Archive for April, 2017

The Ridge at Burke Mountain 1425 Strawine Hill Street Coquitlam 49 single-family homes by Foxridge Homes

Saturday, April 29th, 2017

Winning appeal at Foxridge’s The Ridge at Burke Mountain

Michael Bernard
The Vancouver Sun

Project: The Ridge at Burke Mountain

Project location:  1425 Strawline Hill St., Coquitlam

Project size/scope: 49 single-family homes with three or four bedrooms and total square footage from 3,400 to 3,800 square feet. Well-developed trail systems, many municipal amenities, stores and restaurants at Coquitlam Centre, David Lam campus of Douglas College, and access to the newly launched Evergreen SkyTrain line.

Prices: From $1.56 million, including GST

Developer: Foxridge Homes, a Qualico company

Interior designer:  First Impression Design

Sales centre: 1425 Strawline Hill St., Coquitlam

Hours: Noon — 5 p.m. daily

Telephone: 778-285-6299


Occupancy:  August 2018

For Metro Vancouver homebuilders, winning awards can have benefits that go beyond the pride of having trophies to display in the corporate boardroom.

That’s what Foxridge Homes, a three-time 2017 Georgie Award winner, has found this year with the brisk sales of its newest phase of The Ridge at Burke Mountain in Coquitlam.

“We sold 43 of 44 homes in just two months,” said Diane Zarola, director of sales and marketing for Qualico Developments Inc., Foxridge’s parent company, in describing last year’s sales.

“And we’ve sold 14 homes (of 49) to this point in this phase,” an outstanding feat considering the more muted real estate market cycle this year, she said.

The Ridge itself won a Georgie — considered the Oscars of the B.C. development industry — for Best Single Family Detached Home over 2,300 square feet under $750,000. Foxridge received another Georgie for Best Single Family Home under 2,300 square feet for its Willoughby West development in Langley, and with those honours under its belt, Foxridge was named the 2017 Grand Georgie winner for Single Family Production Home Builder of the Year.

The awards play no small role in sales, she said, “because they give people confidence in our company when we have been recognized by the industry.”

Zarola says design has been a big draw for buyers at Burke Mountain, where Foxridge has constructed more than 300 homes since 2009, but the area also has a lot going for it.

“There are so many outdoor things that people love to do here,” she said. And all the infrastructure — the library, the city hall and all the recreation facilities — are all brand new. That’s a real draw when you consider the other cities and the (older) state of their facilities.”

Foxridge, part of the Winnipeg-based Canadian giant Qualico, has been building homes in the Fraser Valley for more than 30 of Qualico’s 66-history. It focuses exclusively on single-family houses in municipalities with large undeveloped tracts of land, communities such as Coquitlam, Surrey, Langley and Maple Ridge.

A recent tour of the award-winning show home reveals why The Ridge is proving so popular. The home boasts panoramic views from Burnaby on the west to Golden Ears on the East, and Richmond and Vancouver Island to the south on a clear day. Directly below, the Fraser River meanders through a patchwork quilt of farm fields.

The show home’s administrative office and greeting area are housed in the double garage of the Ravenview model, a 3,824-square-foot home on three levels, Zarola explains. A front veranda leads to an imposing eight-foot-high front door that makes an impressive entrance. On one side of the entrance inside is what Zarola calls a “flex space”, which she says can be used for a variety of purposes, such as a home office or a music room, which is how it is presented today.

 Interior designer Shannon Haerdi, whose firm First Impressions Design decorated the award-winning show home, said the large oversized custom travertine panels on the walls “are very three dimensional and tactile.”

“With the Panasphere panels installed floor to ceiling, it immediately draws your eye to this room and up to a large chandelier that is showcased in this space,” she said.

 Adjacent to the flex room is a powder room where a transom above the door ensures ample natural light floods into the hallway. Another room off the engineered hardwood hallway is a generously sized mudroom with an entrance to the garage.

