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Ontario to tax foreign buyers, expand rent control to cool housing market

Jessica Smith Cross and Allison Jones, The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Apr 21st, 2017

Ontario is following British Columbia’s lead, promising to introduce a tax on foreign homebuyers that the province hopes will help cool the frantic housing market, easing concerns about a potential bubble in Canada’s fastest growing urban region.

The 15-per-cent “non-resident speculation tax” was among 16 housing measures the provincial government announced Thursday, which also included a promise to expand rent control, allow Toronto to impose a tax on vacant homes and use surplus provincial lands for affordable housing.

Premier Kathleen Wynne said the new tax would not target immigrants, and a rebate would be available to foreigners who work in Ontario, those who subsequently get citizenship or permanent resident status and international students.

“With this tax, we are targeting people who aren’t looking for a place to raise a family — they’re looking only for a quick profit or a safe place to park their money,” Wynne said.

Fears of a potential real estate market collapse as well as diminishing housing affordability have put increasing pressure on Wynne’s Liberal government to take action, at a time when the average price of detached houses in the Greater Toronto Area has increased more than 30 per cent since last year.

Wynne said the measures were designed to help people afford to rent or buy a home, brushing off a suggestion that the move was more about boosting her approval rating, which has recently plunged to just over 10 per cent, according to polls.

Some economists were skeptical Thursday about the impact the new tax on foreign speculators would have on soaring house prices, noting that all three levels of governments have admitted they lack housing market data.

CIBC economist Benjamin Tal said he doesn’t believe there are enough foreign buyers in the Toronto-area market for the tax to have a lasting effect. However, he predicts a short-term slowdown in the market once the measures are implemented.

Wynne said the Liberals were not interested in controlling the market.

“But we do believe there is a need for interventions right now in order to calm what’s going on,” she said.

The non-resident speculation tax will be imposed on buyers in Ontario’s Greater Golden Horseshoe — an area stretching from the Niagara Region to Peterborough — who are not citizens, permanent residents or Canadian corporations.

Once legislation passes, it will be effective retroactively to April 21.

Another housing measure would expand rent control, which currently only applies only to units built before November 1991. The measure would be effective retroactively to April 20 once passed.

Rent control has been one of Toronto Mayor John Tory’s main concerns, especially after recent published reports about some tenants in the city receiving notices that their rent would double.

Giorgio Cecatto, one of those tenants, said he is happy that his plight might have helped spur on the change in policy.

“I’m glad that, hopefully, in the future people are not going to be in our situation,” he said. “It was something that needed to be discussed in the region.”

The forthcoming rent control legislation won’t apply to tenants like Cecatto, who received rent hike notices before Thursday’s announcement.

The building industry has warned that rent control will discourage the construction of new rental properties. To offset that, the government has also introduced a five-year, $125-million program to rebate a portion of development charges on new purpose-built rental properties in areas with low vacancy rates.

Ontario is also giving Toronto and other interested municipalities the power to impose a vacant homes tax to encourage owners to sell or rent such spaces.

Rules for real estate agents will also be reviewed, in particular practices such as double ending, where the agent represents both the buyer and the seller.

Tim Hudak, CEO of the Ontario Real Estate Association, welcomed the review.

“Those who abuse the rules, you’ve got to throw the book at them,” he said. “Anybody who is breaking the rules is taking advantage of somebody making the biggest investment of their lives. You don’t want that person in the profession.”

Ontario will also establish a program to identify provincially owned surplus lands for affordable and rental housing, with an eye to using a few specific sites such as the West Don Lands in Toronto for pilot projects.

The measures announced Thursday appeared similar to those the British Columbia government implemented in Metro Vancouver last August, when foreign homebuyers were slapped with a 15-per-cent tax. The City of Vancouver also imposed a tax on vacant homes.

B.C. Premier Christy Clark announced in January that the tax would be lifted for those who have a work permit in order to encourage more people to move to the province to work.

The number of sales in Metro Vancouver plunged in the months after the new tax, though there are signs that the market may be bouncing back.

Queen Elizabeth II turns 91 with quiet day, gun salutes

The Associated Press | posted Friday, Apr 21st, 2017

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 30: Queen Elizabeth II reacts after presenting New Colours to the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards at Windsor Castle on April 30, 2015 in London, United Kingdom. (Cathal McNaughton - Pool /Getty Images)

Britain is marking Queen Elizabeth II’s 91st birthday with gun salutes, as the monarch celebrates quietly at home.

A troop of the Royal Horse Artillery will ride horse-and-gun carriages past Buckingham Palace before staging a 41-gun salute in Hyde Park at noon local time. There will also be a 62-gun salute at the Tower of London an hour later.

The queen is Britain’s oldest and longest-reigning monarch, having become queen on Feb. 8, 1952. She is also the world’s longest-reigning living monarch since the death of Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej last year.

