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Downtown Toronto

Toronto still one of the fastest growing cities in North America – even with the impact of COVID-19

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Toronto still one of the fastest growing cities in North America – even with the impact of COVID-19

Toronto was the fastest growing metropolitan area in Canada and the U.S. last year, overtaking Dallas-Fort Worth Arlington, Tex., according to new data from the Centre for Urban Research and Land Development (CUR) at Ryerson University.

Downtown Toronto
Photo: Wayne Karl

And even though Toronto will take a hit as a result of COVID-19, it is still expected to be one of the top cities in North America.

Toronto was the only Canadian metropolitan area in the top five; Montreal was sixth and Vancouver twelfth.

Metro Toronto grew by 127,575 persons in 2019, outpacing Dallas-Fort Worth Arlington, which grew by 117,380 persons, to become the fastest growing metropolitan area in all of the U.S. and Canada.

Short-term impact

The research for this latest report was conducted prior to COVID, covering the period of July 2018 to July 2019, so the results are likely to change over the next year, CUR says.

“COVID is estimated to drop immigration (to Toronto) by half this year,” Diana Petramala, senior CUR researcher told Condo Life. “Therefore, this will likely push Toronto down the list of fastest growing cities.

“Toronto’s main strength is immigration, whereas places like Dallas are benefiting from millennials leaving more expensive areas like New York. Toronto, however, will continue to do better than New York, Chicago and Los Angeles – areas that are seeing large outflows of millennials in search of more affordable housing and jobs.”

The impact of COVID in Toronto will be short term, Petramala adds. “Immigration is still allowed, so as other countries move out of lockdown and processing offices open up and airlines start flying again, you will like see a snap back in immigration.”

Outpacing New York

Toronto, in fact, had almost three times the population growth from immigration as New York in 2019. Both regions experienced a loss in resident population to other areas (domestic net migration), but the rate was four times faster in New York.

In terms of population growth on a city basis, as opposed to the metropolitan area (GTA), Toronto (45,742 persons) and Montreal (31,565) represented the two fastest growing cities in all of the U.S. and Canada over the study period. Overall, Canadian cities represented 11 of the top 20 central cities in the U.S. and Canada in population growth, with Calgary, Ottawa and Edmonton placing fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively.

While the city of Toronto’s population grew by 45,742, New York City’s decreased by 53,264.


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In Conversation With Frank Clayton, Centre for Urban Research and Land Development, Ryerson

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In Conversation With Frank Clayton, Centre for Urban Research and Land Development, Ryerson

Builders and developers have long been calling for the Province and municipalities to loosen up on land supply and approval processes to allow more new homes to be built, and more quickly. To the uninitiated, however, this seems a self-serving request, since, of course, they believe these companies want to build more and make more money.

But now we have more and more third parties, without any vested interest, expressing the same concerns, and citing hard, objective numbers. One of them is Ryerson University’s Centre for Urban Research and Land Development.

“Toronto’s booming economy has brought with it housing affordability challenges that will continue throughout the next decade,” Frank Clayton, PhD and senior research fellow, said at a recent Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) event. The Centre’s recent study, An Economic Outlook for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) and What it Means for Housing Affordability, examined the economy and its impact on housing to 2031.

We spoke with Clayton to explore the issues discussed in the study, what government and the industry can do, and what it all means for homebuyers.

HOMES Magazine: Your recent report doesn’t exactly sound like good news for those still looking to buy a home. What positive news can they take from your findings?

Frank Clayton: The affordability picture painted in our report means that, comparatively, more prospective buyers will have to devote more of their budget to housing, rely on parents for down payment assistance or reduce their housing expectations in terms of location, size and type of structure. On the positive side, many prospective buyers (especially double income professional couples) will still be able to afford to purchase a home. Also, once prospective buyers purchase, they will benefit from the appreciation in home values.

H: Given the findings of your study, where do you see the most promising opportunities for prospective homebuyers – in terms of location and housing type?