 But the tour de force of the home’s design is where the hallway opens to the great room, a 17-by-16-foot open-concept living room with three banks of stacked windows rising to an 18-foot-high ceiling. The site location and floor plan presented lots of great assets to work with, Haerdi said.

 “We really wanted to feature the high ceilings and large windows in the great room, and with custom oversized drapery and a beautiful cascading chandelier, we feel we achieved an elegant, yet opulent look,” she said. “The natural light cascades into the main floor and wraps you in warm light, drawing you to the amazing view outside.”

Sharing the panaroma vista are a dining room with a deck, complete with built-in barbecue (optional) and a spacious white cabinet kitchen with appliances around the perimeter and an ample island work space. A separate walk-in pantry provides lots of room for food storage and cleaning supplies.

 The kitchen cabinetry is eight-foot-five-inch-high Shaker-style maple soft close cupboards topped with crown moulding. Countertops are distinctive granite or cultured quartz with full-height ceramic tile backsplashes. Appliances by Bosch include a combination convection-microwave wall oven at shoulder height, a five-burner built-in gas cooktop, a french door refrigerator with bottom-mount freezer and internal water dispenser, a 300 series quiet steel tub dishwasher and a Venmar chimney-style hood fan.

Leading upstairs is a glass-panelled staircase, an optional upgrade that exposes the open area below while providing even more panoramic views.

 The 18-by-12-foot-six inch master bedroom has a vaulted 10-foot-high coffered ceiling and offers a balcony that can be doubled in size. The bedroom comes with a large walk-in closet and built-in cabinetry. The ensuite has a Mirolin freestanding soaker tub and separate frameless glass walled shower and ceramic tiled flooring. Buyers have the option of granite or quartz countertops with a porcelain undermount sink.

 The 1,231-square-foot upper level has three other bedrooms, including a nursery with a corner window, another child’s bedroom and a guest bedroom. The three share a bathroom with sinks on each side of the entrance. Also featured is a large laundry room so a homeowner can clean clothes without carrying them up and down stairs.

 At 1,293 square feet, the downstairs level offers two more bedrooms and a supersized games room stretching across the entire width of the home. The two bedrooms have been seconded for a crafts room and TV room to occupy the kids while the parents use Foxridge’s unique one-stop shopping in the games room to choose everything from cabinet finishes and faucets to railing types to lighting and countertops.

For Johnny Guo, who last September moved his family of five — including his wife, daughter and parents — into the home that sits next door to the show home, The Ridge provided a welcome expansion of living space.

 “I lived in Coquitlam in a townhouse of about 1,200 square feet, so this is a lot more space. I like the design and layout of the home. After you put all the furniture inside, it’s pretty good.“

© 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.

Parties hone in on high home prices

Friday, April 28th, 2017

Everyone knows the market is broken, but there?s less on agreement about how to fix it

Sam Cooper
The Province

With housing affordability rating as a top election issue for B.C. voters, political parties have offered a number of promises to tackle the issue of skyrocketing housing costs.

The party that wins the May 9 election will have their work cut out for them. The average price for a detached house in the city of Vancouver is $2.6 million. Across Metro Vancouver, the average single-family home costs $1.5 million. Real estate experts say prices are now rising in other B.C. cities, as workers priced out of Metro Vancouver and home sellers enjoying windfall gains leave the Lower Mainland and buy homes elsewhere.

The B.C. Liberals, NDP, and Greens all agree that supply of new homes in B.C. must be significantly increased to improve affordability. But the parties have come to different conclusions on how to increase supply and how to police speculative demand. Here is a breakdown of party proposals, in three areas:

Foreign buyers and speculation

The B.C. Liberals introduced a 15 per cent foreign buyers tax in August 2016 to calm property speculation in Metro Vancouver and have since announced that foreign buyers that are certified to work in B.C. are now exempt from the tax. Vancouver Realtor Steve Saretsky said whether the B.C. Liberals, if re-elected, will cut or reduce the tax is the subject of speculation in the real estate industry.

