Printable Version of Topic

Click here to view this topic in its original format

ON Economic Fundamentals 2008-12

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 11/30/2008 7:13:04 PM

What's Behind the Curtain?



Daily Online Edition


ON Economic Fundamentals 2008-12

The following codes will be at the top of each post using an eight sequence alphanumeric description of the month, year and area:



1208ONTR = Dec 2008 Ontario

1208TNTO = Dec 2008 Toronto

1208MSGA = Dec 2008 Mississauga

1208LNDN = Dec 2008 London

1208WIND = Dec 2008 Windsor

1208CATH = Dec 2008 St. Catherines

1208BTFD = Dec 2008 Brantford

1208BAOR = Dec 2008 Barrie/Orillia

1208OTWA = Dec 2008 Ottawa

1208HAMN = Dec 2008 Hamilton

1208KWCG = Dec 2008 Kitchener/Waterloo/Cambridge/Guelph

1208DAJX = Dec 2008 Durham - Ajax

1208DBRK= Dec 2008 Durham - Brock

1208DCLR = Dec 2008 Durham - Clarington

1208DOSH = Dec 2008 Durham - Oshawa

1208DPIK = Dec 2008 Durham - Pickering

1208DSCG = Dec 2008 Durham - Scugog

1208DUXB = Dec 2008 Durham - Uxbridge

1208DWTB = Dec 2008 Durham - Whitby

1208YAUR = Dec 2008 York - Aurora

1208YEGM = Dec 2008 York – East Gwillimbury

1208YGEO = Dec 2008 York - Georgina

1208YKNG = Dec 2008 York - King

1208YMAR = Dec 2008 York - Markham

1208YNEW = Dec 2008 York - Newmarket

1208YRHL = Dec 2008 York – Richmond Hill

1208YTHL = Dec 2008 York - Thornhill

1208YVGN = Dec 2008 York - Vaughn

1208YWSF = Dec 2008 York – (Whitchurch – Stouffville)

If you wish to view only one area, you can use the advanced search mode and select the "Result Type" > "Show results as posts" after you type in the month/year/area code described above.

I have also color coded each area along with the caption to make it easier for you to simply scroll through the posts and locate the ones you are interested in.

All the small towns that have online newspapers are covered on Sundays.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/1/2008 2:00:38 PM


Revamped Cineplex offers sushi and love seats

Bill Tishler stands in the middle of a construction zone, unveiling his latest and perhaps most challenging project, an $8 million overhaul of the Fairview Mall theatres in north-end Toronto.

"We've put a lot of thought into this," says Tishler, vice-president of design and construction for Cineplex Entertainment. "Even the chairs."

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/1/2008 2:04:40 PM


Midhurst plan gets the OK

Development in the township's upscale Midhurst community won't be what it used to be.

"There will be a recognizable difference," Springwater Township Mayor Tony Guergis said. "We can't accommodate (current) Midhurst-style development, but there will not be a stark difference from one to the next."

Council has approved the Midhurst Secondary Plan, which officials say will manage future growth.

"I've said it before, but Midhurst is probably urban sprawl at its worst, and people love it," Guergis said. "It's unique to Simcoe County and to Springwater."

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/1/2008 2:06:02 PM


Bridge to trail bike path OK'd

Windsor has rolled a little closer to the longtime but controversial goal of having a bike path stretch from the Ambassador Bridge to the east end's Ganatchio Trail.

A recent ruling by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment allows the city to widen parts of Riverside Drive -- against the wishes of some residents -- in order to create an unbroken bike path along 16 kilometres of waterfront.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/2/2008 2:05:56 PM


Ont. confident it can work out auto aid package with Feds

TORONTO — The Ontario government is confident it can work out an aid package with Ottawa to boost the struggling auto sector despite worries about turmoil in the country's capital.

Economic Development Minister Michael Bryant says he will continue to work with the federal government and let Parliament sort out its own issues.

Bryant's comments come as the federal Liberals and NDP work out a coalition to oust Prime Minister Stephen Harper's minority government.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/2/2008 2:12:02 PM


Servicing fees stay on taxpayers' backs slack

A slim majority of London city council voted yesterday to keep millions of dollars flowing from taxpayers to developers as an incentive to draw new industry to the city. By a vote of 10-9, council refused to even consider a call by its finance chief to slowly require new industry to pay some of the costs of servicing their factories with roads, pipes and other public works, work that is now paid by taxpayers.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/2/2008 2:13:24 PM


Facelift taking Vine Towers upmarket

It's a tale of two apartments at Tuscany Village -- before and after a massive renovation.

"They have done an amazing job here, you have to see it," says Melissa Arch-Leonard, the property's rental agent. "There is quite a difference."

Moments later, Arch-Leonard leads a visitor into a gloomy, vacant apartment inside the 382 Vine St. tower.

Floor tiles are cracked and stained, the walls scuffed. A musty odour pervades the rooms.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/2/2008 2:14:50 PM


Councillors want city homes reassessed

City councillors want the Ontario government to reconsider property reassessments because many believe the economic crisis has lowered values below the notices that owners have received in the mail.

Coun. Vince Bucci received overwhelming support in Monday's committee of the whole meeting for a resolution calling on the province to have the Municipal Property Assessment Corp. redo reassessments, which take effect in the 2009 tax year.

Many councillors say they have received numerous calls from concerned residents who believe that greatly escalated values in their assessments do not reflect the real worth of their properties, and they fear they will be hit with big tax increases.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/2/2008 2:15:57 PM


Real estate sales fall last month

The local real estate market hit the wall last month, bringing to an end nearly a decade of steady growth.

There were 104 sales in November, down from 175 in November 2007 and 155 in November 2006, according to the Brantford Regional Real Estate Association.

"It's not really all that surprising when you consider all of the bad economic news that's been in the media for the past several weeks," association president Stewart Anderson said Monday.

"But you have to remember that we've been on a nine-year run of good steady growth and those of us who have been in the business for a while knew that it couldn't go on forever."

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/2/2008 2:17:07 PM


High-speed Internet coming to rural areas

Those living in the rural areas surrounding Orillia will no longer have to wait on a slow dial-up connection to link them to the World Wide Web. Residents of Oro-Medonte, Severn and Ramara Townships will soon be zipping through the Internet like those in the city.

The County of Simcoe is eligible to receive up to $1 million in provincial funding to start local broadband infrastructure projects through the provincial Rural Connections Broadband program.

"High-speed Internet is almost as important as roads are to people nowadays," said Oro-Medonte Township mayor, Harry Hughes. "With the changing workplace there are a number of home businesses and small businesses that really rely on it."

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/2/2008 2:18:03 PM


List of heritage properties tabled

More consultation.

That's what councillors agreed the municipal heritage committee needed to do before council can approve adding 22 properties of interest to the Municipal Register of Cultural Heritage Properties.

On Nov. 24, the municipal heritage committee presented the list of identified properties to council. At that time, it was noted owners hadn't been notified and would be made aware of their property being added to the list once the decision was ratified by council.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/2/2008 2:19:39 PM


East-end police station to close

Windsor police will shut down the east-end collision reporting and patrol base on Jefferson Boulevard by the end of January.

Chief Gary Smith said the decision, approved at the last police services board meeting, means 69 officers working from the centre will be dispatched from the downtown headquarters.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/2/2008 2:20:58 PM


'Open fire' regulations mark rural-urban split

LAKESHORE - Some spectacular blazes in Essex County that have destroyed barns and livestock have been caused by fires set to clear brush or farm fields of crop stubble.

Five Essex County municipalities have bylaws to control "open fires."

But Leamington and Lakeshore are still trying to develop bylaws to permit well-controlled "open fires" while not getting so heavy-handed that campfires end up being banned.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/2/2008 2:23:09 PM


Chelsea Creek plan to face referendum

Chelsea council voted last night in favour of holding a referendum regarding a controversial development.

About 85 residents will be eligible to vote on Sunday, Feb. 1 on the Chelsea Creek project being proposed by the InHarmony development group, municipality spokesman Charles Cardinal said. An advance poll will be held a week earlier on Jan. 25.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/2/2008 2:25:47 PM


Shock to the sewer system

Stopping raw sewage from getting into the Ottawa River could cost as much as $3 billion and take several decades to complete, according to a report obtained by the Sun. "Given the magnitude of the funding required to achieve these service enhancements, there is a need to develop priorities and strategies that will ensure money is utilized to achieve the greatest benefit," the report reads.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/2/2008 2:27:26 PM


City wants to speed downtown traffic

After turning James and John into two-way streets that slowed traffic down, the city is now looking for ways to speed things up.

City staff want the green light to tinker with signals on the two major roads, in order to shave anywhere from five seconds to one minute off driving times during peak hours.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/2/2008 2:30:43 PM


'It will create an eyesore'


Some residents near a proposed 12-storey condo building in uptown Waterloo say the "super-sized building" would be an eyesore in their Alexandra Avenue neighbourhood.

"A 12-storey building is a huge footprint on a small piece of land," said Philip Merikle, who lives in a condo at the old Alexandra school.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/2/2008 2:32:26 PM


CIBC at Conestoga Mall to open Sundays

CIBC's Conestoga Mall bank branch will open Sundays beginning March 15, the bank announced yesterday. Since last December, CIBC has opened some bank branches on Sundays in Toronto and Vancouver.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/2/2008 2:33:31 PM


GO Transit may get going via VIA Rail


Of the three proposed GO Transit sites in Guelph, city staff are recommending council endorse the downtown Via Rail station.

But parking concerns may turn out to be the thorn in its side.

The Via site was among the proposed locations brought forward at a public meeting held by GO Transit in September. The former Lafarge property off the Hanlon Expressway and at Watson Road in the east end are also on the table.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/2/2008 2:36:46 PM


Region may take years to solve basement flooding problem

DURHAM -- The Region is considering a program that would at least partially subsidize backflow preventers for homes affected by basement flooding. On Aug. 11, about 150 homes in Durham were flooded due to sewer backups after heavy rains. The Region has identified four areas where flooding occurred in clusters: Annes Street, Walton Boulevard and Lupin Drive in Whitby, and Lawrie Road in Ajax.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/3/2008 3:00:03 PM


T.O. lays out welcome mat for Pan-Ams

Toronto has laid out the welcome mat for the 2015 Pan-Am games.

City Council voted 33-1 last night in favour of serving as the host city for the Pan-Am Games bid.

"I think we should be proud to put Toronto on the world stage," Mayor David Miller said. "But if we commit to this, we need to win." Miller said this bid has the support of both the federal and provincial governments.

Premier Dalton McGuinty personally asked the mayor to ensure that Toronto participates in the bid with enthusiasm, something other bidding cities will be watching.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/3/2008 3:01:00 PM


City dumps on lousy landlords

Toronto's year-long inspection blitz of multi-residential apartment buildings got off to a serious start with one apartment building owner nailed with 100 violations.

A 15-member Municipal Licensing and Standards building audit team is undertaking the inspections, looking for property standard bylaw violations at 176 public and private apartment buildings by Dec. 1, 2009. The audit will focus on common areas within the buildings, parking garages, balconies, elevators, exterior grounds, roofs, electrical, hot water and heating systems.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/3/2008 3:05:54 PM


Turn to auto sector bailout, McGuinty urges Ottawa

The need to help the struggling auto industry and preserve 400,000 Ontario jobs has Premier Dalton McGuinty calling for a resolution "sooner rather than later" to the political crisis in Ottawa.

"We're looking for as much certainty as soon as we can possibly get it," said Dalton McGuinty, who has been working closely with Prime Minister Stephen Harper on a proposed aid package for the Big Three auto makers.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/3/2008 3:10:00 PM


City urged to invest in sports facilities

Sports organizations and recreational users are raising the alarm about the need for city hall to carry out a dramatic overhaul of Brantford's aging and increasingly obsolete facilities.

Representatives made the need for major reinvestment their common theme in presentations Tuesday to councillors crafting the 2009 budget.

Backed by about 40 people in sports team jackets who filled the council chamber, the presenters pointed out numerous instances of arenas and other facilities in desperate need of expansion, repair or outright renewal.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/3/2008 3:12:15 PM


Landlords win licensing tiff

Hundreds of landlords crowded into city council chambers Tuesday night erupted into applause when the Windsor Licensing Commission accepted a report that no further regulations be imposed on their sector.

The group was worried that the commission would follow the lead of other cities like Oshawa in imposing limits on the number of bedrooms for student housing, written tenancy agreements for each tenant and other regulations.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/3/2008 3:19:33 PM


Transit plan a 'net winner' - economist

An economist says Hamilton and Toronto will see the least per capita benefit among area municipalities in the $50-billion, 25-year Metrolinx transportation plan.

But David Lewis, chief economist for consulting firm HDR, found the benefits of the plan to boost transit easily outweigh the costs of congestion in this region.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/3/2008 3:21:27 PM


City halts plan for 1,900 new homes


Plans for a 1,900-home urban development in the countryside north of Preston were unanimously rejected by city councillors this week.

Hunt Club Valley wanted official plan and zoning changes for 72 hectares on both sides of Briardean Road, land now mined for sand to feed the Arriscraft man-made stone factory.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/3/2008 3:22:39 PM


City council directs staff to shrink tax increase


The current version of the city's 2009 budget will see a 5.3 per cent tax increase, which works out to about a $12 increase per month for the average taxpayer.

But with the state of the economy top of everyone's minds, Councillor Ian Findlay set forward a motion last night for staff to examine how they might whittle the budget down to a 3.75 per cent increase.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/4/2008 2:20:25 PM


Roach motels under fire

One protester hoisted a sign that read "Cockroaches Don't Pay Rent."

Another directed TV cameras to a roach climbing down a wall in the front lobby.

In the filthy, cramped elevator, another said the cops call the place the "Dawes Rd. zoo".

The dilapidated highrise at 500 Dawes Rd. is nothing to write home about. But for hundreds of low-income tenants, it is home.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/4/2008 2:26:23 PM


Cargo program OK'd for airport

Cargo will now be allowed to move duty-free through London's airport from one country to another, a move that could create more jobs.

