Toronto area home prices predicted to rise 4 per cent this year


The average Toronto area re-sale home price rose 1.7 per cent year over year in January to $748,328, including single-family homes and condos, according to the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB), which is forecasting a 4 per cent annual price increase for 2019.

That means homes that sold for $787,195 on average in 2018, would increase to $820,000 across all housing categories. But condos are expected to continue driving price growth this year, with detached houses anticipated to lag again.

For sale signs at a home in East York, Toronto.
For sale signs at a home in East York, Toronto.  (Rene Johnston / Toronto Star)

“Although we won’t experience record levels, we do expect to see a better year in 2019 for sales and selling prices,” said TREB president Garry Bhaura in a news release issued prior to the publication of the board’s 2019 market outlook report on Wednesday.

TREB joined the growing chorus in the housing industry calling for the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) to reconsider the mortgage stress test it introduced last year. The test, which is designed to protect consumers from drowning if their housing or other costs increase, means home buyers have to qualify for mortgages 2 per cent higher than they negotiate with their banks or the Bank of Canada’s five-year benchmark rate.

In a speech in Toronto on Tuesday OSFI assistant superintendent Carolyn Rogers acknowledged that housing affordability is a problem. But she said the answer isn’t to allow consumers to pile on more debt.

The stress test, along with higher interest rates, has been blamed for the volatility of the 2018 housing market following frenzied activity in 2016 and the first four months of 2017.

Home sales rose slightly year over year in January. The 4,009 transactions in the first month of 2019 was only .6 per cent higher than the same level last year, but was up 3.4 per cent from December, according to preliminary seasonally adjusted figures.

The average price of a detached house in the region was $941,488 last month, a 2.8 per cent year over year decline. Condos averaged $548,176, up 7.9 per cent compared to January 2018.

Apartments and higher-density ground-level homes such as town houses are seeing better price gains simply because they are more affordable said TREB director of market analysis Jason Mercer.

“Market conditions in January, as represented by the relationship between sales and listings, continued to support moderate year-over-year price increases, regardless of the price measure considered,” he said.

Last year’s listings on TREB’s Multiple Listings Service (MLS) returned to post-2009 levels of about 155,000, after a spike in 2017.

An Ipsos consumer home buying survey for the real estate board being released Wednesday will show a dip in home owners expecting to list their properties next year but a slight increase in those looking to buy, said TREB’s press release.

TREB anticipates a continuation of the region’s tight rental market with rents expect to grow in the high single-digits or low double-digits for one- and two-bedroom condos leased on the MLS.

“Almost two-thirds of investor-owners are thinking about selling one or more of their units over the next year,” according to the Ipsos survey. TREB says that is likely a result of rent controls.

Tess Kalinowski is a Toronto-based reporter covering real estate. Follow her on Twitter: @tesskalinowski


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Flash freeze warning for Greater Montreal area as temperatures expected to drop – Montreal


Environment Canada is warning of a flash freeze for the Greater Montreal area as temperatures are expected to suddenly plummet.

“Ponding water, slush and any falling precipitation will freeze,” the public weather agency stated.

“Surfaces such as highways, roads, walkways and parking lots may become icy and slippery.”

READ MORE: Freezing rain could ring in the new year in Greater Montreal

This comes after a wave of warmer weather melted a lot of the ice and snow in the city, causing a cocktail of ice and water and submerging the streets and sidewalks.

WATCH BELOW: Wet winter weather wreaks havoc on Montreal roads

With the precarious weather conditions, Environment Canada is asking drivers to be careful on the roads.

READ MORE: Slushy mess greets Montreal commuters after onslaught of freezing rain, snow

Flash freeze warnings are issued when a rapid drop in temperature is expected, causing rain or melted snow on streets and sidewalks to quickly freeze over.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Frontenac Paramedic Services hires 21 new recruits for Kingston area – Kingston


Frontenac County is on a hiring spree for paramedics, and 21 new recruits are currently undergoing training to work in the Kingston area.

Mike van Hartingsveldt, superintendent of performance standards with Frontenac County, and others are currently putting the new recruits through their paces as part of a 12-day orientation period.

“They’re excited. They want to know the information, they want to be a part of it. They’re excited to get out there,” he said.

“We’re excited to have them but we need to make sure that we are covering all of the bases.”

Frontenac County paramedics facing rise in workplace violence

One of those fresh faces is Leah Clark. She’s a rookie to the Frontenac County agency but has actually been working in a neighbouring service for about two years.

Clark grew up in Joyceville and is a Lasalle Secondary School graduate. She says she’s always wanted to come home and work here, but the job competition is normally difficult.

WATCH: ‘Paramedics: Emergency Response’ documentary series

Aside from Clark, all of the other recruits are from out of town, and some have come from far away to work in the Kingston area. Van Hartingsveldt says that tells you something.

