Tag Archives: Local Focus

Markham

Markham is a hotbed of economic development and growth

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Markham is 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 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 will cost you, however, as it has also become one the GTA’s most expensive housing markets, with median home prices now exceeding $1 million.

According to the Royal LePage Home Price Index for the first quarter of 2019, prices for a two-storey home grew 0.8 per cent year-over-year to $1.08 million; bungalows are down 11.4 per cent to $1.06 million; condos are down 2.1 per cent to $452,951. Overall, aggregate home prices were flat year-over-year, but still sit at $1.01 million.

In the GTA, only Richmond Hill, Oakville and Vaughan are more expensive.

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 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 the Group of 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 new-home developments

Blue Sky by Fieldgate Homes, single-detached homes.

Cornell Rouge by Madison Group, towns, semis and detached homes

Cityside Stouffville by Opus Homes, detached homes and townhomes

• Station Town by National Homes, townhomes

• Trendi Towns by Treasure Hill Homes, urban townhomes

• UNION Margo by Aspen Ridge Homes, condos and townhomes


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The future is now in Brampton

The future is now in Brampton

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The future is now in Brampton

It’s one thing for a neighbourhood to be in transition, quite another for an entire city. But that’s precisely what’s happening in Brampton, where a concerted effort to bring the municipality into the future now, is yielding visible results.

In a city of about 600,000 – the third largest in the GTA and the ninth largest in Canada – Brampton has been booming for years. Consider, for example that current population is almost double what it was not even 20 years ago.

What’s attracting newcomers to Brampton in such numbers? In short – economic growth. Indeed, with major companies such as Loblaw Companies Ltd., Canadian Tire Corp., Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Ltd. and Rogers Communications Inc. having headquarters in the city, employment opportunities have been plentiful. Brampton’s economy in recent years has diversified to include sectors such as communications technologies, life sciences and business services.

Cybersecure catalyst

And even more recently, education. Just last month, for example, the City confirmed a collaboration with Ryerson University, outlining the required funding and resources needed for establishing the Ryerson University-led Innovation Hub and Cybersecure Catalyst in downtown Brampton. This includes the Chang School of Continuing Education expanding its cybersecurity courses; launching the Brampton Incubation/Innovation Hub; and the Cybersecure Catalyst, a new national centre for innovation and collaboration in cybersecurity.

“This is a very exciting move forward for Brampton, moving important projects with Ryerson University closer to reality,” says Mayor Patrick Brown. “These projects will help spur economic growth, create jobs and position Brampton as a hub for cybersecurity.”

Managing such growth requires planning, including the City’s Vision 2040, a long-term vision to reinvent Brampton. The plan includes such key transformations as including model new neighbourhoods; an improved transit network, new core loop, walking and cycling networks; better designed communities, handsome buildings; and sustainability built into everything.

Budgeting growth

Brampton’s 2019-21 budget proposal includes initiatives to that end, including increasing Brampton Transit’s fleet by 16 per cent over three years, adding 46 conventional buses and 25 Zum buses; creating a new Marketing and Foreign Direct Investment Program; and a Community Improvement Program to incentivize the economic sectors identified in Brampton’s Economic Development Master Plan.

It’s not all about business in Brampton, however. Proximity to nature also helps deliver quality of life in the city. Gage Park, Brampton’s oldest municipal park, opened in 1903; Heart Lake Conservation Area, occupying 169 hectares in the Etobicoke Creek watershed; and Chinguacousy Park, a 40-hectare park in the Bramalea section of town.

Location, location, location

• Population 593,638

• 42 kms from Toronto, 20 kms to Mississauga

Key landmarks

• Gage Park

• Heart Lake Conservation Area

• Chinguacousy Park

• Bramalea City Centre

• Shoppers World

Select upcoming housing developments

Beechwood by Paradise Developments; detached, semis and townhomes.

• FirstHome Sunny Meadow by The Daniels Corporation; townhomes.

Mayfield Village by Regal Crest Homes; singles, semis and townhomes.

Mount Pleasant North by Mattamy Homes; townhomes.

Union Mount Pleasant by Mattamy Homes; boutique midrise condominiums.

Upper Valleylands by Fieldgate Homes; townhomes and semis.

Vales of the Humber Estates by Regal Crest Homes, single-detached homes.

