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One of Toronto's oldest malls is about to be totally transformed

 

The more than 60-year-old Cloverdale Mall in Etobicoke is agreeably not the most beautiful destination that the city has to offer shoppers.

But a major developer has some big plans for the property, and they've just released the details of the multi-building, mixed-use development due to take the place at the dated, largely one-storey shopping centre near Highway 427 and Bloor Street West.

Cloverdale's current sprawling, flat footprint at 250 the East Mall will be upgraded to a number of condo towers offering a whopping 334,000 square metres of living space between 4,050 units, with ample green space interspersed in between them, along with a food market building, community centre and more.

The residential structures range from between 24 and 48 storeys, and circle a new "retail main street" that will have storefronts, cafes and more at ground level.

The centre of the 12-hectare site will be the glazed glass-covered Cloverdale Square, which will increase the retail space of the project to 26,000 square metres and offer even more residences in low- and mid-rise buildings.

The amenities of the site will be connected by a series of roadways and pedestrian/cyclist paths, and there will be multiple levels of both underground and above-ground parking, a neighbourhood park, rooftop greenery, courtyards and another two residential towers with at-grade retail space on the adjacent lot at 2 East Mall Crescent.

Essentially, it's a huge, modern mini-community with more than enough features to blow the current mall out of the water.

The land owner and developer, QuadReal, along with architect Giannone Petricone Associates and landscape architect Janet Rosenberg & Studio recently submitted their comprehensive zoning applications to the City of Toronto after months of consultations with the community.

Though Cloverdale Mall has long been a staple of the west end, it's also a relic, and there's no doubt that many will be happy to see it go for something a lot more snazzy, practical and current.

Trader Building Development Revised in Updated Plan

 

While the original application contained only a single perspective of the proposed development, located one block south of Bloor Street East, the resubmission includes several new images highlighting multiple angles of the project. Featuring architecture by RAW Design, the majority of the renderings showcase how the existing Traders Building will be partially retained to serve as the front door of the project.

While the original application contained only a single perspective of the proposed development, located one block south of Bloor Street East, the resubmission includes several new images highlighting multiple angles of the project. Featuring architecture by RAW Design, the majority of the renderings showcase how the existing Traders Building will be partially retained to serve as the front door of the project.

Although the Traders Building is not a listed or designated heritage resource, ERA Architects has determined the building qualifies for designation under the Ontario Heritage Act, citing its "design, associative and contextual value."

The project contemplates the preservation of the principal west elevation fronting Church Street, in addition to approximately three metres of the north and south faces. The rebuild of the north and south elevations is envisioned as a "ghost facade" which reinterprets the scale, articulation and massing of the existing elevations using modern materials.

 

The revised proposal maintains a height of 201.9 metres and would contain a total of 651 units. The unit mix remains unchanged, proposing 66 studios, 319 one-bedrooms, 200 two-bedrooms, and 66 three-bedrooms.

The four-level office component, which will replace the demolished interiors of the Traders Building, has increased slightly from 10,079 m² to 10,101 m². Total residential gross floor area has also experienced a slight boost from 45,742 m² to 46,292 m². The double-height retail program at grade has decreased in size to 559 m² from 593 m².

The mid-rise residential and amenities element dividing the tower from the podium now features a more seamless design following the removal of north-facing balconies. The series of projecting balconies previously proposed have been replaced by inset balconies.

A 126.6 m² privately-owned publicly accessible space (POPS) has also been introduced along the south side of the building, a gesture to be coordinated with proposed boulevard improvements along Charles Street East. The space could include a potential patio area to support the proposed retail and restaurant uses.

A 2.1-metre-wide walkway along the east lot line will sport a unique paving pattern. The space will function as a pedestrian connection alongside the vehicular driveway, which provides access to 260 parking spaces across five underground parking levels. The project would also provide 706 parking spaces for bicycles.

Additional information and images can be found in our Database file for the project, linked below. Want to get involved in the discussion? Check out the associated Forum thread, or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.

Your Next Look at 10-Storey Residential Development with Cascading Balconies in Thornhill

 

Those looking to lay down roots just outside of the city may want to consider checking out a new development coming to Thornhill. And it just so happens that new renderings of the project have since been released, giving future residents a better idea of what to expect.

Located within the Thornhill/Uplands area at 8188 Yonge Street — which is also the project’s namesake — this new build from Trulife Developments and Constantine Developments is ideal for young families looking to invest in a new place to call home that’s away from the hustle of the city.

This area of York Region is currently seeing a lot of redevelopment and is highly popular among professionals and families due to its connectivity to transit and major thoroughfares.

Once complete, the development will consist of a 10-storey, mixed-use building with 282 residential units and ground-floor retail and commercial space.

The building will house a mix of 1-bedrooms, 1+1, 2-bedrooms, 2+1, 3-bedrooms, and 3+1, catering to all lifestyles and preferences.

The units will be comprised of standard suites featuring 9-foot ceilings and private balconies; six lofts featuring 11-foot ceilings; luxury penthouse suites with private rooftop terraces, and seven townhouses at grade level with 10-foot ceilings.