Federal Transport Minister John Baird yesterday said the London International Airport has been approved to take part in Ottawa's so-called cargo trans-shipment program. The approval means freight carriers will now be able to fly goods into London from another country, store them temporarily and transport them to a third country without paying duty or taxes.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/4/2008 2:27:31 PM


Deal close on getting CanGro site active again: developer

The owner of the former CanGro Food Inc. fruit-canning plant in St. Davids says the closed factory could soon house another food company and be surrounded by a major residential development.

Developer Rainer Hummel said he's in the final stages of securing a deal with a food company from Western Canada to move into the building at 329 Four Mile Creek Rd.

Hummel would not reveal any details because the two sides are still in negotiations, but said it is not another cannery.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/4/2008 2:28:33 PM


Port potential seen in Welland Canal system

If it looks like a port and acts like a port, then a port the Welland Canal should be.

Such is the sentiment of the Welland Canals Foundation and mayors in Niagara's canal cities.

Problem is, no one has ever deemed the channel as such.

"The Welland Canal and all the assets that surround the Welland Canal have all the characteristics of a port but ... we aren't actually seen as a port," said John Armstrong of OEB Enterprise, the canal foundation's secretariat. "We're seen as a dock here or some marine services along the canal."

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/4/2008 2:30:26 PM


City taxes top norm: study

Barrie homeowners, businesses and industries were collectively taxed 41 per cent more than the Ontario average last year, says a recent think-tank study.

And the reason is this city spends 76 per cent more on basic municipal services -- such as water, sewer and roads -- than the average local government in this province.

"Barrie is a municipality that is focused on the core role of government," said David Seymour of the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, which released its second annual local government performance index yesterday.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/4/2008 2:31:41 PM


Building permit values continue to slide

Despite an increase in two of four categories, the value of building permits issued by the City of Windsor appears certain to fall well behind the numbers recorded a year ago and will likely sink to the lowest level in the past dozen years.

Minor increases in industrial and commercial permits have been more than offset by large decreases in residential and government and institutional.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/4/2008 2:34:25 PM


Closing of pulp mill, 11.3% unemployment have residents focused on one thing -- jobs

It will be at least two years before the Pontiac can dig itself out of the economic crisis triggered by the closing of the Smurfit-Stone pulp mill in Portage-du-Fort in early November, says the riding's Liberal MNA, Charlotte L'Ecuyer.

The closing cost 218 jobs, forced the last Pontiac sawmills producing wood chips to close and meant the loss of hundreds of other forestry jobs and possibly the end of what has been a way of life in the region for the past 175 years.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/4/2008 2:35:28 PM


Don't count on parkway for rail, city told

The National Capital Commission yesterday reminded the City of Ottawa that it cannot bank on using the Ottawa River Parkway for a key part of its $7.2-billion transit plan, and urged a serious consideration of other options.

Marie Lemay, the CEO of the NCC, told a commission board meeting that the parkway belongs to the NCC, which has given no guarantee it would be given up for commuter rail.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/4/2008 2:36:36 PM


Ottawa housing resale market finally starting to cool: RE/MAX

Ottawa's skyrocketing market for resale homes has finally started to cool, according to a new report from RE/MAX.

The real estate company's annual Housing Market Outlook shows Ottawa will this year see its first dip in the number of resale home sales since 2005 as the sluggish economy continues to play havoc with the nerves of home buyers.

RE/MAX forecasts a total of 13,900 resale homes will be sold in Ottawa by the end of 2008, a decrease of five per cent compared to the 14,579 resale homes sold in 2007.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/4/2008 2:38:14 PM


City stacks up poorly on tax front

City residents pay higher taxes than most Ontarians, but City Hall spends less on recreation, culture and services than their municipal partners.

The Frontier Centre for Public Policy released its annual report card for Canadian cities, ranking the relative financial position of 79 municipalities across the country. The think tank released numbers ranking each municipality's financial position, revenue and expenditures, comparing statistics with the provincial average.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/4/2008 2:43:09 PM


I.T. jobs scarcer in Hamilton: report

Hamilton is lagging behind slightly in I.T. jobs, a new report suggests.

The Hamilton Training and Advisory Board (HTAB) says information technology jobs in Canada reached a record high in 2007, with half of the jobs located in the GTA.

However, HTAB found that Hamilton has not quite kept pace. The number of I.T. jobs is a bit smaller in the Hamilton area than expected.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/4/2008 2:44:04 PM


House sales down; prices holding

Sure, real estate sales are down, house prices are expected to dip and properties are taking longer to sell.

Local realtors acknowledge all that. But they are also quick to point out that 2007 was a record year.

They say 2008 was shaping up to be pretty good too, until an overheated housing market boiled over in the U.S., sending stock markets tumbling and slamming credit markets shut.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/4/2008 2:45:28 PM


West River Road to get 'speed cushions'


Lead-footed drivers along West River Road will be met with three "speed cushions" to slow them down, councillors decided this week.

The new-style speed bumps are part of a traffic-calming plan approved Monday for the south entrance road to the city from North Dumfries Township. The plan also aims to slow heavy traffic on Riverbank Drive, between Allendale Road and the Kitchener city limits.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/4/2008 2:47:29 PM


Bypass still breathing, town insists

Is the Markham bypass a dead duck?

Not as far as Deputy Mayor Jack Heath is concerned.

"I have yet to see anything concrete to say it's stopped," he said of the long-in-the-works proposed connection of the Donald Cousens Parkway to Scarborough's Morningside Avenue and Hwy. 401 access. "It may be in hibernation for a while but the need for some kind of alignment in the east end is still there."

This comes after Scarborough-Rouge River MPP Bas Balkissoon said last week that the deal is "pretty well dead".

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/4/2008 2:48:46 PM


Traffic calming fix will wait till 2009: councillor

Several minor fixes are in the works for an unpopular Unionville traffic calming system, but major modifications to it will be decided on in the new year.

Ward 3 Councillor Joseph Virgilio said removing lane markers at the intersections of Carlton Road and Village Parkway, and Main Street and Carlton Road, as well as some modifications to a curve at Carlton Road and McKay Crescent, will solve some problems.

But he added "the more difficult issue now is what we decide with the rest of it".

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/4/2008 2:50:52 PM


Residents shout down new highrise

Vellore Woods residents had their say on Monday night, voicing loud opposition to the proposed construction of three highrise towers overlooking their subdivision.

A three-hour debate over safety, traffic infiltration, lack of appropriate entrances and overcrowding, to name but a few issues, was brought forward to council members by the Vellore Woods Ratepayers Association and area residents.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/4/2008 2:54:40 PM


Scugog already plotting 2009 construction season

PORT PERRY -- While winter has yet to officially arrive, Scugog is already looking ahead to the 2009 construction season. At the request of Gene Chartier, the municipality's commissioner of planning and public works, Scugog councillors endorsed a plan that will see a consulting firm hired to carry out engineering services that will eventually lead to reconstruction work on a segment of John Street next year.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/5/2008 2:24:33 PM


Ontario sheds 66,000 jobs

OTTAWA–Ontario shed 66,000 jobs last month, leading the country to the largest decline since the deep recession of 1982.

The province's losses pushed the unemployment rate to 7.1 per cent from 6.5 per cent the previous month. Overall, 70,600 jobs were chopped across the country.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/5/2008 2:26:56 PM


Permits, housing resales tumble

While the real estate industry helped to pull the Toronto area out of the previous recession, bleak numbers released yesterday show the sector has cooled significantly and can't be counted on to be an engine of growth as the economy stumbles.

Sales of existing homes in the Toronto area plunged dramatically in November, down 50 per cent from sales recorded a year earlier, according to figures released by the Toronto Real Estate Board yesterday.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/5/2008 2:31:25 PM


London developers win first round in woodland battle

London developers have won the first round in their bid to overturn changes that provided enhanced protections for hundreds of hectares of woodlands. Superior Court Justice David Little, in a written ruling, has said developers can appeal the changes to divisional court, writing there's "good reason to doubt" a decision to uphold the changes by the Ontario Municipal Board.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/5/2008 2:35:31 PM


Climate, housing deals draw seniors to region

If go-getters like Larry Duffield represent the face of Windsor and Essex County's future as a retirement haven for aging baby boomers, then this region is in good hands.

The diplomat worked in Pakistan, Germany, Japan and elsewhere during a career spanning 36 years before retiring and moving to Windsor in 2004 with his wife, who has family in Detroit. He hasn't stopped moving since.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/5/2008 2:38:00 PM


Panic in the east-end parks

Are the people in Rockcliffe and Manor Park seething about the proposed bridge across the Ottawa River near their neighbourhood? You bet. The National Capital Commission should build berms along the Aviation and Rockcliffe parkways, not to keep traffic noise down, but to keep the locals from disturbing the drivers.

The residents, suddenly uncharacteristically rowdy, fear traffic, particularly trucks, will ruin the bucolic pathways and river views in the neighbourhoods. And sure, there will be some of that. A few houses back on the Aviation Parkway -- and pity them, though you should never buy a house along a busy arterial route -- plus the road is a bit too close to the Montfort Hospital. But, for the most part, there's quite a buffer.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/5/2008 2:43:53 PM


Canada may bear most pain in restructured auto industry

Canada may be unable to avoid shouldering a "disproportionate amount of the pain'' connected to any restructuring of the auto industry, as the U.S. government will tie any aid to a promise to protect U.S. jobs and the Canadian government lacks the clout to do the same, an industry analyst says.

"Canada has historically punched above its weight in the auto industry, and my concern is that may not happen this time because of the crisis in the U.S.,'' said Joe D'Cruz, a professor at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/5/2008 2:46:42 PM


Council votes to demolish Lions Hall

A wrecking ball will some day level the Lions Hall at the corner of Centre Street East and Pugsley Avenue, sealing its fate and halting the relationship generations of residents have had with the modest building for more than 50 years.

Its fate was sealed at the Richmond Hill Town council meeting on Monday night, as councillors decided in a close vote to declare the Richmond Hill Lions Hall as surplus, at the end of its life cycle, and fit only for demolition.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/5/2008 2:50:27 PM


More layoffs for Oshawa's GM car plant

OSHAWA -- The hits just keep on coming for local auto workers.

General Motors Canada announced last night it will temporarily idle the third shift at the Oshawa car plant starting the first week of February. The move will result in the layoff of about 700 workers.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/5/2008 2:54:02 PM


Residents target Whitby taxes, health care and growth plans at town hall meeting

WHITBY -- A resident's claim Whitby officials aren't doing enough to serve the interests of the Town was strongly refuted by Mayor Pat Perkins at a Town Hall meeting Wednesday night. Targeting council's recent decision to expand the living lands in Brooklin from Columbus Road up to Brawley Road, Brooklin resident Shawn Williamson said Whitby is growing too quickly because councillors are making the process too easy for developers.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/6/2008 5:32:38 PM


Understand your privacy rights

In the course of a real estate transaction, your Realtor will likely require information from you that is personal and/or property-related. Commonly referred to as the Privacy Act, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) has been in effect since January 2004, and it's important for you to know how the real estate (resale) industry is working to protect your personal information and how this information is being used.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/6/2008 5:34:04 PM


Is your home hot?

It's the dirty little secret of the new-home construction industry. It infuriates honest builders, costs Tarion Warranty Corporation millions of dollars in unnecessary claims and burdens the provincial and federal governments with lost tax revenues and claims to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/6/2008 5:36:05 PM


Car makers driving for $6 billion rescue plan

The Canadian subsidiaries of the reeling Detroit Three automakers want a total of at least $6 billion in loans and credit lines from the federal and Ontario governments to stay alive, but won't go into much detail on how they would spend the money.

General Motors of Canada Ltd., the country's biggest automaker, is seeking $800 million by year's end and $1.6 billion later, while Chrysler Canada Inc. is asking for $1.6 billion, according to sources familiar with the submissions.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/6/2008 5:37:30 PM


Condo Critic: Sherbourne deserves some respect

If there's a street that runs through the heart of the old inner city, it is Sherbourne. From Bloor south, it presents the very image of a city that has seen better days.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/6/2008 5:40:21 PM


City to raze Dundas drug dens

Five derelict houses that have brought nothing but drugs and prostitution to a stretch of London's east end are to be torn down today.

The city-ordered demolition on Dundas Street East can't come soon enough, say neighbours who live and work near the homes between Egerton Street and Kellogg Lane. "Everyone is feeling relief. It's terrible -- crack cocaine, prostitution, just terrible," said neighbour Margie Veitch.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/6/2008 5:41:41 PM


Local home sales drop

The faltering economy finally bit the London area real estate market last month with a sharp drop in sales. The London and St. Thomas Association of Realtors (LSTAR) said 386 homes sold in November, compared to 654 in the same month last year.

The slow market and a 22 per cent increase in real estate listings this year are also putting downward pressure on prices. The average price of homes sold in November was $206,504 compared to $208,328 in October and $213,668 in September.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/6/2008 5:44:53 PM


The dirt has to go somewhere

Q: What is the construction going on at the northwest corner of Highway 406 and Merritt Road about?

A: It's not quite a construction site, yet.

Bob Nichols, Ministry of Transportation spokesman, said in an e-mail that the contractor doing the QEW expansion in St. Catharines is stockpiling excess excavated earth at Highway 406 and Merritt Road in Thorold, which is ministry-owned land.

Nichols said the ministry will eventually use this earth on future Highway 406 expansion work to reduce the quantity of fill material that would otherwise need to be imported for the job.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/6/2008 5:45:55 PM


County considers $27M for roads, bridges, water

Brant County politicians will consider more than $27 million in spending on roads, bridges, and other capital projects as part of the municipality's 2009 budget process.

The county's proposed 2009 capital budget, presented to council this week, calls for $27.7 million in capital spending, up about $3.7 million over last year.

