Category Archives: downtown living

How Does Toronto Compare

pricepersquarefoot

 

Source: Genworth Canada

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Condos are king in the GTA

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Condo sales were up 79% year-over-year in February and far outstripped home sales for low-rise units.

“In the GTA in February, there were more than twice as many new condo apartments sold (as) low-rise units,” the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) said in its latest report. “Altus Group recorded 3,542 sales of condo apartments in stacked townhouses and mid and high-rise buildings, and 1,541 sales of new detached and semi houses and low-rise townhomes.”

Condo sales more than doubled the ten year average.

Toronto led the way in terms of sales (1,661 units), followed by York (1,299), Peel (370), Halton (107), and Durham (105).

A lack of low-rise supply and, indeed, skyrocketing prices, are the market forces driving many buyers to the condo sector.

“Today in the GTA we have a scarcity of single-family ground-related housing that is not just unprecedented – it is almost inconceivable,” BILD President and CEO Bryan Tuckey said. “As a result we are seeing record breaking condo sales and continued price growth.”

That’s also leading to inventory issues in the condo market.

Units hit a new low in February, dropping to 10,342.

Still, that’s much better than the current availability of single-family homes.

Across the GTA, a mere 1,001 new low-rise homes were available in February. And there were only 324 new detached homes available.

10 years ago there were 17,304 low-rise homes and 12,064 detached homes available.

Source: Canadian Real Estate Wealth – by Justin da Rosa27 Mar 2017

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The myth about warming up your car on a cold day

Since modern cars have fuel-injection systems their engined don’t need to be warmed up. (Stefan Redel, sredel@sredel.de/iStockphoto / Getty Images)

The Stegosaurus disappeared more than 100 million years ago, doomed by its tiny brain and a changing world. Then we come to the carburetor, a crude fuel-mixing device that once ruled the automotive universe.

Today, the carburetor is largely extinct, kicked aside by the modern fuel-injection system. Yet millions of drivers still seem to be stuck in the Jurassic Period. I thought of this recently when I watched a man spend 10 minutes warming up a fuel-injected Toyota that could have been driven seconds after it was started.

Few processes are as poorly understood as the cold-weather start. Back in the days of carburetion, a car couldn’t be driven until it was warmed up. Today, warming-up is a counterproductive exercise that wastes fuel, harms the environment and damages your car. Let’s have a look at the science, history and flawed folklore behind the automotive warm-up:

Virtually every car on the market today is equipped with a fuel-injection system that adjusts gasoline delivery based on temperature, throttle setting and engine load – because of this, your car can be driven almost immediately, even at low temperatures.

Even in extremely low temperatures, most fuel-injected cars can be driven away less than 30 seconds after start-up. The best way to warm an engine is to drive away as soon as possible and keep the load low until it reaches ideal operating temperature. Accelerate gently and use small throttle openings. Driving loads the engine and warms it more quickly than extended idling.

Engines are most efficient when they operate in their optimum temperature range. Running an engine when it’s cold causes increased emissions and engine wear. The goal is to get the engine into its preferred temperature range quickly.

Using a block heater can dramatically reduce the wear on your engine by improving oil flow on initial start-up. According to tests by Environment Canada, a block heater can improve overall fuel economy by as much as 10 per cent – you get zero miles per litre while idling and fuel economy is best at optimum engine temperature, so you should reach the target zone as quickly as possible. Environment Canada tests also showed that warming up an engine with extended idling leads to sharply increased emissions.

Although driving away as soon as possible is optimum, you may be limited by visibility requirements – the defroster system in your car won’t work until the engine generates enough heat. This can be offset by the use of a plug-in interior heater. Some manufacturers offer windshields with embedded heating elements, which speed defrosting.

The science and engineering that govern engine performance are relatively simple. Metal parts expand and contract with temperature and are designed to work best within a specific range. The efficiency of fuel combustion also varies with temperature – a cold engine burns extra fuel.

The catalytic converter unit installed in your car’s exhaust system is less efficient when it’s cold. This is another reason why short warm-up times reduce emissions.

Many drivers base their warm-up practices on outmoded technology and outdated thinking. When cars had carburetors, engine warm-up was essential – trying to drive a carbureted car when it was cold was like waking up a temperamental senior citizen from a deep sleep. Modern fuel injection systems automatically adjust themselves to deliver the correct amount of fuel, and are ready to go almost immediately.

