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Sunday , 26 March 2017

Monthly Archives: August 2012

Toronto’s new chief planner sees transit as top challenge

At the heart of planning lies a commitment to humane city-regions, healthy environments and social well-being for everyone. Planners work for the public good—tempering market and bureaucratic rationalities with radical-democratic considerations and injecting a wholistic view to debates about urban futures. They pursue these objectives as policy makers, public servants, builders, researchers, community organizers and political activists, working at all levels of government, in the non-profit sector or in private practice. University of Toronto guidebook on Urban Planning   The announcement that Toronto has a new chief urban planner, Jennifer Keesmaat, is good news, or should be. The city has been without a chief planner for almost half a year. ... Read More »

Are condo developers reflecting public attitudes about parking, or shaping them?

The ratio of condos to parking spaces is widening in Toronto. In some buildings there are more bike lockers than parking spots. Are we becoming less car dependent? Even casual observers have probably noticed that the number of surface parking lots in Toronto has been steadily dwindling over the years, as more and more buildings rise on the valuable land. Aesthetically, this is a good thing. As an architect friend likes to say, nothing improves an empty lot like a building. We remember, not very fondly, when the corner of Front and Yonge, across from the Sony Centre, was a bleak and forbidding wasteland of windswept parking lots. Now it’s ... Read More »

Dog days: condo owners learn lessons about cooperation

Best friends, but not when they bark, pee everywhere or get too big for the condo by-laws.  Here’s a piece of really bad advice: when faced with a problem, ignore it. It will go away. To see why this is never the right approach to problem solving, look at the case of a Toronto condo owner who got into trouble with her condo board. The woman had a pet dog. This was allowed in her condominium. No problem. But the woman, for the best of intentions for all anyone knows, allowed the dog the run of her second-floor balcony. The dog, as dogs will, barked at people passing below, and ... Read More »

More travellers open to hosteling vacations, according to survey

Value-minded travelers might want to consider hostelling as an option. According to a leading hostel booking website,, business is booming and more people than ever are interested in the hostel experience. They teamed up with the Lonely Planet people and surveyed 5,000 people in 141 countries, and found that the vast majority (94 per cent) would consider staying at a hostel, to save money. Hosteling is usually associated with youth, but it’s open to people whose youth is but a memory. (The Elder Hostel movement started in 1975 specifically to give seniors a way to travel inexpensively.) But the hostelling movement today caters to travelers of all ages. If ... Read More »

On real estate commissions, consumers have options

Attitudes toward real estate commissions run the gamut from resigned acceptance of a necessary evil to outright rejection of an unnecessary one. An argument you hear a lot is that real estate agents earn too much for doing not that much—we merely report the argument, neutrally. The argument goes that in the old days, and here you can pick your “old days” depending on how old you are yourself, an agent might have made a couple of thousand dollars on the sale of a home that was worth, by today’s inflated standards, a pittance. And that was considered fine. But today, with ordinary little houses selling for a million dollars ... Read More »

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