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Rising telecom prices and new food guidelines: CBC’s Marketplace consumer cheat sheet

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Miss something this week? Don’t panic. CBC’s Marketplace rounds up the consumer and health news you need.

Want this in your inbox? Get the Marketplace newsletter every Friday.

Your internet bill could go up — again

Bell, Telus and Shaw are raising prices on select plans again — and customers aren’t happy. The hikes are roughly $2 to $9 per month. The companies say the increases pay for improvements to their networks because of growing demand, but analysts say the increases are more about “very high operating profits.”

Telecom industry analysts say the rising fees go towards company profits. (Communications Monitoring Report 2018/CRTC)

Goodbye food groups. Hello new food guide.

Meat and dairy are out. Plant-based proteins and produce are in. And instead of specific food categories with recommended servings, Canada’s new food guide has broader recommendations focused on proportions rather than portions. The guide also talks about preparing food at home and drinking water.

The newest version of Canada’s Food Guide focuses on proportions over portions of specific foods. (CBC)

VW emissions ‘fix’ creates more problems

“They broke my car.” Justin Wright is among the Volkswagen owners reporting issues with deceleration and rapid acceleration after getting a “fix” following an emissions scandal. He says his vehicle has been repaired six times. VW says most owners are happy and it has improved its extended warranty coverage.

Vancouver Justin Wright says his Volkswagen has been repaired six times since getting the emissions ‘fix’ on his vehicle.

Canadian bank records sent to U.S.

An information-sharing agreement between the Canada Revenue Agency and the Internal Revenue Service has sent 1.6 million Canadian banking records across the border since 2014. The controversial agreement generally applies to U.S.-born Canadians and Canadians with American bank accounts.

An information sharing agreement between the Canada Revenue Agency and the Internal Revenue Service has sent 1.6 million Canadian banking records across the border since 2014. (Susan Walsh/Associated Press)

What else is going on 

You can now order online from Dollarama. But the digital discount store isn’t for shoppers looking for a couple items — it’s only for those looking to buy in bulk.

Your old lawnmower in the garage could be worth money. Several big-name mowers made from 1994 to 2012, including Toro, John Deere and Honda are part of a class-action lawsuit for misrepresentation of horsepower.

Canada’s legal pot shortage will continue as more cannabis products enter the market. Licensed producers are ramping up production to prepare for legal edibles, demand for recreational and medicinal cannabis continues to grow, which could push the shortage into 2022.

The latest in recalls 

These John Deere snowblowers and accessories were sold without manuals; some Hello Fresh and Chefs Plate meal kits may contain contaminated chili peppers; these PurpleAir air quality sensors may be a fire hazard; and the coolant tank caps on some Kubota mowers could come off and create a burn hazard.

Next week on Marketplace 

We’re taking a break this week, but are back next Friday with a follow-up investigation into what happens in long-term care homes. We take hidden cameras into an Ontario nursing home and see how staffing shortages could affect the care your parent or grandparent receives. If you missed our first investigation, you can watch it below: 

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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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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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