The building will also feature bespoke balconies, meaning that homeowners can choose from a different balcony package (Forest, Ocean, and Garden) along with associated finishing and décor options to design the balcony to be their own.

Another big takeaway for residents is the impressive indoor and outdoor amenities, which would make ever leaving this place seem impossible.

Indoor amenities include access to the grand lobby, 24-hour concierge, security, gym and wellness centre, entertainment area with catering kitchen, guest suites, visitor parking, 6th-floor entertainment space with wrap-around outdoor terrace, library, media lounge, pet spa, kid’s play area, EV charging stations, parking and lockers (available for purchase), bike storage, and retail at grade.

As for outdoor amenities, residents will have access to the swimming pool, park, ‘infinity walkway’, lounges with BBQs, outdoor yoga and exercise space, dog park, and sun deck with cabanas.

Sales for the available units are expected to begin this fall and start in the high $400,000s.

37-storey tower duo pitched for The Queensway and Kipling Avenue

A large commercial lot near a major Etobicoke intersection could be the future site of a high-rise residential complex.

Last week, a rezoning application was submitted to city planners to develop a set of mixed-use towers containing 1,210 residential units at 1325 The Queensway. Each rising 37 storeys, the two structures would be built on top of a six-storey podium base and supported by an 11-storey mid-rise portion, which would house an internal courtyard, daycare facilities and retail space.

The square, 0.86-hectare site is located on the southwest corner of Kipling Avenue and The Queensway, fronting onto The Queensway. A two-storey Hakim Optical store and a single-storey auto repair shop currently occupy the lot, with surface parking interspersed throughout.

Spanning over 900,000 square feet of total gross floor area, the property would be broken up into two phases, according to the architectural drawings, the first of which would focus on the eastern tower.

“The towers were situated at the rear of the site to provide The Queensway with an appropriately scaled mid-rise building that reflects an evolving urban corridor while also fostering a comfortable pedestrian experience,” explains the planning rationale, prepared by Bousfields Inc.

On the exterior of the mid-rise portion, balconies and vertical projecting elements would be included to break up the facade. Fronting The Queensway, the ground floor would contain 7,567 square feet of retail space in the northwest corner of the building, alongside 2,949 square feet of resident amenity space. A 7,190-square-foot private daycare centre would be situated in the northeast corner.

A separate, publicly-owned daycare facility covering 5,672 square feet would also be included. Together, both daycares would provide 134 childcare spaces and each would feature an attached outdoor play space, totaling 4,628 square feet.

A 10,408-square-foot central courtyard would occupy the second floor, a third of which would be reserved as an outdoor amenity area. Landscaping, seating and canopies would be implemented, with private terraces and balconies from the podium and mid-rise buildings overlooking the courtyard.

At the rear of the site, towers one and two rest atop a six-storey podium, which would provide indoor amenity space and garbage collection rooms. On the seventh floor, a large outdoor amenity area encompassing 9,213 square feet would connect the two vertical structures.

Residential units would be dispersed from the second to the 37th floors throughout the tower, podium and mid-rise building. The collection of 1,210 suites would provide 28 studios, 803 one-bedroom, 256 two-bedroom and 123 three-bedroom units. A five-storey underground parking garage would offer 1,064 vehicle spaces, alongside 903 bicycle spots, 85 of which would be located on the ground floor.

Builders post best month for home construction in over 2 years

 

The Canadian home building rebound only gained momentum in July with housing starts rising to an annualized rate of 245,600 units, the highest level recorded in two-and-a-half years.

This result, released today, exceeded expert predictions by a wide margin, as single-family home construction surged across the country while Toronto and Vancouver saw a strong uptick in condo building.

In a research note published earlier today, BMO Economist Priscilla Thiagamoorthy said builders are unlikely to be “packing away those hammers anytime soon” as low interest rates and strong demand will ensure home construction remains robust for the rest of the year.

Looking further ahead, Thiagamoorthy said that home building activity will hinge on the strength of population growth, which is currently taking a hit due to pandemic-induced national immigration restrictions.

The jury is still out on the pandemic’s long-term effects on population growth and, by extension, home building. But, most market observers agree that new home construction has stayed remarkably resilient throughout the volatile year.

RBC Economist Claire Fan noted that national housing starts in 2020 thus far have put up numbers comparable to levels seen through the previous year, even as building activity was curtailed by pandemic measures introduced during spring’s first half. July’s strong performance, which saw housing starts rise 11 percent over the same time last year, was a major contributor in making up for activity lost during the spring.

While the industry is unlikely to be totally impervious to the pandemic’s ill-effects, TD Economist Omar Abdelrahman said the impact on home building so far has been relatively slight.

Angelside from the complete pause in Quebec in April due to restrictions on non-essential economic activity, homebuilding has shown only a muted response to COVID-19, swiftly returning to pre-pandemic levels. This stands in contrast with more severe declines and more drawn-out recoveries seen in other industries,” he wrote.

