15 Sep 2011

Affordable homes hard to find in the GTA

While the real estate picture in Toronto has been stellar for several months now, the high rate of sales isn't being offset by an increase in supply, a new report details.According to the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association and the Cooperative Housing Federation of Canada Ontario Region, 93,000 people are on affordable housing waiting lists in the Greater Toronto Area alone. What's more, vacancy rates are in record-low territory at 2.7 percent in Durham, 2.2 percent in Toronto and 1.8 percent in both Peel and York.Harvey Cooper, manager of government relations for CHF Canada, said the problem is particularly acute for families with low annual income levels."This year's findings clearly demonstrate that the gap between homeowners and tenants' incomes is growing ever wider and many Ontarians of low and modest means are struggling to find a home that they can afford," said Harvey Cooper. "I worry about families being forced to choose between paying for the necessities of life, putting food…

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15 Sep 2011

Despite economic uncertainty pervading much of the country and the world at large, home sales in Canada held steady in the month of August, a new report indicates.The Canadian Real Estate Association says national resale housing activity remained stable in August, the second-straight month sales have been balanced.On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, sales activity increased 16 percent compared to August 2010. In year-to-date sales, more than 324,000 homes have changed hands, the first time this year home buying activity has pulled ahead of 2010's pace.Gregory Klump, chief economist for CREA, said Canadians are capitalizing on inexpensive mortgage offers."Once again, economic and financial market headwinds outside Canada are keeping interest rates lower for longer," said Klump. "Those headwinds will likely persist…

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14 Sep 2011

In recent weeks, several economic indicators have suggested that Canada's economic prowess is regressing. A new report from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities is providing officials with a potential explanation for why this is happening. According to FCM's report, inefficient public transportation, limited community services and a lack of affordable housing are preventing the Canadian economy from growing. These insufficiencies are profoundly affecting Canada's new immigrants, according to Claude Dauphin, FCM vice president, a problem which can be rectified by local and federal government officials. "Municipalities are the front-line, first-responders for many immigrants' needs, yet we collect just eight cents of every tax-dollar paid in Canada and have been given no formal role in developing federal immigration policies and programs,"…

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14 Sep 2011

Toronto parents now have a better understanding of how well their kids are performing in their studies, as five of the 15 Canadian schools profiled by the Education Quality and Accountability Office are located in the Greater Toronto Area. The schools chosen include David Lewis Public, Kenollie Public, Neil McNeil Catholic High, St. Jean de Brebeuf Catholic High and Riverdale Collegiate Institute. "Our learners do well at many different things," said Karen Peach, principal of David Lewis Public School. "We give students a lot of opportunities to demonstrate what they can do. Our programming is rich, and we work within our hub and our cluster successfully to prepare our students for secondary school." EQAO said these schools were chosen based…

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13 Sep 2011

Torontonians who enjoy shopping are encouraged to mark their calendars, as for the third year in a row, LouLou's annual Shop 'Til You Drop extravaganza will be coming to the GTA.According to LouLou, a leading Canadian periodical for shopping and celebrity news, the event will take place on Bloor Street between Avenue Road and Yonge Street on September 21 from 5 to 9 p.m. In addition to a variety of discounts offered, there will also be fashion presentations from the likes of Julia Cyboran, LouLou's content director, and Claude Laframboise, the magazine's market editor.The event will also make stops in Montreal on September 22 and in Vancouver on October 6."We know our readers across the country absolutely love to shop,…

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13 Sep 2011

In what's being described as an ambitious undertaking, Habitat for Humanity Toronto is looking to build a couple of barrier-free homes for two low-income families with disabilities in a week and a day.According to the nonprofit charitable housing organization, the eight-day effort – which has been dubbed the 9-1-1 Build – will bring together a variety of Toronto public service organizations including Toronto Police, Fire and Emergency Medical. Those involved will attempt to build the homes from start to finish in eight days.Habitat for Humanity released a tentative agenda for the effort. For instance, on September 17, building will begin and several political representatives will be on hand to officially launch the effort. By Saturday, September 24, it's anticipated that…

