5 Jul 2011

Auto insurance premiums rise more than 6 percent in Ontario

Rare is the report indicating a drop in the cost of living in Canada, and continuing that theme is the finding that auto insurance rates have risen for the average Toronto motorist.According to the online insurance quote comparison service Kanetix, auto insurance premiums increased 6.4 percent in Ontario in the second quarter of 2011 compared to the same three-month period last year.George Small, co-founder of Kanetix, said that many Canadians could have saved themselves some money by better informing themselves about the discounts many insurers offer."Although rates are higher compared to last year, consumers can still find ways to lower their auto insurance premiums if they ensure they are taking advantage of available discounts and take the time to understand other cost-saving options that are available," said Small.The study found as many as half of Ontario consumers could have saved themselves between 5 and 15 percent on their auto insurance had they been aware of available discounts.One definitive way Ontarians…

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27 Jun 2011

A Greater Toronto area woman has 22 million reasons to smile today.According to the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Association, Vivian Leung of Richmond Hill struck it rich after winning the $22.6 million Lotto Max jackpot June 17.Leung, who rarely plays the lottery, said she just happened to have a free ticket and decided to play it on a whim."I really didn't notice the big jackpot amount," said Leung. "I just knew I had a free ticket to play and I finally found some time last week to cash it in. I just chose a Quick Pick as usual, and this is the ticket that won!"Leung said it wasn't until the cashier told her how much she'd won that she realized…

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24 Jun 2011

With Moving Day approaching, some Torontonians may feel inspired to pack up some of their belongings if they are moving to a new location or want to make their places a bit more tidy. And if GTA residents happen to be in Montreal in the next few days, they may want to stop at an IKEA retailer.That's because between June 25 and June 30, the furniture-selling giant will be handing out 15,000 moving boxes to anyone who needs some."We are always looking for ways to create a better every day life for our customers," said Hilary Lloyd, deputy marketing manager for IKEA Canada. "We were gathering insights into Moving Day and found that more than anything it is the basic…

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23 Jun 2011

Large purchases should never be rushed into, and a new study is finding that Canadians take that maxim seriously when it comes to purchasing a home.According to an online survey conducted by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation of 3,500 mortgage customers, the average Canadian homeowner takes approximately 11 months to plan out all the details that come with homeownership before putting money down."Buying a home is one of the biggest financial decisions most Canadians will make in their lifetimes," said Pierre Serre, vice president of Insurance Product and Business Development for the CMHC. "CMHC is committed to supporting homebuyers throughout their decision making process."The study also found Canadians take advantage of the internet when planning out their purchase. Among…

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22 Jun 2011

A Toronto woman recently reached an extraordinary milestone – playing an organ uninterrupted for the longest amount of time.Reports indicate Jacqueline Sadler, an organist and music director at Eastminister United Church, started tickling the ivories on June 20 at 8 a.m. and didn't stop until just after the stroke of midnight June 22.The 40 hour, 35 minute marathon puts Sadler in the Guinness Book of World Records, eclipsing the previous recorder holder by more than a half-hour."At that time she decided she played long enough and having broken a world record, she decided to go home," said Kerry Bowser, a minister at the church, in an interview with the Toronto Star. "It was truly a marathon for her."Sadler was allowed…

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22 Jun 2011

Virtually every Canadian knows that July 1st is Canada Day, but some may not know that it's also Moving Day in Quebec.For many years, Quebecers have used the day to clean up some of their clutter or, as the name indicates, pack up their belongings and move.And a recent survey from Kijiji Canada appears to indicate that a lot of Quebecers will take advantage of the day because so many are overwhelmed by clutter.According to the survey, more than half of respondents – 52 percent – said they had some form of clutter in their house.Some may be tempted to throw it all away, but Linda Sauve of Kijiji says to do so would be a mistake."There's no reason to…