Mortgage rates hit new lows
 
Canadian mortgage rates are in a virtual free fall, dropping to record-setting lows with discount brokers now offering one- to five-year variable rates in the 1.64 to 1.68% range.

But the nearly free money arrives as Canadian mortgage debt is exploding and lenders are dealing with a rush of mortgage payment deferrals due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Bank of Canada reports that mortgage credit hit a record high in May, at $1.68 trillion, up 0.6% from April and 6% higher than in May 2019.

Mortgage deferrals, meanwhile, are also soaring. Deferrals topped 743,000 in May at Canada’s six major lenders alone.

At the start of the pandemic, the big six banks—RBC, TD, BMO, Scotiabank, CIBC, and National Bank—announced they would allow customers to defer paying their mortgage for up to six months.

According to the Canadian Bankers Association, deferrals now account for 15% of the mortgages provided at its 13 member banks, which include all the majors.

Most of the deferrals are in Quebec, at 27%, and Alberta, at 26%. Ontario accounted for 21% of mortgage deferrals, with B.C. at just 7%.

With new mortgage applications faltering, lenders have slashed lending rates.

HSBC Canada led the trend early in June when it announced a five-year fixed default-insured mortgage for 1.99%—the lowest rate ever for a five-year fixed at the time. Days later, multiple brokers were offering five-year fixed rates starting at 1.98% and even lower in some cases, with restrictive conditions.

The lowest fixed mortgage rate available as of July 2, according to rate comparison website RateSpy.com, was the one-year fixed at 1.69% for those putting down less than 20% for insured mortgages.

Even the 10-year fixed rate is reaching new lows, currently available nationally for as low as 2.84%.

“Fixed rates are dirt cheap because funding costs keep sliding,” RateSpy founder Rob McLister said. “With a bearish economic report or two, we could slide further into uncharted depths, as soon as next month.”

The lowest nationally available variable floating rate is currently 1.95%, which is prime minus 0.5%, although certain discount brokers are offering rates as low as 1.69% for default-insured mortgages.

As of July 2, intelliMortgage and Butler Mortgage, both based in Ontario, posted a 1.64% rate for one-year fixed-rate products, and a similar record low of 1.68% for their five-year variable-rate offerings.

“Canadians can expect fixed and variable rates to stay at their current historic low until the Canadian and world economy is close to fully recovered,” Ratehub.ca co-founder and CanWise Financial president James Laird said.

The Bank of Canada overnight lending rate remains at 0.25%, and the central bank has hinted it will not go lower.
Toronto one-bedroom condo rent falls 5% to $2,083

 

Average rent prices for both one-bedroom and two-bedroom condos fell during the second quarter of 2020 as rental listings increased and demand fell.

According to new data published last week by the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB), the average price for a one-bedroom condo in the GTA was $2,083, down 5 percent from the same period a year earlier. The rent price for a two-bedroom condo also fell over 5 percent to $2,713.

As the second quarter results were announced, TRREB President Lisa Patel pointed to two major takeaways from the data.

“First, COVID-19 clearly impacted the demand for rental condominium apartments, due to restrictions on showing units and job losses across many sectors of the economy,” Patel said in a media release.

“Second, we saw the continuation of the pattern experienced over the past year, with year-over-year growth in rental listings far outstripping growth in rental transactions, resulting in a much better-supplied market and a moderating pace of rent growth,” she continued.

There were 7,320 condos rented through TRREB’s MLS system during the April to June period, down nearly 25 percent compared to the same time last year. As Patel noted, listings rose significantly — up 42 percent — during the second quarter, leading to a supply and demand mismatch.

The Toronto region has long grappled with a painfully low rental vacancy rate, viewed by experts as a symptom of a chronic rental supply shortage that’s been called “the worst rental supply deficit in Canada.”

In response to the new data, TRREB Chief Market Analyst Jason Mercer said that the second quarter increase in listings is part of a “consistent trend toward balance in the GTA condominium apartment rental market over the past year-and-a-half.”

“Accelerating growth in rental listings were at the root of this trend, but the COVID-19-related drop-off in rental transactions had a marked impact as well. Increased choice led to more negotiating power for renters, resulting in year-over-year declines in average rents in the second quarter of 2020,” Mercer said.

Prime Interest rates have gone down for 1.5% this means (see below chart)

For example $700,000 condo fully financed mortgage from $ 3,308.85 went down to $ 2,743.19 = $565 /Month

Translation: about $80 lesser mortgage payment (P&I) for any $100,000 mortgage !

click here for more information 

Basement Flooding Protection Subsidy Program

During heavy rain, the sewers can become overloaded. It is essential that homeowners take appropriate action to reduce the risk of basement flooding.

The City offers owners of single-family, duplex and triplex residential homes a subsidy of up to $3,400 per property to install flood protection devices. Eligible work includes:

  • Installation of a backwater valve.
  • Installation of a sump pump.
  • Severance and capping of a home’s storm sewer or external weeping tile connection.

