Tag Archives: City of Toronto


Building condos in urban areas requires the use of traffic lanes

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Building condos in urban areas requires the use of traffic lanes

We often joke in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) that we have two seasons, winter and construction. Most people can do without winter, but construction is essential to city building. We put up with it because we know that infrastructure like roads, sewers and watermains, must be continually maintained to ensure the viability of our growing cities. The same can be said when it comes to new condo construction.

On occasion large construction projects like condos in the downtown core can take up traffic lanes and create traffic slowdowns. Unfortunately, to keep up with the influx of the 9.7 million people that will call the GTA home by 2041 and to build to Growth Plan policy, our industry will be building highrise buildings in urban areas that may slow down your daily commute.

A recent City of Toronto motion was put forth to consult with the development industry to eliminate the practice of occupying sidewalks and traffic lanes for construction purposes. While this might help ease traffic congestion, it does very little to help keep the cost of new homes down. If the development industry is forced to build off-site staging areas, instead of using the already in place and legal City right-of-way, the extra cost incurred by the industry will ultimately make new homes more expensive.

A construction staging area is a physical location used for the storage of construction related equipment and materials such as vehicles and stockpiles. The City has policies to deal with this issue and the construction industry pays hundreds of thousands of dollars per project to be able to use City property for this legally allowed and long standing purpose.

The provincial Growth Plan calls for more intensification in urban areas where transit is available and where people work. Therefore, the City of Toronto has urban design guidelines that allow for the construction of tall buildings very close to the property line. These are the challenges of building in an urban environment. There is little or no room to do anything on the site and the only way to build safely is to take a lane of public traffic.

The industry is constantly looking for ways to alleviate traffic construction by avoiding closing down lanes and keeping costs down by side-stepping building off-site staging sites that would ultimately increase the cost of a new home or condo.

Developers often reach out to residents for solutions. A developer of a midtown 70,000-square-foot condo was considering an underutilized park adjacent to the highrise as an alternative to using the street. Having to build a separate staging site at a cost of $1,000,000 would have increased the price of a condo by $20,000 or $30,000. Using the street is the best way to keep the development affordable.

Dave Wilkes is President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD). Bild.ca


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by David Wilkes

Looking to renovate? Getting permits and approval may take longer than the work itself

Your family is growing and you need more space. You have two options. You can sell your house and move into a bigger home, or you can renovate your home and add more living space. You love your neighbourhood and do not want to move, so you decide to renovate.

Your first inclination may be to focus on the latest trends and finishes, but before you do that, your time is much better invested in getting the necessary approvals and permits. In some cities in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), that can take months for a smaller renovation and up to a year for more ambitious projects.

Photography: bigstock.com
Photography: bigstock.com


Many homeowners are under the mistaken impression that it is as simple as filing your plans and obtaining your permit—a week or two and on to swinging hammers. The reality can be quite different. When planning a major renovation or custom-home build, the approval and permitting times can stretch for months, and may include multiple steps of getting approvals for variances to existing zoning requirements, setback regulations and obtaining approvals from other municipal departments like Urban Forestry. If re-zoning through the Committee of Adjustment is required, the entire process can take well up to a year.

Layered onto this, many municipalities are failing to meet The Ontario Building Code’s timeframes of just issuing a building permit in 10 business days, delaying renovation projects and adding unnecessary costs to projects. In 2017, in the City of Toronto, nearly half of all residential building permits were not issued within the required legislated timeframe.


The Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) reviewed 6,011 City of Toronto permits and the average timeframe for issuing these permits was 31.4 calendar days. That is two to two-and-a-half times the provincially mandated maximum. It is important to note that this review included thousands of applications from very basic and quick permits, to permits with values of over $100,000; the issuing of these permits took an average of 45 days or six weeks.

Further delays in the process come from a lack of access to inspectors and inspection delays that can tangle homeowners up in even more red tape. Your dream renovation has now become a bureaucratic nightmare. The permit and approval system needs a good renovation itself.


BILD wants to put the customer first so they can enjoy their newly renovated or custom-built home sooner rather than later. Based on our members’ experience, we wrote the Service Standard of Excellence document to provide practical guidance to municipalities on how to speed up approvals and make the process more efficient.

We are asking cities to commit to a reasonable turnaround time for renovation permit applications, we are proposing the implementation of a one-window permitting, web-based portal that makes the application process smoother and transparent, and we are calling for improved service by building inspectors similar to the standards expected for Internet and telephone providers.

