Ecoplace Community for Whitby
It's exactly what Whitby's been looking for – an opportunity for living and working in one place. When the planned Ecoplace Community by the Lake is completed, it's expected to provide homes for 14,000 and jobs for 10,000. That's huge for Whitby, says Mayor Pat Perkins.
As Durham Region's fastest-growing municipality, Whitby has homes but not jobs for new residents, Perkins explains. "People are spending two to three hours on the highway every day" to get to work in Toronto. "The highlight of this development is the employment opportunities for residents."
Preliminary plans for the first phase of the development include a 20-storey office tower, 700 units in three condominium highrises and retail stores.
"It will be the place to be east of Toronto." says developer Saverio Montemarano.
Weston: A Town in Toronto
A reader from Weston writes:
I happened upon your blog when I googled "Toronto Real Estate Blogs". Your contact info had a vague invite asking readers to tell you why we are reading it. Well, I'm planning on putting my home up for sale in spring and I was trying to figure out what potential buyers have to say about my area of town (Weston, in west Toronto) so that I can help my real estate agent market my place.
There isn't a heck of a lot written about the area, it seems.
I wonder why more people aren't investing in this area. It has a lot going for it - but a BIG thing is affordability.
Based on all the buzz about the sky-rocketing prices of housing in the rest of Toronto, I would venture to say there are a lot of people out there who feel like they missed the boat. Some people would be depressed about the prices of housing in Toronto being completely out of reach and locking out the average, middle-income, hard-working family.
There ARE bargains to be had in Toronto, and you don't have to move out of the city limits to get them, or pay a fortune in renovations.
My family and I live in the town of Weston. If you say "Weston", a lot of people turn their noses up at that. Yes - it used to be old and crappy. It still does have a rough veneer - but it's a gem if you do a bit of scratching! Like everywhere else in the city, it's turning around and undergoing gentrification. It has some really good things going for it - good bones! We have our own Go Station, a village area with good shopping, some decent mom and pop places to eat (where they know the regulars by name), a few really nice infill projects and a terrific farmers' market from June to October. The ride to Union Station is only 17 minutes long. Our area is also well-served by the TTC.
Myself - I live in a fairly new quiet enclave of freehold townhouses off of Weston Road, near Jane - a ten minute walk to the Go station. These 3-bedroom townhomes have their own garage, small yards and are between 1600 and 1900 square feet. They go for between $275 - $330K. Since most are under 7 years old, many still have their CMHC warranty. We feel good about sending our children to the new elementary school around the block, or letting them play in the community's new park. Getting your daily exercise is a breeze when you walk or cycle on the Humber River hiking/biking trails that our park's trails feed into. It's a very safe, family-oriented neighbourhood where almost every home has young children. My neighbours are always outside, children are always playing in the park, and we look out for eachother's kids. Just thought you would like to know, in case you ever tackle the subject - that it IS possible to have a nice, AND affordable, home within Toronto's city limits!
Too bad more real estate agents and more people don't know about it. Local real estate agents just aren't working too hard to market my area. So, I wanted to create my own buzz!
BTW - I really like your web site - I have learned a lot from it.
Thank you for the insight BTW. Weston sounds like a great place to me.
Toronto City Hall reno blasted
After months of bewailing its financial plight, the City of Toronto proposes spending $6.2 million on City Hall renovations to create new committee rooms, build a media studio and consolidate Mayor David Miller's staff in offices overlooking Nathan Phillips Square. The previously undisclosed renovations showed up in the fine print of the city's capital budget, released Thursday.
Councillor David Shiner said the spending undercuts the city's argument that it needs more funding. "We're telling the provincial and federal government that we can't afford to maintain the infrastructure of the City of Toronto, and yet we have almost $7 million for renovations to the mayor's office, and to add a couple of committee rooms," said Shiner (Ward 24, Willowdale).
"How can we go to the province and say we need help, and how can we go to the feds and say we need help, when we're renovating our house for what seems to be unnecessary work?"
Mayor Miller was in Ottawa yesterday, talking with other mayors about getting a better deal for cities. He said the renovations were not part of Toronto's long-range budget plan "but the idea of building the committee rooms dates back for some time."