Ministry of Finance spokesman Jamie Edwardson said the foreign buyers’ tax helped moderate prices and create conditions that will allow housing supply to catch up to demand. Edwardson would not confirm whether the government plans to eliminate or reduce the tax.

“If you listen to (the B.C. Liberals’) language, there is a bit of, ‘The market was crazy. The tax has done what it is intended to do,’ ” UBC real estate economist Tom Davidoff said. “So if they win again, of course there is the chance the tax changes. To not see that as a possible affordability factor I think would be crazy.”

The NDP would keep the 15 per cent foreign buyers’ tax but add a two per cent property tax surcharge on the assessed home values of property owners who do not pay tax in Canada on global incomes. NDP housing critic David Eby said his party would also close a “loophole” that allows offshore speculators to buy and flip condo pre-sale contracts.

The B.C. Greens promise to attack speculation, money laundering and tax evasion that they believe are connected to offshore investment in B.C. real estate. The party would increase the foreign buyers’ tax to 30 per cent and make it provincewide, Green housing affordability spokesman David Wong, a rookie candidate in east Vancouver, told Postmedia News.

The Greens would also eliminate property transfer taxes for sales on housing units that cost under $200,000, but for others increase the tax on a sliding scale to a high of 12 per cent. The sale of a $3.5-million home would net $83,000 in transfer taxes today, but that would rise to $236,000 under the Greens’ plan.

The Greens would also add a tax on a home seller’s lifetime capital gains over $750,000 if they sell a home before five years of occupancy, Wong said.

New supply

The Liberals want to streamline building regulations so developers can build more multi-family dwellings faster. The party says it will work with municipal governments to make that happen.

The Liberals have promised $920 million to create 5,300 new units of affordable rental housing, and say the homes will be aimed at B.C.’s poorest citizens.

The NDP promises to build 114,000 affordable rental, non-profit and co-op housing units over 10 years and to expand the provision of social housing from the poor to middle-class workers who have been priced out of B.C. cities, Eby says.

The Greens will spend $750 million a year building and renovating social housing to create about 4,000 affordable housing units per year.

Rental housing

The Liberals promise to expand a home renovation tax credit plan to provide up to $20,000 to allow homeowners to build rental suites. The program will help homeowners pay down mortgages and increase rental supply, the party says.

The NDP has offered a $400 rebate for each renter household, and the party estimates the annual cost of the rebate will be $200 million. The party will also allow municipalities to create zoning where only rental housing can be built. Both the NDP and Greens promise to increase protections for renters.

© 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.

Overheating, overbuilding and other housing plagues

Friday, April 28th, 2017

Justin da Rosa

Canada Mortgage and Housing offers a cross-Canada analysis of the country’s housing markets

Overall, CMHC rates Canada’s housing market as showing “strong evidence of problematic conditions” due, in large part, to strong evidence of overvaluation at the national level.

However, all local markets are unique; so we’ve broken down the ratings highlights by province.

British Columbia

Both Vancouver and Victoria are showing strong evidence of problematic conditions, according to the CMHC.

“CMHC’s latest Housing Market Assessment continues to show strong evidence of problematic housing market conditions in Victoria,” Eric Bond, Senior Market Analyst (Victoria), Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, said. “The last quarter of 2016 was dominated by strong sales and low supply which pushed house prices beyond levels that are supported by fundamentals such as income and population growth. For these reasons, we detected increased evidence of overvaluation in the Victoria market.”

Vancouver, meanwhile, is showing moderate evidence of price acceleration and strong evidence of overvaluation.


Calgary and Edmonton are showing moderate evidence of problematic conditions, with overbuilding an issue both cities.


Saskatoon is showing strong evidence of problematic conditions due to overvaluation, according to CMHC; however, overvaluation is being addressed by the market with declining prices and strong demographic growth.

That evaluation may be updated next quarter.

Regina, meanwhile, is showing only moderate evidence of problematic conditions as growth in employment and an uptick in the young adult population increasingly fuel housing demand.


Winnipeg is showing moderate evidence of problematic conditions.

