All posts by Dave Gray

Condo Real Insight

Real Insight: Treb Working With Province To Ensure Greater Efficiency

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Real Insight: Treb Working With Province To Ensure Greater Efficiency

TREB is demonstrating its commitment to consumer protection and efficiency for real estate transactions in meetings with the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services.

TREB has met multiple times with Ministry officials to provide input on their ongoing consultations regarding potential changes to the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act, 2002.

We are happy to work with the Province to ensure that the rules governing the real estate industry are modernized and adjusted to ensure consumer protection and an efficient marketplace for real estate professionals and the public. We also believe that consumers deserve to be treated with fairness, honesty, and integrity when purchasing a home, often the biggest financial decision in most people’s lives.

Phase One of the current provincial review is focusing on issues associated with multiple representation situations, consumer understanding of real estate transaction agreements, and penalties for unethical behaviour.

TREB supports, in principle, the proposal to move towards a mandatory designated representation model. This approach is consistent with numerous other Canadian jurisdictions, and we believe that it will allow for the efficient operation of the marketplace, while ensuring consumer protection.

Under Mandatory Designated Representation (MDR) that the government is proposing, where a circumstance arises that a buyer and seller are represented by the same real estate brokerage, the brokerage would be required to designate different representatives from that brokerage to represent each client. A salesperson/broker within a brokerage would be prohibited from representing both the buyer and the seller, or more than one buyer, in the same trade with limited exceptions such as a private arrangement between family members or there are a small number of registrants in areas serving a small market or community.

However, TREB is advocating that there should also be provisions (transactional representation) to allow for consumer choice in how and by whom they are represented when working with their brokerage and licensed representative. Transactional Representation will be an option when a representative is representing both a buyer and seller in the same potential transaction with their consent. Three options will be presented to the consumer: unrepresented; represented by another representative for that transaction; or Transactional Representation.

Transactional representation eliminates the ability for a representative to represent both clients by restricting the services they can offer to both a buyer and seller. If they consent, the representative becomes an impartial facilitator.

The vast majority of TREB Members are ethical and comply with the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act. There should be a review for consistency in enforcement and disclosure of fines and penalties. Any actions in this area should be evidence-based. With this in mind, we look forward to continuing to work with the Province on all aspects of this and other important issues such as raising educational standards and requirements.

TIM SYRIANOS is president of the Toronto Real Estate Board, a professional association that represents 48,000 professional realtor members in the Greater Toronto Area. You can contact him at For updates on the real estate market, visit If commercial property is what interests you, contact a TREB realtor by visiting


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Invictus Games start tomorrow

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Invictus Games start tomorrow

Invictus is Latin for invincible. It’s also the name of an athletic competition for wounded soldiers, founded by England’s Prince Harry. Toronto hosts the third Invictus Games, September 23 through September 30. More than 550 athletes from 17 countries will compete in events including archery, seated volleyball, and wheelchair tennis. For more info and to buy tickets, visit



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Local Focus: GTA East

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Local Focus: GTA East

Housing Options:

Pickering, Ajax, Whitby and Oshawa all have historic downtowns with the requisite collection of century homes, but new subdivisions are quickly changing the landscape. Developers have also responded to the need for more affordable housing and the condo boom has arrived.

Leisure Pursuits

In Pickering, The Nautical Village is a fabulous day away from the hectic grind of modern life. There are many quaint shops, cafés, bakeries and restaurants, as well as a splash pad and park for the kids and beach volleyball courts. Pickering Museum Village is a unique experience brought to life by “live” pioneers in 18 heritage buildings.

The Whitby Public Library is a state-ofthe- art building that offers an extensive array of collections and programs as well as the Whitby archives. One of Whitby’s bestknown historic sites is the infamous Camp X, which was a secret spy training facility during World War II. Established by Sir William Stephenson, the “Man Called Intrepid,” British and allied forces also used the camp as a communications link between Britain and the United States with overseas information passing secretly between allied nations.

In Oshawa, The Robert McLaughlin Gallery is the largest in Durham Region and features a collection of more than 4,000 works of art. The Military Museum has Canada’s largest collection of operational military vehicles, and the Canadian Automotive museum is housed in a 1920s car dealership and has 60 vehicles on display.