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The Queen usually spends her birthday privately. She also has an official birthday, marked in June – when the weather is better – with the “Trooping the Color” military parade.

Earlier this year, the Queen became the first British monarch to reach the milestone of 65 years on the throne.

Cleanup underway after ‘extraordinary rainfall’ causes flooding in Hamilton

CityNews | posted Friday, Apr 21st, 2017

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Cleanup is underway in Hamilton, after heavy rains caused flash flooding that shut down streets and caused rivers and creeks to overflow on Thursday.

The Hamilton Conservation Authority has issued a flood watch and is warning everyone to exercise caution on the waterways. However, flooding on the streets had gone down by Friday morning, and widespread flooding is not expected, the conservation authority said.

The damage on Friday morning in Hamilton and Dundas was extensive. Some of the photos can be seen below:

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The city called the amount of rain since Wednesday “extraordinary” and said crews were investigating the flooding on a number of roads.

Environment Canada, meanwhile, issued a special weather statement for Hamilton, saying up to 70 millimetres of rain was possible by Thursday night.

“A few rounds of heavy showers and thunderstorms will continue to affect the area this evening,” the agency said.

“Rainfall from these thunderstorms combined with the rain that fell earlier today could result in total amounts between 40 and 70 millimetres locally.”

A statement is in place as well for Burlington and Oakville, which could get between 30 and 50 millimetres of rain.

Milwaukee Bucks rout Raptors 104-77 to take Game 3

Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Apr 21st, 2017

MILWAUKEE, WI - APRIL 20:  Kyle Lowry #7 of the Toronto Raptors works against Khris Middleton #22 of the Milwaukee Bucks during the second half of Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2017 NBA Playoffs at the BMO Harris Bradley Center on April 20, 2017 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  The Bucks defeated the Raptors 106-77. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Kyle Lowry’s seething silence said everything.

While DeMar DeRozan answered questions about one of the Raptors’ worst losses in franchise history, Toronto’s all-star point guard leaned back in the chair beside him, his lips pursed, his eyes narrowed in an angry glare.

The Raptors were thoroughly routed by an upstart Milwaukee Bucks team 104-77 on Thursday night, and in the moments after the ugly loss, Lowry’s body language mirrored his team’s shock and rage.

“We got our ass bust,” Lowry finally said, when asked to sum up the Raptors’ woeful performance.

Lowry scored 13 points to top Toronto, while DeRozan went without a field goal in the playoffs for the first time in his career, managing just eight points on 0-for-8 shooting.

Delon Wright had 13 points off the bench, while Jonas Valanciunas had 11 points and seven rebounds.

All the pre-game talk was about matching the Bucks’ intensity, but the Raptors did exactly the opposite, digging themselves a first-half hole the size of Wisconsin. Now the Bucks take a 2-1 lead in their best-of-seven playoff series into Saturday’s Game 4 in Milwaukee.

If the Raptors’ confidence took a wallop with the loss, Lowry wasn’t saying so.

“I still think we can win the series,” he said. “It ain’t over. It just sucks right now. It’s a terrible night right now. It’s a terrible feeling the way we just got our ass beat. Terrible feeling. So we’d better pick it up. If not, it’s going to be a terrible feeling again. But our confidence has not changed. We’ll be fine. We’ve got to come out there and do what we gotta do Saturday.”

Khris Middleton scored 20 points, while Giannis Antetokounmpo added 19 points to lead the Bucks, who are making their first playoff appearance in two seasons.

Introduced to the theme music of “Barney,” it was all downhill from that point for Toronto.

Milwaukee’s motto is “Fear the Deer,” and the hard-charging Bucks, with a young starting lineup that includes two rookies and a 22-year-old star in Antetokounmpo, had the Raptors running scared from the opening tip-off. They looked completely out of sorts, unable to make a shot or a pass – DeRozan uncharacteristically fired a pass to nobody that was caught by a fan.

Asked for answer, coach Dwane Casey said: “There’s none.”

“It starts with us, myself as a coach as far as having them ready to play in a hostile environment,” Casey said. “They ambushed us, and there’s no aspect of our game that we executed whatsoever.”

The Raptors, who are notoriously slow starters anyway, managed just 12 points in the opening quarter, the second lowest in franchise playoff history. (They managed just nine points versus Detroit in 2002).

The massacre stretched into the second, and when Middleton scored on a free throw late in the first half it put the Bucks up by a whopping 32 points. Wright drained a three-pointer two seconds before the break, and the Raptors trudged into halftime down 57-30 – just four points shy of their biggest halftime deficit in playoff history (31 points last year in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against Cleveland).

“They kicked our ass. They kicked our ass. Period,” said P.J. Tucker – he would repeat the phrase four more times before the end of his interview. “They came out and played harder, more aggressive, did everything they wanted to do.”