About $9.4 million would come from development charges, about $7.3 million from general taxation, $5.4 million from debt financing and the rest from reserve funds and other revenue.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/6/2008 5:47:00 PM


Developers want city's help in Cainsville

Developers holding farmland around Cainsville are lobbying Brantford to take over the area from Brant County to make it easier for them to build houses and business parks.

Brantford Mayor Mike Hancock has confirmed that a group of developers has approached the city's negotiating team in ongoing discussions between Brantford and Brant about boundary adjustments and strategic growth interests.

Brantford and Brant have been working for two years on a letter of intent that would transfer more than 5,000 acres of rural land to the north and east of the city to Brantford's jurisdiction for development purposes.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/6/2008 5:49:10 PM


Premier endorses parkway plan

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty said the Windsor Essex Parkway proposal "strikes the right balance" and didn't mention the city's rival GreenLink plan during a quick swing though Windsor Friday.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/6/2008 5:50:07 PM


City jobless rate likely to get worse, prof says

Although it remained unchanged in November compared to the previous month, Windsor's unemployment rate of 10.1 per cent will likely get worse next year, Tony Faria, University of Windsor business professor, said Friday.

"I don't think we can say it's bottomed out yet," Faria said. "There's the bigger issue of lower U.S. auto sales for 2009."

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/6/2008 5:53:13 PM


Ottawa bucks national trend

The unemployment rate in Ottawa-Gatineau fell in November as the regional economy generated 900 new jobs in the teeth of a growing global recession.

Statistics Canada reported yesterday that the unemployment rate dropped 0.2 per cent to 4.7 per cent, the lowest since March.

Employment in the capital region hit a new record high of 678,400 jobs. The capital has been on a tear for seven months, spinning out 15,300 new jobs.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/6/2008 5:54:46 PM


Housing resale market plunges 27.4 per cent in November

Sales of existing housing plunged 27.4 per cent in Ottawa in November as worries about the economy drove away buyers.

The decline in existing housing sales is accelerating and mirrors a big drop in sales of new housing, which were down 55 per cent in October.

The Ottawa Real Estate Board reported yesterday that only 646 singles, townhouses, condominium apartments and other housing were sold in November compared to 890 units a year earlier.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/6/2008 5:55:57 PM


Politics of condo living

The anticipation of buying your first house is geared to the day you take possession and move in. It's a different, more stressful story for condo buyers.

When we finally moved into our Lake Ontario condo in the spring, six years after we discovered the project and four years after we paid our deposit, we were ill-prepared for what still lay ahead.

We learned the condo wasn't really ours yet and we weren't finished paying. We also learned about the politics of condo living.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/6/2008 5:59:59 PM


CANMET lab sparks hope for Hamilton

A bitter wind scoured the field of rubble and frozen puddles where a factory used to stand. But there was evidence of positive change yesterday. A groundbreaking ceremony for a new federal research laboratory at McMaster Innovation Park -- once the site of a Camco appliance factory -- represented meaningful action in the long and often painful transformation of Hamilton's economic base.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/6/2008 6:01:01 PM


No treatment plant, no growth

Hamilton will be forced to freeze future growth if it doesn't receive millions in government funding to help build a new wastewater treatment plant.

Joe Rinaldo, acting city manager, warned council yesterday that the city simply can't afford the $1.8- billion, 10-year capital project, given the economic downturn.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/6/2008 6:02:19 PM


City: $1.2m loan safe, buyers eyeing condo project

More than a million Hamilton tax dollars are at risk in the financial collapse of a downtown condo conversion project, but city officials are confident the money is safe.

Senior business development consultant Gord Moodie said yesterday that "three, good, well-heeled purchasers" are in line to take over Trinity Landing, a 50-unit redevelopment of the former Spectator printing plant at King William and Catharine streets.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/6/2008 6:03:57 PM


J.T. Bakeries to expand, adding noodles, crackers


J.T. Bakeries Inc. is poised for expansion after receiving nearly $492,000 in provincial funds.

The Kitchener cracker manufacturer is using cash from the province's Rural Economic Development Program to help fund a new baked noodle production line it is taking over from the soon-to-be-closed Campbell's Soup plant in Listowel.

Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Leeanna Pendergast confirmed the funding at the Kitchener plant yesterday.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/6/2008 6:07:06 PM


Downtown sites poised to become heritage buildings


On the same day a judge declared a man not guilty in the now infamous Gummer building fire, the city took steps to protect what was almost lost.

The two buildings sandwiching the downtown Gummer site are on their way to heritage designation.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/6/2008 6:09:12 PM


Councillors ready to sharpen pencils

As a troubled economy means tighter pursestrings for taxpayers, Aurora is beginning its budget process with a plan to keep tax hikes to a minimum.

But it's too early to talk numbers, Mayor Phyllis Morris said, adding councillors won't have preliminary numbers for another week. The town has forecasted a budget increase of 7.6 per cent for 2009, but that figure will likely come down considerably, Mrs. Morris said.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/6/2008 6:11:44 PM


Subdivision arsenic below dangerous levels

Elevated arsenic levels found in wooded lots surrounding the future Summerhill Woods subdivision aren't a cause for concern, according to the Town of Newmarket.

A routine soil test ordered by developer Criterion Development Corporation detected low levels of arsenic in topsoil on and near the development at Mulock Drive and Bathurst Street. The majority of the land had concentrations of arsenic below the Environment Ministry's residential land-use standard of 25 parts per million and does not pose a public health and safety concern.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/7/2008 5:21:45 PM

ON Small Town Updates: 2008-12-07

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/8/2008 2:13:46 PM


Airport taps feds for $4M distribution centres plan

London's airport has asked the feds for $4 million to build distribution centres it hopes will be stepping stones to making this the only airport north of Mexico where goods could zip through tax- and duty-free.

The pitch comes as Ottawa plans a stimulus program that would include money for public works during a time of global economic crisis. With competition fierce for that money -- thousands are expected to apply -- airport president Steve Baker will turn this week to city hall for a letter of support.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/8/2008 2:15:03 PM


Greenbelt's 'eco-services' worth billions to economy

The greenbelt may be green in more than just name.

According to a recent study, the 1.8- million-acre swath spanning the Golden Horseshoe and beyond contributes $2.6 billion annually to the province's economy.

It has chipped in $8 billion since its inception in 2005.

But the greenbelt is doing it in ways that aren't always obvious or the easiest to measure.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/8/2008 2:19:27 PM


Small town meltdown

Growing up in Cornwall, Michael Martel watched the good times roll in Eastern Ontario as a vibrant manufacturing sector fuelled growth and prosperity. "Everywhere you looked, there was a plant. There were jobs, there was lots of money and everyone had a great life," Mr. Martel recalled. But today, as the 60-year-old mortgage broker watches a spate of factory closings ravage small-town Eastern Ontario, he wonders whether the future will ever be as good as the past he once knew.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/8/2008 2:21:12 PM


Creaking infrastructure

That leaves only the Macdonald-Cartier Bridge at the end of King Edward Avenue open for truck traffic. Commuters and truckers must be praying that nothing happens on the snake-like route through downtown to stop traffic from reaching this span. And pity the poor residents of Lowertown, who are getting even more of the truck traffic that is destroying that formerly lovely neighbourhood. The new bridge at Kettle Island never looked more vital. And let's not forget the Chaudière is also a major bus route, so transit users are also inconvenienced.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/8/2008 2:26:22 PM


Market revamp sends stalls to mall

Clay Eborall is ready for a change.

After 20 years of running the Bentford Orchards stall at the Hamilton Farmers' Market, Eborall is prepared to shift to a new temporary location in Jackson Square.

The multimillion-dollar renovation that will be done while businesses are relocated will be key to helping the market survive, he said.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/8/2008 2:28:08 PM


Architect has big plans for old tannery


Decades before Roland Rom Colthoff started to bring new life to one of this city's most historic buildings -- the Lang Tannery -- he wanted to become an architect who blended new elements into old urban fabrics.

After moving to Canada from Holland as a young boy, Colthoff grew up in Peterborough. He regularly walked past an abandoned warehouse near the railway that bisects Peterborough's downtown.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/9/2008 2:22:46 PM


City moves to calm sign war

Love them or hate them, Toronto's signs elicit passionate views.

Some argue they are simply visual pollution, others that they provide a vital business function.

Fuelling the debate is a hodgepodge of rules that date from before amalgamation. That means signs sometimes permitted in old North York aren't allowed a few blocks away in the old city of Toronto. Or what's banned in Etobicoke would be permitted in Scarborough.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/9/2008 2:25:15 PM


House prices to keep falling

The real estate market may be cooling, but the upside is that Canadian homes are getting more affordable even as the nation "no longer appears to be immune to a generalized housing downturn," says a report.

"The souring of economic conditions, eroding consumer confidence and, in several instances, past excesses are creating a glacial downdraft that the majority of Canada's housing markets will be hard-pressed to resist," RBC senior economist Robert Hogue stated in the report released yesterday.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/9/2008 2:29:27 PM


Richmond Row parking to be expanded

The city's environment and transportation committee endorsed plans to expand parking along London's busy Richmond Row that merchants and residents say is a must. A year ago, city hall allowed on a trial basis paid parking on the west side of Richmond Street between Pall Mall Street and Dufferin Avenue after 6 p.m. on weeknights and all day on weekends.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/9/2008 2:30:32 PM


City to crack down on slumlords

No longer wanting to wait for complaints from scared tenants, London city hall is investigating ways to crack down on slumlords, including the use of blitzes. "We will look at a more pro-active approach," Orest Katolyk, the city's bylaw enforcement chief, told politicians on the planning committee.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/9/2008 2:32:13 PM


Stage set for downtown revival

The curtain is rising on downtown St. Catharines' cultural revival.

A packed house in city council chambers clapped and cheered Monday night as city councillors unanimously approved a new $101-million development that will include Brock University's Marilyn I. Walker school of fine and performing arts and a new Niagara Centre for the Arts in downtown St. Catharines.

The city's share of the cost will be $17 million, but city administrator Colin Briggs hinted there may be ways of paying for it without making too much of a hit on taxes. He said the city has a $2-million hydro dividend, a $6.3-million provincial grant and another hydro investment available to spend.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/9/2008 2:34:42 PM


Bridge denied permission to demolish house

City council again denied an Ambassador bridge company request Monday to demolish a vacant home on Indian Road.

It was the ninth unsuccessful attempt by the bridge company, which owns 83 properties in the area, to tear down a building despite a demolition control bylaw covering Olde Sandwich, pending a community improvement plan.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/9/2008 2:37:29 PM


Ottawa housing starts fall 36% in November

New housing starts fell 36 per cent in Ottawa in November, led by a big decline in townhouse units, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said yesterday.

Despite the big decline, housing starts for the year are still running 7.7 per cent ahead of last year as builders put shovels in the ground for developments that were sold prior to a big decline in new house sales this fall.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/9/2008 2:39:00 PM


Talk cheap, hike not

Residents are facing a 4.9% increase in their city taxes after a surprise vote ended what was expected to be a lengthy week-long session of nitpicking through the 2009 draft budget. An omnibus motion moved by College Coun. Rick Chiarelli, with the backing of the majority of councillors, passed in the blink of an eye -- just moments after Mayor Larry O'Brien vowed to reporters to drag the meeting out as long as he had to in order to force debate.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/9/2008 2:42:55 PM


Board scraps downtown centre, looks to Mountain

The joint family health and education centre -- celebrated as a victory for downtown -- is dead, and the Hamilton public school board's move to the Mountain is revived.

School board staff label as "inoperable" an ambitious plan to redevelop its site at Main, King and Bay with a new headquarters, a McMaster University family medicine clinic and city public health.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/9/2008 2:43:51 PM


Area house starts on rise

Hamilton's home-building industry is bucking the national trend.

The latest figures from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation show home starts in the Grimsby-Hamilton-Burlington Census Metropolitan Area rose 13 per cent in November compared to the same month last year.

For the January-November period, Hamilton starts are up 21 per cent from last year to 3,429. Much of the increase was attributed to a surge in townhouse starts in Hamilton and Grimsby.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/9/2008 2:45:04 PM


Hespeler subdivision lifts housing start numbers


The start of a major subdivision in Hespeler helped push the region's housing starts six per cent higher in November.

Across the Kitchener census metropolitan area, work began on 235 homes last month, up from 221 in November last year, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said yesterday. Of the 166 single-detached homes started last month, 114 are in Cambridge, mainly in Mattamy Homes' Mill Pond subdivision in north Hespeler.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/9/2008 2:46:00 PM


Residents fight gravel pit plans


Residents of a picturesque village on the Grand River are trying to stop Guelph-based Capital Paving from establishing a gravel pit a short distance from a historic covered bridge.

Thousands of tourists visit this place every year to see the oldest covered bridge in Ontario, shop in local stores, stay in bed-and-breakfasts and soak in the pastoral landscape steeped in Mennonite culture and history.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/9/2008 2:47:26 PM


New Shoppers part of south end revitalization

While much of the focus in Aurora has been on Yonge and Wellington streets and the development in the east end, make no mistake, there's still a lot happening along the southern stretch of town. Among the more noticeable signs of revitalization in the south are some of the recent redevelopments in the area. The revamping of the Shoppers Drug Mart at the corner of Yonge and Edward streets is complete and the grand opening was Nov. 29. The store is billed as bigger, better and now open 24 hours per day.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/9/2008 2:49:45 PM


Ajax to review ward boundaries

AJAX -- When voters head to the polls in the 2010 municipal election, they may be living in another ward.

The Town is reviewing the ward boundaries in an attempt to even the population size of each ward. The existing Ajax wards have been in place since 1994 and have outlived their usefulness, Clerk Marty de Rond told council's general government committee last week.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/10/2008 2:05:07 PM


Ont. may have to provide interim aid to auto sector: McGuinty

An imminent bailout package in the United States is putting pressure on Canada to come up with its own interim relief for automakers soon after the U.S. finalizes its deal, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty said Tuesday.

"I know there's a real state of urgency here," McGuinty said as American officials hammered out the final terms of a $15-billion bailout for automakers.