Disconnecting the downspouts from your property’s eavestrough system is not eligible for a subsidy.

Eligible Work

Backwater valve

  • Installation or replacement of backwater valve.
  • Installation of alarm for backwater valve.

The available subsidy is 80 per cent of the invoiced cost up to a maximum of $1,250 regardless of the number of devices installed at the property, including eligible labour, materials, permit and taxes.

A Building Permit is required to install a backwater valve. The valve must pass inspection by the City of Toronto building inspector, in order to be eligible for the subsidy.

You must also consent at the time of the building inspection or at the request of the City:

  • To provide City access to the backwater valve to verify that installation has been completed in accordance with the requirements and conditions of the Program.
  • To the City taking photographs, video and digital images of backwater valves.

See what backwater valves look like and how they work.

Sump pump

  • Installation or replacement of sump pump.
  • Installation of alarm for sump pump.
  • Installation of back-up power for sump pump.

The available subsidy is 80 per cent of the invoiced cost up to a maximum of $1,750 regardless of the number of devices installed at the property, including eligible labour, materials and taxes.

Note: Be sure to maintain basement flooding protection devices according to manufacturer instructions. Keeping these devices in good working order is an important step in protecting your home against basement flooding. See what sump pumps look like and how and they work.

Foundation drain (weeping tile) pipe severance and capping

  • Disconnection of foundation drains (weeping tiles) from the City’s sewer system by severing and capping the underground sewer connection.

The available subsidy is 80 per cent of the invoiced cost up to a maximum of $400 including eligible labour, materials and taxes.

 

Subsidy Conditions

  • You must be the registered owner of a single-family residential, duplex or triplex property within the City of Toronto.
  • The property must not have exceeded the lifetime maximum subsidy amount for each eligible installation.
  • The subsidy is available only to existing homes, not homes in the planning stages or under construction
  • The downspouts from the property’s eavestrough must be disconnected from the City’s sewer system or you must have applied to the City for an exemption.
  • All front yard paved areas of the property, including parking pads, must comply with the City’s Zoning By-law requirements.
  • You must submit your application within one year of completion of the installation of the flood protection device.
  • Your contractor(s) and any sub-contractor(s) who performed the installation of flood prevention device(s) must possess a valid license from the City of Toronto for the installation work, at the time of installation.
  • Original invoices from the licensed contractor(s) and any sub-contractor(s) who performed the installation of the flood prevention device(s) must be provided with your application.
  • You must not have any outstanding taxes or debts owed to the City of Toronto at the time your application is processed.
  • Submitting an application does not guarantee a subsidy. Subsidies are issued on a “first-come, first-serve” basis, and are subject to annual funding approved by City Council.

How to Apply

Download the Basement Flooding Protection Subsidy Program application form.

Applying for the installation of a backwater valve and sump pump

  • You will need a Building Permit to install a backwater valve, which will be inspected by Toronto Building staff once it is installed.
  • If installing a backwater valve and sump pump, please complete and sign the Consent to Enter Form and include it with your Permit application. It will authorize Toronto Building staff to inspect and verify that both the backwater valve and sump pump have been installed according to Program requirements.
  • Installing the flood protection device(s) according to Program requirements is an important part of ensuring your eligibility for the subsidy.

For backwater valve installation, start at step 1 and for all other eligible work, start at step 3

  • Obtain a permit from Toronto Building. If installing a backwater valve and sump pump, please attach the Consent to Enter Form PDF to your permit application. Permits can be obtained from Customer Service Counters.
  • Request an inspection once installation is complete. Toronto Building staff must inspect the installation of all backwater valves. Do not enclose or cover the valve before this occurs. This inspector must be able to confirm whether the installation meets the applicable Building Code requirements.
  • Complete the Basement Flooding Protection Subsidy Program application form PDF.
  • Include original invoice(s) with your application. Invoice(s) must show an itemized cost breakdown of all work applicable to this subsidy and must be clearly marked “paid in full.” If your contractor uses a licensed sub-contractor, please also include original invoices from the sub-contractor.
  • Mail the completed application form with the required documentation to:
    Basement Flooding Protection Subsidy Program
    City of Toronto
    PO Box 15266 STN B RM B
    Toronto, ON M7Y 2W1
  • City staff will review your application and determine whether you are eligible for a subsidy. If your application is incomplete or you have not included the proper documentation, it will not be processed and all documents will be returned to you. If your application is denied, you will be notified by mail.

Selecting a Contractor

Homeowners are strongly encouraged to conduct due diligence before hiring a contractor. It is recommended you obtain a minimum of two quotes as well as references before hiring a City of Toronto licensed contractor.

Before work starts, verify that your contractor has a valid City of Toronto business license using the Business Licence Lookup tool or by phoning 416-392-6700.

If your contractor does not have a valid City of Toronto license, you will be denied funding for the work completed.

Different types of contractors are licensed to perform different types of eligible work:

Protecting Flood Prevention Devices & Your Basement

To keep your flood prevention devices in good working order, it is essential to maintain them according to the manufacturer’s directions.