• Westfield by Royalpark Homes; detached and semis.


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Burlington

Burlington – engaged in development

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Burlington – engaged in development

Long gone are the days when Burlington, a city of about 185,000 off the northwestern shores of Lake Ontario, was a sleepy suburb 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 is a booming, and self-sustaining, destination.

It’s all coming together nicely for Burlington. For some, perhaps, maybe a little too fast.

But more on that later.

Blessed location

Blessed with an outstanding natural location close to the lake, the QEW, Dundas Street West and Hwys. 403 and 401, getting to and around 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 an increasingly diverse economy, strong in automotive and manufacturing, but not overly reliant on any one sector. Some of the city’s largest employers include Cogeco Cable, ARGO Land Development and the Joseph Brant Hospital.

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.

Engaged in development

With so much in Burlington’s favour, it’s no surprise that more people are moving here – particularly those looking for more affordable homes than in Toronto. Indeed, it’s a nice compromise: Oakville to the east, is now one of the GTA’s priciest housing markets; Hamilton to the west, is more affordable but still considered an area in transition.

Nor should it come as a surprise that Burlington residents are engaged in their community development, and took the opportunity in the October 2018 municipal elections to vote for change. Journalist and city councillor Marianne Meed Ward became the city’s first female mayor since 1978, replacing two-term incumbent Rick Goldring.

“Burlington residents have consistently raised concerns about over-intensification and development in our city,” she said after officially taking over in December 2018. “During the election, they made their voices heard and clearly indicated the need to review the scale and intensity of planned development, especially in the new Official Plan.”

To that end, Meed Ward says she plans to take a close look at development, specifically in downtown, and has launched a Red Tape Red Carpet task force to address permitting and approvals. She also campaigned on tackling traffic congestion, tax reform, building trust with the community and protecting greenspace.

****

Location, location, location

• Population 185,000, located in Halton Region at the northwestern end of Lake Ontario

• Distance from Toronto, 60 km; 21 km from Oakville; 15 km to Hamilton

Key landmarks

• Royal Botanical Gardens

• Spencer Smith Park

Select upcoming housing developments

• Provenance by Beachview Homes – Townhomes

Valera 2 by Adi Development Group – Condominiums

• Burlington Condos/Towns by National Homes – Condos and townhomes

Odyssey Condos & Towns by Rosehaven Homes – Condos and townhomes


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Local Focus: Aurora & Newmarket

Aurora & Newmarket: Close to Toronto, but far from the hustle of city life

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Aurora & Newmarket: Close to Toronto, but far from the hustle of city life

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 Aurora and Newmarket – 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 Aurora and Newmarket, where proximity to nature, including the Oak Ridges Moraine, and expanding highway and transit infrastructure, make living here and working in Toronto an appealing option.

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 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.

Newmarket

Located just seven kms north of Aurora, with a population of more than 85,000, Newmarket, too, 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.

Like neighbouring Aurora, 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 was the case with Aurora, the elections last year 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.

Location, location, location

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

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

Select upcoming housing developments, Aurora

Queen’s Grove by North Star Homes, luxury homes, Yonge Street and Bloomington Sideroad

Shining Hill by Townwood Homes, detached, semis and townhomes

Aurora Townhomes by Andrin Homes, townhomes

Select upcoming housing developments, Newmarket

Glenway on the Green by Lakeview Homes, bungalows

Estate Homes at Copper Hills by Redwood Living, estate homes

Redwood on Yonge by Redwood Properties, adult lifestyle condominiums


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Local Focus: Bradford West Gwillimbury & New Tecumseth

Bradford West Gwillimbury and New Tecumseth ripe for growth

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Bradford West Gwillimbury and New Tecumseth ripe for growth

If you’ve ever driven north on Hwy. 400 heading towards cottage country, perhaps you stopped off, the outlet mall at Cookstown. On summer weekends, anyway, the area might not boast the lightest traffic, but head off the beaten trail and into surrounding communities such as Bradford and New Tecumseth, and you’ll find a lot more than a few bargains to keep you coming back.

Maybe even permanently.

Bradford West Gwillimbury

Indeed, Bradford, which in 1991 amalgamated with the former Townships of West Gwillimbury and Tecumseth to form the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury, is beloved for its fertile lands and rich soil. Resplendent with lush farmland, including the Holland Marsh – “the carrot capital of Canada” – forests and rivers, this area is an agricultural hotbed in Ontario.

