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Welcome to February!  We’re one month into the new year – typically Canadian weather so far in 2018, warmth, frigid temperatures, sun, rain, sleet, snow, strong winds.  It’s been interesting!

It’s too soon to tell if the new mortgage rules are having an effect locally, as January is traditionally a very slow month for real estate transactions. When reading real estate news online, always remember that we are a growing region, with a lot of both demographic movement and a diverse economy. Stats tend to be quite skewed based on Toronto and Vancouver.

Locally in January:
– the average single detached sold for $554,757 in 34 days
–  the average semi-detached sold for $390,011 in 24 days
– the average freehold townhouse sold for $440,406 in 17 days
– the average condo sold for sold for $290,943 in 35 days
– the average list price to sale price was 99.3%

Canadian real estate market outlook 2018
http://www.moneysense.ca/spend/real-estate/canadian-real-estate-market-outlook-2018/

There’s never a dull day in real estate. Last year started off with a big nervous question: Will the Canadian housing market crash? In 2018, the new year started off with more of a sigh. Analysts across North America came out with various pronouncements of deceleration in activity and pricing, but the overwhelming consensus was that the nation’s real estate landscape would flatten out, even in the hot Toronto and Vancouver markets.

It wasn’t too bold of a prediction. Activity was way down in the summer months of 2017, even as the number of listings was finally growing. This prompted only incremental increases in pricing and a nation-wide expectation of a soft-landing for Canada’s property markets.

This flattening out of the market was happening well before the latest splash of cold water hit the fast-accelerating housing markets. That splash came in the form of amendments to mortgage regulations. Now lenders must qualify new borrowers —and those renewing or renegotiating with a new lender to qualify for a mortgage— using new guidelines. Borrowers are qualified now based on the posted rates, which are typically 200 basis points higher than discounted mortgage rates. These new regulations were announced in October and were officially implemented on January 1, 2018.

What does all this mean for real estate markets in 2018? It means a possible return to the norm —a reemergence of a more boring, stable Canadian real estate market. …

As a buyer, you’d be wise to secure a mortgage pre-approval before shopping for a home. Don’t just do a quick, online calculation — talk to a mortgage broker. For those buyers struggling to get a loan, consider going through non-prime mortgage lenders. These alternative lenders specialize in buyers turned down by banks, as they allow for more non-traditional income and permit higher debt ratios (up to 50% total debt service ratio, versus the 42% guideline used by the banks). Another option is to increase the length of amortization on the mortgage, which lowers the debt service ratio used to qualify for the loan. …

For sellers across Canada, it’s time to reset expectations. Gone are the days when you could expect to sell your home in a week or less (for more money than your neighbour, who only sold a month ago). Buyers are struggling to afford what’s out there and the result is a rise in inventory and a drop in sales activity.

In the last few years, a potential buyer ended up having to compete against other interests, such as investors, speculators and foreign buyers. Those in the market to make money have been pulling out—waiting for more certainty. That means fewer buyers in the market and fewer sales. The drop in sales activity will prompt price corrections and eventually, the market should stabilize in balanced territory. The investors and speculators may come back, at this point, but until then sellers need to readjust their expectations. The upside is that even a 10% to 15% drop in prices won’t reset a home’s value to pre-2016 price levels.

To stay competitive, consider scrutinizing current sales data for your street and neighbourhood. Walk through all open houses in your community, to get an idea of what homes look like before they sold (you can still get this sold data from your real estate agent). Finally, discuss with your real estate agent competitive pricing strategies. …

Why you should invest in a vacation
http://www.moneysense.ca/spend/shopping/travel/why-you-should-invest-in-a-vacation/

Financial planners are notorious for preaching the value of solely traditional investments—but investing should also include non-traditional options like education, health and family time. “These are areas you need to invest in as well, perhaps at the expense of financial independence,” says Toronto fee-only planner Jason Heath. “After all, what’s the sense of busting your tail to retire at 50 if you’re unhealthy and unhappy?” he asks. “In particular for those with young children, remember: they’re only young for so long.”

Investing in a family vacation, taking time off, or cutting out of work early—these are all good reasons to give up financial investments in exchange for experiences that create great memories with family and friends. In fact, psychologists have demonstrated that even stressful experiences (ever taken an international flight with a four-year-old?) ultimately deliver more long-term happiness than material objects, when we reflect on them. At some point in our investing lives, all of us will inevitably come to lament a poor financial decision—but buyer’s remorse rarely happens when you spend money on a one-of-a-kind experience.