Tucker scoffed when asked about the team’s morale.

“It’s professional basketball. This is your livelihood,” he said. “Nobody should have to go out and hype you up. This is what you do. If you don’t have morale to fight in the NBA playoffs, then this ain’t the job for you.”

There would be no miracle comeback for the team that led the league in comeback victories this season. They went into the fourth quarter down 78-48, before a pair of Valanciunas free throws with 7:45 to play pulled them to within 23 points. But it was already game over. Casey emptied his bench with five minutes to play.

DeRozan said the Raptors need to turn their anger into motivation.

“Use everything that happened tonight, that’s going to come with the next 24 hours, use it as motivation,” he said. “And as competitors, be back ready for Saturday.”

The Raptors shot just 33.8 per cent on the night and allowed the Bucks to 52 per cent. The Raptors went just 6-for-22 from three-point range.

The leather-lunged crowd of 18,717 fans at BMO Harris Bradley Center – including quarterback Aaron Rodgers and several Green Bay Packers teammates – sounded louder from the opening tipoff than at any moment during Game 1 or 2 back in Toronto. A few dozen fans made the trip from Toronto for the game.

The Raptors dropped a shocking 97-83 loss to the Bucks in the series opener, but replied with a 106-100 victory in Game 2.

The Bucks shot a sizzling 67 per cent in the first quarter and when Michael Beasley drained a three with 37 seconds left, it gave Milwaukee a 20-point lead. The Raptors couldn’t buy a basket in the opening frame, shooting 4-for-18 and 0-for-6 from three-point range. The Bucks took a 32-12 lead into the second.

The Raptors scored just 18 points in the second quarter, and finished the first half shooting a woeful 23 per cent.

Following Saturday, the series shifts back to Toronto for Game 5 on Monday.

WestJet to launch low-cost carrier late this year

CityNews | posted Thursday, Apr 20th, 2017

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WestJet will launch a new ultra-low-cost carrier (ULCC) later this year, the company said in a statement on Thursday.

“We have built WestJet from its low-cost, regional roots into a renowned, international airline with service to 21 countries and today it’s all about disrupting at the price-sensitive end of the market,” Clive Beddoe, co-founder of WestJet and chair of the board of the directors, said in the statement.

“Launching a ULCC will broaden WestJet’s growth opportunities and open new market segments by offering more choice to those Canadians looking for lower fares.”

The service will start with an initial fleet of 10 high-density Boeing 737-800s designed by the airline.

The deal still approval from pilots and regulators, 680 NEWS senior business editor Mike Eppel said.

Keeping your kids’ closet, toys + bathrooms organized

Janice Meredith | posted Thursday, Apr 20th, 2017

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Organizing your kids and having them keep it that way!

First off you need to edit out and see what you have left to organize before you begin any system.

Kids are actually quite used to everything having a place and having to be a part of putting it back. They thrive on the success of getting things in the right place.  At school everything is labeled or has a place, so let’s keep that same action going at home.

  1. Closet:

Keeps things simple, clean and organized. But most importantly, at your child’s eye level and within arms reach. Try to keep out-of-season inventory out of the way.

Expandable Bar, Life At Home, Real Canadian Super Store, $19.99

More things are not helpful.  All their clothes should be able to fit in their room. If there is overflow, you have too much stuff.

Two baskets keep small things (that get passed on once it’s full) or bigger incoming items making rotating the items an ongoing practice.

Each child has its own type/colour of hanger and own laundry bin which makes it easier for distributing from the laundry room as kids should be putting away their own laundry.

Felt slim profile hangers, Homesense, $6.99

The third upper closet bin is for keepsakes. So they can dump/place/toss into the bin through out the school year and then at the end of the school year, this closet bin gets edited and emptied into the real keepsake bin. They make their own choices about what to keep.

There are also digital websites to host your child’s art projects that you can share with family once you have taken a picture of it. Artsomia or ArtKive

Morning and bedtime routines help solidify the actions so we keep to the organization. They can see everything they own. They are a part of putting it away If something is missing, we know quickly ie hat or mitts as it is not in it’s place.

Just like with adults, when we can see everything we have we are more inclined to use everything we have.  Also means we won’t ask for what we don’t need. Kids understand things have to be removed to get something new.

2. Toys:

I provide the storage container for toys and it’s their choice and in their control about which toys to keep in that limited space. It’s also good to reference back on when birthday’s or gift-receiving to know what they have and what they are using.

Divide toys based on the use – common – keep low and easily accessible, less frequent – move higher.

Easy access baskets, Homesense, $12.99 –small, $16.99 – large

With everything in a bin, you can rotate out and in toys to keep them fresh. 2-3 bins accessible at a time, the others in a cupboard.