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12 Sep 2011

Though Ontario's economic function has been high throughout much of 2011, economists believe it will sputter somewhat for the remainder of the year.According to the Royal Bank of Canada's Economic Provincial Outlook, supply-chain disruptions in the automotive sector and below average U.S. growth will impact Ontario's gross domestic product. GDP is a measurement of all the goods and services a country produces."Ontario's auto sector was severely disrupted by Japan's earthquake and tsunami in March, causing a number of assembly plants to halt or curtail operations for several weeks," said Craig Wright, senior vice president and chief economist at RBC. "As a result of this catastrophe, car and truck output in the province plummeted by 14 per cent in the second…

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9 Sep 2011

A motley crew of major Hollywood directors, producers and actors will be at this year's Toronto Film Festival, which officially kicked off September 8.The annual festival, which will last for 11 days, allows Ontarians and the Canadian public in general to interact with some of the movie industry's finest talent. At this year's TIFF, filmmaker and Academy Award winner Davis Guggenheim will be in attendance, as well as Jonathan Demme, Cameron Crowe and Albert Maysles.Guggenheim is noted for his documentary "An Inconvenient Truth," for which he won an Oscar. Crowe earned an Academy Award as well for Best Original Screenplay for the film "Almost Famous."Demme is best known for the 1990s thriller "The Slience of the Lambs," while Maysles' signature…

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8 Sep 2011

While home sales in Canada have been strong and employed individuals are confident in their job security, a new poll found that consumer sentiment fell considerably in the third quarter.According to a national telephone survey conducted by the polling company teleVox, consumer confidence dropped from 83.7 in the second quarter to 77.5 in the third.Doug Anderson, senior vice president for the business firm Investors Group, said the results of the poll are troubling."For the second quarter in a row, Canadian consumer confidence has declined," said Anderson. "When U.S. consumer confidence has declined, Canadian confidence has typically declined as well, although usually to a lesser degree and sometimes on a delayed basis.Last month, the U.S.-based Conference Board reported that consumer confidence…

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7 Sep 2011

People continue to flock to Toronto, as the latest housing report from the Toronto Real Estate Board indicates home sales were swift last month.According to the TREB, in August, more than 7,500 properties were sold in the GTA, a rise of 24 percent in year-over-year sales. Last year during the same 31-day period, just under 6,100 homes were purchased.While sales increased, the ability to afford a home in the GTA did not, as the report indicated the average home sold for $451,663 – a price hike of 10 percent when compared to August 2010.Richard Silver, president of the TREB, said home affordability could be aided, however, with the removal of the land transfer tax, which officials are not expected to…

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6 Sep 2011

While global economic uncertainty grips much of the world, a majority of Canadians don't think they'll lose their jobs as a result, according to a new survey.Fifty-one percent of Canadians said they are confident they will have their job for at least the remainder of the year, a Bank of Montreal Labor Day poll recently reported.Michael Gregory, senior economist for BMO Capital Markets, said that the country's economy has the weathered the world's financial crisis well."The Canadian labour market has performed admirably, recovering all the jobs lost during the recessing by January," said Gregory. "The unemployment rate is currently 7.2 per cent compared to a recession-high of 8.7 per cent."Also commenting on the study was BMO's president of commercial banking,…

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2 Sep 2011

With the arrival of Labor Day, Ontarians everywhere will be having one last hurrah this weekend as the summer of 2011 draws to a close. With many parties taking place on the province's variety of lakes, Ontario Power Generation and the Ontario Provincial Police urge locals to celebrate responsibly and safely."Ontario's waterways are a great place to enjoy the holiday weekend if you are prepared," said Larry Beechey, who heads the OPP's traffic safety and operational support division. "Wear your personal floatation device, particularly in smaller boats, and don't mix your boating with alcohol."To make sure Ontarians practice safe boating and driving habits, the OPP said it will maintain a high presence of heavily trafficked highways, lakes and rivers.John Murphy,…