First-time Homebuyers’ Five Biggest Mistakes 
https://www.canadianmortgagetrends.com/2018/01/first-time-homebuyers-biggest-mistakes/

… Here are five of the biggest mistakes first-time homebuyers are prone to make and how to avoid them.

Mistake #1: Buying Too Much Home Before house hunting, it’s a good idea to get pre-approved for a mortgage. When you’re pre-approved, you’ll know exactly how much you can afford to spend on a home. Your mortgage broker is going to tell you the maximum amount you can spend, but keep in mind, that doesn’t mean that you should spend the entire amount. …

You’ll want to leave yourself some financial breathing room in case mortgage rates go up or you run into a financial emergency.

Mistake #2: Forgetting to Budget for Closing Costs If you’ve never bought a home before, it’s easy to overlook closing costs. They’re just a drop in the bucket, right? Wrong. Closing costs can add up to four percent of your home’s purchase price. …

Examples of typical closing costs include land transfer taxes, real estate lawyer fees and home inspection fees.  …

Mistake #3: Buying Based Solely on Looks Have you ever stepped foot inside a house and it became love at first sight? You see everything you’re looking for in a home: granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and an open kitchen. …

Don’t get distracted by the stuff that’s supposed to “wow” homebuyers. You want a home that’s sizzle and substance, not just sizzle.

Mistake #4: Skipping the Home Inspection … A home inspection sounds like a lot, but once you get the report you’ll be happy you did it. This is especially important for older houses. The report will provide you with a handy checklist of all the things you should do to make sure your home is in great shape. Don’t cheap out on it. …

Mistake #5: Not Shopping Around for a Mortgage … There’s nothing wrong with your local bank branch being your first stop for a mortgage, but it shouldn’t be your only stop. By just taking the first offer, you’re likely leaving money on the table. …

Your local bank may have the best mortgage, but you won’t know for sure without shopping around. And the best way to do that is with an experienced mortgage broker. …

What are Canadian new-home buyers looking for? The answer is unsexy
https://www.thestar.com/business/real_estate/2017/12/29/what-are-canadian-new-home-buyers-looking-for-the-answer-is-unsexy.html

Tim Bailey likes to joke that he’s always on the look-out for something sexy in the data he tracks on the preferences of Canadians new-construction home buyers.

“Give me something to work with, consumers,” pleads Bailey, the division president of Avid Ratings, a market research company that has been surveying new-construction home buyers since 2014 for the Canadian Home Builders Association.

What the survey shows is that Canadians’ home-buying tastes are, well . . . quintessentially Canadian.

Forget home theatres and indoor swimming pools — it’s upstairs laundry, walk-in closets and stand-up showers that quicken our collective pulse.

Canadians still like a fireplace, but its desirability has cooled. In the age of open-concept, we have oddly been warming lately to formal living and dining rooms….

Builders are seeing a slight uptick in the take-up for homes with two master suites. …

When it comes to traditional ground-level homes, Canadians must be good neighbours, because they like their patch of paradise to be private. Fences are considered a must-have item by 49.7 per cent of new-construction buyers, and a further 28.2 per cent said that’s something they really want.

Top 10 ‘Must haves’ for new-construction homes
Walk-in closets
Energy-efficient appliances
High-efficiency windows
Linen closets
Overall energy-efficient home
Kitchen islands
Open concept kitchens
Large windows
Two-car garage
HRV-ERV air exchange

Door to door sales ban as of March 1: Door to door sales will be banned in Ontario when it comes to people peddling air conditioners, furnaces, water heaters and their accessories. The ban comes in effect on March 1st, a first time offender could see up to a $5000 fine and a third strike could earn them a $25,000 fine.

