London home price gains forecast to slow in 2019
AFTER LEADING THE country for the overall increase in residential home prices in 2018―up a whopping 17 per cent in London in 2018 compared to the year before―an annual national housing market outlook is predicting more modest gains for 2019.
According to the Re/Max 2019 Housing Market Outlook, the London market will continue to be a sellers’ market and post increased growth in the average residential home sale price, however it is anticipated the market will cool as buyers start to feel the pinch of higher interest rates and the continued impact of stress-test financing.
The outlook estimates an average residential home price increase of five per cent in London in 2019.
“Due to the stress test and increasing interest rates, we are seeing more buyers in traditionally affordable regions in Ontario unable to enter the market,” said Christopher Alexander, executive vice president and regional director, Re/Max of Ontario-Atlantic Canada. “This is particularly true for first-time buyers and single Millennials.”
According to the survey, the average residential sale price in London in 2018 (January 1 to October 31) was $379,654.
Nationally, the survey indicated that 36 per cent of Canadians are considering buying a property in the next five years. This is down from 48 per cent at the same time last year. The decrease is attributed to actual and perceived impacts of the mortgage stress test and rising interest rates on housing affordability.
Westmount Mall eyed for reptile zoo
REPTILIA, A PRIVATELY operated reptile zoo with locations in Vaughan and Whitby, has announced plans for a London location. The company wants to establish a 25,000-square-foot zoo at Westmount Mall.
The 538,150-square-foot Westmount Mall, owned by Toronto-based real estate investment firm KingSett Capital, is currently in in the midst of a $25-million transformation, overseen by McCOR Management. A 26,748-square-foot section of the former Target location will become a Fit4Less health and fitness centre in the first quarter of 2019.
Reptilia, which also has plans for a Barrie location, currently operates its 25,000-square-foot flagship location in Vaughan, north of Toronto. Visitors pay up to $16 to view a collection of 250 reptiles, including snakes, turtles and alligators.
In addition, the zoo offers guided tours, education programs and hosts school trips, and also brings animals outside their facilities for birthday parties, youth camps and private events.
The announcement has been met with some opposition, namely from Wendy Brown, chair of London’s Animal Welfare Advisory Committee. She doesn’t want to see a Reptilia location in London, telling CBC News that Reptilia’s business model promotes the private ownership of reptiles, animals she says can be difficult to care for.
“It perpetuates the view that these are novelty animals to have,” she said. “Reptilia promotes the sale of these animals. They’re seen as something that’s a novelty. Then, when the novelty wears off, then the burden goes to rescue organizations.”
Brown wants the city to change London’s animal control bylaw in a way that would effectively block private zoos, including Reptilia, from operating in London. However, a staff report coming before the community and protective services committee next week doesn’t back the bylaw changes Brown is calling for. Instead, it recommends staff draft changes to the city’s business licence bylaw in a way that would allow the city to regulate private zoos.
Via Rail shuts out Bombardier for Windsor-Quebec City upgrade
VIA RAIL HAS selected Siemens over Bombardier Inc. for a $989-million contract to modernize its passenger rail service along its key rail corridor between Windsor and Quebec City.
In addition, the German manufacturer could receive up to about $500 million more from the Crown corporation railway if it exercises options for another 16 trains on top of the 32 awarded this week.
The increased order could take place if the federal government approves Via Rail’s plan to add frequencies between Quebec City and Toronto, said Via’s president and CEO, Yves Desjardins-Siciliano.
It expects Ottawa will announce a decision next year on the project that includes a rail network dedicated to passenger traffic.
Under the contract that doesn’t require any local content, Siemens will build the trains at its North American headquarters in California.
Rumours of Via Rail’s decision not to select Bombardier have provoked resentment in Quebec where Bombardier is struggling to fill the order book at its La Pocatiere plant.
Bombardier Transportation said in a statement that it is “inconceivable” that a contract for a train that will pass “two national capitals” does not generate a maximum of local benefits.
“This offer was supported by the Quebec government, had increased local economic benefits, and included the use of green technologies,” said Bombardier. “We will take the time necessary to analyze the Via Rail process and its decisions, and evaluate our options.”
The Original Cakerie workforce says no to union representation
THE UNITED FOOD and Commercial Workers union has failed in its bid to organize The Original Cakerie, as workers recently voted overwhelmingly against representation.
There are more than 400 workers at the Innovation Drive plant. The vote saw 87 support the union, 258 said no.
In an interview with The London Free Press, Kevin Shimmin, a national representative for United Food and Commercial Workers Canada who worked on the organizing drive at the Cakerie, said, “It is very disappointing, it is deflating. Workers have made a decision as to who they trust with their future.”
The plant is owned by Gryphon Investments, a California-based investment firm that purchased The Original Cakerie from its founders in 2015.
The Original Cakerie issued a statement stating union representation is not needed at the plant.
“The Original Cakerie continues to believe we provide our employees with a positive, safe, respectful and productive work environment. We respect the vote of our employees to continue working directly with us, and we were pleased to see nearly full employee participation in the vote, demonstrating a high level of engagement in the process.”
There were two previous failed votes to unionize the Cakerie, the most recent one about five years ago.
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