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Cash-handling machines being upgraded to handle new $10 Viola Desmond bank notes

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Hundreds of thousands of cash-handling machines across the country have had to be upgraded to handle Canada’s distinctive new $10 bill, featuring a vertical portrait of Nova Scotia civil rights advocate Viola Desmond, while some others still awaiting changes are rejecting the distinctive banknotes.

Ensuring vending and other machines can read the new polymer note requires a software upgrade for each device.

Spencer Baxter, owner of Value Vending Services in Nova Scotia, said his 125 devices simply won’t accept the new bills. Upgrading them all, which he has not yet had a chance to do, costs about $10 each, excluding driving and labour time to get to the machines at various locations.

“It’s time and money,” Baxter said from Halifax. “Each time they change them, we need to upgrade.”

Since their introduction in mid-November, the Bank of Canada has made 19.6 million of the new notes available to financial institutions and almost 16.9 million of those are now considered to be in circulation. By contrast, a total of 158 million $10 notes were in circulation at the end of November, the central bank said.

‘It’s not a huge deal’

“With about half a million cash-handling machines of various types in use across Canada, it stands to reason that they won’t all accept this note from the day it begins to circulate,” said Rebecca Spence, a spokeswoman for the Bank of Canada. “In that case, the bank’s advice is: If a $10 note featuring Viola Desmond is not accepted by a cash-handling machine, try using the previous regular circulating note instead.”

Metrolinx, the Toronto area’s regional transit agency, said it knew the new bills would be an issue for its Presto and other machines used for purchasing rides on buses, subways and commuter trains.

Most devices have already been reprogrammed, said Anne Marie Aikins, senior media manager with the transit agency. The upgrades, she said, are simply the cost of doing business in an increasingly automated society.

“The beautiful $10 bill is vertical in its image, which has thrown off vending machines,” she said. “We have to make sure they’re all updated. It’s not a huge deal. It’s just a matter of getting to them.”

A sample of the new $10 Canadian bank note, featuring civil rights icon Viola Desmond, is seen in this undated handout image from the Bank of Canada. Hundreds of thousands of cash-handling machines across the country have had to be upgraded to handle Canada’s distinctive new $10 bill, featuring a vertical portrait of Nova Scotia women’s rights activist Viola Desmond, while some others still awaiting changes are rejecting the distinctive banknotes. (Bank of Canada/Canadian Press)

The new bank note, with its suite of security features, appears to have provoked less of an outcry than the introduction in 2011 of the polymer notes that replaced the old cotton-paper banknotes, or the lighter loonies and toonies produced by the mint in 2012. In those cases, some vending-machine operators complained they were ill prepared for the change and were forced to mollify unhappy customers and spend time and money fixing machines that refused to recognize the new currency.

‘New software required’

The Bank of Canada said it had been working with financial institutions and equipment manufacturers to minimize the impact of the new $10 bill on the cash-handling industry. The note, the bank said, keeps the machine-readable features of Canada’s other polymer notes and is printed on the same material.

The bank also said it provided test notes in advance to equipment manufacturers to help ensure machine readiness.

In addition, with the gradual roll-out, relatively few of the bills have so far made their way into public wallets and purses and then into machines. That has helped create breathing room for owners and operators to reprogram their devices.

“People, like me, I got my first one and I’m keeping it,” said Aikins. “By the time [the bill] gets broadly into circulation, the fix will be in.”

Chris Stegehuis, president of the Canadian Automatic Merchandising Association, said the introduction of the Viola Desmond bill appears to have gone more smoothly than some earlier changes.

“There was new software required for our bill validators, as is expected with any coinage or bill change,” Stegehuis said. “No problem with it at all.”

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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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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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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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