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A Look Inside the Crosstown LRT’s Cedarvale Station

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Across central Toronto, deep beneath Eglinton Avenue, and hidden behind the construction hoarding that juts out into the street, lies the construction sites for the Crosstown LRT’s 13 underground stations. Today, we take a close look at what’s coming at one of those stations when the line opens in 2021.

Cedarvale Station will be the transfer point between the Crosstown LRT and the western leg of Line 1 (Yonge-University Line). The Crosstown will have two other transfer points with the TTC subway network; at Eglinton Station (Line 1 – eastern leg) and Kennedy Station on Line 2 (and for the time being, Line 3 at the station too). It will also have three transfer points to the GO network, at Mount Dennis Station (Kitchener Line and UP Express), Caledonia Station (Barrie Line), and Kennedy Station (Stouffville Line). 

The Crosstown LRT line, Toronto, image courtesy of MetrolinxThe Crosstown LRT, image courtesy of Metrolinx

As part of the Crosstown project, the station—currently known as Eglinton West—is being renamed after the neighbourhood in which it’s located, since the majority of the future underground Crosstown stations are technically located underneath Eglinton Ave West. This marks only the fourth time that an existing TTC subway station has been renamed, the others being Bloor Station becoming Bloor-Yonge Station when the Bloor-Danforth Subway opened, Sheppard Station becoming Sheppard-Yonge Station with the opening of the Sheppard Subway in 2002, and Downsview Station becoming Sheppard West Station with the opening of the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension in 2017.

NORR Architects has recently made public updated drawings and renderings of the station complex, providing UrbanToronto the opportunity to take you on a virtual tour of sorts, of Cedarvale Station. Let’s start with an overview of the station complex where Eglinton Avenue meets the south end of Allen Road.

Aerial view of the Cedarvale Crosstown LRT station complex, Toronto, MetrolinxAerial view of the station complex, image courtesy of Metrolinx

One of the first things that may strike you about the station complex is the number of entrances it will have. In addition to the existing entrance to Eglinton West Station, the Crosstown project will add an additional 3. The existing entrance and station building will function primarily as the bus loop, and is unlikely to see a significant amount of walk-in usage, as there are new entrances that are less of a walk from nearly every direction, and allow pedestrian to avoid crossing roads.

The Cedarvale Crosstown LRT station complex, with the primary entrance, TorontoThe station complex, with the primary entrance in the foreground, image courtesy of Metrolinx

Existing Eglinton West station building with renovated plaza, TorontoExisting station building with renovated plaza, image courtesy of Metrolinx

The new primary entrance for the station complex is west of the current one, at the corner of Park Hill and Eglinton. For those who live along Marlee Ave and surrounding area, this will be the closest entrance. An interesting landscaping item of note is the combination of tall grass planters and trees, no doubt a concerted effort to reduce the appearance of a large empty swath of concrete surrounding the station entrance.

Dusk view of the new primary entrance to Cedarvale Crosstown LRT StationDusk view of the new primary entrance, image courtesy of Metrolinx

The new secondary entrance for the station complex will be located on the northeast corner of the intersection of Allen and Eglinton, and will service the neighbourhood to the northeast of the station. The rendering of this entrance below also provides more detail on how the benches will be integrated into the landscaping of the site, with back rests backing onto the tall grass planters. Bicycle racks are also clearly visible.

Rendering of the secondary entrance to Cedarvale Crosstown LRT StationRendering of the secondary entrance, image courtesy of Metrolinx

After entering through one of the two new entrances on the north side of Eglinton, passengers will be directed down to a hallway that runs the full distance between them. At centre of the hallway, it opens up what’s called the Upper Concourse, where riders will find fare gates, and access to a pair of Lower Concourses one flight down.

Rendering of the concourse level at Cedarvale Crosstown LRT Station, TorontoRendering of the concourse level, image courtesy of Metrolinx

The third new entrance is the sole entrance located on the south side of Eglinton (seen below). At Everden, it is across the from the existing Eglinton West Station entrance, and has direct access to the west-side Lower Concourse. (That access point can be seen on the left in the image above.)

