLIFE
By Julielee Stitt 

​“Location is everything.”

Real estate agents may use this phrase when selling prime commercial space, but it’s an expression that can apply to farms
too, says Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) director Phil Holst.

Holst is a dedicated volunteer and travels throughout southern Ontario, meeting with farmers to talk about the value of
wetlands. He’s having conversations that would have been impossible 50 years ago.
“Back in the 1970s, wetlands were viewed as wastelands,” says Holst, a fifth-generation farmer who grew up on a farm in
New Hamburg, Ont. and now owns a 50-acre (20-hectare) farm in Woodstock and a 200-acre (80-hectare) farm in Grey
County.

Today, more producers appreciate the value wetlands add to their farms, he notes.
“Farming is big money these days and producers aren’t interested in something that’s not viable,” says Holst. “Wetlands—
they’re extremely viable.”

Research shows that wetlands store water in wet years, which makes them highly valuable during periods of drought. They
also filter sediment and support fertile soil.

In his conversations with fellow farmers, Holst says one of the first things that comes up is where a wetland could be
restored.

That’s where DUC’s expertise comes in.
According to DUC conservation specialist Jeff Krete, DUC field staff try to restore wetlands in areas that are not in conflict
with the business of farming. These could be referred to as “orphaned piece of property.” These are tracts of land that are
difficult (or impossible) to cultivate and are appropriate for wetland restoration.

By restoring a wetland in an area with unproductive farmland, Holst says it’s more likely to stay there for future generations.
“We need to build projects that reflect today’s needs and will be there 100 years from now and beyond,” he says.

Ed and Julie Danen, the owners of Danzel Holsteins Limited, in Tavistock, Ont., are testing this theory on their own farm.
In 2013, the couple signed an agreement with DUC to have a wetland restored along their property line.

Previous landowners attempted to empty the wetland using tile drainage, a system that removes water from the soil. “And no
matter how hard they tried, they couldn’t make it productive land,” says Ed.
That’s when the family was approached by Holst and learned DUC could restore their wetland.

It was an easy decision, says Ed. “It wasn’t going to cost us a whole lot…and that helped make it more attractive,” he says.
According to Krete, DUC generally covers 50 to 75 per cent of the cost of restoration work. Partner and landowner funds
cover the balance.

Since the wetland’s been restored, the Danens have noted an increase in biodiversity. “Before the restoration, it was all cattails.
Now there’s insects and frogs in there, a variety of different birds and ducks,” says Ed.

Just as important to the busy farm family is how the wetland has become a recreational spot for their family.

“Farms are busy places. You don’t get regular weekends and trips to the cottage. You have to find your own little breaks at
home,” says Ed. A couple winters ago, the Danens cleared a section of the wetland of snow, and hosted a skating party for
family. “We even got a game of hockey going,” says Ed.

While the location wasn’t ideal for cropping, it’s now the perfect spot for a wetland and for family fun. “It use to be two
acres of cattails and weeds,” says Ed. “Now it’s creating habitat for wildlife and memories for our family.

10/02/2017

Governments of Canada and Ontario invest in public transit in Brampton

The governments of Canada and Ontario are making investments to create jobs and grow the middle class, while building a foundation for a strong, sustainable economic future. Investing in public infrastructure supports efficient and affordable transit services that help Canadians to safely get to and from work, school and other activities on time.

Today, the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, on behalf of the Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, the Honourable Steven Del Duca, Ontario Minister of Transportation and her Worship Linda Jeffrey, Mayor of Brampton, announced six newly approved projects that will benefit Brampton under the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund (PTIF). The federal government is providing up to 50 per cent of funding for these projects-just over $32.4 million.

Jeffrey said, "Public transit is essential for those who work, study, and play in Brampton, as evidenced by our increasing ridership numbers. We are grateful to the Federal and Provincial governments for their investments into expanding Brampton Transit's services, fleet and infrastructure. This announcement comes at a critical time as Brampton sharpens its focus on urban intensification, attracting industries, a university and preparing for increased jobs and commercial expansion."

The list of projects includes significant investments across the City of Brampton. For example, a project to extend the Züm Bovaird transit service along Airport Road will improve mobility, security and reliability on this important transit corridor. Also, a project to expand the Sandalwood Transit Facility will help support the forecasted growth of transit fleet services and improve service reliability. Other projects include the acquisition of 20 replacement buses and three new articulated buses, and the expansion of the automated vehicle monitoring system to most of Brampton's transit fleet. In addition, the expansion and replacement of transit shelters will improve accessibility and safety for transit users.

In addition to these projects, Minister Bains and Minister Del Duca also announced that 23 public transit projects will benefit 12 other communities across Ontario.

Bains said, "The Government of Canada is working closely with the Government of Ontario and municipalities to invest in important transit initiatives that will strengthen communities across Ontario by growing the middle-class, fostering long-term prosperity and getting Canadians to their daily activities on time and home at the end of the day. The six projects announced today will ensure that Brampton has affordable and efficient public transit infrastructure that meets the needs of Canadians now and for generations to come."

This investment is part of an agreement between Canada and Ontario for the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund.

Transit Unions across Canada Unite in Solidarity with TTC Workers

 In a strong show of solidarity with the brothers and sisters of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 113, today more than a dozen local union officers, including seven local presidents and the president of ATU Canada, stood shoulder-to-shoulder with ATU Local 113 at a news conference in downtown Toronto. Together, they represent tens of thousands of Canadian transit workers.

This show of strength comes after former Local 113 head, Bob Kinnear, announced he is working with Unifor to raid his own local.

Their message was clear: one person alone will not destroy a strong and united ATU that fights for the interests of thousands of hardworking transit workers and riders in Toronto and across Canada.

Statements from Presidents of ATU Locals across Canada:

Eric Tuck, President, ATU Local 107, Hamilton

"I am a part of one of the oldest Canadian ATU Locals. We went through our own fight like this from 2001-2002 when the government forced amalgamation of city unions. ATU 107 was up against a much larger union, but the International came to help alongside locals from all over Canada. And we won! I've done my homework. There's not a Unifor contract for transit workers that even compares to ATU's. They don't even come close."

Jack Jackson, President, ATU Local 279, Mississauga

"This has nothing to do with unionism. And this has nothing to do with an International versus a Canadian union. This is about Bob Kinnear trying to find a place for Bob Kinnear. I don't want to see my brothers and sisters belong to anyone other than this historic union of ours. This union has represented and protected us regardless of the borders for 120 years. None of us want to see this change.

ATU International is rolling out training videos so smaller locals like mine don't have to spend excessive amounts of member money traveling for training. They're fighting against assaults on bus operators, for bathroom breaks, and to fix blind spots on our buses. No other union is taking on those issues like ATU. We are by far the leaders in the transit industry."

"The truth is that Bob Kinnear kept ATU Local 113 from getting help from the International. When Toronto-area locals had a meeting regarding MetroLinx, I reached out to the International President for help and he responded immediately."

Jamie Larkin, President, ATU Local 1760, Ottawa

"For me, it's about the members. I'm worried about what they're going to lose if they are dragged into another union. They might be losing pensions, contract language… who knows? I'm here on their behalf."

"This dispute isn't about Washington. It's not even about Canada. It's about Bob. He doesn't want anyone to do anything that he doesn't control. Anytime Local 1760 has asked for assistance, the International has been right there to help."

Clint Crabtree, President, ATU Local 279, Ottawa

"I'm afraid that if we let Bob and Unifor split up Local 113, it could happen to all local unions in Canada. Unifor is not the union I want to be a part as I am happy with ATU. We have a longstanding history. My members feel the same way."

"Anytime I've reached out to anyone from the International, they got back to me immediately."

"For the International General Executive Board to recognize Tommy Douglas, a Canadian, and put his name on a building where we get to attend trainings. That's an honor. How can you say there's a conflict?"

John Marchington, Assistant Business Agent, ATU Local 279, Ottawa

"ATU took a century to build the strong contracts we have today. What has Unifor done? They are promising nothing will happen to ATU Local 113's pensions. Ask yourselves how that worked out for autoworkers."

Supporting the Revitalization of Massey Hall

The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage, today announced that the Corporation of Massey Hall and Roy Thomson Hall is receiving $8,330,000 to fund the revitalization of Massey Hall in Toronto.

Joly said, "Investing in Canada's cultural sector helps create jobs for the middle class, strengthens the economy, and ensures that Canada's unique perspective is shared with the world."

The Government of Canada is providing this support through the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund. This program provides cultural institutions with the funding required to provide world-class services to Canadians in their community.

​Massey Hall, opened in 1894, is a renowned performance venue located in downtown Toronto. It is operated by the Corporation of Massey Hall and Roy Thomson Hall. The Corporation is revitalizing Massey Hall to improve its accessibility, technical infrastructure and presentation environment.

The last major renovation to Massey Hall occurred in 1948. The Canada Cultural Spaces Fund invests in professional not-for-profit arts and heritage organizations for the improvement, renovation and construction of arts and heritage facilities, as well as for the acquisition of specialized equipment and the development of feasibility studies related to cultural infrastructure projects.
The Fund, launched in 2001, has invested approximately $410 million in 1,381 projects in every province and territory as of March 31, 2016. The program receives an average of 137 applications each year. As of December 31, 2016, 80 percent of the money allocated in Budget 2016 has been approved for projects. This investment is supporting 157 projects in 96 communities across the country this year.

09/02/2017

Grey to Green Conference Speakers Announced - greytogreenconference.org

Senior levels of government continue to overlook the many benefits of investing in living green infrastructure such as urban forests, green roofs, green walls, and bioswales when making multi-billion dollar infrastructure decisions. Join us and shape a healthier and more resilient future at the Grey to Green Conference: Quantifying Green Infrastructure from May 8-10, 2017 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Now in its 5th year, Grey to Green will feature a Public Forum on May 8th to discuss barriers and opportunities to advance green infrastructure from a variety of professional perspectives. The Forum includes Jennifer Keesmaat, Chief Planner, City of Toronto; Deborah Martin-Downs, CAO, Credit Valley Conservation; Steven Peck, Founder and President, Green Roofs for Healthy Cities; and Scott Torrance, Practice Leader, Scott Torrance Landscape Architect.

"Quantifying the biophysical, social and economic benefits of green infrastructure is essential to support better design practice and policies for investing in, and protecting, green infrastructure assets," said Steven W. Peck, GRP, and Founder of Green Roofs for Healthy Cities. "A lot of progress made on this front in the past year, which we plan to highlight at Grey to Green," he added.

Grey to Green will attract more than 300 architects, landscape architects, policy makers, manufacturers, growers, landscapers, and other green infrastructure professionals to discuss the benefits, growth and tangible effects of the green infrastructure industry. More than 50 expert speakers on a wide variety of topics will present on May 9th their latest work on Natural Capital, Green Infrastructure Asset Management, Stormwater Policy Best Practices, Health Impacts of Green Infrastructure, and Green Infrastructure Design Valuation. Expert speakers include:

World renowned designer, Herbert Dreiseitl, Ramboll Liveable Cities Lab on shaping livable cities with green and blue infrastructure

Co-founder of the USGBC, Greg Kats, President, Capital E, Bryce Miranda, Partner, DTAH on conducting a smart roof assessment in Washington, DC

Ministry of Environment and Energy's new Low Impact Stormwater Guideline, with John Antoszek, MOEE

Primary designer of the Javits Center green roof in New York, Peter Olney, Senior Associate, FXFOWLE

Dr. Hamid Karimi, Deputy Director, Washington DC Department of Energy and Environment on their innovative Green Area Zoning program
Tao Zhang, Principal, Sasaki Associates, Inc. on Park Evaluation in Shanghai

Jessica Isaac, Senior Policy Advisor, Environmental Commissioner of Ontario on stormwater funding models

Karen Morrison, York University on the latest finding about policy, health outcomes & green infrastructure

Yoshiki Harada, Ph.D. Candidate, Section of Horticulture, Cornell University on the value of urban agriculture

OPG's Niagara Reservoir Refurbishment Completed Ahead of Schedule and Under Budget

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) has successfully completed another project ahead of schedule and under budget. The reservoir refurbishment project for the Sir Adam Beck Pump Generating Station (PGS) will ensure carbon-free electricity for another fifty years or more.

"By re-investing in our existing assets, we're able to efficiently produce clean, reliable, low-cost electricity to serve the province for many years," said Jeff Lyash OPG's President and CEO. "This flexible storage facility is very valuable to Ontario because it time shifts the generation of electricity from periods of low demand to periods of high demand on a daily basis."

Built in 1957, the PGS can displace up to 600MW of fossil fuel generation for nearly eight hours. Water in the reservoir is used for electricity production at the PGS and again for a second time at the Beck station.

The reservoir refurbishment project started April 1, 2016 and was expected to take one year to complete. The project was completed safely nearly two months in advance and for less than the planned $60M budget.

Key Facts

The reservoir perimeter is over seven kilometres long;

Holds the equivalent of water from 8,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools;

Can store the same energy as one million car batteries;

Rankin Construction used more than 100 employees and contractors for the project;

OPG's Niagara Operations has over 200 employees, approximately 30 of whom work at the PGS;

Sir Adam Beck I generating station has produced power since 1921, while Sir Adam Beck II generating station began operations in 1954;

Both stations along with the PGS have a combined capacity of over 2,200 MW of clean renewable electricity -- that's enough to power 1.7 million homes.

OPG generates safe, clean, reliable, low-cost power for Ontario. More than 99 per cent of this power is free of smog and greenhouse gas emissions. OPG's power is priced 40 per cent lower than other generators, which helps moderate customer bills.

Municipalities Burdened by Excessive Reporting to the Province

An AMCTO Report, titled Bearing the Burden: An Overview of Municipal Reporting to the Province, reveals that Ontario municipalities are concerned that the creation and maintenance of various mandatory reports to the Province is a significant financial and productivity drain, taking them away from core service delivery.

AMCTO carried out in-depth consultations with local government professionals representing Ontario municipalities of varying sizes. This was supplemented by a sector wide survey of municipal managers which received over 300 responses.

The majority of respondents believed reporting is important; however approximately 75% agree that provincial reporting is too time consuming and onerous. 48% of respondents said provincial reporting requirements are impacting their ability to productively offer services at the municipal level, a finding which AMCTO calls "alarming."

Explained Rick Johal, AMCTO Director of Member and Sector Relations: "Part of the problem is that reporting is done pretty much ad hoc between different ministries and branches within government often leading to needless duplication, and data submitted often goes into what many believe is a 'reporting black hole.' "

While some municipalities are required to provide fewer than 90 reports annually, others may be responsible for more than 200 different reports to separate provincial ministries or agencies.

The result? Many municipal employees said they now find it difficult to keep up with the reporting for which they are responsible, while at the same time maintaining service delivery in their communities.

Focus group participants also spoke about the historical nature of reporting compliance. The Province is most often asking local government staff to look back in time, whereas service delivery challenges exist in the present and innovation requires municipal staff to look forward. Some participants felt their reporting obligations impacted their ability to be proactive and future-oriented.

AMCTO has shared the report findings and recommendations with various Provincial Ministries. "The recommendations for the province are as constructive as possible," said Johal. "We'd like a bit more standardization on effective means of reporting, and better use of technology along with more communication on why the reporting is needed. Can municipalities gain access to data? Does it have public value or utility?"

The summary report is posted at https://amctopolicy.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/bearing-the-burden-an-overview-of-municipal-reporting-to-the-province-summary-report.pdf

07/02/2017

GTAA to unveil future Pearson transit centre at Brampton Board of Trade event

The Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) will announce it is moving ahead with plans for a regional transit centre to connect the airport area to key employment and residential areas throughout the Greater Golden Horseshoe. In addition to serving as a regional transportation centre, it would also be home to airport passenger processing, including security screening. GTAA President and CEO, Howard Eng, will today unveil preliminary concept plans for the transit centre at the Brampton Board of Trade's State of the City event with Mayor Linda Jeffrey and Brampton Board of Trade Chair Evan Moore.

"Toronto Pearson is a world-class airport in every respect, and Southern Ontario is a diverse and dynamic region," said Howard Eng, President and CEO of the Greater Toronto Airports Authority. "By the time New York and Chicago were the size that Toronto is today, they each had at least two major transportation hubs. Now is the time to ensure that better transit options are in place; otherwise we risk squandering the significant opportunities that are part and parcel of the exciting growth that the airport, the city and the region are experiencing."

The area around Toronto Pearson is the second largest employment zone in Canada after downtown Toronto according to NEPTIS Research Foundation. More than 300,000 people work in the zone that includes parts of Brampton, Mississauga, and Toronto. Among the sectors located in the Airport Employment Zone are construction and logistics, but also financial and business services. NEPTIS reports that there are more financial services related jobs located around the airport than all the jobs located in North York. Due to the lack of transit in the area, NEPTIS found that the area generates more than 1 million car trips daily, more trips than traveling to and from downtown Toronto.

"Location matters and Toronto Pearson's close proximity to Brampton gives us a definite advantage when it comes to attracting global companies to our City," said Mayor Linda Jeffrey. "A major multi-modal transit centre serving the western GTA, located at our airport will provide a critical connection between Brampton and the rest of the world."

The GTAA's proposed transit centre located on airport lands will help to address the low transit mode split in the area today with only 10 per cent of people taking transit. The centre will potentially connect a number of transit lines that are already in development or have been proposed by various levels of government, including: Eglinton Crosstown West LRT; Mississauga Bus Rapid Transit; Finch West LRT; Regional Express Rail on the Kitchener line; and the Province of Ontario's High-Speed Rail concept.

The centre, proposed to be located across Airport Road from Terminals 1 and 3, with access from Highways 409 and 427 and from Airport Road, will be at the heart of a new mixed use commercial area that will include office, retail, hotel and other commercial space. The vision for the area around the transit centre calls for improved streetscapes through sidewalks, landscaping, and improved lighting. The GTAA has held preliminary discussions with all levels of government to raise awareness about the opportunity for the regional transit centre at Toronto Pearson. It anticipates continued planning discussions throughout 2017 both for the centre, as well as for the individual transit lines that will connect into the centre.

"Better connections regionally and around the world boosts the competitiveness of Brampton businesses," said Todd Letts, CEO of the Brampton Board of Trade. "Toronto Pearson's vision for a multi-modal transit centre will be an important driver for the development of our local economy."

06/02/2017

U.S. union intimidating Toronto's elected transit union representatives into loyalty oaths says president Bob Kinnear

The president of the Toronto transit workers union Local 113 has accused the Amalgamated Transit Union International of intimidating elected local union representatives into signing prepared letters that agree with the American union's trusteeship of the local.

"I have been called by several apologetic Board members and stewards who admitted that they signed a letter prepared for them by the International union.

The letter said that "the undersigned" condemns Bob Kinnear for his recent letter to the Canadian Labour Congress asking for an investigation into years of membership complaints about the lack of support from their Washington-based union. The letter further asks the CLC to "take no further action on Kinnear's letter."

It breaks my heart to hear a member say: "I'm really sorry, Bob, but they threatened my job unless I signed."

"I can think of nothing more anti-union than to threaten people's jobs if they disagree with the boss. This is unbelievably shameful."

Just today, a steward told me: "'This guy, this trustee, made me think my job with the TTC was gone if I didn't sign. I didn't know what to do. I've got a mortgage and a family to support. And this guy knew it.'"

Kinnear said the American union exceeded its authority and did not have to be so heavy-handed if it had issues with him or the local. He said that he followed the Canadian Labour Congress Constitution very carefully.

"We followed the rules. We had already set up a meeting this Thursday with the CLC in Ottawa to mediate our differences with the International. But the Americans refused to abide by the rules they supposedly agreed to.

"They are using these same tactics with other ATU Canada locals. In fact, I have received the calls and emails."

Kinnear revealed that ATU International President Lawrence Hanley is leaning on other AFL-CIO International unions with branches in Canada to pressure CLC President Hassan Yussuff into ignoring Kinnear's request for an investigation, which may lead to a vote, which we welcome."

"Ultimately there will be a democratic vote of our members and the International will leave Toronto for good," said Kinnear.liver the strong quality of life that its residents expect.

U-Haul Migration Trends: Kamloops Tops Canadian Growth Cities of 2016 

Kamloops headlines the list of Canadian Growth Cities as U-Haul International, Inc. presents its 2016 migration trends reports.

The central British Columbia city, with its picturesque location along the Thompson River and a population nearing 90,000, climbed six spots from its 2015 ranking to become the U-Haul No. 1 Canadian Growth City for 2016. Toronto held that distinction for 2015.

Growth cities are calculated by the net gain of arriving one-way U-Haul trucks over departing one-way U-Haul trucks for a calendar year. Migration trends data is compiled from more than 1.7 million one-way U-Haul truck rental transactions that occur annually.

Reserve U-Haul trucks and trailers, self-storage, moving supplies and more at facilities near you by visiting uhaul.com/locations. Find additional U-Haul migration reports at myuhaulstory.com.

"U-Haul migration trends data is among the most sought after in the industry because it is the most comprehensive, dotting the map in more places with more equipment and reaching more customers than anyone else," U-Haul Executive Vice President Stuart Shoen said.

Kamloops: Friendliest City in B.C.
Kamloops saw 55.2 percent of U-Haul truck rental customers coming into the city as opposed to 44.8 percent leaving last year. There was a 16-percent surge in arrivals in 2016 compared to 2015. Departures also rose 7 percent as overall U-Haul traffic increased.

"Kamloops is considered a very affordable option for people looking for full city living without being in a metropolitan area," Kamloops Mayor Peter Milobar said. "We have a well-diversified economy. There's been a push in tech jobs, education and health care jobs. People are moving here, and U-Haul provides an option for them. U-Haul gives people the option to move on their own time while saving money."

Kamloops is known as B.C.'s friendliest city and lays claims to the title of Canada's Tournament Capital for sporting events with its high-end facilities. It is home to major employers such as the Interior Health Authority, Highland Valley Copper Mine and Thompson Rivers University.

"It is a very beautiful, affordable place to live," said Horace Martin, U-Haul Company of British Columbia president. "It has Riverside Park, a world-class ski resort and the right mix of big-city and small-town feel. There's no shortage of activities in one of the sunniest cities in Canada."

Ontario Cities Dominate List
Nineteen of the top 25 U-Haul Canadian Growth Cities are in Ontario, including the next seven cities after Kamloops. Five B.C. cities are represented, and Halifax is the lone city outside B.C. or Ontario to make the list.

Ottawa is the largest growth city on the list at No. 10. U-Haul locations there saw 50.7 percent of truck rental customers coming into the city as opposed to 49.3 percent leaving in 2016. Overall U-Haul traffic increased considerably in Ottawa as arrivals rose 14 percent and departures rose 13 percent year-over-year.

"Being a capital city, Ottawa sees a lot of movement," said U-Haul Company of Western Quebec president Claude Boucher, whose territory includes Ottawa. "It is home to Parliament Hill, which brings new jobs and residents every year. Ottawa has museums, the government buildings and 35 major festivals a year. It's one of the most family-oriented places I've been. They do it right."