“Elevated levels of units under construction in 2017 are a risk for additional inventory, however population growth will continue to support housing demand,” CMHC said in its report.


Toronto continues to suffer from overvaluation, according to the report.

“Rapid growth in house prices above rates warranted by economic and demographic fundamentals such as income and population growth has meant the continued detection of problematic conditions in the Toronto CMA housing market,” Dana Senagama, Principal Market Analyst (Toronto) at CMHC said.


Montreal is showing weak evidence of problematic conditions, according to CMHC.

“Our framework has now detected weak evidence of overvaluation, a shift from the previous assessment of moderate evidence,” CMHC said. “Stronger population growth among young adults, combined with the increase  in personal disposable income, indicates that house prices have  been at levels more in line with  those supported by the fundamentals.”

Eastern Canada

Moncton, Halifax, and St. John’s all appear to have healthy housing markets.

Overbuilding has been addressed in Moncton; unsold homes are declining in Halifax; and declining inventory means less fear of overbuilding in St. John’s.

Copyright © 2017 Key Media Pty Ltd

Gramercy’s The Crossing takes a tranquil, wooded setting

Thursday, April 27th, 2017


The Province

The homes will range to almost 2,000 square feet and have impressive finishes, inside and out. SUPPLIED

Situated beside the Peace Arch border crossing, but hidden from Highway 99 by dense woods and a sprawling golf course is an intimate neighbourhood of narrow winding streets and stately homes that seems to belong to a more carefree, peaceful era; but The Crossing by Gramercy is a brandnew development known for its moniker, “more space at a slower pace.”

The Crossing’s 67 townhomes boast an East Coast-inspired combination of cedar shake and Hardi-board, complemented by wood shutters and arched entries. The effect is charming, and if it evokes images of sipping lemonade at sunset while children play freely nearby, that is exactly the lifestyle Gramercy sought to provide: an escape from the hustle and bustle.

Location is key: snuggled in the woods, The Crossing is a few minutes’ walk to the famous lawn and garden of Peace Arch Provincial Park. In the immediate vicinity is the award-winning Peace Portal Golf Club, and directly north are the historic barns of Pacific Douglas, many properties of which continue the agricultural traditions of the region.

But although tranquil, The Crossing is hardly isolated. The sandy shores of White Rock are nearby, and a few minutes’ drive north brings residents to big-box retail in Grandview, the boutique stores of Morgan Crossing and a host of services.

In short, The Crossing is ideal for families who at the end of the day want to go home to a close-knit community, but have easy access to urban amenities.

And the homes they return to, ranging in size from 1,736 square feet to 1,948 square feet, are just as beautiful inside as their exterior appearance.

For starters, the open living spaces are augmented with elegant touches such as high-arc faucets and classic subway tile backsplashes in the kitchens, and deep soaker tubs in the bathrooms, along with oversized porcelain tile flooring and polished chrome fixtures.

The list of quality appointments is immense and includes custom shaker panel cabinetry with softclose doors and drawers, full-sized pantries and broom closets, ninefoot ceilings on the main levels, pot lighting throughout.

These extensive and thoughtful elements are not surprising, given that Gramercy partners Randy Klassen, Daphne LukingKlassen and Stephen Luking have decades of experience building quality homes throughout Metro Vancouver. The Crossing is the latest addition to Gramercy’s portfolio, which includes residential developments such as The Woods, Bella Vita, Beacon Hill and Gramercy Park.

The Crossing’s prices are remarkable (they start at $689,900) and the final release of homes is selling fast. For more information about these homes, contact [email protected] or call 604-542-2883.

© 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.

Parc East residents will enjoy the best of urban and rural living

Thursday, April 27th, 2017


The Province

If location is everything, then what could be better than being in the big city on the edge of wilderness, as is the case with Parc East by Altas Developments?

But offering the best of both worlds is only the beginning of the Parc East experience, which kicks into high gear on Saturday, April 29 with its public sales release on Wilson Avenue in Port Coquitlam.