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21 Jun 2011

Toys are common tenants of storage units, as parents often like to hang on to them after their kids have grown should another child come in to their life.Due to safety, however, some toys may be accidents waiting to happen and not worth saving. But the implementation of the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act should help determine trash from treasure."The toy industry welcomes the CCPSA," said Jeff Hurst, chairman of the Canadian Toy Association. "This act introduces a number of important provisions, including mandatory recall powers. These provisions complement the rigorous testing and product compliance systems currently in place for toy manufacturers."Hurst went on to say that the CCPSA should enhance the shared responsibility toy companies and government officials have…

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20 Jun 2011

Despite numerous studies and economists projecting a housing slowdown is in the offing for Toronto, the numbers continue to defy the oddsmakers.According to statistics recently released by the Canadian Real Estate Association, national resale housing activity was stable in the month of May for Canada overall, but home sales skyrocketed in Edmonton and Toronto.According to the report, in Toronto, home sales reached their second highest level on record in the month of May.That wasn't the case in all of Canada, however, as several metropolitan regions reported declines, specifically Vancouver and Ottawa."Toronto stood out as an exception," said Gregory Kump chief economist for CREA. "Sales activity there [grew] faster than new supply."Several reports have been released in recent weeks suggesting the…

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20 Jun 2011

After a long, hard winter, Torontonians will be rewarded with the arrival of summer June 21. But nine families will be welcoming the summer season in style – within the confines of a brand new home.According to Habitat for Humanity Toronto, nine families will be rewarded with their very own homes Tuesday, June 21. All of the houses were built on Weston Road by volunteers from the charitable organization. What's more, the homes were built with green technology, which will help reduce utility bill costs for the homeowners."We want a world where everyone has a safe and decent place to live," said Neil Hetherington, Toronto's Habitat for Humanity CEO. "To help achieve this mission, we need to build more energy…

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17 Jun 2011

With temperatures warming throughout the GTA, something else is heating up – the rate of burglaries and thefts.According to the insurance company Aviva Canada, burglaries tend to spike in the summer months, and as the summer wears on, the more prevalent they become. For instance, the frequency increases 13 percent in June, 20 percent in July and 31 percent in August."The key factor is more opportunity," said Wayne Ross, president of national property claims at Aviva. "As residents are out of their homes more frequently and for longer periods of time in the summer months, there is more opportunity for burglaries to occur."The study also detailed in what provinces summer burglaries were most frequent, finding that the incidence of burglaries…

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13 Jun 2011

More people may be purchasing a storage unit this summer, as a recent report indicates many Canadians will be buying a recreational property.According to the real estate firm RE/MAX and its recreational property report, demand for waterfront properties and cottages is up significantly from coast to coast, with more vacationers seeking to buy a property in nearly 80 percent of the 46 markets surveyed."With overall economic performance improving daily and consumer confidence rising, the resurgence of Canadian recreational property markets is a natural progression," said Sylvain Dansereau, executive vice president of RE/MAX Quebec. "An upswing in discretionary spending is once again drawing purchasers to what is, without question, an innate Canadian pastime."In virtually every region of Ontario, average prices for…

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10 Jun 2011

Home run league leader Jose Bautista and the Toronto Blue Jays hope to make up ground in the American League East this weekend as the Boston Red Sox come to town.The Blue Jays are coming off a 3-2 loss to the Kansas City Royals Thursday, which caused them to split the four-game series.While Bautista has performed well at the dish this year – reaching base safely 52 times in 55 games and leading the league in both home runs and RBIs – the Associated Press reports he's struggled against the Red Sox, sporting a batting average of .185 in the past seven meetings.Toronto will send Jo-Jo Reyes to the mound, who will try to win his third-straight start. Boston will…