“Being an employer of choice has, obviously, a positive ripple effect across the province,” he said.

“Other services can look at us to see what we’re doing to make things good for our employees.”

An in-depth look at how Toronto’s paramedics work to save victims of gun violence, trauma

Nearly 300 people countrywide applied for the 21 jobs available in Frontenac County due to attrition and expansion of services.

Officials with Frontenac Paramedic Services say it’s one of the largest hires in the history of the local agency.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Lobster fishery likely to continue inside federal Eastern Shore Islands protected area


Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans appears ready to allow lobster fishing inside the proposed Eastern Shore Islands marine protected area.

A draft ecological risk assessment prepared by the department says the local lobster fishery poses little risk of harming juvenile Atlantic cod, eel grass and kelp beds.

« Based on the results summarized above, the Department does not propose additional restrictions for the lobster fishery within a future MPA, » Wendy Williams, a DFO director in the Maritimes, said in a recent letter to stakeholders.

Significant eel grass and kelp beds and a cod nursery are unique ecological features within the 2,000 square-kilometre area — a pristine Nova Scotia archipelago of hundreds of islands that stretches from Clam Harbour, near Jeddore Harbour, to Barren Island, near Liscomb Point.

Why everyone is watching Eastern Shore Islands

Canada has committed to protect 10 per cent of coastal and ocean waters by 2020.

Eastern Shore Islands is the first large marine candidate in Canada with an inshore fishery. The boundary extends just 25 kilometres from the coast.

The ecological risk assessment is part of consultations involving fishermen, community groups, academics and First Nations.

Lobster fishermen in particular have feared the designation as a marine protected area could result in no-take zones where harvesting is banned.

Susanna Fuller, an Oceans North environmentalist, said the lobster assessment was fast-tracked and should assuage fishermen’s concerns.

« It really comes down to how they respond to getting essentially what they ask for, » Fuller said.

Recognizing the obvious

But fisherman Peter Connors wonders what took the government so long to recognize that the lobster fishery poses little threat.

« We should have started from that premise, » said Connors, president of the Eastern Shore Fishermen’s Protective Association.

Connors does not trust the federal government and even considers the risk assessment itself an insult to fishermen.

« And the fact they are only coming out now with a statement that the fishery won’t be affected when they see the opposition is so great that this can’t go ahead, » Connors said.

Advisory committee meets later this month

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans declined to speak about the draft assessment saying it will wait until a Jan. 22 meeting. At that time the report will be presented to an advisory committee.

The advisory committee was created last year to make recommendations on zones, boundaries and allowable activities for future marine protected areas.


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Opioid burden report has Kelowna area at top of one list


“Life for me and my family can never be the same. It will never be full. There’s two empty chairs at our table at every holiday.”

Both of Helen Jennens’ sons died because of opioids. Her oldest, prescribed narcotics after a crushing motorcycle accident. Her youngest, given oxycontin after surgery.

Neither was able to beat the addiction.

According to a new, 80-page report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information, hospitalizations because of opioids have increased 27 per cent between 2013 and 2017.

Here are the Canadian cities with highest hospitalization rates for opioid poisonings in 2017

In 2017, hospitalization rates in some of Canada’s smaller communities were more than double those in our largest cities. And the Kelowna area has the highest rate of hospitalizations for opioid poisoning in the country.

Further, the report cited that an estimated 3,996 Canadians died last year because of an opioid overdose, that and hospitalization rates for opioid poisonings were up 8 per cent from the year before. Also, between 2016 and 2017, men age 25 to 44 had the fastest-growing rates of hospitalization, with an increase of 30 per cent.

Canadian Institute for Health Information“In bigger centres, like Calgary and Vancouver and Edmonton, any big centre has more services like nonprofit government programs,” said Doug MacKenzie, executive director for Options Okanagan. “But in smaller communities, when you’re in distress, our first thing our brain tells us is we need to get to the hospital and they don’t have the other options.”

Doctor Jeffrey Eppler has watched as emergency room visits for opioid overdoses have spiked — and those are just the people making it to the hospital.

“The number of people dying is just unfathomable,” said Dr. Eppler. “I’ve seen more overdoses in the past one or two years than I’ve seen in the previous 20 years.

With 3,996 opioid deaths in 1 year, Canada hasn’t called a ‘public health emergency.’ Here’s why

Eppler wants to see people with addiction given better access to mental health services.

Jennens also wants to see a stronger strategy to wean those addicted to prescribed opioids, without driving them to the streets.

The Canadian Institute for Health Information’s report, titled ‘Smaller communities feeling impact of opioid crisis in Canada,’ can be found here.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Woman in serious condition after being shot in Queen West area


Paramedics took a woman to hospital after a bullet grazed her cheek in an early morning shooting in the Queen West area, according to Toronto police.