Clayton: This is not an easy question to answer, as it depends on where people work, household composition and lifestyle preferences. Durham Region is the most affordable of the 905 areas, and has become more attractive with the extension of Hwy. 407 and improved GO train service. For buyers who want to locate closer to Toronto’s central area, there are wide swathes of existing low-density housing in the city’s post-Second Word War suburbs, such as much of Scarborough, which are priced much lower than neighbourhoods closer to the core.

Unit types depend on lifestyle preferences and affordability. The housing choice menu that I have seen over the years goes like this: Many households prefer a single-detached house, but if they can’t afford it, they move up the density ladder until they can afford to purchase. So, if a single-detached house is unaffordable, a semi-detached house, followed by a townhome becomes the targeted housing type. If a townhouse is not affordable, then a stacked townhouse unit, followed by other types of lower-rise condos (four storeys of less) are preferred. If a prospective buyer is considering purchasing in a highrise, they should look at new units being built in a mixed-use project such as those being built on redeveloped shopping centre sites.

H: You note that average home prices and rents are to rise four to five per cent over the study period. This seems low, given that TRREB forecasts home price growth to hit 10 per cent for this year… Why the disparity?

Clayton: Our home price and rent forecasts represent average annual per cent increases from 2019 to 2031. If prices rise by 10 per cent per year early in the period, it will likely be due to irrational exuberance like in 2016-17, when home purchases exploded as buyers and investors rushed to buy before prices rose more. By doing so, they pushed prices up even higher. Typically, these price surges are unsustainable and are followed by stagnant or slightly lower prices. So, if prices rise by 10 per cent for a year or two, there will be years when prices may rise only slightly, if at all.

H: If figures such as TRREB’s are accurate and continue for a couple of years, and are not just an anomaly for 2020, what does that mean for housing affordability? How much worse could it get?

Clayton: It would be very damaging for affordability, and the picture would be bleaker than what our study predicts. Even more potential buyers would be relegated to the rental market, which would put added pressure on rents. If prices were to rise by 10 per cent per year for several years, we could expect to have a rather serious market readjustment so that prices would cease to rise or even decline moderately as they did following 2016-17.

H: What kinds of things can or should builders and developers do in the short-term to deal with these challenges?

Clayton: There isn’t a lot builders and developers can to increase the supply of housing in the short-term. It is important that the industry continue to pressure municipalities to expedite development applications for all kinds of housing, to bring developments to market much more quickly than at present. Builders should be exploring ways to bring more affordable units to market by reducing unit sizes and finding locations where underlying land values are lower, such as in Scarborough and Durham Region.

H: And what can or should municipalities do?

Clayton: Municipalities first have to recognize that they are a primary cause of the shortage of housing. Their land use planning systems have bogged down the production of new and innovative types of housing. The planning system is burdensome, uncertain, time-consuming and costly. What is needed is a change of priorities. The rapid increase in the production of a range of new housing by unit types and price ranges should become the number one priority of all municipal councils and staff in the GTA. Without this, a shortfall of new housing will continue to keep prices much higher than need be.

H: What kind of response or reception has your study received from the Province or City of Toronto?

Clayton: The Province is aware of the causes of high and rising housing prices and is doing what it can to persuade GTA municipalities to increase their housing production sharply. Unfortunately, many municipalities aren’t on side, so it will be a struggle to greatly increase housing production.

Many councillors at the City of Toronto, for instance, fail to recognize how the city’s planning system, along with those in neighbouring municipalities, is a primary cause of the current housing shortage in the GTHA. While the City’s efforts to increase the supply of affordable housing over the next decade is in the right direction, this will not get at the root cause of the affordability crunch – not enough new housing is being built, particularly, non highrise varieties.

H: ReMax is citing Ontario markets as already some of the least affordable in Canada. Even with the economic growth in the GTA, how well will household incomes be able to keep up to housing costs?

Clayton: Our study is clear that average incomes are very unlikely to keep up with rising average prices and rents in the GTA. The only sure-fire way to change this projection is to significantly increase the supply of new housing in the GTA.

ryerson.ca/cur

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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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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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Southside 1

i2 Developments launches Phase Two of Southside Townhomes in Brampton

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i2 Developments launches Phase Two of Southside Townhomes in Brampton

Southside 1

i2 Developments Inc. has launched Phase Two of Southside Townhomes in Brampton, a limited edition of just 109 luxurious, contemporary homes, each with its own private rooftop terrace and underground parking space.