31/1/2017

City of Burlington asks businesses and residents to test their Internet connection

The City of Burlington and the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) are working in partnership to launch an Internet performance test for the city.

Residents and businesses are encouraged to test their Internet connection by visiting https://performance.cira.ca/Burlington. The test will take only a few seconds.

Mayor Rick Goldring said, "As a city that grows, we need our infrastructure such as our internet to grow with us. More and more of our city services are available online for residents and businesses and our business and industry needs reliable, fast internet speeds to keep their competitive edge in the global market."

Burlington is committed to creating a city that grows – with strong job growth, modern transportation systems, an engaging community and a commitment to a healthy environment. Part of delivering on this promise means city officials monitor and evaluate the state of Burlington's infrastructure, including local broadband Internet speed and quality.

Burlington's Internet Performance Test will provide businesses and residents with important information about the health of their Internet connection, while contributing data to a crowdsourced dataset that will allow municipal leaders to understand any gaps or areas of best-practice.

The test displays results instantly on a map, allowing users to understand the geography of connectivity in their region.
Ensuring that Burlington continues to have strong Internet services across the municipality will help connect residents to their city, connect the city to the global economy and ensure that Burlington continues to deliver the strong quality of life that its residents expect.

CivicAction aims to close the leadership gap with DiverseCity Fellows program

As issues of intolerance dominate the daily news cycle, there's a growing need for inclusive, collaborative and civic-minded leaders. CivicAction is growing this leadership pipeline and today announced 25 of the region's top rising leaders as the next cohort of DiverseCity Fellows who have demonstrated impressive impact in communities across our city-region.

The Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) is one of the most diverse regions in the world, but our leadership across sectors still does not reflect this. Today, men in leadership roles still largely outnumber their female counterparts and while women have made some progress at the leadership level, white women in leadership roles still outnumber racialized women 7:1.

We know that diverse teams lead to better solutions so in order to address the big urban challenges we face today, we need diverse voices at decision making tables and to ensure that the leaders of tomorrow have the right tools in their civic toolkit. CivicAction is working to address these gaps through the DiverseCity Fellows program, a free year-long fellowship that provides rising leaders from all sectors and GTHA communities with opportunities to build a more diverse network and scale their impact within their communities.

"These emerging leaders are already on track to have a big influence on our region, but the DiverseCity Fellows program will accelerate this tenfold," said Sevaun Palvetzian, CEO, CivicAction. "This program creates space for exceptional people from different backgrounds to be exposed to new city-building perspectives, build meaningful and lasting relationships with diverse peers – and ultimately become better allies and authentic champions for inclusivity."

Past Fellows have gone on to become senior executives in top performing companies, taken on senior-level government and political roles, mobilized powerful community initiatives, and started their own successful businesses. The legacy of the program is building collaborative and inclusive leaders in all sectors who continue to drive civic impact.

"This program is a phenomenal investment to further the leadership potential of our diverse region. The program fosters robust leadership development informing and catalyzing impactful change," said Stefany Hanson, 2017 DiverseCity Fellow and Manager, Youth Challenge Fund and Youth Initiatives, United Way Toronto and York Region.

With collaborative training sessions, an opportunity to incubate city-building projects, and unparalleled access to our region's influencers and civic spaces, each DiverseCity Fellow will be uniquely poised to contribute to the ongoing growth and success of our region. Past notable Fellows mentors include Robin Cardozo, Chief Operating Officer, SickKids Foundation, Cam Fowler, Group Head, Canadian Personal & Commercial Banking, BMO Financial Group, Helen Burstyn, Chair-Evergreen, and Drex Jancar, Co-Founder of The Remix Project & Director of OVOFEST.

Major Projects Keep Ontario's Construction Workforce Going Strong

 Major infrastructure, transportation and utility projects are creating a decade's worth of work for Ontario's construction workforce. These projects will sustain employment over the next ten years, while the impending wave of baby boom retirements becomes the bigger challenge for industry, according to the latest labour market forecast released today by BuildForce Canada.

"Ontario is losing as many as 86,000 workers this decade to retirement," said Rosemary Sparks, Executive Director of BuildForce Canada. "It's a huge loss of skill and experience that requires a concerted effort to attract more youth, women and Indigenous people to construction as well as workers from outside the province."
Between now and 2020, labour demands in the province will intensify for current and planned infrastructure and major engineering projects.

"Labour mobility across regions will be key in meeting rising demands for specialized trades," added Sparks.

BuildForce Canada's 2017-2026 Construction and Maintenance Looking Forward forecast shows that while the pace of construction is projected to slow in Ontario, major projects will sustain construction employment at near record levels over the next decade. From an international bridge in Windsor to nuclear refurbishment and transit expansion in the Greater Toronto Area and Ottawa, infrastructure projects will surpass residential building as the primary source of construction job growth in many regions of Ontario. Construction employment is expected to peak in 2020, marking the plateau of a 25-year expansion that has doubled the size Ontario's construction workforce.

Forecast highlights including the following:

Residential building drives employment higher in 2017 before stabilizing, while home renovation work grows steadily;

Institutional and commercial building remains steady while modest growth in manufacturing spurs industrial building between 2019 and 2020;

Over 20 percent of Ontario's construction workforce is expected to retire this decade.
BuildForce Canada's forecast by region:

Greater Toronto Area (GTA)

Most of the province's construction job growth will be in the GTA, where labour demands for major utility, transportation and other infrastructure projects are expected to be highest in 2022.

Residential building, driven by condo construction and renovation work is expected to remain at historically high levels over the forecast period.

Southwest Ontario

Construction activity is expected to rise this year and next, driven by major projects and gains in commercial and institutional building. As many as 3,500 jobs are added to 2020, a 30 percent rise in engineering employment driven by major projects including the start of a proposed nuclear refurbishment project.

Housing starts rise modestly to 2021, then cycle down.

Central Ontario

Construction employment is sustained near current levels by a rise in industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI) building and stable engineering investment.
Tradespeople involved in new housing construction are in demand as residential building reaches peak activity this year, before softening in 2018 and 2019.

Eastern Ontario

Non-residential job growth increases over the short-term driven by spin-off activity related to Light Rail Transit and other infrastructure projects, adding as many as 2,300 jobs to 2021.

After reaching peak activity this year, new housing remains relatively stable until 2021, then declines, while renovation works stays near current levels.
Northern Ontario

Following several years of decline, housing starts are projected to rise across the forecast period.

There's a modest recovery in commercial and institutional building, and a slight rise in engineering employment to 2021 before receding, as current and proposed projects wind down.

Low commodity prices have delayed new resource development projects.

BuildForce Canada is a national industry-led organization that represents all sectors of Canada's construction industry. Its mandate is to provide accurate and timely labour market data and analysis, as well as programs and initiatives to help manage workforce requirements and build the capacity and the capability of Canada's construction and maintenance workforce. Visit: www.constructionforecasts.ca
27/01/2017
Record Breaking Year for Greater Toronto Real Estate Market
Organizations Call for Budget 2017 to be the "Housing Budget"
Altus Group Limited, a leading provider of commercial real estate services, software and data solutions, today released results of the 2017 GTA Flash Report, which provides a comprehensive review of the real estate market in the Greater Toronto Area ("GTA") based on 2016 Altus Group data. The report highlights a record breaking year in the new home sector and also looks at the performance of commercial leasing, investment and land sectors within the GTA.

Investment property sales, including land sales, as well as sales of office, retail, industrial, hotel and rental apartment properties, reached a total of $17.2 billion in 2016, a 12% increase from 2015 and a record for the sixth consecutive year. Residential land sales contributed a record $5.7 billion to the total, up $640 million over 2015. Sales of rental apartment buildings were down 29% in 2016, the only investment asset class to post a decline in dollar volumes.

In the leasing sector, the GTA-wide office vacancy rate only increased slightly in 2016, even with the completion of 11 new office buildings that added 3.2 million square feet of inventory. The majority of the new office supply was in the Downtown submarket, where the vacancy rate at the end of 2016 was 6.4%, compared to 9.7% overall for the GTA.

Turning to the new home sector, Altus Group's data shows that total new home sales in the GTA reached 47,161 units in 2016, up 12% from 2015 and the highest level in 14 years.
New high-rise units, primarily comprised of condominium apartments, accounted for 29,186, or 62% of all new homes sold, a record number of transactions for this segment. The report also indicates that the inventory of high-rise units available to purchase declined substantially during the year. In addition, high-rise completions in 2016 were just below 18,000 units, down from over 20,500 completed the previous year.

Conversely, new low-rise sales volume saw a decline for the first time in two years to 17,975 units. This drop was mainly comprised of single-detached and semi-detached units while townhouses saw a modest increase from 2015. The report highlights that a lack of inventory hindered this sector with data indicating that less than 1,900 units were available for purchase at the end of December 2016, which is extremely low compared to historical numbers.

At the end of 2016, the average price of available low-rise homes reached $995,116, up 20% from the same period in 2015. By comparison, the average price for an available high-rise unit in the GTA was $507,128, up 12% year-over-year.

"The decline in low-rise sales in the GTA has not been due to waning demand but rather a lack of product available to purchase," said Matthew Boukall, Senior Director at Altus Group. "The number of units in newly launched low-rise projects was down for the second year in a row, and the inventory of unsold units reached historical lows during the year. With continued buyer interest and fewer units available to purchase, it is no wonder that prices for new low-rise units continued to set new records in 2016."

Other key information in the 2017 GTA Flash Report:

Total GTA investment property sales volumes were split about equally between the City of Toronto and the 905 regions.

Foreign and institutional investors stepped down their overall investment in the GTA property market in 2016.

Homebuying intentions among GTA households in late 2016 showed no moderation, despite the tighter mortgage insurance rules introduced in the fall of 2016.

Brampton was the top municipality for low-rise new home sales in 2016, followed by Vaughan and Milton. The top three submarkets for new high-rise home sales in 2016 were Downtown West, Downtown East and Sheppard Corridor.

One in 10 renters living in condominium units reported that the owner of their unit was located outside of Canada.
Three leading national housing and homelessness organizations today jointly called on the federal government to commit to long-term investment on the scale needed to tackle the housing crisis in Budget 2017. The three organizations – the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness, the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada, and the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association – are united in their call for a solution that will ensure all Canadians have a safe and affordable place to call home.

In an end-of-year interview last month, Prime Minister Trudeau stated that affordable housing is "a fundamental building block that leads towards people being able to succeed," and suggested significant investment in housing would be forthcoming in the 2017 Budget. Furthermore, the federal government committed to unveiling a National Housing Strategy that prioritizes the needs of Canada's most vulnerable populations. The three organizations applaud the Prime Minister and his government for their commitment to housing, but caution that promises must turn to action in the 2017 budget.

There is no question that housing needs are great, especially when considering:

235,000 Canadians experience homelessness in a year.

1 in 5 renters spend more than half their income on housing.

1.5 million households can't find decent housing they can afford.

The affordability of housing for low-income families living in social and co-operative housing is uncertain, as federal funding agreements will expire. In the absence of a new federal commitment, by 2020, 175,000 fewer low-income households will be assisted compared to 2010.

Indigenous households living in cities and communities experience higher rates of homelessness and are more likely to be living in precarious housing than non-Indigenous Canadians.

A November 2016 report prepared by Morrison Park Advisors estimates total capital needs of the social housing sector to be in the range of $8.4 billion to $13.6 billion per year.

"The 2017 Budget and the subsequent National Housing Strategy marks an unparalleled opportunity to address the many pressing housing needs facing the most vulnerable members of our society," stated Jeff Morrison, Executive Director of CHRA. "Today, our organizations are saying that the 2017 Budget needs to be the "housing budget" so that we can make meaningful progress in tackling the myriad of problems experienced daily by vulnerable households."

"We agree with the Prime Minister when he calls affordable housing a building block to success," said Nicholas Gazzard, Executive Director of CHF Canada. "Over the past fifty years we've developed a successful foundation of social and co-operative housing in Canada. Now let's leverage this shared commitment to affordability and inclusion in order to tackle Canada's housing crisis once and for all."

"If Budget 2017 is the 'Housing Budget' we've been calling for, Canada could see the beginning of the end of homelessness," said Tim Richter, President & CEO, of the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness. "A Housing Budget would save lives, reduce the incredible cost of homelessness, and would mean tens of thousands of low income Indigenous peoples, women, seniors, veterans, children and young people have a shot at a better life."
25/01/2017
Is your fireplace safe?
 BC Safety Authority (BCSA) has issued a safety order prohibiting British Columbians from using certain natural gas and propane fireplaces manufactured by Security Fireplaces. There have been two reported incidents in Canada involving these fireplaces due to delayed ignition.

The relief dampers on these appliances may fail to operate as intended which could lead to excess gas being ignited when lighting or re-lighting the fireplace. This could cause the fireplace's glass front to explode.

The Security Fireplaces affected by this warning include the following models:

SRGH36
SBGH36
DV73 and DV71 Series. (The DV73 and DV71 series were marketed under the trade name Oliver Macleod.)
All of these models bear a CGA and AGA certification mark and were manufactured between 1990 to 1995.

To determine if your fireplace is affected, find the rating plate which contains the model number and serial number. Gas fireplaces have a rating plate in the control compartment area, under the burner or on the firebox side column. Gas inserts have a rating plate in the control compartment area, under the burner or on the side of the firebox.

If your fireplace is affected, do not use the appliance and have a licensed gas contractor immediately disconnect it from the fuel supply. This is required as the manufacturer is no longer in business and no retro fit kit is available. Your fireplace can either remain unused and safely disconnected or you can replace it.

Fireplaces and all gas-fired appliances – including boilers, furnaces, hot water tanks, stoves and dryers – should be inspected and serviced by a licensed gas contractor at least once a year.

For more information about gas appliance safety, visit: http://www.safetyauthority.ca/carbon-monoxide. 
20/01/2017
Most Expensive Home In The U.S. Lists For $250 Million; Luxury Developer Bruce Makowsky Unveils His Newest Masterpiece
Major luxury developer Bruce Makowsky, known for curating, designing and bringing to life some of the most stunning homes in the country, has unveiled his greatest masterpiece, a brand new $250 million spec home located at 924 Bel Air Road in Los Angeles. Setting a record for the country's most expensive home ever listed for sale, the 38,000-square-foot new construction home plus an additional 17,000 square feet of entertainment decks includes two master suites, 10 oversized VIP guest suites, 21 luxury bathrooms, three gourmet kitchens, five bars, a massage studio/wellness spa, state-of-the-art fitness center, 85-foot glass tile infinity swimming pool, 40-seat 4K Dolby Atmos Theater, four-lane bowling alley/lounge, sprawling auto gallery with cars valued at more than $30 million, seven-person full time staff, over 100 curated art installations, an outdoor hydraulic pop-up theater, two fully-stocked champagne/wine cellars, massive assorted candy wall and the most advanced home tech system in the country.

After completing the sale of his record breaking $70 million spec home in Beverly Hills in early 2015, Bruce was dubbed the Spec King and set his sights on breaking his own record by building the most extraordinary home in the United States. Located within the confines of the country's ultra-exclusive enclave of Bel Air, 924 Bel Air Road is the pinnacle of splendor and the epitome of luxury. Boasting an astonishing array of curated amenities and bespoke items from around the world, the mega-mansion offers eight distinct ingredients that no other home in the world has within four meticulously curated levels of seamless indoor and outdoor nirvana enhanced by 270-degree unobstructed views that span from the snow covered mountains all the way to the Pacific Ocean and the incredible Los Angeles skyline in-between.

Having spent a significant amount of time on mega-yachts and large private jets that can sell from $150 million to $500 million, Makowsky identified a tremendous opportunity to develop luxury real estate that would exceed the demands of the super wealthy. "This home was curated for the ultimate billionaire who wants the best of everything that exists in life," said Mr. Makowsky. "Until now, the ultra-luxury market was void of homes that even came close to matching the level of mega-yachts and private jets that billionaires spend millions of dollars on every year. There are hundreds of new billionaires created each year and they are increasingly setting their sights on this coveted enclave of California for everything the state has to offer."

With a razor-sharp attention to detail and a jaw-dropping design, 924 Bel Air Road is a playground of creative impulse and stylistic allure guaranteed to ignite every sense from the natural beauty of the surrounding California landscape seen from every room, to the various pieces of one-of-a-kind hand-cut stone and marble. Taking more than four years to complete by a crew of 250 people, 924 Bel Air Road will be among the most amazing man-made achievements of art and architecture ever built.

Branden Williams and Rayni Williams with Hilton & Hyland along with Ben Bacal with Rodeo Realty are the listing agents for 924 Bel Air Road. For more information, visit www.924belair.com.


U.S. Interest in Canadian Real Estate Surges Following U.S. Presidential Election
According to data released today by Royal LePage, Canada's leading real estate services provider, American interest in Canadian real property has risen following the U.S. Presidential Election, with an increased number of Americans conducting research into real estate markets across the nation.

American web traffic on royallepage.ca, the company's consumer real estate portal, has been highly correlated to recent U.S. political events. U.S.-originated sessions surged 329.0 per cent the day following the election and climbed 210.1 per cent year-over-year the week after Donald Trump's victory. Looking at the full month of November, 2016, U.S. web traffic grew 73.7 per cent year-over-year, when compared to the same period in 2015. This trend continued throughout the remainder of 2016, with American web traffic rising by 40.9 per cent year-over-year during the fourth quarter1.

According to a new Canada-wide survey of 1,226 Royal LePage real estate advisors, U.S. interest in Canadian real property will continue to climb, with 39.5 per cent of respondents forecasting that American inquiries into Canadian real estate will rise under President Donald Trump. In the fourth quarter of 2016 – of which November and December are traditionally quieter times for North American real estate activity – 15.6 per cent of the advisors polled received inquiries from south of the border.

"Always a desirable destination for migrants, Canada's attractiveness as a country for international relocation has surged this decade," said Phil Soper, president and chief executive officer, Royal LePage. "The United States was already a top source for immigration into Canada, and now in the period following the recent U.S. election, we are witnessing a material bump in American interest in Canadian real estate."

During the fourth quarter of 2016, American interest was primarily focused on Canada's largest markets, with Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec receiving 72.7 per cent of all U.S. regional pageviews generated on royallepage.ca. Those looking to purchase Canadian real property were largely interested in the country's residential market, with three quarters (75.2 per cent) of all American inquiries pertaining to this market segment.

"U.S. interest in Canadian real estate is not a new phenomenon –– we are next door neighbours," said Soper. "From Whistler to Muskoka; to Tremblant and Nova Scotia's south shore, Americans have traditionally been the largest foreign cohort of recreational property purchasers in Canada. With our country's ever-growing global reputation as a financially sound, happy and culturally tolerant place to raise a family, it is not surprising that interest has moved from a place to play, to a potential place to live and work."

"Given America's vast population, even a fractional increase in the number of households following through on this initial interest and successfully completing the demanding process of emigrating to Canada could drive a material increase in the number of home-buyers from south of the border," concluded Soper. "Our federal government is seriously considering increasing the quota of new Canadians welcomed from abroad, and with the high value of the U.S. dollar increasing Americans' purchasing power, we may be seeing more moving trucks with U.S. license plates in our future."

In last year's inaugural "Best Countries" ranking published by US News in partnership with BAV and the Wharton School, Canada was ranked second worldwide in the comprehensive 75 element study, scoring very high on culture, sustainability, entrepreneurship and open-for-business categories. In the United Nations' "Global Happiness Ranking," Canadians scored sixth place. Additionally, the Economist's widely followed "Most Liveable Cities" analysis, which ranks cities based on a balance of economic, safety and environmental factors, placed Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary in three of the top five spots worldwide, with no U.S. city ranked in the top ten.

Provincial Summaries and Trends

Ontario led the country as the top-researched destination by Americans on royallepage.ca in the fourth quarter of 2016, with 41.4 per cent of U.S. regional pageviews directed to the province. Over the same period, Ontario listings received a significant boost in U.S. pageviews, rising 54.5 per cent this year over last. According to the survey, 62.5 per cent of real estate advisors polled in Ontario cited the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) as the most desirable location for U.S. parties making inquiries into a home purchase since October 2016, while just over two-thirds (67.2 per cent) pointed to the GTA as the region in which Americans purchased the most property over the same period of time. Looking ahead, 38.4 per cent of survey respondents from Ontario expect U.S. inquiries into Canadian real estate to increase following Donald Trump's assumption of power.

In the fourth quarter of 2016, British Columbia accounted for 17.4 per cent of U.S. regional pageviews, while also showing a 62.9 per cent increase year-over-year. Interestingly, according to the survey, Victoria garnered the most attention among B.C. cities from prospective U.S. home-buyers, being cited as the preferred location by approximately one third (32.1 per cent) of respondents. In comparison, one quarter (25.0 per cent) of respondents cited Greater Vancouver as the top region of interest among American home-buyers considering a real estate purchase in B.C. Looking ahead to 2017, 43.6 per cent of B.C. respondents anticipate American inquiries into Canadian real estate will increase after Donald Trump takes office.

U.S. traffic to Royal LePage's Quebec listings accounted for 13.9 per cent of the total website sessions logged across provinces in the fourth quarter of 2016, and showed a 17.6 per cent increase in U.S. pageviews, year-over-year. Meanwhile, the survey found that 40.0 per cent of Quebec respondents named the Greater Montreal Area as the main market in Quebec that Americans considered for a potential property purchase. In looking at property acquisitions by Americans since October 2016, of those polled in Quebec, over one half (53.3 per cent) of real estate advisors who sold a home to an American did so in the Greater Montreal Area, while 20.0 per cent sold a home in each of Quebec City and Mont-Tremblant. When Donald Trump takes office, 52.2 per cent of Quebec respondents believe the region will see an increase in U.S. inquiries in the period that follows.

Despite accounting for a smaller percentage of U.S. website traffic provincially (7.4 per cent in Nova Scotia; 5.7 per cent in New Brunswick; 2.3 per cent in Prince Edward Island; and 2.1 per cent in Newfoundland and Labrador), according to real estate advisors surveyed, Atlantic Canada saw the highest percentage of sales inquiries from Americans since October 2016. In fact, during the fourth quarter, Royal LePage's data showed a year-over-year increase in U.S. website sessions of 180.4 per cent, 125.5. per cent, 53.4 per cent and 41.7 per cent for New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador, respectively. Over one quarter (27.9 per cent) of survey respondents indicated that Americans have expressed interest in a property in the Atlantic region since October 2016, with a large majority of inquiries (54.8 per cent) and purchases (54.2 per cent) taking place in Halifax. Furthermore, almost half (48.1 per cent) of those surveyed in the region expect inquiries to increase after Donald Trump assumes power.

Provinces affected by recent economic downturns saw minimal interest from American buyers, with U.S website sessions for Alberta accounting for only 7.6 per cent of the total. The survey showed that, of those interested in Alberta, Calgary (54.6 per cent) and Edmonton (27.3 per cent) were cited by respondents as receiving the most interest from potential U.S. buyers. Notably, all (100 per cent) survey respondents working in the region indicated that they have not sold a home to an American since October 2016 – the only region in the country to report zero U.S. real estate transactions for this period. Similarly, only 26.4 per cent of respondents believe the region will see an increase in real estate inquiries by Americans after Donald Trump takes office.

