Newsstand: April 29, 2014




Newsstand: April 29, 2014

Beyoncé and Jay Z will bring their On the Run Tour to Toronto on July 9. Just what are they on the run from? Our guess is having to attend Kanye West and Kim Kardashian’s wedding. In the news: the summer of roadwork is about to begin, longer commute times in the GTA have an impact on the quality of life in the province, an insane bidding war erupts over a north Toronto fixer-upper, and Greg Sorbara is York University’s new chancellor.

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Yesterday, the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee revealed the major road work projects that the city will suffer through undertake this summer. In total, $215 million will be spent on road, bridge, and expressway improvements, while another $60 million is to be spent on sewer and water main projects. CBC News has a handy map that details priority roadwork, including 22 major road resurfacing projects across the city, as well as three upgrade projects on the Gardiner Expressway. Gardiner improvements include a deck replacement on the elevated part of the Gardiner that runs from the CNE to Grand Magazine Street, and rehab work on three bridges between the Humber River and Park Lawn Avenue. Be warned and plan to self-medicate appropriately, because all of the Gardiner projects will require lane closures. Suddenly, the war on the car has taken on a whole new context.

The upcoming tidal wave of roadwork does not bode well for the well-being of Torontonians, if a new report is any indicator. The first Ontario report that looks at quality of life in the province based on indicators in the Canadian Index of Wellbeing reveals that longer commute times—especially within the Toronto area—contribute to the chronic time pressure felt by Ontarians. The report, created by the University of Waterloo for the Ontario Trillium Foundation, says that by 2010, 20.5 per cent of Ontarians aged 20 to 64 felt high levels of time pressure, up from 16.4 per cent in 1994. Although work schedules have evolved to become more flexible, the study reveals that commute times rose by an average 12 per cent between 1994 and 2010, which translates to 27 additional commuting hours each working year. Predictably, Toronto residents have the longest commute times in the province. The provincial average was 47 minutes per day, but Torontonians face 65.6 minutes on average.

While bidding wars are nothing new to the Toronto real estate market, the intense battle for a five-bedroom home in the Yonge and Lawrence area is like nothing many real estate agents have ever seen. The fixer-upper was listed at a mere $699,000 and ultimately sold for $1.37 million, after receiving 72 offers. Listing agent Bradley Hutton purposely listed the home at least $400,000 under market value for the area as a strategy to create a buzz over the property, and clearly it worked. More than a thousand people toured the home, and over 80 per cent of the offers received exceeded the $1-million mark to begin with. While sellers had anticipated a price of $1.1 million for the home, a spring market characterized by intense demand and a record shortage of listings helped push the sale well over the anticipated price. Toronto realtor David Flemming was critical of the sale, saying that a mix of uninformed buyers and agents lacking the experience to understand fair market value contributed to the ballooning price of a home that the listing agent admits requires approximately $300,000 in renovations.

Finally, York University has named former Liberal MPP and provincial finance minister Greg Sorbara its new chancellor. Sorbara, who completed both his undergraduate and law degrees at York, also holds an honorary doctorate of laws from the university. He will begin his fancy new job in June.