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10 Jun 2011

Torontonians operating on a budget this summer may want to retrieve some items out of their storage closets this year.That's because according to a new study from BMO Bank of Montreal, Canadian travellers will be spending a pretty penny on gasoline compared to previous years.For instance, the study found that if Ontarians are travelling from Windsor to Halifax, they'll be spending $150 more on gas this year than in 2009.It could be worse, however, as British Columbians bound for Prince Edward Island, the study found, will pay $426 more for gasoline."In our survey, Canadians told us that affordability will be the number-one factor determining their summer vacation plans this year," said Su McVey, vice president of marketing for BMO.In other…

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9 Jun 2011

In the Vancouver Canucks' 41-year history, the franchise has never brought Lord Stanley's Cup home. After last night's loss to the Boston Bruins, the chase for the sport's ultimate prize is knotted up.In enemy territory, Vancouver lost to the Bruins 4-0 Wednesday after another sub-par night from Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo, who was pulled from the net in the third period. In the past two games, Luongo has surrendered 12 goals.The series is now tied, 2-2.Luongo, who some believe may not start in Game 5, told the Associated Press that the team plans on capitalizing on their home-ice advantage."[It's] what we've worked for all season," Luongo told the AP. "We need to get playing the way we did in the…

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9 Jun 2011

As more people move to Toronto and buy storage units to house some of their belongings, a new report is indicating that the homes they live in may decline in value.According to BMO Capital Markets, the market may weaken in Toronto if mortgage rates rise and inflation occurs as economists expect."Given our outlook for a moderate increase in rates in the next two years, prices could soften or at least stabilize for a while [in Toronto]," said Sal Guatieri, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets. "A possible overhang of condos could aggravate the weakness. However, continued sturdy immigration, with one-third of the nation's immigrants settling in the GTA last year, should help to cushion the blow."While this projection may be…

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8 Jun 2011

People who were up in the early morning hours on June 7 had a sight to behold, as much of the Greater Toronto Area was hit with thunder and lightning that left 20,000 residents in the dark.According to the National Post, Environment Canada issued a severe storm watch around 1 a.m., but soon thereafter it became a warning, as much of the storm activity took place between 4:30 and 6 a.m. The paper reports the warning was lifted around 7 a.m.CBC News meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe told the news service that the weather front quickly moved to the south of the city.While there were no reports of injuries, fire officials say there were at least three fires in the GTA.Forecasters say…

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7 Jun 2011

Toronto may not be playing host to more Americans, but it is getting more tourists from distant lands.According to a Tourism Toronto report, the GTA was frequented by international travellers last year from every major European or Asian country, including Germany, Japan and South Korea, adding more than $180 million to the city's coffers. Tourists from the United Kingdom were particularly prevalent last year, as over 200,000 visitors were from the U.K. China was another common country of origin for sightseers.The study also detailed where Toronto fared in tourism compared to other North American cities. With hotel occupancy increasing nearly 10 percent from 2009, Toronto is the sixth most frequented North American city, jumping four spots. New York City was…

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7 Jun 2011

While Toronto Mayor Rob Ford continues to believe the city will host its first NFL team in the coming years, Toronto's Economic Development Committee says the GTA should have a second NHL team.By a vote of 3 to 1, the TEDC determined it will send a letter to the mayor asking that he express "great interest" to the NHL that Toronto wants a second team.In an interview with CTV, one of the primary backers of the proposal, city councilor Josh Colle, said Toronto has more than enough fan support."There are five million people in the region already," said Colle. "There are going to be a million new people in the region in the next 10 years or so as the…

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6 Jun 2011

While May car sales in Canada slumped to their lowest levels since 1997, May home sales in Toronto surged to record levels.According to the Toronto Real Estate Board, 10,046 homes were bought last month – a 6 percent increase compared to May 2010, the second best May on record.Bill Johnston, president of the TREB, said that several factors played a role in the increased buying activity."Positive economic news and low borrowing costs led to strong sales through the first five months of the year, including the increase in May," said Johnston. "At the same time, the market has become much tighter compared to last year, due to a substantial dip in new listings."Jason Mercer, senior manager of market analysis for…

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