Extended-idle warm-ups were once encouraged due to lubrication technology. Old-school oils didn’t work well in low temperatures. Modern synthetic oils can flow well at temperatures as low as – 40 C.

Use remote starters wisely. Many drivers start their engines far ahead of time so their car will be toasty warm when they get in. This extended idle has a high cost. According to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (a division of the U.S. Department of Energy), excessive idling shortens the life of your exhaust system and spark plugs because a cold engine creates more damaging combustion byproducts than a warm engine. Carbon and soot buildup also reduces the effective lifespan of engine oil.

Source:  PETER CHENEY The Globe and Mail Published Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015 5:00AM EST

 Read more questions and answers from Peter Cheney and Globe Drive here

Since modern cars have fuel-injection systems their engined don’t need to be warmed up. (Stefan Redel, sredel@sredel.de/iStockphoto / Getty Images)

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Mississauga to host 10-tower condo project

A bird's eye view of planned M City condo development in downtown Mississauga

The Rogers development promises more than two acres of public parkland in an area once meant for a radio transmitter.

A parcel of land bought in the 1960s by Ted Rogers in farm country at the western edge of what is now downtown Mississauga is to be transformed into a 10-tower condo development hailed as a fitting tribute to the telecom pioneer who passed away in 2008.

Rogers Real Estate Development Limited, a private holding company owned by the Rogers family, along with Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie on Tuesday unveiled a $1.5-billion, 15-acre, 4.3-million-square-foot project at the southwest corner of Burnhamthorpe Rd. and Confederation Pkwy. that promises more than two acres of public parkland downtown.

“Rogers has an enduring history with the City of Mississauga,” Edward Rogers said, noting that his father originally planned a radio transmitter for the site he bought for just over $170,000 a generation ago.

“We believe in the city and in the vision that was set forward in Downtown21,” he said, citing Mississauga’s strategy embracing a more pedestrian-friendly core with community squares, outdoor markets and abundant green space.

Called M City, the Rogers project is on part of the tract that was coveted because it offered wide-ranging reception to transmit signals from broadcast stations being assembled by the progenitor of Rogers Communications Inc., including Toronto radio outlet CHFI, whose transmitter is now located atop the CN Tower.

In an interview Monday, Edward Rogers said much of the land had been sold off, but the family held a long-standing ambition to develop the remaining acreage. He called M City a first foray in real-estate development that could pave the way for further projects down the road.

The project will be anchored by an iconic design, will prioritize public spaces and parkland, and offer residents the best in wireless, high-speed Internet and cable-TV technology now and into the future, he said.

Plans call for 6,000 units to be available for rent or for sale at prices ranging from around $200,000 up to $750,000. Some 700 units are envisioned for the first phase, with construction to begin in late 2017 or early 2018 and to continue in stages as units are pre-sold or rented and as the Rogers family retains ownership of the land.

While his father did not live to see the development finally take shape, his son said “it feels as though he is a part of it.”

“It’s a wonderful project,” Edward Rogers said. “It will be built to specifications that would have made Ted proud.”

According to architectural renderings, M City features will include extending existing city streets on a unique, angular plane to create a fine-grained network of blocks, enabling a pedestrian-friendly environment. Typical residential blocks will provide two-way roads with on-street parking, generous sidewalks and residential frontages.

“Rogers has put forward a bold, exciting and forward-looking vision for Mississauga’s growing, thriving and promising downtown,” Crombie said in a statement.

“These new planned developments by Rogers are consistent with the City of Mississauga’s commitment to build a livable, walkable city, home to mixed-use residential and commercial developments that are connected to an extensive public transit network.”

New York-based urban design firm Cooper Robertson was brought on board to design the framework for M City while Cooper Robertson partner Donald Clinton was the lead designer on the project.

Architects delivered a winning design that will “redefine Mississauga’s skyline with a striking, undulating tower that rotates seven typical floor plates in repetition as it rises 51 storeys,” said a press release outlining the development.

“Rogers, because they’re not builders, they’re a renowned Canadian corporate entity that doesn’t have to squeeze every penny out of this, Rogers is creating a legacy here,” said the area’s councillor, Nando Iannicca.

