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Sunday , 2 August 2015

Category Archives: Urban Living

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Features on the downtown scene, events and urban living.

Mortgage brokers stung by fraud allegations

The mortgage broker industry has been quick to distance itself from the fraud scandal at Home Trust. Home Trust delisted forty-five of its brokers after evidence of falsified documentation—“bad paper”—came to light. Strangely, the whistle blower who tipped the company off about the falsified documents chose to do so anonymously, by way of a letter to the Home Capital Group board of directors. Home Trust is a wholly owned subsidiary of Home Capital Group. It is one of the country’s largest alternative mortgage lenders. It’s difficult to get a firm grip on what actually happened, and who is to blame, but it seems that a few brokers passed along, unwittingly, ... Read More »

Condo board directors need guidance in ethical behaviour

It’s important to remember that people who serve as condo board members are volunteers. They aren’t paid for their services, and they have a lot of responsibility. Being a diligent board member can take up quite a bit of time, and there can be conflict with owners and others when a board’s decisions aren’t popular. Board members sometimes have to be thick-skinned and sensitive at the same time. It is asking a lot of them. Nevertheless, like others who hold some form of public office, board members should be held to high standards of ethics. In the course of their work on the board, they will make decisions that involve ... Read More »

No end of problems for much-mocked London skyscraper

One of the most talked about buildings in the world these days, and not in a good way, is a thirty-seven storey tower in London, England. It’s curvaceous and shiny and looks a lot like a certain hand-held device for communication. And that is what the locals were calling it while it was under construction, the “walkie-talkie.” That was before the building revealed a more dangerous aspect of its design. It seems that the building’s curved glass façade focuses the sunlight like a giant magnifying lens. The beam of light, or “death ray,” so created has been said to be hot enough to “melt” cars in the street below. One ... Read More »

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 »

Real estate agents are failing the disabled: Century 21

Toronto is about to celebrate the achievements of athletes with disabilities in the Parapan Am Games. It’s a great moment in the spotlight for the athletes, showing them not as wheelchair-bound “disabled persons” but as persons capable of great feats of athleticism. The Parapan Am games demonstrate in the most thrilling way that given the right conditions, people with disabilities can be stars. The games also highlight by contrast the daily reality many disabled persons still have to deal with. The security guard at a Toronto mall who refused entry to a disabled person and his service dog is just one of many examples of the lack of awareness and ... Read More »

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