Southside is one of the newest communities being built on the footprint of Uptown Brampton, which is part of the city’s Vision 2040, a long-term vision that will reinvent Brampton. The plan includes such key transformations as: complete living (including model new neighbourhoods); everything connected (transit network, new core loop, walking and cycling networks); beauty brought back (streets for people, trees everywhere, designed communities, handsome buildings); and nature brought back (new eco-park and sustainability built into everything).

VISION 2040

“Southside Townhomes in many respects complements Brampton’s Vision 2040 with our emphasis on walkability, with cars parked underground… ready access to public transit – including the future Hurontario LRT and nature at your doorstep, with parkland situated right next to our community,” says Sam DeCaria, vice-president of i2 Developments.

“As well, our homes feature truly unique and well thought out designs. Each townhome has its own spacious, private rooftop terrace with beautiful views of the city and greenspace as well as heated underground parking so that homeowners have the convenience of taking their groceries directly into their kitchens and having their garbage collected underground.”

The four-floor (with the potential of five floors of living space if owners elect to finish the basement), three- and four-bedroom townhome designs range in size from 1,645 to 1,840 sq. ft. with prices starting at $679,900.

Interior highlights include nine-ft. ceilings on main and second floors; elegant solid oak handrail and pickets, including solid oak post – all in natural finish; brushed nickel hardware on all interior doors; luxury flooring including ceramic tile and plush nylon broadloom; chef’s kitchen with custom designed quality kitchen cabinetry, double stainless steel sink with single lever chrome faucet and pull-out sprayer and stainless steel exhaust hood; contemporary bathrooms with quality vanity cabinetry, separate shower stall in master ensuite complete with glass enclosure and shower light, ceramic wall tiles on bathroom enclosures, and low-flow toilets and showerheads.

Southside 2

The modern exteriors feature an architecturally pre-selected colour package and controlled streetscape with brick, stone and stucco elevations with maintenance-free aluminum or wood panels surrounding front bedroom windows; rooftop terrace with concrete pavers and privacy screen; exterior glass and aluminum railings; custom exterior package including house number and light; underground parking and storage space under or near each home; and landscape package consisting of sodded front, shrub planting and walkway to front entrance installed when season permits.

SUPERB LOCATION

Located at Steeles Avenue West and Hurontario, the community is in a superb location with all neighbourhood amenities already in place. It is right across the street from the stores and restaurants of Shoppers World and steps from the supermarket. To the west lies Sheridan College Davis Campus; to the south is Fletcher’s Green Community Park and South Fletcher’s Sportsplex. Amenities of the Sportsplex include four ice rinks, one lap and one leisure pool, fitness centre, gymnasium, auditorium, meeting rooms and South Fletcher’s Branch of the Brampton Public Library and outdoor ball diamonds. To the east are the fairways of the Brampton Golf & Country Club.

In addition to Vision 2040, Brampton is poised to undergo extensive revitalization in the near future. The city is working toward creating an aesthetically pleasing streetscape around its historic Four Corners in its downtown core. The project is underway to reimagine streets that will bring together pedestrians, cyclists and motorists in a safe and sustainable manner.

Also, the province has announced a significant education infrastructure project that will transform Brampton: The establishment of a new Ryerson University campus, with Sheridan College as an academic partner, in downtown Brampton. Slated to open for classes in the fall of 2022, plans include the new campus, a partnership for a National Centre for Cybersecurity and a Centre for Innovation – a joint-use facility which will include public and academic libraries, collaboration space and an innovation zone.

“Our homes combine luxury and convenience with a desirable location in a city that has a clear vision of becoming more connected, inclusive and innovative,” says DeCaria. “And on top of all that, with efficient transportation systems and more to come, including the planned Hurontario LRT, people can easily get around Brampton and commute to downtown Toronto without even having to own a car which is amazing from a lifestyle perspective.”

For more information and to register for Phase Two, visit southsidetowns.ca

 

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