When installing a backwater valve, consider including an alarm, so that you know when the device is activated. When your backwater valve is activated, it works to keep sewer water from backing up into your basement, but it also keeps wastewater from your home from flowing to the sewer. When your backwater valve is activated, any water sent down the drain (through toilets, sinks laundry etc.), may end up in your basement.

As rainstorms and power outages can accompany one another, you may also want to consider battery-power back-up for your sump pump.

Toronto condo prices still increasing even as sales fall 50 percent

Only 3,459 condos sold across the Toronto region in the second quarter of 2020, a 50 percent decline from the same three-month period a year prior.

Despite this historic decline in sales activity, the condo resale market still managed a 5.1 percent price increase during the same period, bumping the average condo selling price across the GTA to $619,707.

Market activity captured by this second quarter data, released today by the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB), is expected to be the worst affected by the COVID-19-related business shutdowns and general economic uncertainty.

While the Toronto region’s housing market mounted a strong rebound in June, it was far from enough to save the quarter. Even as the overall market improved in the final month of the quarter, market commentators noted that the condo segment was noticeably sluggish in June compared to the detached homes segment, especially in the City of Toronto.

Condo listings that hit the market in the second quarter of 2020 also declined significantly compared to the same period a year earlier, down 21.6 percent to 8,717. The connection between new listings and sales is an important one, as it links condo supply and buyer demand. If new listings start to rise at a much faster rate while sales remain depressed, prices will invariably be affected.

“It will be important to watch the relationship between condominium apartment sales and new listings as we move through the second half of 2020,” said Jason Mercer, TRREB’s Chief Market Analyst, in a media release.

“If economic recovery is sustained, the demand for condo apartments will improve. However, the prospect of stricter regulations on short-term rentals and softer rental market conditions could fuel increased listings of investor-held units. If we see more balanced market conditions, condo price growth could be more moderate compared to low-rise home types,” Mercer continued.

TRREB President Lisa Patel struck an optimistic tone when looking ahead to the late summer and early fall months. In the media release, she said condo sales are on the right track for an improvement in the third quarter with the solid showing in June indicating a trend toward market recovery. 

Toronto’s new single-family home market recovering faster than condos

New single-family homes sold by developers across the Toronto region in June beat new condo units sold during the same period by a wide margin.

Last month’s data, published today by the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), signals that the market for new detached and semi-detached homes and townhouses is recovering faster than new condos.

There were 1,160 new single-family homes sold in June, the best result for the month since 2016 despite it being 12 percent below the 10-year average.

BILD’s data partner, Altus Group, said that during the same period, 744 new condo units were sold, down 73 percent from June 2019 and 70 percent below the 10-year average for the month.

“Single-family demand recovered more quickly as buyers returned and new supply started to come back into the market,” said Altus Group Vice President Matthew Boukall, in a media release.

“Given the challenges around COVID-19 restrictions, we’ve seen developers adopt new strategies to reach consumers and have seen success in the lower density segments,” he added.

The total number of new homes sold in June, at 1,904, was down 43 percent over the previous year. BILD was quick to point out, however, that the monthly total was a major improvement from May and April’s results. Both months were severely affected by restrictions in place to combat the spread of COVID-19 and saw new home sales totals well below 1,000.

“The June new home sales numbers are encouraging, though much remains to be seen as the GTA re-opens and begins recovery,” said BILD President David Wilkes.

“Now is the time to implement what we learned about facilitating the delivery of housing during the pandemic, to address our long-standing housing supply and affordability challenge while stimulating the local economy. Our industry is working with all three levels of government to help achieve these goals,” he continued.

Even with the ongoing slowdown in new condo sales, prices remained resilient. According to BILD and Altus Group, the benchmark price for a new condo was $999,228 in June, up nearly 25 percent from the previous year. The benchmark price for new single-family homes also saw an annual increase, rising nearly 4 percent to $1,141,848 in June.

As for the relative weakness of the new condo market, there are several explanations that are likely all contributing to the sluggish sales numbers.

For one, new condo sales rely more heavily on property investors who are reluctant to jump into the market with such an uncertain economic outlook prevailing. There is now emerging data-backed evidence that some investor-owners in downtown Toronto condos are beginning to sell their investment units. It is unclear how widespread this is and whether it will last through the fall, but it surely had an impact on the June sales numbers.

Secondly, there are simply far fewer new condo projects being brought to market by home builders. The spring months, which typically see the highest volume of new condo launches, saw only six projects hit the market this year. This pales in comparison to the 40 projects brought to market in the Toronto region during the same time in 2019.

Finally, there is a similar trend being observed in the resale housing market. Condo resales in the City of Toronto saw a 21 percent decline over the previous year in June while the region as a whole only saw a 1.4 percent decline in overall home resales. Meanwhile, sales for detached homes and townhomes in the Toronto region’s suburban markets saw a 10 percent year-over-year increase.

Will Bill 197 make condos more expensive for Ontario home buyers?