The Marsh, itself, comprises about 21,000 acres. Development in this area centres around sensitivity to such natural wonders.

With financial and social responsibility in mind, Bradford West Gwillimbury says its administration encourages public participation in the decision-making process for development, to make the area a desirable place to live, work and play.

And, it appears to be happening.

This area, believe it or not, is one of the fastest growing municipalities in Ontario of at least 5,000 residents. According to the 2016 Census, the population of Bradford West Gwillimbury grew 25.8 per cent to 35,325 from 28,077 in 2011 – good enough for 11th in the province.

New Tecumseth

Located in Simcoe County, New Tecumseth comprises the communities of Alliston, Tottenham and Beeton.

These three vibrant urban centres enjoy prosperous activity in agriculture, honey production, manufacturing, transportation and warehousing. Proximity to the 400 series highways and Hwy. 50 affords easy access to the GTA to the south and Kitchener-Waterloo to the west, among other areas, which is all conducive to business growth.

Given such prosperity, people are moving here to live and to do business. According to the town’s economic development office, 35 per cent of residents have moved here within the last five years. Housing development naturally follows, and several builders have projects underway here.

Location, location, location

Bradford West Gwillimbury
Population 35,325
78 kms north of Toronto

New Tecumseth
Population 34,242
87 kms north of Toronto

Select upcoming housing developments, Bradford West Gwillimbury

Dreamfields by CountryWide Homes, detached homes

Dreamfields by Aspen Ridge Homes, detached homes

• The Forest by National Homes, detached homes

Select upcoming housing developments, New Tecumseth

Willow Glen by Brookfield Residential, townhomes

Greenridge by Flato Group, detached homes and townhomes

Beeton Creek at West Country by FarSight Homes, detached homes

 

 


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LOCAL FOCUS: Pickering & Ajax

Pickering and Ajax one of the fastest growing areas in Ontario

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Pickering and Ajax one of the fastest growing areas in Ontario

Part of the Durham Region, Pickering and Ajax comprise one of the fastest growing areas in Ontario.

HOUSING OPTIONS

Often considered suburbs of Toronto, most of the housing here is single-family homes. However, the condo craze has arrived and there is a great selection of home types, from historic homes to modern townhouses and condos. But single-family homes are still the norm.

Click here to see a list of homes for sale in Ajax.

Click here to see a list of homes for sale in Pickering.

LEISURE PURSUITS

The Nautical Village, located on Pickering’s waterfront, 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. A lovely waterfront trail runs along the Frenchman’s Bay and during the summer there are concerts at Millennium Square.

Pickering Museum Village is a unique experience brought to life by “live” pioneers in 18 heritage buildings, including a blacksmith’s shop, general store, schoolhouse, temperance hotel and chapel.

The Pickering Recreation Complex offers a host of activities, including fitness classes, racquetball, squash, swimming and tennis, plus loads of children’s programs.

Pickering and Ajax are home to 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. The central library, the Ajax Community Centre and the McLean Community Centre offer lots of programs, including swimming, ice skating and arts and crafts workshop.

PARKS & REC

Pickering is home to over 550 acres of open space including over 85 parks, sports fields and trails, as well as three conservation areas. One of the city’s gems is its Lake Ontario waterfront, with about five kilometres of it publicly accessible, three of them beach areas. There are also public areas around Frenchman’s Bay and the Hydro Marsh. Canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding, wind surfing and sailing make Pickering a perfect place for water sports enthusiasts.

Conservation areas including Petticoat Creek, Claremont Conservation Area and Greenwood Conservation Area, are operated by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority.

Ajax also has an expansive system of cycling and walking trails totally 74 kilometres. 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.

RETAIL THERAPY

Pickering has a number of shopping opportunities, including the shops, restaurants and cafés located in its quaint downtown. The Pickering Town Centre has over 200 shops and services and big box stores can be found at the Brock Power Centre and the Shops at Pickering Ridge. The Durham Centre, located on Highway 2 in Ajax, offers close to 1 million square feet of shopping in a large-scale power centre format.

Pickering Village — an old Quaker Village — is filled with numerous shops, specialty boutiques and gourmet restaurants.

