Tag Archives: Local Focus

Local Focus - Barrie

Barrie – the gateway to cottage country open for business

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Barrie – the gateway to cottage country open for business

Barrie may be best known as the “gateway to cottage country,” but, borrowing from a recent initiative of a certain provincial politician, the city might just as well hang a sign out front saying “open for business.”

Indeed, the days of this city of 153,356 being little more than a popular tourist and getaway destination are long over.

Barrie is a thriving city in its own right. It has long moved on from a bedroom community for Toronto, about 100 kms south, to developing its own increasingly diversified economy, with a focus on education, healthcare, information technology and other sectors.

For example, Barrie hosts industry experts, executives, investors and entrepreneurs from across Ontario at the annual Manufacturing Innovation Summit. Presented by the Business Development Bank of Canada, the event strives to help manufacturers maintain competitiveness and maximize productivity.

Creative economy

Further illustrating a focus on economic development, the City has partnered with Sandbox Centre to make regional resources for innovation and entrepreneurship more accessible to local businesses. Opened in April, 2019, Sandbox Centre is the first private sector-led innovation hub in Ontario.

It is exactly these types of initiatives that make Barrie so appealing for real estate. Economic development means employment, jobs attract residents, and residents translate to housing demand.

The city’s ability to attract younger residents is influenced by its growing reputation as a place for families and young, active professionals. Recent GO Transit expansion has made it easier for professionals to live in Barrie, where it’s more affordable, and work in Toronto or somewhere along the way.

Aggregate home prices for the first quarter of 2020 were up 3.5 per cent, year-over-year, to $519,161 from $501,731, according to Royal LePage. For condominiums, prices were relatively flat, growing 0.9 per cent to $398,574 from $394,912.

While at first glance this might not seem like great news, but milder price growth can represent buying opportunities for Barrie’s resident profile – many of them young, first-time homebuyers.

Live, work and play

It’s not strictly business in Barrie, however. Tourism still plays an important role in the local economy, with the historic downtown and waterfront major attractions. The downtown area hosts numerous annual festivals and events such as The Barrie Waterfront Festival, Barrielicious, Winterfest, Jazz & Blues Festival, Promenade Days, and Ribfest and Craft Beer Show.

Barrie is also home to Kempenfest, one of the largest outdoor arts and crafts celebrations in Ontario.

During the winter months, people still flock to the area’s nearby hills – Horseshoe Resort, Mount St. Louis Moonstone, and a little further afoot, Blue Mountain.

Then, of course, there’s the hometown Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League, who play out of the Barrie Molson Centre downtown.

Location, location, location

Located in Simcoe County in the northern part of the Greater Golden Horseshoe, about 100 kms north of Toronto, 36 km to Orillia; population 153,356.

Key landmarks

• Centennial Park & Beach

• Georgian Theatre

• Heritage Park

• MacLaren Art Centre

• Sadlon Arena

• Waterfront Heritage Trail

Select housing developments

Bear Creek Ridge by Pratt Homes

Essa Towns by Centreville Homes

Lakeview Towns by Plazacomm

Mapleview Park by Fernbrook Homes

Mapleview Park by Tiffany Park Homes

The Landing at Little Lake by The Landing Development Company

Ventura South Barrie by Honeyfield Communities

Yonge & GO by Pratt Homes

Yonge & Mapleview by Great Gulf


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Markham is a hotbed of economic development and growth

Markham – a hotbed of economic development and growth

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Markham – a hotbed of economic development and growth

As the fourth most populous community in the GTA – after Toronto, Mississauga and Brampton – Markham has been a hotbed for economic growth and development for years.

It’s long been known as a centre for growing sectors such as technology and life sciences – and therefore employment growth – one of the key drivers of housing demand.

Today, Markham is home to more than 1,000 such companies, with IBM, Huawei, Honeywell, Advanced Micro Devices, Motorola and Oracle all having their Canadian headquarters located in the city.

Residence has its price

Buying a home in Markham may cost you, though, as it has also become one of the GTA’s most expensive housing markets.

According to the Royal LePage Home Price Index for the first quarter of 2020, aggregate home prices grew 6.9 cent year-over-year to $1 million. Standard two-storey prices grew 6.6 per cent to $1.16 million, while detached bungalows increased 5.7 per cent to $1.02 million.