February Events
– Feb 9 – 25; Olympics
– Feb 10, Valentine’s Fatazz Trail Run, to support Mood Disorders of Canada; Huron Natural Area
– Feb 13, Fat Tuesday
– Feb 14, Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day
– Feb 19, Chinese New Year, Year of the Dog
– Feb 19, Family Day, free public skates at the Bridgeport Community Centre, Country Hills Community Centre and Albert McCormick Community Centre, free family swim at Lyle Hallman Pool courtesy of the Stanley Park Community Association,
– Feb 22, Thinking Day for Guiding and Scouting members
– Feb 22, Grade 10 Family Night @ UW; info session about university http://uwaterloo.ca/future/grade10?_ga=2.2340791.607318112.1515507287-1988950166.1515507287
– Feb 24 Winterloo http://www.waterloo.ca/winterloo/
– Feb 24, Hockeytown, Kitchener City Hall
– Feb 26, National Cupcake Day to support the Humane Society; http://kwhumane.com/cupcake/
– Feb 26,  Tell a Fairy Tale Day
– Feb 26 – Cyber Security Workshop, Kitchener Public Library
– Feb 27, Polar Bear Day

Stay safe around ION trains
Testing is now progressing to all areas of the ION route. Here’s how to stay safe around ION:

  • Obey signage
    • Some intersections have been modified. Please follow any new restrictions and please obey all signage.
  • Stay off the tracks
    • Tracks are for LRVs. Never stop or park anywhere on the LRT tracks. Any vehicle stopped or parked on the LRT tracks will be ticketed or towed.
  • Stay alert
    • ION LRVs run on electricity and may not always be heard against typical street noise. Motorists, pedestrians and cyclists should treat ION LRVs with the same caution as any other vehicle. Always cross at designated crossings and stay alert by not being distracted by mobile devices or headphones.

February Frivolity   What did the painter say to his Valentine?     “I love you with all my art!”

Have you ‘liked’ my FaceBook page yet? I post a lot of information about the community, the economy, mortgages, real estate, and anything else which strikes me as interesting.  Click here: Cindy Metcalf

Good luck to our Olympians!

Cindy

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Welcome to the new year! I loved the white Christmas, but what was with the temperatures to end 2017? Ouch!

A quick reminder that the mortgage ‘stress test’ came into effect on January 1st.  These new rules will likely have an impact, but as our region is still growing, it won’t sway us as much as it will in the Vancouver and Toronto markets.  Buyers are still looking to buy and houses are still selling. Give me a call if you’re interested in either, or if you have questions on how the new rules effect you.

In K-W in 2017
– the average single detached sold for $517,768 in 32 days
–  the average semi-detached sold for $366,198 in 22 days
– the average freehold townhouse sold for $415,325 in 24 days
– the average condo sold for sold for $299,641 in 33 days
– the average list price to sale price was 98.6%

Regional Events in January:
– Jan. 6th, Cambridge Mayor’s New Year’s Levee; Cambridge City Hall
– Jan 6th, Feast of the Epiphany – Three Kings
– Jan 7th, Kitchener Mayor’s New Year’s Levee, Kitchener City Hall
– Jan 7th, Waterloo Mayor’s New Year’s Levee, Waterloo Rec Complex
– Jan 10th, Houseplant Appreciation Day
– Jan 11th, Home Watson’s Birthday, free lunch lecture at the Gallery
– Jan 16th, Appreciate a Dragon Day
– Jan 18th, Winnie the Pooh Day, the birthdate of A.A. Milne
– Jan 27th, Chocolate Cake Day

Family net worth in 2016 up 14.7% from 2012: StatsCan
http://www.moneysense.ca/news/family-net-worth-in-2016-up-14-7-from-2012-statscan/

Statistics Canada says the median net worth of Canadian families totalled $295,100 in 2016, up 14.7 per cent from 2012 the last time the survey was conducted.

Housing was both the largest asset and the largest debt for Canadians. …

The report also found that 29.6 per cent of Canadian families were debt-free in 2016.

Statistics Canada says the share was highest among senior-led families with 58.0 per cent debt-free.

Planning to grow legal pot?
https://globalnews.ca/news/3095816/planning-to-grow-legal-pot-check-real-estate-rules-first/
Check real estate rules first If Canada follows the path of most U.S. states that have legalized marijuana, we’ll be allowed to grow a moderate number of plants at home.

The upside is a plentiful supply of cheap marijuana; the downsides are the space requirements, the plants’ fussy need for just the right amount of light, water and fertilizer, higher power bills — and the strong, pervasive smell.

Another potentially delicate problem is selling your house.

As the seller, how much do you have to disclose about the marijuana plants that you have whisked out of sight for the open house? Different provinces have different rules. …

In Ontario, a seller is free not to mention having grown marijuana, so long as a grow didn’t cause damage that could endanger the buyer.

“The only time when the seller would be obliged to actually disclose something is if the defect in the physical property would place the future occupants at risk, if it’s an inherently dangerous property, or that it’s going to make the home uninhabitable due to problems,” explained Kelvin Kucey of the Real Estate Council of Ontario.