EASY ACCESS

Transit is supplied by Durham Region Transit and GO Transit train and bus service. Highway 401 is the main arterial hub taking drivers west to the DVP or east to Highway 115.

BY THE NUMBERS

Pickering population: 91,770

Ajax population: 119,670

Pickering walk score: 50

Ajax walk score: 47

Pickering.ca

Ajax.ca


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LOCAL FOCUS: Vaughan

Vaughan now known as ‘The Place To Be’

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Vaughan now known as ‘The Place To Be’

by Gale Beeby

No longer is Vaughan just the city above Toronto, it’s now known as ‘The Place To Be.’

HOUSING OPTIONS

In Vaughan, over 80 per cent of the housing is single-family, detached dwellings, and about 94 per cent of residents own their own home. However, with the province’s Places to Grow policy, Vaughan is seeing a boom of condominium towers along the vibrant Highway 7. Maple, Concord, Kleinburg and Woodbridge are also seeing housing booms, with lots of master-planed communities on offer.

Click here for a full list of developments for sale in Vaughan.

LEISURE PURSUITS

The largest theme park in Canada – Canada’s Wonderland – is in Maple and measures 330 acres and boasts 16 roller coasters. It also has a 20-acre water park and its fall season includes Halloween Hunt. Historically, the areas of Woodbridge, Concord, Nashville and Maple have been agricultural and a number of farmers’ markets are open during the summer.

The City of Vaughan is also home to some of the best public and private golf courses in the GTA, including The National, The Board of Trade, Bayview, Thornhill, Cardinal, Eagles Nest, Maple Downs and Copper Creek.

PARKS & REC

People are drawn to Vaughan because of its high quality of life, abundant green spaces and exciting attractions.

Toronto & Region Conservation Authority Photo
Toronto & Region Conservation Authority Photo

In Woodbine, the Kortright Centre for Conservation is a natural oasis and environmental educational centre on 800 acres of pristine woodland. Located at the headwaters of the Don and Humber Rivers, the 990-acre Boyd Conservation Area offers a number of outdoor activities, including a trail system, lots of picnic areas and bocce courts.

Bindertwine Park in Kleinburg features a trail systems that links it to the grounds of McMichael Canadian Art Collection and the Kortright Centre.

RETAIL THERAPY

Vaughan Mills, located at Highway 400 and Rutherford Road, is one of the GTA’s popular shopping attractions, with over 200 outlets shops and services. It also includes entertainment attractions like Hollywood’s Lucky Strike Lanes, Pro Hockey Life, Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World and LEGOLAND Discovery Centre. At Highway 7 and Weston Road is another large shopping district, the Colossus Centre, which also features a slew of outlet and big box stores, plus a 19-screen Cineplex.

EASY ACCESS

Vaughan mass transit is served by the York Regional Transit/Viva system, which links the entire region with Toronto and the Region of Peel. Currently, YRT is building a bus rapidway along Highway 7, between the Richmond Hill Centre (where the subway extension ends) to Warden Avenue. The City of Vaughan is surrounded by several major highways, including Highways 400, 401, 404, 407 and 427, making it an easy place to commute anywhere in the GTA.

BY THE NUMBERS

Population: 306,300

Walk score: 49

From Vaughan: Elizabeth Arden

Vaughan.ca


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LOCAL FOCUS: Waterloo Region

Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge thrive in Waterloo Region

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Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge thrive in Waterloo Region

by Gale Beeby

HOUSING OPTIONS

Kitchener and Waterloo are mostly made up of single-family homes and there is a great selection of home types, from historic homes to modern townhouses and condos. But single-family homes are still the norm.

Click here to see a list of new homes for sale.

LEISURE PURSUITS

The region has a lot of cultural venues and events, including the Contemporary Art Forum, The Open Ears Festival, IMPACT theatre festival, the Multicultural Festival, the Kitchener Blues Festival, Mill Race Festival and the Rock the Mill music festival.

It is also home to the Homer Watson House & Gallery, McDougall Cottage Historic Site, Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery, Centre in the Square, The Cambridge Centre for the Arts and the Doon Heritage Museum.

Cambridge has some of the most historic bridges in Waterloo Region and the Black Bridge Road Bridge — built in 1916 — is Cambridge’s only truss bridge.

