A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘economics

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

leave a comment »

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

[URBAN NOTE] “$10,000 fine for Toronto homeowner who used agencies like Airbnb to find tenants”

leave a comment »

The Toronto Star‘s Betsy Powell notes the imposition of a steep fine on a homeowner who accepted far too many short-term renters.

A justice of the peace has imposed a $10,000 fine on the owner of a Willowdale home who violated city bylaws by accepting short-term renters, often using web sites such as Airbnb to find them.

Justice of the Peace Gerry Altobello rejected a submission from the city prosecutor that the fine be set at $1,000 because that was “not enough” to send a message of deterrence to others doing the same thing.

Altobello said the defendant was “thumbing his nose at the community and the city,” by continuing to rent the home at 5 Glenelia Ave., for periods of less than seven days after being told to stop. The maximum penalty for a conviction is $50,000.

[. . .]

Neighbors complained about the high turnover of occupants and loud parties. Last March during one party nearby residents heard four or five shots ring out inside the home, and saw partygoers fleeing. A young man who received a gunshot wound to his head survived, Toronto police say.

Last November, Yan Pan Zhao pleaded guilty on behalf of 2391324 Ontario Ltd., which owns the two-storey home at the corner of Bayview Ave.

Zhao told the Star on Wednesday that he was acting as “an agent,” for the homeowner. He acknowledged his wife, Dan Wei, is the sole officer and director of the numbered company.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 19, 2017 at 9:16 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “$80M TTC budget hike not quite at ‘record’ level “

leave a comment »

The Toronto Star‘s Ben Spurr takes issue with John Tory’s contention that this budget’s 80 million dollar increase in the TTC budget is the largest in the organization’s history.

Mayor John Tory has hailed this year’s TTC budget as a “record investment” in the public transit system.

But does the 2017 spending plan really represent a historic achievement for the TTC?

In a speech to council midway through Wednesday’s marathon meeting to finalize the 2017 city budget, Tory noted that the operating subsidy that the city gives to the transit agency was set to increase by $80 million this year. It will rise to about $690 million, compared to the $610 million budgeted for in 2016.

“Eighty million dollars is maybe not the all-time record increase, but it’s maybe the second biggest in all the recent years, and maybe ever,” he said.

However, it appears that despite Tory’s statement, this year’s funding increase may not even be the largest of his term.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 19, 2017 at 7:15 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Toronto area in housing bubble, say BMO Capital Markets economists”

leave a comment »

CBC News notes BMO Capital Market’s argument that Toronto is in a housing bubble.

Housing prices in Toronto and surrounding cities are rising at a “fiery” rate not seen since the late 1980s, according to the chief economist at BMO Capital Markets.

“Let’s drop the pretence,” Douglas Porter wrote in a commentary. “The Toronto market — and the many cities surrounding it — are in a housing bubble.”

“Everyone may have a slightly different definition of what a bubble is, but most can agree it’s when prices become dangerously detached from economic fundamentals and start rising strongly simply because people believe they will keep rising strongly, encouraging more buying,” he said.

[. . .]

Porter downplays industry suggestions that a lack of new housing is the reason behind the big appreciation in prices in the GTA, pointing to strength in housing starts.

“The massive price gains are being driven first and foremost by sizzling hot demand, whether from ultra-low interest rates (negative in real terms), robust population growth, or non-resident investor demand,” he wrote

Written by Randy McDonald

February 19, 2017 at 6:15 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Yonge Street project in North York might become casualty of budget debate”

leave a comment »

David Rider in the Toronto Star describes how budget shenanigans may hurt a plan to make a large part of Yonge Street in North York, far north of the downtown, more usable for non-vehicular traffic.

City council’s sometimes chaotic 15-hour budget meeting included dozens of choices that won’t generate headlines but can shape Toronto neighbourhoods for years to come.

A 24-20 vote in favour of a Councillor David Shiner motion has thrown a wrench in a long-fostered community plan to remake a stretch of Yonge St. in North York, from Sheppard to Finch Aves., including the addition of bike lanes.

Councillor John Filion, whose Ward 23 encompasses almost all the proposed “Re-imagining Yonge Street” project, says it “might be dead.” He pins much of the blame on Mayor John Tory, whose note to council allies — recommending how they vote on various 20 7 budget items — backed Shiner’s motion.

“This project has been in the works for at least two years, enthusiastically supported by the community and city staff, including the chief planner, to change the bleakness of that strip of Yonge St. — to widen sidewalks, put in bike lanes and other features to try to turn a sea of high rises and storefronts into a real community,” Filion said in an interview Thursday.

“My extreme disappointment is in the mayor — (the Shiner motion) only passed because he was actively supporting it. The mayor’s office was pulling votes away from me.”

Written by Randy McDonald

February 18, 2017 at 8:45 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Metrolinx to Bombardier: ‘stop blaming others’ for your mistakes”

leave a comment »

The Toronto Star‘s Ben Spurr reports on the depths to which the Metrolinx-Bombardier relationship has descended. Is there anything at all salvageable from this ghastly mess?

Metrolinx executives ripped into rail manufacturer Bombardier at a meeting of the transit agency’s board on Friday, depicting the company as an organization in disarray and accusing it of spreading false information.

Reading from prepared remarks, board chair Rob Prichard criticized the company for taking Metrolinx to court in a dispute over a $770-million light rail vehicle order that has been bogged down by delays.

“Bombardier’s behaviour in going to court is not that of a trusted partner,” Prichard said. He slammed allegations the company made last week in a press release blaming Metrolinx for the delays as “false.”

Over the course of the contract Bombardier has cycled through at least two presidents, three vice presidents and five project managers, and Prichard said that had undermined the company’s ability to deliver vehicles on time.

“Bombardier needs to stabilize its business and the leadership of its business, focus on meeting its commitments and schedules, stop blaming others for its own shortcomings, and to start delivering its overdue vehicles,” Prichard said.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 18, 2017 at 8:30 pm

[BLOG] Some Saturday links

leave a comment »

  • blogTO notes the amazing spike upwards in temperatures for this weekend.
  • Dangerous Minds shares photos of some stark war memorials of the former Communist world.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze reports on brown dwarf HIP 67537b.
  • The LRB Blog looks at Donald Trump’s interest in a Middle Eastern peace settlement that looks as if it will badly disadvantage the isolated Palestinians.
  • Marginal Revolution’s Tyler Cowen reflects on his reading of Julius Evola and other hitherto-marginal writers.
  • The NYRB Daily notes the potential health catastrophe that could result from Donald Trump’s anti-vax positions.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer suggests that the corruption marking the relationship of France and Gabon over that country’s oil is finding an echo in the Trump organization’s involvement in Filipino real estate.
  • Torontoist calls for regulation of road salt on grounds of its toxicity.
  • Transit Toronto looks at the various scenarios for King Street.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests Russia’s economic growth will lag behind growth elsewhere for the foreseeable future, and looks at protest in St. Petersburg over the return of an old church to the Orthodox Church.