Parks & Rec

There are great recreational areas along the Lake Ontario waterfront in all four of the municipalities. In Pickering, Frenchman’s Bay offers canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding, wind surfing and sailing. Conservation areas include Petticoat Creek, the Claremont Conservation Area and the Greenwood Conservation Area.

In Ajax, you can enjoy nature at the Greenwood Conservation Area and the town’s expansive system of cycling and walking trails, which totals 74 kilometres.

There are over 100 parks maintained by Whitby and over 60 kilometres of trails, including the Bio-Diversity Trail, the Cullen Central Park Trails, Otter Creek Trail and the Whitby Shores Waterfront Trail. The 670-acre Lynde Shores Conservation area, together with the adjacent Cranberry West Tract, is known for its wildlife and provides habitat for nesting birds.

Oshawa also boasts beautiful and pristine wildlife preserves, including the Pumphouse Marsh, Second Marsh and the McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve. On Oshawa’s Lake Ontario shoreline you will find Lakeview Park with many picnic areas, playgrounds, sports fields, a waterfront pier and sandy beaches.

Retail Therapy

The Oshawa Centre is the largest shopping complex in Durham Region and is home to over 230 establishments that include retail, food outlets and a variety of services. In each of the municipalities’ downtowns you’ll find a variety of unique shops and restaurants.

In Whitby, Pearson Lane is a historical development that houses boutiques, cafés and services. Pickering Village — an old Quaker Village — is filled with numerous shops, specialty boutiques and gourmet restaurants provide a wide selection of goods and services.

Easy Access

Public transit is provided by Durham Region Transit, which connects with the other cities in Durham Region, including Clarington, Brock and Uxbridge. Highway 401 runs through the south of the region and Highway 7 runs across its northern edge. Highway 407 ETR is being extended to Highways 35 and 115 and will cross the top of Durham Region.

Pickering population: .96,000
Ajax population: . . . .120,000
Whitby population: …134,900
Oshawa population: .168,000
Pickering: . . . . . .50 average
Ajax: . . . . . . . . . .47 average
Whitby: . . . . . . . .43 average
Oshawa: . . . . . . .51 average


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Consumer Protection

Consumer Protection: MyHome Planner: Your Personal Home Buying Assistant

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Consumer Protection: MyHome Planner: Your Personal Home Buying Assistant

You might buy yourself a new pair of shoes on a whim.

But a new condominium isn’t an impulse buy that you can return if you decide you don’t like it.

Purchasing a condo involves a whole series of decisions beginning with setting your budget to picking out what kind of tile you want in the bathroom. This can be exciting but also a little overwhelming. Wouldn’t it be great to have a trusted advisor to help?

MyHome Planner is a free app powered by Tarion that offers reliable advice, information and organization skills you need at each step of the home buying process. It’s like a best friend, new home expert and personal assistant all rolled into one.

One of the first big questions to tackle is where do you want to live? Tarion regulates new home builders and through our MyHome Planner app you can do some research on the companies and where they are proposing to build new homes or condos.

You want to buy from someone you can trust. The app helps you make that determination by giving you access to the Ontario Builder Directory so you can see a 10-year history of the builder, how many homes they’ve built and whether Tarion has paid out any warranty claims on their behalf.

Once you know where you want to be, the fun part comes when it’s time to choose a model and customize it with fixtures, countertops and other finishes to create the home of your dreams. But who has time to track all these details and keep up with all the deadlines? MyHome Planner makes it easy by helping with scheduling, reminders and valuable information that will help ensure nothing is forgotten.

So now you’re counting the days until you can move in. Before you start packing, however, an important step is the Pre-Delivery Inspection (or PDI) — a walk-through of your home with the builder prior to taking possession. This is the time to identify issues such as damaged or incomplete items.

But do you know what to look for or what questions to ask? MyHome Planner can coach you with tips, videos and resources that will help you through the PDI process.

At last, the keys are finally yours and you’re wondering how you’ll ever unpack all these boxes. But there’s still more to do as you transition from condo buyer to condo owner — including learning about your new condo warranty that is backstopped by Tarion.

What does this warranty cover and how do you make a claim if needed? The answers are just a few clicks away thanks to MyHome Planner.

The app will guide you through registering your warranty with Tarion and will connect you with MyHome, Tarion’s online tool that you can use to manage your warranty coverage in the years ahead.

