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Airline passengers could be entitled to hefty compensation for delays, lost bags

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Canadian travellers who are bumped from flights due to overbooking, or have to deal with lost or damaged luggage, could soon be eligible for hundreds of dollars in compensation.

The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) outlined today a proposed new regulatory regime with specific financial entitlements for travellers. The proposed regulations include:

  • A requirement for airlines to provide clear communications about flight delays or cancellations with regular updates by email, text or other methods.
  • Compensation for flight delays or cancellations, which will vary depending on the circumstances and how much is in the control of the airline. For larger airlines, compensation can range from $400 for a delay of three to six hours, to $700 for delays of six to nine hours, and $1,000 for a delay of more than nine hours. There also will be new standards for passenger treatment during flight delays, including requirements to supply food and drink and access to electronic communications.
  • Compensation for boarding denied a result of commercial decisions, such as overbooking. That compensation will be $900 for circumstances that lead to a late arrival of up to six hours, $1,800 for arrival delays of six to nine hours and $2,400 for delays of more than nine hours.
  • Compensation for lost or damaged baggage of up to $2,100.
  • Clear policies for tarmac delays. For delays of up to three hours, those policies require airlines to provide working washrooms, proper ventilation, food and drink and electronic communications. After a tarmac delay lasts more than three hours, the aircraft must return to the gate.

The compensation regime will offer smaller amounts for smaller airlines that serve northern or remote communities.

The changes are expected to result in an average price increase of about $2.75 per ticket, though it’s not clear whether that will be passed on to the passenger.

Similar to EU system

Scott Streiner, chair and chief executive officer of the CTA, said the changes are comparable to the European compensation system, which is considered a global leader in passenger rights.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau officially unveiled the first version of the long-awaited air passenger bill of rights Monday morning. The details will be published in the Canada Gazette this week, and Canadians are being encouraged to submit their comments.

Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau outlined the new draft regulations for passenger rights Monday at the Ottawa airport. 1:26

Garneau called it a “fair and balanced” approach that is clear and transparent.

“I believe it’s the best passenger rights bill in the world,” he said.

The draft regulations also prohibit the removal of seated passenger from a plane, except for safety reasons. They require the airline to rebook a passenger on a competitor’s flight if a delay extends beyond nine hours.

The regulations will apply to all airlines flying into, out of and within Canada — something Garneau called “unique.” His office said that in both the European Union and the U.S., air passenger rights do not apply to international air carriers flying into those jurisdictions.

The current U.S. and EU rules apply to flights on international air carriers flying out of those jurisdictions. They also apply to domestic carriers flying into or within those jurisdictions.

Canadians will have two months to comment on the draft regulations. The final regulations must be approved by cabinet; Garneau said he expects the new regulations will come into force this summer.

The bill also will include regulations that allow parents to sit next to their children without having to pay a fee.

Gabor Lukacs of the advocacy group Air Passenger Rights said the draft regulations don’t go far enough to protect travellers.

He said the proposed regulations allow airlines to keep boarded passengers on the tarmac for up to three hours, which exceeds the limit of 90 minutes some airlines have already set. They also relieve airlines of the responsibility to compensate passengers for flight delays and cancellations caused by the airline’s own maintenance problems.

Lack of accountability

“The proposed regulations give airlines a carte blanche to refuse paying compensation on the basis of unverifiable claims of maintenance issues,” he said in a written statement. “This is inconsistent with international standards, and perpetuates a lack of accountability for airlines.”

Earlier this year, Parliament passed Bill C-49, which allows for the passenger rights regulations — but it fell to the Canadian Transportation Agency to craft the specifics on how compensation would work.

Ian Jack is a spokesman for the Canada Automobile Association, which has been pushing the government on the issue. He said it’s good that airlines will have to compensate with cash rather than food or travel vouchers — but he worries that the exemption for maintenance issues could be interpreted too broadly by airlines.

Jack said it’s critical for the new rules to come in play by July 1, 2019.

“We’ve been talking about it and consulting on it for years. It’s time to move,” he said.

With files from the CBC’s Catharine Tunney

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Real Estate

Montreal real-estate prices climbing much faster than Toronto or Vancouver: study

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MONTREAL — The cost of housing per square foot has skyrocketed in Montreal while other cities saw little change over the last year, according to a new national survey.

