Province Unveils Housing Supply Action Plan
May 3, 2019 -- After months of consultations with stakeholders and thousands of submissions from residents, the Ontario government announced this morning their comprehensive Housing Supply Action Plan, which is intended to cut red tape; build more housing, including the right mix of housing types; and increase the number of affordable homes.
TREB and OREA have been involved in this process through submissions and working groups, and many of our industry recommendations are reflected in the Plan.
Branded as "More Homes, More Choice," the Action Plan changes are meant to increase supply and deal with the housing affordability challenges as the government is looking to amend 13 government Acts (including the Growth Plan for Greater Golden Horseshoe, the Planning Act, Ontario's Building Code, and the Development Charges Act to name a few). For the complete news release, please click here.
TREB applauds the government for taking this bold action, ensuring that our city, region and province have an adequate supply and appropriate mix of housing. We look forward to continue working with the government as this Plan moves into its implementation phase.
We will continue to report on the progress as the Plan is being put into action.
Torontonians get sneak peek at 16 km urban park that will connect downtown to Scarborough - April 27th, 2019
Dozens of Torontonians turned out to get a sneak peek of the first plans for a 16-kilometre long stretch of green space that would see pedestrians and cyclists be able to make their way from the downtown core up to Scarborough without ever leaving the park.
The project, called The Meadoway, first made headlines last spring, and would transform a barren hydro corridor into a fully-connected greenway linking 15 parks, 34 neighbourhoods and four ravines all the way from the Don River Ravine to Rouge National Urban Park in Scarborough.
Attendees had a chance to weigh in on what they envisioned the park would be.
Tina Hamlett, part of a group called Morningside Community Changers, was among them.
As part of her vision to transform what is now a stretch of open field behind her neighbourhood at Morningside Avenue and Ellesmere Road, she put forward a host of ideas -- something organizers say they welcome.
Pollinator plants for the bees, birds, butterfly populations, a zen garden with fountains, an urban garden to help with food sustainability concerns in her neighbourhood, a greenhouse are all among the features Hamlett would like to try to implement for the Military Trail community.
Tina Hamlett, part of a group called Morningside Community Change, attended Wednesday's consultation. (John Sandeman/CBC)
The most important thing to Hamlett? "That we are really forming a real community."
Lisa Turnbull, senior manager of project management at the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, says the entire project is expected to cost about $85 million. The W. Garfield Weston Foundation has pledged $25 million to support it.
The Meadoway isn't the only major park initiative underway in Toronto. Rail Deck Park and The Bentway are also in the works -- but situated in the downtown core.
"Scarborough is home to over 600,000 people. It's not the downtown, so we need to create community spaces that are specific to the mode of living," said Paul Kulig, a principal of urban design firm Perkins+Will's.
"It's going to be this amazing meadow full of all kinds of insects and butterflies," said Richard Ubbens, director of parks for the city.
That's part of what Hamlett would like to see, especially for the families who live in her neighbourhood.
She'd like to see a space where "children have a wonderful experience growing up and then when they graduate and move on, these are good memories that they can have -- basically having a legacy for the Morningside area."
A group of Vaughan homeowners say they’ve been waiting 16 years to get their grading deposit back, only to find out that their money will not be returned.
When the homeowners purchased their residences, they paid $500 to a builder for what they thought was a refundable grading deposit. A grading deposit, sometimes called a security or damage deposit, is meant to ensure that a new neighbourhood complies with the city’s regulations. This can include rules for driveways, curbs and sidewalks.
Typically, the money collected is released when a community is assumed by a municipality.
Rosa Savella, one of the homeowners, said that the neighbours were told they would get their $500 grading deposit back when they purchased their home.
“She said, ‘Oh yeah, minus your $500 because you’ll get that back sooner or later, as soon as the land gets assumed,’” Savella told CTV News Toronto.
The neighbours recently found out their development had been assumed by the city about a decade ago. When they asked for their deposit back, the builder declined, calling it a “grading fee” rather than a deposit.
A spokesperson for the builder, Fieldgate Homes, said that the charges were laid out in the agreement of purchase.
“We did charge a non-refundable grading fee of $500 + GST. Fieldgate provided no undertaking on closing to any purchaser for the refund of the grading fee. We hope homeowners are happy with their homes despite this misunderstanding.”
The neighbours claim they were told verbally there would be a refund and are disappointed that after 16 years, they won’t receive one.
“We are not asking for anything extravagant. We just want the grading fees we were told we were going to get back, to get them back as promised,” Tony Gentile, another homeowner, said.