Rogers will partner with a construction management company and a highrise builder on the project, which Iannicca said will be a defining feature of Canada’s sixth-largest city. The towers will house privately owned condos and rentals, with a wide variety of leased commercial properties on the lower floors.

The Toronto-based holding company’s plan describes a signature tower just west of city hall and right next to the downtown loop of a future $1.3-billion LRT to be fully funded by the province. The land has sat as a vacant field for decades, while vertical development has exploded around Mississauga’s city centre.

The project is being assembled by the Rogers family independent of Toronto-based Rogers Communications, the telecom and media giant founded by Ted Roger’s father, Edward S. Rogers.

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Millennials not giving up on the detached-home dream, despite soaring record-high prices

There are options for that detached home for millennials, but they ultimately mean sacrificing something along the way.

Millennial are not giving up on the dream of owning a detached home, despite national prices soaring to record levels, buoyed by average prices that routinely reach seven figures in hot markets.

Even in the face of what the Toronto Real Estate Board says is a “troubling trend” in its market, Generation Y will not be deterred from their dream home, with 51 per cent of the cohort planning to purchase a detached home in the next two years, according to a survey by the Ontario Real Estate Association.

But planning and purchasing must be two different things, because the barriers to entry to the detached home market in Ontario have never been greater, at least in the city of Toronto where the average detached home sold for just over $1.2 million in July, according to the Toronto Real Estate Board.

Even accounting for the larger geographic region of the Greater Toronto Area — meaning,  a trip to suburbia — the average existing detached home sold for an average of $952,983 in July, according to the TREB numbers, released Thursday.

The real estate industry says provincial regulations encouraging density and choking off developable land has created the imbalance between supply and demand in the low-rise market, including detached homes.

“Housing policy is now top of mind for all levels of government. Policy makers need to be focusing on solutions to the sustained lack of low-rise inventory throughout the GTA,” said Larry Cerqua, president of TREB, in a statement. He refused a request for an interview.

Given the state of the market, what exactly makes this generation — defined in the OREA study as the group born between 1981 and 1992 — think they will actually be able to afford anything but a condo, let alone a detached home?

“I think what we are seeing in the research, there are a few factors. It’s obviously stage of life, as needs change, your requirement for a home changes,” said Fahed Malik, the director of marketing communications at OREA. “There is a need for a larger home and a detached home can give you that practicality.”

Part of what also drives them is this idea that real estate will always be a good investment. The survey, which was conducted online by Ipsos between May 31 and June 2, 2016 and is considered accurate to within 3.5 percentage points 95 per cent of the time, finds 77 per cent of Generation Y thinks real estate is a good investment. A year ago only 70 per cent felt so.

The desire to have the dog, the garage and 2.4 kids is strong no matter what generation you are talking about

Why wouldn’t they think real estate always pays off — property prices have had only one real dip in the GTA over the past 20 years, which is most of their adult lifetime. Even the Great Recession barely impacted prices between 2008-2009.

Ontario millennials are hardly alone in their  desire for a large, detached home. The demand is just as strong in British Columbia, which has seen the benchmark price for detached homes climb to almost $1.6 million in its largest city.

The provincial government in Victoria won’t let the dream die easily, and last month announced a 15 per cent tax on foreign purchasers in Vancouver in an effort to control prices in a market where the supply of detached housing is finite. Prices are destined to go higher in a market where supply is outstripped by demand, even if you do more to limit that demand.

There are options for that detached home, but they ultimately mean sacrificing something along the way. Elton Ash, regional executive of Re/Max of Western Canada, says that means a resurgence of interest in suburbia.

“The desire to have the dog, the garage and 2.4 kids is strong no matter what generation you are talking about,” he said, pointing out that detached home affordability question is not a pan Canadian issue. “I just did a road trip in Manitoba and visited a community 35 kilometres north of Winnipeg and the lot cost was $45,000. But it’s the same result as you move out of city cores, prices to get cheaper and that’s why bedroom communities are getting more popular.”

Living near the city’s downtown means downsizing your expectations. The OREA study didn’t ask people specifically where they would be willing to live to afford a detached home, but it’s now realistic for a person working in Toronto to live more than 100 kilometres away from her job.