"If Washington comes forward with an interim support package, a bridge to Obama as they're calling it, there will be heightened pressure on us to respond with an interim package as well."

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/10/2008 2:07:17 PM


Ailing Nortel explores bankruptcy, report says

Nortel Networks Corp. is insisting it is "a viable partner for the long term," after a report it has hired legal counsel to explore bankruptcy court protection from creditors.

The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed "people familiar with the situation," said the move was made in case the Toronto-headquartered telecommunications equipment maker's restructuring plan fails.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/10/2008 2:09:55 PM


New tax helped sink housing market: Study

A controversial city of Toronto land-transfer tax implemented this year has had "significant negative effects on the housing market" by reducing sales and lowering prices of homes, says a study.

The land-transfer tax that took effect in February has caused the average price of a single family home in Toronto to decline by 1.5 per cent, or $6,400, according to a report released yesterday by the C.D. Howe Institute.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/10/2008 2:15:26 PM


Port Stanley residents harbour new hopes

PORT STANLEY -- Residents have new hope for the village's neglected harbour.

To combat economic woes, the federal and provincial governments plan to pump billions of dollars into public works. At the same time, there's newfound local determination to resolve the problem of ownership of the best harbour on Lake Erie's north shore. "Until the harbour issue is resolved, we can't go ahead," said Ben Veel, a local resident.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/10/2008 2:16:39 PM


City still eyeing new arena

St. Catharines councillors are on a shopping spree, with plans underway for a new $16-million pool and library facility and a new $101-million arts centre and school in partnership with Brock University.

They have committed to raising $30 million through a special 30-year hospital tax of $31 per house per year.

They are also drafting plans to improve or replace several fire stations, and to replace the crumbling Carlisle Street parking garage.

But that's not stopping them from considering another project for the lower-level parking lot -- a 5,000-seat spectator arena.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/10/2008 2:19:05 PM


College growth can work: report

Enrolment increases tied to a proposed health and wellness centre at Barrie's Georgian College can be handled, says a recent housing report.

The survey says only 2,070 of the projected 3,000 students taking classes at the centre would need rental housing.

"Some of those students would live outside of the east end or at home," said Georgian president Brian Tamblyn, "so even fewer students would require new, off-campus rental accommodation in the vicinity of Georgian College."

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/10/2008 2:20:18 PM


Lakeshore reduces tax hike

LAKESHORE - The municipal tax increase in Lakeshore has been cut to 2.4 per cent from an initial 5.5 per cent after council finished the last of four budget sessions Tuesday.

But the most contentious issue at the end was whether to eliminate a $12-a-month special levy to replace rusty water pipes that's been billed to some 12,300 water customers in the past two years.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/10/2008 2:22:47 PM


Infrastructure improvements provoke 2.9-per-cent tax hike for Gatineau

The City of Gatineau has approved a $424.7-million budget that will increase taxes by 2.9 per cent in 2009 or about $60 for a house with an average assessment of $176,000.

Richard Côté, the chairman of Gatineau's budget committee, said there will be few cuts in services to residents.

The city will spend $49 million on the $195-million Rapibus transitway in 2009 and start the construction of a $50-million sports complex, library improvements and a new development plan for downtown.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/10/2008 2:25:03 PM


Employment survey says Ottawa holding steady

Ottawa's employment forecast for the first quarter of 2009 is less than stellar, according to the latest Manpower Employment Outlook Survey.

"The survey data shows that 15% of employers plan to hire for the upcoming quarter, while 12% plan to reduce their workforce," said Devon Rutherford of Manpower's Ottawa office. Another 72% of the city's employers expect to maintain their current staffing levels.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/10/2008 2:28:32 PM


Mac: downtown health centre still a go

Even though the public school board is planning to build elsewhere, McMaster's plan for a downtown health centre is as firm as ever -- perhaps even firmer -- says the dean of the university's medical school.

"Our agenda has not changed one bit," said John Kelton, a university vice-president and dean of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine. "Our big vision is to build a family health centre, and we want it in downtown Hamilton."

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/10/2008 2:29:47 PM


Council sidesteps mall plan

Forget about City Mall, council is moving ahead with renovating City Hall.

DowntownCouncillor Bob Bratina lost his bid yesterday to have the city reconsider the project because of the economic downturn.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/10/2008 2:31:09 PM


Swelling costs could put brakes on new seniors' housing


Regional council decides today whether to go ahead with a supportive housing project for seniors that is $1.3 million over budget.

Originally, the project, the first of its kind for seniors in the region, was to cost $7.5 million. The budget was later increased to add air-conditioning.

But now bids on the project have come in even higher. The lowest is $9.6 million, which means the region is looking at a shortfall of $1.3 million.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/10/2008 2:34:23 PM


Ajax wants public comment on growth plan

AJAX -- There needs to be more public input on a plan that will dictate how Durham Region grows over the next 20-plus years.

Ajax council on Monday unanimously approved a motion by Mayor Steve Parish that called for public meetings prior to Regional councillors considering the Growing Durham study. "There's a great lack of any kind of public involvement," he said, noting in the two years of work on the plan, "there's been little public input.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/10/2008 2:36:21 PM


Regions wants to build to stimulate economy

Durham is planning on putting a rush on infrastructure projects in order to stimulate the local economy.

As part of his economic update, finance commissioner Jim Clapp recommended expediting projects which were to be included in the 2009 budget and are ready to be put out to tender.

Even if not all of the winning contractors are local businesses, they'll still bring business to the Region, said Mr. Clapp. "Either way you're going to help the economy, not only with the projects but with whatever spin-offs there are from the projects," he said.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/11/2008 2:00:03 PM


City wants total control of Enersource

The City of Mississauga won't be selling Enersource.
In fact, councillors voted yesterday to buy out the 10 per cent interest minority partner Borealis owns in the hydro utility.
After mulling, for the better part of the year, over whether to sell its 90 per cent share in Enersource — and spending $440,000 on consultants' fees in the process — councillors finally shelved the idea.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/11/2008 2:02:32 PM


Markham eyes tax freeze

Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti says tough times require a strong dose of empathy from politicians, and he's proposing something GTA residential taxpayers haven't heard for a while: a tax freeze.

"We want to send a signal that we are aware of what people are contending with," Scarpitti said. "We're going to do what we can to lessen the burden to our businesses and residents in these troubled economic times.

"It's not a wish – it's a challenge to our senior staff and council to deliver a zero per cent tax increase for 2009."

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/11/2008 2:03:49 PM


Automakers told to 'come clean'

Canada's three struggling automakers must come clean on plans to cut jobs if they hope to win taxpayer support for the $6 billion in aid they're seeking, Premier Dalton McGuinty says.

General Motors, Ford and Chrysler submitted their restructuring plans to Queen's Park and Ottawa last Friday but have yet to publicly reveal what would happen to their Ontario factories.

McGuinty signalled his patience is wearing thin with the companies, which employ more than 30,000 workers.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/11/2008 2:09:13 PM


Growth plan sure to spark debate

The argument over growth in Niagara is about to get intense.

Regional staff recommended a long-term growth strategy for Niagara Wednesday that calls for 95 per cent intensification in both St. Catharines and Grimsby over a 25-year period.

Intensification means higher-density housing -- infilling, redeveloping brownfields and squeezing more people into taller buildings.

In Grimsby, that means adding another 7,000 people and 3,325 higher-density housing units by 2031. It also means trouble, according to Grimsby Alderman Nick Andreychuk.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/11/2008 2:10:16 PM


Thorold mayor won't support rental bylaw as proposed

It was supposed to be a bylaw to crack down on absentee landlords and student housing issues.

But, from Mayor Henry D'Angela's perspective, Thorold's draft rental-unit licensing bylaw has morphed into something else entirely.

That's why D'Angela won't support the proposed rules that many Thorold landlords say are akin to a dictatorship.

"I believe stronger enforcement of (existing) bylaws can achieve the results our citizens are looking for," D'Angela said. "A licensing system will become a bureaucratic nightmare with administration and enforcement."

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/11/2008 2:12:57 PM


Lakeshore drops flat water levy

LAKESHORE - Water bills proved more controversial than taxes during Lakeshore's four days of budget deliberations.

Reducing almost $400,000 of contributions to lifecycle capital replacement funds, council ended up with a 2.4 per cent tax rate increase.

That's less than half the 5.5 per cent increase proposed in a draft budget administrators said was lean.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/11/2008 2:15:16 PM


Bridge decision to take 6 months

The federal government expects to decide in the next six months whether the crumbling Chaudière Bridge has to be razed and a new crossing built in its place.

Pierre Vaillancourt of the federal Department of Public Works told a Gatineau news conference yesterday that the bridge is undergoing rigorous assessment by consultants who will advise the government whether it has to be replaced or can be rehabilitated.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/11/2008 2:16:21 PM


City to deal with transit strike alone

An attempt to get the federal government involved in Ottawa's transit strike died in the city council chamber yesterday.

Innes Councillor Rainer Bloess tried to introduce a motion to ask the federal government to have OC Transpo declared an essential service, to get the transit system running again and having the strike settled through arbitration.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/11/2008 2:23:01 PM


GO Transit adds morning train for Hamilton

Hamilton is getting an extra morning GO train sometime early in the new year.

GO Transit announced yesterday recent track improvements will allow the Toronto-bound train that leaves Oakville at 7:58 a.m. to start its run from Burlington Aldershot at 7:32 a.m. on Jan. 5. This 12-car train will originate in Hamilton later in 2009 when the Hamilton train layover site is finished. The train will run as an express from Oakville to Union Station.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/11/2008 2:25:04 PM


Growth in southwest tests Catholic parents


Southwest Kitchener is booming, and with rapid development has come growing pains at the area's schools.

At a public meeting this week, parents got a look at what a committee has been considering to balance enrolments at Blessed Kateri, Blessed Sacrament, John Sweeney, Monsignor Haller, Our Lady of Grace and St. Timothy Catholic elementary schools.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/11/2008 2:27:02 PM


Automotive job cuts continue to deepen

Amid the continuing economic downtown, the news worsens for Aurora's ailing automotive sector.

The town has been hit hard by the woes of the Big Three automakers with plant closures and job cuts being the result. November saw automotive giant Magna announce the closure of a pair of plants in Newmarket and Aurora slashing 850 jobs, 350 of which are in Aurora. Those cuts and closures came on top of other consolidations and lay-offs confirmed by Magna earlier that month following the release of dismal third quarter earning results.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/11/2008 2:28:39 PM


Dunlap lands focus to be on people: Metrus

The future of the 190-acre David Dunlap Observatory site is taking shape. But it doesn't look bright for stargazers.

The site where the first black hole was observed 37 years ago, will give way to a medley of high-rise condominiums, homes and retail.

Developer Metrus is refining its plans for the 190-acre site ahead of a January conservation review board hearing.

"We're trying to create a precinct . . . that would become a people place," the company's vice-president Fraser Nelson said.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/11/2008 2:30:00 PM


Main Street construction on schedule

Main Street motorists, rejoice.

Once new light standards and traffic signals are installed and the top layer of asphalt is laid, phase one of Stouffville's main drag reconstruction project will be complete, but that won't occur until next spring.

Although the project, inclusive of these last remaining items, was to be done this fall, Paul Whitehouse, Whitchurch-Stouffville's director of public works, insists everything is on schedule. "Most of the hard structure work is done," he said.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/11/2008 2:32:18 PM


CANDU can do lots for Clarington, says representative

BOWMANVILLE -- The Province's decision to build new nuclear reactors in Bowmanville is a good one, says Dr. Neil Alexander. But what would be even better for Clarington, and for Ontario, would be if the Province chooses to go with Canadian-designed CANDU reactors on the site, he said.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/11/2008 2:35:10 PM


Company makes case for rebuilding reactors

AJAX -- Ontario Power Generation laid out why it should be allowed to refurbish four Pickering reactors during a one-day hearing of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). The CNSC moved the meeting to Ajax this Wednesday, given the interest in the community on the refurbishment.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/12/2008 2:25:46 PM


GO plans to acquire more of rail system

GO Transit could begin buying up train tracks as early as next year as part of a strategy to improve reliability and attract a greater share of the commuter population.

GO now owns only portions of its rail system: a segment around Union Station; the eastern portion of the Lakeshore route; and parts of the Barrie and Stouffville lines.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/12/2008 2:30:08 PM


Now it's a landlord's market

Economic worries and a declining real estate market has some would-be home buyers staying put in rental housing, resulting in sharply declining rental apartment vacancy rates in Toronto.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. reported yesterday the city's vacancy rate fell to 2.1 per cent this year, compared with 3.2 per cent last year. The drop comes on the heels of a Bank of Canada warning yesterday that some Canadians may lose their homes if the economic crisis gets worse.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/12/2008 2:31:09 PM


U.S. automakers need lifeline as bailout fails

WASHINGTON–Their efforts in the U.S. Congress squashed, automakers are depending upon a reluctant White House to quickly provide a multibillion-dollar lifeline to help them avoid imminent collapse.

General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC, which have said they could run out of cash within weeks, have few options left after the dramatic defeat in the Senate of a US$14-billion bailout for the domestic auto industry.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/12/2008 2:36:56 PM


Church plans to buy disused cinema

A local church is buying the former Cinema 4 on Colborne Street, planning to convert the four-screen complex into a place of worship.

The sale is conditional on a zoning change that has yet to be approved by city council.

The pastor of the church, which has been holding Sunday services in an Orillia school, has asked that the identity of the church not be made public until the deal closes.

An application for the zoning change was recently endorsed by Orillia's planning advisory committee.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/12/2008 2:38:13 PM


City moves to expand landfill

The city continues to make moves now to expand the future use of Sandy Hollow landfill.

Barrie councillors have given initial approval to a $4.46-million project to help create more space in the landfill, located west of Ferndale Drive North.

Craig Hebert, the city's operations director, said this process addresses the difference between how waste is handled now, and how it was handled for years before.

"It was sort of thrown in and there was some compacting. Sand was mixed in and it accumulated over years." he said.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/12/2008 2:39:08 PM


Innisfil station will remain in Lefroy

Innisfil's future GO train station will stay in Lefroy.