 

Ontarians may still be wary of going back to the office, but the provincial legislature has had a very busy July. After passing the controversial Bill 184 on July 6, and the far less contentious Bill 159 eight days later, the Ontario government passed yet another bill last week that should be of interest to the province’s realtors, mortgage brokers, and home buyers.

While Bill 197 is unlikely to make headlines for its real estate components – it is an exceptionally broad piece of legislation – it could lead to increased costs for developers. Anyone who has dabbled in the new construction space will know what that means.

“At the end of the day, when they say ‘The developer has to pay this, and the developer has to pay that,’ there’s only one person who pays for that – that’s you and me who buy the house,” says Leor Margulies of Robins Appleby Barristers and Solicitors. “The developer doesn’t pay for anything. If the cost is too high, he doesn’t do the project. If the cost can be passed on in a purchase price, then the purchaser pays for that.”

Essentially a companion piece to the province’s much-touted Bill 108, aka the More Homes, More Choices Act, Bill 197 tweaks Bill 108 in three ways that could lead to higher prices in much of Ontario.

Increased development charges

In the mid-1990s, under Mike Harris’ Progressive Conservative government, developers were given a minor break on the development charges associated with new projects. While they were required to pay 100 percent of the expected hard costs – the infrastructure costs forced onto cities because of local population growth – developers were only asked to pay 90 percent of the expected soft costs – the money a municipality would require to provide services to that growing population, like social housing or libraries.

Bill 197 puts an end to that 10 percent discount.

“Now, developers pay 100 percent of the soft cost component of the development charge, which means that gets added to the cost, and that gets passed on to purchasers,” Margulies says. “That’s a big change.”

Section 37

Section 37 of Ontario’s Planning Act, which essentially allows cities to ask for benefits in exchange for density-increasing amendments to a development’s zoning, received a significant tweak.

Prior to Bill 197’s passing, Margulies says there was no formula in place to calculate what a developer owed a municipality under Section 37. The municipality may ask for money, day care facilities, art – whatever it wants, really, with no pre-set limits.

“There’s historical precedent, but it really is the wild west,” Margulies says, adding that the city of Toronto alone is currently sitting on around $600 million worth of unspent Section 37 collections.

Under Bill 197, 60 percent of the money collected must be spent or designated for spending every year. The bill also implements a formula for calculating what developers owe municipalities if their zoning needs change – a set percentage of the site’s total land value.

“What we don’t know is what that percentage is,” says Margulies. “We think it will be under 10. I think the industry feels two percent is correct.”

Either way, prices are likely to increase, particularly in municipalities where Section 37 funds were not previously being collected.

Parkland dedication fees

Once change contained in Bill 197 may actually benefit buyers.

Bill 197 contains significant changes to the province’s approach to calculating parkland dedication fees. In Ontario, developers are required to dedicate a certain percentage of the area they are developing to green space. For residential projects, it’s equivalent to five percent of the land in question. Because few developers in densely populated areas have the luxury of having that much extra space to play with, they have been given the option of paying cash instead.

But the cash option is by no means a lifeline for developers. Because of the formula used by the province to calculate the rate of parkland dedication fees, the equivalent of one hectare of land per 500 units, they tend to be brutally expensive. Margulies explains that in the 905 area code, parkland fees have ranged between $20,000 and $60,000 per unit.

“Developers have been fighting very hard with municipalities to cut them back,” he says.

Their calls for a more realistic formula for determining parkland fees are not reflected in Bill 197. But developers now have the option of appealing fees they find to be arbitrary and egregiously expensive – a definite win. Going forward, parkland development fees will need to be justified by a background study that explains a municipality’s future parkland needs.

New Home Sales in GTA Heat up Again in June: BILD

 Following two months of “historically slow” sales as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, new home sales are starting to surge again in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

In fact, during the month of June, sales of new single-family homes – which includes detached, linked, and semi-detached houses and townhouses (excluding stacked townhouses) – accounted for 1,160 of the total of 1,904 new homes sold. This marks the highest number of transactions for June since 2016, according to a new report from the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).

However, while still a notable milestone, this is 12% below the 10-year average, according to Altus Group, BILD’s official source for new home market intelligence.

Sales numbers for new condominium apartments – including units in low, medium and high-rise buildings, stacked townhouses, and loft units – accounted for 744 units sold, which is up compared to April and May, but still down 73% from June 2019, and 70% below the 10-year average.

 

“Single-family demand recovered more quickly as buyers returned and new supply started to come back into the market,” said Matthew Boukall, Altus Group’s Vice President, Data Solutions. “Given the challenges around COVID-19 restrictions, we’ve seen developers adopt new strategies to reach consumers and have seen success in the lower density segments.”

The BILD report says that with several projects launching in June, the total remaining new home inventory increased slightly from the previous month to 13,863 units —this includes units in preconstruction projects, projects currently under construction, and in completed buildings.

What’s more, the benchmark prices for both new condominium apartments and new single-family homes increased last month compared to May. The benchmark price for new condo apartments was $999,228, up 24.2% over the last 12 months, while the benchmark price for new single-family homes was $1,141,848, up 3.9% over the last 12 months.