The other provinces in the Prairies saw the least amount of interest by prospective American homeowners since October 2016, with only 1.6 per cent of U.S. website sessions being associated with Manitoba and 0.5 per cent with Saskatchewan. According to survey respondents, of the U.S. buyers interested in these provinces, Americans mostly inquired about property purchases in Winnipeg (50.0 per cent), Saskatoon (20.0 per cent) and rural Saskatchewan (15.0 per cent). Looking ahead, one third (33.3 per cent) of respondents expect to see an increase in American inquires after Trump assumes power.

Survey Methodology

Royal LePage polled 1,226 real estate advisors across Canada between January 12-17, 2017. Each respondent was asked to complete a survey composed of questions regarding their region of expertise and observations and beliefs pertaining to U.S. interest in Canadian real estate since the 2016 Presidential Election.

About Royal LePage

Serving Canadians since 1913, Royal LePage is the country's leading provider of services to real estate brokerages, with a network of over 17,000 real estate professionals in more than 600 locations nationwide. Royal LePage is the only Canadian real estate company to have its own charitable foundation, the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation, dedicated to supporting women's and children's shelters and educational programs aimed at ending domestic violence. Royal LePage is a Brookfield Real Estate Services Inc. company, a TSX-listed corporation trading under the symbol TSX:BRE.
16/01/2017
'Alectra' Unveiled as New Electric Utility to Serve Nearly One Million GTHA Customers
An electric utility that will serve nearly one million customers in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area will be known as Alectra.

The new company name and logo was unveiled today by Enersource, Horizon Utilities and PowerStream officials who will merge their respective utilities as of February 1, 2017 and purchase Hydro One Brampton effective February 28.

This consolidation will create the second largest municipally-owned electric utility by customer base in North America, second only to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.
Alectra will operate within a 1,800 square kilometre service territory comprising 15 communities including Alliston, Aurora, Barrie, Beeton, Brampton, Bradford, Hamilton, Markham, Mississauga, Penetanguishene, Richmond Hill, St. Catharines, Thornton, Tottenham and Vaughan.
The creation of Alectra will result in:

Residential customers will save an average of $40 per year on bills as merger efficiencies are achieved over the next 10 years.

Expanded ability to monitor, report on and improve reliability and power quality, resulting from greater resources.

Increased investment in innovation and technologies, resulting in better choices for customers.

The Ontario Energy Board approved the plan to create the new company last December.

"We are excited to launch Alectra and move forward to deliver best-in-class customer service and optimal returns for shareholders," said incoming Alectra President and CEO, Brian Bentz. "Our enthusiasm for pursuing new opportunities and being innovative to better serve our customers is boundless. We aspire to be a model of excellence in consolidation for Ontario and beyond."


Governments of Canada and Ontario invest in public transit in Thunder Bay
The governments of Canada and Ontario are making investments to create jobs and grow the middle class, while building a foundation for a strong, sustainable economic future. Investing in public infrastructure supports efficient, affordable and sustainable transit services that help Canadians to safely get to and from work, school and other activities on time.

Today, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, on behalf of the Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, and the Honourable Michael Gravelle, Ontario Minister of Northern Development and Mines, on behalf of the Honourable Bob Chiarelli, Ontario Minister of Infrastructure, announced 21 newly approved projects that will benefit Thunder Bay under the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund (PTIF). The federal government is providing up to 50 per cent of funding for these projects-just over $6 million- and the municipality will provide the balance of funding.

Hadju said, "The Government of Canada recognizes how important affordable and efficient transit infrastructure is to growing the middle class and getting kids to school, employees to work, and seniors to the services they need on time and back home quickly at the end of a long day. We are very pleased to announce new public transit projects here in Thunder Bay and across Ontario which will help make municipalities stronger, more inclusive and sustainable, while ensuring that Canadian communities remain among the best places in the world to live, work and raise a family."

The City of Thunder Bay will see the transit fleet renewed which will improve public transit access and safety for all passengers through the purchase of diesel fueled buses and specialized transit vehicles. Across the city, there will also be improvements to bus stops and shelters to make them more accessible, upgrades to transit facilities, and the construction of a multi-use trail, a new bike lane and pedestrian crossovers.

Minister Hajdu and Minister Gravelle also announced 26 other transit projects across Ontario-to benefit an additional seven communities for a total investment from the PTIF, including Thunder Bay, of more than $8.46 million in federal funding.

These investments are part of the bilateral agreement between Canada and Ontario, announced on August 23, 2016, and are in addition to the 168 projects announced that day for public transit projects. As of today, 215 public transit projects have been approved across Ontario under PTIF.
13/01/2017
Women Building Futures Announces #ItsHerTurn
What comes to mind when you think of women in trades? Women Building Futures (WBF) wants it to be equal. Equally capable, equally needed, and one day, equally represented.

"It's time to highlight what women in trades are capable of; trades are a rewarding, well-paying career," said Jacqueline Andersen, Director of Industry Relations at WBF. "So in January we're running #itsherturn – a campaign to start a national conversation about women in trades."

Just under 6 per cent of Alberta workers in non-traditional trades are women. The numbers aren't any better on a national scale.

"Some women don't consider trades work because they learned growing up those jobs 'aren't for girls'," Andersen said. "Which is ridiculous, of course. If you have the aptitude, work ethic and drive, you can succeed in trades."

WBF has the alumni roster to prove it. They've graduated almost 1,500 from their industry-recognized pre-trades programs. About 80 per cent of WBF grads move on to first year apprenticeship, compared to 65 per cent of apprenticed women overall and 72 per cent of apprentices of all genders.

The purpose of #itsherturn is to show Canadian women what they're capable of – and that the industry values their talents.

"Show them they can be successful, show them there is a growing movement to hire them and show industry their value," Andersen said.

The public can support the campaign by telling their stories about women in trades on Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #itsherturn, or adding a badge to their profile picture on social media here: http://twibbon.com/support/its-her-turn



International Superstar Celine Dion's Jupiter Island Estate Returns To Market
Sotheby's International Realty Quebec and Sotheby's International Realty Palm Beach have exclusively listed Celine Dion's luxurious Bahamian-inspired Florida estate. The newly priced property was reintroduced today at $38.5 million USD, adjusted from its 2016 price of $45 million USD.

Built in 2010 and located in one of the most exclusive private enclaves in the world, the estate sits on five-and-a-half acres of pristine Jupiter Island ocean frontage. The estate features a main residence and five individual pavilions, over 400 linear feet of Atlantic oceanfront, and three separate pools, one at the rear by the ocean and two connecting pools at the front with a unique water park feature.

Exuding elegance, the primary residence offers over 10,000 square feet of open concept living, and features retractable living room walls that lead to an outdoor oasis. The bright, airy main level features a formal living room with vaulted ceilings, a large butler's kitchen, a separate kitchen with seating area open to the adjacent dinette, family room and dining room, a ground floor bedroom suite with walk-in closet, bathroom and screened-in porch, a media room, and a fully-appointed guest wing. The second floor features two children's bedrooms with their own ensuite bathrooms, children's den and an expansive master bedroom.

"This is a bespoke estate that will appeal to the most discriminate of buyers as there are only a handful of properties in the world that offer such a unique and incomparable lineage," said co-listing agent and Sotheby's International Realty Quebec Broker Joseph Montanaro. "With a reintroduction at a price that reflects the current market, we expect the estate's purchaser to be one that appreciates not only the architectural excellence of this property, but its unique story as well."

The estate encompasses 13 bedrooms and 14 bathrooms throughout. A guest house, tennis building, staff quarters, parking garage and on-site salt water extracting facility for irrigation are also situated across the property. The property is offered as a turnkey purchase with almost all of its contents.

According to representatives of Ms. Dion, "The estate is on the market because Ms. Dion's performance commitments following the renewal of her contract in Las Vegas has meant that the property is currently underutilized."

Choice Properties Real Estate Investment Trust Files Redevelopment Plans for Golden Mile Shopping Centre in Toronto

About Choice Properties Real Estate Investment Trust

Choice Properties Real Estate Investment Trust is an owner, manager and developer of well-located retail and commercial real estate across Canada. Choice Properties' portfolio spans approximately 43.3 million square feet of gross leasable area and consists of 535 properties primarily focused on supermarket and drug store anchored shopping centres and stand-alone supermarkets and drug stores. Choice Properties' strategy is to create value by enhancing and optimizing its portfolio through development, accretive acquisitions and active property management. Choice Properties' principal tenant and largest Unitholder is Loblaw Companies Limited, Canada's largest retailer. Choice Properties' strong alliance with Loblaw positions it well for future growth. For more information, visit Choice Properties' website at www.choicereit.ca and Choice Properties' issuer profile at www.sedar.com.
 Choice Properties Real Estate Investment Trust ("Choice Properties") (TSX: CHP.UN) announced today its plans to revitalize and redevelop its Golden Mile Shopping Centre at 1880 Eglinton Ave. E, Toronto, Ontario ("the Golden Mile Site" or the "Property"). Choice Properties has filed an Official Plan Amendment with the City of Toronto to transform the Golden Mile Site into a transit-oriented mixed use community. Choice Properties' proposal envisions a connected network of new streets and open spaces featuring retail shops, anchored by a Loblaw bannered food store, a range of new housing types and employment uses that integrate with, and complement the City of Toronto's (the "City") investment in transit along the Eglinton Crosstown corridor.

"The redevelopment of the Golden Mile Site is a perfect example of how Choice Properties is building for the future based on its strong foundation of well-located properties," said John Morrison, President and CEO of Choice Properties. "For more than half a century, the Golden Mile Site has provided shopping and services to neighboring residences. We are looking forward to redeveloping the Property to provide a compelling retail experience while enhancing the sense of community as the City continues to evolve and grow."

Situated on the north side of Eglinton Ave. E between Victoria Park Ave. and Pharmacy Ave., the Property comprises 237,000 square feet and is anchored by a No Frills food store. The Golden Mile Site spans 19 acres of land and is bookended by two future LRT (Light Rail Transit) stations at Victoria Park Ave. and Pharmacy Ave.

When it was built in the mid-1950s, the Golden Mile Site was a quintessential suburban community mall worthy of Queen Elizabeth II's visit in 1959. Today, it provides a unique opportunity for Choice Properties to revitalize the Property to be a centre of commerce and community consistent with the City's larger plan to support redevelopment and investment along a new rapid transit corridor that connects Toronto from east to west.

Choice Properties' plan includes six new development blocks featuring a diverse mix of buildings of varying heights and density to accommodate retail, commercial, residential and office uses. Choice Properties' proposal introduces a new public park and two public squares within the Property to reinforce and enhance the site as a destination and neighbourhood hub. Development will be phased, starting with the relocation of the existing food store, followed by demolition of the existing mall and the development of a new public park and an east-west street through the Property.

To help bring the new Golden Mile Site to life, Choice Properties has engaged the experience and capabilities of internationally recognized and award-winning firms; Urban Strategies Inc., as planning consultants, and Giannone Petricone Associates, as master plan architect. As the planning process moves through its many stages, Choice Properties will continue discussions with local residents, municipal politicians and planning authorities.
Hundreds of adventure-seekers take the plunge January 1st at the Toronto Polar Bear Dip in support of Habitat GTA
More than 500 brave participants will take the plunge into chilly Lake Ontario on New Year's Day, January 1st at the 12th annual Toronto Polar Bear Dip at Sunnyside Beach (1755 Lakeshore Boulevard West). Organized by the Toronto Polar Bear Club, this invigorating event raises funds for Habitat for Humanity Greater Toronto Area.

Since 2005, the Toronto Polar Bear Dip has raised nearly $370,000 in support of Habitat for Humanity GTA home building projects that help working, low-income families break the cycle of poverty through affordable homeownership.

"It's no surprise that the Polar Bear Dip attracts some of Habitat GTA's boldest supporters," says Ene Underwood, CEO of Habitat for Humanity GTA. "It's inspirational to see dippers and their fans brave the elements and celebrate New Year's Day by raising awareness and funds for GTA families in need of a safe, decent and affordable place to call home."

"As we welcome the new year, we need to remember that many in our city are starting the year in living conditions that are unsafe, unhealthy, crowded, and unaffordable," says Sean Gadon, Director of Toronto's Affordable Housing Office. "I'm personally participating in the Polar Bear Dip this year as a statement around the importance of all of us working even harder in 2017 to address these critical issues facing individuals and families in our communities."

WHAT: Toronto Polar Bear Dip in support of Habitat for Humanity Greater Toronto Area

WHEN: New Year's Day, January 1st. Registration opens at 10:30 AM; Toronto Polar Bear Dip is at 12:00 NOON Sharp!

WHERE: Sunnyside Beach, 1755 Lakeshore Boulevard West

WHO: Ene Underwood, CEO, Habitat for Humanity GTA will leap into Lake Ontario along with Sean Gadon, Director, City of Toronto, Affordable Housing Office and hundreds more!

For more information or to sign up to take the plunge visit www.torontopolarbear.com #daretodip #topolarbear.

Habitat for Humanity GTA is grateful for the generous support of Polar Bear Dip sponsors: Monster Plowing Company (Presenting Sponsor), First Aid Services Team, Buy Coffee Canada, Getting Brighter and HVAC Rentals (Supporting Sponsors).
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Highway 417 expansion project to support safer and more efficient driving

From visiting friends and relatives to getting goods to market, we rely on our roads, bridges and highways to support a vibrant economy and great quality of life. Investing in modern transportation infrastructure will help create jobs and grow the middle class now, while building the foundation for a strong economic future.

David McGuinty, Member of Parliament for Ottawa South, on behalf of the Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, and the Honourable Bob Chiarelli, Ontario Minister of Infrastructure were in Ottawa today to announce funding for the expansion of Highway 417. The governments of Canada and Ontario are each providing up to $47.57 million.

The project involves the expansion of Highway 417 from six to eight lanes for three kilometers, between Maitland Avenue and Island Park Drive in Ottawa. The work will also include the rehabilitation and expansion of the Merivale Road Bridge. Once completed, the project will improve safety and traffic flow for all highway users, including local residents, tourists and commercial drivers. It will support Canada's trade both inter-provincially and internationally by helping to reduce traffic congestion on this significant section of the Trans-Canada Highway network.

Quick facts

The Government of Canada is contributing up to 50 percent of total eligible costs to this project, to a maximum of $47.57 million, through the Major Infrastructure Component of the Building Canada Fund.

The Government of Canada will provide more than $180 billion in infrastructure funding over 12 years to support public transit, green infrastructure, social infrastructure, transportation that supports trade, and Canada's rural and northern communities.

Ontario is making the largest infrastructure investment in hospitals, schools, public transit, roads and bridges in the province's history. To learn more about what's happening in your community, go to Ontario.ca/BuildON. Expanding highways to reduce congestion and improve commuting is part of our plan to create jobs, grow our economy and help people in their everyday lives.

All Toronto Streets Now Ready for Mobile Pay Through the Green P App

The Toronto Parking Authority is pleased to announce that the Green P Mobile App payment option is now available on all Toronto streets.

Completed ahead of schedule, all pay and display machines across Toronto now have a 4-digit location ID visible on the machines that customers can use to pay for their parking session with the Green P app.

The mobile pay feature of the app gives customers the option to pay for their parking session using their smartphone, delivers reminders before parking sessions expire, and gives customers the ability to extend their parking sessions remotely.

For even further convenience, the Green P app now includes the option of using PayPal to pay for a parking session.

"PayPal is a leading digital payments provider in Canada and we are excited to have them on board as a Green P app partner," said Lorne Persiko, Toronto Parking Authority President. "We are constantly looking for ways to improve the parking experience for our customers. Creating partnerships with great brands like PayPal adds even more convenience to the app, and is something we will continue to do."

"Mobile payments have become popular across Canada. One in four transactions that PayPal processes is through a mobile device. Just in time for the busy holiday season, we are delighted to help Torontonians and visitors pay for street parking from their smartphones," said Paul Parisi, General Manager, PayPal Canada.

A GfK* study in February found that PayPal was the most popular mobile payment platform, with a majority (65%) of Canadians reporting they have used it to pay for online purchases last year. Besides using their online balance, PayPal users can pay for street parking from their bank accounts, credit cards or Visa debit card linked to their PayPal account.

The Green P app was first introduced in March 2015 to non-gated off-street parking lots. To date, there have been approximately 300,000 app downloads.

The extension of the program to on street paid parking is a collaborative effort between the Toronto Parking Authority, the Toronto Police Service that will enforce the rules, and Toronto Transportation Services that maintains the regulations and signage. To learn more, please visit www.greenp.com.

Southern Trust Home Services Warns About the Damage of Frozen Pipes

Southern Trust Home Services, southern Virginia's leading HVAC, plumbing and electrical provider, wants to help area homeowners prevent damage from frozen pipes. The BBB A+ rated-company has five tips to help Roanoke-area residents prevent frozen pipes from bursting and causing costly damage to their homes.

"A common problem we see during the holidays is the aftermath of improper winterization and prevention," said Ted Puzio, owner of Southern Trust Home Services. "Taking the necessary steps to prevent your pipes from freezing could save homeowners a lot of money."

Southern Trust Home Services offers these tips for homeowners to prevent pipes from bursting:

Open cabinet doors – Keep cabinet doors in both your kitchen and bathroom open to allow warm air to circulate.

Insulate pipes – Invest in a pipe sleeve or heating tape to provide insulation.
Frequently run water – Allow the faucets to drip lukewarm water in order to minimize freezing.

Cover outdoor faucets – Outdoor water faucets are extremely susceptible to freezing. It is best to always unhook water hoses for the winter. Consider covering the faucets with insulated sleeves that can be found at hardware and home improvement stores.

Turn up the thermostat – If your home is built over a crawl space, turning up your thermostat will increase the air temperature in the crawlspace by projecting heat energy through the floor into the space.

If a pipe does end up freezing, it is important to locate the water valve and cut it off. Though using a blow dryer or additional types of heating methods to thaw out a frozen pipe might help, there is still a potential danger that a professional plumber can adequately address.

Southern Trust Home Services proven system for preparing homes for brutal winters has helped countless Roanoke residents save on repairs and utility bills. To find out more about frozen pipe bursts, visit http://www.southerntrusthomeservices.com.

Meo Electric Installs 10 EV Charging Stations on Parliament Hill

Meo Electric completed the commissioning of 10 new electric vehicle chargers for the Government of Canada in downtown Ottawa last week. The chargers are located in a private parking lot a short walk from Centre Block. They are intended for ministers, senators, and other members of the federal government who drive plug-in hybrid or electric vehicles to work.

The Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, is presently the only federal minister driving a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. She will now be able to charge her vehicle while working on Parliament Hill thanks to Meo Electric's stations. Natural Resources minister Jim Carr opted not to choose a plug-in electric vehicle for his new executive vehicle earlier this year. Carr cited lack of charging infrastructure on The Hill as one of his reasons.

On the Liberal Party's official website, they promised to "support clean transportation by adding electric vehicle charging stations at federal parking lots, and rapidly expanding the federal fleet of electric vehicles." Meo's new stations mark the first successful execution of this promise.

The chargers installed at the private lot are Level 2 electric vehicle supply equipment. They allow the full recharge of modern electric cars in 4 to 5 hours, and can also top up energy levels in much shorter charging sessions.

The chargers were manufactured by Québec-based AddÉnergie. Meo Electric operates in Ontario, Québec, and New Brunswick, and aims to supply customers with a 100% made-in-Canada service, from consultation, to EVSE hardware selection, installation, and training. Other participants in this project were C&M Electric and Pomerleau.

Four in Five Ontarians say natural gas is reliable and capable for home heating

As temperatures continue to drop, a new poll from Pollara Strategic Insights reveals Ontarians overwhelmingly view natural gas as the most reliable and capable energy source for heating their homes.

The study, which was commissioned by the Ontario Natural Gas Alliance (ONGA), found 83 per cent of Ontarians give natural gas top marks on reliability and capability when it comes to heating their homes.

Other key highlights from the report include:

Two-thirds (67 per cent) would choose natural gas as the energy source for their heating system right now—by far the leading choice among Ontarians.
Over 90 per cent of Ontarians view cost, reliability and capability as important when choosing a home heating source.
Natural gas received far higher and intense positive ratings on measures of reliability, cost, environmental impact and capability than any other home heating source.


"Ontario residents view natural gas as an affordable and reliable way to heat their homes during our harsh winters," says ONGA spokesperson Jamie Ellerton. "By readily allowing home-owners to adjust their thermostats no matter how cold it is outside, natural gas keeps Ontarians warm when they need it most."

Natural gas is connected directly to the home via underground pipelines. Unlike other energy sources, winter storms won't prevent the abundant supply of natural gas from reaching Ontario homes. Supply is so abundant in North America, there is enough to last well beyond the next 100 years.

"Natural gas is also the most affordable source of energy for Ontario homes and businesses, costing significantly less than electricity, propane or oil," says Ellerton. "Over the past two winters, homeowners have saved between $1,700 and $2,200 a year by using natural gas instead of electricity, oil or propane for heat and hot water."

To learn more about the benefits of natural gas visit www.cleanandaffordable.ca

REPORT: Ontario's GDP recovered since recession, but wellbeing has room for improvement

 In Canada, Ontario was hit hardest by the recession in 2008, and while Gross Domestic Product in the province has recovered since then, a new series of reports released today by the Ontario Trillium Foundation, called A Profile of Wellbeing in Ontario, point out that there is room to improve, and the Foundation believes its impactful strategic investments will help.

To help answer the question, "How are we really doing?", the Ontario Trillium Foundation - an agency of the Government of Ontario and one of Canada's largest granting foundations - commissioned the Canadian Index of Wellbeing to produce five detailed reports of community wellbeing for the North, West, East, and Central regions, and for the city of Toronto.

"As a public agency, the Ontario Trillium Foundation wants to ensure we are directing our resources to where there is the most need, so that we can have the greatest impact. We wanted to take an evidence-based approach, so that we could demonstrate the value of our investments. Using an index like the Canadian Index of Wellbeing allows us to make granting decisions that will make the biggest positive change to individuals and to communities. Being able to track how we are really doing in Ontario is the first step towards leaving a lasting effect on the public benefit sector," said Andrea Cohen Barrack, CEO Ontario Trillium Foundation, about the importance of the reports.

The CIW uses research to determine whether Canadians are making progress towards sustainable wellbeing in eight inter-connected domains, or categories - Health, Living Standards, Community Vitality, Environment, Leisure and Culture, Education, Time Use, and Democratic Engagement.

The United Nations and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development agree - the true measure of a country's progress must include the wellbeing of its citizens. The CIW shifts the focus from solely on the economy and Gross Domestic Product to include other critical domains of people's lives.

"The Canadian Index of Wellbeing came about because too much emphasis was being placed on economic growth and not enough on wellbeing. Gross Domestic Product only measures economic productivity and does not measure social progress. There's a global movement now looking beyond GDP, and that has helped foster the development of the CIW. We've created an Index that measures aspects of people's lives that really do matter to them," explained Bryan Smale, Director of the Canadian Index of Wellbeing at the University of Waterloo.

