I’m not a native Torontonian. I was raised in Ottawa, (the Nation’s Capital) and came here seeking my fortune, or at least income, almost a half century ago.
I’ve been spoiled with a very good income thanks to Toronto residential condos and believe me, I have seen all the changes in Condo Land, the City and its inhabitants along the way.
I’m always amused at how screwed up Torontonians get “when you put a windshield in front of them“.
Ordinary, nice people spontaneously turn into wild animals appearing to be on the hunt!
I’ve watched as neighbourhood policing in Toronto has turned to literally “no-policing“!
When I was young, you simply did not ever “run a yellow light” for example, yet today, don’t ever step off the curb as the light changes as there is always a least one last-minute-racer pushing the limit of outright running a red light.
You’re more apt to find a police officer lingering around condo construction sites “keeping an eye on things” (uniformed armed police officers babysitting condo development sites).
Does anyone else see anything wrong here?
And don’t even think about honking your horn or voice your distaste for their conduct, as at best you will receive “the bird“, and/or abusive language . . . . and road rage is not unheard of here in Toronto either.
That takes me to my blog of today in which I want to point out the City of Toronto’s totally unacceptable failure to honour its obligations to thousands of tax paying property owners surrounding College Park.
For over a decade now the City of Toronto and the developer (“Canderal Stoneridge” – not a development company that I put clients in to or recommend) have made out like bandits touting the unique opportunity to “live in a Park in the City that is a park“.
Excellent marketing concept but, as with most marketing I see these days, the underlying integrity of the entire campaign was totally missing.
It is always the “little person” that pays for absolutely everything here in Condo Land!
You are limited in options of buying off plans in unbuilt buildings that are being sold to you by high priced ad agencies using all the flowery rhetoric that has been perfected over the decades of selling this “vision of homes” while delivering modest quality product.
The City of Toronto generates shocking profits in Permit Fees, Application Fees, Building Fees, and the like from every high rise building that they grant authority to build.
According to a recent article in Toronto Life (“Faulty Towers” – an article any rational condo buyer wants to read before investing in Condo Land) “The City of Toronto earns upwards of $10 Million PER TOWER!
By that math, with four condos added to the existing footprint of what was once a beautiful public green space, the city enjoyed upwards of $10 Million!
Needless to say the developers walked away with hundreds of millions.
And who paid all this money?
You got it. You and I, if you also have played the condo game in Condo Land.
Hey, there’s nothing wrong with speculation and/or investments in general, but the underlying integrity of the game is flawed, and it SHOULD be required that everyone at least benefits.
In Condo Land it is the little individual unit buyers that put up all the money!
Would it be asking too much to expect the product that we are buying to advance and improve, delivering a consistently improving product?
In all the time that I’ve been in Condo Land (almost four decades) I have never seen any initiatives by any regulatory body to address developers refusing to add technologies that enhance the “quiet enjoyment” (for example) of these consumer financiers!
Years ago I was approached by various entrepreneurs with sound attenuation wall board that would stop virtually 100% of sound transfer into and/or out of condo units.
This you see, is the “silent plague” (pardon the pun) in Condo Land.
I’ve never been able to buy a condo in Condo Land that I didn’t hear my neighbours conversations and bathroom habits!
And I’m talking about buying in high end condos, repeatedly! I’ve been required to have sound attenuation walls built into my existing properties.
Cosmetically beautiful in some cases (and not in others) but of such poor construction quality that I simply could not live in them!
Why do you think there are so many condos on the market at any given time in Condo Land?
Despite there being an Act of Parliament allegedly to protect consumers, and the Tarion Warranty Program allegedly to protect consumers, in the end buyers simply pay for whatever deficiencies and shortfalls that they encounter.
You are left with just one option which is litigation and litigation is very expensive and always “a coin toss” outcome!
Tarion is an insurance program and insurance companies instinctively try to not pay out money so developers historically have learned that they can get away with almost anything . . . . and they have and continue to.
The developers register with Tarion so Tarion sees their loyalty to the developer who passes off the registration fee on to you the buyer as an adjustment at closing.
So you are left on your own as a buyer to fend for yourself.
Artificially low interest rates (bought down using our tax dollars and resulting in deficits to prop up what I see as a “false economy“) attract speculators to feed on the unsold condo units held by developers because construction employment is the cornerstone of the economy and if these condos weren’t being built someone would have to admit that “the economy stalled a long time ago“!
So with all of this to deal with, when you bought your condo and discovered all the downsides of a property management company that is loyal to the developers during the crucial first couple years of a building’s existence, and who is so egregiously overpaid (no-one has ever noticed that budgets by developers reward property management company’s with upwards of a quarter million dollars a year in management fees) and usually does such a poor job of actually managing the condo.
All of this has spoiled the condo lifestyle that the “concept” offered.
Today, you buy into what amounts to a “rental building“, consistently housing hundreds of small investor units.
The average price of a condo in Condo Land is running at $800 per square foot so pick your size and you will know what it’s going to cost you (I can find you quality older buildings at better prices).
You get to pay monthly maintenance fees and annual property taxes.
In my instance this equates to about $20,000 a year!
In return, the city after the crucial first year of the “exclusive townhouses in the park” existence, destroy the park (that was used to sell thousands of condo units as well as these twelve luxury town homes) that had been a feature of the city for decades!
Oh, they continued to collect all those property taxes, but didn’t even continue with the budgeted line item to maintain the EXISTING PUBLIC PARK.
This isn’t “their park“, it is “our park“! That’s what “public” means!
The City officials turned their back on all of these tax paying consumers for seven years now, continually promising the (false) $3.5 Million Retrofit of the park!
The developer has a parking space below the park and it needs waterproofing.
Does anyone else think that the budget to remove all that land and park features is built into the $3.5 Million Park Retrofit that has been sold to us all for all of these years?
So, yesterday was the first snowfall of 2015/16 and I look out my window and see a snow plow driver sheering my front lawn (technically it’s not mine as the City retained ownership of the lawn leading up to my home) and all of the snow and dirt collected on the sidewalk leading up from the decimated fountain/skating rink!
So I go running out to stop him only to be greeted with that consistent Toronto attitude, that starts with “calm down“!
It didn’t seem particularly difficult for someone driving a tractor with a plow blade, who was hired to plow the sidewalks to differentiate between a side walk and a lawn.
His point seemed to suggested logic to him because the “City garbage truck” had already driven well up over my lawn.
There is a self-watering system installed but shut off by the City years ago when they undertook their program of destroying a beautiful public green space.
So Mr. Tractor driver “attacks the messenger” which is something I see all the time and have to accredit to a local regional thing because I’m in the process of moving to Oakville (into a detached home) and there, when I’m jaywalking, drivers stop to allow me to cross, with a smile on their faces!
His lack of a rational argument led him immediately into falsely alleging that “are you saying your better than me“!
Now how could any rational person convert someone suggesting to you that it should not be too difficult to tell the difference between surfaces to be snow plowed, to someone saying “they are better than someone“.
I would suggest that when your argument carries no legitimacy the only thing left is to distract!
No-one is that stupid, so you can safely conclude that this guy, like with most of the rude Torontonians (and you can believe me there is no shortage thereof) that I see “flipping the bird” around after they’ve done something stupid, knows full well what he is doing.
He is diverting the attention away from the fact that he was willfully destroying my front lawn.
In a perfect world (I guess), my theory of a simple apology and suggestion that the damage be repaired in the spring, would have gone a lot further.