“The courts have consistently said that if there’s not a physical defect that’s going to impact on the habitability of the home or present an inherent danger, like if you know you have radioactive waste in your back yard.”

On the other hand, it would be wise to get rid of the plants, legal or not, before the house is shown.

“You’d want to make your house as saleable as possible, so you would want to remove those things, just like you’d want to remove any kind of arguably offensive material in the home – you can do a shopping list of what other people may find offensive. So you’re not limiting your market to people who are thinking of having their own home grow op.” …

Ontario offering thousands in rebates for energy-efficient home renovations
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/renovation-rebates-1.4446324

The province will offer thousands of dollars in rebates for homeowners who opt for energy-efficient renovations, including windows and insulation, the Ontario government said …

The rebates will be offered through the Green Ontario Fund, the non-profit provincial agency funded by money from the province’s cap-and-trade program.

The new rebates are:
– Up to $5,000 to replace windows that meet specific requirements.
– Up to $7,200 off new insulation, and a $100 rebate for air sealing.
– Up to $20,000 for Energy Star-certified ground source heat pumps, or up to $4,500 to repair existing heat pumps.
– Up to $5,800 off Energy Star-certified air source heat pumps, or pumps that meet program requirements.

Homeowners and tenants could also be eligible for a $100 smart thermostat rebate.

In order to access the rebates, homeowners will have to work with a contractor that’s been screened and qualified under the program and listed at GreenON.ca. …

National parks free for people 17 and under starting in 2018
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/national-parks-free-under-17-1.4428893

National parks across the country will become free for people 17 and under starting in 2018.

Parks were free to all visitors in 2017 to celebrate Canada 150. …  Attendance was up 12 per cent at national parks for the first seven months of the year.  …

The 2018 discovery passes are now available online and admission fees for adults and seniors will not increase over 2016 prices.

Region gets millions from province for cycling infrastructure
https://www.therecord.com/news-story/7980045-region-gets-millions-from-province-for-cycling-infrastructure/

The region is getting more than $4 million from the province to spend on cycling infrastructure. …

The spending comes under a four-year municipal commuter plan designed to help Ontario reach its greenhouse gas reduction targets.

Interested municipalities were asked earlier this year to submit an application to the province detailing the cycling infrastructure projects they had planned.

For the region, the funding will amount to nearly $2.2 million for the Region of Waterloo; $520,000 for the City of Waterloo; $865,000 for Kitchener; nearly $500,000 for Cambridge; and a little more than $107,000 for the Township of Wilmot.

For the Region of Waterloo, the funding will help offset the cost of the more than $7 million in cycling infrastructure projects it has planned. …

New GRT Busses
From the planning and works agenda:

The nine (9) ION buses approved for purchase in March 2017 (COR-TRY-17-14) are being delivered between now and the end of the year. … These buses incorporate a number of additional features which were determined through a public consultation process in 2015 and are listed below.

Interior Features
• USB Charging Stations
• Cushioned high back seating
• WiFi
• Paint scheme consistent with the ION light rail vehicles
• Aluminum Wheels
• High visibility white destination sign
• Flush Mounted Windows
• Streamlined Rooftop

Waterloo targets fit seniors in $26M recreation expansion
https://www.therecord.com/news-story/7994121-waterloo-targets-fit-seniors-in-26m-recreation-expansion/
Waterloo’s seniors may be four years away from up to $26 million in new space to help them stay fit and engaged. …

Highlights of the three-part expansion include:
•A gymnasium addition to the front of the recreation complex would use glazed glass, letting visitors see the activity inside and creating a strong first impression.
•Renovating the Hauser Haus inside the complex would put little-used space to more use by installing another walking concourse and space for fitness classes.
•A new, two-storey building beside the recreation complex would be used for adult recreation and as a community pavilion. It would connect by an enclosed bridge to the second floor of the complex.

… It will be up to the next council to approve construction in 2019. If approved, the targeted opening is mid-2021.

Joviality for January:
If snowflakes were currency, we’d all be rich in winter. We’d just make a trip to the nearest snow bank.

How does a Snowman get to work? By icicle

Cindy

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Welcome to December!

It’s hard to believe the end of the year is here. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your business and referrals over the course of this year. I appreciate your loyalty, and the trust you place in me.

Please remember the new mortgage ‘stress test’ comes into effect on January 1, contact me if you have questions regarding how this will affect you.