Still, new-home development is a priority for Markham City Hall and Mayor Frank Scarpitti, who was first elected in 2006 and is known as developer- and builder-friendly. The city has a number of new home developments underway, including some high-profile condo and lowrise projects.

The revitalization of Downtown Markham has been spearheaded by The Remington Group’s multi-use development along Main Street, which includes expansive retail shops, a Marriott Hotel, a Cineplex, as well as a variety of condo buildings and townhomes.

Cultural diversity

Culture is also an important attraction in Markham, with The Flato Markham Theatre offering more than 300 live performances each year, showcasing the diversity of the city. In addition, Varley Art Gallery encompasses the historic Kathleen McKay House, which was the home of Group of the Seven’s Frederick Horsman Varley for the last 12 years of his life. Measuring 15,000 sq. ft., the gallery is the second most popular tourist attraction in York Region.

Markham also has dozens of parks with baseball diamonds, soccer pitches and children’s play areas and splash pads. The city also boasts more than 22 kms of scenic pathways with 12 bridges that provide recreational activity for joggers and cyclists.

The largest park in the city is the Milne Dam Conservation Park. Measuring 305 acres, it is bordered by thick forest on the south and east and the Rouge River runs through the middle.

Toogood Pond is an 82-acre park that features a partially naturalized pond and marsh, and it recently underwent revitalization to remove sediment, restore the shoreline and plant native foliage.

Getting around Markham is facilitated by easy access to Hwys. 404 and 407 and the DVP, and for public transit, York Region Transit/Viva connects with all nine York Region municipalities, and GO Transit provides regular train and bus service.

Location, location, location

Population of 328,940, located in the Regional Municipality of York in the GTA; distance from downtown Toronto, 30 km

Key landmarks

• Flato Markham Theatre

• Varley Art Gallery

• Milne Dam Conservation Park

• Angus Glen Golf Club

Select housing developments

Abbey Lane Towns by Poetry Living

Cornell Markham by Ballantry Homes

Canvas on the Rouge by Flato Group

Cornell Rouge by Madison Group

Kennedy Manors by Kylemore Communities

Riverwalk Meadows by Flato Group

Union Village by Metropia

Union Village by Minto Communities

Victory Green by Remington Group

Village Homes on the Avenue by Andrin Homes


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Local Focus - Toronto

Toronto – in demand and on the rise

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Toronto – in demand and on the rise

Largely considered the pinnacle of the condo boom we’re seeing these days, Toronto still does boast some good lowrise home options. Supply and pricing of those homes, however, is another matter.

That’s what happens when you combine a strong economy and rising population with limited new and resale home supply.

Indeed, the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) is forecasting at least 10-per-cent price growth in the GTA this year to $900,000, up from $819,319 in 2019. And on the new home side, 2020 began on a strong note, with 2,106 total new home sales in January, up 65 per cent from January 2019 and 14 per cent above the 10-year average, according to the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD). The benchmark price for new single-family homes was $1.09 million.

Booming economy

“Toronto’s booming economy has brought with it housing affordability challenges that will continue throughout the next decade,” says Frank Clayton, senior research fellow, Ryerson University’s Centre for Urban Research & Land Development.

“Both the provincial and municipal governments must support a massive increase in the supply of all types of housing and tenures as priority number one and quickly transform the land use planning system to make this happen.”

Long considered one of the most multicultural cities in the world, Toronto boasts a collection of distinct communities, including East York, North York, Scarborough and Etobicoke.

Some of these areas, in fact, now represent areas of growth for new lowrise housing, given that larger master-planned communities of single-detached homes are fewer and farther between. Much of the focus now is on the socalled missing middle, those smaller developments such as townhomes that represent a real opportunity for new ground-oriented homes in the city.

Culture and entertainment

Find a way to buy and live in Toronto, however, and you likely will love it.

Toronto offers a vast array of culture and entertainment options, from the National Ballet of Canada, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, to the Art Gallery of Ontario, Royal Ontario Museum and more.

For the sporting sort, Toronto has a handful of pro sports teams – the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors, Toronto Blue Jays, Toronto FC and Toronto Argonauts – and is home to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is an annual event celebrating the film industry and attracts many movie stars and a-list players. And the Toronto Caribbean Carnival, formerly known as Caribana, attracts more than one million people every summer.

