[URBAN NOTE] “As Toronto home prices soar, commuters will feel the pain”
The Globe and Mail‘s Oliver Moore looks at how the booming real estate market is set to ensure longer commute times for people in the Greater Toronto Area.
Frank Quinto wakes each work day at 5:30 a.m. He’s “suited and booted” by 6 a.m. and at the VIA station near his Brantford home by 7 a.m. By the time his train arrives at Union Station at 8:40 a.m. he’s read his e-mail, prepped for meetings and put on his self-titled professional “game face.” He transfers to the TTC for the 10-minute trip to his government office at Yonge and Bloor and arrives at his desk just before 9 a.m.
He leaves at 4:55 p.m. to catch the 5:30 VIA train home. There’s no GO train to Brantford, just the option of a bus from the Aldershot station in Burlington. He’s back home by 7 p.m.
Four hours a day commuting, five days a week. “Rinse and repeat for nearly seven years,” he says. It’s a daily grind, but one that lets him keep his downtown-based job while staying in the community in which he grew up, where the average price of a home sold in December was barely $300,000.
Toronto’s escalating housing market – up 22.3 per cent in January from a year earlier – is challenging not only buyers, but also the region’s infrastructure. Growth is being forced farther afield and lengthy commutes seem increasingly the norm. Where Hamilton used to seem far, communities even farther away are seeing new interest from buyers.
It’s no longer unthinkable that masses of workers will be travelling daily from Niagara Falls or Cobourg. And predicting if and when that will happen is the challenge for transportation and city planners trying to calculate how the Golden Horseshoe will grow and move in the coming decades.