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Federal Offices Being Retrofitted for Carbon Zero Operations





As the Government of Canada prepares to vacate Toronto’s Dominion Public Building across from Union Station after 86 years, a more permanent home is being prepared for its 1,900 federal employees. Now, two buildings at Yonge and St Clair, also home to some Federal ministry offices, are being retrofitted to house the Ontario flagship offices of the Federal Government in a newly redesigned Arthur Meighen Building. Named for the 9th Prime Minister of Canada, the building will house Ontario’s branch of the Canada Revenue Agency and several other Federal ministries when it is completed in 2022.

Arthur Meighen Building, DIALOGRendering of the Arthur Meighen Building rehabilitation project, image courtesy of DIALOG

The building aims to set the standard for Carbon-Neutral buildings in Canada, leading the charge on the Federal Government’s initiative to have a completely carbon neutral building portfolio by 2030. The massive renovation project involves multi-disciplinary firm DIALOG working with the Canadian Green Building Council as part of a pilot project to set a new standard for Zero Carbon Buildings. The certification requires that the building significantly reduce its carbon emissions and offset the remaining balance through clean energy production in its first 12 months of operation. The Arthur Meighen building is one of 16 selected to participate in the pilot project which also includes the Oxford Properties Toronto South Core office tower proposal The HUB, which is currently in the planning process. The Meighen building will achieve a zero-carbon designation through an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, geothermal heating, and photo-voltaic solar panels.

Arthur Meighen Building, DIALOGAriel rendering of the solar panels atop the Arthur Meighen Building, image courtesy of DIALOG

Not only will systems be put in place to curb energy consumption, but the design of the building itself will provide efficiency. The building will be gutted for structural and electrical engineering purposes all while improving the architecture to a more modern, yet classic design. Diagonally stepped glazing traverses the limestone clad building to serve two purposes; paying tribute to the two existing buildings, and creating a light-filled environment on the interior that encourages use of the building’s feature staircases and communal workspaces.

Looking south at the two buildings at 25 and 55 St Clair West, TorontoLooking south at the two buildings at 55 and 25 St Clair West that will be rehabilitated, image from Google Maps

The Government is also making efforts to integrate major accessibility features into the core of the retrofitted building. They have touted their partnership with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind to implement an assistive devices network not only throughout the building itself but also in the surrounding neighbourhood. The plan is to install beacons at local businesses that will communicate with the smart devices of those with disabilities, offering a descriptive narration of what is happening around them. 

Arthur Meighen Building, DIALOGInterior rendering of the feature staircases and communal work spaces, image courtesy of DIALOG

Concern has ben noted in he UrbanToronto Forum regarding the preservation of the late-deco stylings framing the current building at 25 St Clair East, specifically the Bas-Relief spandrels featuring etched designs of forested and lakeside landscapes. Might the design elements remain on the exterior, or might they be integrated into the building’s interior?

Arthur Meighen Building, DIALOGView of the Late-Deco framing at the ground level of 25 St Clair E, image courtesy of Google Street View

Bas-Relief spandrels over te entrance to 25 St. Clair West, image Google MapsBas-Relief spandrels over the entrance to 25 St Clair West, image from Google Maps

Additional information and images can be found in our database file for the project, linked below. Want to get involved in the discussion? Check out the associated Forum thread, or leave a comment in the field provided at the bottom of this page.

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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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Real Estate

‘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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