Buying a new condo can be stressful, but with MyHome Planner, you will be better equipped to deal with the many decisions that lie ahead. Consider it your personal home buying assistant available 24 hours a day with many of the answers you may need.

The app is available for Android devices in the Google Play Store and Apple devices in the App Store. Don’t shop for a new condo without it!

HOWARD BOGACH is president and CEO of Tarion Warranty Corp., a private corporation established to protect the rights of new homebuyers and to regulate new home builders.


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Builder Demolishes His Work After Pay Dispute With Homeowner

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Builder Demolishes His Work After Pay Dispute With Homeowner

While we don’t endorse this as an effective dispute resolution technique, the contractor wielding the sledgehammer certainly seemed to get some satisfaction from making an owner who wouldn’t pay, pay.


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Aruba is an island of smiles

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Aruba is an island of smiles

by Marc Atchison

TraveLife Editor-in-Chief

ARUBA – Ricardo, the man taking me on a driving tour of this lovely Caribbean nation whose motto is “One Happy Island,” is not happy.

“My wife forgot to put my sunglasses back in the car and now I will be squinting all day,” he moans after picking me up at the exclusive Tierra del Sol Resort, home to the island’s only 18-hole golf course, a Robert Trent Jones Sr. beauty that hugs the coastline of the Caribbean Sea.

Maybe the sun won’t come out today, I suggest. Ricardo frowns.

“My friend, the sun always shines on our island — we get less than 20 inches (50 centimetres) of rain annually, so that means lots of sunny days.” Ricardo says our tour will be short. “Our island is very small (less than 33 kilometres long and about 10 kilometres wide at its widest point). We’ll have plenty of time to see all the highlights and I’ll still get you to the dock for that catamaran sail I promised you later today.”

With that, Ricardo turns his car onto the main highway, which completely encircles this coral island of snow-white beaches, tall cactus and honeycomb rock formations.

The road is lined with candy-coloured homes and Ricardo points to handsome Santa Anna Church where workmen are hurriedly repairing part of its roof, which was torn off when a small tornado touched down the night before.

Because Aruba sits about 25 kilometres off the Venezuelan coast, there’s a distinct Spanish influence in the island’s architecture.

We are heading in the direction of an iconic lighthouse at the northernmost tip of the island, which has become Aruba’s most famous landmark. The 30-metre-high California Lighthouse (named for the steamship California which wrecked on the jagged rocks just offshore in 1891) overlooks the island’s treasured sand dunes and secluded Arashi Beach, which boasts the whitest sand on the island.

The parking lot is filled with buses carrying Latin American tourists, all of who want their photographs taken in front of the lighthouse.

“Most of our tourists come from the United States and Canada, but in recent years, thanks to the economic boom in places like Venezuela, Colombia, Panama and especially Brazil, we are seeing a lot more of our Latin American neighbours,” says Ricardo, who adds, “Aruba boasts an impressive 30 per cent repeat visitor ratio — the highest in the Caribbean.”

Back on the highway, Ricardo points the car in the direction of Oranjestad, the charming capital whose Dutch name reminds us of the influence Holland had on this small nation when it was part of the Dutch West Indies.

Aruba got its independence in 1986 but the Dutch influence remains — while the island has its own parliament, Aruba’s foreign affairs interests are still handled by the Dutch government and King Willem-Alexander remains the island’s head of state.

Just before entering the charming capital, we pass bustling beach areas lined with highrise hotels, casinos and clubs. Palm Beach and Eagle Beach are where most of the tourists gather and where cruise ship passengers come to party while in port. Aruba is one of the most popular cruise destinations in the Caribbean and each year welcomes 320 ships and over 600,000 passengers.

Over an early lunch of freshly caught fish at a quaint local restaurant in Oranjestad, I hear people talking a lilting, melodic language.

“That’s our local tongue — Papiamento,” says Ricardo. “It’s a combination of many languages, including Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese and English.” While we eat, he talks about the 96 different nationalities that live on this tiny bit of land in the Caribbean Sea and about how Aruba has the best drinking water in the world.

“That’s scientific fact, not me boasting,” smiles Ricardo.

The drinking water here is fresh from the tap — no need for bottled water — and its purity comes from the fact that it’s filtered by the island’s sand and coral rock.

