Tag Archives: suburban living

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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Road tolls: Will they actually reduce congestion?

HOT lanes that allow single-occupant vehicles to pay a toll to use carpool lanes are a popular alternative to HOV lanes. (J.P. MOCZULSKI for The Globe and Mail)

Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal are among the most congested cities on the continent – ranking second, sixth and ninth, respectively, according to TomTom data.

The average person living in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) spends about 65 minutes commuting each day, and all that gridlock costs the region up to $11 billion per year, according to a C.D. Howe Institute study.

Road tolls a ‘fair’ way to fund transit according to Toronto mayor (CP Video)

The most common cure thrown around is road tolls, but a new study suggests they may not be the answer.

The report, Congestion Costs, Road Capacity and Implications for Policy-Makers, issued Friday by the Conference Board of Canada and commissioned by the Canadian Automobile Association South Central Ontario (CAA SCO), warns that governments should examine other options before moving forward with more road tolls.

However, economists at the C.D. Howe Institute argue road tolls are the best solution to reducing congestion and the additional revenue is a bonus that can be used to improve transit and other infrastructure.

The Conference Board of Canada report states there is a difference between policies designed to raise revenue and those designed to change driving behaviour.

“We have to be very clear about what we’re trying to achieve,” says Teresa Di Felice, director of government and community relations, CAA SCO. “If we want to achieve reductions, there are various tools, land use planning, ride sharing transit. When you move the conversation to road pricing there has to be a clear objective … If you want to change behaviour, that is a different pricing strategy.”

She says if tolls push too many people out of their cars, government won’t achieve its revenue goals.

The report examines other tools that policymakers can use to reduce congestion – highway ramp metering, variable speed limits, access controls such as time-of-day restrictions, ride-sharing support, biking facilities and public transit investment.

A previous Conference Board of Canada report showed Ontario drivers pay between 70 to 90 per cent of the cost to maintain roads through registration fees, gas taxes, parking tickets and other revenue tools. In the GTA, it’s more than 100 per cent.

“Motorists are frustrated, they are paying a fair chunk of the maintenance costs,” says Di Felice. With these reports, CAA wanted to see if drivers are getting the benefit of what they are paying and if motorists are going to pay more, what does that look like?

Tolls are the best solution, extra revenue is a bonus

“Even if on average, road users cover 100 per cent of spending money on roads, road pricing is still really important,” says Benjamin Dachis, associate director of research at the C.D. Howe Institute. “It is still the best solution for dealing with congestion.”

An example from London, England, supports this. A congestion charge there in 2003 cut traffic by about 15 per cent.

A 2007 study from C.D. Howe says, “Neither fuel taxes nor parking fees are effective in dealing with traffic congestion. Appropriately designed road-pricing schemes are the best instrument. Road pricing’s usefulness in charging for road damage, insurance, and so on, are a bonus.”

Dachis says his research shows that, on average, drivers pay less than 70 per cent of roadway expenses. There is a lot of confusion because there is good data on how much governments collect, but the money largely goes into general revenue, so there isn’t good data on how it is being spent.

Regardless, he says that tolls are effective to reduce congestion and to put a value on roads.

“When you have roads that aren’t tolled, there is something called the fundamental law of congestion, you build new roads and they fill up pretty quickly,” he says.

But the way to toll roads isn’t like what Ontario drivers currently see.

In September, 1,000 Ontario drivers received permits to use the high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes on the Queen Elizabeth Way west of Toronto. It was part of a pilot project that allows those drivers to have a faster commute at a cost of $180 for three months. The project will last two-to-four years and the government will be adding HOT lanes to Highway 427 in 2021. Highway 407, just north of Toronto, is also a toll road.

“It (HOT lanes) is probably the most rudimentary form of road pricing I’ve ever seen,” says Dachis. “The bottom line is what the (Ontario) government has put in place right now is barely only training wheels.”

Dachis cites metered high-occupancy toll lanes in Seattle, Miami, Minnesota, Georgia and southern California as examples of what works, is not mentioned in the Conference Board of Canada report. The price to enter HOT lanes as a solo occupant is constantly changing based on how much time it saves the driver. Billing is controlled through either a smartphone app or a windshield pass. A sign indicates how much time it will take to get to designated interchanges, guaranteeing the travel time through the pricing scheme.

“We’re trying to guess the dollar value people put on roads,” says Dachis. “Road pricing makes it very clear what people will pay for roads.”

Dachis worries that because current HOT lanes are so basic, they will fail and people will reject any further conversation.

