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Monthly Archives: April 2014

CMHC’s tighter rules could be a pain for many home buyers

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) says that new restrictions on mortgage loan insurance announced on Friday will not affect large numbers of Canadian home buyers. Maybe not, but those affected will certainly feel it. The agency says that will be about 3 per cent of its “insured business volumes in units.” Under the bland bureaucratese, however, are thousands of actual people needing mortgages.  It is the self employed and home owners who wish to buy a second home that will feel the tightening. The changes are intended to reduce Canadians’ exposure to market risk and “contribute to the stability of the housing market and finance system.” The self employed will ... Read More »

Prizes awarded for waterfront development ideas

The non-profit Urban Land Institute, a Toronto think tank for urban development and land use, held a competition to get designers and planners thinking about the perennial Toronto problem: how to reconnect the city with the waterfront. Because of the way the city developed, with a massive east-west transportation corridor running parallel to the waterfront, the city forgot about the lake for many years. The Gardiner Expressway became almost a symbol of the problem, and debate continues about whether to tear it down, bury it or leave it where it is. Hardly anyone seems to like it, but how can we do without it? As the ULI notes, regardless of ... Read More »

Solar Roadway would make dumb roads smart

The buzzword today is “smart.” Smart grid. Smart homes. Smart buildings. Smart technology. The world is getting smarter by the hour as tech visionaries find new ways to connect us to the Internet of everything, with the promise of greater efficiency and convenience. But one aspect of our forward-driven world seems to be stuck in a time warp, a nineteenth century pocket of backwardism. Roads. While every other area of modern life would be virtually unrecognizable to a time-traveling visitor from, say, 1890, that visitor would feel right at home on our roads. Except for legacy water and gas lines under city streets, it’s hard to think of any other ... Read More »

World congress on health and design in Toronto: can you say salutogenesis?

Toronto hosts some unusual and interesting events, but a five-day conference that attracts some of the leading architects, designers, intellectuals and health specialists from around the world has to be something special. A major international event about health care, one of this country’s favourite topics to complain about, would be enough to generate interest all on its own, but combined with architecture, design, economics, and urban planning it sounds like something extraordinary. This is the tenth annual Design and Health World Congress, and it will explore the latest research into and applications of—your word for the day—salutogenesis. The concept of salutogenesis (i.e. health causing) originates in the field of medical ... Read More »

Bank looking to tap immigrant market, loosens credit rules

It has become commonplace for analysts of the housing market to point to Canada’s annual immigrant intake as a source of new housing demand. Canada, after all, has the highest rate of immigration per capita in the world (Statistics Canada). Immigration is a significant factor in the country’s population growth, and in the economy. Too many new condos in Toronto or Vancouver? Don’t worry: immigrants will buy them, goes the argument. Historically, that stereotype of the home-buying immigrant has been largely borne out in actual behaviour. Immigrants really do place high value on home ownership. Government statistics show that they waste no time: about 8 per cent of new arrivals ... Read More »

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