Aruba is a diver’s paradise. Coral reefs and wrecks give masked visitors plenty to explore and Ricardo reminds me that our catamaran outing is at 3 p.m., “so eat up because there’s still some things I want to show you before we go snorkelling.”

Ricardo cuts through the centre of the island on some dusty back roads where Aruba’s harsh desert landscape is fully exposed. Here, giant cacti and bulging rock formations dominate the horizon.

At Paradera, my driver stops at the entrance of the Casibari Rock Formations — giant boulders exposed when the sea pulled back millions of years ago.

Visitors climb the rocks where large iguanas lie sun tanning on blistering hot boulders. If you climb all the way to the top, Ricardo tells me, your IQ will increase by 20 per cent “because the rock surface makes people smarter.”

Another scientific fact, I wonder? “No, just a good local legend,” smiles Ricardo.

We see other giant rocks — the Ayo Rock Formation — just before we reach the coastal highway again and the driver turns north, where we come upon a colourful little church known as Alto Vista Chapel, built by settlers in 1750. The iconic little church has become a tourist stop but hymns being sung inside remind us that locals still come here every day to pray.

A short drive south from the church, we visit the Bushiribana Ruins, an old fort-like complex where the early Dutch settlers would bring the gold they extracted from the interior and melt it down before loading it on ships bound for Amsterdam.

In front of the ruins is a beach area known as the Wish Garden where hundreds of tiny inuksuks line the shore — an indication that Canadians have left their mark on this stretch of sand.

The site of the natural bridge Ricardo has been so anxious to show us comes into view as we hit the top of a hill. But where’s the bridge?

“It collapsed — a victim of nature a few years ago,” sighs Ricardo. However, the number of buses in the parking lot indicates that the site, which offers a smaller natural bridge known as Baby Bridge, and a coastal view that’s simply breathtaking, remains a popular tourist stop.

On the drive back to Oranjestad to catch our catamaran, I can’t help noticing some wind-shaped trees that line the roadway.

Ricardo identifies them as diva-diva trees, which owe their shape to the constant trade winds that blow ashore here.

Catamaran tours are one of the most popular activities on Aruba. Visitors pile onto the sleek two-hull sailing vessels and venture just offshore where they snorkel and dive in waters teeming with reefs and wrecks.

Our catamaran captain goes over all the safety instructions before we push off to explore the Antilla, a World War II wreck which her German captain scuttled rather than hand it over to the Allies.

The water surrounding the wreck is teeming with tropical fish and the show is well worth the $40 sailing fee — a three-hour tour that includes snacks and an open bar. While enjoying an Aruban cocktail (lots of spicy rum and a splash of fruit juice) on deck after our dive, a smile breaks across Ricardo’s face as he rummages through his knapsack and pulls out his sunglasses.

“The glasses were here all the time,” he laughs. “I’m happy now.”

It’s not hard to smile when you’re on this One Happy Island called Aruba.


  • Air Canada Vacations, Sunwing and Air Transat offer seasonal service to Aruba.
  • Best times of year to visit Aruba are January to March and especially during Carnival time just before Lent.
  • One of the best places to visit in Aruba is Arikok National Park, home to great hiking and biking trails, natural rock formations and many caves.
  • Aruba has become a preferred honeymoon destination in recent years.
  • Food on Aruba is a blend of Caribbean and South American recipes.
  • One of our favourite restaurants on Aruba is Papiamento, housed in the old Ellis Family home which is still run by the family.
  • For more information on Aruba, go to


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Taking walls from standard to stunning

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Taking walls from standard to stunning

Alendel Fabrics is turning the wall-covering world on its head with the release of two new, exclusively Canadian, lines accompanied by the new Non-Woven Backed Fabric Wall Covering Program.

“We are always looking for suitable new products to complement our fabric collections and this season we are extremely excited to announce the release of Enigma and Surface, two innovative collections of beautiful, quality wall coverings,” said Allison Shiraga, creative director. “These collections are exclusive to Alendel for the Canadian market.”

“We are definitely getting noticed by our customers — and competitors — as the company to watch,” said Jason Coleman, national sales manager.

Alendel’s latest offerings come in the wake of its long-standing reputation as the go to supplier for sheers, lining and great value basics. The company’s newest release came to market in August.


