Letters – October 2016

A response to Alan Redway – Why Leaside home prices keep rising

In Leaside Life’s September issue columnist Alan Redway rightly explains Toronto’s record high house prices partly as a matter of low interest rates and mostly as a matter of supply and demand. He should have stopped there.

But he goes on blithely to pin the blame for the imbalance between Leaside’s current single family dwelling home demand and supply on former Premier Dalton McGuinty and the provincial Places to Grow Act.

Odd then  that house prices are also skyrocketing in Vancouver, well beyond the reach of Queen’s Park’s influence for good or ill. And they aren’t rising as dramatically elsewhere in other areas where Ontario’s Places to Grow Act actually does apply.

The demand for housing in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area is on the way up mostly because the population of the area is also on the way up. As for land, as Mark Twain said, “They aren’t building any more of it.” And with the universal resurgence of downtown areas as places to work and play, communities closest to the centre are experiencing particular attention from the growing population. An additional boost is provided if the community is well served by transit.

Why is the population increasing? For just about every reason imaginable: natural growth, migration from elsewhere in the province and other parts of the country, and immigration from other parts of the world attracted to a stable society perched on the doorstep of a prosperous and friendly neighbouring country. Add a host of self-destructive policies on the part of the Quebec government and the erosion of Montreal’s appeal as an alternative to Toronto for businesses and families seeking a future, plus investors piling on to secure their savings and earn capital gains, and there you pretty much have it.

The Places to Grow Act is a response to the rising population, the trend to urbanization, and the staggering loss of farmland and natural areas throughout the Golden Horseshoe region. It directs increased population density towards existing urban areas in a bid to salvage what farmland and natural areas we have left. It did not create a scarcity of land; it addresses the reality that land by its nature is already a scarce commodity. It is a late attempt at a course correction to decades of sprawl that saw acres of farmland turned over to a suburban drabness so vast and uninspiring that the enduring appeal of a rare community like Leaside causes buyers to flock here with their dollars – which itself had begun to put upward pressure on Leaside’s house prices long before the Places to Grow Act had anything to do with anything.

Meanwhile, policy at Toronto City Hall has been directed to protecting the existing form of Toronto’s stable neighbourhoods. That’s why we haven’t seen blocks of Leaside houses being bought up and replaced by condominium towers, and it’s why development potential has not been a factor in pushing up the going price of single family homes in Leaside as it has been in areas that are policy targets for intensification.

The former Premier has his share of mistakes and blunders to answer for. But to single him out as the culprit behind today’s rising house prices in Leaside is a bit of a stretch.

John Parker, Cameron Crescent
(John Parker is the former Councillor, Toronto Ward 26 Don Valley West.)

The Bayview Pixies

Cover Story – The Pixies work their magic on Bayview

Thank you for the front page exposure of the Bayview Pixies in your paper. We were all very honoured to receive the recognition.

There was, however, no mention of the Bayview Leaside BIA (Business Improvement Association), which sponsors the Pixies, and the article made it appear that we planted the new self-watering planter boxes. This is simply not true. These new boxes were contracted out as our first BIA cost share. The Pixies are proud of what we do, but we do not want to take credit for something we did not do. We also need to acknowledge our BIA because we are a part of the Bayview Leaside BIA.

Also, what we planted under those trees was to do more than beautify…. We planted to help our trees.

Under normal weather conditions our city trees struggle in this environment of cement, salt and noxious car fumes, but this year it was magnified with a hot and record-breaking drought that put our trees in extreme jeopardy. Our priority was to our trees because we know that a street without trees is an unhealthy street. With so little rain and so much heat, we Pixies have had our hands full. We saved rainwater, we cultivated, mulched and did whatever we could because we knew that if we didn’t, most of the trees on Bayview would be dead now.

The Pixies and all our supporters wanted to see this kind of information in your article because we think this is the big story that needs to be told.

Debora Kuchme, Bayview Pixie