The 57 designer condominiums of Parc East start at just $347,900 and range from one-, two- and large twobedroom-plus-den plans.

Designer features include quartz counters, stainless steel kitchen appliances and large kitchen islands. Laminate flooring is standard throughout the main living areas, and some units even have 12-foot ceilings. All ground-floor units have large private patios, which range from 150 square feet to a generous 480 square feet in size.

Parc East exudes a distinct urban vibe, and this is appropriate considering residents live amidst where all the action is: village vibe of downtown Port Coquitlam, the sleek bustle and retail mecca of Coquitlam Centre and the scenic seaside attractions of Port Moody.

Mobility is the key to success for the Tri Cities. Served by a comprehensive network of thoroughfares, mass transit and the brand-new Evergreen SkyTrain line, Parc East owners can commute just as easily to downtown Vancouver as they can to the three urban centres within their vicinity.

And just as easily, they can explore the provincial wilderness parks and other rural attractions that are making this region a destination for families and young professionals.

Nicole Castle, sales manager, Fifth Avenue Real Estate Marketing Ltd., says: “Parc East homeowners can enjoy city living without high city costs and also unwind in the great outdoors without ever being too far from urban amenities.

“Not to mention, we’re on the north side of the Fraser River, so you don’t have the hassle of long commutes or the daily aggravation of paying bridge tolls.”

Over 2,000 potential buyers have already registered as Parc East VIPs, but April 29 is when everyone will get a chance to preview these designer condos and experience the lifestyle they provide.

This exciting release event is from noon to 3 p.m. and will include live music by local Port Coquitlam artist Layla Vaugeois. “Guests can also enjoy pulled pork from local Porky’s Food Truck and cookies, breads and sweet loafs from Port Coquitlam’s own Delish Gluten Free Bakery,” says Castle.

Considering the excitement that Parc East has already generated, Castle urges interested homebuyers to RSVP by registering online today. To register and learn more, please visit

© 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.

Different definitions apply to majority votes

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

Read your bylaws, as rules for strata may vary by situation

Tony Gioventu
The Vancouver Sun

Dear Tony:

At our first council meeting since the AGM, we spent two hours arguing about how strata councils make decisions at council meetings.

We think the problem is the way the act was written, as it has two separate interpretations for majority votes. The definitions define a majority vote as a majority of those votes cast by eligible voters who are present or by proxy at the time the vote is taken and who have not abstained. The standard bylaw defines a majority vote as a majority of council members present at the meeting.  These are not the same definitions and treat abstentions differently.

Could you possibly clear this up before we have another round of council debates with nothing accomplished? 

Martin B., Courtenay

Dear Martin:

You are correct that there are two different definitions and there could be even more if your strata amended its bylaws to different definitions. 

We have to start with the Strata Property Act, which first states that at an annual or special general meeting, matters are decided by a majority vote unless a different voting threshold is required or permitted by the act or regulations.

This definition applies to general meetings, which is the definition in section 1 of the act. It ensures owners may be represented in person or by proxy, and compels those who are eligible voters at the meeting to vote in favour or oppose a resolution or motion if they wish to have their vote matter. The definition also precludes any type of absentee or advance balloting at general meetings, as it requires the vote calculation at the time the vote is taken by eligible voters present at the meeting. 

A majority vote for council is different for a variety of reasons. It requires that council members must be present, which includes electronic attendance if the council agrees. Council members are not permitted to assign proxies as they are not representing their strata lot; as individuals, they are elected to a position on council and, of course, if a council member abstains, their vote is technically a no, as the vote is based on the number of council members present.

For example, under the standard bylaw, if six council members attend, at least four will have to vote in favour of the motion for it to pass, and this applies to every decision of council. The definition also helps resolve the issue of council members who are required to leave a meeting in the event of a conflict of interest. They are no longer present at the meeting, which should be recorded in the minutes, and the majority is reduced by that number. 

This is also the reason why the president or vice-president is given a tie-breaking vote. All council members vote on a motion, and if the result is a tie, the president or vice-president has an additional vote to break the tie. That would also be recorded in the minutes.