Every great wall begins as a blank canvas. Surface takes walls from boring builder- grade white to inspired works of art. Forget the overwhelming patterns of walls past — Surface features a subtle “imperfect” artisan texture that is complemented by various finishes, from patinaed neutrals and shimmering silk-inspired shades, to contemporary matte colours. Surface is uncoated, non-woven, easy to clean (spongeable) and is available in 60 fabulous colours.

Suggested retail price per single roll is $79.98. Sold in double rolls only.


Looking to add dimension, depth and a dramatic focal point in a room? Look no further. Enigma wall coverings have an irresistible “touch me” appeal that embraces texture and form. Shades and shadows visually enhance this collection of wall coverings, which features ridges and grooves. Pattern influencers include classic menswear, Georgian paneling, Mediterranean mosaics and modern geometrics. Inspired colours enhance the Enigma line, playing with mixed metals, rich woods, pearls and shells. All Enigma wall coverings are uncoated, non-woven backed vinyl and are easy to clean (spongeable).

Suggested retail price per single roll is $79.98. Sold in double rolls only.

Non-Woven Backed Fabric Wall Covering Program: Alendel is known for its wide-ranging collection of decorative fabrics. The company is now opening the door to endless custom wall-covering possibilities. Easily transform an Alendel fabric into beautiful one-of-a-kind wall coverings. Select from an extensive library of textures, prints, jacquards and embroideries, in an endless array of colours. Alendel’s process is simple, affordable and quick.


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Be kind to your heart

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Be kind to your heart

(News Canada) — With heart failure on the rise, it’s important not to confuse it with other heart conditions.

“Heart failure is not the same as a heart attack,” explains Dr. Gavin Arthur of the Heart & Stroke Foundation. “And it is vital to know the difference.”

Heart failure is an incurable condition that happens when the heart itself is damaged or scarred. Unlike a heart attack, heart failure is not a sudden medical emergency. Instead, over time heart failure causes the heart to become progressively weaker. It can no longer pump adequate blood around the body. The signs are not sudden and can be subtle. There is no cure yet and without medication and careful attention to diet and lifestyle the prognosis is very poor.

Tracy Bawtinheimer, a 51-year-old executive, knows from experience how easy it is to ignore the signs. After months of dizziness, extreme shortness of breath and unexplained weight gain that she attributed to stress and travel, she finally went to the emergency department. She was diagnosed with a heart rhythm disorder that was damaging her heart. Bawtinheimer now lives with heart failure, daily medication and an acceptance that she can’t always be as active as she once was.

“Pay attention to changes in your health and listen to your intuition,” she says. “It’s always better to consult a physician than assume you understand the cause of unexplained changes.”

“Recognizing heart failure early is the key to slowing down the progression so you have the best chance of staying out of hospital and living longer,” says Arthur. The warning signs include shortness of breath, especially when lying flat; sudden weight gain; bloating; cough or cold symptoms that last more than a week; extreme fatigue; loss of appetite; increased urination at night and swelling in the ankles, feet or abdomen.

“If you see any of these signs, talk to your doctor,” notes Arthur.


Heart failure is a growing epidemic in Canada with one in five people developing the condition during their lifetime. But you can easily make some tweaks to your everyday lifestyle to improve your heart health now.

“Each year, 50,000 new patients are diagnosed with heart failure, and depending on the severity of symptoms, age and other factors, half of them will not survive five years,” says Arthur. “There is no cure yet, but if it is caught early, lifestyle changes and appropriate drug treatments can help you lead a normal and active life, stay out of hospital and live longer.”

One reason heart failure it is on the rise is that more people are surviving heart attacks and other acute heart conditions — but not without some lasting damage to their hearts. This damage, over time, makes them more susceptible to heart failure.

“Heart failure can greatly impact quality of life — many people face repeated hospitalizations and are unable to do everyday tasks,” notes Arthur. “Even a walk to the corner can become very difficult for many. However, progression of symptoms can be slowed if it is treated early with appropriate medication and careful attention to diet and lifestyle.”

To stay on top of your heart health, choose nutritious meals with lots of produce, find a fun physical activity to keep you active and work on maintaining a healthy weight. Learn more about heart failure, including the warning signs to watch for, online at


A diagnosis of heart failure can be devastating, especially for those without a support network. But it turns out dancing — whether it is ballroom, tap or line dance — might be a key to living better and longer.