When breaking it down by municipality, Toronto had the highest number of new condominium apartment sales, with 408 transactions in June. Peel followed behind with 134, while York had 107 sales, Halton had 70, and Durham had just 25.

As for new single-family homes, York leads the pack with 451 sales, followed by Durham (277), Halton (274), Peel (152), and then Toronto with just six sales.

This could be an example of how more homeowners are beginning to flee the downtown core and turning to the 905 regions and surrounding areas in the search for more space and affordability.

David Wilkes, BILD President and CEO, said the June new home sales numbers are promising, though, much remains to be seen as the GTA re-opens and begins recovery.

“Now is the time to implement what we learned about facilitating the delivery of housing during the pandemic, to address our long-standing housing supply and affordability challenge while stimulating the local economy. Our industry is working with all three levels of government to help achieve these goals,” added Wilkes.

New legislation allows for eviction orders without Landlord and Tenant Board hearing
 

Province says changes meant to encourage negotiated settlements between landlords and tenants

Newly passed changes to landlord/tenant law will permit ex parte eviction orders, allowing landlords to obtain an eviction order without appearing before the Landlord and Tenant Board.

With Bill 184, the Protecting Tenants and Strengthening Community Housing Act, when a tenant is behind on rent, they can now enter into an enforceable repayment agreement with their landlord without oversight from an LTB adjudicator, says Caryma Sa’d, a Toronto-based lawyer who practises criminal, landlord/tenant and cannabis law. If the tenant fails to meet the repayment agreement’s terms, they can be subject to an ex parte eviction, or eviction without a hearing, says Sa’d, who acts for both landlords and tenants.

“Major, major, major change compared to the past, where in order to be evicted, there has to be some sort of attendance at the tribunal,” she says.

Bill 184 has sparked protests from housing advocates who say the legislation will lead to mass evictions. Throughout July, activists have staged rallies at Queen’s Park, the home of Mayor John Tory, as well as the Landlord and Tenant Board office in Ottawa.

The Provincial Government said the Act encourages negotiated settlements by allowing landlords and tenants to make an agreement on outstanding rent, without needing to appear before the LTB.

Harry Fine is a paralegal who works for both landlords and tenants and was a former adjudicator at the LTB, from 2001 to 2005. In a blog Fine wrote on the Act, he details the process for an ex parte eviction. The landlord must first serve the tenant a Form N4 Notice to End a Tenancy Early for Non-payment of Rent, file a Form L1 Application to Evict a Tenant for Non-payment of Rent with the LTB, fill out another LTB form, which becomes the repayment agreement, with the tenant and then wait to receive the consent order from the board on that agreement. If the tenant breaches the agreement, the landlord can then file an L4 application for eviction and does not have to serve notice to the tenant, nor have a hearing with the LTB. The tenant has 10 days to file a set aside motion, to appear before the LTB to address the breach. The tenant can also file a request to review the eviction order until 30 days post-eviction order.

“It is a change that may result in some evictions. But not every eviction is an unfair eviction and most of them for rent are warranted. And tenants have had their way with landlords since 2007 [with the passage of the Residential Tenancies Act]. And so there's some small return to balance,” Fine told Law Times.

Sa’d notes that the idea of an ex parte eviction order is not new, but previously the parties would have already attended the LTB to deal with the initial non-payment of rent. She adds that the legislation also shifts the onus to the tenant to prove why they did not uphold the agreement, while at a typical non-payment of rent hearing, the landlord has the onus to prove rent was not paid, to which the board then applies an “equity reasoning” exploring whether there are circumstances that may justify delaying or refusing the eviction.

A problem with the repayment agreements lacking LTB oversight is that unsavvy tenants may have been bullied into signing an agreement they did not fully understand, or may have language comprehension difficulties, says Sa’d.

Natalia Czechowski, a lawyer for Mississauga Community Legal Services, says appearing before the LTB gives tenants the benefits of safeguards such as mediators, tenant duty counsel and the board members themselves.

“Tenants who are unaware of the changes may unknowingly enter into unrealistic agreements out of confusion, desperation or fear and landlords will be able to bypass the hearing process completely. This will inevitably lead to an increased risk of groundless evictions,” says Czechowski.

“Bill 184 further tilts the scales of the power imbalance already present in the landlord and tenant relationship in favour of the landlord by removing an opportunity for tenants to access much-needed assistance and protection at the Board.”
These are the average rents for condos and apartments in Toronto by neighborhood

 

Average rent prices for condos and apartments in Toronto have been consistently declining thanks to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and a new report suggests that trend is ongoing in many of the city's neighbourhoods.

According to the Toronto GTA July Rent Report 2020 from TorontoRentals.com and Bullpen Research & Consulting, the average rent for all property types (singles, semis, row, condo apartment, rental apartment, basement apartment) in the former City of Toronto (pre-amalgamation boundaries) is down 8 per cent year over year.