And, of course, Kitchener-Waterloo is home to Oktoberfest, an annual nine-day event that is billed as Canada’s Greatest Bavarian Festival and is the largest Bavarian festival in the world outside Germany.

Grand River Conservation Authority/S. Rhodes Photo LF
Grand River Conservation Authority/S. Rhodes Photo LF

PARKS & REC

Kitchener’s oldest outdoor park is Victoria Park in the heart of downtown. A cast-bronze statue of Queen Victoria, which was unveiled on Victoria Day in 1911, is the centrepiece. Another significant park is Rockway Gardens, which occupies a long narrow strip of land alongside King Street. Here there are many fountains, ponds, waterfalls and rock grottoes.

The region has an extensive community trail system and the Grand River draws nature-seeking tourists to the region. The Grand River Conservation Authority operates 11 conservation areas.

RETAIL THERAPY

The downtowns of each of the region’s cities and townships offer some very stylish and forward-thinking retailers, as well as restaurants, cafés, salons and spas. Fairview Park is Kitchener’s largest shopping mall, while Conestoga Mall in Waterloo is also home to the Galaxy Cinemas. In Cambridge, the Cambridge Centre also has an NHL-sized ice rink.

EASY ACCESS

The Conestoga Parkway is the area’s main highway, connecting with Highway 401. Public Transit throughout the Region of Waterloo is provided by Grand River Transit, which was created by a merger of Cambridge Transit and Kitchener Transit. GRT operates a number of bus routes in Kitchener, with many running into Waterloo and two connecting to Cambridge.

GO Transit provides bus service from Kitchener to Mississauga Square One and train service to Union Station during rush hours. Passenger train service is provided by Via Rail.

The Region of Waterloo International Airport is in Breslau.

BY THE NUMBERS

Population: 583,500

Known best for: Oktoberfest

Walk scores:

Kitchener: Average of 47

Waterloo: Average of 44

Cambridge: Average of 44

RegionOfWaterloo.ca


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LOCAL FOCUS: Barrie

LOCAL FOCUS: Barrie

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LOCAL FOCUS: Barrie

by Gale Beeby
Photos Courtesy The City of Barrie

Known as the ‘Gateway to Cottage Country’

HOUSING OPTIONS

Barrie has often been considered as a recreational playground and bedroom community of Toronto, which has given rise to the development of numerous subdivisions on the southern end of the city. With the city’s long history, there are numerous pockets of historic housing, and the city – as with most large urban centres in Southern Ontario – has also seen a condo boom. But single-family homes are still the norm.

Click here to see a list of homes for sale.

LEISURE PURSUITS

The Centre for the Performing Arts is a modern facility home to many cultural productions, film screenings, plays, concerts, dance recitals and other performances. The Georgian Theatre features a proscenium stage used for theatrical performances as well as conferences and seminars.

The MacLaren Art Centre has a growing collection of work, as well as film nights, a speaker series and children’s programs. Lakeshore Mews is home to a number of galleries, studios and boutiques, and hosts Arts ce Soir, an all-night celebration of visual, musical theatrical and literary art. Kempenfest is one of the largest arts and crafts celebrations in Ontario.

The Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League play home games in the Molson Centre, a 4,195-seat multi-purpose arena.

Barrie is also home to a number of festivals, including the Barrie Waterfront Festival, Winterfest, Ecofest, Jazz & Blues Festival, Rhythmfest, the Barrie Film Festival and the New Music Festival.

PARKS & REC

Barrie is a four-season delight for any outdoor enthusiast. In the summer, there are beaches to visit, including Minet’s Point, Johnsons Beach, The Gables, Tyndale Beach and Centennial Beach. Sailing and boating are popular in Kempenfelt Bay and Lake Simcoe, which connects with the Trent Severn Waterway. In the winter there are many activities and facilities and the city also has a number of recreational and sports complexes and over 740 acres of parks.

The Ardagh Bluffs Area boasts over 17 kilometres of hiding and walking trails over 518 acres. The Nine Mile Portage Heritage Trail follows the ancient overland route created by the Indigenous people, connecting Memorial Park to the Fort Willow Heritage Site in Springwater Township. The North Shore Trail is a multi-use, wheelchair-accessible, three-kilometre trail running the entire length of Barrie’s north shore of Kempenfelt Bay along a former rail corridor.