Before strata councils make any assumptions, it is essential that you read your bylaws first.

Want to learn more about winding up your strata?  Join us for a public forum at the Vancouver Public Library on Sunday April 30 at 3 p.m. In partnership with a legal team from Clark Wilson, we will take you step by step through the winding up process. Call 1-877-353-2462 for complimentary advance registration or email Donna at [email protected]

© 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.

1335 Howe 120 homes in a 40-storey tower at 1335 Howe Street by Onni Group

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

Visitors impressed with Onni?s 1335 Howe

Mary Frances Hill
The Province

1335 Howe

Where: 1335 Howe Street, Vancouver

What: 120 homes in a 40-storey tower, with only four homes per floor (one at each corner), with retail and amenities on the lower floors

Residence sizes and prices: 1,090 — 6,055 square feet, priced from $1.7 million

Developer and builder: Onni Group

Sales centre: #1901 – 1372 Seymour St.

Hours: By appointment only

If Julia Devlin was to purchase a suite at the Onni Group’s 1335 Howe tower in downtown Vancouver, there’s no question what she would go for: a residence that would let her rise with the morning sun and watch the city waking from its slumber.

“If I was to design my dream home, I would want a southeast-corner home, as I am a morning person and love my morning latte while the sun is coming up,” says the designer, a member of the Onni team that organized the interiors and finishes at 1335 Howe. “The opportunity to sit on my oversized patio, enjoying my coffee and watching the sun come up would certainly be a determining decision in my home selection.”

While buyers are attracted to the option to customize their spaces at 1335 Howe — a 40-storey highrise with 120 residences — Devlin and the Onni team have also seen visitors admiring the project’s finishes, quality of materials and appliances.

The bathrooms convey a calm and masculine mood, in a perfect dialogue between light and dark, and soft and strong, says Devlin. “We were aiming for mood and contrast with the strong statement of the dark stone and vanity cabinet, contrasted with the soft warmth of the wall and floor tile,” she says. “This space is the ultimate spa experience.”

The kitchen, meantime, features Devlin’s own favourite feature: a generously sized island with the natural stone countertops and open wood shelving at one end that allows the homeowner to show off personal items or cookbooks. She says that when the Onni Group designed the kitchen, “we were thinking of a buyer who loves to entertain or host large family events. This homeowner appreciates the entertainers’ kitchen with a long island, integrated sub-zero fridge and under-counter wine fridge, the Wolf gas cooktop and wall oven.”

Devlin, a designer experienced in envisioning spaces for empty nesters, knows that downsizing isn’t always easy: it can be difficult to move from a larger house with decor homeowners have appreciated for years. She advises that they pare down their belongings and organize much-loved items into groups.
“Simplify. Use larger pieces, and fewer of them,” she says. “Create groupings; for example: group accessories on a coffee table, group furniture arrangements in your living room on an area rug to pull them together, group art and photos on walls, rather than spacing everything out.”

© 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.

CMHC red flag remains but there is improvement

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

Steve Randall

The CMHC’s early-warning system of problems in Canada’s housing markets continues to show “strong evidence of problematic conditions” but there is some improvement.

The agency has published its latest Housing Market Assessment and while the ‘red flag’ for market imbalances remains, the footprint of the potential issues has narrowed.

CMHC says that 6 of the 15 metros assessed show evidence of overvaluation, down from 8 in its previous report. That means that the national level is reduced from strong to moderate.

Regina, Montreal and Quebec have all seen conditions improve relating to prices but Victoria has been moved from moderate to strong evidence of overvaluation.

The BC capital is also showing moderate evidence of price acceleration and overheating, which has led CMHC to raise the overall assessment for the city to strong evidence of problematic conditions.

Overbuilding has improved in Moncton and St. John’s, taking the number of cities flagged to 6 from the previous assessment of 8. The Prairies are flagged for overbuilding.

The report also highlights price acceleration, overvaluation and overheating in Toronto and Hamilton while demand outpaces supply in rental, resale and new home markets.