The study found that condominium prices in downtown Montreal are up 13.5 per cent from last year to, on average, $805 per square foot.

That’s not as high as other cities, but it’s catching up — and Montreal’s rate of growth is outpacing other major Canadian cities.

Toronto’s condo prices grew to $1083 per square foot, an increase of just under 10 per cent, according to the study. In Vancouver, where you can find some of Canada’s most expensive condo prices, rates are down 4 per cent to $1192 per square foot.

To make the comparisons, Canadian real estate giant Century 21 collected data from real estate boards across the country to calculate the home costs per square foot.

“It’s important to compare apple to apples,” said Todd Shyiak, the company’s vice president of operations.

Montreal’s rise was even more explosive for detached homes and townhouses.

Detached houses in Montreal’s downtown and southwest rose to $958 per square foot, 40 per cent up from last year.

“It’s wild,” said Century 21 broker Angela Langtry. She says the pandemic raised demand.

“People had a lot of time to figure out they don’t like the home they’re in,” she said. “They all want pools.”

There was a big spike in sales, she noted, following a pause in brokerage during the spring, at the peak of the pandemic.

Experts say the pandemic will push people into the suburbs as they search for affordable housing and home office space.

“A huge portion of our society’s housing needs changed overnight,” said Shyiak. People “no longer need to be 10 minutes from the office.”

He says that could mean less demand for condos in the future. “People want their own front door,” he said.

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Real Estate

Carttera buys prime downtown Montreal development site

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Carttera has acquired a prime downtown Montreal site at 1455 De La Montagne St. which will mark its third development on the thoroughfare.

“We think it’s probably one of the best, if not the best, locations in the whole city,” Carttera founding partner Jim Tadeson told RENX. “We’ve had great success on De La Montagne.”

The two earlier projects are: L’Avenue, a building with 393 residential units, 84,000 square feet of office space and 34,000 square feet of retail that was developed with Broccolini and occupied in 2017; and Arbora Residences, a two-phase development with 434 rental and condominium units in three buildings being built in partnership with Oxford Properties.

Thursday’s latest acquisition, for $48.5 million from 630745 Ontario, is a 31,750-square-foot surface parking lot with flexible mixed-use zoning on the corner of De La Montagne and De Maisonneuve Boulevard West.

The site is near the Vogue Hotel Montreal Downtown, the new Four Seasons Hotel Montreal and high-end retail.

“It’s zoned for up to 203,000 square feet of density, which we’re going to take advantage of,” said Tadeson. “Our vision for the site is a condominium project with some retail.”

Since there is no demolition required and no heritage issues to contend with, Toronto-based Carttera plans to move ahead quickly with the luxury project.

It’s in the concept design phase and Tadeson said it could take six months or more before it’s prepared to make a submission to the city.

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Real Estate

Montreal Has the Hottest Real Estate Market in Canada Right Now

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If you thought Toronto’s real estate market was on fire, it’s time for a second take, because the market in Montreal is the hottest in all of Canada right now.

A newly-released annual report from CENTURY 21 Canada reveals that, following an early-spring decline due to the COVID-19 pandemic, sales numbers are bouncing back and house prices across the country are maintaining their strength. The study compared the price per square foot of properties sold between January 1 and June 30 of this year, compared to the same period last year.

In Toronto and Vancouver, unsurprisingly, prices remain high. But while regions across the country are seeing varied stories when it comes to their housing market fluctuations, Montreal stands out — there, prices have increased dramatically since 2019. While the numbers remain lower than Toronto and Vancouver, that housing market is proving to be the country’s strongest right now.

In Quebec’s largest city, prices have increased significantly since last year, particularly in the downtown detached house and townhouse markets. For example, the price of a detached house in Montreal’s downtown and southwest rose 42.14% to $958 per square foot, while townhouses went up 44% to $768, and condos, 13.55% to $805. Comparatively, in Toronto and Vancouver, prices saw more modest increases or, in some cases, even declines.

“Even though real estate in Quebec was not considered an essential service, we have seen strong demand and a jump in prices in 2020,” said Mohamad Al-Hajj, owner of CENTURY 21 Immo-Plus in Montreal.

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