According to Arthur, keeping active at any age is important, but for people with heart failure, it is even more so. Just be sure to check with your doctor first.

“Choosing physical activity that has a social component is particularly great for people living with heart failure. Often people who are diagnosed with this disease can experience isolation and depression,” he explains. “Being involved in a group activity can help strengthen social and emotional connections, an important aspect of taking control of this condition.”

That’s why heart failure patient Jerry Alfonso has made line dancing his passion. “I started because I wanted to be doing something in the evening. I learned a few dances, then one thing led to another and now I teach several classes every week,” he says. “I reach out to people to get up and exercise and while they come and dance with me I try to talk with them and encourage them to eat a healthy diet.”

Alfonso’s enthusiasm is infectious, and now his classes range from beginners through to advanced line dancers. He knows that having a strong support network can be a safety net for people living with heart failure, and encourages everyone — whether you are living with heart disease or just looking to keep active — to think about joining a class or community group.

Connecting with people who understand can be a great source of information and support. In-person and online support groups can be very helpful to combat social isolation. Connect with others and find more information online at


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In Conversation With: Michael Dipasquale

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In Conversation With: Michael Dipasquale

Dunpar Homes specializes in building high-end townhomes in vibrant neighbourhoods

Dunpar Homes has made a name for itself by cornering the market on luxury townhouse living.

For more than 30 years, Dunpar has been building high-end townhomes that are characterized by quality engineering, craftsmanship and timeless design.

Just ask Michael DiPasquale, the vice president of operations for Dunpar Homes. He’s been living in a Dunpar-built townhome for several years and embraces the easy lifestyle.

“I like the convenience of it, the low maintenance and because Dunpar builds infill projects in vibrant communities, my Etobicoke home is near everything I need.”

Dunpar was founded by John Zanini in 1981, who had been renovating older homes in the Cabbagetown area and admired the fine craftsmanship. He learned the techniques, which are now found in all of Dunpar’s homes. Zanini’s first townhomes were built near Dundas and Parliament Streets, which is how he came up with the name Dunpar.

The concept of building thoughtfully planned homes on commercial and industrial sites in prime areas has resulted in the company building more than 2,000 homes — all of them townhouses.

“When Dunpar selects a location for a community, we only choose vibrant neighbourhoods in sustainable communities with easy access to shopping, schools, parks, highways, transit and green space,” Zanini says.

DiPasquale, who has been with Dunpar since 2009, agrees. “Townhomes are ground-related so you have the best of the easy maintenance of condo living without the cramped feeling you can get in a highrise tower.”

Q: What kind of people are purchasing townhomes?

A: Townhomes have been on the housing scene for decades, but they used to be considered an entry point to home ownership. Now, however, with the changing marketplace and higher housing costs, they are a viable alternative for most homebuyers. We’ve been selling to all kinds of people — young families, professionals and empty nesters.

The empty nesters are coming from detached homes and are looking for less space and an easy lifestyle. We also offer the option of installing elevators so they can age in place. However, the young professionals and families are looking to move up from a condo or apartment and want more square footage.

Q: What are purchasers looking for in a luxury townhome?

A: These are educated and refined purchasers and they are looking for elegance and craftsmanship. We build an upscale product with stone and brick exteriors, bay windows, cedar shake roofs, dormer windows and topfloor master suites with luxurious ensuite bathrooms.

We hit on a winning brand but with each subsequent project we refine and improve the design process. For instance, eight-foot ceilings on the upper floors became nine feet. It’s an evolutionary process, but we’ve made no big changes over the years. Dunpar has been doing it right from the beginning, so there is just some tweaking as we go along.

Q: Will Dunpar remain a townhouse builder only, or are there plans to expand the portfolio?

A: Up to this point, it has been townhomes only. However, we are about to bring to market an eight-floor midrise building in Etobicoke at Prince Edward Drive and Dundas Street West, just a couple of blocks east of Royal York Road. The units will be a luxury product in keeping with The Kingway neighbourhood where they are located.

We’re also planning back-to-back townhomes, which will feature rooftop patios. The smallest unit is 1,600 square feet.

Q: How can prospective purchasers get a feel for your product?