It was a side issue at a recent public meeting held to present a revision of the town's Official Plan amendment No. 1 -- which, when first adopted in 2006, would have increased the town's target population to 105,000 by 2026.

As a result of province's Places to Grow policy and the Simcoe County's growth management strategy and its new Official Plan, expansion plans have been reduced to a target population of 65,000.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/12/2008 2:46:55 PM


Rental market gets tighter

A survey conducted by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) in the Hamilton - Burlington area indicates a drop in vacancy rates in the rental housing market.

The report says that people preferred to retain their renter status rather than buy because of the tough economic times.

Sarah Fong, a senior market analyst at the CMHC says renting appears to be the strategy of choice.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/12/2008 2:48:14 PM


Home slowdown hammers local builders

The cruel months of winter came early for Riccardo Guglietti.

His Burlington lumber company normally sees a slowdown in January. But this year, the decline in residential construction has been chilling business for months.

"We're dead, absolutely dead," said Guglietti, general manager at Tamarack Lumber. "When this starts in the beginning of October and you've still got the winter to go through, it's pretty scary."

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/12/2008 2:49:25 PM


Neighbour fears road threatens waterways


Yvonne Fernandez fears a road proposed for a new subdivision in southwest Kitchener will ruin one of the last cold-water trout streams in the city.

Yesterday, Fernandez took her concerns to lawyers representing the developers, who want to build nearly 3,000 new homes in Doon South.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/12/2008 2:50:25 PM


Region trims proposed tax increase to four per cent


Regional council has whittled down its proposed 2009 budget to a four per cent tax hike.

An average property owner, with a house assessed at $214,000, could pay about $55 more in regional taxes next year if councillors make no changes to the budget when it is approved Jan. 14.

"It is a very flatline budget," Waterloo Region Chair Ken Seiling said in an interview this week after the latest budget talks.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/12/2008 2:52:02 PM


City, developer continue OMB talks over Lafarge property


Mediation between both sides involved in the dispute over development on the former Lafarge lands remains unresolved. The sides -- Silvercreek (Guelph) Developments Ltd., the neighbourhood group, other local developers and the city -- have been meeting in a bid to come to an agreement before the Ontario Municipal Board hearing, scheduled to start Jan. 12.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/12/2008 2:53:39 PM


Growth plans in Simcoe County grab York's attention

A difference of opinion could lead to Simcoe County and York Region battling each other at the Ontario Municipal Board.

Our northerly neighbour approved its official plan last week, outlining growth plans for the next 25 years, and the region voiced concerns about what it means for its northern municipalities. "We're very supportive of our neighbours, but they also have to be supportive of us," regional chairperson Bill Fisch said at last week's planning committee meeting.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/12/2008 2:55:05 PM


Buildings' height hot topic

How tall Markham Centre's buildings will be is all in the numbers.

But council doesn't have them all yet.

Council's development services committee received a presentation on the ongoing Markham Centre density and height review on at its Dec. 9 meeting and was shown some preliminary designs. "These are nice buildings," said Councillor Joe Virgilio, whose ward covers much of Markham Centre. "But how many do we need and how high do we have to go?"

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/13/2008 4:49:03 PM


Suppliers demand cash from troubled Chrysler

WASHINGTON/TORONTO — A major oil company and a utility are demanding cash up front from ailing Chrysler LLC, offering a glimpse of the threat posed by a collapse of the North American auto supply chain. Executives at Chrysler, which is considered the most vulnerable of the Detroit Three, refused yesterday to identify the two suppliers.

"The biggest risk we have is our suppliers coming and saying 'I want to be paid on delivery,'" Chrysler chief financial officer Ron Kolka explained.

"We can't do that. The math just doesn't work."

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/13/2008 5:18:58 PM


The new real estate reality

I'll admit it: as little as a few months ago, you could have classified Condo Chic(k) as something of a smugly satisfied condo buyer.

Smug as in, "OMG, look how little I paid for my place a year ago and now it's worth a trillion dollars (or some such) more!" Okay, so my thoughts weren't quite so real-estate-junkie-meets-Valley-girl, but you get the idea. Like most buyers, I did take pleasure in knowing my pre-construction condo was magically going up in price before it was even constructed. Not so much anymore.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/13/2008 5:20:03 PM


Miller lays out economic plan

As the local economy worsens, Mayor David Miller says he's doing whatever he can within his powers as mayor to give it a boost.

He's asked bank executives to keep credit flowing to real estate developers in Toronto.

And he is trying to kick-start new development on city-owned property near subway stations to provide jobs and revenue for the city.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/13/2008 5:21:25 PM


Ottawa pledges billions to avert auto meltdown

Canada's struggling automakers will get roughly $3.4 billion in emergency aid to "keep the doors open" – but only if the Americans put money on the table first, says federal Industry Minister Tony Clement.

The aid is also conditional on restructuring plans by the Canadian arms of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler meeting government approval, Clement told a news conference last night.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/13/2008 5:22:40 PM


Every assembly plant in Ontario facing cuts

Tens of thousands of anxious workers in Ontario's auto industry will be off the job during the next few months as plunging sales in the U.S. hammer production here.

Company and union officials confirmed yesterday a new round of production cuts for December and the first few months of next year that will hit every assembly plant in Ontario for some time.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/13/2008 5:24:08 PM


Market will cool in 2009, builders told

Toronto's still hot condo market is poised for a dramatic cool-down in sales in 2009, a recent Ontario Home Builders' Association forum heard.

"Right now, there are 20,000 unsold condominiums somewhere in the pipeline and it is worrisome with all that inventory," said Peter Norman, senior director at Altus Group Economic Consulting.

Norman told the economic forum that Toronto's condo sector has boomed in recent years, but he sees things "falling off quickly in terms of new condo sales."

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/13/2008 5:28:50 PM


Erie tap water scare

PORT STANLEY -- Chemicals linked to cancer are coursing through the harbour here, into the Lake Erie water system that supplies a wide area including south London, and observers fear more pollutants could join the toxic soup.

A toxic plume extending into the lake, sweeping past the water intake that supplies about 100,000 customers, is but one part of the environmental nightmare unfolding in the small fishing village. Transport Canada, which is trying to unload ownership of the harbour, is aware of the contamination, but has kept a tight lid on details about it.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/13/2008 5:30:11 PM


City looking to clean up vacant commercial sites

A city councillor wants to find out if the city can make the owners clean up abandoned commercial properties that might also have some environmental contamination.

Coun. John Bradford has won support for a resolution directing staff to research the problem of properties that once supported commercial operations and may have chemical pollution.

A report is expected early in the new year.

Bradfield said the city has spent a lot of time funding programs to deal with 15 vacant industrial sites targeted for cleanup and redevelopment but is only starting to examine commerecial sites. Many of them once housed service stations and fuel depots.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/13/2008 5:37:38 PM


Virtual data centre lands $4 million in real cash

An Ottawa startup making a splash in the hot data centre virtualization market has landed some real cash.

Embotics raised $4 million in new venture capital to drive technology that unclogs the information pipes in computer data centres by maximizing the use of capacity.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/13/2008 5:39:35 PM


The waiting is almost over

Terry Guilbault can at last see light at the end of his multi-million dollar tunnel at 90 George Street.

Ever since the Ottawa developer bought the old Caplan's department store on Rideau Street 13 years ago, he has longed for the day when he would complete a handsome new condo, luxury shops and a restaurant on a prime piece of downtown land.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/13/2008 5:41:23 PM


Tough financial lesson

Q: We sold our home about three months ago. Since then, the purchasers' lawyer informed our lawyer that they would not close on schedule. They asked for an extension because of various mortgage, banking and accounting issues.

I need this money to purchase another home. Our lawyer has received a faxed copy of one of the closing cheques to show they are working hard to get the issues resolved. We would like to know, if in fact, these issues are common and what recourse we might have if the purchaser does not come forth with the balance of funds.

With the stock market decline in the last few months, we and our agent do not feel we could sell it for the same price if the house was put back on the market.

We also are paying monthly costs to keep the house going. What should we do? We are on pins and needles.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/13/2008 5:44:50 PM


Don't get nailed by reno scams, police warn

Hamilton has been hit by a surge in home renovation scams worth hundreds of thousands of dollars since the end of summer.

Police say seniors in particular are favourite targets of renovation and roofing scammers who demand cash advances and provide very vague contracts.

"The biggest one this year was close to $100,000 for an interior home renovation," said Constable Jim Greenwood, an east-end seniors' support officer, yesterday.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/13/2008 5:47:42 PM


Councillors turn down fee deferral request

Amid tough economic times, Aurora is receiving more requests for a little breathing room.

A representative of The Rockport Group, the builder of the Ridgewood Condominiums on John West Way in Aurora, asked councillors Tuesday to defer more than $931,000 in development charges.

Developers usually pay such fees when their first building permit is issued. Finance director John Guttteridge said Rockport Group's request is a first for him.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/14/2008 5:11:25 PM


Looking at the recession as an opportunity

Richard Florida isn't one to keep his grand ambitions quiet.

Within the staid and muffled world of academia, the Toronto-based urban theorist virtually shouts them from the rooftops. If not in leadership forums and media interviews, from the BBC to The Colbert Report, then on a wall-sized blackboard in his office that suggests, in big chalk letters, he has found the "Road to Global Prosperity."

Premier Dalton McGuinty would be satisfied with a more modest discovery: He has asked Florida and Roger Martin, dean of the Rotman School of Management, to map the path to long-term economic success for Ontario.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/14/2008 5:12:42 PM

ON Small Town Updates: 2008-12-14

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/15/2008 2:35:58 PM


Rental vacancy rate boosted

Layoffs in St. Thomas have helped boost the rental vacancy rate in the London area to 3.9 per cent, up from 3.6 per cent in the same month last year. David Lan, an analyst with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC), said the rental market in the City of London has been relatively stable, but outlying communities, such as Strathroy and St. Thomas, have seen significant increases.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/15/2008 2:37:14 PM


House starts plummet

Housing starts in London and area plummeted 40 per cent in November, further evidence the downturn is being felt throughout the region. It is the second round of bad news for the London economy in recent days -- last week Statistics Canada reported there are 3,000 fewer people working in the London area this year over last, driving the unemployment rate up to 6.9 per cent

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/15/2008 2:39:00 PM


Home sales decline

Real estate transactions in Orillia have fallen off about 20 per cent from last year, but property values have not dropped, says the president of the Orillia and District Real Estate Board.

"Right now we're comparable to 2005/2006 in terms of sales, said Dan Stoutt, noting that last year was a record year.

But despite the slowdown, the average sale price of a residential property in 2008 was $258,989, just slightly below the average of $260,279 in 2007, Stoutt notes.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/15/2008 2:40:32 PM


Council looks to put cap on number of downtown bars

How many bars is too many in downtown Barrie?

The answer might just be one more.

"I have a concern that we are at or past the saturation point for bars in the downtown," said Coun. Jeff Lehman, who represents this area.

He will ask city councillors tonight to endorse a city planning staff probe into what's available to restrict the number and/or size of new nightclubs and taverns in the downtown.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/15/2008 2:43:25 PM


Demand outpaces supply

Plenty of Ottawans are offering their stranded neighbours rides during the bus strike, but many haven't been able to hook up yet, Chloé Fedio reports.

Every weekday morning, Steve Williams leaves his Centretown home and commutes to the southeast corner of the city for work.

When the OC Transpo strike began last Wednesday, he started to wonder why he was making the drive alone.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/15/2008 2:47:36 PM


Metrolinx rolls into town with good news

Hamilton transit will hit the jackpot Wednesday as the provincial agency Metrolinx arrives here to announce the biggest multicity bus purchase in Ontario history.

Chair Rob MacIsaac will be at the Parks Canada Discovery Centre to award three bus supply contracts that will stimulate jobs in Canadian manufacturing, operations and maintenance.

Metrolinx declined to comment before the event.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/15/2008 2:50:16 PM


Like it or not, King, peaker plant's coming

King doesn't want to play host for the natural gas-fired peaking generating facility to serve the Northern municipalities, but it's coming anyway, King Mayor Margaret Black said. The Ontario Power Authority announced it will sign a 20-year contract with York Energy Centre LP to design, build and operate a 393-megawatt electricity generation station on Dufferin Street in King Township, despite the municipality's refusal of the facility.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/16/2008 2:39:02 PM


Toronto's condo boom is heading for a bust

A prominent Toronto housing economist is warning of an impending chill in the city's overheated condominium market.

The record number of units set for completion in 2009 and beyond will drive down housing prices and cause vacancy rates to go up as some condos sit empty.

By the end of September, there were 33,919 condos under construction in the Toronto metropolitan area – more than three times the city's annual average – said economist Will Dunning in a report on the rental and condo markets.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/16/2008 2:40:24 PM


Metrolinx to fast-track airport link

Metrolinx is taking control of the proposed rail link between Union Station and Pearson International Airport, removing the controversial project from GO Transit's jurisdiction.

The project has been stalled for years, stuck between downtown policy planners and opposition from Weston residents on the Georgetown GO line, who would see increased rail traffic that they fear would split the neighbourhood.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/16/2008 2:55:49 PM


City seals deal with Lakehead

There was some last-minute closed door discussion Monday night before council formally approved a development agreement for the construction of Orillia's new university campus.

During the meeting, council adjourned to go into a closed session for approximately 20 minutes.

"It was necessary," Mayor Ron Stevens said when council reconvened, apologizing for the break.

Coun. Michael Fogarty said the discussion centred around some of the terms in the agreement for the protection of both the city and Lakehead University.

"The partners realized they needed tightening up," Fogarty said.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/16/2008 2:57:31 PM


Council eyes 3.5% tax hike

Barrie homeowners face a property tax increase of less than 3.5 per cent next year, but a hike in user fees, according to preliminary city operating budget data presented last night.