In K-W in November:

– the average single detached sold for $515,532 in 24 days
–  the average semi-detached sold for $370,744 in 22 days
– the average freehold townhouse sold for $427,196 in 21 days
– the average condo sold for sold for $312,403 in 32 days
– the average list price to sale price was 97.9%

It’s a bad bet to buy an ‘illegal’ home, builders warn
https://www.therecord.com/news-story/7927477-it-s-a-bad-bet-to-buy-an-illegal-home-builders-warn/

Home builders worry that as the region grows and house prices soar, buyers may be more tempted to save a few bucks by turning to unlicensed builders.

Don’t do it, home builders and building officials warn. Ask questions. Research your biggest purchase. Ponder risks such as shoddy construction and warranty headaches.

While it’s OK in Ontario to build your own home without licensing, it’s illegal for an unlicensed contractor to build a new home and offer it for sale. Ontario’s homebuilding regulator, Tarion, has opened eight investigations into 11 local homes since 2015, resulting in three convictions for illegal building. …

Homebuyers are urged to be suspicious of builders who say:

  • You don’t need a Tarion warranty because I offer my own.
    •I built the home for myself but decided to sell it instead.
    •You don’t need a warranty if you leave my name off the building permit and say you’re building it yourself.

Builder registrations can be found in the Ontario Building Directory on Tarion’s website at tarion.com.

Ottawa to offer direct subsidies to low-income tenants
https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/expanded-national-housing-strategy-to-include-new-rent-subsidies/article37046894/

The federal government will announce direct rent support for low-income Canadians in addition to spending billions on traditional and new forms of social housing as part of the Wednesday release of its long-awaited national housing strategy.

A new portable housing allowance will top up similar provincial and municipal programs that provide rent subsidies for people on waiting lists for social housing.

The broad outline of the national housing strategy was announced in the March budget. It set aside $11.2-billion over 11 years in new money.  …

The plan will be promoted as a $40-billion, 10-year strategy. That figure includes the $11.2-billion announced in the budget, the new federal money, existing federal housing spending and provincial housing money contributed through cost-sharing programs. …

Observers expect the strategy will focus on the housing needs of low-income Canadians, with less attention devoted to the affordability concerns of middle-income people, who have faced sharp spikes in home prices in recent years.

10 ways to save more and pay down your debt
http://www.moneysense.ca/save/10-ways-to-save-more-and-pay-down-your-debt/

  1. Set a goal If you’re serious about saving you need to set a goal so you know what you’re saving for. … having a very specific goal will help you stay motivated and on track.
  2. Track your dollars The best way to get on track to saving is to spend less than you earn. Tracking your spending—either through a daily journal or an app—can help you do this.
  3. Trim spending … Once you know how much you’re spending monthly, you can decide what areas you’d like to cut back on so you can meet your savings goal.
  4. Kill two birds with one stone For those with low to moderate incomes, paying off debt—including the mortgage—is the best tax-planning you can do. …
  5. Automate it! Set up an automatic transfer of funds to a savings to a savings account (or TFSA or RRSP) so that a set amount—say 10% of your gross monthly income that comes off your paycheque automatically. This way, it’s not a question of finding the willpower to save every month. …
  6. Pay less tax Slash your taxes by making sure you use TFSAs and RRSPs properly. Hint: Generally speaking, if you make less than $50,000 annually, TFSAs work best. If you make more than $50,000, then saving in an RRSP works best.
  7. Don’t tempt yourself Eliminate temptation to control spending. …
  8. Stack it One strategy to pay off debt quickly is the stacking method. It asks you to list all of your debts in descending order from highest interest rate first on down. This strategy requires you to make minimum payments on all of your debts while directing the remainder of your funds towards the loan with the highest interest rate. …
  9. Let it snowball A second method to pay down debt is the debt snowball strategy. This is where you focus on paying your debts from the smallest amount to the highest by making minimum payments on all your debts and putting the remainder towards the one with the lowest amount—such as a credit card, say. …
  10. Know your TFSA The limit for 2017 is $5,500. Try to max it out if you can.