As we get closer to the 2018 Municipal Elections this fall, we will be meeting with councillors and mayors across the GTA to ask them to adopt the measures outlined in the Service Standards of Excellence and get them to provide building and renovation approvals and permits in line with the provincially mandated requirements.

David Wilkes is president and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), the voice of the home building, land development and professional renovation industry in the GTA.

For the latest industry news and new home data, follow BILD on Twitter, Facebook, BILD’s official blog, and bildgta.ca.


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Condo Market: Enjoy an Active Lifestyle in a New Condo

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Condo Market: Enjoy an Active Lifestyle in a New Condo

Nowadays, fitness is more than a craze; it is a way of life for people of all ages. If you are shopping for a new condominium and fitness is an important part of your lifestyle, congratulations! You could not make a better choice. Condos encourage active living by both location and design. Ontario’s Places to Grow Act has dictated that condo developers build “up” rather than “out” and locate buildings close to public transportation and amenities. This translates to residents walking to local shops and services, and walking is the first level of fitness. Bicycling is next, and in the City of Toronto, condos are required to contain a certain number of bicycle parking spots. Both residents and visitors can burn off calories pedaling around to run errands or meet for coffee.

Lumina at Emerald City

New condominiums themselves are graced with a beautiful variety of amenities that accommodate exercise without having to leave the building. For example, fitness facilities typically rank high on condo shoppers’ must have lists. In addition to the convenience of having exercise facilities under their roofs, these suite-owners can say good-bye to gym membership fees. Today’s state-of-the-art fitness rooms have high ceilings, massive windows and elaborate equipment. Some even enable team sports in a gymnasium, and many have Pilates/yoga areas or even climbing walls.

Modern condo fitness facilities rival the nicest of commercial clubs with change rooms, saunas, steam rooms, whirlpools, plunge pools and/or swimming pools to vary the experience. You will even find rooftop pools and sundecks with outstanding views. These areas are so popular that some condominium corporations are hiring recreational coordinators to organize classes and events. With these areas decorated to reflect the architectural aesthetics of the building, they are great spots for residents and their families and friends to use for get-togethers.

Recreation does not necessarily end at a condo’s traditional fitness facilities. The trend toward condo gardening is catching on, and people love it. We are seeing more urban condominiums that provide residents with gardening plots so they can grow their own herbs and vegetables, which gives new meaning to the concept of “eating close to home.” With gardening being one of North America’s favourite pastimes and the practice burning off calories, it’s a win-win situation. Fresh herbs and veggies always liven up a meal, and being able to access the exact amount you need without leaving “home” is incredible. And keep in mind that a condo suite with a balcony opens the door to container gardening right outside of your private living space. The variety of containers available today is exciting. They can be used to grow flowers, herbs, tomatoes and whatever else you can imagine. Unless you plan on growing giant pumpkins, gardening is no longer the exclusive pastime for people in low-rise homes with backyards!

Whether you prefer a brisk walk, a vigorous weight workout, an energetic aerobics class, a feel-good yoga session, basketball game, swim or some green-thumb bending and stretching, in a condominium, the fulfillment of your exercise needs is at your fingertips. GO CONDO!

BARBARA LAWLOR is president and CEO of Baker Real Estate Incorporated and an in-demand columnist and speaker. A member of the Baker team since 1993, she oversees the marketing and sales of condominium developments in the GTA and overseas. Keep current with The Baker Blog at blog.bakerrealestate.com


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The Lawyer: City of Toronto amalgamates four groups into CreateTO

The Lawyer: City of Toronto amalgamates four groups into CreateTO

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The Lawyer: City of Toronto amalgamates four groups into CreateTO

by Zale Skolnik

Included are Build Toronto, Toronto Port Lands Corporation, Toronto Parking Authority and Toronto City Real Estate.

As a significant and influential landowner in the Toronto real estate landscape, the City of Toronto’s reorganization of the management agencies responsible for the city’s real estate assets is a move that comes with many questions. With an enormous and diverse real estate portfolio, developers are constantly working with the city to purchase, partner with and redevelop surplus lands, generally to create additional much-needed housing in the City of Toronto.

Up until January 1, 2018, most of the city’s portfolio was managed by four distinct groups consisting of: Build Toronto, Toronto Port Lands Corporation, Toronto Parking Authority and Toronto City Real Estate.