A lawyer for buyers in the cancelled Cosmos condos in Vaughan has asked an Ontario court to rule against “unlawful contracts” that allow developers to kill projects if they don’t consider the financing conditions satisfactory without disclosing what those conditions are.
Justice Michael Penny reserved judgment on Tuesday following arguments that centred on the contract language in the purchase agreements signed by buyers in Liberty Developments’ Cosmos condos in 2016.
Two years after purchasing units in the Cosmos condos project near Vaughan Metroplitan Centre, buyers received refunds and letters telling them the project had been cancelled “solely due to the inability to secure satisfactory construction financing.”
About 40 buyers, who turned up to witness the court proceedings, wore stickers proclaiming, “Liberty for none.”
The Tarion Addendum -- the standard form attached to condo purchase agreements that sets out schedules, occupancy dates and conditions for terminating a project -- allows vendors to cancel if they are unable to secure satisfactory financing. But it does not require them to provide details on what comprises “satisfactory.”
The Cosmos agreements, signed during a frenzied period of real estate buying in the Toronto region, also included a clause giving the vendors “sole, absolute and unfettered discretion” to cancel -- something the buyers’ lawyer said undermines the purpose of the Tarion consumer protection legislation.
“Satisfactory financing and unfettered discretion are two different things,” Ted Charney, who represents 451 Cosmos buyers, told an Ontario Court of Justice.
The condo buyers purchased units near the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre in 2016, a period of skyrocketing prices in the Toronto-area real estate market. Two years later they received refunds and letters telling them the project had been cancelled “solely due to the inability to secure satisfactory construction financing.”
The letter blamed the decision on the project’s vendors, numbered companies that own the land on the southwest corner of Hwy. 7 and Maplecrete Rd. Those companies share the same Markham address as Liberty Developments.
“To have these projects cancelled is life changing for these purchasers,” Charney told the court.
“This is an agreement that affects thousands of people , hundreds of thousands of dollars,” he said.
But if builders couldn’t cancel projects for financing reasons they might be tempted to cut corners or fail to complete the building, which wouldn’t be good for homebuyers either, said the vendors’ lawyer Monique Jilesen. The cancellation for financial reasons is among those permitted by builder regulator Tarion, she said.
There is nothing in the Tarion legislation that provides purchasers such as the Cosmos buyers to be compensated for lost market appreciation when a developer cancels a project for unsatisfactory financing reasons, according to court documents filed by the vendors.
“This is not the kind of case , where the parties entered into the agreement with an evil intention,” Jilesen told the court.
Condo buyer Cecilia Yung and her parents bought two Cosmos units to be closer to her brother in Vaughan. The family has been stuck since the project was cancelled without enough money to find comparable homes, she said.
Yung said the case shows, “There is a lot to be improved upon the Tarion agreements and forms. Something has to be done.”
“There are a number of cancellation projects coming up after Cosmos is cancelled. Obviously something is missing in the system that isn’t providing enough protection to the consumers,” she said.
April 18, 2019
If you have been in the Dufferin Street and Rutherford Road intersection in the past month, you may have noticed two signs. One sign is on the north side of Rutherford Road, east of Dufferin Street; the other sign is on Dufferin Street, on the east side, north of Rutherford Road. The signs are a notice of a zoning change and a development approval. Read below for more.
JUST THE FACTS
A newly announced Ontario residential condo tower is slated to be the tallest in Vaughan, according to its developer.
Cortel Group’s 60-storey CG Tower will be erected next to Nord Condos on Highway 7. It will be the fifth and final building in Expo City, and it will also be the development’s tallest tower.
“Making its mark on the City of Vaughan was Cortel Group’s intention and overall aim. Thehttps://ca.res.keymedia.com/files/image/iStock-507122313-building-construction.jpg tower will emerge as a landmark to the Vaughan skyline - anchoring an active urban community complemented by Edgeley Pond & Park - the largest city-owned park located in the heart of the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre,” the developer stated in its announcement.
The building, scheduled for completion by September 2021, will boast of an exterior featuring an all-brick finish, in stark contrast to the proliferation of glass condo and office structures in recent decades.
“CG Tower is going to be a really important building for the evolution of Vaughan. Vaughan has had for a long time a certain kind of character, kind of a low-rise characterâ€¦ CG Tower says, definitely, Vaughan’s character is changing and this is the character that makes a bold statement about that,” project lead architect Richard Witt said.
“We believe that this tower is not only a catalyst, but a symbol of urban growth and sustainability,” Cortel Group director of marketing and sales Romina Cortellucci added.
Elsewhere in the province, Cortel Group will also be building two more luxury condo towers in Toronto. Towers 3 and 4, representing the final phase in the much anticipated Oak & Co. luxury condominium complex, will be launched on April 27, 2019.