One major criticism of HOT lanes is that they are for the rich – hence the moniker, Lexus lanes. But Dachis says variable pricing will do away with that because there won’t be a monthly subscription. Rather everyone, regardless of income, can make a decision right then and there if using the lane will benefit them financially or socially. One of the biggest users of these lanes will be buses.

Cost is a factor, but a study by the University of Minnesota found that when Minneapolis converted some of its HOV lanes to dynamic HOT, the economic benefits were more than double the operating and capital costs.

Toll highways

“Tolling the whole freeway is totally doable. It would even be the best option, from an economists perspective,” says Dachis. “But that’s a hard sell when there are few examples of working toll roads in Canada.”

He adds that tolling the entire highway would allocate the scarce road space most effectively and should lower taxes for everyone.

Dachis and Di Felice agree that road tolls aren’t the only method governments should consider to reduce congestion. They also agree there has to be better data collected on how money is being spent on roads at all levels of government.

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These figures suggest just how much immigration drives Canadian housing demand

canadian-housing-immigration

Canadian immigration is set to reach its highest annual rate in a century this year as at least 300,000 newcomers are expected, a fact Scotiabank says is a tailwind for Canada’s housing market.

While those new to Canada don’t generally make the leap into homeownership right away, notes Scotiabank Economist Adrienne Warner, sooner or later most do.

“New immigrants typically first choose rental accommodations, but eventually have homeownership rates similar to Canadian-born residents,” Warren explains in the bank’s latest Global Real Estate Trends Report.

The Canadian homeownership rate was 69 per cent in 2011, the most recent year Statistics Canada provides this census data for.

Canada’s hottest major housing market is also the country’s leading migrant destination, according to the Conference Board of Canada, a non-for-profit research organization.

Nearly a third of those 300,000 expected to settle in Canada are Toronto bound, notes Alan Arcand, the associate director of the board’s Centre for Municipal Studies.

“Toronto is the main… destination for immigrants in Canada and immigrants are the biggest driver of population growth today in Canada,” says Arcand.

“It’s important to realize that Toronto adds about 90,000 people a year to its population. So the whole CMA (census metro area) of Toronto grows by a city every year, a mid-size major city,” he continues, adding, “All those people coming need places to live, so that drives the housing market.”

This is why the Conference Board forecasts housing starts (a measure of how many units construction begins on in a given period) will waver between around 38,000 to 41,000 through the 2016-2020 period. Arcand says this is around the 10-year average.

Population age demographics also fosters housing demand, says Scotiabank’s Warren.

“The number of Canadians in their prime homebuying years is projected to continue to grow through the end of the decade, though at a slower pace than in recent years,” she explains.

Source: BuzzBuzzNewscanada – 

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Did You Know? Mississauga Has the Same Population As…

 

Once a suburb, always a suburb.

Or is it?

Although one could probably concede that Mississauga can still be defined as something of a suburban satellite city, it’s impossible (and inaccurate) to classify it as quaint or quiet or small. With a population of 713,445 people and several grand-scale urbanization projects moving forward (M City, Inspiration Lakeview, etc.), it’s safe to say that Mississauga is, in fact, a big city — albeit one that’s still developing its identity.

If you look at Mississauga’s population, you’ll see what we house almost the same number of people as world famous cities.

In fact, here’s a list of cities with similar populations to ours (often lower!), based on 2015 estimates:

Canada:

1)    Edmonton (812,201)

2)    Winnipeg (663,617)

United States:

1)    Seattle, Washington (684,451)

2)    Denver, Colorado (682,545)

3)    El Paso, Texas (681,124)

4)    Detroit, Michigan (677,116)

5)    Washington, D.C. (672,228)

6)    Boston (667,137)

7)    Memphis (655,770)

8)    Nashville (654,610)

9)    Portland (632,309)

10) Oklahoma City (631,346)

11) Las Vegas (623,747)

12) Baltimore (621,849)

 Europe:

1)    Zagreb, Croatia (790,017)

2)    Valencia, Spain (786,189)

3)    Leeds, U.K. (774,060)

4)    Krakow, Poland (761,069)

5)    Frankfurt, Germany (732,688)

So, there you have it! We may not be as much of a household name as Leeds or Frankfurt or Boston, but we have almost as many (and sometimes more) people.

It really puts things into perspective.

We’re bigger than we think.

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Here’s Where You Can Buy A House Near The GTA On A Condo Budget

REAL ESTATE SOLD

If you had the choice between buying a downtown condo or a house far off in the suburbs for the same price — which would you choose?

Millennials considering their first foray into homeownership are often placed into a box — or more aptly put, a box in the sky.

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Regularly depicted as through-and-through urbanites who, in the tug-of-war between square footage and location, will always choose the latter, 20-to-30 somethings are seen as open embracers of the condo lifestyle.