After a year-long process, the city has completed the consolidation of its real estate holdings into a centralized entity, which will have effective management and control over all surplus city lands and real estate activities. According to a recent City of Toronto press release, this new entity is called CreateTO and as of January 1, all development deals will be managed through the CreateTO offices.

The aforementioned city groups will gradually merge into/report through CreateTO, and all redevelopment opportunities related to city real estate assets are said to be continuing within the mandate of CreateTO. Exact details on CreateTO’s operations remain to be disclosed.

The intention is for CreateTO to centralize all decision-making on city properties in one organization. It remains to be seen how the consolidation of the city’s assets into one agency, which will now have direct involvement from both bureaucrats and councillors, will allow the City of Toronto to fully and efficiently maximize economic benefit from it surplus lands.

We do look forward to representing our clients in partnership with the city on future development projects and hope that the consolidation results in practical efficiencies and the further development of surplus city assets for the benefit of all involved.

Zale Skolnik is an associate at Robins Appleby Barristers + Solicitors.


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City of Toronto – Home Energy Loan Program (HELP)

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City of Toronto – Home Energy Loan Program (HELP)

For more information and to apply, please visit: http://www.toronto.ca/home-energy-loan


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City of Toronto - Home Energy Loan Program

Stay Warm This Winter for Less

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Stay Warm This Winter for Less

Tired of a cold, drafty home and high energy bills – HELP is here!

Through the City of Toronto’s Home Energy Loan Program (HELP), you can get a low-interest loan to cover the cost of a new high-efficiency furnace, new windows, doors, insulation and more. And if you want to go the extra mile, the loan can also cover the cost of solar rooftop panels, solar hot water heaters, and geothermal heating and cooling!

The great thing about Toronto’s Home Energy Loan Program, is that at the same time that you make your home more comfortable and reduce your energy bills, you’ll also be reducing the emissions that contribute to climate change.

Low-interest rates and great terms

In addition to offering low-interest rates (starting at 2%), and repayment terms of up to 15 years, you can repay the loan at any time without penalty. And if you sell your home and don’t want to pay off the loan, the new homeowner can assume the payments. Sound too good to be true? It’s not!

Save energy, money and more!

The results are impressive. On average, HELP participants::

  • reduce their home energy use by 30%;
  • save over $560 per year on their energy bills; and
  • receive additional incentives of up to $2,250 from utility companies such as Enbridge Gas and IESO.

You can get a loan of up to $75,000 for your improvements. The process begins with an easy online application. The HELP team will then connect you with a Registered Energy Advisor, help you access the incentives provided by the utility companies, and do what they can to make the process smooth and seamless.

Here’s what one HELP participant had to say about their experience retrofitting their Scarborough home:

We wanted to make our home more energy efficient and HELP was a fit for our needs. The renovations would add value to our property. It was an easy experience for us and we are very appreciative!”

The City’s HELP team is available to support you throughout the process. Ready to get started? Have a few questions? We’d love to hear from you.

Contact us at 416-392-1826 or learn more at toronto.ca/home-energy-loan.


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Toronto’s HELP program offers a ‘Win-Win’ for Contractors and Homeowners

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Toronto’s HELP program offers a ‘Win-Win’ for Contractors and Homeowners

Toronto contractors and homeowners can benefit from the low-interest financing tool offered by the City for home energy improvements.

The City of Toronto’s Home Energy Loan Program (HELP) makes it easier for Toronto homeowners to undertake a variety of home improvements.

Through HELP, homeowners can get a low-interest loan of up $75,000 to cover the costs of these improvements:

  • HVAC
  • High-efficiency water heaters
  • Windows/doors
  • Insulation
  • Rooftop solar panels
  • Solar domestic hot water system
  • Drain-water heat recovery system
  • Air sealing
  • Toilets

How can HELP benefit you, a Toronto area contractor?

Well, it all begins with the homeowner. With a low-interest loan from the City of Toronto, it’s easier for homeowners to take on high-cost renovations and pay for them over time as they save on their energy bills. And by making it easier for residents to improve their home, HELP can benefit you as well.

The more homeowners know about HELP, the easier it will be for you to seal the deal. Plus, there is no paperwork involved for contractors!

So, you can help your clients make the decision to proceed with their home improvements by spreading the word – by letting homeowners know about HELP and the low-interest loans available to them.

What’s in it for homeowners?