Other points of interest include the Toronto Zoo, the Ontario Science Centre, Harbourfront, Fort York, the Distillery District, Ripley’s Aquarium, the CN Tower and the Canadian National Exhibition.

And of course, as a large metropolitan city, great shopping areas include the St. Lawrence Market, Kensington Market, the Toronto Eaton Centre, Sherway Gardens and Yorkdale Mall.

Though a subject of some debate due to the challenges with keeping up with all the growth, transit and highway infrastructure is undergoing major expansion all over the city. The TTC moves almost two million people throughout the city every day on subway, buses, streetcars and LRT lines, while GO Transit links Toronto with the surrounding regions of the GTA. Highways include the 400 series (401, 403, 404, 407 and 427), the Don Valley Parkway and the Queen Elizabeth Highway.

Location, location, location

This provincial capital of Ontario and the most populated city in Canada is located on the shores of Lake Ontario; Population 2,954,024

Key landmarks

  • CN Tower
  • High Park
  • Ontario Science Centre
  • Ripley’s Aquarium
  • Toronto Eaton Centre

Select housing developments

East Station by Mattamy Homes

Fairfield Towns by Plaza

Lake & Town by Menkes

Origins of Don Mills by Mattamy Homes

Terraces at Eglinton by Nascent Developments

The Belmont Residences by Caliber Homes

The New Lawrence Heights by Context Dev. Inc.

The New Lawrence Heights by Metropia

Twelve on the Ravine by Geranium


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Local Focus - Oakville & Burlington

Oakville & Burlington are on the leading edges of the GTA

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Oakville & Burlington are on the leading edges of the GTA

Long gone are the days when Oakville and Burlington, neighbouring locations off the northwestern shores of Lake Ontario, were sleepy suburbs on the outskirts of the GTA. Expansion in highway and transit infrastructure, economic and employment growth and new housing development are all contributing to what today are booming, self-sustaining, destinations.

Such growth and development also mean rising home prices, as these two markets are forecast to be among the hottest in Ontario this year.

Blessed locations

Blessed with strong natural locations close to the lake, the QEW, Dundas Street West and Hwys. 403 and 401, getting to and around Oakville and Burlington has never been a challenge. But recent improvements to transit service and highways have afforded even easier movement for businesses and residents.

Such growth has contributed to increasingly diverse local economies, strong in automotive and manufacturing, but not overly reliant on any one sector.

Besides being close to Lake Ontario to the south, and the Niagara Escarpment to the north, Burlington is also home to the Royal Botanical Gardens. It boasts more than 2,700 acres of gardens and nature sanctuaries, the world’s largest lilac collection and three on-site restaurants.

Down by the lake, the recently renovated Spencer Smith Park hosts an array of annual free festivals, including Canada’s largest Ribfest, the Sound of Music Festival, Children’s Festival and Lakeside Festival of Lights.

Similarly, Oakville boasts 3,500 acres of parkland, more than 300 kilometres of trails and more than 200 parks, gardens, off-leash dog parks, playgrounds, skateboard parks, splash pads, sports fields, tennis courts, two harbours and 31 waterfront parks.

For cultural pursuits, Oakville has the Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts, and the Downtown Oakville Jazz Festival is an annual summer event that features a number of stages along Lakeshore Road East. The Waterfront Festival takes place in Coronation Park, including amusement rides, arts and crafts, food and drinks, concerts and nightly fireworks displays.

With so much development underway, it’s no surprise that more people are moving west – particularly those looking for more affordable homes than in Toronto. Residence here, however, has its price: Oakville is now one of the GTA’s priciest housing markets. Burlington is seeing its own home price growth spurt, though it is notably more affordable.

Burlington, in particular, is undergoing a change of sorts. In the 2018 municipal elections, residents voted in Marianne Meed Ward as new mayor, notably on her promise to address their concerns about over-intensification and development.

Location, location, location

  • Oakville population 192,832; Burlington 185,000, located in Halton Region at the northwestern end of Lake Ontario
  • Oakville distance from Toronto, 38 kms; Burlington, 60 km

Select housing developments

OAKVILLE

5North by Mattamy Homes

Bronte Meadows by Flato Group

Glen Ashton Estates by Menkes

Ivy Rouge by Rosehaven Homes

Ivy Rouge by Starlane Home Corporation

The Preserve by Mattamy Homes

Upper Joshua Creek by Mattamy Homes

White Oaks Ravine by Dunpar Homes

BURLINGTON

Mountainview Heights by Greenpark Group

Mountainview Heights by Starlane Home Corporation

The Towns at Valera by Adi Developments

Tyandaga Heights by National Homes

StationWest Towns by Adi Developments


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Local Focus - Newmarket & Aurora

Newmarket & Aurora are close to the city, but far from the hustle and bustle

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Newmarket & Aurora are close to the city, but far from the hustle and bustle

With some homebuyers priced out of the downtown Toronto core, not to mention limited availability, many are heading to the suburbs in search of more affordable homes.