On a city home assessed at $229,000, that would represent an annual increase of $87 in taxes. Total taxes on that house, municipal and education, would total $3,224. Residents are facing hikes in water and sewer charges again in 2009, as well as fewer discounts in such charges as tipping fees at Sandy Hollow landfill.

Jon Babulic, Barrie's chief administrative officer, said the city is developing a long-term plan to deal with its future finances -- but it relies on a long list of factors.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/16/2008 2:59:01 PM


Essex playing hardball with wind turbine plan

ESSEX - The Town of Essex became the first area municipality to propose a ban Monday on wind turbine projects until all health questions raised by residents are clearly answered by provincial experts.

"We are gambling with the health, safety and quality of life of the people around us," said Coun. Ron Rogers, who proposed the ban. "We need answers and guidance from our provincial ministries."

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/16/2008 3:06:34 PM


Home sales off 65.9% in November

Ottawa new house sales plunged 65.9 per cent in November to just 156 units as buyers fled the market while they wait for the global economic crisis to ease.

The Ottawa Home Builders Association called it the worst sales month in a decade.

Sales of single-family units fell the hardest, down 72 per cent to just 58 units.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/16/2008 3:08:50 PM


Economy 'craters' without bailout

Canada would lose at least 582,000 jobs -- mostly in Ontario -- within five years if the Detroit Three automakers go out of business, according to a new provincial report.

The review, prepared for the Ministry of Economic Development and to be released today, warns the collapse of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler would send lasting shock waves through the economy.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/16/2008 3:14:32 PM


Controversial student housing report canned . . . for now

OSHAWA -- Landlords, students and homeowners came to City Hall prepared for a lengthy debate on Monday, but it was much ado about nothing after councillors decided to withdraw a controversial report on Oshawa's student housing situation. Politicians said the decision was made after new information came to light that could potentially change recommendations in the report penned by Oshawa's new student housing task force.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/17/2008 2:00:25 PM


City eyes rumble strips to protect bicyclists

Toronto may be getting ready to rumble.

The city is looking at installing rumble strips – grooves in the pavement – to separate cars from bikes along a major bike route planned for Lawrence Ave. E.

Rumble strips have traditionally been used on expressways such as Highway 401, producing a staccato noise that warns drivers they're veering onto the shoulder.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/17/2008 2:01:54 PM


Cut tax or risk jobs, banks say

Canada's banks have issued a veiled warning to the government of Ontario – cut corporate taxes or risk losing high-paying financial sector jobs to other jurisdictions.

The Canadian Bankers Association – which represents 51 domestic and foreign banks – is telling Ontario in a carefully worded pre-budget submission to cut corporate taxes in its next budget. It argues that tax cuts are necessary to boost the province's productivity, which is key to preserving a high standard of living and "a large number of high-quality, high-paying jobs."

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/17/2008 2:02:54 PM


Office rents fall as vacancies rise in Toronto

Toronto-area office vacancies rose modestly to close out the fourth quarter of the year, but analysts expect more empty cubicles in 2009 as layoffs and cost-cutting hit the financial services sector and the local downtown economy.

Vacancy rates hit 4.9 per cent in the fourth quarter, up from 4.7 per cent in the third, says a report by CB Richard Ellis released yesterday. Rents for top-quality buildings also fell as a result, from $25.37 per square foot in the third quarter to $24.74 in the fourth.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/17/2008 2:05:31 PM


City hall to become more 'business-friendly'

It may soon be easier to get a building permit for something as big as a subdivision or as small as a swimming pool, with St. Catharines councillors' approval this week of a strategy to streamline city hall.

The 20 recommendations of the Mayor's Development Review Task Force were approved at Monday's council meeting, along with $162,000 to create a new database to implement some of them.

The improvements are meant to send the message that St. Catharines is open for business, said task force member Tim Kenny.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/17/2008 2:07:05 PM


City asks for delay in zoning to permit brick-making plant

City council wants Brant County to hold off a request to change the zoning of the former Blue Bird bus factory on Airport Road to make way for a brick-making plant.

An Ontario numbered company has applied for an exception to the long-standing special zoning for the former bus factory to allow for a brick plant. The current zoning doesn't allow it.


However, city council has moved quickly to protect its position and the safety of the airport.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/17/2008 2:08:28 PM


Champlain Hotel for sale

The Champlain Hotel is for sale, but the Tux II night club will continue to operate in the rear of the building for many years to come.

"They just renewed their lease of 10 years," said Vipul Bhagat, who has owned the landmark hotel at the corner of Front and Mississaga streets for four years.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/17/2008 2:09:40 PM


City looks into electricity retailers

Orillia will take a closer look at electricity retailers in the city and whether they can license the companies at the municipal level.

At Monday night's council meeting, the city's legislative services department and licensing committee were directed to report back to council on the possibility of licensing or prohibiting electricity retailers/marketers within the city.

Electricity retailers go door to door selling three-or five-year contracts that lock people into a set kilowatt-per-hour electricity rate.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/17/2008 2:11:59 PM


City facing pressure on border, mayor says

The provincial and federal governments are forcing an inferior border fix on Windsor now because they figure the community is hurting economically and can't fight back, Mayor Eddie Francis charged Tuesday.

Francis said the two levels of government want to pressure Windsor into accepting the binational Detroit River International Crossing study team's proposal for highway access roads -- instead of the city-sponsored GreenLink plan, which calls for more tunnelling covered by park land.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/17/2008 2:14:02 PM


Experts look at running downtown transit tunnel against grid

Ottawa's transit tunnel could be built across downtown without following a street grid, to make the project simpler and end up with a train ride with fewer sharp turns.

At a briefing yesterday on the proposed tunnel -- the cornerstone of the city's new transportation plan -- city transportation managers and consultants said it may make sense to build "across country," rather than along streets such as Albert and Slater, where the bus Transitway runs today.

Building under streets is, in some ways, simpler because the city owns the land. But it can create problems because of the need for sharp turns to follow the streets.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/17/2008 2:26:15 PM


Beleaguered Vaughan mayor vows to stay put, refuses to resign

Vaughan council may want her to go but Mayor Linda Jackson is not resigning.

In a packed media conference at city hall Monday, all eight members of council pleaded for the mayor to vacate her position immediately, citing a "blatant disregard for city policies and lack of common sense management practices" related to her 2007 office expenses as reasons for the call. "We are demanding that Linda Jackson resign immediately. At a time when good management is critical, this council has lost confidence in her ability to lead our city. We are taking this step with great reluctance," Thornhill Councillor Alan Shefman said. "... She has once again failed to demonstrate integrity and leadership. This mayor has failed in every way possible. Her actions drag everyone down. She has shamed the people of Vaughan. She is now the only freight in her own front-end loader."

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/17/2008 2:28:24 PM


Water, sewer rates jump 7.9 pr cent

Durham residents are facing a 7.9-per cent hike on their water and sewer rates come January.

This average is a combination of an 8.6 per cent increase on water bills and 7.1 per cent on sewers. The Region estimates the average residential customer, who uses 273 cubic metres or 60,000 gallons of water per year, will pay $665 for water and sewer next year. "The 7.9-per-cent increase that we recommended means an increase of $48 for the year for the average customer," said the Region's finance commissioner, Jim Clapp.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/18/2008 2:21:32 PM


Light-rail plan favoured over Yonge line extension

It's not that the TTC doesn't want to extend the Yonge subway line 6.8 kilometres into York Region. It's just that Toronto doesn't want it built at the expense of the city's other priorities.

After listening to a lengthy update yesterday on the $2.4 billion plans for the extension from Finch station to Richmond Hill Centre, north of Highway 7, councillors on the Toronto Transit Commission are still looking for projected ridership when the proposed extension opens – as soon as 2017.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/18/2008 2:23:03 PM


McGuinty rejects bankers' call for tax relief

Premier Dalton McGuinty is refusing to slash corporate taxes to help the banks, instead saying they should cut their interest rates to aid consumers.

McGuinty's shot at the Canadian Bankers Association came after it urged his government to cut corporate taxes in next year's budget or risk losing high-paying financial sector jobs to other jurisdictions as the recession deepens.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/18/2008 2:24:05 PM


Province won't fix property assessments

Municipal property assessments mailed to homes across Ontario this fall are "unrealistic" given the dramatic price drops in the real estate market, Premier Dalton McGuinty admitted yesterday.

Despite that, the province will not direct Ontario's Municipal Property Assessment Corp. to scrap the 2008 assessments – the first in several years – for fresh ones in 2009.

Instead, McGuinty called on municipalities to recognize the assessments are out of date when they prepare local property-tax bills.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/18/2008 2:27:42 PM


Ontario sees boost in house

TORONTO - The federal Conservatives have agreed to boost Ontario's presence in the House of Commons by 21 seats under a plan designed to better reflect the country's growing population, Premier Dalton McGuinty says.

"I think there was a sense that it was the right thing to do," the Ontario Premier said yesterday, noting Prime Minister Stephen Harper agreed to the deal during a meeting last week.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/18/2008 2:29:47 PM


Regina and Toronto have more economic momentum, CIBC says

Regina has more economic momentum than any other city in Canada, followed by Toronto and another Saskatchewan city, Saskatoon, according to the latest ranking of two dozen urban economies by CIBC World Markets.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/18/2008 2:32:25 PM


Taxed near the max

London is in poor fiscal health and its taxpayers among the most burdened in Ontario, a new study suggests.

Among hundreds of cities and towns in the province, London was rated closer to the bottom than the top in the study jointly done by the province and an association representing municipalities. Seventy per cent of Ontario municipalities were deemed in better fiscal health than London and only 20 per cent worse -- that, before the global economic meltdown threatened municipal bottom lines.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/18/2008 2:33:59 PM


Lincoln council backs developer

A proposed development in downtown Beamsville should be independent of the town's Official Plan, says developer Gabriel DeSantis, of Beamsville Plaza Inc.

Lincoln town council agreed to hear a last-minute argument at its Monday meeting from DeSantis's representative, Sergio Manchia, of IBI Group, who asked council to revise a motion passed by the planning committee at its Dec. 8 meeting.

Manchia said the commit- tee's decision delayed his client's right to have his application processed.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/18/2008 2:35:25 PM


Airport looks to expand

It's all about hubs and spokes.

The Lake Simcoe Regional Airport is already one of the most active small airports in Canada with more than 3,000 take-offs and landings in a busy month.

Now the airport on Line 7 of Oro-Medonte is hoping to jump to the next level by extending its runway from 5,000 feet to 6,000 feet.

That would open the door to regional passenger service jets that can carry up to 80 passengers, airport manager Mike Drumm said on Wednesday.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/18/2008 2:36:53 PM


$17.9M paid for church property

The first major expropriation deal has been reached for the proposed border crossing route, with $17.9 million being paid to the Heritage Park Alliance Church on Talbot Road.

The deal between the 30,000- square-foot church, which sits on a 5.4-hectare (13.4-acre) plot of land just south of Cabana Road, and the provincial Ministry of Transportation, was reached Dec. 11.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/18/2008 2:38:48 PM


Carleton approves design for showpiece building

Carleton University's board of governors has approved the final design for a $30.4 million building that will be one of the university's most ambitious and visible projects.

The 96,000-square-foot "canal building" will be located between the Mackenzie Building and Colonel By Drive. It will eventually be home to a number of new programs, including biomedical engineering and science; energy engineering and aerospace engineering. It will also offer space for graduate students.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/18/2008 2:45:00 PM


Bleak 2009 forecast for city economy

Canada faces a dismal economic year in 2009, and Hamilton will be among the hardest hit of the country's major cities.

A study released yesterday by CIBC World Markets concludes the pace of economic momentum is slowing for all of Canada's 24 major cities, with Hamilton ranking in the bottom half of every measure except the outlook for business bankruptcies next year.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/18/2008 2:46:07 PM


A great big bus deal in Hamilton

Top officials in area transit came to Hamilton yesterday to announce the largest joint bus purchase in Ontario history.

Provincial transportation agency Metrolinx signed contracts with New Flyer Industries Canada and City View Bus Sales in a deal worth an estimated $70 million for up to 160 buses in 2009.

The first large joint purchase by Metrolinx involved 12 municipalities, including Hamilton, and will save about $30,000 per bus for the cities involved, said Metrolinx chair Rob MacIsaac.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/18/2008 2:47:23 PM


City debates ways to cut to keep '09 taxes down


Coun. John Gazzola is calling for a wage freeze among all municipal employees as a way to cut costs in hard times.

Coun. Berry Vrbanovic, who chairs the city's finance committee, says that isn't possible.

When city councillors gather in mid-January to consider the 2009 budget they are facing a tax-rate increase of 4.8 per cent. That would increase the city portion of your tax bill by about $44.50 for a house assessed at $203,000.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/18/2008 2:48:30 PM


Chrysler, Ford extend holiday plant closings


Chrysler LLC said yesterday that it is closing all 30 of its manufacturing plants for a month starting tomorrow as it seeks to counter the most severe downturn in U.S. auto sales in more than two decades.

Ford, meanwhile, says it will shut down 10 of its North American assembly plants for an extra week in January due to the slumping U.S. auto market.

By extending the traditional two-week holiday shutdown period, the struggling Chrysler can adjust production to slowing demand and conserve cash.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/18/2008 2:50:30 PM


More parking a 'go'

If you're frustrated with the lack of parking at the Aurora GO Transit station, help is on the way.