In addition to offering homeowners low-interest rates (starting at 2%), and repayment terms of up to 15 years, homeowners can repay the loan at any time without penalty. And the results are impressive. On average, HELP participants use 30% less energy, save $560 per year on energy bills and get up to $2,250 in utility incentives.

What’s more, City staff will guide homeowners through the steps to ensure a smooth and seamless experience. They’ll help homeowners access the incentives and rebates available from utility companies and connect them with a Registered Energy Advisor who will advise them on which upgrades are right for their home.

For more information about HELP, and to request materials that can help you spread the word, contact us at 416-392-1826 or visit toronto.ca/home-energy-loan.


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Home Realty : The Missing Middle

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Home Realty : The Missing Middle

Creative concepts could do a lot help housing affordability

It’s the one thing everyone in the GTA seems to be talking about these days: the soaring price of real estate. It’s a sticky wicket to be sure, and it’s left many wondering if they’ll ever be able to find a place to call home in this bustling metropolis. Here are three creative concepts that could do much to alter the affordability equation.


The City of Toronto has more than 2,400 laneways and publicly owned corridors covering 250 linear kilometres. Laneway houses are small homes built above garages that face these laneways. Development of such secondary suites — which are serviced from the main house like a basement apartment — could inject considerably more affordable homes into the Toronto rental market. And advocacy groups, like Lanescape and Evergreen, are partnering with the city to look at ways to clear the bureaucratic path toward the development of laneway housing.

This kind of gentle intensification can add value to existing properties for owners, and, in providing a much needed infusion of supply into the rental market, provide more people access to affordable housing.



They’re known in Paris as “parasite homes,” and they would be an ingenious solution to the affordability problem here in the GTA. These apartments are perched upon the roofs of existing buildings. The prefabricated units are built offsite then bolted to the structure with steel supports, a construction process that takes under a year. And these units are priced 40 per cent cheaper than comparable properties.

Paris is calling for 70,000 new dwellings to be built each year, and parasite homes are a good way to squeeze all those new homes into the densely populated French capital. Parasite homes are an innovative idea and one that could help Toronto to provide more people with housing options they can afford. And building owners would also stand to make a good return for thinking a bit outside the box.


Don’t let the name fool you. In-law suites — secondary dwellings within a home — can be rented out to anybody you choose. And they’re growing in popularity as more and more people in the GTA face affordability challenges.

In-law suites are cheaper to rent than standalone apartments and they provide an effective and relatively easy way for homeowners to pay off their mortgages or pad their retirement incomes. Of course, these suites can be used to house aging in-laws (but it’s probably not cool to charge granny rent). Or, perhaps more common in today’s economy, it could be the cash-strapped younger generations remaining at home, but wanting an independent living situation.

Secondary flats typically include sleeping and living areas, a basic kitchen and a separate entrance. They can be created via a garage conversion or basement reno. A unit could be a bump-out or addition on the home. Or it might be a separate cottage or a back house on the property.

Owners could also create an in-law apartment by combining rooms in the existing house without changing the original footprint.

The governing bodies of the GTA have to be more creative and open minded in dealing with the shortage and affordability issues in our housing market.

Debbie Cosic, CEO and founder of In2ition Realty, has worked in all facets of the real estate industry for over 25 years. She has sold and overseen the sale of over $15 billion worth of real estate and, with Debbie at the helm, In2ition has become one of the fastest-growing and most innovative new home and condo sales companies. In2ition has received numerous awards from the Building Industry and Land Development Association and the National Association of Home Builders.


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Unveiling Toronto of the Future®

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Unveiling Toronto of the Future®

Who’s Who of Architecture & Real Estate to Unveil Toronto of the Future® Showcase Event Scheduled for June 26 –30 at Metro Hall / MetroCentre

Toronto, June 9, 2017 — Leading players in real estate and architecture will present the second biennial edition of Toronto of the Future®, a unique display of ideas for commercial, industrial and residential developments and urban infrastructure and transportation projects that will shape Canada’s most dynamic city in the years to come.

Toronto of the Future® is a free exhibit of major architectural concepts to be held from June to 26 to 30, 2017 at MetroCentre / Metro Hall (55 John St.). The event is co-hosted in collaboration with the City of Toronto and Oxford Properties Group. The first biennial edition of the event was held in the same venue in June 2015 and was a resounding success.