The Ontario Regional Reports contain information about crime rates, access to physicians, greenhouse gas emissions, stress rates, and commute times.

That is why OTF used the Index in the creation of our Action Areas - the areas in which OTF focuses its investments. As OTF accumulates more data, these reports in tandem with other sources will help establish the best measure for OTF's accumulated impact over the next decade.

"The Ontario Trillium Foundation deserves credit for having the vision to recognize that using a framework like the CIW to monitor progress in key areas was important to incorporate as part of its vision. Having this data will accelerate the work the Foundation can do. It will bring OTF closer to addressing issues of concern to people at a more localized level," said Smale.

Rental Income and Housing Affordability Highlight a "New Normal" for Young Canadians in the Mortgage Market

Highlights

  • 34% of recent first-time buyers think it is important to generate income from their property
  • 1-in-5 recent first-time buyers either rent or plan to rent part of their homes
  • First-time buyers are more likely to rent out part of their homes (11%) compared to those who have owned a home previously (6%), and 20% of 18-34 year-olds plan to rent out part of their home
  • 40% of those who rent part of their home do so to afford their housing costs
  • 13% of those who renovated their homes did so to add space for a rental unit
  • 50% of 18-34 year-olds do not own a home
  • Why? 43% are saving for a down payment, 29% lack financial stability and 26% are waiting for prices to decrease
  • 42% of 18-34 year-old mortgage holders found homeownership costs to be higher than expected
  • 9% of homeowners took out equity on their homes in the past year, most commonly to pay for home renovation or repair
  • The mortgage broker share of the market continues to increase – of those who purchased in 2016, 43% used a mortgage broker, 47% used a mortgage representative from a Canadian bank.
​Canadians who purchased their first home within the past two years reflect a "new normal" in the Canadian housing market, according to Mortgage Professionals Canada's fall 2016 survey. Thirty-four per cent of recent first-time buyers think it is important to generate income from their properties, and 13 per cent of those who undertook renovations on their homes did so to add space for a rental unit. Half of 18-34 year-olds do not own a home, primarily because they are saving for a down payment.

"Creating income remains a useful tool for first-time homebuyers," said Paul Taylor, President of Mortgage Professionals Canada. "People are looking for ways to make owning a home more affordable. Generating income allows them to reduce their mortgage more quickly."

Canadians responding to the survey underscore this point. For homes purchased during 2014 to 2016, the average contracted amortization period is 22.4 years. Each year more than a third of mortgage holders take actions that will shorten their amortization periods. The most recent buyers expect that, on average, they will repay their mortgages in 18.8 years, which is 3.6 years shorter than their average contracted period.

On October 3, the federal government announced that for all insured mortgages, the borrower's ability to afford the payments must be tested using the "posted rate", which is currently 4.64% and far above the actual interest rates found in the market.

"It is too soon to measure the impacts of this policy change," said Will Dunning, Mortgage Professionals Canada Chief Economist and author of the Annual State of the Residential Mortgage Market in Canada report. "The survey finds that among potential homebuyers who expect to be subject to that test, their ability to buy a home will be impaired. As a result, they also expect that there will be negative impacts in the overall housing market and in the broader economy."

Renting trends
The fall 2016 survey found that, currently, 12% of homeowners rent or plan to rent a part of their home (for example a basement apartment). For mortgage holders, this number increases to 16%. Younger Canadians in the 18-34 year-old demographic are the most likely to rent out part of their home, at 20%. Of the individuals who do rent out part of their home, 40% identified that they do so to afford their mortgage costs. Broken down by age bracket, Canadians in the younger and mid-range age demographic (18-34 and 35-54) rent part of their homes to alleviate costs, while older Canadians (65+) do so as a preference.

Sources of down payments: gifts from parents have tripled since pre-1990
In the fall of 2014, Mortgage Professionals Canada began studying down payments made by first-time buyers. While down payment amounts have remained around the 20% mark over several years, the sources of down payments have varied. Personal savings has increased slightly as a source (46% for homes purchased in 2000 compared to 51% for homes purchased between 2014 and 2016) but gifts from parents have doubled (7% for homes purchased in 2000 compared to 15% for homes purchased between 2014 and 2016). This number has actually tripled since pre-1990, when it was 5%. Loans from parents have remained the same (3% for homes purchased in 2000 as well as those purchased between 2014 and 2016) suggesting that parents are giving money to their children rather than loaning it.

The Rising Cost of Down Payments
The rapid rise in house prices has meant that required down payments have increased compared to incomes. For example, a 20% down payment on an average-priced house is now equal to 102 weeks at the average wage in Canada, double compared to 15 years ago.

Consumer sentiment about buying a home
Canadians are less inclined to say that now is a good time to purchase a home. The survey asked the degree to which they agree with the statement that now is a good time to buy a home or condominium in their community. Responses were given via a 10-point scale. This report found the average response was just 5.6 out of 10, a sharp drop of 8% compared to previous years (when the average rating was 6.08). However, 80% agree that real estate is a good long-term investment and 78% would classify mortgages as "good" debt.

Goals Set for Community Benefits - good jobs building transit

   Yesterday the Premier of Ontario announced a historic milestone - the goal of workforce inclusion and diversity on the Eglinton Crosstown transit project. In a Declaration signed by Metrolinx, project contractor Crosslinx, the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development, Infrastructure Ontario, the United Way and the Toronto Community Benefits Network (TCBN), all agreed to a program of training and hiring workers from historically disadvantaged communities and equity seeking groups. The intent is to have apprentices and journeypersons from these groups perform ten percent of the project trade hours. This will result in over 300 careers for young people who otherwise may not have found the way to enter the skilled trades workforce.

"A Community Benefits Agreement is powerful tool to overcome the historical underrepresentation of minorities and women in the construction industry. Jobs in the construction trades are good, well-paying jobs with benefits and a focus on safety. They can also be green jobs. Most importantly, workers have the opportunity to help build up their communities with the sense of pride, ownership and responsibility that engenders. The TCBN was established four years ago as a community-labour alliance to realize this goal Now that we have this Declaration signed, we will work together with our partners to implement the community benefits program, monitor and evaluate its outcomes and replicate the model in future infrastructure builds." said Rosemarie Powell, Executive Director of the TCBN.

Initiated by the Toronto & York Region Labour Council, the TCBN's membership has grown to over sixty community and union organizations, and is supported by the United Way, Atkinson, Metcalf and Trillium Foundations. It is co-chaired by John Cartwright of the Labour Council and Lekan Olawoye of The 12 Community Alliance. Construction union training centres in Toronto have already created or are supporting programs to prepare young people from marginalized communities with the skills sets needed to access these jobs. The media event was held at the Tradelinx pre-apprenticeship training workshop of the Labour Education Centre.

And for the first time in North America, there is also a pipeline created for professional, administration, and technical jobs. To date more than forty new hires have been made by Crosslinx into these occupations. The Declaration can be found at http://ow.ly/Madf306Uq9K

Don't be fooled by Mother Nature: It's time for winter tires, vehicle battery check

CAA Winter Weather Services

CAA-Approved Auto Repair Facilities across the region provide comprehensive vehicle tests and tire replacements. CAA's mobile Battery Service will test, replace and recycle your old car battery where you are, such as your home, workplace or other location.

For over a hundred years, CAA has been helping Canadians stay mobile, safe and protected. CAA South Central Ontario is one of nine auto clubs across Canada providing roadside assistance, travel, insurance services and member savings for our 2 million members.
This year's long, hot summer and mild fall temperatures may have left some Ontario drivers unprepared and caught off guard for what's to come. CAA South Central Ontario (CAA SCO) reminds all drivers to install their winter tires and check their vehicle's battery to prepare for the winter driving season ahead.

With recent intermittent periods of cold temperatures, snow and ice mixed in with phases of warmer weather, CAA SCO says looks can be deceiving.

"It's important now that winter tires are installed, and that your car battery is checked for any deterioration caused by hot temperatures this past summer," said Ryan Peterson, Manager Automotive Services, CAA SCO. "Don't be fooled by the weather. The grass may be greener than ever in some parts of Ontario, but drivers should take these important steps, if they have not already."

Changing Your Winter Tires

A good time to switch from all-season to winter tires is when the temperature reaches 7°C or below and winter tires should be removed when the temperature reaches 7°C or higher. In the cold weather, all-season tires turn hard and lose their elasticity. This causes reduced grip and longer stopping distances.

Drivers should also check their tire pressure once a month. As the temperature drops so too does tire pressure. For every 5°C dip in the thermometer, tire pressure decreases one pound per square inch, which results in reduced handling and control of a vehicle.

Depending on speed and the weather, the braking distance of winter tires can be up to 25 per cent shorter (or two vehicle lengths) compared to all-season tires. Winter tires consist of a rubber compound that keeps tires flexible in cold temperatures and a tread design that helps maintain a firm grip on snow and ice packed roads. Also, sets of four matching winter tires will help your vehicle maintain control and stability.

Checking Your Vehicle's Battery

Drivers are also encouraged to have their battery checked to avoid potential power failure without warning. This summer's heat wave level temperatures can cause extensive damage to batteries, but the effects may not be seen until it is cold outside. Extreme heat can cause water in the battery's acid to evaporate, which can drain the power necessary to start the car in cold winter temperatures. Batteries should be tested regularly as they approach their average life span of 3-5 years.

Joe Fresh Welcomes Three Canadian Fashion Startups to Join the Joe Fresh Centre for Fashion Innovation

Exclusive benefits for the Joe Fresh Innovators include:

Access to startup funding up to $50,000
Mentorship and networking opportunities with Joe Fresh and Ryerson leadership teams
Access to Fashion Zone at Ryerson University's equipment and facilities
Eligible marketing and promotion expenses up to $5,000
Academic recognition from Ryerson University following completion of the program
Unique showcasing opportunities
One dedicated working desk in The Joe Fresh Centre and one flex desk
 The Joe Fresh Centre for Fashion Innovation, in partnership with the Fashion Zone at Ryerson University, today announced three new Canadian startups will join the Centre. Made possible with a $1 million investment from Joe Fresh, the Centre develops and funds Canada's emerging fashion-inspired businesses through the Fashion Zone at Ryerson University.

"Joe Fresh is happy to continue partnering with innovative and forward-looking Canadian businesses," said Ian Freedman, President of Joe Fresh. "We are excited about the new cohort joining the existing eight companies to pave the way for the next generation of entrepreneurs."

"The third wave of innovators truly showcases the diversity of the fashion industry," said Robert Ott, Executive Director of the Joe Fresh Centre for Fashion Innovation. "Together with Joe Fresh, we are working with startups from all aspects of the industry to ensure they succeed in the long term."

The three new Joe Fresh Innovators are:

Sidebuy
Sidebuy is a technology platform that enables fashion and lifestyle brands to discover influencers, automate promotional campaigns and measure the reach and impact of each campaign seamlessly. Founded by Mona Akhavi, her vision is to accelerate, optimize and measure marketing campaigns through a data-driven influencer platform. Akhavi has also built a network of 10,000 influencers across 150 cities in North America and the U.S.

Adrenalease Inc.
Adrenalease Inc. specializes in scientifically engineered Posture Performance Apparel. Their primary Posture Performance Shirt has integrated adjustable straps that work like Kinesio-Tape. Through proprioceptive feedback and muscle memory, the straps provide a gentle reminder to keep your posture in an upright position. Founded in May 2015 by Noureddin Chahrour and Elias Seif, the Adrenalease Inc. duo has since appeared on Dragon's Den season 10 episode 6, which aired on November 18, 2015. Adrenalease Inc. has recently expanded their line with the introduction of a Posture tank-top alternative and is slated to develop a Posture Sports Bra.

Nudy Patooty
Nudy Patooty, founded by Michelle Shemilt, is a transformative undergarment that gets rid of sweat before it becomes an embarrassing stain or damages clothes. Each Nudy Patooty item is proudly made in Canada with high-tech fabric that absorbs perspiration and protects clothes by keeping them dry all day long.

Stainless Steel is Trending Outdoors

"Just seeing the number of ways that companies are using the material has been interesting to watch. It's gone from primarily an industrial material, to consumer products, to residential and commercial interiors. Now, we're seeing it continue to grow into really innovative applications for exterior living spaces," said Praveen Sood, retail and product marketing manager at Feeney, Inc., which specializes in stainless steel cable railing systems that can endure a variety of harsh conditions with minimal maintenance while maintaining the original view-friendly aesthetic. "It's proven to be incredibly versatile."
(Family Features) Stainless steel has been a staple in luxurious, contemporary kitchens all over the world for years. While it's most often used indoors, this durable, low-maintenance, design-forward material is making its way outdoors.

Deck railings, outdoor kitchen cabinetry and solar-powered lighting are among the many examples of products using stainless steel to create exterior spaces that are aesthetically pleasing and easy to maintain. As this material continues to expand beyond traditional uses, design-forward homeowners are more likely to incorporate it into their outdoor living spaces as well.

One option for creating a stylish outdoor look is with kitchen cabinetry manufacturer Danver Stainless Outdoor Kitchens, which produces its cabinets from 100 percent stainless steel. For homeowners who don't want the traditional stainless look, powder coat finishes, which can create various wood grains or colors to allow for a seamless transition between indoor and outdoor living spaces, are also an option.

Moreover, the demand for stainless steel is leading to a high rate of innovation. Companies like Gama Sonic, manufacturer of solar-powered outdoor lighting, answered when customers longed for a modern, durable product by developing the Bollard, made entirely from stainless steel. The natural sustainability of the material combined with solar LED bulb technology results in a highly energy-efficient, highly green product, which is a must-have for today's eco-conscious homeowners.

For many homeowners, stainless steel is a statement and a symbol of quality, but just as important is its ability to create an outdoor space with both form and function in mind. Find more outdoor living ideas at danver.com, feeneyinc.com and gamasonic.com.

Canada's Purpose-Built Rental Vacancy Rate Increases

 In the privately initiated purpose-built rental market, the average apartment vacancy rate in Canada's 34 larger centres increased slightly, to 3.4 per cent in October 2016, from 3.3 per cent in October 2015, according to the fall Rental Market Survey released today by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

Tailor made reports are available for Canada, the provinces, Yellowknife and major centres.

The Rental Market Survey provides data and analysis for both the primary or purpose built rental market and the secondary rental market covering condominium apartments.

Report Highlights

Saskatoon (10.3%), St-John's (7.9%), Edmonton (7.1%), Calgary (7.0%) and Saguenay (7.0%) are the major Canadian centres with the highest purpose built rental housing vacancy rates.

Victoria and Abbotsford-Mission (0.5%), Kelowna (0.6%) and Vancouver (0.7%) are the major Canadian centres with the lowest purpose built rental housing vacancy rates.

On average across Canada's 34 larger centres, rental rates for a two-bedroom apartment rose by 2% compared to last year.
The average rent for a two bedroom apartment is $995/month.
Rental condominium vacancy rates ranged from a high of 6.8% in Edmonton to a low of 0.3% in Vancouver.

Average month rental rates for a two-bedroom condominium apartment ranged from a high of $2,029/month in Toronto to a low of $1,033 in Québec City.

CMHC recognizes that there is demand to fill information gaps with respect to Canada's housing markets. To address this need CMHC has, for the first time, asked property managers to provide information on the total number of units that have been occupied by a new tenant in the past twelve months.
The results of this additional question indicate that the turnover rates in purpose built rental apartments in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and most centers in the Atlantic Canada were above the national average, while turnover rates in British Columbia, Quebec and Ontario were generally below the national average.


In order to access future Market Analysis Centre publications from CMHC, please subscribe to Housing Observer Online.
As Canada's authority on housing, CMHC contributes to the stability of the housing market and financial system, provides support for Canadians in housing need, and offers objective housing research and information to Canadian governments, consumers and the housing industry.



Premier Wynne meets with Ontario Realtors to discuss housing affordability

​The Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) and the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) met with Premier Kathleen Wynne today to discuss housing affordability and other real estate issues affecting Ontarians. Realtors are encouraged by Premier Wynne's commitment to helping more young Ontarians become home owners.

"We discussed a range of solutions to help with home affordability," said Ray Ferris, president of OREA. "We recommended the need for bringing more supply of homes to the market. The demand for homes is outpacing supply, and that's making affordable home ownership difficult for thousands of young families."

The province can bring more supply to the market by reducing permit approval times, auditing official plans and dedicating more infrastructure funding to get land serviced. Responsibly easing restrictions on developable land will open the door for greater housing development and more choice for home buyers.

In an effort to help first-time home buyers, last week the Ontario government announced its plans to increase the Land Transfer Tax rebate. As of January 1, 2017, the rebate for first-time home buyers will increase from $2,000 to $4,000.

"The LTT rebate increase is an important first step towards more affordable home ownership," said Tim Hudak, OREA CEO-Designate. "We were pleased to see Ontario resist scapegoating foreign home buyers for affordability challenges in the market. We commend the Premier for taking a data driven approach to housing policy decisions."

Moving forward, Realtors are committed to working with Premier Wynne and her government to make home ownership more affordable for Ontario families.


Bill 7, Promoting Affordable Housing Act, 2016
 

The Standing Committee on Social Policy will meet to consider Bill 7, An Act to amend or repeal various Acts with respect to housing and planning.

The Committee intends to hold public hearings in Toronto on Monday, November 28, 2016.

Interested people who wish to be considered to make an oral presentation on Bill 7 should provide their contact name, mailing address, phone number, and email address to the Clerk of the Committee by 12:00 noon on Thursday, November 24, 2016.

Those who do not wish to make an oral presentation but wish to comment on the Bill may send a written submission to the Clerk of the Committee at the address below by 8:00 p.m. on Monday, November 28, 2016.

An electronic version of the Bill is available on the Legislative Assembly website at: www.ontla.on.ca.

Peter Tabuns, MPP, Chair
Katch Koch, Clerk
Room 1405, Whitney Block 
Queen's Park, Toronto, ON  M7A 1A2
(Collect calls will be accepted.)

A dream come true! Nine families received the keys to their newly-built affordable homes from Habitat for Humanity GTA

​On Monday Nov, 7, nine local families received the keys to their newly-built homes and the foundation for a brighter future through affordable homeownership in a special Home Dedication ceremony hosted by Habitat for Humanity Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

The ceremony marked the completion of the build project at 357 Birchmount Road in Toronto's east end, constructed on what was previously City of Toronto surplus land. Over 100 volunteers who helped build the homes, donors, sponsors and members of the community gathered to wish the families well.

Ramin Rahimi and his mother and three siblings are one of the nine families who became new homeowners today. The Rahimi family is very excited to be moving out of their overcrowded two-bedroom apartment and into a safe, decent and affordable home, knowing that so many positive changes lie ahead for them. "Most of my family is pursuing higher education because we believe it is the key to successfully integrating into a new society," said Ramin. "The financial burden meant we had to make many sacrifices regarding our living conditions. We had abandoned all hope of owning a house until we heard about Habitat for Humanity. Now, our dream comes true!"

As part of the Home Dedication ceremony, Habitat GTA's Safety Program Sponsors, Enbridge Gas Distribution, First Alert and CSA Group announced an expansion of the program which has provided safety support to Habitat GTA build sites, ReStores and offices since 2013. As a result of this focused attention on safety, Habitat for Humanity recently won Silver in Canada's Safest Employers awards, presented by Canadian Occupational Safety.

Today, Safety Program Sponsors introduced a new element to the program, focused on the safety of Habitat homeowner families. This new initiative will provide all new Habitat homeowner families with a First Alert Fire Safety Kit complete with home fire extinguisher, carbon monoxide detector and smoke detector.

First Alert, Enbridge and CSA Group have also created a video for Habitat families to educate them about the safety precautions they need to take in their

home to protect their families from fire and carbon monoxide poisoning. Following the Dedication, Public Educator, Sherry Ballantyne conducted a fire safety tour of one of the homes and outlined a home fire escape plan.

"Safety within our organization and in the communities we serve is our highest priority. With that in mind, it's a natural partnership where we work to ensure the highest standards of safety for all Habitat GTA activities on the construction site, in the office and at Habitat's ReStores," said Malini Giridhar, Vice President, Market Development and Public & Government Affairs at Enbridge Gas Distribution Inc. "We are proud and honoured to be the official Safety Sponsor in partnership with CSA Group and First Alert."

Following the dedication, the crowd gathered to witness the naming of the laneway next to the homes in honour of a long-serving former Board Chair of Habitat for Humanity in Toronto, donor and supporter, Jean-Francois (J-F) Courville, Executive VP and COO of RBC Wealth Management.

"I am deeply honoured to be recognized by Habitat GTA in this way," said Mr. Courville. "I know that Courville Drive will be a place where these families will thrive and make happy memories for years to come. I feel so honored that my long-standing love affair with the broad Habitat GTA family is being recognized in this way. I have been so gratified by the energy of Habitat GTA and its partner families throughout the years."

To complete the celebrations for these families, Enbridge Gas Distribution hosted a community event and lunch complete with a "Smellfie" booth where attendees took photos of themselves smelling the odour of natural gas. This unique smell is intentional so that anyone who smells it can ensure they get to a safe area.

Yorkville Village and OCAD University Kick Off Annual Arts Festival with Gala Event

​The third annual Yorkville Village Arts Festival officially began Thursday night with a gala event unveiling the exhibition of one-of-a-kind contemporary art pieces created by 28 OCAD University students and recent graduates. The exhibition will be open to the public starting today through Wednesday, November 9th.

Over 200 guests attended the opening gala where they were privy to a first look at the transformed and recently renovated Yorkville Village, interwoven with displays of art throughout the centre and retail wings. Artists were present to discuss their work while a live painting demonstration by Dahae Song captivated attendees.

"For the past 6 years, First Capital Realty has embarked on art initiatives across the country allowing us to support local artists and make contributions to the communities in which we live and work. Through our collaboration with OCAD University, First Capital Realty provides students with an opportunity to nurture and showcase their incredible talent," said Adam Paul, First Capital Realty President and CEO. "This is the third year we're doing the Yorkville Arts Festival and our goal is to build it into a premier art event and to help launch the careers of new artists."

"It's tremendously exciting for emerging artists to have their work exhibited to the public in such a beautiful, welcoming space," said Dr. Sara Diamond, OCAD University President and Vice-Chancellor. "We are grateful to First Capital Realty for inviting us again this year and for their ongoing support of our students."

The artwork presented at the festival was chosen through a rigorous jury process and will span photography, sculpture, painting and video installation. All artworks are for sale to the general public for the duration of the festival.

Also part of the Arts Festival is the Yorkville Village Arts Festival Pop-Up Shop, open today until Saturday, November 12th. The shop will offer for sale a dynamic selection of student, alumni and faculty work including textiles, ceramics, artist multiples, cards, jewellery and more from 50 different artists. 90% of all sales will go to the creators and 10% will be donated back to OCAD U to support this initiative.

