A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘canada

[URBAN NOTE] “Wake up, Toronto, to your housing crisis”

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Gary Mason wrote Thursday from Victoria for The Globe and Mail about the Toronto affordable housing crisis, contrasting the belated responses of Toronto and Ontario unfavourably to those of his province of residence.

Of all the political U-turns B.C. Premier Christy Clark has undertaken in power, perhaps none was as jarring and unexpected as the one she performed on housing.

For most of 2015, and at least half of the following year, the Premier refused to do anything about rapidly escalating house prices in Metro Vancouver. She maintained that bringing in measures to cool the market might hurt the equity in people’s homes. She denied foreign investors had much to do with the fierce escalation in costs, relying on the faulty, self-serving data from a real-estate industry that wanted the sticker-shock insanity to continue.

And there was also the not-insignificant fact that the B.C. treasury was getting fattened on the provincial tax that exists on home sales – easy money that can become like crack to a government.

But then Ms. Clark and her cabinet came to an uncomfortable realization: The growing public outrage over the fact that the middle-class dreams of owning a home were evaporating by the day for many and might cost the government re-election. So the Premier did what she vowed she wouldn’t and brought in a 15-per-cent foreign buyer’s tax that did precisely what it was intended to – put the brakes on the absurd, and immoral, goings-on in the real estate industry.

Unfortunately, by the time she did, it was too late for thousands.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 24, 2017 at 9:30 pm

[PHOTO] Five photos from the Ivan Harris Gallery, Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto (#cbc)

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The Canadian Broadcasting Centre‘s Ivan Harris Gallery is hidden away from the CBC Museum, behind the escalator leading to the Centre’s food court. My attention was caught by the vintage technology on display, by the RCA TK-76 A camera that enabled mobile news gathering in the late 1970s, or the Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 100 that could transmit as many as ten pages of text (!) from the field.

RCA TK-76 A Electronic News Gathering (ENG) Camera)

Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 100

Televisions of the 1950s

Sound mixer

Tape recorder

Written by Randy McDonald

February 24, 2017 at 1:30 pm

[PHOTO] Nine photos from the CBC Museum, Toronto (#cbc)

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The CBC Museum is a free space inside the CBC headquarters in downtown Toronto on Front Street. The small space is full of artifacts from CBC’s technological past and from more recent children’s television programs like Mr. Dressup and The Friendly Giant. My attention, naturally, was focused on the latter.

The Tickle Trunk

Aluminum recording disk

CBC colour symbol

Cine-Kodak Special II film camera, circa 1955

Blocking for Jenny Maple Keys, Mr. Dressup

The Friendly Giant's Wall

Puppets of Mr. Dressup

Puppets of Sesame Park

Microphones

Written by Randy McDonald

February 22, 2017 at 12:00 pm

[LINK] “Canada won’t abandon Mexico in NAFTA talks, Freeland says”

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The Globe and Mail‘s Robert Fife reports on the problems facing North American integration, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland promising not to desert Mexico, at least not on multilateral issues whatever these might be.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland assured Mexico on Tuesday that Canada will not strike a bilateral deal with Washington in negotiations to revamp the 1994 North American free-trade agreement. During a panel discussion with Mexican Foreign Affairs Secretary Luis Videgaray, Ms. Freeland sought to dampen concerns that the Trump administration would seek bilateral talks with each of its NAFTA partners.

Ms. Freeland stressed that it is too early to even talk about what might be up for renegotiation since the Senate has not yet confirmed commerce secretary nominee Wilbur Ross, who will head the trade negotiations, and Robert Lighthizer, the nominee for U.S. trade representative.

“There is no negotiating process yet initiated. In fact, the United States does not even have a team in place to begin those negotiations. So let’s not put the cart before the horse,” she said when asked if Canada was prepared to throw Mexico under the bus to protect this country’s interest from President Donald Trump’s America-first trade policy.

“But we very much recognize that NAFTA is a three-country agreement, and if there were to be any negotiations, those would be three-way negotiations.”At the same time, Ms. Freeland said there will be bilateral issues that Canada and the United States will want to discuss separately – something Mr. Videgaray conceded would happen when it comes to Mr. Trump’s plans to build a wall to stem the flow of illegal immigrants and drug smuggling from Mexico.