This not-to-be missed event will feature groundbreaking 3D scale models, illustrations, renderings and virtual presentations from top architects, contractors, developers and government agencies, including the City Planning Division of the City of Toronto. The displays will include various projects under construction, approved, planned or envisioned, but all will inspire the conversation of the evolution of a great city. Key stakeholders from the private and public sectors will be brought together to demonstrate to the public and media their leadership in contributing to the evolution of Toronto.

Thousands of visitors are expected to tour the showcase, in addition to the many people who pass through Metro Hall / MetroCentre every day.

Jennifer Keesmaat, Chief Planner, City Planning Division of the City of Toronto, co-host of the exhibition, declares: “Toronto is a leading city in the Western Hemisphere with respect to the unprecedented scale of urbanization, redevelopment and renewal we see today. We expect this trend of rapid change to continue and as a result we need to continue to push our thinking with respect to what the city could become. As a result, the timing is excellent to present TORONTO OF THE FUTURE”.

OPENING HOURS OF THE EXHIBITION (open to the public, free of charge)

Monday June 26, NOON – 4:00 pm
Tuesday June 27, 9:00 am – 9:00 pm
Wednesday June 28, 9:00 am – 9:00 pm
Thursday June 29, 9:00 am – 9:00 pm
Friday June 30, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm

Compiled as of June 7. More exhibitors and partners will be added to the list.
* = Key partners presenting several projects in the showcase


  • City Planning Division, City of Toronto *
  • Oxford Properties Group *


  • REP (Real Estate Professional)
  • Urban Toronto / Skyrise Cities *
  • Mackie Transport


  • Zeidler Partnership Architects *
  • Aura Web Solutions
  • RJV Communications


  • Ana Bercovitch Design Consultant
  • Valladeres Turner Architects
  • Astley Gilbert


  • First Capital · Kohn Peterson Fox Associated Architects (KPF) *
  • GH+A Design Studios *
  • Intercontinental Hotel Toronto Centre
  • ConstructConnect · Hariri Pontarini Architects *
  • Toronto Hydro *
  • Quadrangle Architects *
  • Grassroots
  • Foster & Partners Architects *

OTHER EXHIBITING PARTNERS (non-exhaustive list)

  • WZMH Architects
  • Icon Architects
  • Diamond & Schmitt Architects
  • Wilkinson Eyre Architects
  • Alva Roy Architects
  • +VG Architects
  • B&H Architects
  • Audax Architecture
  • Brisbin Brook Beynon Architects
  • Kevric Real Estate
  • SvN Architects + Planners
  • Raw Design


Based on the great success in Montreal held every two years since 2006 under the title ‘Montréal du Futur®’, the Toronto version of this unique public event will showcase multiple major commercial-office, residential, institutional real estate projects as well as transportation/infrastructure projects that will shape the skyline of Metropolitan Toronto over the next few years. This free event brings together several key business and civic organizations who contribute to the future development of the city, as well as the media and the general public. TORONTO OF THE FUTURE® brings together key real estate stakeholders in a unique neutral, educational and information-sharing setting. This urban development and infrastructure event will attract significant public interest.

The event will feature around 25 exhibitors, most showcasing multiple projects.

TORONTO OF THE FUTURE® will include various types of projects:

  • Commercial – Office and Retail
  • Residential (including mixed use)
  • Institutional / Civic
  • Infrastructure / Transportation

Target audiences of TORONTO OF THE FUTURE® include:

  • Sponsor, exhibitor and media representatives
  • Key stakeholders and industry leaders in real estate and development
  • Architecture and design professionals
  • Skyscraper fans including members of several specialized blogs
  • General public
  • Graduate university students in the field


The official opening ceremony and reception (the only activity not open to the public free of charge) will take place on Monday June 26 at 6:00 p.m. in the King Tower Wintergarden, MetroCentre (225 King Street West) and will feature special guest Jennifer Keesmaat, Chief Planner, City Planning Division, City of Toronto. The cocktail reception will begin with speeches and a symbolic ribbon cutting ceremony. A cocktail reception will then follow. Hundreds of guests who are passionate about the urban and economic development of Toronto will be in attendance. Wine, beer and hors d’oeuvres will be served. To purchase tickets ($200 + tax each, in limited quantity), please contact rjv@rjvcom.com.


Cities of the Future Management is a leading special events firm established by Robert J. Vezina, founder of Montréal du Futur and Toronto of the Future, two real estate and architectural exhibitions that bring together key real estate stakeholders and offer visions of how Toronto and Montreal are developing. It is the owner of the trademarks of Montréal du Futur® and Toronto of the Future®.


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