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25 Aug 2011

A new survey reveals where some of Canadians' longest commutes are located. And according to the poll, Toronto tops the list.Statistics Canada reports that among full-time workers in Canada, Toronto-area drivers tend to get stuck in traffic jams most often at 29 percent, followed by Montreal and Vancouver at 26 percent and 25 percent, respectively.The report also detailed the average commute time for Canadians. At 33 minutes, Toronto travellers had the longest average.Despite the long travel times, the survey also found that workers were generally unconcerned with their length. For instance, 85 percent of commuters said they were satisfied with the commute period, with 15 percent being dissatisfied.In addition, the survey detailed the modes in which Canadians travelled. At 82…

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24 Aug 2011

Despite being 500 miles away from the epicenter of the earthquake that recently hit Virginia, Toronto felt the 5.8 magnitude temblor, according to reports.The quake reportedly hit Mineral, Virginia, around 2 p.m. on Tuesday, August 23, and a number of major cities reported feeling the after effects shortly thereafter."It was a shallow earthquake, literally almost right at the surface," said CityNews meteorologist Adam Stiles. "That means the energy is a little more focused. Instead of travelling up and out, the path of the quake just radiates outwards."A resident of Niagara Falls told the news source the tremors from the quake lasted roughly two minutes. Many buildings across the city and in others along the East Coast of the U.S. were…

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22 Aug 2011

While graffiti on building walls is nothing new to the world of public art, spray-painting abandoned bicycles scattered throughout Toronto has become the latest trend in chic city art, reports say.The Good Bike Project began after one Toronto woman spotted a months-long abandoned bike and decided to turn the trashed item into art by giving it a neon pink coat of spray paint. Since that one bike was painted, numerous other forsaken bikes have become the focus of beautification by locals.While some citizens don't like the bright, refurbished bicycle – and others like it around the city – many are enthused by the initiative."Ninety-nine per cent of the reaction has been really, really positive," Vanessa Nicholas, who helped form the…

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17 Aug 2011

With public exposure to food trucks increasing throughout North America, it was only a matter of time before the craze for the movable feasts came to the Toronto area and other major Canadian metros, reports say.According to Yahoo Canada, many residents of Toronto, Vancouver and Edmonton, among other Canadian cities, have shown they are content with the limited number of food trucks conducting business in their communities.Zane Caplansky, a food truck owner who does business in Toronto, told the National Post that people all over the city enjoy his food – and at all times of the day."The licence is restrictive and arbitrary, but when we showed up on Ossington at two in the morning and people started clapping, you…

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16 Aug 2011

Homebuying activity in Toronto last month mimicked the national trend, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association. In other words, home sales were stable in July when compared to June.According to the CREA, the July national sales-to-new listings ratio was 51.8 percent, a moderate change compared to 52.3 percent in June.On a year-over-year basis, actual sales activity rose 12.3 percent in July. Through the first seven months of the year, approximately 284,537 homes have changed hands, which is 1.6 percent lower through the same period in 2010.Gary Morse, CREA president, said the report indicates real estate is a worthwhile investment for Canadians."Mortgage interest rates are low and keeping home affordability within reach, making it an excellent time for buyers to…

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12 Aug 2011

Due to rising gas prices and the popularity of bike sharing programs, more Torontonians are driving to various destinations on two wheels instead of four. But according to the Ontario Medical Association, the province isn't as bicycle-friendly as it should be.The OMA is urging the provincial government to enact policies that will help make cycling safer for everyone, as it will encourage more people to take advantage of an ideal form of exercise."Two-thirds of Canadians are inactive, putting them at greater risk of chronic disease," said Stewart Kennedy, president of the OMA. "Cycling is a great a way to stay fit and a way for people of all ages to add essential physical activity to their daily lives and improve…

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12 Aug 2011

Christmas may be more than four months away, but it's never too early to start thinking about how to deck the halls. Thus, if Torontonians are thinking about heading to the western half of the country for a visit, or to go on vacation, they may want to consider stopping at one of Canada's largest gift shows.The Canadian Gift and Tableware Association recently announced there will be 530 craft exhibitors at the Alberta Gift Show, which will be held at the Edmonton Expo Centre. Expecting more than 13,000 people to be in attendance, the CGTA says visitors will have the upper hand on decorating, as the latest furnishings will be on display. There will also be a number of innovative…

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