Rendering of the third entrance to Cedarvale Crosstown LRT StationRendering of the third entrance, image courtesy of Metrolinx

The station is arranged in a T-shape, with the Crosstown platform being centred south of the south end of the existing Line 1 platform, and its connections between the rapid transit lines themselves, are somewhat complex, as are the connections between the rapid transit lines and the surface bus routes.

For riders of Line 1, there will be no change if you want to transfer between that line and surface bus routes: the stairs, escalators, and elevators will remain where they are near and at the south ends of parallel platforms. Riders of the Crosstown, however, will need to chose certain stairs/escalators/elevators and hallways to minimize the transfer time.

Station complex cross-section showing the various levels at Cedarvale StationStation complex cross-section showing the various levels, image courtesy of Metrolinx

The complication mostly ensues from the Line 1 tunnel running through the middle of the Lower Concourse, cutting it into east and west halves. Crosstown riders wishing to switch to Line 1 southbound will want to minimize transfer time by ascending to the West Lower Concourse, from which they can take a hallway to the southbound Line 1 platform, while Crosstown riders wishing to transfer to One 1 northbound will want to ascend to the East Lower Concourse, from which they can take a hallway to the northbound Line 1 platform. If riders ascend to the wrong side of the Lower Concourse, they can either return to the Crosstown Platform Level, or ascend to the Upper Concourse and then descend to the correct side of the Lower Concourse. If Eglinton West station had been built with a centre platform 40 years ago, this would all be much easier.

Rendering of the platform level at Cedarvale Crosstown LRT Station, TorontoRendering of the Crosstown platform level, image courtesy of Metrolinx

Transfers at Eglinton Station will be less complicated, as both lines have centre platforms, meaning that all stairs/escalators/elevators will access the other directions equally. More details about the Crosstown project as a whole can be found on Metrolinx’s website.

To keep up-to-date on Crosstown construction, you can visit the forum threads for either Cedarvale Station or the entire Crosstown project. If you would like to share your thoughts on this project, you can do so in either of those forum threads, or in the comments below.


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Real Estate

5 ways to reduce your mortgage amortization

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Since the pandemic hit, a lot of Canadians have been affected financially and if you’re on a mortgage, reducing your amortization period can be of great help.

A mortgage amortization period is the amount of time it would take a homeowner to completely pay off their mortgage. The amortization is typically an estimate based on what the interest rate for your current term is. Calculating your amortization is done easily using a loan amortization calculator which shows you the different payment schedules within your amortization period.

 In Canada, if you made a down payment that is less than the recommended 20 per cent of the total cost of your home, then the longest amortization period you’re allowed to have is 25 years. The mortgage amortization period not only affects the length of time it would take to completely repay the loan, but also the amount of interest paid over the lifecycle of the mortgage.

Typically, longer amortization periods involve making smaller monthly payments and having a much higher total interest cost over the duration of the mortgage. While on the other hand, shorter amortization periods entails making larger monthly payments and having lower total interest costs.

It’s the dream of every homeowner to become mortgage-free. A general rule of thumb would be to try and keep your monthly mortgage costs as low as possible—preferably below 30 per cent of your monthly income. Over time, you may become more financially stable by either getting a tax return, a bonus or an additional source of income and want to channel that towards your principal.

There are several ways to keep your monthly mortgage payments low and reduce your amortization. Here are a few ways to achieve that goal:

1. Make a larger down payment

Once you’ve decided to buy a home, always consider putting asides some significant amount of money that would act as a down payment to reduce your monthly mortgage. While the recommended amount to put aside as a down payment is 20 per cent,  if you aren’t in a hurry to purchase the property or are more financial buoyant, you can even pay more.

Essentially, the larger your down payment, the lower your mortgage would be as it means you’re borrowing less money from your lender. However, if you pay at least 20 per cent upfront, there would be no need for you to cover the additional cost of private mortgage insurance which would save you some money.

2. Make bi-weekly payments

Most homeowners make monthly payments which amount to 12 payments every year. But if your bank or lender offers the option of accelerated bi-weekly payment, you will be making an equivalent of one more payment annually. Doing this will further reduce your amortization period by allowing you to pay off your mortgage much faster.