Perfect your holiday party with dramatic black marble, festive metallic and more: EQ3 introduces the holiday 2016 collection

 Black marble, hand-hammered accents, and metallic serveware make up EQ3's Holiday 2016 collection, launching in-stores and online early this month. The line-up of festive homewares features essentials for holiday entertaining, and works beautifully for gift-giving with pieces under $50.

EQ3 expands its popular Coast Collection to include a second matte black marble finish. Perfect for any holiday dinner party is the Coast Cheeseboard. The board's smooth marble surface keeps hard and soft cheeses cool. The Coast Bowl in black marble makes a striking addition to any tabletop. Use it to display seasonally fresh mandarins and pears. The Coast Coasters in black marble will add polish to your next cocktail party. At only $19.99 for four, they make a great stocking-stuffer or gift.

If you're hosting a cocktail party this season, consider EQ3's new barware. Top-up your curated barcart with the Florence Collection. Serve up classics in the Martini Shaker, made from sleek glass and stainless steel. Keep your wine or sparking water chilled in the Wine Cooler, featuring built-in ice packs. And make sure that your ice lasts as long as your party does with the Ice Bucket, made from insulated stainless steel.

Essential for holiday entertaining is our decorative serveware. Cater to the crowd with our Cheer Candy Dishes, available in three metallic finishes, perfect for putting out nuts, dried fruit and candy for guests. Made from polished steel, EQ3's new Elsie Pitchers are ideal for serving water or a favourite holiday punch. And serve holiday side dishes in style with the new hand-hammered Tippy Bowls with a gold finish, available in three sizes, each in a complementary matte white, black or grey. Looking to add some sculptural texture to the table? Our Perle Serving Bowls and Rosamond Platters will do just that.

Light the night with an array of candlelight. EQ3's new ceramic Lure Tealight holders are sleek and simple. Or, go gothic with the dramatic Column Candleholders, available in a matte black steel. Display these soaring floor candleholders in a hall or entryway to invite guests in.

Celebrate the season with EQ3's 2016 holiday collection, ranging in price from $4.99 – $129.99.

Edmonton's First Modular Shipping Container Apartment Building Breaks Ground

Edmonton based Step Ahead Properties Ltd. gathered with Ladacor Advanced Modular Systems™ at their Westgate Manor site in Glenwood to launch construction of an exciting new affordable housing development, which will see the infill addition to the property of 20 units of purpose-built affordable rental housing.

This development will be a first of its type in Edmonton to use repurposed shipping-containers as part of an innovative modular building technology. Calgary based Ladacor Advanced Modular Systems™ will fabricate the shipping containers into factory-finished modules that will be transported to the site and then craned into place.

AJ Slivinski, owner of Step Ahead Properties Ltd. explained his reasons for choosing Ladacor's Advanced Modular System™, "Using this modular building approach offers numerous benefits over conventional construction. There is a faster schedule, off-site construction will mean less disruption to the existing tenants and surrounding neighbours, the steel building is non-combustible, which is far safer and more durable for rental housing, and lastly the modular construction gives a far better sound insulation between the suites, making them much quieter for the residents."

Joseph Kiss, President of Ladacor, added, "Our Advanced Modular System™ technology uses repurposed shipping containers as an integral part of a highly engineered, building code and CSA standard compliant modular system for multi-story buildings. The one-trip shipping containers that we use enable us to provide a high quality steel, non-combustible building that is cost-effective, with a fast-tracked schedule. When the project is complete, it will be indistinguishable from a conventional building".

The new infill addition will feature a mix of 1 and 2-bedroom units with a private balcony/patio and in-suite laundry. The project has a building-permit in place with construction ready to begin and occupancy scheduled for summer 2017.

The Ladacor technology has already been used successfully for various projects, including a 4-storey hotel in Bruderheim, northeast of Edmonton. Step Ahead Properties Ltd are looking at further opportunities in the area to build more affordable housing

Fall Sunday, High Park October 23, 2016
photo essay by Walter Tautorat

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Sometimes the best move forward is a step back. In the years that I have been writing and taking photographs I have tried to challenge myself to find new topics and events.

I have tried to learn new things, gain new insights and meet new people. I have created, in my head, a list of things that I would love to challenge myself with, but from time to time it is nice to step back and appreciate the wonders of life that exist so close to home.

I have been blessed in life to live so close to this amazing place. My trips here began when I was still in my mother’s womb and continued throughout my life. No matter where in Toronto we lived, we always came here to play, to relax and to marvel at the life that exists here.

Each and every trip here is a different experience. As summer turns to fall, this place takes on a certain magic. Birds and animals work diligently to prepare for the upcoming winter. Ducks and hawks stop over on the way to somewhere warmer and the colours are better than any artist could paint.

If you sit still just long enough even the smallest of birds takes the time to say hello. Toronto is filled with such wonderful places.

Worth the time to explore, especially at this time of year. As always enjoy Toronto !

IKEA Canada Commemorates 40 Years of Iconic Design in Canada with IKEA Then & Now Exhibit

IKEA Canada is opening an exhibit in downtown Toronto to celebrate its 40th anniversary in Canada. Hosted at the Design Exchange, Canada's Design Museum, IKEA Then & Now will take visitors on a journey through the decades to demonstrate how IKEA has helped shape life at home in Canada. The exhibit is free to the public and will run from October 21st to 30th.

IKEA Then & Now tells the story of IKEA in Canada, featuring rooms displaying iconic IKEA furniture from the 1970's to today, with a glimpse into the future. Inspired by the IKEA Museum in Älmhult, Sweden, the exhibit also pays homage to the ancestry of IKEA home furnishings and its unique democratic design philosophy of creating products that help create a better everyday life through their form, function, quality, sustainability and affordable price.

"Canadian's have welcomed IKEA into their homes for the past 40 years and we are delighted to have reached this anniversary together," said Dave McCabe, Acting President, IKEA Canada. "The IKEA Then & Now exhibit offers visitors a chance to take a trip down memory lane, remembering how our homes have evolved over the last four decades. The exhibit also offers a behind the scenes look at the IKEA brand and business, which we are confident will continue to grow in Canada for the next 40 years and beyond."

There will be many more things to experience at the exhibit, including a ball pit for both the young and young at heart. Visitors will also have the opportunity to be featured on the front cover of this year's IKEA Catalogue. And, just for dropping by, visitors will have a chance to win a week-long dream trip for two to the design capital of the world, Stockholm, Sweden.

IKEA Then & Now runs from October 21st to 30th at the Design Exchange, 234 Bay St., Toronto. Admission is free to the public. The hours of operation are as follows: Monday - Friday: 9am - 7pm Saturday & Sunday: 10am – 6pm

Rally chez Justin Trudeau: the FRAPRU calls on Ottawa to invest massively in social housing

OTTAWA, Oct. 13, 2016 /CNW Telbec/ - This afternoon, about 350 members of the Front d'action populaire en réaménagement urbain (FRAPRU) are demonstrating in front of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's temporary residence, in Ottawa, calling for a National Housing Strategy that is based on human rights and focused on social housing. This rally is part of a month of international housing rights actions that are organized in response to Habitat III, an event taking place from October 17th to 20th in Quito, Ecuador. Minister Jean-Yves Duclos will be representing Canada at this event, which will discuss cities' work plans regarding habitat and sustainable cities for the next twenty years.

The FRAPRU demands that the Canadian strategy, open for public consultation until October 21st, commits to formally recognizing the right to housing within Canadian law. This demand is based on a recommendation of the UN Committee on Economic and Social Rights which, in a report adopted on March 4th 2016, invites Canada to adopt "a national housing strategy that is based on human rights."

The FRAPRU also calls for the Strategy to invest an additional 2 billion dollars in housing each year. To justify this demand, the FRAPRU draws on official statistics that show that 1 552 145 Canadian households, including 989 385 tenants, have core housing needs. This number does not include the homeless population, which has been increasing across the country. FRAPRU's coordinator, François Saillant, urges "all government investments should target individuals and families who are poorly housed or homeless, rather than being sprinkled across all kinds of initiatives, including access to property, which isn't really an urgent issue in the current context." According to Mr. Saillant, investments should also focus on funding social housing: "if the Trudeau government is serious about wanting to fund housing that is truly and sustainably affordable, it must invest in non-profit housing that belong to the community."

Finally, the FRAPRU calls on the government to immediately confirm the continuation of subsidies for existing social housing units. In Canada, some 566 000 social housing units currently receive this funding, but this number is dropping year after year. In 2015 alone, 22 600 social housing units lost the subsidies they had been receiving from the federal government for decades. According to the FRAPRU, the loss of these subsidies has deeply negative consequences on the financial accessibility of social housing, as well as on its continued maintenance and good repair.

In support of the Fukushima refugees
After its rally in front of Prime Minister's temporary residence, the FRAPRU will then march to the Japanese Embassy. This demonstration is intended as a concrete gesture of support for the individuals and families who were forced to leave the city of Fukushima after the nuclear accident following the earthquake on March 11th 2011. The government now wants to force the residents of Fukushima to return to their homes as early as March 2017, cutting off their housing allowances. However studies done by a wide range of organizations show that the levels of radiation are still extremely high and pose a major risk to the health and lives of exposed individuals and families.

The FRAPRU action is part of an international support campaign for the refugees of Fukushima, launched on August 16th 2016 by three international housing rights organizations during the World Social Forum in Montreal.

It is advised that homeowners check the date of all alarms, replacing any smoke alarms over 10 years old and CO or combination smoke/CO alarms made prior to 2009. If your alarms are up-to-date and they are not “Worry-Free” models, remember to change the batteries when the clocks go back an hour this November. To learn more, visit www.safeathome.ca.

Kidde’s Worry-Free products help solve common smoke and CO alarm issues

CNW, Toronto, Canada – October 6, 2016: The newest generation of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are here, helping to solve the three most common issues consumers have with their alarms: where to install them, false alarms, and the need to replace batteries.

As Canada’s number one alarm manufacturer, Kidde relied on extensive research to derive its new range of “Worry-Free” products. Homeowners will find a recommended install location for each model right on packaging; advanced sensors to help reduce false alarms; and a sealed, tamper-proof, 10-year lithium battery that lasts for the entire life of the alarm that never needs to be changed. Worry-Free alarms also come with an end-of-life chirp to notify you, 10 years after installation, when the entire alarm needs to be replaced.

“It doesn’t matter whether they are plug-in, battery powered, or hardwired into a home’s electrical system, smoke and carbon monoxide alarms do not last forever. In fact, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends smoke alarms be replaced every 10 years and carbon monoxide alarms made prior to 2009 should also be replaced,” says Carol Heller, Home Safety Specialist with Kidde Canada.

Most Canadians are familiar with the advice to change the batteries in their alarms with the changing of the clocks, however that is only part of the equation. It is dangerous to install fresh batteries into old alarms because while they may sound when being tested, that does not mean an alarm’s sensors are operating optimally. It simply means that the unit is being powered and the circuits are functioning.

Over time, an alarm’s sensors can become obstructed with dust, smoke from cooking and other airborne contaminants which could lessen the response time in an emergency. In order to ensure the safety of a family, alarms need to be replaced at the end of their lifespan.

“Our Worry-Free models address the most common complaints people have with their smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, and are available in smoke, carbon monoxide (CO) and combination smoke/CO models. For plug-in and hardwired versions, the 10-year battery is there as a backup in case of a power outage,” adds Heller.

It is advised that homeowners check the date of all alarms, replacing any smoke alarms over 10 years old and CO or combination smoke/CO alarms made prior to 2009. If your alarms are up-to-date and they are not “Worry-Free” models, remember to change the batteries when the clocks go back an hour this November. To learn more, visit www.safeathome.ca.

Ontario Buyers Actively Looking for Cottages in Fall 2016, New Research Shows

TORONTO, ON--(Marketwired - October 05, 2016) - The fall may not be as busy as spring for cottage buying, but it still brings out the buyers, shows new research from the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA). In a survey conducted with its recreational property experts, OREA found that nearly 7 out of 10 Ontario Realtors (67%) say cottage buyers are more likely to be actively looking to buy cottages in the fall, versus 32 per cent who say buyers are shopping around but not necessarily in the market to buy yet.

Based on their experience in cottage/recreational real estate, nearly 8 in 10 Ontario Realtors said that the market trend for buying 4-season cottages is increasing. Only two in ten (19%) say the market is staying the same. A majority of Ontario Realtors say that the fall is a popular time of year for buying a 4-season cottage (59%).
"Fall is typically associated with closing up the cottage for the colder months, however more and more cottage owners want to extend their cottaging season by getting into all season homes," said Ray Ferris, president, OREA. "For those actively looking to buy a cottage, the fall is a wonderful time to view properties. It's still warm enough to see the exterior, the boat may still be in the lake, and the colours create an absolutely spectacular backdrop."

'Cottage' is simply defined as a recreational house, typically in a rural or semi-rural location, near a lake or beach. A 4-season cottage on the other hand, is a winterized cottage that is accessible year-round.

"If you live in Ontario, no matter the type, a cottage is best known for what it offers: rest, relaxation and quality family time," said Ferris. "The benefit of owning a 4-season cottage is that you can enjoy these benefits all year long, because you still have running water, your roads are cleared in the winter and your cottage is insulated."

The reasons for purchasing a 4-season cottage vary according to Ontario Realtors.

Nearly all Ontario Realtors (96%) say that buyers of 4-season cottages are looking for a vacation home to enjoy with family and friends. Three quarters (74%) say buyers are purchasing 4-season cottages to serve as their retirement home. Other reasons include, 'to get away from it all' (56%), 'for rental purposes' (45%), 'for the outdoor lifestyle' (42%) and 'for investment purposes' (37%).

According to Ontario Realtors, the trend toward 4-season cottages is most visible in Muskoka (27%), Georgian Bay (23%) and the Kawarthas (23%), followed by Haliburton Highlands/Algonquin (17%), Northern Ontario (13%) and Lake Huron shores (11%) and areas within driving distance of the GTA.

All of this cottage buying activity means a number of Ontario Realtors will be working this Thanksgiving weekend, shows the research. Three quarters (74%) of Ontario Realtors say they have worked at least one Thanksgiving weekend in the past 5 years, and a quarter (27%) have worked the holiday weekend all five years, either showing a cottage property or working with a buyer to purchase a cottage.

Methodology

An online survey was conducted among members of OREA Research's online panel from August 22 -- September 7, 2016. A total of 178 surveys were completed, for a 4% response rate. The margin of error is +/- 7.2 percentage points at the 95% confidence level -- this is shown for directional guidance only and cannot be strictly applied as this was not a randomly-selected sample.

Survey participants were screened based on:

Must practice cottage/recreational real estate

Were involved in the sale of a recreational property/cottage within the past five years

Sold five or more cottages in the past five years

Fraser Institute News Release: Red Tape Costs Homebuilders Twice as Much in Toronto Than Hamilton

TORONTO, ON--(Marketwired - October 04, 2016) - The cost of complying with residential development regulations in Toronto is more than twice as expensive than in Hamilton, according to a survey of homebuilders released today by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank.

The New Homes and Red Tape in Ontario: Residential Land-Use Regulation in the Greater Golden Horseshoe finds that typical compliance costs were $46,569 per unit of new housing in Toronto compared to $20,961 in Hamilton.

In Oakville, one of the most regulated municipalities in the region, the cost is more than $60,000.

"Costly and confusing regulations, long approval times, rezoning delays, and overall uncertainty for developers both increases the costs and impedes new homes from being built throughout the Golden Horseshoe," said Kenneth Green, a senior research director at the Fraser Institute and co-author of the study.
The red tape ranking, which includes survey data from 2014 and 2016, compares municipalities in the Greater Golden Horseshoe on the length and uncertainty of construction approval times, regulatory costs and fees, rezoning prevalence and level of opposition to development.

Toronto ranked 20th out of 23 municipalities, ahead of only Oakville, Ajax and King Township.

Toronto earned low marks in the survey for having the highest opposition to new housing development from city council and community groups and for requiring nearly 70 per cent of all new residential development property to be rezoned.
In Toronto's case, the rezoning process takes more than seven months (on average) to complete -- nearly double the region's average of four months.

"If city councils in the Golden Horseshoe really want to increase the supply of housing and lower prices, they should consider more sound regulatory regimes that encourage, not stifle, residential development," Green said.

Landlord protection from unpaid rent and property damage has never been this easy

TORONTO, Oct. 3, 2016 /CNW/ - Aviva Canada, in partnership with RDA Insurance, announces another first today with the launch of the Casalova Landlord Protect program, offering cost-effective insurance coverage for landlords to protect them from issues they are most concerned about.
Landlords who use Casalova.com, a one-stop end-to-end solution for long-term rental searches, will be protected for up to $50,000 in unpaid rent and up to $50,000 in property damage caused by tenants. The coverage is offered to eligible landlords who secure tenants through Casalova.
"Casalova.com is a great digital platform, offering simplicity and ease-of-use to both landlords and tenants," said Martin Campbell, Assistant Vice-President, Specialty Warranty, Aviva Canada. "As customers are increasingly looking to self-serve, digital platforms like Casalova are a perfect fit for Aviva Canada and RDA Insurance."
"There is an insurance gap where landlord coverage is concerned, and Landlord Protect which covers unpaid rent and property damage fills that gap," said Robert Chiarantano, Vice-President, RDA Insurance Inc. "This partnership allows us to continue offering innovative and unique solutions for landlords."
"We understand the market for landlords and know the risks they face when renting out their properties," said Ray Taaeb, CEO and co-founder, Casalova. "With Landlord Protect, landlords can now use Casalova's services knowing they are well-protected."

New Fund Aims to Revolutionize Affordable Rental Housing in Canada

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Sept. 30, 2016) - Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) is looking for unique ideas, new funding models and innovative building techniques to revolutionize the rental housing sector. While speaking at the Toronto Housing Summit today, the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development and the Minister responsible for CMHC, announced that CMHC is now ready to accept applications under the Affordable Rental Innovation Fund.

"Housing is an important component of our Government's overall approach to strengthening the middle class, promoting inclusive growth for Canadians, and helping to lift more people out of poverty. We're excited about this initiative because we believe that innovation is important to building a strong and vibrant housing sector for Canada," Duclos stated.

The Fund, part of Budget 2016 and administered by CMHC, totals $200M to help create up to 4,000 new affordable rental units over 5 years - reducing the number of Canadians living in housing need and the reliance on long-term government subsidies.

Funding is available to individuals and organizations who want to build affordable rental housing in Canadian communities where there is a demonstrated need.
Applications for the fund must meet the minimum criteria:

New affordable rental housing units (5 minimum)

Innovative and unique models of design or financing models

Unit affordability maintained for at least 10 years

Resource efficiencies in the design

Accessibility features included

Plans for viability and sustainability without long-term government subsidies

For more information on the Fund, funding amounts, selection criteria, eligibility and the application and approval process please visit www.cmhc.ca/innovationfund
As Canada's authority on housing, CMHC contributes to the stability of the housing market and financial system, provides support for Canadians in housing need, and offers objective housing research and information to Canadian governments, consumers and the housing industry.

For more information, visit our website or follow us on Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Facebook.

BC Safety Authority Says, If You're Operating Gas Appliances in Your Home, You Need to Be in the Know About CO

NEW WESTMINSTER, BC--(Marketwired - September 29, 2016) - Now that fall is here, BC Safety Authority (BCSA) reminds British Columbians to protect themselves against the risks of carbon monoxide (CO) exposure by checking that all gas appliances are functioning properly and making sure CO detectors are working.
"It's important to remember that if you are operating gas appliances, you could have a CO issue," says BCSA's Gas Safety Manager, Brad Wyatt. "As the weather cools, people tend to seal up their homes to avoid drafts and reduce heating expenses. But an air-tight home could create hazards when adequate combustion air is not available. That's why it's essential to make sure all appliances are serviced and working properly before firing them up."

Carbon monoxide is produced by burning carbon fuels such as propane, natural gas, oil, wood, charcoal, alcohol, kerosene or gasoline. Exposure to CO interferes with the body's ability to absorb oxygen, which can result in serious illness or death.
Symptoms of carbon monoxide exposure could initially include flu-like symptoms such as light headedness, headaches, nausea, fatigue, chest pains, vomiting, convulsions, confusion and dizziness. Children who are affected by lower levels of CO are at particular risk. If you suspect you or your family has been exposed to CO seek medical attention immediately. Other signs you may have a CO issue are condensation on windows, dying plants, or having an entire family sick at the same time.

Last year, BCSA's safety officers investigated reports of four carbon monoxide related cases, which resulted in one fatality and seven injuries. From 2007 to 2014, a total of 76 CO-related incidents were reported to, and investigated by, BCSA. These incidents resulted in nine fatalities and 149 non-fatal injuries. Most of these incidents occurred during the colder months of October to April and many involved malfunctioning or improperly venting residential furnaces or water heaters.

To prevent CO poisonings, or related incidents, BCSA recommends the following:
All gas-fired appliances -- including boilers, furnaces, hot water tanks, stoves, dryers and fireplaces -- should be inspected and serviced by a licensed gas contractor at least once a year.

Ensure ALL combustion air supply and fresh air intakes into your home remain unobstructed and any screens are free of dust and debris.

All households should be equipped with Canadian-certified CO detectors, ideally located on each floor of the home, close to bedrooms or sleeping areas. Detectors should be tested annually and replaced every seven years.

CO detectors should never be disabled or deactivated due to alarms.

Gas work must be done by licensed contractors that hold a current Class A or Class B Gas Fitter or Gas Appliance Service Certificate of Qualification from BC Safety Authority. (BCSA maintains a list of contractors on its website:

http://www.safetyauthority.ca/contact/find-contractor. Select "gas" under "type.")
When using a wood burning fireplace, crack open a window or alternate to allow fresh air flow into the home.

For more information about carbon monoxide poisoning and gas appliance safety, visit: http://www.safetyauthority.ca/carbon-monoxide.

Building Homes, Building Hope - One Essay at a Time!

TORONTO, Sept. 29, 2016 /CNW/ - Genworth Canada is supporting Habitat for Humanity Canada and affiliates across the country in giving families a safe and decent place to live, with the help of students in our local community through the annual Meaning of Home contest.

The 10th annual Genworth Canada Meaning of Home contest invites grade 4, 5 and 6 students from coast to coast to submit a written essay, poem or video that reveals what home means to them for a chance to direct $50,000 to a Habitat Affiliate of their choice, as well as receive an iPad, a pizza party for their class and a $1,000 donation to their school!

To celebrate the 10th year of the contest, an additional ten runners-up will each receive a $5,000 grant to direct to a Habitat Affiliate of their choice, along with an iPod touch and a pizza party for their class. Genworth Canada will also donate an additional $10 to local Habitat Affiliates for each entry submitted, giving each student the opportunity to make a difference in their own community.

By encouraging students and teachers from all across Canada to participate in the Genworth Canada Meaning of Home contest, young people learn how to be engaged, compassionate citizens while directly supporting the home-building initiatives of Habitat Affiliates – a one-of-a-kind opportunity for young people to make a real impact in their communities.