Vancouver continues to show problematic conditions with evidence of moderate price acceleration and strong overvaluation.

Copyright © 2017 Key Media Pty Ltd

Resistance may not be futile with our robot overlords

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

TED Talks delves into ways automation can ?augment? careers and everyday life

The Vancouver Sun

Whether we should fear future “robotic overlords,” job-killing technologies born out of artificial intelligence and automation, will really depend on who is building them and what they’re building them for, according to AI developer Tom Gruber.

Gruber, co-creator of Siri, the voice-command AI feature on Apple iPhones, told the audience at TED Talks that we have a choice to create “humanistic AI” that can enhance human abilities and help people solve problems, not simply take over from them.

“We can choose AI to automate and compete with us,” Gruber said. “Or we can use AI to augment and collaborate with us to overcome our cognitive limitations, so we can do what we want to do and do it better.”

TED Talks, underway this week in Vancouver, tackled the topic of just what artificial intelligence and robotics can achieve for society and how to address problems that might come with that, such as increased unemployment, across a couple of its sessions Tuesday.

Some of the ideas that emerged from the 12 discussions held out incredible promise for innovation, but they’ll require new ways of thinking about work and income distribution if computers and machines take over a lot of jobs that people do now.

Gruber’s talk, in the session titled Robotic Overlords, focused on how artificial intelligence is being used to bridge communication barriers for people with disabilities and augment the abilities of professionals with object-recognition technology.

He used the story of researchers who used machine learning to devise a computer program that could recognize cancer cells in tissue samples as an example of how AI is helping improve the accuracy of medical diagnoses.

The experiment, Gruber said, found that the human was still better than the AI program, but when using them together, it eliminated a lot of errors and improved the hospital’s diagnosis accuracy to 99.5 per cent.

“The lesson here is that by combining the abilities of a human and a machine, we’ve created a partnership that had super-human performance,” Gruber said.

The session had other examples, such as Harvard robotics engineer Radhika Nagpal’s research into self-organizing “swarms” of robots to the advances in near-autonomous machines being designed by the firm Boston Dynamics.

“I’m not afraid at all,” said Boston Dynamics CEO Marc Raibert about the prospect of his robots taking over jobs from humans.

Robots can do dangerous tasks humans shouldn’t, Raibert said, such as helping clean up from the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan. Or they can be used for jobs we worry that there won’t be enough humans to take on, such as in helping look after the physical needs of an aging population.

However, the capabilities of AI and robotics have begun encroaching on tasks that used to be intrinsically human, said Martin Ford, the futurist who wrote the book Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future.

Accountants, journalists and even doctors are seeing at least parts of their work being taken up by automation, Ford said in his talk during the session titled The Human Response.

“We have to find a way to decouple incomes from traditional work,” Ford said and the best way he’s seen is to implement some form of guaranteed basic income as a place to start. He estimates doing so will become imperative.

Providing people with basic guaranteed incomes is also a better bet for alleviating poverty, said Dutch historian Rutger Bregman in his talk during the same session.

A four-year experiment with basic incomes in Dauphin, Man., in the early 1970s showed the concept’s success, said Bregman.

School achievement improved, hospitalization rates fell, domestic violence declined and people didn’t quit jobs because they had the guarantee of income, Bregman said.

“I believe basic income would work like venture capital for people,” Bregman said.

© 2017 Postmedia Network Inc

Ontario will impose foreign buyer tax and rent control as part of 16-point Fair Housing Plan

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017


On Thursday, April 20, Kathleen Wynne introduced Ontario’s Fair Housing Plan, a set of measures that will tax foreign buyers, and establish more regulations for speculators entering the Toronto real estate market.

Many owners and renters in the city are feeling the pinch as housing costs increase exorbitantly and rents rise faster than wages. Others are moving farther afield in the hopes of finding something in their budget, fuelling pricing increases in cities like Hamilton and the Niagara region.