The prices continue to drive that message home. Results from the Real Estate Board of Great Vancouver for July do show detached homes are pretty much unattainable for local residents, but the average attached home, which could include a rowhouse or townhouse, sold for $669,000 last month. That’s clearly more attainable goal.

Doug Norris, a demographer with Environics Analytics, said baby boomers are not retiring anytime soon, so the supply of ground level housing is likely not picking up. “They’re not moving until (age) 75 or so,” he said.

He says demographics drive demand for single family homes, but the reality of the economics is that means some level of compromise.

That same study from OREA found the second choice of generation Y buyers, after detached homes, was condo apartments at 28 per cent, followed by semi-detached at 18 per cent and row houses at 13 per cent.

Detached homes may be the first choice of that generation, but the reality of the marketplace means the percentages of those other options are going to rise — at least in Toronto and Vancouver.

Source: Garry Marr | August 4, 2016 2:31 PM ET

gmarr@nationalpost.com
twitter.com/dustywallet

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Is Hamilton the Canadian Brooklyn?

After years of downturn, Brooklyn made a huge turnaround. Is Hamilton following its lead?

Two cities go under the microscope Monday to find an answer to a burning question of identity: is Hamilton actually Canada’s answer to Brooklyn?

It’s all part of an Ambitious City event hosted by the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce that explores the cultural identity and economic heartbeat between the two.

Considering resurgent Brooklyn has been on an upswing for years and is often considered one of the coolest places in America, Hamilton and its chamber would be positively giddy at that comparison bearing fruit.

But can you really compare Hamilton to a bustling metropolis of 2.6 million people?

Let’s try it out.

Industry downfall and finding an identity

Once part of the industrial heart of the U.S., manufacturing in Brooklyn dropped by about half from the 50s to the 90s.

Things were gloomy for quite a while, until neighbourhoods like Williamsburg and Bushwick sprang back to life starting in the late 90s – mostly fuelled by artistic types fleeing high rents in Manhattan.

Sound familiar?

There is a caveat here, though. Brooklyn’s revival started much earlier than Hamilton’s, so they are way further along in the process. If Hamilton is really lucky, the city could be where Brooklyn is now in about a decade.

Do they have LRT?

Public transit in Brooklyn destroys Hamilton. Full stop.

Sure, LRT is coming, and that will radically change how people get around in Hamilton. For some, it’s a beacon of modern transit that will haul Hamilton into the future (or at least to the present).

But the New York subway system is one of the best in the world. Daily ridership numbers are in the millions – meanwhile in Hamilton, we’re still waiting for HSR to get on Twitter. (But at least we got Presto on buses before Toronto did!) Edge: Brooklyn.

Is Manhattan Brooklyn’s Toronto?

Hamilton’s Toronto complex is so deeply ingrained that “Argos suck!” could be a Balsam Avenue baby’s first words.

There’s a definite rift between Brooklyn and Manhattan, too – and a deluge of people have moved out of there because they can’t afford rent.

Take this “luxury” Manhattan two-bedroom, listed at a startling $5,895:

Brooklyn apartment

Two beds, two baths, and almost $6,000 in Manhattan. (Streeteasy.com)

You aren’t living in Manhattan these days without a heavy cash flow. There’s some definite disdain in Brooklyn for its high-priced neighbour. Edge: Tie, different scales but clear parallel.

Rents

So if Brooklyn is a haven for young people and artists fleeing the rest of New York City, are the rents comparable to Hamilton?

Yes and no. A two-bedroom in trendy Williamsburg can run you over $4,000, which is a rarity on local equivalents like James Street North or Locke Street. Keep in mind that New York is one of the most expensive cities in the world, behind only places like London and Monaco.

In some more far-flung neighborhoods and artist enclaves, you can share a two-bedroom for maybe $1,400. That makes it a steal by New York standards and an analogue to Hamilton compared to Toronto’s higher rents. Edge: Hamilton

But can I get a decent cup of coffee?

You can tell a lot about a place by its coffee – and as the birthplace of Tim Hortons, Hamilton has a special claim to the fuel that keeps Canada going at hockey rinks on weekends at 6 a.m. There is also a burgeoning coffee culture in many areas for those who like their brew a little more upscale.