Assessments not set in stone
eal estate markets seem to be plateauing and the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) is trying to reflect that in their property value assessments. But all it takes is an error in assessment or one hotly-contested home to boost prices in the neighbourhood, increase value assessments, and send tax bills on an uphill slope some clients may think they’ll need Sherpas to climb. It may be comforting for them to know that they can ask MPAC to review their property’s assessed value.
MPAC is a not for profit corporation that administers the property assessment function for the Province of Ontario. It has revamped its processes and will now be on a one-year cycle, providing property assessments in the 445 municipalities across the province.
For homeowners who believe that the assessed value on of their property is inaccurate, they can: a) ask MPAC to review their property’s assessed value, or; b) file a Notice of Complaint with the Assessment Review Board (ARB), which is an independent tribunal, governed by the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General.
MPAC assesses 4.4 million properties: “We know we won’t get everything correct, but that’s why we have the Request for Reconsideration,” the corporation’s Bill Bradley told REALTORS at the OREA Political Affairs Seminar this past November. At no cost, MPAC will review material homeowners provide and the information that they have about the property in their files. Details such as the size, location, condition and age of the property and details such as depreciation, nuisances and any other factors that can have an impact on the current value of the property are considered. Sales and values of similar properties in the area are also considered in the review.
Homeowners can request a review by completing a Request for Reconsideration (RFR) form on line at www.mpac.ca, or by contacting MPAC by phone at 1-866-296-MPAC (6722). There is no fee for the review, and one can be requested any time before December 31, 2006.
Homeowners and property owners who decide to file the Notice of Complaint must do so by March 31, 2006. The ARB’s required filing fee for a residential or farm property is $75. For multi-residential, commercial, or industrial properties, the filing fee is $150.
A Notice of Complaint can be filed if an RFR has been completed or if it hasn’t. It can be filed if MPAC has completed its review and the property owner still disagrees with the assessed value. It can also be filed if the property owner has asked MPAC to review the assessed value and has not heard from MPAC by March 31, 2006.
More information is available by contacting MPAC directly. Property owners can also access information through MPAC’s online information and help section, AboutMyPropertyTM.
Hilton hotel coming to Ajax
Mayor Steve Parish has announced that Vrancor Development Corporation will be building a Hilton Garden Inn® in Ajax.
"The Town of Ajax is proud to welcome Hilton Garden Inn to the community," said Parish. "Businesses and visitors alike have long recognized the need for a full-service hotel in the eastern GTA and we are very pleased that this development will soon be a reality."
The hotel is expected to open in the Spring of 2006 and will be a full-service, six-storey hotel with 134 rooms, including 19 deluxe suites. The development will be located on the north-east corner of the new Highway 401 - Salem Road interchange and will happen in three phases:
- Phase 1 - 134 room Hilton Garden Inn
- Phase 2 - 19,000 square foot convention centre
- Phase 3 - 80 suites for extended stay ( Hilton Homewood Suites)
"The reason we chose the Hilton Garden Inn brand is because of their high level of standards specifically catering to the discerning and corporate traveler," said Darko Vranich, President and CEO of Vrancor Development Corporation. "The Hilton Garden Inn name stands for value and quality in the minds of International Travelers and Ajax is a great site for the award-winning brand." Mr. Vranich went on to add that the Hilton Garden Inn brand has received the distinguished "Highest Guest Satisfaction Among Mid-Price Hotel Chains with Full Service" award in the J.D. Power and Associates North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Study three years in a row.
The hotel will feature: 3,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, a full-service restaurant, an indoor pool and fitness centre, a 24-hour business centre and a variety of suites, including handicap accessible suites.
The Town of Ajax currently owns the lands where the hotel will be built, but will be selling the lands to Vrancor Developments.
Vrancor Development Corporation and Vrancor Hospitality Management is a multi-brand development and management company based in Burlington, Ontario and has two hotels open and 10 currently under construction or in the development phase throughout Southern Ontario.
For more information on Hilton Garden Inn hotels, visit www.hiltongardeninn.com.