The 16 measures outlined in the plan address the recent trend of Toronto’s red-hot housing market by attempting to regulate some of the rules governing agents, buyers, landlords and speculators, while also establishing more purpose-built rental property.

“We are not interested in controlling the market,” Wynne told the CBC. “That is not the aim. But we do believe that there is a need for interventions right now to calm what is going on, to put protections in place.”

Most of the rules must be passed in legislation before moving forward, but one was implemented the date of Kathleen Wynne’s announcement on Thursday, April 20, protecting renters in units built after 1991 from rental increases above the rate of inflation.

So how will these rules affect new home buyers and speculators, and will they change the city’s real estate market? Here’s a run-down on Queen’s Park’s extensive new measures that will affect homebuyers.

  • Tax on non-resident foreigner buyers

The province has proposed a 15 per cent tax on so-called foreign real estate investors. This measure, which echoes the revised 15 per cent foreign buyer tax implemented in Vancouver, will not apply to foreign citizens residing in Ontario, multi-residential rental apartment buildings and non-residential land.

Refugees and skilled workers enrolled in provincial programs would also be exempt from this tax, and anyone who obtains permanent residency or citizenship within four years of purchasing their property will receive a full rebate. So will international students who have been enrolled in a full-time program for at least two years. There is currently no data on how many homebuyers in the GTA are foreign speculators, but industry insiders suggest it’s a small percentage.

  • Tax on vacant homes

According to recent census data, 4.5% homes in the GTA are unoccupied (approximately 65,000 homes according to Toronto mayor John Tory). These properties are either owned by real estate speculators who plan to sell the units before renting or living in them, or are on the short-term rentals market.

The province will grant authority to Toronto and municipalities in the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) to tax owners of vacant property. This measure will encourage owners to rent or sell these properties, rather than hold on to them in the hopes that the value goes up.

  • More rental units and protection for tenants

A few of the measures are targeted at Toronto’s renters. Landlords were not permitted to raise rents above the rate of inflation, however rental units built after 1991 were not subject to this rule allowing landlords to raise rents at unreasonable rates.

The measure that went into effect on April 20th protects renters by capping rent increases for all residential property at 2.5 per cent regardless of the year it was built, even if the rate of inflation exceeds that number. In addition, the province will introduce a standardized lease document for tenants throughout the GGH.

In light of these rental caps, and to counteract worry it would discourage developers from building new rental units, the Fair Housing Plan also includes measures to encourage construction of new rental buildings.

New policy will give $125-million in rebates on municipal development charges to builders for creating more rental housing. It should be noted that the city is experiencing a renaissance when it comes to new rental property. According to CIBC and Urbanation, during the final quarter of 2016, 5,000 apartment units were under construction compared to 2,000 two years prior.

Kathleen Wynne’s government also plans to investigate provincially owned surplus land (such as the West Don Lands and 27 Grosvenor St.) and whether or not this land can be used for affordable housing.

  • Protection for homebuyers

The only measure aimed at real estate agents is a review of the rules that protect consumers in property transactions, including an investigation into the practice of double-ending. This controversial practice, which some believe is on the rise in Toronto, happens when an agent represents both the buyer and seller in a housing deal. This breaks the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act (REBBA) code of ethics by giving a favoured buyer confidential information to ensure their deal goes through.

Additionally, the provincial government will review so-called paper flipping (also known as assignment sales), which allows investors to assign a real estate contract to another homebuyer before the closing date. This takes advantage of the speed at which housing costs are rising by taking the difference between the sell and closing date.

The province will review all rules that real estate agents must follow according to REBBA, as well as the ways real estate investors are capitalizing on the ever-changing market, to make sure homebuyers are not exploited or unfairly left out of a housing deal, making the rules of engagement the same for everyone.

Entering the Toronto real estate market is a risk like any other: you’re investing not only in property, but also in the city as a whole. What will it be like to live in Toronto be in five or ten years from now? Purchasing property in Toronto and the surrounding area is a bet for the city and its future.

TheRedPin, Brokerage – Copyright 2017