But not all millennials are swept up in the high-rise boom. For some, a minute’s drive to the GO Train is a worthy enough replacement for steps to the TTC if that means owning a spacious yard and two-car garage.

In fact, of the Greater Toronto Area’s 1.4 million millennials, about 54 per cent don’t live within the bounds of the city but in the suburbs of the 905.

And of those who live outside of Canada’s largest metropolis, an Angus-Reid surveyfound 73 per cent voiced it was the search for a larger abode at a lower price-point that led them beyond city limits.

It’s not necessarily groundbreaking news; the pros (and cons) of moving to the suburbs are a no brainer to many. However, it does counter the popular image of millennials as a generation who no longer covet detached homes and would rather squeeze into tight fitted condo apartments than abandon urban life.

For buyers in search of more space and other perks a condo can’t offer, finding an affordable place to call home is a tough proposition, even in the burbs. In 2016 so far, the average detached home in the suburban GTA sits at around $855,000, up almost 20 per cent from a year earlier.

On the other end of the spectrum, condominium apartments in Toronto averaged $430,000 — up seven per cent.

It’s no wonder almost 84 per cent of people believe “it’s unrealistic for young people to expect to own a house and yard in the GTA.”

For millennials who are on a condo budget but want to skip the starter-apartment to move straight into a house, we’ve highlighted the suburbs in and around the GTA worth eyeing below. It’s worth noting, everything listed comes under the $500,000 mark, so you won’t be impacted by new rules that mandate a minimum down payment above five per cent.

Oshawa
Home Type: Detached
Avg. Price: $459,534
Compared to Avg. TO Condo: $28,262 More

London
Home Type: Detached
Avg. Price: $319,441
Compared to Avg. TO Condo: $111,831 Less

Brock
Home Type: Detached
Avg. Price: $368,878
Compared to Avg. TO Condo: $62,394 Less

Essa
Home Type: Detached
Avg. Price: $454,899
Compared to Avg. TO Condo: $23,627 More

Innisfil
Home Type: Detached
Avg. Price: $480,076
Compared to Avg. TO Condo: $48,804 More

Whitby
Home Type: Semi-Detached
Avg. Price: $443,013
Compared to Avg. TO Condo: $11,741

Hamilton
Home Type: Semi Detached
Avg. Price: $372,081
Compared to Avg. TO Condo: $59,191 Less

Brampton
Home Type: Townhouse
Avg. Price: $469,639
Compared to Avg. TO Condo: $38,367 More

Halton Hills
Home Type: Townhouse
Avg. Price: $467,276
Compared to Avg. TO Condo: $36,004 More

Ajax
Home Type: Townhouse
Avg. Price: $472,000
Compared to Avg. TO Condo: $40,733 More

Young buyers willing to circumvent an affordable starter condo for a more spacious family abode with room for future kids will see some strong benefits. For one, houses appreciate at a far faster rate than their high-rise counterparts, meaning they’re a more solid investment. Plus, by going with the “forever home” first, you’ll avoid the added costs of buying, selling and moving again within a short amount of time.

There are caveats of skipping to a house however, not the least of which includes hours of arduous commuting time as well as being disconnected from young professional life in the city. Plus, with more space, comes higher energy bills and a greater risk of a stretched budget (along with increased maintenance responsibilities). Without the experience of having gone through the purchasing process before, you could also get stuck with buyer’s remorse for a house you planned to live in for years on end.

Housing figures are for Jan-May 2016 from Stratus MLS® System

Source: Huffington Post Posted: 06/30/2016 4:11 pm EDT

REAL ESTATE SOLD

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Fixing Your Credit After a Bankruptcy to Apply for a Mortgage

When I first started working with Charlie (not his real name) in 2005, his bankruptcy had just been discharged, meaning his remaining debt was cleared. His credit score was 526, and he didn’t think he had a chance to even get a credit card.

Charlie’s bankruptcy filing was needed after a difficult divorce and a medical emergency. In fact, a a majority of people who seek bankruptcy protection do so after a medical emergency, difficult divorce, job loss; or some combination of the three.

It didn’t take long for him to realize that his financial life was not over. Within a couple of months, he’d gotten more than a dozen credit card and other loan offers. After the discharge of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you’re considered an even better risk than someone who still has a mountain of debt because you can’t file for bankruptcy for at least eight years. In reality, you can get a credit card immediately after your bankruptcy discharge.

Many people think, That’s exactly what got me into trouble in the first place, so I’m going to avoid plastic in my life forever. That’s a huge mistake if you want to buy a house. You need to rebuild yourcredit score, and the best way to do that is to show that you can manage credit wisely. A credit card history that shows you can pay your bills on-time every month is one of the best ways to rebuild that history.