Those looking north – to Newmarket and Aurora – may indeed find savings. They may also get more bang for their buck, in the way of larger properties and lots for those prices.

But it isn’t all about paying less in Newmarket and Aurora, where proximity to nature, including the Oak Ridges Moraine, and expanding highway and transit infrastructure, make living here and working in Toronto or elsewhere in the GTA an appealing option.

Newmarket

Located just seven kms north of Aurora, with a population of about 85,000, Newmarket gets lots of love.

In a recent survey conducted by the Town, 95 per cent of residents said they are satisfied with Newmarket as a place to live, and 80 per cent are satisfied with overall service levels.

“The feedback received from the Community Survey results support Newmarket’s reputation as one of the Best Places to Live in Canada, according to MoneySense Magazine,” says Mayor John Taylor.

Indeed, Newmarket was ranked in the top 25 communities in Canada in 2016 and 14th among best small cities. In 2017, Amazon Canada rated it as number 20 of the top 100 most romantic cities in Canada.

Also, as is the case with Aurora, the elections in 2018 brought change to Newmarket, when then-Mayor Tony Van Bynen decided not to seek re-election. John Taylor took over, making the economy, business growth, community building and expanding new housing developments his top priorities.

Aurora

Located in York Region, Aurora is an increasingly popular and affluent town. According to the 2016 Census, the population here grew 4.2 per cent from 2011 to 55,445 – but is forecast to grow to more than 69,000 by the end of 2020.

With an average household income of more than $155,000, Aurora is one of the wealthiest towns, not just in the province, but in all of Canada.

What’s causing such growth? An increasingly diverse economy and business expansion, which drive housing demand and rising prices.

Through it all, Aurora has been able to maintain a small-town feel. In 2016, it was ranked as one of the Top 25 places to live in Canada.

Still, the October 2018 municipal election brought change to Aurora. Tom Mrakas unseated incumbent Geoff Dawe, running on a platform centred around housing and growth. He had said he wants to ensure better land use planning decisions are made through the Local Appeals Body and by implementing a Design Review Panel. He also intends to uphold the Official Plan and continue to oppose golf course redevelopment and improve municipal infrastructure.

Location, location, location

• Newmarket, population 84,224, 7 kms north of Aurora

• Aurora, population 55,445, 49 kms north of Toronto

Select housing developments

NEWMARKET

Glenway Urban Towns by Andrin Homes

Shining Hill by CountryWide Homes

Shining Hill by Regal Crest Homes

Shining Hill by Townwood Homes

AURORA

Allegro by Geranium Homes

Paradise Aurora by Paradise Developments

Queen’s Grove Collection by North Star Homes

Aurora Townhomes by Andrin Homes


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Local Focus: Oshawa & Whitby

Is Oshawa & Whitby the next hot new destination?

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Is Oshawa & Whitby the next hot new destination?

As prospective homebuyers have looked outside the Toronto core in search of more affordable lowrise homes in recent years, most of them have headed to Hamilton, Burlington, Milton and other points west.

This migration may soon change.

“The west end of the GTA has a greater diversity of communities that are attracting a diverse range of buyers,” Christopher Alexander, executive vice-president, ReMax of Ontario-Atlantic Canada, told HOMES Magazine earlier this year. “In the past 10 years, there has been significant focus on the growth and development of these regions, whereas historically, Durham has not traditionally been viewed in this same regard. With the boom in areas towards the east, like Prince Edward County, and the affordability leveling out, we will likely see the tide begin to turn.”

So, there you go, homebuyers – keep an eye on Whitby, Oshawa and other parts of Durham Region.

Economic diversity

And don’t let any potential uncertainly over General Motors Canada’s announcement late last year that it would close its Oshawa assembly plant. Oshawa, and other points in Durham, are about a lot more than one company.