The contract to build a new $28-million facility on Wellington Street East, between Industrial Parkway South and Ross Street, was awarded to Vanbots Construction at Friday's GO Transit board meeting. Commuters will soon have their pick of spots, GO Transit spokesperson Vanessa Thomas said.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/18/2008 2:54:27 PM


Pickering traffic plan moving along

PICKERING -- The public will have the next stab at addressing possible traffic calming measures on Fairport Road. Council supported in principle Monday the implementation of traffic-calming measures along Fairport Road from Kingston Road to Finch Avenue. Staff will now hold a community consultation process where the public and affected services can give their input, and will then present the plan and estimated construction costs for Council's consideration.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/18/2008 2:57:56 PM


Scugog feeling permit cash crunch

SCUGOG -- Scugog expects to take nearly a $100,000 cut in its planning and permit revenues next year as construction in the community slows to a crawl. According to a report penned by Gene Chartier, the Township's commissioner of planning and public works, "more conservative revenue projections" means that Scugog will probably receive about $95,000 fewer dollars in 2009 than it did this year due to less construction work.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/19/2008 2:47:36 PM


Tax preparer jailed for income tax fraud

A Mississauga man has been jailed for his role in an income tax scam that helped his clients claim more than $6 million in tax credits.
Ambrose Danso Dapaah pleaded guilty this week to one count of fraud over $5,000. He was sentenced in Ontario Court in Toronto to 51 months in jail.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/19/2008 2:49:06 PM


Neighbourhood rebirth

The revitalization of Regent Park is on track and the first group of tenants will move in this spring, the head of Toronto Community Housing said yesterday.

There are almost 600 rent-geared-to-income units in eight different buildings that will become home to tenants -- many of whom had to move last year so the older community housing units could be torn down for the new ones.

"Toronto Community Housing and tenants are counting down the days to an important milestone, which is the opening of the first new building in Regent Park. The new housing will mean better quality housing for tenants," said Derek Ballantyne, CEO of TCH.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/19/2008 2:53:59 PM


Bush offers Detroit $17.4B

WASHINGTON–President George W. Bush says he's offering $17.4 billion in loans to the auto industry because letting them collapse is "not a responsible course of action.''

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/19/2008 2:58:08 PM


Boom misses home building

A record-shattering year for London-construction is masking a sharp decline in home building that's causing unemployment to soar.

With construction permits worth $768 million written for the first 11 months of the year, the year-end tally is almost certain to eclipse the $772-million record set two years ago. But construction permits for single-family homes have fallen by almost one-third -- 28 per cent -- so far this year, plunging to $165.7 million from $231.6 million during the same period last year. For workers in that part of the industry, that's left a jobless rate estimated by some at 40 per cent.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/19/2008 3:00:05 PM


Business owners want tax relief

Ontario business owners are looking for tax and regulatory relief to help them weather the economic downturn and fortify their businesses in preparation for better days, according to a business climate survey conducted by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.

"Business owners in Brantford and Brant County and the rest of the province are more optimistic about the growth of their businesses in the next year than they are about the economy in general, yet they still need government to join them in their efforts to maintain profitability," said Len Offless, president of the Chamber of Commerce Brantford Brant.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/19/2008 3:02:43 PM


Future still bright for auto industry

Don't get too depressed about the future of the automotive industry, leading analysts on both sides of the border agreed this week. The companies that manage to survive the economic crisis will boom again.

After the painful correction works itself out, the automakers, parts makers, suppliers and dealers left standing will generate monster profits not seen since the industry's go-go days in the early 1960s.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/19/2008 3:04:57 PM


2008 property assessments met with little anger

Ottawa residents accepted the 2008 property assessments with little of the anger and outrage that characterized the process in past years, a senior city manager said yesterday, a telling reaction, given that Premier Dalton McGuinty has labeled the 2008 assessments "unrealistic."

Ken Hughes, revenue manager for the City of Ottawa, attributes the muted reaction to a greater understanding of the process.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/19/2008 3:14:44 PM


Homeowners have to live with higher assessments

Beach strip resident Chase Thomson was shocked when he got his property assessment in the mail this fall.

"We thought it was inflated," he said, noting that at $230,000 it seemed roughly 30 per cent more than it should have been.

Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) assessed homes across Ontario last January before the economic downturn.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/19/2008 3:16:38 PM


BlackBerry demand expected to fatten year-end for RIM


The economic chill isn't buffeting Research In Motion Ltd., whose executives said yesterday its new products are selling as fast as RIM can get them on the shelves.

The company said yesterday its winter will be as good or better than most analysts tracking the company expected.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/19/2008 3:21:12 PM


Plans underway for "student village"

OSHAWA -- As a new task force ponders the future of student housing in Oshawa, plans are underway to build a unique student village just north of the Durham College/UOIT campus.

UOIT president Ron Bordessa said the university's board of governors recently agreed to begin formal talks with Tribute Communities and Windfields Farm, the two groups behind the proposal. "I want a solution that is a win-win-win for everyone involved," Mr. Bordessa said. "That is why we're prepared to begin these discussions."

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/20/2008 4:57:19 PM


What to do with old gas station? Fill 'er up with tourists

The historic "tiny castle" filling station on Lake Shore Blvd. W. has been restored to its original grandeur, and is about to begin a second life.

We began following the restoration of the only remaining Joy Oil station in 2006 after it appeared that the city, which owns the building, would allow it to crumble, despite its designation as a historic building.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/20/2008 4:58:25 PM


Economists say property tax assessment system is fair

Call them unfair. Call them inaccurate. Even the premier thinks they're "unrealistic."

While many GTA residents are crying foul when it comes to the latest round of the Municipal Property Assessment Corp.'s assessments, economists say the current property assessment system is fair.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/20/2008 4:59:25 PM


High-speed rail links urged for Ontario

A multi-billion-dollar high-speed rail system that links cities in the Greater Golden Horseshoe is crucial to Ontario's long-term economic success, according to a report commissioned by economic advisers to the premier.

The report also calls on the Ontario government to consider leading the way in the switch from gasoline-powered cars to plug-in hybrid vehicles. As a possible target, it proposes that 25 per cent of all vehicles on the roads be plug-in hybrids by the year 2021 – requiring a major expansion of the province's energy infrastructure.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/20/2008 5:00:47 PM


Ottawa eyes fast-tracking infrastructure spending

Ottawa is considering fast-tracking the spending of $7.74 billion for Ontario infrastructure to boost the economy, says Transportation Minister John Baird.

"We have a seven-year infrastructure fund and I certainly heard the message that it's been too slow flowing," Baird said yesterday following a two-hour Queen's Park meeting with provincial Infrastructure Minister George Smitherman.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/20/2008 5:01:50 PM


PM, McGuinty pledge $4B in auto aid

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Premier Dalton McGuinty have announced a $4 billion (Cdn.) bailout for General Motors Canada and Chrysler Canada.

Following the $17.4 billion (US) rescue package announced yesterday by President George W. Bush, the two leaders this morning announced the long-awaited deal.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/20/2008 5:03:22 PM


Like it or not, condos will keep going up

Mere mention of the C-word – condo – is enough to strike fear and loathing into the hearts of many Torontonians. Yet we snap them up hungrily. Though the appetite might diminish in the months and years ahead, the condo is here to stay. And despite some people's feelings, that's a good thing.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/20/2008 5:12:00 PM


Study suggests Stratford will work as satellite campus

STRATFORD -- It would cost $36 million to establish a University of Waterloo satellite campus here, but the local economic spinoffs would eventually hit $43 million a year, a study estimates. Based on predictions of a 6,300-square-metre campus, including classrooms, a library and other facilities, the Deloitte and Touche study says the campus would cost $20 million to build, with a 200-student residence costing another $16 million.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/20/2008 5:13:23 PM


Boom misses home building

A record-shattering year for London-construction is masking a sharp decline in home building that's causing unemployment to soar. With construction permits worth $768 million written for the first 11 months of the year, the year-end tally is almost certain to eclipse the $772-million record set two years ago.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/20/2008 5:15:03 PM


Local job losses piling up

A Brantford company with deep roots in the community is closing its doors, putting more people out of work and adding to the community's economic woes.

Ellis Specialty Packaging on Woodyatt Drive is scheduled to close Dec. 23. Its unclear how many jobs will be lost.

The company is overseen by an Ellis Packaging facility in Guelph. A phone call to that office was not returned Friday.

However, local sources, speaking on the condition of anonymity, confirmed the Brantford facility is closing.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/20/2008 5:17:00 PM


CAW braces for 'painful times' ahead

More than 30,000 CAW members are braced for the worst as they await today's details of the Canadian portion of the $21-billion loan package put together to rescue the Detroit-based automakers.

Contract concessions and addition plant closures are probably the minimum pain that employees of General Motors, Chrysler and Ford workers can expect to feel in Canada when Prime Minister Stephen Harper announces his government's aid to the industry, CAW president Ken Lewenza said Friday.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/20/2008 5:20:09 PM


Local condo boom defies trends


The condo market in Toronto may be slowing to a halt, but in Waterloo Region the boom continues -- at least for now.

The latest plan for a luxury development, 45 Degrees on King, is a 17-floor, 93-unit building slated for King and Columbia streets in Waterloo.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/20/2008 5:21:09 PM


Railway overpass could become costly error

It makes no sense to spend $31 million to build a railway overpass that's not needed.

Unfortunately, this could happen in Cambridge, in the showdown over the railway tracks that cross busy Hespeler Road.

The tracks support the Cambridge Toyota factory and local industries. Good jobs depend on them.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/21/2008 3:17:23 PM


Will cringe factor hurt business in Vaughan?

History and symbolism surround David Rutherford as he speaks with disgust of the controversies swirling in Vaughan.

"I'm embarrassed," says Rutherford, a 65-year-old teacher and son of Albert Rutherford, former reeve of Vaughan from 1961 to 1966, in the bucolic, pre-sprawl era of the 1960s and '70s.

"City council is dysfunctional," he says with a look of exasperation.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/21/2008 3:18:15 PM

ON Small Towns Update: 2008-12-21

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/22/2008 2:23:07 PM


Auto adviser bails out of job

Business leader Jim Arnett has resigned as special auto industry adviser to Prime Minister Stephen Harper after less than three weeks on the job, the Star has learned.

But provincial sources said Arnett, a former president and CEO of Molson Inc., would continue to advise Premier Dalton McGuinty on restructuring the auto industry.

The move came on the eve of Saturday's announcement that Ottawa and Queen's Park are lending $4 billion to General Motors Canada and Chrysler Canada to keep the automakers afloat.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/22/2008 2:25:45 PM


Economic development strategy top priority

John Lennon once penned that "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."

A week ago, council unanimously endorsed with almost no discussion a resolution from the citizen-run economic development advisory committee that Brantford work on a wide-ranging economic development strategy for the area in conjunction with Brant County, Six Nations and Chamber of Commerce of Commerce Brantford-Brant.

Wouldn't it be nice if this plan could be drawn up and put in place before too much life passes by that we may regret?

Those proposing the idea envision that the area strategy would be plugged eventually into an overall strategy for development in the Grand River

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/23/2008 2:05:07 PM


Harbour contamination grabs interest

Officials who protect Ontario's drinking water and environment are seeking more information about contamination issues in the Port Stanley harbour area. Reports that a plume of contaminants is flowing through the harbour from Kettle Creek into the lake and an intake for a regional water system have caught their attention.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/23/2008 2:06:45 PM


New home construction still growing in city

Construction of new homes is continuing to grow in Brantford despite an international financial crisis, a downturn in the national economy and the continuing effects of the native land claims dispute.

The monthly building report for November shows that city hall issued 145 permits for various types of construction last month for a total value of $8 million. Those figures compare favourably with 102 permits issued during the same month last year for a total $10.8 million.

The report says November added to an encouraging overall picture for the construction industry in 2008, with a total 1,301 permits worth nearly $106.6 million, compared with 1,119 permits issued last year worth $128 million.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/23/2008 2:10:03 PM


Goodbye, small town Ontario

Smiths Falls is dead. The people living there just haven't admitted it yet.

At best, the town of 8,800 will wither to a fraction of its current size. Without jobs, there is no reason for the town to exist and the loss of 1,700 manufacturing and public service jobs will create a vortex that will take a lot of service sector jobs down, too. As the property tax base collapses, Smiths Falls will have a tough time providing even basic services for those remaining. More people will move out, handing the keys to their homes to the banks on the way. Eventually, Smiths Falls will become a small regional shopping community, population 2,000.

Posted by rsnes on 3/12/2014 7:08:28 AM

  I have made millions from fearmongers! 

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/23/2008 2:12:05 PM


Poor out in the cold

Rising costs and plummeting vacancies mean finding an apartment in Ottawa can be an exercise in frustration, if not futility, for lower wage earners. According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), the vacancy rate for apartments in this city has diminished to 1.4%, its lowest rate since 2001, while the average rent increased by 3.6%.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/23/2008 2:17:15 PM


Toyota projects its first operating loss in 70 years


Toyota Motor Corp. said yesterday it will report its first operating loss in 70 years, acknowledging that after a decade of rapid growth it can no longer escape the slowdown plaguing the global auto industry.

The Japanese auto giant also lowered its global vehicle sales forecast for the second time this year and said it was putting ambitious expansion plans on hold, in large part because of a precipitous drop in demand in the key U.S. market.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/23/2008 2:18:20 PM


Industrial park gets council OK


While rejigging the wording to enforce the importance of low-impact development, city council unanimously approved the official plan amendment and draft plan for an industrial business park in the city's south end last night.

There was some opposition to the Southgate Industrial Business Park from a neighbour and a local representative from the Sierra Club of Canada.

Although neighbour Paul Rice said his concerns are purely environmental.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/23/2008 2:24:11 PM


Crunching the numbers

UXBRIDGE -- Township officials are eyeing a three-per cent cap on the municipal tax increase for 2009, said Uxbridge's regional councillor. The Township has completed the first round of capital budget discussions, already cutting about $1 million from spending, said Coun. Howie Herrema. Among those cuts was $400,000 toward a permanent skatepark. During talks, officials decided to leave $20,000 in the budget for a skatepark site study with construction possibly starting in 2011.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/24/2008 2:05:19 PM


Pan Am bid seen as economic slave

If there's any silver lining to the economic crisis, it's that governments are more willing to open their wallets. Backers of the Toronto bid to host the 2015 Pan Am Games say that change of mindset should benefit them.

"We're the solution," said David Peterson, chair of the 2015 bid committee. "Everybody is talking about infrastructure. We can deliver this stuff fast."

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/24/2008 2:11:13 PM


Brant delays rezoning decision for proposed brick factory

Brant County's planning committee has delayed a decision about rezoning the former Blue Bird bus plant to allow a proposed brick factory to open on the site.

