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Ground Breaking Officially Kicks Off Port Lands Transformation





The week, Waterfront Toronto hosted a ground breaking ceremony to celebrate the start of the Port Lands Flood Protection Project, a $1.2 billion initiative as part of a long term plan to transform the industrial brownfield lands into a mixed use community with residential, office and parkland uses. As part of a multi-decade project, the current undertaking is to naturalize the mouth of the Don River to allow water to flow more naturally and efficiently into the inner Toronto Harbour. This will reduce the flood risk for 290 hectares of land in south-eastern Downtown and Leslieville that currently sits in a flood plane. Work like this has been done on a smaller scale at Corktown Common, which protects the post-industrialized West Don Lands and Distillery District neighbourhoods.

Waterfront Toronto, Port Lands RevitilizationCurrent view of the project and future vision, image courtesy of Waterfront Toronto

Although the ground breaking took place just this week, it was largely ceremonial. Work has been underway since the end of 2017, and the current stage of construction began in September. Crews can be seen in the video below doing lake-filling work for what will be the greened mouth of the Keating Channel (the river’s current, industrialized mouth). 

Concurrent with the ceremony, Waterfront Toronto released a video prepared by contractor EllisDon, outlining the phases of construction through its intended 2023 completion date.

Work in 2018 has largely been focused on the excavation of the River Valley System in the centre of the Port Lands, and that will continue into the majority of 2019. The new year will also bring about the re-alignment of Cherry Street slightly west of its current location, and the construction of a new Cherry Street bridge which will connect the new island to the mainland. As the trench for the new river becomes deeper, a Commissioners Street bridge will also be constructed on the east side of the island to improve its east-west corridor.

Following in 2020, Commissioners Street will be reconstructed and the Hydro One infrastructure needed to support redevelopment of the area will be completed. In the following three years, a third more southerly bridge will be constructed for Cherry Street over the naturalized river, two parks will be completed, and the Keating Channel will be modified to promote water flow into the new extension of the river. The video below shows the construction staging process planned out for the next five years.

Several Government officials attended the ground breaking including Mayor John Tory and Minister of Infrastructure and Communities François-Philiipe Champagne. The project itself is estimated to bring $5.1 billion to the Canadian economy through the 51,900 years worth of employment time for construction workers. The project will also be revenue positive to the Government itself, contributing over $1.9 billion in revenue to all three levels.

Officials from all three levels of Government at the Groundbreaking Ceremony, imOfficials from all three levels of Government at the Groundbreaking Ceremony, image courtesy of Waterfront Toronto

Once all of the infrastructure is set up, development can begin on what will be a very sustainable, green community. Villiers Island, named after a main street this northwestern portion of the Port Lands, will be a Climate Positive Community, meaning it will produce more energy than it uses, one of the first of its kind in Canada.

Waterfront Toronto, Port Lands RevitilizationView of the curve of the newly naturalized Don River, image courtesy of Waterfront Toronto

We’ll provide regular updates as this massive construction project progresses over the next five years. To learn more about the project, check out our database file, linked below, where you’ll find additional renderings, or the associated forum thread with construction photos and finer details about what’s coming to the Port Lands.

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UrbanToronto now has a new way you can track projects through the planning process on a daily basis. Sign up for a free trial of our New Development Insider here.


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Real Estate

7 Tips For First-Time Home Buyers In Calgary





Buying a house for the first time can be overwhelming to say the least. If you’re wondering what neighbourhood to go with, what you can afford, or even how to just get started on the process, let us take some stress off your hands! We’ve teamed up with Hopewell Residential to give you 7 tips to ensure the home you end up with is everything you dreamed of.

Hopewell Residential is a five-time Developer of the Year award winner, so their expertise is second-to-none in Calgary and beyond. Who better to learn home-buying tips from than the homebuilders themselves?

Create a checklist of needs & wants

This is a biggie. When you’re buying your very first home, you’ll want to weigh your needs vs. your wants. Ensuring you have what you love in your first home is a big, big deal.

What should you do? Easy. Set up a list of needs and a list of wants, but be pretty strict with yourself, and make sure you take your lifestyle into consideration. With the increase in remote work over the past year, it’s important to keep in mind that a home office or flex room might just be the key to maximizing at home happiness. Especially if you’re thinking you might be expanding your family later on, spare rooms and extra space is key (but more on that later!).

Or for instance, you might need a home in an area with a high walkability score, but you want to be close to certain amenities. Set yourself up with the right level of compromise and the number of homes that actually fit your ‘perfect’ idea will skyrocket.