RETAIL THERAPY

Downtown Barrie is full of lovely boutiques, one-of-a-kind arts and crafts shops, cafés, restaurants and bistros. Georgian Mall is the largest mall in Barrie with over 190 shops and services, and was recently renovated and expanded. Bayfield Mall has 70 stores and is surrounded by smaller stores and a bowling alley and movie theatre.

EASY ACCESS

Public transit is provided by Barrie Transit and there is a GO Transit station with various bus and train routes. Greyhound Canada also has bus routes between Barrie and Yorkdale Bus Terminal. Highway 400 is the main provincial route, with Highway 26 (Bayfield Street), Simcoe County Roads 27, 90, 93, 30 and Highway 11 allowing commuters to move around quickly.

BY THE NUMBERS

Population: 187,000

Walk Score: 40

Twin Cities: Zweibrücken, Germany; Borough of Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England

Motto: The People Are The City

Barrie.ca


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LOCAL FOCUS: Collingwood & Wasaga Beach

LOCAL FOCUS: Collingwood & Wasaga Beach

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LOCAL FOCUS: Collingwood & Wasaga Beach

by Gale Beeby

Four-season playground

HOUSING OPTIONS

With Collingwood’s industrial past and the Wasaga Beach area known as a summer playground, housing stock is generally single-family homes and cottages, although there are now many condo developments catering to seasonal visitors.

Click here to see a list of homes for sale in Collingwood.

Click here to see a list of homes for sale in Wasaga Beach.

LEISURE PURSUITS

Collingwood is home to many events and festivals. One of its most famous is certainly the Elvis Presley Festival, which attracts Elvis impersonators from all over the world.

Other events include the Jazz & Blues Festival, Art on the Street, Culture Days and Art in Town Hall, while Theatre Collingwood produces live performances of plays and musicals. The town is also home to many art galleries and studios, a fabulous farmers’ market and the Collingwood Museum.

If you don’t feel up to strolling the galleries, however, you can simply enjoy lying on the beach, throwing a line into the water at one of the area’s many great fishing spots, or paddle the area in a canoe or kayak. If you’re feeling more adventurous, Wasaga Beach — the world’s longest freshwater beach — awaits.

PARKS & REC

Collingwood and Wasaga Beach are located on the southern shore of Georgian Bay, next to Blue Mountain, a promontory of the Niagara Escarpment. The region is a major recreational area, noted for skiing, water sports and incredible beaches. There is large network of trails for walking, hiking, cycling, horseback riding, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling.

The Collingwood Arboretum has both paved and natural trails and is a vital botanical park. Collingwood’s Scenic Caves offer a variety of activities, including cave tours, a treetop canopy walk, nature trails, a suspension bridge, a zip line, gemstone mining, a trout pond and mini golf.

And speaking of golf, the area is home to many great championship golf courses, including Cobble Beach, Lora Bay, Monterra at Blue Mountain Resort, Cranberry Golf Resort, Georgian Bay Club, Batteaux Creek, OslerBrook, and Horseshoe Resort’s Valley and Highlands courses.

Wasaga Beach Provincial Park offers a myriad of activities, including canoeing, swimming, boating, fishing, biking, birding, hiking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

RETAIL THERAPY

There are many lovely shopping areas in both Collingwood and Wasaga Beach, offering a fine assortment of boutiques, arts and crafts stores, independent retailers, cafés, restaurants and pubs. The nearest shopping mall is Georgian Mall in Barrie, where you can find many chain stors and big box outlets.

EASY ACCESS

Wasaga Beach and Collingwood are served by Highway 26, which runs along the shore of the Nottawasaga Bay, and County Road 124. The towns are also served by a rail link connecting them to the towns of Owen Sound and Barrie. There is a spur heading north through Collingwood to the large grain elevators at the downtown wharf, where trains would formerly load and unload into lake ships. Collingwood has its own transit service, as does Wasaga Beach. Collingwood also boasts an airport, a medium-sized facility about seven kilometres south of the town.

BY THE NUMBERS

Collingwood Population: 21,800
Wasaga Beach Population: 20,675

Collingwood Walk Score: 46
Wasaga Beach Walk Score: 25

Motto: The Beach is just the beginning

Collingwood.ca

WasagaBeach.com


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