Dozens of county residents attended a recent meeting where the planning committee deferred a decision about a rezoning request made by 1590361 Ontario Inc. The numbered company has asked the committee to approve an exception to the former Blue Bird plant's current special industrial zoning to allow for the brick plant.

Current zoning of the 11- hectare site would not permit a brick plant.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/24/2008 2:14:42 PM


Wrecking ball falls on Congress Centre

Demolition began yesterday on the old Ottawa Congress Centre to make way for a redesigned and much larger facility. The tear-down will continue until March, and involve a surgical precision that doesn't require a wrecking ball or an implosion. The impact on traffic in the area is also expected to be minimized.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/24/2008 2:20:20 PM


Kitchener success story in midst of seventh expansion


If there is anything good to be said about the current state of the economy, it's that at least people haven't stopped eating. And for that, Flanagan Foodservice Inc. is glad.

While its neighbours in south Kitchener close plants and slash staff, Flanagan is in the midst of its seventh expansion since moving to Sasaga Drive in 1989.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/27/2008 4:42:07 PM


Road tolls still a talking point

Show us the money. For months, that's been the mantra of the municipal politicians on the Metrolinx board.

They spent the year assembling Toronto-area transit projects totalling billions of dollars into the Regional Transportation Plan.

But the board's sole citizen appointee, Paul Bedford, has adopted a different slogan. He's taking his cue from U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's "Yes we can" motto.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/27/2008 4:43:58 PM


Turning our condos green

For Toronto condo builder Mazyar Mortazavi, trends are so much more than just what wall colour is going to be hip next year – they are about the very way we live in our homes.

Mortazavi, known for his innovative developments and passion for creative city building, says condos are no longer being seen as just the first rung on the property-buying ladder.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/27/2008 4:45:32 PM


Development charges need to be taken off the table

There are some mixed signals coming out of Toronto City Hall, which tempt me to suggest that the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing. However, I'm prepared to give Mayor David Miller the benefit of the doubt and suggest that it's more a case of the left hand getting ahead of the right. The mayor's recent actions and pronouncements would certainly indicate that he is well aware of the need for proactive measures on the economic development front. The creation of Build Toronto and Invest Toronto as focal points for economic development is a welcome initiative.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/27/2008 4:48:52 PM


Grocery store yet to bloom in Gardens

Maple Leaf Gardens, which Loblaw Companies Ltd. promised would be turned into a grocery store by this month, remains an empty and largely wasted space, even as Loblaw maintains the project is a go.

"Our plans remain the same. Loblaw intends to create a food store," Julija Hunter, senior director, corporate affairs, said in an e-mail this week. "At this time, Loblaw is focused on improving the performance of its existing stores and therefore we have limited activity in new store development."

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/27/2008 4:52:16 PM


Rents up, vacancies down in Brantford

The number of available apartments in Brantford fell over the past year while the cost of rents went up.

According to the fall Rental Market Report published by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., the apartment vacancy rate in the city fell to 2.3 per cent in 2008. Meanwhile, rents edged up by 2.7 per cent.

A CMHC analyst suggested that would-be home buyers were postponing their purchases and staying in the rental market, which left fewer units available for turn-over.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/27/2008 4:54:33 PM


West Street bridge a "ticking time bomb" for tragedy

With snow piled on one side and rushing traffic on the other, Randy Ellis nervously watches his every step as he teeters the white line along the West Street N. bridge. It's hard for him to avoid walking on the roadway as snow and ice cover the only means of safe crossing.

"You got nowhere to walk," he said. "If you try walking up on the sidewalk you just fall off because of the ice and stuff. It's not plowed."

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/27/2008 5:02:30 PM


Expressway plans moving too slowly

Plans are advancing slowly to widen the overwhelmed Highway 7/8 expressway to six lanes between Courtland Avenue and Fischer-Hallman Road in Kitchener.

This upgrade is long overdue. In rush hour, a bottleneck builds at Courtland as westbound traffic narrows to two lanes.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/27/2008 5:05:29 PM


Downtown buildings to get new designation


Save any opposition in the next month, the properties on either side of the downtown Gummer building will be given heritage designation.

Without discussion, city council this week unanimously approved the pending designation of 9 Douglas St. and 65 Wyndham St.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/27/2008 5:07:20 PM


East Gwillimbury won't touch core services: CAO

The economic downturn is hitting behind the scenes in East Gwillimbury.

"We saw this coming several months ago," CAO Tom Webster said. "But the front lines won't be cut. We'll always provide core services for residents."

Starting the budget process early, the town expects to introduce cost-saving initiatives in 2009. While it plans to maintain the same level of capital spending, it expects to delay some large capital projects, Mr. Webster said.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/27/2008 5:08:20 PM


Newmarket keeps growing in slowdown

Newmarket is caught in the middle of growth and expansion on one hand and economic slowdown on the other.

It's a balancing act between growing up and standing still.

The town finished its official plan in the fall and is in its second year of a five-year plan. "It's like managing a business," Newmarket Mayor Tony Van Bynen said. "It's a long-term framework for how a community will evolve."

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/27/2008 5:11:45 PM


ig plans on the GO

DURHAM -- Faster and more frequent service is in the cards for Durham residents under GO Transit's plan through 2020. Called GO 2020, GO's recently-released strategic plan contains expanded service into Durham as well as more frequent service along existing routes.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/27/2008 5:17:22 PM


Whitby's mayor looks ahead to 2009

WHITBY -- The fate of the Cullen Central Park lands tops Mayor Pat Perkins's list of priorities as the new year rolls around. "The first really large thing that we're going to be dealing with -- that's going to affect us financially and it will affect everybody in the town -- is the budget," she said.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/28/2008 5:47:50 PM


A rental crunch on the horizon

Here is a question that might take the edge off the holiday season: Is Toronto about to face another rental housing crisis?

Are we indeed heading back 25 years to the mid-1980s when apartment vacancy rates fell to just one or two available units in every thousand?

Gerry DiLeo, a partner in Rental Lifestyle Group Inc., which manages rental apartment buildings and condo suites for investors, says he is concerned. He can see signs of a future shortage.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/28/2008 5:52:17 PM

1208HAMN (Burlington)

GO Transit, Metrolinx send 'mixed messages' to Halton: politicians

Halton politicians have expressed concern over what are seen as "mixed messages" from GO Transit regarding future expansions of service to the region that are included in its recently released GO 2020 Strategic Plan. The plan does not envision extra train service to Milton and Georgetown stations outside peak hours, and only half-hour service on the Lakeshore west line between Union Station and Hamilton.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/28/2008 5:53:59 PM


Cambridge wants you to shovel your sidewalks, uncover fire hydrants

CAMBRIDGE - Almost 500 notices reminding people to shovel their sidewalks have been issued in Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo so far this snowy December.

Most people have complied, but 30 people in Kitchener and 20 in Waterloo will be getting $300 bills from city hall after public works crews did the job for them.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/28/2008 5:55:32 PM


City leads plan to defer tax increases

Municipal councils across Ontario are quickly warming to an idea passed by Cambridge council last month. On Nov. 17, council passed a resolution put forward by Coun. Ben Tucci calling on Premier Dalton McGuinty and Finance Minister Dwight Duncan to defer the planned four-year phase-in for property tax increases for one year. In putting forward the motion, Tucci said the provincial government "should do everything possible to soften the blow for taxpayers".

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/28/2008 5:57:23 PM

1208HAMN (Flamborough)

It's official: Wal-Mart is coming to town

A new 152,000-square-foot Wal- Mart super centre will be built on the southeast quadrant of Clappison's Corners, a store official confirmed last Thursday. Kevin Groh, director of corporate affairs for Wal-Mart Canada Corp., said residents can expect to see some activity on the site within the next couple of weeks. The new department store will be built on a 12.25-acre site adjacent to RONA and facing north toward Hwy. 5.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/28/2008 5:59:02 PM


City ups pressure on province

The city is ratcheting up pressure on the province to do something about the risk to city drinking water from quarry operations near the Hanlon Expressway. A letter sent this week by Mayor Karen Farbridge to the Ministry of Natural Resources is seeking an immediate limit on excavating at the quarry currently owned by River Valley Developments, a subsidiary of Carson Reid Homes.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/28/2008 6:02:07 PM

Hello everyone. I am currently reorganizing how the small town updates are presented. Please check back next Sunday to view the new format.

Thank You

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/29/2008 1:33:45 PM


Metrolinx needs power to redraw transit map

If the future of the GTA rides on any one thing, it may be Metrolinx. The arm's-length public agency was created expressly to plan, build and operate a regional public transit system across the Greater Toronto Area. Needless to say, it's an idea whose time has long since come.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/29/2008 1:42:14 PM


Gateway economic centre role a must, Thorold mayor says

Thorold Mayor Henry D'Angela wants to put his city on the map.

While it's already there as the city where ships climb the mountain and Canada's most patriotic, D'Angela has another moniker in mind.

Gateway economic centre.

It's a title already bestowed upon Welland and Port Colborne by the province and in Niagara Region's growth management strategy, Niagara 2031, which prescribes how Niagara should develop over the next 25 years.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/29/2008 1:43:49 PM


High-speed rail line floated

Where trains once wound their way through Orillia, joggers tread along. Where railway ties were once imbedded in the ground, footfalls now leave their mark.

A high-speed electric rail system, which would link Orillia to cities in the Greater Golden Horseshoe, was proposed to the premier in a report written by a team of civil engineers at the University of Toronto, a recent Toronto Star article reported.

Orillia's Millennium Trail, which runs through an abandoned rail corridor from the Narrows in the southeast to Highway 11 in the north, once belonged to CPR and CNR lines.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/29/2008 1:48:34 PM


Feds monitor strike

Labour Minister Rona Ambrose is expected to respond as early as this week to the city's request to force a vote among striking transit union members on the latest city offer. The federal minister and her cabinet colleague, Transport Minister John Baird, are currently evaluating the situation and what the government's response may be to bring this strike to a conclusion, said Baird's press secretary Chris Day.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/29/2008 1:53:31 PM


Long-distance review stalled by Telus appeal


Fixing the city's fractured telephone districts is on hold.

Cambridge's request that Bell Canada create a more uniform system for Cambridge has been stalled by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission because of an appeal by another phone company, Telus.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/30/2008 2:18:54 PM


GMAC receives $5B in bailout funds

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Treasury Department said that it will provide $5 billion to GMAC Financial Services LLC, the ailing financing arm of General Motors Corp., in a move that's expected to stave off a bankruptcy protection filing at the company but also severely limit GM's control over it.

In exchange for the slice of the US$700 billion bank rescue package, the government will receive preferred shares that pay an 8 per cent dividend and warrants to purchase additional shares in return for the money, the department said.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/30/2008 2:24:13 PM


Revitalization too late for some

Promised revitalization won't come soon enough to save several downtown businesses hit hard by a nose-diving economy.

Justin Gill will close Gifted Presence in the new year after 13 years on James Street.

"It's the economy, for sure. We had a soft Christmas and that sort of decided things," said Gill, who, along with Pam Cook, runs the well-known gifts and home accessories store.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/30/2008 2:25:40 PM


Lakehead looks for partner

Lakehead University is seeking bids from a private partner to build a 250-bed residence and cafeteria on the new Orillia campus in West Orillia.

The deadline for submissions is Jan. 16, 2009.

Construction of the residence and academic building on 85 acres bordering Line 15, north of Old Barrie Road is expected to begin early in 2009 and is bound to generate excitement in the community, said Kim Fedderson, dean of the Orillia campus.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/30/2008 2:31:54 PM


Groups reach tentative deal on former Lafarge lands


A tentative deal has been reached between the Howitt Park Neighbourhood Group and Silvercreek (Guelph) Developments Ltd., which has a plan to develop the former Lafarge lands on Silvercreek Parkway.

After several days of mediation through the Ontario Municipal Board, the two sides have inked a plan that will go to the neighbourhood group's membership likely Jan. 11 or 12.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/31/2008 3:56:53 PM


No plans to retire: Hazel

For the second time in two months, 87-year-old Mayor Hazel McCallion has reiterated that she will be seeking re-election in 2010 — as long as her health holds out.
When asked about running again in a year-end interview with The Toronto Star, McCallion replied, " I've always said that if my health remains the way it is, which is pretty good, I will offer myself to the people of Mississauga."
In an Oct. 28 interview with The News, McCallion was asked the same question. her reply?

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/31/2008 3:58:28 PM


Ontario energy standards set to kick in

New energy-efficiency standards are set to kick in for new homes in Ontario.

Effective Jan. 1, the province's building code will require near full-height insulation on foundation walls in all new-home construction.

The province estimates that such homes will be typically about 28 per cent more energy efficient than a decade ago.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/31/2008 4:02:15 PM


Waterfront residents taking tax hit

In the face of plunging property values, lake-area property owners are calling for Ontario to throw out the latest provincewide property assessments. The drop in real estate makes an already unfair tax system even worse, said Bill Rowat of Bayfield, a director of the Waterfront Ratepayers After Fair Taxation group and the Coalition After Property Tax Reform.

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/31/2008 4:04:20 PM


Draft scrap yard bylaw now done

A proposed licensing bylaw for scrap and salvage yards is ready for public comment "This bylaw is going very well and, at the end of the day, we'll have something that protects neighbourhoods and improves the standards of these yards," Coun. Richard Carpenter said in an interview on Tuesday.

"Now is the time for us to clean up dirty industrial properties and brown-field sites and give some direction to salvage yards."

Posted by joeiannuzzi on 12/31/2008 4:07:29 PM


Claridge sidelines city with OMB end run

The Ottawa developer behind the city's Portrait Gallery of Canada bid has won the right to press ahead with plans for two 27-storey towers at Metcalfe and Lisgar streets despite the cancellation of the gallery project, a result that has infuriated some councillors.

"That's a sad state of affairs," said Councillor Peter Hume, who chairs the planning committee and spearheaded the effort to make a deal with Claridge Homes.