“(The) employment sector in Oshawa has been shifting for some time, and Oshawa has healthily diversified to add technology, educational institutions, healthcare, administration and many professionals to its offerings of great jobs and companies in the market,” says Christian Huggett, vice-president, development, at Podium Developments. The company has a number of townhome developments in the city.

“(The GM news) not altered our plans,” he says. “We continue to believe that the outlook is bright for home sales in North Oshawa, buoyed by its proximity and relationship to schools, the 407 network, the significant growth occurring and planned for North Oshawa.”

ALSO READ: What we can learn from the looming GM closure in Oshawa

Location just east of Toronto along Hwy. 401 is among the reasons Whitby and Oshawa draw attention. With Whitby just 59 kms from Toronto and Oshawa 62, commuting is a real option – particularly with recent GO Transit improvements and the expansion of Hwy. 407.

Durham Region Transit connects with the other cities in the region, including Pickering, Ajax, Clarington, Brock and Uxbridge. The 401 runs through the south of region, Hwy. 7 runs across its northern edge and the Hwy. 407 extension to Hwys. 35 and 115 across the top of Durham Region.

Translation? Getting to, from and around Durham is getting increasingly easy, which makes living here and working elsewhere a real possibility.

Expanding attractions

As with any growing municipality, Whitby and Oshawa also offer expanding amenity and retail options. The Oshawa Centre, for example, is the largest shopping complex in Durham and is home to more than 230 outlets. And in downtown Oshawa, of course, there’s a variety of unique shops and restaurants.

In Whitby, Pearson Lane is a historical development that houses boutiques, cafes and services.

Nature is also front and centre, as Oshawa is home to wildlife preserves such as the Pumphouse Marsh, Second Marsh and McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve. Oshawa Botanical Gardens boasts North America’s largest contemporary peony collection.

In Whitby, more than 100 parks more than 60 kilometres of trails, including the Bio-Diversity Trail, the Cullen Central Park Trails, Otter Creek Trail and the Whitby Shores Waterfront Trail, await residents. The 670-acre Lynde Shores Conservation area is known for its wildlife and provides habitat for nesting birds.

Location, location, location

  • Located east of Toronto in York Region, Durham forms the east end of the GTA. Whitby 59 km from Toronto, Oshawa 62 km. Durham population 645,862; Oshawa 159,458; Whitby 128,377.

Key landmarks

  • Lynde Shores Conservation Area
  • Oshawa Botanical Gardens
  • Oshawa Centre
  • Tribute Communities Centre

Select housing developments

OSHAWA

Eastmore Village by Delpark Homes

Ironwood by Podium Developments

O North Urban Towns by Greycrest Homes

Symphony Towns by Marlin Spring

Winchester Estates by Menkes Developments

WHITBY

Park Vista by Paradise Developments

Park Vista by Fieldgate Homes

Station No. 3 by Brookfield Residential

The Hamptons at Country Lane by Heathwood Homes


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Local Focus: Pickering & Ajax

Pickering and Ajax – enjoying the growth and poised for more

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Pickering and Ajax – enjoying the growth and poised for more

Located in the heart of Durham Region but just east of Toronto, Pickering and Ajax comprise one of the fastest growing areas in Ontario.

Pickering, for example, with a population already at about 94,000, is expected to grow to 190,000 people by 2031, drawn by the city’s divers and stable economy. Pickering is home to a variety of national and international companies, in industries such as energy, advanced manufacturing, logistics, and pharmaceutical.

The area also has available land and space to facilitate this growth. The Pickering Innovation Corridor boasts 800 acres of greenfield, prestige employment land, located along a limited access transportation route directly adjacent to the site of the future Pickering Airport.

Pickering is in major transition, with new growth targets set for the city. The new and developing community of Seaton, for example, is preparing to welcome 70,000 new residents and 35,000 new jobs.

Neighbouring Ajax is similarly prosperous, as the town has a well-deserved reputation for progressive thinking. Among the major projects underway is a redevelopment of the downtown, with new public spaces at Pat Bayly Square.

The future of downtown Ajax comprises a focus on “active, livable, innovative, vibrant and eco-focused,” according to the Town.

Lowrise living

Still sometimes considered suburbs of Toronto, Pickering and Ajax appeal to those in search of single-family and other ground-oriented homes, since, well, there is new lowrise home development in the area. And, like elsewhere in the GTA, “missing-middle” type housing such as townhomes, as well as condos, are also gaining popularity here.