3. Have a fixed renewal payment

It is normal for lenders to offer discounts on interest rate during your amortization period. However, as you continuously renew your mortgage at a lower rate, always keep a fixed repayment sum.

Rather than just making lower payments, you can keep your payments static, since the more money applied to your principal, the faster you can clear your mortgage.

4. Increase your payment amount

Many mortgages give homeowners the option to increase their payment amount at least once a year. Now, this is very ideal for those who have the financial capacity to do so because the extra money would be added to your principal.

Irrespective of how small the increase might be, in the long run, it would make a huge difference. For example, if your monthly mortgage payment is about $2,752 per month. It would be in your best interest to round it up to $2,800 every month. That way, you are much closer to reducing your mortgage amortization period.

5. Leverage on prepayment privileges

The ability for homeowners to make any form of prepayment solely depends on what mortgage features are provided by their lender.

With an open mortgage, you can easily make additional payments at any given time. However, if you have a closed mortgage—which makes up the larger percentage of existing mortgages—you will need to check if you have the option of prepayments which would allow you to make extra lump sum payments.

Additionally, there may also be the option to make extra lump sum payments at the end of your existing mortgage term before its time for renewal.

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Mortgage insurance vs. life insurance: What you need to know

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Your home is likely the biggest asset you’ll ever own. So how can you protect it in case something were to happen to you? To start, homeowners have a few options to choose from. You can either:

  • ensure you have mortgage protection with a life insurance policy from an insurance company or
  • get mortgage insurance from a bank or mortgage lender.

Mortgage insurance vs. life insurance: How do they each work?  

The first thing to know is that life insurance can be a great way to make sure you and your family have mortgage protection.

The money from a life insurance policy usually goes right into the hands of your beneficiaries – not the bank or mortgage lender. Your beneficiaries are whoever you choose to receive the benefit or money from your policy after you die.

Life insurance policies, like term life insurance, come with a death benefit. A death benefit is the amount of money given to your beneficiaries after you die. The exact amount they’ll receive depends on the policy you buy.

With term life insurance, you’re covered for a set period, such as 10, 15, 20 or 30 years. The premium – that’s the monthly or annual fee you pay for insurance – is usually low for the first term.

If you die while you’re coved by your life insurance policy, your beneficiaries will receive a tax-free death benefit. They can then use this money to help pay off the mortgage or for any other reason. So not only is your mortgage protected, but your family will also have funds to cover other expenses that they relied on you to pay.

Mortgage insurance works by paying off the outstanding principal balance of your mortgage, up to a certain amount, if you die.

With mortgage insurance, the money goes directly to the bank or lender to pay off the mortgage – and that’s it. There’s no extra money to cover other expenses, and you don’t get to leave any cash behind to your beneficiaries.

What’s the difference between mortgage insurance and life insurance?

The main difference is that mortgage insurance covers only your outstanding mortgage balance. And, that money goes directly to the bank or mortgage lender, not your beneficiary. This means that there’s no cash, payout or benefit given to your beneficiary. 

With life insurance, however, you get mortgage protection and more. Here’s how it works: every life insurance policy provides a tax-free amount of money (the death benefit) to the beneficiary. The payment can cover more than just the mortgage. The beneficiary may then use the money for any purpose. For example, apart from paying off the mortgage, they can also use the funds from the death benefit to cover:

  • any of your remaining debts,
  • the cost of child care,
  • funeral costs,
  • the cost of child care, and
  • any other living expenses. 

But before you decide between life insurance and mortgage insurance, here are some other important differences to keep in mind:

Who gets the money?

With life insurance, the money goes to whomever you name as your beneficiary.

With mortgage insurance, the money goes entirely to the bank.

Can you move your policy?

With life insurance, your policy stays with you even if you transfer your mortgage to another company. There’s no need to re-apply or prove your health is good enough to be insured.

With mortgage insurance, however, your policy doesn’t automatically move with you if you change mortgage providers. If you move your mortgage to another bank, you’ll have to prove that your health is still good.

Which offers more flexibility, life insurance or mortgage insurance?