“We understand that there are some issues that, by nature, are strictly bilateral to the U.S.-Canadian relationship … just as Canada acknowledges we have a bilateral relationship with the U.S. and I am sure [Ms. Freeland] would prefer to stay away from some of those aspects of that.”

Written by Randy McDonald

February 21, 2017 at 10:30 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Nobody’s cheering, except real estate agents: The ‘trapped wealth’ of Toronto’s unrelenting housing boom”

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The National Post hosts Theophilos Argitis’ Bloomberg News article looking at the causes of the housing price boom and speculating about ways to end it without wrecking the wider economy.

Prices in Canada’s largest city surged more than 20 per cent over the past year, the fastest pace in three decades, data released last week show. Some of the city’s neighbouring towns are posting even bigger gains.

It’s become a matter of considerable alarm. Stability is one concern: if the market tumbles, so will Canada’s economy. Pricier real estate also drives away less-affluent, younger people and boosts the cost of doing business, eroding competitiveness.

“I don’t think anybody is cheering,” said Doug Porter, the Toronto-based chief economist of Bank of Montreal, who used the dreaded “bubble” word last week to describe the market. “I don’t see who benefits other than real estate agents. It’s trapped wealth.”

So, what’s driving the boom? The housing industry — builders and brokers — claim lack of supply is the main culprit. Others, Porter included, see demand as the problem. Lately, evidence is mounting that speculation is behind the jump.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 21, 2017 at 10:00 pm

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

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  • James Bow offers his prescriptions for a fix to thje issues of guaranteed minimum income.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper suggesting that, from the perspective of long-term habitability of exoplanets, stars slightly more massive than the sun are preferable.
  • Language Hat introduces the toponym of the “triplex confinium”, here the point where Serbia meets Romania and Hungary.
  • Language Log considers Trump’s particular rhetorical style, in relation to his claim of something terrible happening in Sweden: What is he actually hinting at?
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money argues that talk of a Turkish-style deep state in the United States is a fundamental misreading of the American situation that plays into Trump’s hands.
  • The LRB Blog looks at street-level community organization in Baltimore, suggesting that it points the way to the future of anti-Trump resistance.
  • Marginal Revolution reports on Noah Webster’s preference for Americans.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw considers the nature of Chinese-Australian trade in agricultural goods.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer argues that North American integration would continue even with the end of NAFTA, given the advantageous nature of American trade with Mexico.
  • Savage Minds talks about teaching in the era of Trump.
  • Supernova Condensate identifies eight important things about uranium that people should know.
  • Torontoist shares a photo from yesterday’s drag queen reading to children at Glad Day.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at Russia’s partial recognition of the Donbas republics and the handing out of Russian passports to their citizens, notes the potential for anti-Lukashenka protests in Belarus to trigger a Russian intervention in its sphere of influence and looks at minority languages threatened by Russian.
  • Arnold Zwicky looks at Southern Hemisphere flowers in his California garden and notes horsetails.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 21, 2017 at 4:00 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Chasing the Canadian dream: The real force driving the housing boom in our big cities”

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At the National Post, Garry Marr argues, on the basis of the attractiveness of Canada as a destination and the push for all Canadians to acquire property, that the Canadian real estate boom is actually sustainable.

The mayor of Caledon, a town of about 60,000 northwest of Toronto, says government can try all it wants, but the dream of owning a home will persevere.

Allan Thompson should know. His town, like many others that ring around Ontario’s capital, has become a launching site for new communities as people priced out of the core look to the suburbs (or what was once rural) for slightly cheaper housing.

An average new single-family detached home in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) was $1,264,604 in 2016, according to the Building Industry and Land Development Association. But housing prices range from an average of $666,220 for a semi-detached home in Durham, northeast of Toronto, to $1.8 million for a detached home just north of the city.

“I remember I had this neighbour who was Portuguese,” said Thompson, who was a Caledon councillor for 11 years before becoming mayor two years ago. “He said to me, ‘For 20 generations back in Portugal, we all lived and rented houses in town. We had our sheep and our goats and our cattle.’ He said to me, ‘I was the first one ever to have a home.’”

That dream of home ownership is central to the escalating prices in Canada’s housing market, especially in larger cities such as Toronto where immigrants tend to settle.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 19, 2017 at 9:30 pm