A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Archive for the ‘Toronto’ Category

[URBAN NOTE] “The Economist Really Doesn’t Understand Toronto Transit”

leave a comment »

Torontoist features a fisking, by one John Parker, of a brief article in the Economist that manages to misunderstand mass transit in Toronto.

To take the Economist’s word for it, the earliest piece of evidence that Toronto was in for trouble was when the Spadina Expressway project was halted in 1971. “The result is more traffic jams,” says the esteemed magazine in the face of about 50 years of international experience telling us that highways leading into downtown areas do more to create traffic than to reduce it.

But even before it touches on that helpful perspective, the article suggests that one of Toronto’s problems is that its residents are bailing out. It reports that, according to our mayor, Toronto residents who leave the city give “two main reasons” for not returning: “The first is that the jobs are better in places like London and Hong Kong.”

I am not making this up.

“The second is that Toronto’s public transportation is much worse.”

The article notes that the mayor who so clearly has his finger on the pulse of the average Toronto resident also has the solution to Toronto’s transit challenges: “His plan, dubbed SmartTrack, calls for building a new light-rail line…and adding six stations to existing commuter rail lines.”

No, it doesn’t.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 19, 2017 at 6:00 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Toronto is getting its own version of the High Line”

leave a comment »

blogTO’s Derek Flack blogs about how the Green Line, a proposed chain of parks in my neighbourhood built along a hydro corridor, is set to take off. Last year, I photoblogged my Jane’s Walk along the proposed route. I’m excited this is coming to pass!

A proposal for a new park system connecting various green spaces along a hydro corridor on the west side of Toronto has taken a major step forward at the outset of 2017. The idea for the Green Line, which takes inspiration from New York’s High Line, dates back to 2012, but now there’s finally a budget and design team in place to realize the vision.

The corridor in question spans from Lansdowne to Spadina where there’s already a series of mostly uninspired green spaces that lack cohesion. When you look at an aerial view of the area in question, it’s easy to understand why officially connecting them makes so much sense.

Since Park People started advocating for the project in 2014, a number of steps have been made toward bringing the concept to life, but developments on the horizon are set to be the most significant yet.

Design firm DTAH has been brought on to work with the city and Park People on the Green Line Implementation plan, which will “identify opportunities for connections, new green spaces, and creating a continuous trail.”

As of yet, there’s no master vision for the linear park system, but DTAH will be tasked with putting one together in conjunction with community consultation that will determine what users want most from the new green space.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 19, 2017 at 4:30 pm

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

leave a comment »

  • blogTO notes the continued rise in rental prices for apartments.
  • Centauri Dreams looks at a time in the Earth’s history when there was a lot of atmospheric oxygen but not much life.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper suggesting there is an authentic lack of gas giant planets beyond 10 AU.
  • Itching for Eestimaa notes the British politicians who favoured the recognition of the Soviet annexation of the Baltics, and notes that those imperialist times of old are back.
  • The Map Room Blog notes that Trump voters tend to prefer Duck Dynasty and Clinton voters preferred Family Guy.
  • Marginal Revolution notes California’s ban on funding travel to jurisdictions which discriminate against people on grounds of sexual orientation or gender.
  • Peter Watts describes a trip on hallucinogens.
  • The NYRB Daily shares Masha Gessen’s concerns about the threat of moral authority.
  • Spacing links to some article about improving bike infrastructure.
  • Window on Eurasia warns of a new consolidation of Russian federal units.

[PHOTO] Looking south from Rosedale, night

leave a comment »

Looking south from Rosedale, night #toronto #yorkville #rosedale #skyline #night

Written by Randy McDonald

January 19, 2017 at 11:00 am

[URBAN NOTE] “Requiem for Hugh’s Room: Much-loved folkie venue a victim of cash-flow problems”

leave a comment »

Brad Wheeler’s feature in The Globe and Mail about the fate of Hugh’s Room reads like an elegy to this much-appreciated venue.

Richard Carson stands outside Hugh’s Room, having a smoke and talking about the specialness of his west-end music venue that now is in limbo because of financial problems.

“What I wanted to do here was to create a place where artists wanted to play, where staff wanted to work and where music fans wanted to be,” he says, looking off at the grey sky. “Some nights, I would stand back and watch those three things come together, and, I tell you, it was magical to see.”

With that, Mr. Carson, who opened the city’s premier folk club in 2001, shakes his head worryingly and stubs out his cigarette.

Just then, a friend who’s chipped in to fix an electrical problem in the building steps outside and pats Mr. Carson on the back as he walks by. “Hang in there, Richard,” he says. “Hang in there.”

The club owner laughs softly to himself. Hang in there? He’s been doing exactly that for nearly 16 years.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 18, 2017 at 6:15 pm

[URBAN NOTE] On Jim Karygiannis’ call for a foreign buyers tax in Toronto

leave a comment »

CBC News’ John Reiti reported on Toronto city councilor Jim Karygiannis’ call for a tax to be levied on foreign buyers of Toronto real estate.

A Toronto councillor is renewing calls to implement a foreign buyers tax to cool down the city’s red-hot real estate market.

Coun. Jim Karygiannis, who held a Thursday news conference alongside a McMaster University economist, has sent a letter to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne asking for permission to slap a five-per-cent tax on foreign buyers.

Ontario has balked at the idea of taxing foreign buyers over concerns that such a tax could significantly hurt the value of homes that people already own. The province is also keeping an eye on Vancouver’s market, where a 15 per cent foreign buyers tax came into effect on Aug. 2, 2016.

“We’re not taxing our own folks,” Karygiannis told reporters at city hall.

Torontoist has pointed out that even if this tax achieves its limited goal of cooling down the market, it cannot be the only response.

Some real estate groups in the city have come out against implementing a tax here, warning that a “knee-jerk” reaction isn’t the answer. And that might be the case, but if a move like this might prevent Toronto market from reaching the absurd levels Vancouver has seen in recent years—where seven-figure prices on real estate are the norm—it could be worth looking into.

So many Torontonians are already priced out of home ownership, and it’s worth considering all options to make sure the situation doesn’t get worse. But a tax won’t fix everything: there are bigger issues to consider in the landscape of Toronto’s unaffordable housing situation. If imposing a new tax will alleviate some of the pressure, it could decrease housing demand, but it doesn’t solve the supply side of the problem. City Council needs to commit to more than just asking the provincial government to deal with it, and no one policy is going to solve an issue as nuanced as housing affordability.

http://torontoist.com/2017/01/foreign-homebuyer-tax/

Written by Randy McDonald

January 18, 2017 at 5:45 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Why today might be the best day to buy a Toronto-area house”

leave a comment »

If Tess Kalinowski’s reported analysis of patterns of real estate transactions in Toronto over the calendar year is correct, I may have missed my chance to buy a house yesterday.

The choice of homes may be limited in the dead of winter, but consumers waiting for the hot spring market should know that January actually provides the best chance for snagging a bargain.

Seven years of sales data on about 650,000 Toronto-area transactions, shows Tuesday is probably the day this year when buyers will pay the least for a home, according to an analysis by TheRedPin real estate brokerage.

That’s because there is residual inventory — homes that didn’t sell in October and November, sometimes because they were over-priced, said Tarik Gidamy, co-founder and broker of record with TheRedPin.

“(Sellers) who are desperate — who have bought a house already and need to sell what they’ve got — are willing to take a cheaper price simply because the supply of buyers is not 100 per cent there yet,” he said.

Based on the seven-year averages, TheRedPin found that Toronto-area homes in January sold for nearly $70,000 less, compared to the spring housing market, which peaks in May.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 18, 2017 at 5:30 pm