Ajax celebrates its 50th anniversary
The Town of Ajax, named after the courageous and determined British warship HMS Ajax, has a history deeply routed in industry and community spirit.
The Town began as the site of a munitions plant built by the Federal Government and operated by Defence Industries Limited (DIL) to provide war munitions to support the Second World War Allied effort.
In 1950, in response to a petition from citizens of Ajax, the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) ordered that Ajax become the Improvement District of Ajax but that it would be owned by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and administered by a provincially appointed Board of Trustees.
In 1954, a petition for Town status was submitted to the OMB and the Board once again ruled in favour of the petition and the Town of Ajax was born. The first Council, comprising of Mayor, Reeve, Deputy Reeve and six Councillors, was elected on December 11, 1954 and were sworn into office at the first Council Meeting on January 10, 1955.
What began as a munitions plant during the Second World War has grown over the last fifty years into a vibrant community with a robust economy that will continue to grow well into the future.
Ajax keeps its small-town roots
Determined to keep its small-town roots, Ajax the poster child for planned communities, likes to pay attention to the little things. Derek Raymaker writes about Ajax in the Toronto Globe and Mail:
"Whatever you might think of the outer reaches of Durham Region, you have to admire the efforts of city officials to sustain the character of an upright small town in a world of interminable technological progress.
When you call Ajax's city hall, for instance, the automated switchboard will allow you to report littering or vandalism to a voice-mail extension before it will patch you through to the person with whom you wish to speak. It's a charming touch, though it's hard to imagine the litter bugs and scalawags of this city of nearly 85,000 shaking in their Airwalks."
Ajax: The Town by the Lake
The pride and joy of the town's 80,000 residents, Ajax's Lake Ontario waterfront is the longest undeveloped waterfront in the Toronto area. Located directly east of Pickering, Ajax is also blessed with 465 acres of parkland and natural areas. There are numerous walking trails with plans for a comprehensive system of linked trails throughout the town and north to Greenwood Conservation Area.
Being so close to the country, residents enjoy amenities such as first-rate golf courses, horseback riding and horse racing at Picov Downs Racetrack.
Ajax is home to three community centres, including the Ajax Community Centre, which has an indoor pool, four ice rinks, fitness facilities, squash courts and the unique Higher Ground Rock Climbing facility, one of the few of its kind in the GTA.
One of the town's chief shopping districts is along Highway 2, where a host of new big box stores compete for Ajax's shopping dollars. Counterpoint to Pickering Village is the new Durham Centre with tenants such as Danier Leather, Chapters Bookstore, Starbucks, Moores the Suit People, Zellers, Future Shop, Winners, Home Depot, and Cineplex.
It's not uncommon to find second-generation residents buying homes in the old neighbourhood and raising their families in Ajax. Housing prices are lower here than in neighbouring Pickering and are significantly lower than in Toronto.
The Town of Ajax has just launched a new website.
History of Ajax
Ajax was incorporated as a Town in 1955, but long before that, several small settlements and farms were found in the area. In 1941, the largest defence industry in North America was located in this area to provide supplies for the Allies in World War II. The founding of Defence Industries Limited (DIL) was really the start of Ajax as we know it. As thousands of workers and their families settled in the immediate area, communities developed and a post office was needed, which meant the area needed a name. A competition among DIL employees resulted in the name Ajax being chosen, in honour of one of the three ships that in 1939 had engaged and routed the German battleship Graf Spee at the Battle of the River Plate near Uruguay.
After the War, the University of Toronto leased many of the DIL buildings for a new flood of engineering students, and a new population base was added to the area. The community continued to grow and by the early 1950s it was clear that it was time for incorporation as a municipality. This occurred in 1955. Twenty years later, the small community of Pickering Village and parts of Pickering Township were amalgamated with Ajax, forming the Town’s current boundaries.
The Ajax Historical Board (now called Heritage Ajax) has published a history book, 'A Town Called Ajax'which is available at the Town Hall and all library branches. The Ajax Public Library has developed a local history web page, www. Pada.ca, that provides access to local history and historical documents about Ajax and Pickering.