7 ways to prepare for retirement
http://www.moneysense.ca/save/retirement/7-ways-to-prepare-for-retirement/

1. Face the facts Saving for retirement is always a challenge. …  “financial oppression” really takes hold is that retirees are stuck with bond yields that are sitting close to zero, which means nest eggs stop growing as fast and have to be drawn down a lot faster than they were for past generations.
2. Know when to start taking CPP and OAS You can start taking Canada Pension Plan benefits between the age of 60 and 70. It’s worth spending some time figuring out which age is right for you. …
 3. Learn your retirement ‘type’ When it’s decades away, retirement is hard to really visualize. You put your head down and work and sock away as much as you can, knowing it will help build a nice nest egg for when you’re done your working life. But what if you’re following someone else’s plan and not the one for you?  …
4. Save in RRSPs no matter your age If you really want to find an excuse not to sock away money in an RRSP for your retirement, it’s easy. Why? Because there are always other competing priorities.  …
5. Factor in the new CPP but don’t expect riches The proposed changes to the Canada Pension Plan will be felt in increments, as the enhanced version gets phased in alongside the current plan. When in full effect, the enhanced plan is intended to replace roughly 33% of average earnings (up to a threshold), versus the 25% target of the current plan. …
6. Retire in the best place possible …
7. Think about withdrawing money early from your RRSP Logic would suggest you should want to hold money in your RRSP for as long as you can, to allow it to grow without being taxed. But the looming conversion of your RRSP into an RRIF at the age of 71 can change your strategy …. When you are forced to convert an RRSP into a RRIF, that means your income is going to rise. Depending on your financial picture, that extra income on top of your pension means you may face a “clawback” of your Old Age Security.

Knowing that situation will arise when you turn 71, you may want to start pulling money out of your RRSP in your early 60s or whenever you have retired. That way, although you will have to declare the withdrawal as income, you might be able to pay tax on it at a lower rate than you would when you’re 71 and earning more.

How many payphones died last year? And other fascinating facts about Canada’s $66.6B telecom industry
http://business.financialpost.com/telecom/how-many-payphones-died-last-year-and-other-tidbits-in-crtcs-report-on-the-66-6-billion-telecom-industry

… Payphones Finding a payphone is getting even harder. Only 57,542 payphones remained across the country in 2016, a drop of 9,455 from the 66,997 payphones left in 2015. …

Overage charges  Extra data charges weren’t just seen on wireless bills this year.

Despite an increase home internet packages with unlimited data, Canadian households paid an estimated $100 million in internet data overage charges in 2016. That amounts to approximately 1 per cent of the $10.2 billion in internet services revenue.

But Canadians are trying to avoid overage charges. The percentage of households subscribing to unlimited packages increased to 23 per cent in 2016 from just 12 per cent in 2012.

Waterloo region’s tech talent fastest growing in Canada: report
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/kitchener-waterloo/waterloo-region-tech-talent-market-cbre-report-1.4416308

In five years, the tech talent market in Waterloo region has grown by almost two-thirds and is one of the fastest growing markets in the country, a new report says.

Between 2011 and 2016, the region added 8,400 tech jobs, a 65.6 per cent growth rate, the Scoring Canadian Tech Talent Report released … Thursday from the real estate and investment firm CBRE Group said.

In a ranking of 10 cities, Waterloo region placed fifth, up from eighth last year. …

For the second year, Toronto remained top for tech talent, followed by Ottawa, Vancouver and Montreal.

The rankings are based on 14 metrics, including the supply of tech talent, growth, completed degrees, market and industry outlook as well as apartment rent cost.

‘Library of Things’ comes to Kitchener-Waterloo
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/kitchener-waterloo/library-of-things-kitchener-1.4401380

Starting in January 2018, residents in Kitchener-Waterloo will have access to the region’s ‘library of things,’ where people can pay an annual membership fee to borrow anything from kitchen utensils to camping gear.

Members can go online to see an inventory of the items offered and sign it out for a week, said Devon Fernandes, a co-founder of the library.

He said the purpose of the project is to also use the membership fees to provide employment and “livable wages” to people living with “barriers.”  …

The library is being started by Extend-A-Family Services in Waterloo Region, a non-profit agency that serves adults and children with developmental disabilities, and the Sustainable Society Consulting Group.  …

Canada 150 proved to be a big draw for tourism operators coast to coast
http://www.570news.com/2017/11/27/canada-150-proved-to-be-a-big-draw-for-tourism-operators-coast-to-coast/

Canada celebrated its 150th birthday in 2017 but it was the tourism industry that got to collect the presents.

Tourism operators from coast to coast were planning for big events and extra visitors, and in many cases the numbers have exceeded expectations even before the year draws to a close.