"When looking at data on the average rent for all property types in the Greater Toronto Area, the market continues to experience a decline," said Ben Meyers, president and owner of Bullpen Research & Consulting Inc., in a statement.

"However, when breaking down the data by property type, municipality, neighbourhood, and project, conflicting results arise."

The report indicates that asking rents for single-family, townhouse and basement apartment listings on TorontoRentals.com actually increased from the first quarter to the second.

But, unsurpisingly at this point, condominium apartments for rent in the former City of Toronto, also known as Old Toronto, were nearly $260 cheaper per month in the second quarter of 2020 compared to the same period last year.

And when looking at the average rent for condominium and rental apartments in the 10 neighbourhoods in Old Toronto for Q2, rent declines are fairly consistent across the board.

 

In The Annex, for example, the average rent for condominium and rental apartments in Q2 was $2,559, compared to $2,606 in Q1 and $2,857 in Q2 of 2019.

In the Bay Street Corridor, the average rent was $2,448. This marks a 10 per cent decline from Q2 in 2019, when the average rent was $2,710, and it's also down from Q1 in 2020 when the average price was $2,684.

Seven of the eight remaining Old Toronto neighbourhoods also experienced annual declines in Q2, including:

  • Waterfront Communities-The Island ($2,427, down 10 per cent)
  • Niagara ($2,302, down 8 per cent)
  • Church-Yonge corridor ($2,296, down 8 per cent)
  • Little Portugal ($2,218, down 11 per cent)
  • Mount Pleasant West ($2,144, down 8 per cent)
  • Moss Park ($2,098, down 14 per cent)
  • South Parkdale ($1,974, down 12 per cent)

The only area to experience an increase in its annual average rental price in Q2 was North St. James Town, but the report points to a logical explanation for this.

"Rents are up 10% annually in North St. James Town, but the area was boosted by an increase in the number of listings on TorontoRentals.com at the new high-end purpose-built rental apartment called The Selby on Sherbourne, south of Bloor," notes the report.

"The biggest decline was seen in the Moss Park area with a 14% annual decline. A condominium apartment at 320 Richmond Street East called The Modern, which was one of the most active projects in terms of monthly listings in that area, witnessed a 20% rent decline annually."

According to Meyers, the overall declines can be partially attributed to the many homes which were previously being used as short-term units and are now hitting the regular market.

"Condominium apartment rents continue to experience rent deflation, as the much talked about short-term units hit the full-time rental market, students stay home, immigration is low, and new supply hits the market," he said.

"The 2,229 condominium apartment completions in May was the third highest monthly total over the last three years per CMHC data, and a significant portion of those units were purchased by investors and are hitting the rental market."

On top of all this, Meyers says it's still too soon to truly understand how damaged the market has been by COVID-19.

"It will still take several months to assess the damage done to the market by COVID-19, when all of the GTA enters Stage 3 of the re-opening," he said, "and we are able to see data on how many employees are hired back to their previous jobs, and how quickly consumers start spending again."

Downtown condo listings surge in June as former Airbnb units hit market

 

Preferences around home buying have continued to shift through the course of the pandemic, particularly among those who aren’t even on the property ladder yet.

A quarter of Ontario renters who are currently active in the real estate market are now more interested in buying a home than they were before the pandemic, according to new consumer data collected by Nanos Research. Conducted on behalf of the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) for their monthly Pulse Check on Consumer Attitudes report, the research highlights changing attitudes and preferences of prospective homeowners.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, 25 percent of Ontario renters who are active in real estate have expressed that they are more interested in buying a home now, compared to just 13 percent of renters who said they are now less interested. About 54 percent of renters said that they are just as interested in purchasing now as they were pre-pandemic.

Millennials and those between the ages of 35 to 54 make up the bulk of the interested buyer pool, with 62 percent and 59 percent of those age groups currently looking in the market. More renters are also actively seeking real estate in contrast to current homeowners — 63 percent of renters are searching for a home to purchase compared to 47 percent of homeowners surveyed.

“Despite the uncertainty stemming from the pandemic, housing remains a strong sector of our province’s economy, with the Canadian Dream of home ownership continuing to be a strong value for many Ontarians,” said OREA President Sean Morrison in the consumer report. “As we look ahead and move towards economic recovery in a post-COVID era, we can expect even more interest as renters and first-time home buyers look to enter the market.”

With many Ontarians locked down at home over these recent months with time to reassess their needs, it’s not uncommon for homebuyers to consider moving outside of the city in search of extra space. Three in five of those who are active in the real estate market said that living in rural areas is now more appealing to them than it was pre-pandemic, according to the survey. Similarly, three in five of those surveyed now find suburban living more attractive too.

Last week, in-person open houses were permitted to run once again throughout the majority of Ontario’s public health regions. About eight in ten active Ontarians in the market have expressed that they are comfortable or somewhat comfortable attending an in-person private showing. Sixty-six percent of those active have also reported that they would be comfortable or somewhat comfortable attending an open house with other buyers present.

 

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