Underbed storage is a great place for toys, games and books. Especially for those sharing bedrooms. It’s their sacred place.

Skubb soft side small storage bins, Ikea, $9.99

Stuffies have one spot to go. Anymore and some need to be edited out and donated.

Woven basket, Real Canadian Super Store, $23.37

Back of door shoe organizers are the best for sorting game figures, keep sakes, hair accessories and so much more.

Life At Home over the door organizer Real Canadian Super Store, $24.99

Papers get collected and organized in one spot.

Grundtal magnetic knife strip, Ikea, $14.99

Magnetic bulldog clips, Staples, $5.43

Wood wall storage with wire bins, Homesense, $59.99

3. Bathroom:

They each have a hook and a drawer  for their own product. My boys are all so different that it’s an easier time for them to simply use their own toothpaste in their own way. Meaning one is messy, one is so proper, etc. Instead of buying three tubes of toothpaste through the year, I buy three for them each that all last that same time but without fighting.

Towels and robes get hung on their own hooks which means they aren’t laying on the floor in a wet puddle.

Kitchy fish hooks Homesense $1.99

Blecka hooks Ikea, $6.99

My kids know with me if it isn’t done correctly, they can’t move on to what they want – snack, play until things are put back in their spot. Obviously you have to be a gate keeper but soon it does become more effortless on their part. We have fewer missing items when things are organized. Fewer chaotic starts or finishes to our day. It’s taught on the premise that it’s to be respectful way for us all to live and get along.

Toronto police union wants Pride funding pulled after floats banned

Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Apr 20th, 2017

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The union representing Toronto’s police officers is urging the city to pull an annual grant to Canada’s largest Pride parade after the event banned police floats.

In an open letter released by the union Wednesday, a committee representing LGBTQ officers in the force said it would be unacceptable for the city to give the roughly $260,000 grant to an event that excludes certain municipal employees.

The committee said officers would feel completely devalued and unsupported by the city if the funding continued.

The plea comes weeks after a similar call from a Toronto city councillor, who said the grant should be voted down until the city’s Pride parade returns to its “core principals of equity and inclusivity.”

In January, Pride Toronto adopted a list of demands issued by the Toronto chapter of Black Lives Matter, including banning police floats from the parade.

Members of the anti-racism group held a sit-in part way through the parade last July, stopping it from moving forward for about a half hour, until Pride organizers signed the list of demands.

Black Lives Matter said it opposed police presence in the parade because it could discourage marginalized communities from participating.

About a month after Pride Toronto’s ruling, Toronto’s police chief announced the force would not be participating in the annual event this year, citing divisions within the LGBTQ community as a key motivator.

The city still provides policing, transportation and other services for the Pride parade, which would not be affected even if the grant is revoked.

Mike McCormack, president of the Toronto Police Association, read the open letter Wednesday at city hall, where he was set to deliver it to Mayor John Tory.

“When any city employee, regardless of their job function, is disinvited from an event hosted in the city of Toronto, we feel it is simply a conflict of interest and unacceptable that the City of Toronto remain a sponsor,” he read.

“We can think of no example in Canada where either a public or private employer has been a lead sponsor for an event their employees were asked not to participate in.”

Pride Toronto said although the city’s police service will not be participating this year, individual LGBTQ officers were welcome to march in the parade.

“Toronto city council has provided valuable support to Pride through funding and support services. In turn, we provide the largest economic impact of any festival in the city,” the organization said in statement Wednesday night. “We hope this reality will be front of mind for council as they consider our funding this year.”

The issue of police participation in Pride parades has also emerged in other Canadian cities in recent months.

The Vancouver Pride Society has asked officers in that city to show up in fewer numbers and without their uniforms at the request of the local chapter of Black Lives Matter.

Halifax police have also announced they would pull out of the city’s Pride parade this year in light of the “national debate” about law enforcement participation in such events.

High Park Zoo seeks public’s help naming baby capybaras, lambs born at Riverdale

CityNews | posted Thursday, Apr 20th, 2017

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Their parents were aptly named Bonnie and Clyde after a daring escape from captivity that made international headlines last summer.

But life on the lam would soon be replaced by the domestic responsibilities of parenthood for High Park Zoo’s infamous capybaras.

The fury rebels recently had triplets, but unlike their parents, the “capybabies” remain nameless.

That’s where you can help.

High Park Zoo wants the public’s suggestions when it comes to naming the three babies.

Of course, it won’t be easy as their sexes remain undetermined. So, think Pat from Saturday Night Live, or a similarly androgynous moniker.

A short list of names will be determined by zoo staff. Then the public will be able to vote starting May 8.

You can submit your names here

Meanwhile in the east end, Riverdale Farm is welcoming three little lambs.

The City of Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation department tweeted out a photo of one of the new arrivals on Wednesday.

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