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Newsstand: February 19, 2014

Apparently, Seth Cohen is now married. Time to cry in your breakfast cereal. In the news: lots of snow this winter means the City’s snow removal budget is disappearing quickly, the race to become the TTC chair heats up, the Toronto Zoo doesn’t know a whole lot about the Inuit language, and replacing glass walls is an expense that prospective condo buyers should probably consider.

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It’s been a rough winter. Toronto has been hit by 96.6 centimetres of snow since the beginning of December, which means we’re already closing in on last year’s average winter snowfall amount of 109 centimetres. The problem is that all of this extra snow is eating up the City’s snow removal budget faster than expected. Public works committee chair Denzil Minnan-Wong (Ward 34, Don Valley East) says that the snow removal budget for this year sits at $85 million, and just under half of that has already been used up. Generally, at this point in the year, Minnan-Wong says the City would only have used one quarter of the budget. And to think the fun isn’t even over yet: we’re expected to head into another wonderful deep freeze next week. Oh, the joy.

As prospective mayoral candidate Karen Stintz (Ward 16, Eglinton-Lawrence) enters her final days as chair of the Toronto Transit Commission, focus is now shifting to councillors Maria Augimeri (Ward 9, York Centre), and Josh Colle (Ward 15, Eglinton-Lawrence) , who are both in the running to assume the role. Voting for the new chair begins today, and like everything else that happens at city council meetings lately, it could get nasty as councillors take sides on whom they support. It has been clear that outgoing chair Stintz favours Colle as her replacement. Colle recently told the Globe and Mail that he would want to focus his mandate as chair on service and reliability, and bring some calm to the transit file. For her part, Augimeri says that she would act more as a caretaker for the TTC, keeping the board running efficiently until the election, when she would not seek the position again. Considering the fact that Augimeri made it onto Mayor Rob Ford’s newest political hit list, one could hazard a guess that she likely isn’t the candidate he will back.

The Toronto Zoo has apologized for shortlisting the Inuit word “Searik” as a potential name to bestow upon a new polar bear cub—because it turns out, it’s not actually an Inuit word at all. Because it totally seemed like a legit idea at the time to use Wiki Answers as an authority on the Inuit language and not consult an actual authority on the Inuit language, the name was included as part of a list of names for the public to weigh in on in a feel-good contest. However, when Piita Irniq, former commissioner of Nunavut, saw the list, he was puzzled and immediately identified that “Searik” does not mean “beautiful” in Inuit as the website claimed. The Toronto Zoo has issued an apology for the blunder and, while it no longer cites “Searik” as being an Inuit name, it is still included in the contest name options because the public has responded well to it.

Think condo living will save you from all those pesky issues relating to home maintenance? You may have to reconsider after reading about University of Waterloo professor John Straube’s concerns that degrading glass from condo windows will soon begin to cost owners big bucks. Straube believe most condo wall windows have a lifespan of 30 to 35 years, and could cost up to $100,000 per unit to replace. Over time, the adhesive, gaskets, and sealants used keep the windows in place will degrade due to temperature changes, explains Straube. While this sort of window replacement is still relatively uncharted territory, he cautions that owners should be prepared for longer-term operational and maintenance costs when investing in condos, in the same way they would if they were purchasing a freehold home.


  • Steveinto

    Is the needed maintenance any different them what is needed in a house? Seems to be a good thing that it is needed every 20 to 30 years, in a house major repairs are needed every 5 to 10 years. In a condo the cost of repairs is shared, in a house only one person/family bare the cost.

    • vampchick21

      The cost is only shared where repairs/maintenance are on the common elements. Not within the actual unit (so, for example, repairing/replacing bath fixtures in the unit – owners cost, maintaining pool – common element, paid for by the condo corporation (all owners) via budget created by maintenence fees).

      The real question is exactly where the unit ends and the common element begins, which can be different in each and every condo building. Is the window wall part of each unit or part of the common elements as a whole?

      • Steveinto

        The article talks about the condo building not the units.The declaration will outline what is common elements, common exclusive use, and the boundaries of the unit. Pretty basic and mostly the same for all condos, townhouses become a bit more complicated.
        I have lived in condos for many years, and have lived in houses. I feel the benefits to home maintenance is better in a condo.

        • vampchick21

          I agree and am very much aware. Not only do I live in a condo, my hubby is a condo property manager. And trust me, based on what he’s told me, it can be very tricky determining what is owner cost and what is corporation cost depending on the issue. And yes, the article does talk about condo buildings, but your comment appeared to assume that the cost of replacing the window walls was corporation, when that might not be the case, and even if the corporation decides to cover the cost up front, maintenance fees will go up to replenish the coffers, as my hubby had to deal with for a project to replace all piping in his building. And depending on the board, the board president, the process and the residents, this can turn into a nasty little mess.

          • Steveinto

            Windows in a condo tower are part of the common elements. They have to be they are part of the building structure. The individual owner is not responsible for them. The corporation has a 40 year plan for maintenance and replacement of all common, and exclusive use common elements. The cost is factored as is the time frame when it will be done. $100k for window replacement in condo unit is a bit hard to fathom. The number feels like it was thrown out to to awe people.
            The article is a bit misleading the author has little knowledge of condo laws.
            It gets tricky dealing with upgrades to owners units, sometimes common elements need to be altered to do that, plumbing comes to mind.

          • vampchick21

            That article points out that the cost is so high because of the different type of glass needed in a condo tower as opposed to a house. It also clearly states that it is a projected number because they actually do not know, glass walled condo towers are relatively new to the landscape, they came up with the number based on those few buildings they already did this work on.

            Other than that, since you seem to think you know more about it all, I’ll just let you talk on while I move on to mocking the Fords. Thanks.

          • iamrobfordsaneurysm

            I’ve got clients who’re in the early 80′s version of this, where the carbon steel clips holding their precast on the outside of the building are starting to rot out. Construction is a very long-tail industry and the really big mistakes, I mean, the massive, huge, frighteningly costly ones are the longest to out themselves.

    • tomwest

      If you own a detached house, the most expensive ‘maintainence’ project would be replacing the roof – and I don’t think that would cost $100k. Also, replacing a window is not something you can do piecemeal (unlike a roof, where you could always just patch the worse bits).

    • VictorianShuter

      If you think maintenance is needed every 20 to 30 years, you may not have stayed long enough in a condo. Sure, it may depend on the quality of the building you’re in. Even if it’s a luxury condo, they may renovate the common areas every several years to keep the property value up.
      I myself am in a 11-year-old building that had to replace the hot water pipes on the higher floors two years ago. The higher you go, the pipes require an increasing amount of pressure which reduces the longevity of the pipes, apparently.

      • iamrobfordsaneurysm

        The build quality of just about everything is crap. I’ve seen re-circulation piping in the domestic hot water system rotted out in as fast as five years, thanks to cheap material and gimcrack engineering. That doing it right, with thicker-wall copper piping, and automatic balancing valves to stop risers from over-flowing, would cost maybe 15% more than ‘accepted’ practice and that’s 14.99% more than developers are willing to pay.

    • bobloblawbloblawblah

      Unless you live in one of those honkin’ big mansions on the Bridle Path you don’t have repairs costing $100,000. Heck, a bungalow roof replacement shouldn’t be more than $6,000. Same with a furnace. These get replaced every 25 years or so.

  • VictorianShuter

    So what’s the Inuit equivalent of ‘mea culpa’?

  • torontothegreat

    I wonder if the zoo (and Torontoist editors) also realize that “inuit” isn’t a single language