"The Genworth Canada Meaning of Home contest becomes more rewarding each year," says Anita Booth, Director, Marketing and Community Relations with Genworth Canada. "By encouraging students to become more engaged, we are teaching them to become more compassionate community members, all while educating on the need for more affordable housing in Canada. We are proud to have provided over $900,000 in funding for Habitat for Humanity across Canada since the contest started in 2007."

"The continuing generosity of Genworth Canada ensures that more families will experience the stability and independence they need through affordable homeownership," says Mark Rodgers, President and CEO of Habitat for Humanity Canada. "Communities across the country benefit from the inspiring creativity we see every year in stories written by Canadian students about what home means to them."

Students can submit their entries between October 3 and November 30th. For more information on contest rules, or to submit an entry, visit www.meaningofhome.ca. The contest winner and runners-up will be announced in February, 2017.

Millennials set on finding their perfect 'YOLOcation', despite steep city home prices

TORONTO, Sept. 21, 2016 /CNW/ - Millennials are applying the "you only live once" philosophy to their homebuying approach with nearly half of surveyed Millennials who commute (48 per cent) saying they are likely to spend more money on a home in order to live closer to work, compared to only 34 per cent of Canadians as a whole, according to a new survey from TD.

Most Millennials are 'sorrynotsorry' about compromising their housing hopes when it comes to purchasing a new home. For example, an overwhelming majority of those surveyed, 80 per cent, said that commute time is paramount when buying a home. With location driving their decision in increasingly expensive urban housing markets, Millennials, many of whom are first time home buyers, may need to yield, proceed with caution, and ensure they understand their complete financial picture.

A city's magnet of social activities and entertainment make it a mecca for life-loving Millennials and they are stretching their dollars to shorten commute times. According to the survey, this younger generation is unlikely to:

Move into a smaller house than they initially desired (68 per cent)

Sacrifice amenities e.g., convenient access to shops and services (81 per cent)

Compromise on their top choice of neighborhood (80 per cent)

Give up a primary or secondary car (89 per cent)

"Of course we want it all when it comes to finding our dream home," said Giles. "But it's important to know what trade-offs you're willing to make based on what you can afford and where you are willing to live. If an urban location is paramount, then saving for a large down payment is important. If you can accept a longer commute time, you may actually be able to afford more "you only live once" moments, like vacations, over time."

In today's competitive housing market, TD offers the following tips to help Millennials make the right financial decisions when finding their YOLOcation without mortgaging their financial future:

Goal Setting – When you decide to buy a home, it is important to make a pros and cons list and weigh them based on their importance. If your goal is to own a home close to work, consider the sacrifices that may need to be made on other desirables such as your targeted neighborhood, or owning a car. Be sure to seek out professional financial advice as well. Talking to a mortgage specialist to get a pre-approval can help you understand where you stand financially, and help you shop with confidence.

Affordability Map – You no longer have to live in the urban core to enjoy the amenities of urban life. Grocery stores, entertainment, and recreational facilities are available in the suburbs, and in good quantity. While commuting a long distance to work each day may be less desirable to Millennials, sometimes going out of the city by 45 minutes to one hour – an average commute time for many Canadians, according to the TD survey – could mean long term savings on a home, and a stronger financial future.

Firm Foundation – Take the time to build up a significant down payment. With a down payment of at least 20 per cent, buyers can also save on mortgage insurance premiums upfront. Consider setting up a savings account to regularly put aside money, which will not only help you save for your ideal home, but will also help you prepare for other costs such as lawyer's fees and moving costs. First-time buyers should also consider contributing to an RSP and benefit from withdrawing up to $25,000 tax-free through the Canadian government's Home Buyers' Plan.

"Location drives real estate prices, but so do emotions," says Giles. "Finding the right home on the right street in the right postal code is possible, especially when you get great advice to steer you in the right direction."

About the TD YOLOcation Survey
TD Bank Group commissioned Environics Research Group to conduct a custom survey of 6,337 Canadians aged 18 and older. Responses were collected between February 25 and March 17, 2016. This report includes a question to all Canadians, then a subgroup of 1,753 Millennials, followed by those who commute to work.

"While living close to work has many benefits, purchasing a home in expensive urban cities can come at a price," said Pat Giles, Associate Vice President, Real Estate Secured Lending at TD. "Finding your dream location means striking a balance among affordability, your non-negotiables and your financial future."

Manulife announces $100 million redevelopment of Manulife Centre

TORONTO, Sept. 20, 2016 /CNW/ - Manulife Real Estate today announced plans for a $100 million redevelopment of Manulife Centre, its premier mixed use complex in the heart of Toronto's Yorkville. The project will add 35,000 square feet of new retail space with construction beginning early next year and an anticipated completion date of early 2019.

The Manulife Centre redevelopment will include a complete overhaul of the exterior of the Centre adding a glass façade and expanding the retail area. There will be a reconfiguration of the interior space as well as the renovation of several of its key tenant spaces.

Manulife Centre will be home of Eataly: its first location in Canada. The Centre currently has more than 40 shops, services and eateries including Cineplex, Bloor Street Market, Indigo, William Ashley, BMO, Bay Bloor Radio and Birks. The retail hub is connected underground to the east-west Bloor subway line and the north-south Yonge subway line, providing year-round weather protected access.

"The transformation of this landmark property and the modernization at the corner of Bloor and Bay will build on the tremendous changes that are taking place in Yorkville," said Kevin Adolphe, President & Chief Executive Officer of Manulife Real Estate. "Manulife Centre will feature a premier shopping experience and offer some of the most exciting dining in the city. We're looking forward to bringing this to Toronto."

About Manulife Real Estate

Manulife has been investing in and managing direct core and core-plus real estate for more than 80 years. Operating as John Hancock Real Estate in the U.S. and Manulife Real Estate elsewhere, we proudly invest, own, develop and asset manage commercial real estate in major metropolitan cities across the globe. We leverage our fully integrated in-house capabilities to best serve our customers and investors while generating value for our stakeholders. Manulife Real Estate manages the space requirements and own use facilities for Manulife and John Hancock operations around the world. Manulife Real Estate is the global real estate arm of Manulife and is a unit of Manulife Asset Management Private Markets where we extend our unique asset management capabilities for the benefit of institutional investors. As at June 30, 2016, the Manulife Real Estate portfolio totaled more than 62 million square feet with an AUM market value of C$19.8 billion (US$15.2 billion). To find out how you can benefit from our unique approach to real estate please visit us at www.manuliferealestate.com.

Polish Festival, Roncesvalles Ave. Toronto, September 17-18 2016
By Walter Tautorat

The annual Polish Festival took over Roncesvalles Ave. again this past weekend to celebrate, sing, dance, eat, drink and share everything wonderful about being Polish and about this neighborhood.

In the decade I have lived here it has grown yearly and even this year expanded from Howard Park to Dundas St W.

While Saturday’s rainy weather seemed to keep numbers a little smaller the sunshine of Sunday seemed to make up for it in spades.

Even the Premiere seemed to enjoy her visit. It was a special one for me in that it was the first time I got to share the weekend with my 3 grandkids. All three had fun both days as there is certainly a lot of activities and vendors geared for the many young kids in this neighbourhood.

As changes continue in this neighborhood so too I imagine the festival will also reflect those changes but I also believe that through it all the Polish traditions will remain a cornerstone of this event.

Fun as always ! Enjoy Toronto and get out to some of these many festivals that speak so loudly of the diversity and strength of this really awesome city!~  

San Francisco Poised to Be the First Major U.S. City to Pass Requirements for Green Roofs on New Buildings.

TORONTO, ONTARIO and SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA--(Marketwired - Sept. 16, 2016) - Green Roofs for Healthy Cities (GRHC), the North American green roof and wall industry association, is delighted to congratulate San Francisco on its policy leadership. Supervisor Scott Wiener introduced legislation on September 6, which was unanimously approved by the San Francisco Planning Commission yesterday, that builds on their existing solar roof mandate. This makes San Francisco the first city in the U.S. to require green roofs and/or solar panels on new construction projects. "Rooftops are one of the last untapped environmental resources in our growing city, and we need to be strategic about how we activate these spaces," said Wiener.

The new legislation will allow owners and developers the option of building 30% of roof space as green roofs, or a combination of green roofs and solar panels. The proposed ordinance builds on legislation requiring 15% roof space to be set aside for solar panels adopted earlier in 2016, and allows owners and developers to implement two square feet of green roofs instead of one square foot of solar panels if they wish.

Jeff Joslin, Deputy Director of the San Francisco Planning Department said, "This legislation arrives as a direct result of the international green roof conference, Cities Alive, which San Francisco co-hosted in the fall of 2013 and the concurrent SPUR-issued policy recommendations in Greener and Better Roofs: A Roadmap for San Francisco."

San Francisco hosted the 11th Annual CitiesAlive Conference which highlighted urban resiliency by bringing together members of the green roof and wall industry, including policy makers and stakeholders. Since then, the City's Planning Department, Office of the Environment, and the Public Utilities Commission have worked to leverage the conference and develop this innovative policy. This year, CitiesAlive is in Washington, DC from November 1-4, 2016, and will celebrate the innovative policies that DC has implemented to address stormwater in the metro area.

"It's been a pleasure working with the city officials, SPUR and other stakeholders to contribute to developing this legislation which recognizes the important contribution green roofs can make to building owners and communities," said Steven W. Peck, Founder and President of GRHC.

"Over the last three years, Green Roofs for Healthy Cities has actively facilitated the development of this legislation with CitiesAlive, technical policy support, as well as providing Green Roof Professional (GRP) training in the marketplace," he added. "CitiesAlive will be held in Washington, DC this November 1-4, 2016, and Green Roof Professional training is currently scheduled for November 17 to 19, 2016 in San Francisco."
The proposed legislation is anticipated to seek a final approving vote by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors later this year. If approved, the ordinance will take effect January 1, 2017.

Background

Green Roofs for Healthy Cities (GRHC) is a membership-based industry association developing the green (vegetative) roof and wall industry in North America through education and advocacy. www.greenroofs.org

CitiesAlive: 14th Annual Green Roof & Wall Conference is in Washington, DC, November 1-4. Green roof and wall leaders, policy makers, planners, and civil engineers, landscape architects and designers will focus on stormwater in Washington. CitiesAlive delegates who register by October 14 for the Stormwater Engineering Package will save $90. To register, visit www.citiesalive.org.

GRHC is an approved education provider for LA CES, AIA CES, BOMI, NLAP, APLD, and RCI. CitiesAlive attendees can earn up to 17 CEUs at CitiesAlive.
Image: CitiesAlive 2008 Extensive Institutional Awards of Excellence Winner, California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, CA.

Photo courtesy: DC Ryan and Rana Creek Design


"On behalf of all GRHC members and association partners, congratulations to the City of San Francisco and those who contributed to this policy," said Jeffrey L. Bruce, Chair, GRHC. "We look forward to watching San Francisco become a greener, healthier, and more resilient city."

Sale of Canadian Cultural Landmark: The Integral House

Sotheby's International Realty Canada today announced the sale of Integral House in Toronto, deemed "one of the most important private houses built in North America" by Glenn D. Lowry, director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and regarded as one of Canada's most significant, privately owned homes created around the performing arts. Commissioned by the late Dr. James Stewart, an award-winning mathematician, professional violinist and renowned philanthropist, the private residence has been celebrated worldwide for its architectural and cultural significance.

Proceeds from the sale of Integral House, listed at $19.5 million by Paul Maranger, Christian Vermast, and Fran Bennett of Sotheby's International Realty Canada, will be donated to eighteen charitable organizations Stewart supported during his lifetime. His bequests will benefit music, education, architecture, medicine, and the LGBT community, including the University of Toronto, St. Michael's Hospital and Community One Foundation.

"During his life, James was a generous and dedicated patron to the arts, and a proud supporter of his community," says Don Smith, spokesperson for the Stewart family. "We are pleased that Integral House will sustain his legacy not only with its enduring architectural excellence, but with proceeds that will support the many community organizations he believed in."

Integral House was built to reflect Stewart's lifelong passion for classical music and mathematics. The 18,000 square foot estate features a two-storey, acoustically perfect concert hall for over 150 people, and has hosted international musical talent, benefit concerts and esteemed guests. Custom designed by Shim-Sutcliffe Architects, the home's exterior is an architecturally intricate mix of curved glass and oak, providing spectacular views over Toronto's Rosedale ravine.

As a private residence, Integral House spans five floors and includes four bedrooms and eight bathrooms. Sophisticated detailing spans the home's interiors including a stunning blue hand-blown glass stairwell, indoor and outdoor pools, exercise room, sauna, private elevator, and heated driveways and walkways.

"Integral House is a Canadian architectural and musical masterpiece," says Paul Maranger, Broker and Senior Vice President, Sales for Sotheby's International Realty Canada in Toronto. "With new owners, this property will continue to play a role in elevating Canadian arts and culture, just as it did during Dr. Stewart's lifetime."

About Sotheby's International Realty Canada

Combining the world's most prestigious real estate brand with local market knowledge and specialized marketing expertise, Sotheby's International Realty Canada is the leading real estate sales and marketing company for the country's most exceptional properties. With offices in over 30 residential and resort markets nationwide, our professional associates provide the highest caliber of real estate service, unrivaled local and international marketing solutions and a global affiliate sales network of approximately 845 offices in more than 63 countries to manage the real estate portfolios of discerning clients from around the world. For further information, visit www.sothebysrealty.ca.


Rolling Through the 6ix With Free Wi-Fi

We all know that anxious feeling of not being connected; frightened we'll miss a groundbreaking Facebook post, scared an important Snapchat will expire or terrified we'll miss the opportunity to catch a rare Pokémon. The horror! Luckily for Torontonians, TELUS has joined forces with Toronto's Co-op Cabs to offer free Wi-Fi with their next ride (insert sigh of relief here). Wi-Fi-enabled Co-op Cabs will hit the streets of the 6ix starting September 12, with all vehicles offering free Wi-Fi by the end of the year. This is the first program of its kind in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).
"AT TELUS, we're committed to keeping our customers connected anytime, anywhere, and now we're giving all of Toronto a taste of it too," said Simone Lumsden, Vice-President, Brand and Customer Experience Marketing at TELUS. "We're partnering with Co-op Cabs to keep all Torontonians connected on Ontario's largest mobile network, no matter which carrier, to show how our service sets us apart."

The program follows TELUS' 2015 partnership with Yellow Cab taxis in Vancouver, offering free Wi-Fi to passengers in that city and surrounding areas. The partnership, which is ongoing, was the first of its kind in Canada and has been a hit with data-hungry Vancouverites.

"Our drivers see firsthand how important staying connected is to our customers while on route. Co-op Cabs is delighted to work with TELUS to bring connectivity to our fleet and all passengers, regardless of which carrier they're with," said Abdulkadir Mohamoud, CEO and General Manager of Co-op Cabs and Crown Taxi. "We hope Torontonians take advantage and enjoy this new service."

Want to be the first to take a Wi-Fi cab for a spin? Keep your eyes peeled for vehicles with the TELUS logo. Accessing Wi-Fi is simple: as soon as you enter the cab, you will be greeted by a splash page on your mobile Internet browser where you'll enter your email address to join the TELUS Wi-Fi network, and once onboard, you'll be free to get back to your connected life…for free. 
About TELUS

TELUS  is Canada's fastest-growing national telecommunications company, with $12.6 billion of annual revenue and 12.5 million subscriber connections, including 8.4 million wireless subscribers, 1.6 million high-speed Internet subscribers, 1.4 million residential network access lines and 1.0 million TELUS TV customers. TELUS provides a wide range of communications products and services, including wireless, data, Internet protocol (IP), voice, television, entertainment and video, and is Canada's largest healthcare IT provider.

In support of our philosophy to give where we live, TELUS, our team members and retirees have contributed $440 million to charitable and not-for-profit organizations and volunteered more than 6.8 million hours of service to local communities since 2000. Created in 2005 by President and CEO Darren Entwistle, TELUS' 11 Canadian community boards and 4 International boards have led the Company's support of grassroots charities and have contributed more than $54 million in support of over 4,900 local charitable projects, enriching the lives of more than 2 million children and youth, annually. TELUS was honoured to be named the most outstanding philanthropic corporation globally for 2010 by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, becoming the first Canadian company to receive this prestigious international recognition.

For more information about TELUS, please visit telus.com.
 
About Co-op Cabs

In the true spirit of a co-operative, Co-op Cabs was founded by a group of independent taxicab owners. They are the drivers, the owners and the shareholders - they are a Co-operative. As a Co-operative, it has always been important to Co-op Cabs to give back to the community. Co-op Cabs/Crown Taxi participates in many community initiatives and charities as well as contributing to their customer's philanthropic initiatives as well as supporting our community through local programs for youth and the homeless. Co-op Cabs' easily identifiable red and yellow vehicles have been roaming the streets of Toronto since 1957 making Co-op Cabs/Crown Taxi the oldest taxi brokerage in Toronto, providing service to over 10,000 passengers each day and employing more long-term drivers than any other cab company in Toronto. Co-op Cabs has a steadfast commitment to providing the highest standard of taxi service to our customers. They are dedicated to providing safe, reliable and professional transportation for those in the Greater Toronto Area. Co-op/Crown offers flexibility to book across multiple platforms. Cabs can be booked through traditional voice booking at 416-504-CO-OP (2667), online booking at www.co-opcabs.com or through the Co-op Cabs/Crown Taxi App available in the App Store and Play Store for iOS and Android.
 

Developer AB8 Group redefines luxury living in Toronto's most aspired-to neighbourhoods

AB8 Group is bringing a new level of luxury to homebuilding in Toronto. The new developer's luxury residences are built to the highest standard of quality and redefine what luxury living means in a world-class city. AB8 Group offers discerning buyers a turn-key experience and top-of-the-line features that have been curated from across the globe.

"Our homes are designed to allow their owners to live their best possible lifestyle," said Arash Beheshti, president of AB8 Group. "We provide our clients an unprecedented product and experience because we are unrelenting in our pursuit to bring the very best in building and design to each residence. We pride ourselves on taking the hassle and guess work out of creating dream homes so that owners can enjoy luxury without effort."

AB8 Group homes mirror the intuitiveness of modern technology; for example, the home is supported by a backup generator to ensure fail-safe power, the garage comes with an electric car charging port and the heating, cooling and security systems can be controlled from the touch of a smartphone.

With features such as 50-year synthetic slate roof shingles, appliances and fixtures with industry-leading warranties, and a timeless interior design aesthetic, AB8 Group homes are built for tomorrow.

To ensure the highest quality, AB8 Group toured the world visiting factories and production lines of luxury manufacturers including Gaggenau, Loewen and Zucchetti. The result is AB8 Group's first three homes that push the envelope of luxury living in Toronto.

Features, which are standard with every AB8 Group property, include:

Smartphone controlled heating, cooling and home security

In-line instant hot water heater with 60 gallon back-up tank for unlimited hot water, ensuring an optimal shower experience

Top of the line Gaggenau appliances complete with a Teppanyaki grill

Italian plumbing fixtures by Zucchetti

Custom built furniture, unique to AB8 Group homes
A 3M water filtration system

Fully waterproof, heated garage complete with built-in vacuum, storage and speakers

AB8 Group's first Toronto developments are three fully-detached residences at 182, 184 and 186 York Mills Road.

The firm's next project is a two unit development at 467 and 469 Spadina Road in Forest Hill Village. The four-storey, 11,000 square foot homes will be completed in the spring of 2018.



Mark McEwan, Celebrity Chef said,"An AB8 kitchen is a chef's dream, combining the efficiency of a professional kitchen with a serene, luxurious aesthetic. From the top-of-the-line appliances to the built-in spice drawer, this is a kitchen that's designed to be used."


Online voting opens today in Toronto's Complete Streets Photo contest 
Torontonians are invited to view the complete online gallery of finalists and vote for their favourite photographs in the Complete Streets Photography Contest at http://www.toronto.ca/completestreets/photos. Voting opened today and will remain open until September 20.

The finalists' photos will be displayed in the rotunda of Toronto City Hall, 100 Queen St. W., this week (September 6 to 11). 

An opening reception hosted by the City and Spacing Magazine will celebrate the finalists tomorrow (September 7). The reception will be held in City Hall's Committee Room 4 starting at 5:30 p.m. 

The Complete Streets Photo Contest invited Torontonians to submit photos to answer the question: "What makes a street feel more complete?" 

Participants submitted almost 800 photographs of streets, street designs and street features from Toronto and cities around the world through direct uploads to the website and through social media using the hashtag #TOcompletestreets.

The judging panel selected the top 10 photos in a general category and five in a youth (under 18) category. The panel consisted of Matthew Blackett, Spacing Magazine publisher and creative director; Adeyemi Adegbesan, a Toronto-based photo artist whose Instagram account "SoTeeOh" has more than 60,000 followers; and Anu Saini, co-ordinator of outreach and special projects with the City's Transportation Services division. 

Complete streets consider the needs of all users, including people who walk, bicycle, take transit or drive, and people of varying ages and levels of ability. Complete streets also take into account public realm features such as sidewalk cafés, street furniture such as benches and transit shelters, and street trees. 

In addition to serving as transportation routes, complete streets are destinations themselves, with social, economic and environmental priorities integrated into their planning and design. The benefits of complete streets include increased safety, improved public health by providing additional opportunities for walking, cycling and transit, increased accessibility, enhanced economic vitality and improved environmental outcomes.

The Complete Streets Guidelines currently being developed will help staff and Torontonians better understand the role of streets. The Complete Streets Guidelines will influence future street projects and will be applied when streets are constructed, reconstructed or otherwise improved to make streets as functional as possible. 

The Complete Streets Guidelines are scheduled to be considered by City Council this winter.

More information is available at http://www.toronto.ca/completestreets. 


Ontario's Doors Open Event to Once Again Feature Historic Waterpower Facility
 

The Ontario Waterpower Association (OWA) is pleased to be able to add a tour of the Elliott Falls Generating Station (GS) to the Ontario's Doors Open events in the Kawartha Lakes once again this year. The tour will be led by Bracebridge Generation, owner and operator of the Elliott Falls GS. The event takes place September 11, 2016 from 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

"Featuring waterpower in the Doors Open Ontario Campaign is a natural fit," said Paul Norris, President of the OWA. "Many Ontario communities were built around waterways and waterpower was their first source of electricity. These events provide the public with a unique opportunity to sneak a peek inside some historic gems and some brand new projects."

Bracebridge Generation is proud to add Elliott Falls GS to our growing portfolio as of May 2016. Our company has been producing electricity since 1894 and currently owns and operates 9 hydroelectric generating stations in Central Ontario totalling over 12 megawatts.

The Elliott Falls GS is located in south-eastern Ontario on the Gull River just north of the town of Norland, Ontario. The site was originally developed at the beginning of the 20th century to supply power to a nearby cement factory. The plant was decommissioned in 1928. In 1988 the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources released the site for development as part of the government's initiative to encourage private development of small hydro sites.

The redeveloped facility was commissioned in 1990. The plant has a total capacity of 700 kW. There are many redevelopments taking place across the province, in support of the government's renewable energy objectives.