A: We’ve kept a couple of units in an older project to use as a sales office. Buyers find it hard to visualize space from a floorplan and they want to see and feel the finishes, so by setting up in an actual unit, purchasers can see the quality of the product and use of space and our well thought out designs. There are very few new homes being built that are over 2,000 square feet — especially infill projects — so our buyers are happy they can see just how great these units are to live in.

We also think about how the space will be used and make sure there are electrical outlets and cable outlets placed in the appropriate place, for instance. We think about everything — there are gas hook-ups on the decks for barbecues and all of our units have two-car garages. Of course, our buyers can also customize their unit. For example they can take a three-bedroom second-floor plan and change it to a two-bedroom.

Q: What do you do for fun?

A: Golf. And travel. My wife and I also consider ourselves to be foodies, so we enjoy trying out all the great Toronto restaurants. We’re close to GO Transit so we can get into the city very quickly.


  • Trafalgar Ridge, Oakville
  • Streetsville Centre, Mississauga
  • Lakeshore Village, Etobicoke
  • Heritage Gate, Mississauga


  • Townhomes in Oakville
  • Midrise in Etobicoke
  • Luxury rentals on Ossington


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Hard as stone

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Hard as stone

By Shelanne Jennings-Augustine of Dockside Magazine

Finding the perfect fixtures for your kitchen or bath remodel can be hard to do.

“There are many options on the market that look great. But it can be hard to tell how well they’ll operate and how long they’ll last,” says Rick Cooke, manager of The Water Closet in Orillia.

That’s why, when it comes to finding beautiful, strong fixtures for your home, Rick says your best bet is to go back to the basics.

“Some of the best fixtures today feature natural elements,” says Rick. “Steel, stone and brass all look beautiful in your home, but they also pack some significant strength that will save you money in the long run.”

Start with steel

Stainless steel is no stranger to industrial and architectural industry, but bath and kitchen retailers are also using it in many of their residential fixtures.

The reason, Rick says, is clear: “They’re corrosion resistant, extremely durable and hygienic.”

What many may not realize is that stainless steel has a surface that is very difficult for bacteria to stick to, making it very easy to keep clean.

“If you’re updating your kitchen, try a stainless steel sink that’s both beautiful and practical,” says Rick. “Like the Quatrus R15 stainless steel apron front kitchen sink by Blanco. Its contemporary design has 15mm radius corners that make it very easy to clean. For a matching fixture, check out the Culina faucet by Blanco. It also made of stainless steel and has an interesting coil arch neck and maneuverable wand with push button flow selector.”

To add some texture, depth and durability to the bathroom, consider adding a sink made of stone or concrete.

“Take the Native Trails Americana Vanity,” says Rick. “It uses reclaimed wood for a rustic, textured look, and is topped with a gorgeous concrete sink.”

Although concrete is a rather unconventional material for fixtures, Native Trails has designed their concrete sinks to be sustainable, light weight, and stain, scratch and crack resistance.

“On top of that, they have a one-of-a-kind colouration that looks great with any style.”

If you’re not keen on concrete, look for vanities that feature limestone instead. Grey limestone has a low porosity, is extremely durable, and is generally low maintenance.

“Look for pieces that combine stainless steel and limestone like the UNIK Stone vanity,” says Rick. “This vanity is artisan crafted to be both strong, ecologically responsible and incredibly beautiful.”

If you’re looking to update your fixtures and add a splash of colour to your space, consider fixtures made of solid brass. Not only does brass come in a number of finishes, it’s also extremely durable.

“It’s impervious to the elements and resistant to corrosion,” says Rick.

For a modern take on a brass fixture, check out the Vero widespread lavatory faucet in champagne bronze by Delta.

“This industrial designed faucet features sharp design lines details which look great in bright brass.”

High efficiency

To complete your bathroom renovation, why not add strength to your toilet too? Although high efficiency and power aren’t often seen synonymously, the latest low-flow toilets offer more suction than ever before.

“Now you can use as little as 4.1 litres of water, without having to flush twice.”

For high quality design and a modern style, Rick suggests the American Standard Boulevard one piece Toilet.

“The dual flush feature is great for saving water and maximizing conservation.”

Before you begin your project, stop into your local plumbing fixture expert and see the products for yourself.

“At The Water Closet, we’re always here to show you the latest products and answer your questions. Our goal is to get you the best looking fixtures that will look great for years to come.”


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