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‘Don’t give up’: Ottawa Valley realtors share statistics, tips for homebuyers in ‘extreme’ sellers market





The real estate market in the Ottawa Valley can be summed up this way: people from far and wide are in a buying frenzy, but there’s hardly anything to buy at the “store,” and the limited inventory is overpriced.

This “stampede” — as one realtor described it — will affect rural towns as residents grapple with finding affordable housing and agonize over their inability to purchase homes in their price range.

“We are seeing a lack of inventory in all price ranges,” said Laura Keller, a real estate agent from Carleton Place.

Helen Vincent, a Renfrew realtor, said she’s never seen a market like this in her 36 years of practice. “We postpone offers for four to five days in order to get all the buyers,” she said.

Multiple offers — between seven and 10 — became the norm, with cash offers and no conditions, as buyers faced bidding wars. “In Ottawa, they have up to 50 (offers),” she added.

“It’s very stressful. You’re going to get nine (people) ticked off, and one happy. So many people are disappointed,” Vincent said.

Terry Stavenow, an Arnprior realtor for 40 years, said that “the pent-up need took over with inventory going low. It made a stampede on everything that was available.“

“Brand new housing — it’s very much gone. Several building developers are rushing to get inventory. They usually don’t do construction in the winter months,” said Stavenow.

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Real Estate

10 Tips For First-Time Home Buyers





Buying a home for the first time is exciting and a commitment to the future. It’s often challenging, too, and the process requires a lot of steps, many of which can be tricky to navigate as a first-time home buyer.

What are some things you should keep in mind as a first-time home buyer?

First-Time Home Buyer Tips

Here are 10 tips to keep in mind as you begin your journey toward homeownership.

1. Have Your Finances in Order

It’s wise to begin saving as early as possible once you’ve made the decision to purchase a house. You’ll need to consider the down payment, closing costs (which often range from 2% to 5% of the down payment), as well as move-in expenses.

You also need to understand the other costs of homeownership, such as mortgage insurance. property taxes, utilities, homeowner’s insurance, and more.

2. How Much Can You Afford?

Knowing how much you can realistically afford in a home is another important financial consideration. Look for the home of your dreams that fits your budget.

One way to avoid future financial stress is to set a price range for your home that fits your budget, and then staying within that range. Going through the preapproval process will help you understand what price range is realistic for your budget.

3. Make Sure Your Credit is Good

Another thing to keep in mind as a first-time home buyer is your credit score because it determines whether you qualify for a mortgage and affects the interest rate that lenders offer. 

You can check your credit score from the three credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.

This is another good reason for getting preapproved before you start your search. Learn more about the preapproval process and your credit score.

4. Choose The Right Real Estate Agent

A good real estate agent guides you through the process every step of the way. He or she will help you find a home that fits your needs, help you through the financial processes, and help ease any first-time buyer anxiety you may have.

Interview several agents and request references.

5. Research Mortgage Options

A variety of mortgages are available, including conventional mortgages – which are guaranteed by the government – FHA loans, USDA loans, and VA loans (for veterans).

You’ll also have options regarding the mortgage term. A 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is popular among many homebuyers and has an interest rate that doesn’t change over the course of the loan. A 15-year loan usually has a lower interest rate but monthly payments are larger.

6. Talk to Multiple Lenders

It’s worth your time to talk to several lenders and banks before you accept a mortgage offer. The more you shop around, the better deal you’re liable to get – and it may save you thousands of dollars.

7. Get Preapproved First

Getting a mortgage preapproval (in the form of a letter) before you begin hunting for homes is something else to put on your checklist. A lender’s preapproval letter states exactly how much loan money you can get.

Learn more about the preapproval process and how preapproval provides you with a significant competitive advantage in our article How Preapproval Gives You Home Buying Power.

8. Pick the Right House and Neighborhood

Make sure to weigh the pros and cons of the different types of homes based on your budget, lifestyle, etc. Would a condominium or townhome fit your needs better than a house? What type of neighborhood appeals to you?

9. List Your Needs and Must-Haves

The home you purchase should have as many of the features you prefer as possible. List your needs in order of priority; some things may be non-negotiable to you personally.

10. Hire an Inspector

Hiring an inspector is another crucial step in the home buying process. An inspector will tell you about existing or potential problems with the home, and also what’s in good order. You can learn more about home inspections and how to find a home inspector through the American Society of Home Inspectors website.

Buying a home for the first time is a challenge, but it’s one you can handle with the right planning and preparation.

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