For more information on Doors Open Ontario, visit: www.doorsopenontario.on.ca

For more information on Bracebridge Generation, visit: www.bracebridgegeneration.com

For more information on the Ontario Waterpower Association, visit: www.owa.ca
Krinos Taste of the Danforth 2016
 The Greek Gods smiled on the 23rd anniversary of the Krinos Taste of the Danforth. The sun was out all weekend -- and so were the crowds. Over 1.65 million people attended the Festival.

The Greater Toronto Area lays claim to more than 200,000 residents of Greek ancestry, the third largest Hellenic community outside of Greece. At the Festival, visitors both Greek and non-Greek, had the opportunity to experience being 'Greek for the Day'. Over the last eight years, the Chair, Mr. Voidonicolas, and his Board of Directors, through countless hours of volunteer work, have increased attendance dramatically to the 1.65 million attendees.

This year the Festival introduced an 'It's All Greek to Me!' program to supplement the existing Greek Stage, which featured leading Greek singers, dancers and musicians, as well as the Celebrity Stage that featured Greek superstars.

The four new activities were some of the most popular at the event and included Breaking Plates, The Goddess Artemis Archery Arena, The Valley of the Gods!, and Let's Dance.

a.
Breaking Plates - In 1969 the Greek government banned the throwing of plates at Greek restaurants and bars. This popular tradition was reintroduced at the Festival as attendees were given the opportunity to express their 'kefi'. Individuals were able to write the name of an individual or something that was making them really angry on their plate and then toss it into a fireplace.


b.
The Goddess Artemis Archery Arena - Before there was the "Hunger Games", and before there was the "Green Arrow" - there was Artemis, the Greek God Apollo's twin sister. She was the Goddess of the Hunt, always depicted carrying a bow and arrow. Individuals had the ability to either learn or display their skills on the archery range.


c.
The Valley of the Gods - Attendees had the opportunity to wander through the Valley of the Gods. Which of these Greek Gods are human models? Which are statues? Which are supernatural? Zeus, Poseidon, Athena, and Aphrodite human statues were available to be part of a Greek photographic experience.


d.
Let's Dance - Dance like Zorba. Our friendly Greek instructors taught attendees traditional Greek Dances.


Constantine Voidonicolas, Chair of the Board of Management of the GreekTown on the Danforth BIA stated, "The Taste of the Danforth is the biggest Greek Festival in the world. We celebrate Greek food, music, dance and hospitality. Everyone who visits gets to be "Greek for a day". We also encourage tourism to Greece; we give away 5 trips to Greece as part of our promotional programs." The Opening Ceremonies were attended by a number of political dignitaries, including the Mayor of Toronto, John Tory. He commented that the GreekTown on the Danforth BIA was an example of the most vibrant neighborhoods in Toronto.

GreekTown on the Danforth BIA and Krinos Taste of the Danforth Profits Go to Charity

The Festival combines exquisite food, culture and music with extraordinary philanthropy to benefit the local community as well as Greece. Profits from the Festival are donated every year back to the community by the GreekTown on the Danforth BIA. The Chair of the GreekTown BIA, Constantine Voidonicolas, believes that the Festival and the BIA should always be giving back to the community.

Over the years, GreekTown has donated more than $2 million to Toronto East General Hospital. In 2012, GreekTown committed to a further $500,000 to enhance paediatric care and in 2015, GreekTown made a commitment to a joint hospital project between SickKids and a children's hospital in Greece - Agia Sofia.

GreekTown naturally supports a number of Greek initiatives, including donating to the Greek Community of Toronto to help families and schools, SOS Villages which gives orphans a mother and a home, the Smile of a Child, University of Toronto's Greek studies program, the Hellenic Canadian Federation of Ontario, Nefeli (theatre and dance), Greek Community of Mississauga, and the Hellenic Home for the Aged.

The Festival and GreekTown have also supported additional charities and causes such as prostate cancer, among others. As part of GreekTown's annual "March of the Santas", monies are raised for Princess Margaret Hospital through the sale of Toronto Firefighters' Calendars, and toys and donations are gathered for the CP24/CHUM Christmas Wish.

It's not only the big charities that benefit – the BIA has donated SmartBoards to local schools (William McCordic School and William Burgess School) for use by children with special needs, Toronto Crime Stoppers, 55 Division's Youth Scholarship Fund, Riverdale Share Community Association, and The East York Seniors' Foundation. GreekTown has also donated to Dr. Phyllis Billia's cancer research at Toronto General and Toronto Western Hospitals.

Big Economic Impact for Toronto and Ontario

The Festival and GreekTown on the Danforth BIA contribute significant impact to the Province and City. In 2015, the Festival's single weekend economic impact was $88.1 million. These numbers are based on governmental economic models tied to tourism. They don't take into account the great economic impact that the Festival has on the GreekTown on the Danforth BIA's members, which consist primarily of small retailers and restaurateurs.

The Festival is a tourist magnet. Forty-four percent (44%) of attendees travelled 40 kilometres or more to attend the Krinos Taste of the Danforth last summer. The primary reason for visiting the Toronto region for 77% of visitors was the Festival. For a significant 38.5%, their sole reason for coming to Toronto was the Festival.

The History of the Festival and the Organization that Runs It

People are always surprised when we tell them that the Festival is run by a Board of Directors consisting of volunteers from the local community. There is only one full-time staff member. They're also fascinated by the fact that the concept began 23 years ago when a number of competitors decided to get together to participate in what is now known as co-op or coalition advertising.

The Festival is organized by the GreekTown on the Danforth BIA, a not-for-profit organization, run by a volunteer Board, and chaired by Constantine Voidonicolas. The GreekTown on the Danforth BIA is an excellent example of how a BIA can unite local restaurateurs and retailers along a street to promote businesses.

It began as a celebration of Hellenic cuisine and culture. It has grown to become a celebration of both its Greek heritage and the multicultural nature of the city of Toronto. While a number of the events and programs are reflective of the area's Greek roots, the Festival programming and its audience have grown to encompass a much broader spectrum of the Toronto community.

In the first year, approximately 5,000 people attended the Festival. Twenty-three restaurateurs participated, selling an eclectic mix of "tastes" from tasting tables. The following year, attendance grew to 100,000. By 1996, the Festival was so large that Danforth Avenue had to be officially closed to vehicular traffic in order to accommodate over 500,000 visitors. Today, the Festival has grown to approximately 1.65 million visitors during the course of three days and two nights. They come to enjoy food, entertainment and culture. The Krinos Taste of the Danforth is one of Toronto's signature events, showcasing the best of what our multicultural city has to offer - music and the arts, sports and -- of course -- food.

The GreekTown on the Danforth BIA

The Festival is run by the GreekTown on the Danforth BIA.

The concept of a Business Improvement Area was created in Toronto, but BIAs can now be found all over the world. In 1970, merchants in Bloor West Village formed the first BIA in response to competition from shopping centres. Toronto currently has 77 BIAs, representing more than 35,000 commercial property owners and tenants. The number is still growing.

The GreekTown on the Danforth BIA is an excellent example of how a BIA can unite local restaurateurs and retailers along a street to promote businesses. The GreekTown on the Danforth BIA is a not-for-profit organization, run by a volunteer board, chaired by Constantine Voidonicolas.
Monthly billing coming to Toronto Hydro
Toronto Hydro customers will soon start receiving their electricity bills each month, as all electrical utilities in the province switch to monthly billing.

Currently, our billing cycle covers two months of electricity use. Customers will now begin receiving bills that represent approximately 30 days of electricity use. This change is happening in phases, and customers will begin receiving their monthly bills this fall with everyone transitioned by January.

Monthly billing can help customers manage energy costs, allowing for a more current view of how their energy habits impact their bill. More frequent billing also makes it easier to manage household budgets and aligns with other organizations that bill monthly (such as gas and telephone).

One way to make the transition easy is to switch to eBills, as they are:

Convenient – customers receive an email when their new bill is ready to view. Bills can be paid online from anywhere with internet access
Environmentally friendly – going paperless will reduce environmental impacts and eliminate messy stacks of paper that clutter the home
Customers can also enroll in our Pre-Authorized Payment Plan and have their billed amount automatically debited from their bank account for no-worry payments.

QUICK FACTS

The Ontario Energy Board requires all electrical utilities in the province to transition to monthly billing by the end of 2016

We'll be sending phone messages and postcards directly to customers to notify them of the change

Pre-Authorized Payment Plans will be automatically transitioned to align with monthly billing due dates. The amount due will be debited monthly instead of bi-monthly, so customers should be aware of this change

Customers can sign up for eBilling through Toronto Hydro's self-service portal, MyTorontoHydro®, using a copy of their current paper bill (to reference their Toronto Hydro account number)

Toronto Hydro owns and operates an electricity distribution system, which delivers electricity to approximately 758,000 customers located in the city of Toronto. It is the largest municipal electricity distribution company in Canada and distributes approximately 19% of the electricity consumed in the province of Ontario.

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Facebook - facebook.com/torontohydro
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Flickr - flickr.com/torontohydro
LinkedIn - Linkedin.com/company/toronto-hydro


Toronto Condominium Purchasers Anxious to Close Deals Says Toronto Condo Realtor
 

 The recent move to slow down Vancouver's housing market by imposing a new 15% foreign buyers tax has further spurred Toronto condominium sales according to Franco Dinatale Toronto condo specialist for Right at Home Realty Brokerage Inc. and the Toronto Condo Team (www.TorontoCondoTeam.ca). Vancouver single-family home sales have tumbled since plans to tax foreign buyers in the province of British Columbia were announced recently, a sign the government's bid to slow the market has caused an immediate chill in real estate sales in Vancouver. In fact, some buyers walked away from their Vancouver purchases mid-transaction to avoid paying the tax. Others pushed up closings if they could to wrap up deals before the new tax kicked in. Potential offshore investors in Vancouver real estate are now looking east to Toronto as a better value location for investment real estate even though Toronto already has its red hot prices and a shortage of inventory.

The Toronto Real Estate Board reported a record number of home sales in July, even as total available listings plunged nearly 32 per cent. "There are two main factors powering condo price growth in the Toronto," says Dinatale, "inventory supply shortages and potential buyers concerned time is running out before a similar strategy of a foreign buyers tax comes to Toronto as well. Condo investors see it as a window of opportunity, and there is a real urgency to close a deal. Foreign condominium investments are preferable to single family homes because they come in a nice tidy package with maintenance included and are basically lock and go residents. "Condo properties in Toronto are also easy to rent and having some rules and bylaws around particular to condominium property developments ensures there are fewer headaches for investor landlords."

"We feel the main problem is that, for many years, the Province of Ontario has cut back on new serviced development land available to developers which have created a snowball effect on inventory shortage. The process to develop property in the GTA is very slow compared to a decade ago. The process is fraught with red tape and political barriers. With 50,000 new residents coming into Toronto each year looking for housing, combined with foreign investors who believe Toronto is still a bargain when compared to other major international cities, it's no wonder that prices have skyrocketed. The icing on the cake for foreign investors is that they feel safe in Toronto, in sharp contrast to many other parts of the world, including Europe, where they have had their fair share of economic, social and political problems. Toronto looks like a calm harbour in a storm to many real estate investors," explains Dinatale.

"Some say Toronto is in a real estate bubble that is about to burst, but that is hard to reconcile with the continuing general shortage of inventory and increased immigration to Canada. If the market eventually corrects, it likely to be a soft landing due to so many new Canadians and foreign investors looking for homes in the GTA," adds Dinatale.

About Right at Home Realty Brokerage Inc. Toronto Condo Team: Find the perfect condo, townhouse, or loft in Toronto with the Toronto Condo Team of Right at Home Realty Brokerage. Specializing exclusively in marketing and selling Toronto condominium properties, the Toronto Condo Team know the Toronto condominium market inside and out. They are knowledgeable real estate professionals with years of experience helping buyers find the condominium or loft that best suits their needs, and working with sellers to get top dollar for their condo sale. Browse through hundreds of condo listing on their website www.TorontoCondoTeam.ca, with a powerful database that matches buyers with condos for sale and condos for rent through refined search. Whether you are buying, renting, or selling, you can trust the Toronto Condo Team for all your Toronto real estate needs. For more information call 416-800-0767, or email info@torontocondoteam.ca.
Art Conquers Violence at Bishop Tutu Blvd
During the summer of 2015 bullets flew in the 25 Bishop Tutu courtyard leaving two young men fighting for their lives and a community in fear. The healing process started on the last day of June. A group of artists, residents, activists and community partners in the Bathurst and Queens Quay area gathered to fight the negative stereotypes that were swirling about their neighbourhood. On Sunday August 28 the community gathered in celebration to unveil the murals and enjoy each other's company.

Most of the city sees a growing maze of condos but for those who have lived in the area for years know that it is a close-knit artistic community with a thriving community centre. For a quarter of a century families in Toronto Community Housing, area Co-Op housing and condos raise their children along this waterfront community quietly treasuring the neighbourhood feeling just steps from the bustling city.

Violence is not a common feature in the peaceful Bathurst and Queens Quay area. That calm was shattered on August 18, 2015 when at least three men fired shots in the courtyard just after midnight where children had been playing in the playground just hours before. When the bullets stopped flying two young men were laying on the ground. The two have recovered but some of the peace left the area that night. Friends and family of the wounded gathered in tears. Parents kept their children inside, the playground no longer had the joyous sound of children.

Slowly the community healed. Early this summer 10 youth artists lead by Magicfinnga WonG started creating a community mural that showcases their love for the city and highlights what community means to them. Along with support artists from Arcadia Co-Op and the Waterfront Community Centre two colourful murals were designed and painted showing the beauty of the waterfront.

On Sunday their work was celebrated with a community BBQ in the courtyard. Again the sound of children's laughter rang out as community leaders including Mayor John Tory gathered to rejoice in the spirit of the neighbourhood. The festive murals brought out Ripley's Aquarium of Canada who gave away T-shirts and more.

Together neighbours have taken back their community proving violence will not win.
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Typical GTA new low-rise home now exceeds $900,000

In July, the average price of a new low-rise home in the GTA surpassed $900,000 for the first time, the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) announced today.

The average price of new detached and semi-detached houses and townhomes was $906,508, a 12 per cent increase from July 2015. Prices have grown more than $100,000 in just 12 months according to Altus Group, BILD's official source for new home market intelligence.

Semi-detached homes showed the strongest price increase, growing by $196,546 in just one year to a new record high of $771,530. For townhomes the average price was $758,434, an increase of $122,491 since July 2015.

The price of single-family detached homes in July was $1,095,910. They first surpassed the $1 million mark in March.

New high-rise homes grow in size and price

The price of high-rise homes in the GTA also reached new heights in July. The $475,764 average is a seven per cent increase from last year and the result of increases in price per square foot and larger suite sizes.

The average price per square foot climbed to $594, another record. Suite sizes for mid and high-rise condo units increased to an average of 801 square feet.

"In previous years, many builders were focusing on offering smaller and more affordable units to help first-time buyers enter the market," said BILD President and CEO Bryan Tuckey. "Recent months have seen the introduction of larger suites to meet the demands of the growing range of buyers who have been priced out of the low-rise market.

"New low-rise home prices have grown exponentially due to limited supply," he added. "Provincial intensification policies, delays in the approvals process and a lack of serviced developable land in the GTA has reduced the amount of new homes coming to the market."

Record-low supply fuels surging prices

The supply of new homes in builders' inventory fell to a 10-year low, with just 17,213 new homes available for sale in all of the GTA as of July 31. This is a 41 per cent decrease from a decade ago, when inventory levels were at 29,238 homes.

Only 1,568 of those homes were ground-related, another record low. This is less than half the homes available in July 2015, when there were 4,550 and dramatically fewer than the 16,424 available for purchase in July 2006. It is also less than one month of supply based on average 10-year sales trends.

High-rise supply also declined in July, falling to 15,645 units. The most significant decrease was in the pre-construction stage units, which were down 25 per cent from last year to 8,499.

New-home sales peak in 2016

Sales of new homes and condominiums in the first seven months of 2016 were the highest in 10 years. So far this year there were 28,208 homes sold.

Of those sales, 15,852 were high-rise homes, a new record. That is 36 per cent more than the 10-year average. Low-rise sales have also been stronger than average so far this year at 12,356, but they are down seven per cent from the last year.

New-home sales in July were up 12 per cent from 2015 and nine per cent above the 10-year average with 3,131 transactions. The majority of the sales came from the high-rise market with 2,226 homes sold, a 52 per cent increase since last July. Meanwhile low-rise sales fell to 905 homes in July, down 32 per cent from the previous year.

A detailed breakdown of new-home sales in municipality across the GTA can be found below.

"The industry's biggest challenge is bringing enough new homes to market to satisfy demand," Tuckey said. "Projects are being sold as soon as they come to market, which is driving up prices and reducing choice for new-home purchasers."

Severe Weather Aftermath: Tips from CSA Group to Help Recover from Damage
The heavy rainfall and severe weather across Canada and the United States this week bring with them the potential for floods, high winds and tornados but the damage may not end there. Many storm-related fatalities and injuries occur afterwards, when people assess the damage and begin repairs. CSA Group, a leader in public safety, testing and certification, offers the following safety tips to help reduce exposure to hazards inside and outside your home:
Strong Winds & Tornadoes

  • Before approaching your home, check the surrounding area for hazards such as downed power lines, debris, or other dangers. Mark and report any hazards or hazardous goods to local authorities. Treat all power lines as live and never touch! Check outside the home for obvious structural faults. Do not enter if structural damage is evident or if you have doubts about the safety of the building.
  • Examine the exterior of your home for gas leaks or electrical hazards. If possible, turn your gas off at the meter. If you can access your main electric box without going through standing water or entering the home, turn off the main breaker. Have qualified emergency personnel examine gas or electrical controls before turning them off at the source.
  • Upon entering, slowly and carefully watch for hazards. Beware of jammed doors, sagging ceilings or floors. Leave immediately if you hear shifting or unusual structural noises indicating something might fall or if you smell gas.
  • Do not operate gas or electrical equipment until it has been dried, cleaned and inspected. Some equipment such as hot water heaters may need to be replaced entirely if floodwaters have reached the burners, electrical parts or insulation. Replace only with certified equipment.
Before Entering a Flood Damaged Building

  • If you can tell from the exterior that your home has been flooded, and can access your main electric box without going through standing water or entering the home, turn off the main breaker. If the gas or electrical controls are inside the home, turn them off only after it has been deemed safe to enter your home by qualified emergency personnel or a building inspector.
  • Check outside the home for obvious structural faults. Do not enter if structural damage is evident or if you have doubts about the safety of the building.
Once Inside a Building

  • If your basement remains flooded, removing water too quickly from your basement when water has pooled outside may put pressure on your home's outer walls and significantly damage or collapse your foundation. Drain your basement slowly and carefully only when standing water outside the home is no longer visible on the ground.
  • Everything that has been touched by floodwater should be cleaned and disinfected. Materials that cannot be effectively cleaned, such as carpeting, mattresses, and stuffed toys or furniture should be discarded. Remove and discard wet wallboard, drywall, gypsum and insulation. Start the drying process as soon as possible by opening all windows and doors to circulate fresh air inside the home. Use fans and dehumidifiers certified by an accredited organization, such as CSA Group, to aid in the drying process and always follow the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Using fuel-powered generators, pumps, barbecues, camping stoves, and fuel-burning equipment is dangerous in confined spaces because of the potential for carbon monoxide buildup. Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless, lethal gas. Never use these items indoors or in an attached garage. Using battery-operated, certified carbon monoxide alarms can alert you to dangerous levels of gases.
When using Generators and Tools

  • Use generators carefully and always follow instructions, ensuring your generator is rated for the amount of electricity you will need. To prevent shock, the generator must be properly grounded. Only use generators or tools that have been tested and certified by an accredited organization, such as CSA Group, and always follow manufacturer's instructions.
  • To prevent fires, never refuel a generator while it's running or still hot and keep an appropriate fire extinguisher nearby at all times. Be sure to store fuel containers outside and away from buildings or combustibles.
  • Do not use electrical tools in wet locations and make sure all tools and appliances are properly grounded and double insulated. Mud or dirt in a grounded outlet may prevent the grounding system from working and lead to electrocution. If unsure about the condition of a grounded outlet, call an electrician.

Mayor Tory announces new allowances for 550 Toronto families on City’s housing wait list 

Mayor John Tory, joined by Toronto's Housing Advocate Councillor Ana Bailão (Ward 18 Davenport), today announced new housing allowances for 550 Toronto families on the City’s affordable housing waiting list. These are the first new housing allowances given to families since 2012.

Housing allowances, funded under the Investment in Affordable Housing (IAH) program from the federal and provincial governments, provide $250 per month to families for rent so they can afford to continue to live in their homes while maintaining their position on the wait list. Unlike rent subsidies, which are tied to a particular unit, allowances also give families the flexibility to move homes if they choose to. The City currently provides housing allowances to 4,000 families. 

“Far too many people – from single families to seniors, from people with disabilities to newcomers – simply can’t find safe, suitable and affordable housing,” said Mayor Tory. “As the city grows, we have to make sure that Toronto remains affordable and accessible to people of all income levels. I want people to have a place to live and build their lives no matter what neighbourhood they live in or how much money they make.”

Housing allowances are targeted to families who need it most: families with three or more children who have been on the waiting list for 10 years or more and families who need wheelchair accessible units who have been on the waiting list for eight years or more. 

This is a significant step forward to provide affordable housing for families on the wait list. The City of Toronto is also working to deliver real action on building more affordable housing:
• 294 affordable ownership and rental homes will be built across the city upon City Council approval next week. 
• The Open Door Program, which encourages developers to build affordable housing units, will go to City Council for final approval and implementation next week. Open Door accelerates the creation of affordable housing through a streamlined approval process, increased City financial incentives and the release of more surplus public land for development.
• The Mayor and the City of Toronto are hosting a Toronto Housing Summit on September 30 with housing stakeholders including developers, government representatives, tenants, co-ops and non-profits to provide input to the National Housing Strategy announced by the federal government last week.

"As Canada's largest city, it is critical that Toronto makes its voice heard loud and clear on the new National Housing Strategy," said Councillor Bailão. "I will bring together the best and brightest ideas from our partners and stakeholders to formulate Toronto's response to the federal government." 

Get Ready For Island Time: Toronto Caribbean Carnival

 On July 5 Toronto welcomed the launch of this year's Toronto Caribbean Carnival at Nathan Phillip's Square. This year's Carnival has a slightly different name and more events than ever to get the city in the party spirit. More than 100 masqueraders in costumes, Soca, Pan and Calypso performers gathered to entertain the crowds in the hot July sun.
At the launch City Councillor Joe Mihevc pointed out that the Toronto Caribbean Carnival is a year long event. Even when the Festival has finished the city continues the spirit at other events like the Santa's Day Parade and more.

Sheldon Francis aka SKF The Champ

One of the official faces of Carnival is The Champ. He has been an emcee for 20 years in Ontario and has hosted Carnival Band Costume Launches for numerous bands including: Louis Saldenah, Calalloo, Tribal Carnival, Fantasia, Carnival Nationz, Toronto Revellers, and York Region Mas.