In Hamilton, a cup off coffee will run you around $2 to $3 on average. In Brooklyn, you can get a coffee cart cup for a buck, or go to Blue Bottle Roasters and shell out $10 for a cup. Edge: Brooklyn, but only because of the carts.

Do they have any famous musicians?

Musicians: Brooklyn has Busta Rhymes, Jay-Z, The Notorious B.I.G. and Peter Criss. Hamilton has Teenage Head, Daniel Lanois, Arkells and Tom Wilson. Tough call – but nobody likes Peter Criss, so edge: Hamilton.

Their bridge vs. our bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the most iconic bridges on earth. A guy drove a dump truck into the Skyway one time. Edge: Brooklyn.

Are there any famous Brooklyn comedians?

Brooklyn has Jerry Seinfield, Hamilton has Martin Short. That’s gold Jerry, gold! Edge: Brooklyn.

Their teams, our teams

The Ticats are deeply entrenched in Hamilton’s soul, and the now-OHL Bulldogs are keeping hockey alive in the city. Brooklyn has two major franchises: the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets and the NHL’s New York Islanders but both are fairly new to the city. It’s been a long time since the Brooklyn Dodgers. Edge: Hamilton (because we’re worried Angelo Mosca will come after us otherwise).

What about parks?

Hamilton’s most famous park is probably Gage Park (it’s more “park-ish” than Gore Park, which is still arguably the heart of the city). Brooklyn has the iconic prospect park, which was built by the same designers as Central Park. Edge: Brooklyn.

Their view, our view.

We love our escarpment, our waterfalls. The views from Sam Lawrence Park or the Dundas Peak are sweet. Their view however, is sunset of the Manhattan skyline. Edge Brooklyn.

Brooklyn skyline

This is the view from the Brooklyn Promenade. (Rick Hughes/CBC)

Source:  Adam Carter, CBC News Posted: Nov 14, 2015

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Cities outside Toronto cannot charge land-transfer tax, Ted McMeekin says

Ontario Municipal Affairs Minister Ted McMeekin: "It is clear that there has been no call for a municipal land transfer tax."

Homebuyers outside Toronto no longer have to worry about paying thousands of dollars in local land transfer taxes.

Municipal Affairs Minister Ted McMeekin shut down speculation Tuesday that cities and towns would be given permission to bring in their own such levy in addition to the provincial land transfer tax.

“There has been no call, at all, for a municipal land transfer tax, nor is there any legislation before the House that would allow this,” McMeekin said in the legislature’s daily question period.

Toronto will remain the only Ontario city allowed to charge a land transfer tax, he added, but offered to look at “what possibilities exist” for other new sources of revenue to help strained municipal budgets.

 

McMeekin’s surprise announcement followed a push against a local land transfer tax by the Progressive Conservatives and the Ontario Real Estate Association’s “don’t tax my dream” campaign, arguing it could push house prices further out of reach for many families.

“I’m glad the minister made the right decision,” said Conservative MPP Steve Clark (Leeds-Grenville), blaming the government for floating the idea earlier this fall and crediting a “grassroots” efforts with stirring up opposition.

 

McMeekin had said earlier this fall during consultations with local governments that any new revenue powers for them would be optional and did not rule out a land transfer tax.

The Association of Municipalities of Ontario said it wants local councils to have “discretionary authority” just like what Toronto enjoyed in levying its own land transfer tax to raise revenues for services, transit and other infrastructure.

“Ontario municipalities face significant fiscal challenges, just like Toronto,” AMO president Gary McNamara said in a statement after McMeekin’s announcement.

“In many communities, property taxes are poorly suited to the burdens that communities face. We all need to look at new solutions that will work.”

McMeekin suggested local governments could do more in the way of development charges as “a potential significant source of revenue.”

Clark and the Ontario Real Estate Association had warned home buyers would have to dig much deeper into their pockets if local land transfer taxes were authorized.

“This is a huge win for Ontario’s home owners and those who dream of one day owning a home,” said Patricia Verge, president of the real estate group.

In Toronto, the buyer of a $450,000 home pays a total of $10,200 in land transfer taxes: $5,475 for the provincial levy and $4,725 to the city. The city tax was added in 2006.

Source: Toronto Star  Queen’s Park Bureau, Published on Tue Dec 01 2015

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