Nautical Village, on Pickering’s waterfront, is a welcome natural amenity enjoyed by residents, with quaint shops, cafes and restaurants, as well as a splash pad and park. An expansive waterfront trail runs along Frenchman’s Bay and during the summer, Millennium Square hosts open air concerts.

Pickering and Ajax boast a number of golf courses, including Glen Cedars, Hawthorne Valley, Seaton Golf, Pickering Golf Club and Watsons’ Glen.

Ajax is home to Ontario’s only quarter horse racetrack, Ajax Downs, and for those who really love games of chance, there’s Casino Ajax.

Live and love in nature

Pickering is blessed with a natural location along Lake Ontario, with kilometres of waterfront greenspace. Add in more than 85 parks, sports fields and trails, as well as three conservation areas, public areas around Frenchman’s Bay and the Hydro Marsh, and it’s all a pretty unbeatable locale for nature lovers.

Ajax boasts its own expansive system of cycling and walking trails totally 74 kms. Veterans’ Point Garden commemorates the town’s history and is dedicated to the HMS Ajax, the DIL Plant and the employees who lived in Ajax during the World War II.

And being so close to Toronto, Pickering and Ajax naturally benefit from the transit and highway infrastructure expansion taking place in the area. Durham Region Transit and GO Transit, as well as Hwy. 401 as the main arterial hub west to the DVP into Toronto or east to Hwy. 115, getting around, to and from Durham Region has never been easier.

Location, location, location

  • Pickering and Ajax are located just east of Toronto in Durham Region; Pickering population, 94,000; Ajax population, 119,670

Key landmarks

  • Casino Ajax
  • Claremont Conservation Area
  • Frenchman’s Bay
  • Greenwood Conservation Area
  • Petticoat Creek
  • Pickering Town Centre
  • Veterans’ Point Garden

Select housing developments

PICKERING

A Towns by Paradise Developments

NuTowns by Madison Group

Seaton Whitevale by Mattamy Homes

Seatonville by Opus Homes

Seatonville by Deco Homes

AJAX

A Towns by Fieldgate Homes

Harkins Ridge by Castleton Communities

Westney Place in Nottingham by Tribute Communities


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Local Focus: Vaughan

Vaughan is on the move – in more ways than one

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Vaughan is on the move – in more ways than one

Vaughan is a city on the move – quite literally, and in more ways than one. Located north of Toronto in York Region, Vaughan has long been one of the fastest growing municipalities in Canada, with a population now exceeding 306,000.

Comprising the Woodbridge, Maple, Thornhill, Concord and Kleinburg communities, each with their own characteristics and enjoying their own growth, Vaughan is a hub of development and activity. Once known as the city above Toronto, it’s now “the place to be.” And with good reason.

Hub of activity

With Hwys. 400 and 407 right there, and Hwy. 7 also running through town, transportation and transit have long been important parts of Vaughan. Now they’re central to its future, with the new Vaughan Metropolitan Centre rapid transit station, the north terminus of the western section of the Toronto subway’s Line 1. It is also a major transit hub for York Region Transit and the Viva and Zum bus rapid transit services.

Economic growth is occurring in lockstep. Vaughan is now the third largest employment centre in the GTA after Toronto and Mississauga, and the largest contributor to York Region’s economy.

Manufacturing is the star economic performer here, accounting for 22 per cent of total employment, followed by construction, retail and wholesale trade, and transportation and warehousing. United Parcel Service, in fact, operates a signature shipping warehouse near Jane and Steeles.

In the near future, you can add healthcare to the mix of economic and lifestyle benefits, as the City has entered into a first-of-its-kind partnership with Mackenzie Health, York University and ventureLAB.

The City is leading the collaboration to transform an 82-acre parcel of land at Jane Street and Major Mackenzie Drive into the Vaughan Healthcare Centre Precinct. Vaughan, York University, Mackenzie Health and ventureLAB are to study to the best use of lands surrounding the site of the Mackenzie Vaughan Hospital.

The goal of the collaboration is for the Vaughan Healthcare Centre Precinct to leverage resources to bring healthcare, innovation and jobs to this growing community.