With life insurance, your beneficiaries have the flexibility to cover the mortgage balance and more after you die. As the policy owner, you can choose how much insurance coverage you want and how long you need it. And, the coverage doesn’t decline unless you want it to.

With mortgage insurance through a bank, you don’t have the flexibility to change your coverage. In this case, you’re only protecting the outstanding balance on your mortgage.

Do you need a medical exam to qualify? 

With a term life insurance policy from Sun Life, you may have to answer some medical questions or take a medical exam before you’re approved for coverage. Once you’re approved, Sun Life won’t ask for any additional medical information later on.

With mortgage insurance, a bank or mortgage lender may ask some medical questions when you apply. However, if you make a claim after you’re approved, your bank may ask for additional medical information.* At that point, they may discover some conditions that disqualify you from receiving payment on a claim.

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5 common mistakes Canadians make with their mortgages

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This article was created by MoneyWise. Postmedia and MoneyWise may earn an affiliate commission through links on this page.

Since COVID-19 dragged interest rates to historic lows last year, Canadians have been diving into the real estate market with unprecedented verve.

During a time of extraordinary financial disruption, more than 551,000 properties sold last year — a new annual record, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association. Those sales provided a desperately needed dose of oxygen for the country’s gasping economy.

Given the slew of new mortgages taken out in 2020, there were bound to be slip-ups. So, MoneyWise asked four of the country’s sharpest mortgage minds to share what they feel are the mistakes Canadians most frequently make when securing a home loan.

Mistake 1: Not having your documents ready

One of your mortgage broker’s primary functions is to provide lenders with paperwork confirming your income, assets, source of down payment and overall reliability as a borrower. Without complete and accurate documentation, no reputable lender will be able to process your loan.

But “borrowers often don’t have these documents on hand,” says John Vo of Spicer Vo Mortgages in Halifax, Nova Scotia. “And even when they do provide these documents, they may not be the correct documentation required.”

Some of the most frequent mistakes Vo sees when borrowers send in their paperwork include:

  • Not including a name or other relevant details on key pieces of information.
  • Providing old bank or pay statements instead of those dated within the last 30 days.
  • Sending only a partial document package. If a lender asks for six pages to support your loan, don’t send two. If you’re asked for four months’ worth of bank statements, don’t provide only one.
  • Thinking low-quality or blurry files sent by email or text will be good enough. Lenders need to be able to read what you send them.

If you send your broker an incomplete documents package, the result is inevitable: Your mortgage application will be delayed as long as it takes for you to find the required materials, and your house shopping could be sidetracked for months.

Mistake 2: Blinded by the rate

Ask any mortgage broker and they’ll tell you that the question they’re asked most frequently is: “What’s your lowest rate?”

The interest rate you’ll pay on your mortgage is a massive consideration, so comparing the rates lenders are offering is a good habit once you’ve slipped on your house-hunter hat.

Rates have been on the rise lately given government actions to stimulate the Canadian economy. You may want to lock a low rate now, so you can hold onto it for up to 120 days.

But Chris Kolinski, broker at Saskatoon, Saskatchewan-based iSask Mortgages, says too many borrowers get obsessed with finding the lowest rate and ignore the other aspects of a mortgage that can greatly impact its overall cost.

“I always ask my clients ‘Do you want to get the best rate, or do you want to save the most money?’ because those two things are not always synonymous,” Kolinski says. “That opens a conversation about needs and wants.”

Many of the rock-bottom interest rates on offer from Canadian lenders can be hard to qualify for, come with limited features, or cost borrowers “a ton” of money if they break their terms, Kolinski points out.

Mistake 3: Not reading the fine print

Dalia Barsoum of Streetwise Mortgages in Woodbridge, Ontario, shares a universal message: “Read the fine print. Understand what you’re signing up for.”

Most borrowers don’t expect they’ll ever break their mortgages, but data collected by TD Bank shows that 7 in 10 homeowners move on from their properties earlier than they expect.

It’s critical to understand your loan’s prepayment privileges and the rules around an early departure. “If you exit the mortgage, how much are you going to pay? It’s really, really important,” Barsoum says.

She has seen too borrowers come to her hoping to refinance a mortgage they received from a private or specialty lender, only to find that what they were attempting was impossible.

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