Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Special Meeting of Collingwood Council

Scheduled for tomorrow evening at the Leisure Time Club, V.O.T.E. Collingwood's "Evening with Council" (see post "Do You Have Questions for Collingwood Council?") has now been elevated in stature to that of a "Special Meeting of Council" with a call to order by Mayor Carrier. This is the appropriate procedural approach as per the Municipal Act, 2001.
Notwithstanding this change in status Councillor Chadwick will not be attending the subject meeting citing what he feels is V.O.T.E.'s "special interest group" status.
I believe that all of us have "special interests." Between his love of animals, tequila and numerous other interests, Councillor Chadwick is no exception. I applaud him for them, we would be a pretty boring race without them and they do stop me from patronzing his buiness. As far as Council's participation in a meeting called by V.O.T.E.? First it is a meeting open to the public, free of charge to anyone wishing to attend. Secondly, two pre-determined questions were submitted in advance to the members of Council so as to not blind-side anyone. The most siginifcant of the two dealt with spending and taxation, topics not of a "special interest" nature nor ones of specific interest just to members of V.O.T.E.
Not withstanding all of the procedural arguements one might engage or hide behind to defend not participating in a meeting such as this, being in public office brings with it certain obligations. Should I decide to run and occupy such a postion, I for one would feel a certain degree of obligation to meet with my constituents regardless of the forum. If that meant meeting with every group in Town for some purposeful dialogue to better our community, so-be-it. Each and everyone of us contributes to the renumeration of our municipal officials. As such, should false allegations of having a "special interest" absolve anyone from being held accountable to the people they were elected to serve? You comments please.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Real Estate Consumers Drug of Choice

Initial users of had some fairly strong opinions regarding both actual and perceived shortcomings of this newly launched website which replaces An article in the Toronto Star entitled "Messing with our real estate crack" highlights both the issues and steps being taken by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) to resolve the issues.
The writer will be attending a CREA meeting in Quebec City next week during which time I am sure an update will be provided relative to the ongoing tweaking and modifications of the new website. This very effective tool for consumers has become in recent years, the drug of choice for real estate junkies or even those less addticted, looking to buy or sell property across Canada. As was the case in the past, REALTORS® are no longer the gatekeepers of information. Our job is now to provide what information consumers want and never has this been more important than in the changing market conditions we are now facing.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008 Becomes

With over 3 million visitors monthly, Canada’s most popular consumer real estate website was recently re-launched as featuring an entirely new use interface. These two websites and their respective domain names are the property of the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) which has 97,500 REALTOR® members across Canada.
Increasing, consumers everywhere are user the Internet to search for properties, agents and other real estate related information. Studies conducted by CREA indicated that consumers were of the opinion that was the actual MLS® system used by REALTORS®. In reality now known as is a consumer only website that allows both buyer and sellers, online access to current MLS® listed properties across Canada of which the sellers have authorized their uploading to the site. Rebranding this website to was done to (a) avoid any confusion that consumers had with thoughts that is was the actual MLS® system they were accessing and (b) using the name was felt to better represent the many and varied services that REALTORS® provide to consumers, some of which are highlighted via links on the new site. Anyone using or that has bookmarked in their web browser, will automatically be re-directed to the new site.This new site features a number of improvements over the old interface, the most significant of which is the interactive mapping of active listings that is accomplished via the use of Microsoft’s Virtual Earth software. Consumers searching for properties of a specific type, price range and location will continue to receive downloaded information and photos about the available properties but will also have their property selections mapped for them. Given the fact that a growing number of buyers for Georgian Triangle area property do not reside full-time and are not overly familiar with the area, this mapping function is a great addition to the new website.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The End of Detroit

As a self-confessed car buff it has been interesting to follow the plight of the Big 3 automakers. In following the news coverage as well as comments from letters to editors etc., it would appear that politcians on both sides of the border and consumers at large have little sympathy these days for bailing out Ford, GM and Chrysler. Claims abound that these three car manufacturers are the most mismanaged companies in North America and I can not help but agree.
For years, Ford, GM and Chrysler through the 70's, 80's and 90's turned out vehicles of poor design and inferior quality forcing them to rely on rebates and zero percent financing gimmicks in order to get them sold. Remember such engineering marvels as the Vega, Chevy Citatation, Cadillac Cimarron, Plymouth Volare, the Gremlin, Ford Fairmont, Granada and countless others? All the while Toyota and Honda slipped onto the scene, responding to consumer's demands for better quality, more fuel efficient vehicles, quietly gobbling up marketshare while the Big 3 focused on profiteering from the sale of gas guzzling pickups and SUV's. To make matters worse, they agreed to the ridiculous contract demands of the UAW and CAW, inflating their labour costs above what Honda and Toyota pay their North American non-union employees, while at the same time driving pension and health care expenses for retirees into the stratosphere.
With the price of oil reaching record levels this year taking gas prices to almost $1.50 a litre, GM and Chrysler spent what little remaining cash they have reviving nostalgia with a 6.2 litre Camaro and a 6.1 litre Hemi Challenger. Don't get me wrong as a car lover I'd like to have either one those in my garage but neither are going to win back the North American car buyer.
Bailing these guys out with billions in financial aid will not stop the bleeding. Only a change in senior management at all three will curb the insatiable appetite that these companies have for cash. I would highly recommend their replacements receive a copy of the book titled "The End of Detroit" by Micheline Maynard before they get started. It may not provide all the answers but it is a fact based account of why the Big 3 aren't so big anymore.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Norisle's Engine "Good As New"