The call came in at 2:55 a.m., paramedics said, for a shooting that occurred at Queen St. and Ossington Ave.

Police are not sure if the woman, who’s in her 20s, was a bystander or a direct target.

Investigators are reviewing video footage to determine what happened.

Bianca Bharti is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @biancabharti


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Police reopen area near Ryerson University after bomb robot deployed in false alarm


Toronto police have cleared an area near Ryerson University after an investigation over a suspicious package briefly closed stretches of Bond and Gould Sts. Friday morning.

Police responded to a call shortly before 8:30 a.m., about a suspicious package found in a concrete garbage bin on Bond St. north of Dundas St. E.

Officers with the chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive team responded.

Police deployed a bomb-disposal robot and found a bag containing a “personal alarm” that was emitting a “beeping noise,” Insp. Peter Moreira told reporters at the scene.

The item was an alarm for a bicycle, police said.

Ryerson evacuated several nearby buildings while police investigated.

Both Bond St. and Gould St. reopened shortly before noon.

Marjan Asadullah is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @marjanasadullah


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Snow, cold weather allows several ski slopes in the Barrie area to open early – Barrie


The snow squalls and frigid temperatures wreaking havoc on the Barrie region the past week have yielded one positive — several of the area’s ski slopes are now open for business.

According to a news release issued by Travel Ontario on Thursday morning, those looking to hit the slopes will have a few options to choose from this weekend.

Here is a list of places open for skiing:

Alpine skiing

Mount St. Louis Moonstone

Located at 24 Mount St Louis Rd. W. in Coldwater

Open Nov. 23 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Mount St. Louis Moonstone is open seven days a week.

Horseshoe Resort

Located 1011 Horseshoe Valley Rd. W. in Barrie.

Open Nov. 23, Nov. 24 and Nov. 25 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Horseshoe Resort is only open weekends until further notice.

Cities across Ontario smash low-temperature records for Nov. 22

Snow Valley

Located at 2632 Vespra Valley Rd. in Minesing.

Open Nov. 24 and Nov. 25 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Snow Valley is only open weekends until further notice.

Cross Country skiing

Hardwood Ski and Bike

Located at 402 Old Barrie Rd. W., in Oro-Medonte.

Hardwood Ski and Bike is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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London area gets its first dose of winter weather – London


Motorists in the London area are getting their first taste of winter driving.

Although significant accumulation isn’t expected, motorists will need to adjust their habits.

John Wilson, Global News Radio 980 CFPL weather specialist, says although the area is experiencing its first snowfall of the season, he isn’t expecting much of it to stick around.

“The question is whether the ground will be warm enough to absorb it without letting it stick, or whether it absorbs it and all melts,” Wilson said.

“We’ll probably get a little bit on grassy areas but the roads for the most part will just stay wet.”

Western University reaches tentative agreement with faculty ahead of strike deadline

Wilson expects the snow to turn to rain by Friday afternoon, although he says the area will see more flurries overnight Friday and into Saturday.

Kevin Tomlinson from Hanford’s Tire and Service says it has been busy getting drivers prepared for winter conditions.

He says the shop is currently installing winter tires on 40 to 50 vehicles daily.

“We’ve been putting winter tires on for roughly a month now,” Tomlinson said. “We are doing a lot more winter tires these days. People are cluing in that they are a lot safer than your typical all-season tire.”

He says winter tires aren’t the only way motorists can prepare themselves.

“Make sure your fluids are up to snuff, make sure you have the proper windshield wiper fluid and keep jumper cables on hand just in case.”

Tomlinson says people should be looking to make the switch to winter tires once the temperature is consistently at 7 C or lower.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Three people dead after Guelph, Ont., area crash


ROCKWOOD, Ont. – Provincial police say two more people involved in a collision near Guelph, Ont., have died, bringing the number of dead to three.

They say the crash occurred near the community of Rockwood, Ont., just east of Guelph, around 8:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Investigators say a passenger in one of the vehicles died at the scene, while the driver of the vehicle and another passenger were critically injured.

But on Sunday morning, Sgt. Kerry Schmidt tweeted that the crash was now a triple-fatality.

Police said the driver of the second vehicle wasn’t hurt.

No other information about the accident was immediately released.

It was the second highway tragedy in southern Ontario in less than 24 hours, the other happening northeast of Toronto.

Provincial police reported early Saturday morning that an SUV crossed into oncoming traffic in Port Perry, Ont., and collided head-on with a car.

Three people in the car — a 59-year-old man and two women aged 55 and 44 — were killed, and a 41-year-old woman who was also in the vehicle suffered critical injuries. The 68-year-old man driving the SUV was being treated for serious injuries.

At the start of the long weekend Ontario Provincial Police warned that officers would be out in force looking for aggressive, distracted and impaired drivers, as well as seatbelt violators.


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