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Monday , 3 August 2015

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Tax: no free lunch, or, you get what you pay for

Property taxes, especially in Toronto with its hated double-hit land transfer taxes, are a big source of revenue for governments and a big source of irritation to citizens. Throw in GST, HST, other value-added taxes, personal income taxes, corporate taxes, social insurance taxes (such as the surcharge for health care in Ontario), and you see that governments have quite an array of revenue tools at their disposal. But is it really so bad in Canada? How do we compare with other countries? In general, OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries raise a lot more revenue from “consumption” taxes—value added taxes and the payroll tax for social insurance programs—than ... Read More »

Record second quarter for residential real estate investment

The number of residential real estate deals done in Toronto set a new record for the commercial real estate sector in the second quarter of the year. Residential land purchases topped all other categories, including industrial, retail and office, both in the number of transactions—143—and in dollars: $976 million. This was 27 per cent of total investment volume in commercial real estate and land investment in the quarter, and a 64 per cent increase over the same period one year ago. According to the latest data from RealNet Canada, it was the best quarter ever for residential land sales in Toronto. Research manager for RealNet, Richard Vilner, said that the ... Read More »

Robots run new budget hotel in Japan

The concierges at the front desk speak various languages: Japanese, Chinese, English. The one that speaks English just happens to be a dinosaur. For Japanese guests there’s a sort of pretty-ish female who looks like an airline stewardess (as we used to call them) from the 60s, complete with little pill-box hat. They “work” at a hotel just opened in Japan and give an intriguing glimpse into the future of robotics in the hospitality industry. Besides the front-desk robots, the Henn-na Hotel in Nagasaki has a whole range of other robotic or high-tech features that minimize the need for real human workers. For the owners, it’s about efficiency and fun. ... Read More »

High demand, low inventory in new homes market

New homes in the GTA are being snapped up as soon as they are brought to market, according to the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), with demand outpacing supply. That supply, including detached, semi-detached and townhomes, reached a record low in June. The number of low-rise homes sold in June (2,381) exceeded the number brought to market that month. June low-rise sales were up 14 per cent over the previous year. Sales for the year to date reached 11,889, a ten-year high that is 25 per cent over the ten-year average. The average price of a new low-rise home, according to the RealNet Price Index, was $785,800, up ... Read More »

Inexpensive tools for making communities more livable

Improving the walkability of city streets and the livability of the larger communities can be done for relatively little money, often in a short time, with results that are both “subtle and spectacular.” Two of America’s most influential lobby groups, AARP (the American Association of Retired Persons), and the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute (WALC) have put together a visual guide for urban planners and community leaders, full of suggestions about how to achieve these transformations. The group argues that public health ought to be considered as one of the goals of land-use and transportation planning. When this is done, the results can reduce air pollution, prevent traffic injuries and ... Read More »

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