NEW EVENTS

On July 23 the first Caribbean inspired 5K Run/Walk will take place to encourage wellness and community involvement. The Toronto Carnival Run is Canada’s first and only Caribbean inspired fun race and takes place one week prior to the world renowned Toronto Caribbean Carnival along the same route of the Grand Parade. Run to the beat of the drum while enjoying this fast, flat course! The event will begin with a Caribbean inspired warm up, carnival inspired music, entertainment, and participants will enjoy a Caribbean inspired breakfast at the completion of the race. Proceeds from this event will go to The Simunye Foundation, a not for profit organization committed to helping the Afro-Caribbean community toward positive lifestyle changes.


Families will love Chutney Flavor at Fort York this year. A two-day event with live performances, food and family fun will take place on Sunday July 31 and Sunday August 1 from noon until 8:00 PM.

"The economic trends in Canada – our low dollar and our high standard of living – will bring in an influx of American, Caribbean and South American visitors to Toronto who have shared history of and appreciation for the Carnival. We look forward to sharing our celebration with our new summer guests," said Denise Herrera-Jackson, CEO, Toronto Caribbean Carnival. "We are expecting large crowds at our King and Queen contest, Pan Alive, Calypso evening, the new two-day Chutney in De Park at Fort York, the Gala and, of course, the Grand Parade."

Six more mas bands will be on the parade route this year – meaning that there are 16,000 masqueraders from 15 different bands registered to play Mas along the parade route.

People come to Toronto from all over the globe to take part in the month long festival. Millions gather in the city for the Grand Parade that is the highlight of the three-week Festival. This year's Grand Parade will take place on July 30th at CNE Exhibition Place & Lakeshore. The huge fences that went up last year will be gone, replaced by 4' ones so everyone can see the celebration. The costumes worn by the participants in the Grand Parade portray different themes and stories which originate from the imagination of talented designers. These designers translate their creativity into wearable costumes that are portrayed on the parade route – themes like Out of Africa; Festivals of Nations; Islands in D Sun.

This year the festival will official end with a church service at the St James Cathedral, August 7, 2016 at 4.00 p.m. This service is open to all faiths and is a free event.

Mike Holmes Asks Ontario Residents to Push for Mandatory Radon Testing

 Mike Holmes is asking all Ontario residents to support mandatory radon testing on all basement rental units, and for Premier Wynne to incorporate it into the Residential Tenancy Act.
Mike Holmes has worked in the building trades for over 30 years, helping improve the quality, livability and safety of homes.

"I've been doing this for a really long time," states Mike Holmes. "One thing I've learned is that sometimes it's the things you can't see that end up causing the most harm—things like radon."

According to The Lung Association, Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. Approximately 850 people die in Ontario every year due to radon.

 Basement rental units are more susceptible to accumulating high levels of radon because radon is a heavy gas, and as such, it tends to collect in the lower levels of a home, such as the basement. The only way to know if a home or rental unit has a radon problem is to test for it.

Currently in Ontario there is no obligation for landlords or homeowners to test for radon; however, Ontario recently opened for consultation updates to the Residential Tenancies Act, which could make it mandatory to test for radon gas in basement rental units. Ontario residents wishing to support this change must send their message of support to residential.tenancies@ontario.ca by June 30th, 2016.

"Radon testing protects people—it's that simple," added Holmes. "I am asking all Ontarians to push for this change to the Residential Tenancy Act and make radon testing mandatory on all basement rental units. This is something we can do and we can save lives. Let's make it right."

Government of Canada engages Canadians leading up to Global Summit on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development

"The Government of Canada is pleased to be an active participant in the UN's Habitat III Summit and to make a meaningful contribution to the New Urban Agenda. But, to do this work, we need to hear from all Canadians about the realities we face here at home. I am eager to hear your input on strategies the Government is developing to address housing, poverty, employment, climate change and other challenges that will play a critical role in our efforts to build resilient communities here in Canada, and to bring a strong and inclusive Canadian voice to this important global conversation."  
– The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development
 The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, today announced the launch of public consultations on the New Urban Agenda leading up to the United Nations (UN) Habitat III Global Summit on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development to be held in Quito, Ecuador, on October 17–20. In his address at a roundtable organized by the University of Ottawa, Minister Duclos took the opportunity to encourage Canadians to contribute to Habitat III and lend Canada's voice to the dialogue on the UN's New Urban Agenda.

The Government of Canada embraces the guiding principles set for the Habitat III Summit. These principles closely align with the Government's goals for Canada. Budget 2016 laid out an ambitious plan to grow the economy, strengthen the middle class and help those working hard to join it.
 
Quick Facts

  • Urban centres now represent over half of the global population, and cities are the front line for many of the global community's most pressing issues. Social inequality, climate change and poverty are challenges all orders of government must confront.
  • Habitat III will bring together 200 national governments, municipalities, the private sector and civil society to discuss the most pressing challenges and opportunities to ensure the equality, quality of life and prosperity for citizens today and for generations to come.
  • The Summit will culminate in an International Declaration entitled the New Urban Agenda, which sets the agenda for the next 20 years that will reinvigorate the global political commitment to the sustainable development of towns, cities and other human settlements, both rural and urban.
  • Canadians are invited to participate in the online consultation, which will be open from June 22 to September 30, 2016, and to join the New Urban Agenda conversation.
In preparation for the Summit, the Government of Canada is launching an online consultation process to engage with stakeholders, such as provinces, territories, municipalities, Indigenous organizations, businesses, academics and Canadians, on some of our key challenges, opportunities and trends in urbanization, including poverty, quality of life, housing, climate change, as well as the important role in making cities and human settlements equitable, prosperous, sustainable, just, equal and safe.

In his address, Minister Duclos encouraged all Canadians to share and discuss their unique perspectives on these important issues. The views gathered through this consultation will be used to inform the Canadian delegation and bring Canada's voice and priorities to the Habitat III Summit, as well as inform subsequent Habitat III processes.
 

Traffic signal improvements expanded across the City of Toronto 

The City of Toronto is expanding its signal retiming program, updating an additional 357 signals on 17 corridors to improve the flow of traffic. By the end of 2017, approximately 1,500 traffic signals – about 60 per cent of the city's traffic signals – will be retimed. 
As part of Mayor Tory’s six-point congestion management plan, signal retiming ensures signals are up-to-date and responsive to the needs of all road users. In 2015, signal retiming resulted in reduced travel times along 11 of the city’s busiest roads.

The 2015 program, which saw 337 signals re-timed on 11 key routes, resulted in the following estimated annual improvements:
• 8.1 per cent reduction in overall vehicle delay (860,000 hours)
• 10.2 per cent reduction in stops (91,400,000)
• 4.7 per cent reduction in fuel consumption (4,900,000 litres), and
• 4.7 per cent reduction in vehicle emissions (117,000 kilograms of CO2 equivalent).
"The number one priority for Toronto residents is their ability to move around this city quickly and safely. We’re taking action to keep Toronto moving by targeting some of our most congested routes in the city," said Mayor John Tory. "Signal retiming is a low-cost, high-impact initiative to get people moving while ensuring public safety."

"Smarter traffic signals keep our streets moving for transit and drivers, while bringing down fuel consumption to help reduce the city's emissions and improving air quality for those who walk and bike in our city," said Councillor Jaye Robinson (Ward 25 Don Valley West), Chair of the City's Public Works and Infrastructure Committee.

Additional information on the City's signal retiming program can be found at: http://www.toronto.ca/signaloptimisation.
 Transportation Services has initiated the following projects as part of Phase Two of the congestion management plan:
• 35 cameras have been installed on arterial roads in 2016 to help improve traffic monitoring and incident response with 36 more to be added by the end of the year. This will allow the public to see construction on key routes including Eglinton Avenue. This brings the total number of cameras on city streets to 210 (major roads 164, expressways 46). These cameras can be viewed on the city's website at http://www.toronto.ca/roadrestrictions.
• A "smart" traffic signal systems pilot project will begin this fall, allowing signals to adapt to real-time traffic volumes and keep traffic moving.
• The Traffic Assistance Personnel (TAP) pilot project is on-going at eight locations. A further four weeks of the pilot will be conducted in the fall.
• Action plans are being developed for 10 congestion hot spots across the city. Analysis is complete at four of the locations with some short term measures implemented and longer term plans being scheduled.

More Canadians plan to rent out their cottages or cabins to help finance ownership: 2016 RE/MAX Recreational Property Report

The low dollar is prompting Canadians to sell their U.S. property and reinvest in Canadian recreational regions, and is attracting Americans to the Canadian market

Baby Boomers are fueling demand: 53 per cent of regions surveyed report an increase in retiree or near-retirement buyers compared to last year

- As real estate prices rise, many Canadians are looking for alternative ways to finance their dreams of cottage and cabin ownership. In a recent survey of RE/MAX agents and brokers, more than half reported seeing an increase in buyers who planned to rent out their property full- or part-time. In a separate survey of Canadians, conducted by Leger, nearly 60 per cent agreed that due to the emergence of popular, user-driven vacation rental websites, it is easier for an owner to rent out an investment property today versus five years ago. The same survey found that millennials are most likely to have spent time at a cottage or cabin in the last year.

"Young Canadians are sustaining demand for access to recreational properties," said Pamela Alexander, CEO and Regional Owner, North America, RE/MAX INTEGRA. "This provides an opportunity for buyers to finance their second homes, and we are seeing this most notably in high demand areas such as Grand Bend, Ontario, Tofino, B.C., and Quebec's Eastern Townships."

In most of the regions that reported an increase in buyers planning to rent out their properties, demand is driven primarily by families and retirees, rather than investors. Retirees were reported as being key drivers of demand in 83 per cent of regions surveyed, and 53 per cent of regions reported an increase in retiree buyers this year compared to last year.

"As the large demographic of Baby Boomers retires, we are seeing sellers who benefitted from significant price appreciation in cities like Vancouver and Toronto putting that equity into recreational markets, which is causing prices to increase in those regions," said Elton Ash, Regional Executive Vice President, RE/MAX of Western Canada. "Some buyers who may still be five or 10 years away from retirement are taking the opportunity to enter those markets now, renting out their property until they are ready to retire."

This effect has been especially pronounced in British Columbia, where significant price increases in the Lower Mainland are encouraging buyers to invest in regions such as the Okanagan and the Gulf Islands.

Low dollar boosting Canadian recreational regions

The low Canadian dollar is having a positive effect on Canada's recreational property markets. Canadians, mainly Baby Boomers, who bought properties in the U.S. when U.S. real estate prices were comparably low are selling them at a profit and investing in Canadian recreational markets. The low dollar is also encouraging Canadians to vacation within the country rather than going abroad, putting their money into vacation rentals closer to home.

Some regions, particularly established recreational destinations with international reputations such as Whistler, the Muskokas and Mont Tremblant, are seeing foreign buyers, primarily from the U.S., return to those markets. Cape Breton Island, which recently made international news when a website "Cape Breton If Donald Trump Wins" gained the attention of high-profile news media, has seen increased interest from prospective U.S. buyers this year due to the publicity boost, combined with favourable exchange rates.

Canadians looking for a little peace and quiet

In a survey of Canadians, 94 per cent said that when thinking about spending a weekend at a cottage or cabin, a quiet atmosphere was rated as an important feature, followed closely by privacy (91%). Peace and quiet ranked above sandy beaches (75%), access to water (75%) and outdoor activities (74%). This was true for Canadians in all age groups and across all regions.

When considering purchasing a recreational property, it is important for buyers to take into account their personal priorities and preferences, as well as factors such as location, traffic and amenities. For example, buyers who value quiet and privacy over water access may find a short walk or drive to the beach is a better option than a waterfront property. An experienced real estate agent with local expertise can help prospective buyers know all the options within their budget and make an informed choice.

Key Findings from 2016 RE/MAX Recreational Property Report Omnibus Survey

81% of Canadians have spent time at a cottage or cabin
BC: 78%
Alberta: 70%
Manitoba/Saskatchewan: 88%
Ontario: 86%
Quebec: 74%
Atlantic: 89%
Millennials (18-34) are most likely to have spent time at a cottage or cabin in the past year, compared with Canadians in other age groups
58% of Canadians agree that online vacation rental services have made it easier to rent out an investment property versus five years ago
More than half of Canadians agree that a recreational property is a good financial investment
Features and amenities rated most important when thinking of a weekend at a cottage or cabin:

Canadians:
Quiet atmosphere: 94%
Privacy: 91%
Sandy beaches: 75%
Water access: 75%
British Columbians:
Privacy: 89%
Quiet atmosphere: 88%
Sandy beaches: 75%
Outdoor activities: 75%

Albertans:
Quiet atmosphere: 96%
Privacy: 94%
Sandy beaches: 81%
Outdoor activities: 77%

Manitobans/Saskatchewanians:
Quiet atmosphere: 91%
Privacy: 87%
Swimming: 82%
Sandy beaches: 81%

Ontarians:
Quiet atmosphere: 93%
Privacy: 92%
Swimming: 80%
Sandy beaches: 79%

Quebecers:
Quiet atmosphere: 97%
Privacy: 91%
Water access: 77%
Sandy beaches: 68%

Atlantic Canadians:
Quiet atmosphere: 97%
Privacy: 89%
Outdoor activities: 76%
Sandy beaches: 64%  
Housing co-ops to sleep easy after rental subsidies extended for low income members
 Thousands of low income co-op residents will sleep easier after learning their rental assistance will continue for at least two more years.

Federal and provincial funding agreements that assist over 50,000 low-income co-op residents are coming to an end. As funding agreements expire, low-income households are at risk of losing their homes.

Jean-Yves Duclos, the federal Minister responsible for CMHC confirmed that help is soon on its way during an announcement at the annual meeting of the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada (CHF Canada) in Hamilton, Ontario.

"This is welcome news for housing co-ops who have been concerned about the loss of federal assistance to low-income co-op households," said CHF Canada President Anne Davidson. "We expect these measures will protect thousands of low-income co-op households across the country."

CHF Canada members learned that CMHC will soon renew subsidies for all federally administered housing co-operatives whose operating agreements expire between April 1, 2016 and March 31, 2018. Duclos described the commitment as bridge funding that will protect low income co-op households over the next two years while the federal government works with partners to create a national housing strategy.

"We must applaud the federal government for recognizing its responsibility in making sure that low-income Canadians can find and maintain a safe, affordable place to call home," said CHF Canada Executive Director Nicholas Gazzard. "We look forward to partnering with provincial, territorial and federal governments to create a long term, cost shared rent supplement program as one of many positive outcomes of the upcoming national housing strategy."

CHF Canada is the national voice of the Canadian co-operative housing movement. Its members include over 900 non-profit housing co-operatives and other organizations across Canada. More than a quarter of a million Canadians live in housing co-ops, in every province and territory.
The Toronto Caribbean Carnival lifts the curtains on the 49th Festival
Toronto Caribbean Carnival events include:

City Hall Launch – July 7, 2016
More than 100 masqueraders in costumes, Soca, Pan and Calypso performers will gather outside City Hall on Queen Street, beginning at 12 p.m., to officially launch Carnival in Toronto. Free Event.

Opening Church Service – July 10, 2016
Everyone is welcome to attend the 10 a.m. opening service of the Caribbean Carnival at the Church of the Nativity. The Church of the Nativity celebrates the Toronto Caribbean Carnival with an Anglican Service. The Church is in Malvern at 10 Sewells Road, Scarborough, Ont.

Junior Carnival Parade/ Family Day – July 16, 2016
This will be the biggest children's parade ever! The free Junior Carnival Parade will take place in and around Neilson Park in the Malvern community. Over 2,500 children will perform for the judges and play Mas. Games, food, Calypso and Pan performances in the Park after the Parade. 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The Carnival Ball – July 22, 2016
This is a black-tie event to honour the rich history of the Festival and to sample Caribbean cuisine and the arts will take place at the Liberty Grand Ballroom on the Exhibition Place grounds.

KAISO 365 Showcase – July 24, 2016
This ticketed evening event will be held at the Latvian Canadian Culture Centre, 4 Credit Union Drive in East York. Canadian Calypso singers compete for the Monarch title.
11 p.m.

King and Queen Competition – July 28, 2016
Lamport Stadium becomes an outdoor theatrical stage, where the Kings, Queens and individuals of the Carnival bands unveil their elaborately-themed costumes. Ticketed event starts at 5 p.m. and runs until 2 a.m.

Pan Alive – July 29, 2016
Lamport Stadium will be alive with the sound of steelband music as 14 steelbands compete in the Pan Alive Competition for the Ontario Champion Steelband title. Ticketed event begins at 5 p.m.

The Grand Parade – July 30, 2016
After months of preparation, masqueraders in colourful and striking costumes wind their way from the assembly area at Exhibition Place along a Lake Shore Boulevard. This event continues to draw millions from all over the world to see the live performance street art year-after-year. 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

NEW! Chutney in De Park – July 31 – August 1, 2016
The Toronto Caribbean Carnival is ending the weekend of weekends at Fort York with two days of live performances, food and family fun. Day One offers the flavor of Chutney in De Park, celebrating the music of the Indo-Caribbean performers. Day Two is the Carnival Last Lap with music fusion and more food and family fun.

Closing Church Service – August 7, 2016
Everyone is welcome to attend the 4 p.m. closing service of the Toronto Caribbean Carnival 2016 Festival at the Anglican St James Cathedral in downtown Toronto at 65 Church Street.

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 The Toronto Caribbean Carnival launched today at the Ontario Science Centre with costumed Mas' models, music and food. The Toronto Caribbean Carnival will run from July 5 to August 1, 2016, bringing the culture of Caribbean Canadians to over a million spectators in downtown Toronto. The Festival is predicting record numbers of visitors coming to Toronto and taking part in this year's Carnival events due to current economic trends.

Today's launch was for media and community stakeholders. The public kick-off for the 49th annual Carnival will take place on July 5, 2016 at 12:00 p.m. at Toronto's Nathan Philips Square, where dancers, musicians and calypso singers will get everyone into the Carnival spirit.​


​"The economic trends in Canada – our low dollar and our high standard of living – will bring in an influx of American, Caribbean and South American visitors to Toronto who have shared history of and appreciation for the Carnival. We look forward to sharing our celebration with our new summer guests," said Denise Herrera-Jackson, CEO, Toronto Caribbean Carnival. "We are expecting large crowds at our King and Queen contest, Pan Alive, Calypso evening, the new two-day Chutney in De Park at Fort York, the Gala and, of course, the Grand Parade."

"The Ontario Science Centre is delighted to be part of the Toronto Caribbean Carnival by sponsoring the Innovation in Mas' award. This is the seventh consecutive year that we are excited to celebrate innovation in Mas' costume engineering and design," said Catherine Paisley, Vice-President, Science Education and Experience, Ontario Science Centre. "In addition to recognizing innovative approaches, the award showcases the intersection of art and science, demonstrating that science is truly found everywhere."

The Grand Parade along the Toronto waterfront on July 30 is expected to draw well over a million people down to Toronto's Exhibition Place and surrounding grounds. The parade will travel the length of the Exhibition Place before entering Lakeshore Boulevard, giving the Festival more space to accommodate paying spectators.


​About Toronto Caribbean Carnival

The Toronto Caribbean Carnival is an exciting three-week cultural explosion of Caribbean music, cuisine and revelry as well as visual and performing arts. It is a major international event and the largest cultural festival of its kind in North America. As Carnival is an international cultural phenomenon, the city of Toronto and the Greater Toronto Region will come alive with the pulsating rhythms and melodies of Calypso, Soca, Salsa, Zouk, Reggae, Chutney, Steel Pan and Brass Bands to celebrate the Carnival of the Americas. The Festival Management Committee oversees the running of North America's largest outdoor festival.

Corporate sponsors/partners of this year's festival include: OLG, Toronto Star, CTV, CP24, the Federal Government of Canada, the Province of Ontario, the City of Toronto, Tourism Toronto, Grace Kennedy Foods, the Ontario Science Centre, Exhibition Place, Liberty Grande, Malvern Town Centre and Porter Airlines.

For more information about the programs and events, please visit the Festival's official website at www.TorontoCaribbeanCarnival.com. The Festival Office is located at 19 Waterman Avenue, Toronto.

Waterfront Artisan Market, Harbourfront
Photo Essay by Walter Tautorat

  1. Took the opportunity on a beautiful weekend in Toronto to visit this year’s first Waterfront Artisan Market.
  2. A large outdoor market that will be here one weekend every month until October.
  3. Lots of great vendors, lots of great food, lots of pirates, the human pinata, and lots of people make this a fun visit.
  4. Lots of great vendors, lots of great food, lots of pirates, the human pinata, and lots of people make this a fun visit.
  5. Lots of great vendors, lots of great food, lots of pirates, the human pinata, and lots of people make this a fun visit.
  6. Lots of great vendors, lots of great food, lots of pirates, the human pinata, and lots of people make this a fun visit.
  7. Lots of great vendors, lots of great food, lots of pirates, the human pinata, and lots of people make this a fun visit.
  8. Lots of great vendors, lots of great food, lots of pirates, the human pinata, and lots of people make this a fun visit.
  9. Please check out http://www.waterfrontartisanmarket.com/#art for the upcoming dates and take the time to visit.
  10. Harbourfront has so much going on you are sure to find something of interest that will make the visit worthwhile.
  11. As always enjoy Toronto.
  12. photo essay by Walter Tautorat

Record low supply, high prices for new homes in the GTA
 

April was another record-breaking month for the GTA's new homes market. Low-rise inventory levels dropped to an all-time low while prices hit new highs, the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) announced today.

The number of new detached, semi-detached and townhomes available for purchase in builders' inventory throughout the entire GTA was only 2,751 on April 30, a record low. According to Altus Group, BILD's official source for new-home market intelligence, a year ago there were almost twice as many homes available, 5,171.

The average price of new low-rise homes in the GTA climbed to $864,181, an increase of 11 per cent in 12 months. In April 2015 the average price was $775,419. The price of new detached homes increased to $1,059,263. In the 30 days since exceeding the $1 million mark, the average price of new single family homes have grown by $13,604.

"Ongoing constraint of serviced developable land is limiting the supply of new low-rise homes brought to market, and the result continues to be dramatic increases in low-rise prices across the region," said BILD President and CEO Bryan Tuckey.

Sales of new low-rise homes were down in April with 2,324 sold, a 14 per cent decline from the previous year. Two-thirds of the sales were recorded in Peel and York regions. Detached homes represented approximately half of all low-rise homes sold.

"Demand for low-rise homes continues to exceed supply," Tuckey said. "If monthly low-rise sales are an indication of consumer demand, the GTA has less than two months of supply in remaining inventory, and inventory is declining every month."

In the GTA, more than three-quarter of the new homes available for purchase are high-rise homes. On April 30, 87 per cent of all new homes available for purchase in builders' inventory across the GTA were condos. There were 17,698 condos available, a 10 per cent decrease from last year.

Sales of high-rise homes were also down slightly in April. There were 1,640 units sold, about nine per cent fewer from last year and 10 per cent below the long-term average.

Meanwhile the average price of a high-rise home increased by three per ce