“This feasibility study is an illustration of how partnerships can be truly effective when values, principles and beliefs are perfectly aligned,” says Vaughan Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua. “The new state-of-the-art Mackenzie Vaughan Hospital will be a catalyst for other uses, like medical offices, labs and research space, healthcare incubators, and education and conference rooms related to healthcare. This is where thought leaders, subject matter experts and innovators will come together to advance a shared vision of healthcare innovation. This transformational collaboration will benefit the healthcare of residents of Vaughan and beyond.”

Lowrise living

Though Vaughan is noteworthy for a lot of condominium development centring around new transit infrastructure, there’s also noteworthy new lowrise communities in the area. This is where buyers come for expansive single-detached homes and large lots.

And once you’ve bought a home in Vaughan, Improve Canada will help you furnish and operate it. Located in Concord and more commonly known as the Vaughan Home Improvement Centre, the complex is a unique offering of about 400 home improvement stores.

Location, location, location

Located in the Regional Municipality of York; bounded by Brampton to the west, King to the north, Markham and Richmond Hill to the east and Toronto to the south; more than 273 sq. kms; population 306,233; includes the communities of Concord, Kleinburg, Maple, Thornhill and Woodbridge.

Key landmarks

  • Canada’s Wonderland
  • Kortright Centre for Conservation
  • McMichael Canadian Art Collection
  • Reptilia Zoo
  • Vaughan Home Improvement Centre
  • Vaughan Metropolitan Centre
  • Vaughan Mills

Select housing developments

Adesso Modern Towns by Capital North Communities

Copperwood by Sorbara Group

CountryWide Homes in Woodbridge by CountryWide Homes

New Kleinburg by Paradise Developments

New Kleinburg by Arista Homes

New Kleinburg by Fieldgate Homes

Port Royal Collection at Kleinburg Crown by Caliber Homes


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Local Focus: Mississauga

Standing out from the crowd in Mississauga

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Standing out from the crowd in Mississauga

Mississauga has always been a city of noteworthy accomplishments, from its inception as a city in 1974 combining the former townships of Lakeview, Cooksville, Lorne Park, Clarkson, Erindale, Sheridan, Dixie, Meadowvale Village, Malton, Port Credit and Streetsville; to being home to Canada’s longest-serving mayor, Hazel McCallion, from 1978 to 2014.

You might expect such a track record of ambition from one of the most populous – and fastest-growing – municipalities in Canada.

Covering a huge swath of land – 288 square kms, 13 km of which front Lake Ontario – Mississauga comprises many distinct neighbourhoods and communities. The former town of Port Credit, for example, once a sleepy little industrial locale, home to the iconic – and smelly – St. Lawrence Starch Co. plant from 1890 to 1990, today is a much sought-after residential area, thanks to its prized waterfront location.

Local histories

Many of these areas host annual festivals that pay respect to local histories. Streetsville, for example, holds its annual Bread and Honey Festival, paying homage to the area’s roots as a mill town. And Port Credit’s Mississauga Waterfront Festival and the Southside Shuffle blues and jazz festival display everything that the community has to offer.

With McCallion running the show over 12 consecutive terms, until she stepped aside and Bonnie Crombie won the election in 2014, Mississauga was known as a city of growth. McCallion consistently boasted she oversaw among the lowest taxes in Canada and made it easy for companies to do business there. Today, the area is home to more than 60 Fortune 500 companies, including Laura Secord Chocolates, Honeywell Aerospace, Walmart Canada and Kellogg’s Canada.

Getting around Mississauga is, well, you are travelling over a vast area, and traffic these days… But Hwys. 401, 403, 410 and the QEW all run for stretches through the city, and there’s no shortage of GO Transit and Mississauga MiWay Transit options.

Waterfront recreation

For sports and recreation, again Mississauga is blessed with numerous recreational winter and summer sports leagues with decades of local history. Using the Streetsville example again, the Vic Johnston Community Centre dates back to 1961, and sits adjacent to Memorial Park and the Credit River.

And, following the Credit River down to Port Credit, Memorial Arena is another beautiful old barn, sitting adjacent to Memorial Park and facing Lake Ontario. The park itself serves as host location for some of the area’s largest festivals.

Then there’s the Paramount Fine Foods Centre (formerly Hershey Centre), where the Ontario Hockey League’s Mississauga Steelheads play, and which also is home to a number of community rinks.