With my help, Charlie’s credit score was back to 646 in about 2½ years, which is enough to qualify for an FHA and VA loan even in today’s rough mortgage marketplace. When we checked his score in January 2011 it was back up to 727; now he can qualify for some of the best interest rates.

The key is to work on three pieces of the puzzle at the same time immediately after the bankruptcy: Clean up your credit report, begin rebuilding a positive credit history and start saving. Now that you don’t have credit bills to pay any more, start putting as much of that money aside as you can to save toward the downpayment on your next home. The more money you can put down, the better you will look to a mortgage banker.

Fix Your Credit Report

The last thing you probably want to do after a bankruptcy is to review your credit report and see all the damage that you did. Get over it. The quicker you clean up that report, the faster you will be able to improve your credit score. You can get a credit report for free from each of the credit reporting agencies at AnnualCreditReport.com. By federal law you are entitled to one free report each year.

When you get that report, review it and note any errors you see on the report. For example, you may find accounts that are not yours or lenders who reported late payments that are not accurate. The credit reporting agency will send you instructions about how to make corrections. Follow those instructions carefully and make your corrections. Send any proof you have that the account reported is incorrect. The credit reporting agencies tend to believe your creditors rather than you, so the more proof you can send the better.

In addition to making corrections, also inform the credit reporting agency of your bankruptcy and note any accounts on that report that were discharged by the bankruptcy. The credit report agency will then note the bankruptcy, and that will start the clock for the debt to be removed from your credit history. Most negative credit accounts can stay on your report for seven years from the last date of activity. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy stays on your credit report for ten years.

But as a negative mark ages on your credit report its impact on your credit score becomes less and less significant, which is why you can rebuild your credit score even before the bankruptcy drops off.

You may find that you have to go through the correction process several times. Each time the credit reporting agency fixes a report, they will send you a corrected copy. Check it again for any errors and report any remaining errors until your credit report is accurate and all your discharged accounts are noted.

Rebuild Your Credit History

While you’re working with the credit reporting agencies to clean up your credit report, you should also be working on rebuilding your credit history by opening one or two credit accounts to begin positive reporting on your credit report. Each time you pay a bill on time that will be a positive mark and will help to minimize the negative marks.

You’ll likely have to start with a secured credit card. These cards usually require an annual fee and charge higher interest rates. While they’re not the best deal out there, they may be your only choice right after a bankruptcy. After about six to 12 months of using a secured credit card on time, you should be able to get an unsecured card with better terms.

You also may be able to get a retail credit card. Don’t go overboard with getting new credit now that you can. Stick to one or two credit accounts to show you can use credit wisely and pay it on time.

Monitor Your Credit Score

As you’re rebuilding your credit score, you may want to monitor your progress. If your score continues to go up, you’re on the right track. But if you find that your score goes down in any quarter, think about your credit activities. Did you charge a large item? Did you open a new account? That way you’ll learn what does positively and negatively impact your credit score so you can be sure you have the best score before applying for that mortgage in the future.

Six months before applying for a mortgage, don’t take on any new debt and risk ruining all the work you did to rebuild your credit score. Keep your credit accounts active but your balances low to get the best credit score.

Source: AOL Real Estate – Lita Epstein Mar 4th 2011 

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Niagara GO train service

Daily, year-round GO train service between Hamilton and Niagara is one step closer to becoming a reality. Niagara politicians are stepping up their campaign and committing $40 million needed for the rail service, which they say would cost a total of between $100 and $120 million .

The proposed plan is calling for year round train service between Niagara and Hamilton which would tie into the existing Lakeshore west line to Toronto. There would be 7 trains in and 7 trains out. They would make stops in Grimsby, St.Catharines and Niagara Falls.

The project is pegged at $120 million, the region has pledged a third of that but is still waiting on commitments from both the Provincial and Federal government.

Officials say they worked through 17 obstacles since their last meeting with the province in March. One of them included the Welland canal crossing. City officials managed to get commitment, in writing from the St.Lawrence Seaway management corporation for dedicated crossing times.

The other major hurdle, using the existing Canadian National Railway lines without coming into conflict with freight shipments. CN has agreed to the GO train proposal but it would cost $50 million to make the necessary track improvements. A cost officials have accounted for in their overall budget.

The new GO train line is projected to have an economic impact of about $195 million and the Niagara GO team is hoping for a fully functional system as early as 2017. The proposed plan will be presented to the province in April and decision on whether the new train line is a go would come no later than June when the province is set to announce its next phase of GO rail projects.

Source: CHCH News – February 9, 2016 09:44:45 PM

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