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The Ontario government’s announcement that it will build a new subway line and expand others is being hailed as a savvy infrastructure investment, and one that’s long overdue.
The “Ontario” subway line, which is a more comprehensive version of the downtown relief line, will run 15 kilometres from Ontario Place to the Ontario Science Centre and cost $10.9 billion. The government says it will be completed by 2027.
Overall, the Progressive Conservative government is committing $28.5b to a transit plan that will also include additional stations on the Scarborough subway extension, extend the Yonge line into Richmond Hill, and add more Eglinton LRT stops.
“The government has only been in place for about seven or eight months, and in terms of the relief line, it’s decades overdue,” said Andy Manahan, executive director of the Residential and Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario. “First and foremost, from the point of view of getting around, the now rebranded ‘Ontario line’ rather than ‘relief line’ is going north of Pape to intersect with the Eglinton LRT and it’s a fantastic move.”
Manahan also reckons that the subway extension could catalyze redevelopment in the surrounding environment.
“There are some older towers around the Ontario Science Centre and they have some green space around them,” he said. “They wanted to increase density, and I would think there’s potential for that area to see a catalyst of activity.
"Carlaw is where the alignment is supposed to go and there has been a lot of redevelopment there over the last several years, but now I'm sure there will be more, and that's a good thing."
The provincial government also intends to take control of subway stations and Manahan is convinced that could open the door to creative development strategies, like building towers on top of, and around, subway stations.
Michael Lindsay, who Premier Doug Ford appointed as an advisor on how to upload control of Toronto’s subway to the province, has spent months conducting consultations on how to proceed and may have a plan in place.
“You’re building high-rises on top of, and beside, the stations, and while it would be new for Toronto, Hong Kong and other cities have been doing it for a long time,” said Manahan. “Michael Lindsay has been doing a lot of consulting since they brought him on last August. The government has been doing its due diligence and consulting transit specialists and others in land development.”
The exorbitant cost of housing has caused many Torontonians to leave for the region’s outskirts, but DLC Expert Financial’s broker-owner believes that better transit could buck that trend—especially considering how much money commuters end up spending anyway.
“We try to get these people to budget more because they could easily spend $600 a month on ETR bills,” said Lorne Andrews. “A mortgage is closer to $450 a month. They’re moving out of the city because of cost but a subway could instigate some new development, and with better options to get around the city, not to mention more places to live, it might stop the exodus.”
Residential real estate in Canada slowed through the first quarter compared to the same time last year.
The Royal LePage House Price Survey revealed that, early last year, Canada went through the most pointed housing correction since the Great Recession in 2008, and while signs of recovery manifested in late 2018, they have since receded.
Year-over-year in the first quarter of 2019, national home price growth decelerated considerably to 2.7%, and prices in western Canada are slated to henceforth decline. The Greater Toronto Area, the largest regional housing market in the country, is showing signs of stability, much of which is propelled by low inventory. Additionally buoyed by an ameliorating job market, Ontario carried the national average, which would have been 0.4% without it. Toronto’s median home prices increased 5.8% year-over-year during Q1 2019.
“The City of Toronto is still one of Canada’s fastest appreciating real estate markets,” said Phil Soper, Royal LePage’s president CEO. “Detached home prices are still rising in line with inflation, but condominium prices are increasing at nearly double-digit levels as vertical living has become the primary new-build option in this growing, world-class city.”
Although British Columbia’s economy is robust, its housing market’s well-documented struggles persist. During the first quarter of this year, Greater Vancouver home prices declined year-over-year for the first time in seven years, with the aggregate price declining 1.5% to $1,239,306.
“The Greater Vancouver area remains one of the most desirable places to live in the world,” said Soper. “Population growth is driving household formation and employment levels are high. Yet policy intervention has induced a drop in home sales to levels not seen in three decades. Hammering consumer confidence and artificially choking off demand with a series of new taxes and restrictive regulations doesn’t eliminate the need for new housing, it simply sidelines families in the short-term and fuels a disruptive boom-bust cycle.”
Tellingly, some of Greater Vancouver’s most desirable regions have witnessed dipping housing prices. High-end submarkets, like West Vancouver, North Vancouver, Burnaby, and the City of Vancouver, are all declining, and that has, in effect, produced a rare opportunity for luxury homebuyers.
Montreal is, however, enjoying a prosperous housing market the likes of which Toronto and Vancouver enjoyed in recent years. Aggregate home prices in Greater Montreal rose 5.5% year-over-year to reach $406,332. In fact, the rate of home price appreciation outpaced the national average, as well as rates in the GTA and Greater Vancouver.