Further to my prior posting see "A Piece of Collingwood's maritime Past" the Collingwood built steamship Norisle has recently undergone an evaluation of ship's steam engine and auxilary equipment. Volunteer members from the Ontario Steam Heritage Museum in southern Ontario surveyed the ship and while the Norisle is over 60 years old, the engine (see photo) and other working components are 1/10th that age in terms of service life.

The Norisle went into service in 1947 and was retired in 1974 hence it has a working life of just 27 years. Further, since the ship ran only on a seasonal basis from spring to fall, the actual operating age is much less. Steam engines of the type found in the Norisle typically had a service life of 100 years. Given the limited hours of actual run-time, the Norisle's engine was deemed to be good as new. Ontario Steam Heritage Museum staff removed a variety of the ships components which will be shipped to the museum for diassembly, reburbishment where required, testing and prepared for re-installation of the ship.

Hopefully the preservation group spear-heading this initiative will develop a viable business plan which will see the ship returned into service as a cruise vessel. Volunteers of all sorts have offered their expertise and service in helping to make this potentially happen. Watch for future postings as I endeavour to keep those interested abreast of the latest progress to restore into service, the last steam powered passenger ship to cruise the Great Lakes or visit Friends of the Norisle.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Outstanding Waterfront Condo

This "just listed" Collingwood waterfront condo offers a panoramic view of Collingwood's harbour, outstanding sunrises and SOLD in 1 week." Totalling 1,500 square feet with 3 bedrooms and 2 full baths this impeccably maintained unit features numerous upgrades including a custom finished 5 piece ensuite with a ceramic tiled and plate glass enclosed shower, soaker tub and double vanity. Situated in a quiet enclave with an onsite swimming pool, boardwalk, walking trails and adjacent conservation lands this property offers a care-free lifestyle second-to-none! Contact me directly anytime at 705-443-1037 to book your personal viewing.
MLS# 20085420 Market priced at $375,000.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Do You Have Questions for Collingwood Council?

Members of Collingwood's Municipal Council are now approaching the halfway mark of their four year term in office. Much has been accomplished yet numerous challenges and issues still remain to be dealt with in the next 2 years.
On Thursday November 27th V.O.T.E. (Voices Of The Electorate) Collingwood is sponsoring "An Evening with Collingwood Council." This is a "no charge" event open to all residents of Collingwood and any other parties interested in attending. I have been asked to moderate the evening's discussion during which time Council members will be asked to comment on the following two questions:

1.) What pressing issues do they see the Town facing in their remaining 2 years in office?
2.) What are their plans for spending and taxation?

In addition there will be a question and answer period where members of the audience can ask their municipal representatives questions that are of importance to them. This promises to be a very informative and enlightening evening and everyone is urged to attend and bring a friend.
Details for the evening are as follows:
Date: Thursday November 27, 2008
Time: 7:00 to 9:00pm
Place: Leisure Time Club, 100 Minnesota Street, Collingwood

Monday, November 3, 2008

Area Real Estate Sales Decline Sharply in October

After regaining strength in September following two months of slower sales in July and August, area real estate sales declined significantly in October with unit sales declining 48% from the same month last year. Sales revenue for the month totaled $26 million, a 52% reduction from the $54 million worth of real estate sold in October 2007. These results are based on the MLS® statistics of the Georgian Triangle Real Estate Board.
As they say, one month does not make a year and the fact remains that year-to-date sales to the end of October are in excess of $402 million which represents a lot of real estate. Both unit and dollar sales down 18% from the same period last year. In conversation with other real estate board Presidents across the Province many are reporting sales decreases that are more significant with YTD declines of 20% to 30%. This is further evidence that due largely to the demographic make-up of real estate buyers in this area, the Georgian Triangle is somewhat insulated from factors affecting market conditions elsewhere.
Out of all local municipalities, residential sales in Collingwood have held up well in 2008 with 223 residential properties having sold this year versus 244 in 2007, a decrease of 8.6%. Keep in mind that the sale of new homes at sites around town such as Georgian Meadows, Creekside and others are not included in these MLS® sales results, so overall Collingwood real estate is continuing to sell well given the job losses of recent years and current economic uncertainties.
In my next posting I will report on the year-to-date sales activity in other area municipalities.

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