“Double digit increases in every part of the country,” said Gary Howard of the Canadian Automobile Association.

“It’s not just international travellers, primarily it was a lot of Canadians who wanted to see more of their country that they hadn’t seen before.” …

I hope you have a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2018!

Cindy

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f-estimate-for-2017-economic-growth-no-2-in-2018

The International Monetary Fund has raised its estimate for Canada’s economic growth rate for this year and 2018, putting it at or near the top of the heap among advanced economies.

The Washington-based IMF is now estimating Canada’s gross domestic product for 2017 will be 3.0 per cent — half a percentage point higher than its July estimate.

That would put Canada ahead of all the other Group of Seven countries, with the United States coming second at 2.2 per cent growth from last year.

The IMF’s world economic outlook is similar to estimates issued last month by the Paris-based OECD, which also said Canada would top the G7 countries this year. …
4 surprising things about the Ontario government’s finances
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ontario-government-revenue-kathleen-wynne-tax-1.4300960

1. Personal income tax revenue dropping For the first time since the recession in 2009, the province’s revenue from personal income tax actually went down, It was $30.67 billion this past year, a drop of 1.5 per cent from the 2015-16 figure. Perhaps more significantly, the income tax take was 4.6% lower than what the finance minister had projected in his budget for the year, a difference of $1.5 billion. …

2. Corporate tax revenue soaring The province’s revenue from corporate taxes in 2016-17 was $14.87 billion, a 30 per cent jump from the previous year. Since the corporate tax rate didn’t change, it’s a sign that Ontario’s companies are doing rather well for themselves. …

3. Real estate windfall The crazy rise in house prices across southern Ontario in 2016-17 was a big money maker for the government. The Public Accounts show the province earned $2.73 billion in land transfer tax, a 29 per cent jump from the previous year.

The surprise here is that the province is projecting it will bring in even more land transfer tax in the current fiscal year, $3.14 billion, which would be a 15 per cent jump from last year’s record haul. …

4. Booze revenue poised to top gambling revenue …  The government is forecasting that in 2017-18, LCBO revenues will for the first time surpass OLG profits. The Public Accounts show that almost happened last year, as LCBO revenues jumped to $2.35 billion, while income from OLG was $2.36 billion. …

New 18-minute flight links Breslau to Toronto
https://www.therecord.com/news-story/7606091-new-18-minute-flight-links-breslau-to-toronto/

An 18-minute flight between Breslau and Toronto will be available starting next month.

FlyGTA Airlines announced the new route between the Region of Waterloo International Airport in Breslau and the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport on Tuesday.

The flight — on an eight-passenger plane — will cost $129 including taxes and fees, according to the airline’s website. The first one is scheduled for Nov. 6.

“We’re really looking forward to this. I can’t help but think it’s going to be successful,” regional Coun. Tom Galloway said at the news conference held at the Toronto airport.

FlyGTA also added a 19-minute flight to Lake Simcoe Regional Airport near Barrie for the same price, and service to London will start in December.

The airline already has a successful flight from Niagara District Airport in Niagara-on-the-Lake to Toronto that takes just 12 minutes. That regular daily commuter flight has been offered since September 2016, with eight flights per day. …

Photo radar expected in Waterloo Region within next few years
https://www.kitchenerpost.ca/news-story/7610146-photo-radar-expected-in-waterloo-region-within-next-few-years/

Artificial intelligence will likely hand out speeding tickets in a new program being investigated by Waterloo Region that could launch in the next few years.

What exactly that technology looks like is still being decided, but the Ontario government recently approved the photo radar concept for use in the province’s municipalities.

Bob Henderson, manager of transportation engineering with the Region of Waterloo, is a member of a committee that is working together to develop the framework for the newly-introduced technology.

With the rollout in Ontario municipalities still two to three years out, the Ontario Traffic Council Automated Speed Committee is examining how this technology will be used, in terms of systems and eventually sending tickets to offenders.

The province has approved the use of photo radar, officially named Automated Speed Enforcement (ASE) technology, in school zones and community safety zones. …
At the local level, it will be up to the individual municipalities to decide their enforcement strategies when it comes to photo radar. Henderson said the Region of Waterloo has put a focus on speed enforcement in school zones where enforcement is already a problem. …

Please ask me if you have any questions about the above topics!

Cindy

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I only keep three months of newsletters on line, any longer and the information contained therein is likely out of date.

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