Location, location, location

• More than 288.42 square kms, 13 kms fronting Lake Ontario; bounded by Oakville, Milton, Brampton, Toronto and Lake Ontario

Key landmarks

• Living Arts Centre

• Mississauga Celebration Square

• Paramount Fine Foods Centre

• Sheridan College Business School

• Square One Shopping Centre

• University of Toronto Mississauga

Select housing developments

20/Twenty Towns by Consulate Development Group

Eleven 11 Clarkson by Saxon Developments

Jewels of the Meadows by Ideal Developments

Lakeview Village by Lakeview Community Partners

• Parc Towns by The Daniels Corporation

• The Clarkson Urban Towns by Haven Developments

Tuxedo Park by Maple Valley Development Corp.


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Barrie, Ontario

Barrie – Gateway to cottage country open for business

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Barrie – Gateway to cottage country open for business

Barrie may be best known as the “gateway to cottage country,” but, borrowing from a recent initiative of a certain provincial politician, the city might just as well hang a sign out front saying “open for business.”

Indeed, the days of this city of 141,434 being little more than a popular tourist and getaway destination are long over.

Barrie is a thriving city in its own right. It has long moved on from a bedroom community for Toronto, about 100 kms south, to developing its own increasingly diversified economy, with a focus on education, healthcare, information technology and other sectors.

For example, Barrie recently hosted industry experts, executives, investors and entrepreneurs from across Ontario at the third annual Manufacturing Innovation Summit. Presented by the Business Development Bank of Canada, the event strives to help manufacturers maintain competitiveness and maximize productivity.

Creative economy

Further illustrating a focus on economic development, the City has partnered with Sandbox Centre to make regional resources for innovation and entrepreneurship more accessible to local businesses. Opened in April, Sandbox Centre is the first private sector-led innovation hub in Ontario.

“The rapid pace of change in business and in technologies means that companies are best positioned to succeed when they can learn and share from each other,” says Karen Dubeau, director of creative economy with the City. “Sandbox Centre provides a centralized hub for established businesses, aspiring innovators, and independent entrepreneurs to share expertise, energy and opportunities.”

Director of creative economy? Such a title and position speak volumes about Barrie’s forward-thinking leadership.

It is exactly these types of initiatives that make Barrie so appealing for real estate. Economic development means employment, jobs attract residents, and residents translate to housing demand.

The city’s ability to attract younger residents is influenced by its growing reputation as a place for families and young, active professionals. Recent GO Transit expansion has made it easier for professionals to live in Barrie, where it’s more affordable, and work in Toronto or somewhere along the way.

However, as a smaller centre, Barrie is sometimes subject to swings in the real estate market. Median home prices for the first quarter of 2019, at $505,795, were flat compared to the same period last year. Detached bungalows, however, grew 1.8 per cent, year-over-year.

While at first glance this might not seem like great news, but the slower price growth provides buying opportunities for Barrie’s resident profile – many of them young, first-time homebuyers.

Live, work and play

It’s not strictly business in Barrie, however. Tourism still plays an important role in the local economy, with the historic downtown and waterfront major attractions. The downtown area hosts numerous annual festivals and events such as The Barrie Waterfront Festival, Barrielicious, Winterfest, Jazz & Blues Festival, Promenade Days, and Ribfest and Craft Beer Show.

Barrie is also home to Kempenfest, one of the largest outdoor arts and crafts celebrations in Ontario.

During the winter months, people still flock to the area’s nearby hills – Horseshoe Resort, Mount St. Louis Moonstone, and a little further afoot, Blue Mountain.

Then, of course, there’s the hometown Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League, who play out of the Barrie Molson Centre downtown.

Location, location, location

Located in Simcoe County in the northern part of the Greater Golden Horseshoe, about 100 kms north of Toronto, 36 km to Orillia; population 141,434.

Key landmarks

  • Barrie Molson Centre
  • Centennial Park & Beach
  • Georgian Theatre
  • Heritage Park
  • MacLaren Art Centre
  • Waterfront Heritage Trailb

Select housing developments

Ashton Meadows by Briarwood Development Group

• Birchwood Estates of Essa by Alair Homes

Bear Creek Ridge by Bradley Homes

• Birchwood Estates of Essa by Lilac Homes

• East Village Urban Towns by Cygnus Developments cygnusdevelopments.com

Forest Heights Estates by Democrat Homes

Professor’s Walk by Democrat Homes

Thornton Estates by First View Homes


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