Monday, September 28, 2009

Simcoe County Council Kills Dump Site 41

After initially imposing a 1 year moratorium on the project, the controversial landfill site to be built north of Elmvale known as Site 41 has been permanently killed by Simcoe County Council. During the many public protests which drew widespread media coverage, Warden Tony Guergis vehemently supported the project maintaining that all environmental considerations and protocol had been adhered to. In the end, even the Warden conceded and voted with the majority ending the project claiming that the county "is a responsible level of government." Simcoe County will now have to develop a waste management strategy for the future that will include public input.
This is not a problem unique to Simcoe County. Municipalities across Canada face similar circumstances when it comes to handling waste. Piling up garbage and covering it with dirt is hardly a high tech solution. The green bin program for disposing of refuse that is compost able seems to be worthwhile initiative in reducing what has traditionally ended up in landfills. Much has been done with respect to the re-use and recycle aspects of "reduce, re-use and recycle." Where we seem to be lacking is with respect to the concept of "reduce." Too many products are in my opinion over-packaged. In addition, one only needs to review the weekly assortment of sale flyers or take a walk down any aisle of your favourite retailer to realize a wide variety of useless products that are simply not needed and or will not last that will inevitably end up in our landfills. Numerous studies suggest that we are going to witness a new generation coming forward that believes and will adhere to the concept that less is better. Smaller homes, smaller more fuel efficient cars, and in general just less "stuff" in their lives is a more desirable way to live that the excessive lifestyles lead by many people before them. Perhaps said generation will not just find and develop a more effective waste management strategy, they will in fact create less of it.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Town Blue Mountains to Get New Health Clinic

The Town of The Blue Mountains has recently announced plans to build a new Community Health Clinic in Thornbury. The Municipality has made arrangements to acquire two pieces of property on Highway 26 immediately between the Thornbury Village Cidery and “Tigs” ladies wear. With the purchase agreements now in place, demolition of the former office facility that is attached to the Cidery building has now commenced. Demolition work has begun at the site and reusable materials from the demolition will be donated to victims or the August 20 tornado that swept through the area or to Habitat for Humanity.
With an aging population and with countless people looking to retire to the area, health care requirements has become an increasingly important concern throughout the Georgian Triangle.
North East Grey Health Clinics is a non-profit corporation of community volunteers dedicated to recruiting new physicians and to opening two clinics in both The Blue Mountains and Meaford. Fundraisers are looking to raise a total of $4 million, $2 million each for the two respective municipalities. To date, there is $1 million in commitments and pledges for The Blue Mountains health centre, including an initial donation of $275,000 from Town Council.
The estblishment of a health clinic in Thornbury will not only address the future health care needs of the community but will also serve to further the revitalization of Thornbury's downtown core. With the recent opening of the area's first traffic roundabout and now this latest initiative in the Blue Mountains, one cannot help but feel that the Blue Mountains Municipal Council in acting rather than just talking, tackling the issues at hand with a long-term vision and strategy that appears to be lacking with their Collingwood counterparts.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Blue Mountains' Roundabout - Officially Opens

After several years of talk and numerous proposals, our area has finally seen the first installation of a traffic roundabout completed. Located at the junctions of Grey Roads 19, 1-19 and Mountain Drive at the south end of Blue Mountain Resort where traffic can exceed 17,000 vehicles in a 24 hour period, this new traffic control device is sure to be of benefit to motorists and pedestrians alike.
Built at a cost of approximately $1.5 million, roundabouts are touted as not only improving traffic flow, they also provide environmental and safety benefits as well. Roundabouts eliminate the stopping, starting and idling of vehicles at traffic lights which saves fuel. Typically roundabouts also have a tendency to slow traffic down which results in less serious accidents for both vehicles and pedestrians alike.
The Blue Mountains should be congratulated for having the foresight and taking the initiative to try something different in handling the ever-increasing traffic that we are seeing as the results of this area's growth.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Year-to-Date Real Estate Sales Summary by Area

As noted in my prior posting dated September 3rd, area real estate activity has rebounded substantially over the past several months with June, July and August sales up 16%, 27% and 30% respectively.
Year-to-date, MLS® unit sales across the various municipalities that make up the Georgian Triangle Real Estate Board are as follows: Clearview Township -1.0%, Collingwood -5.6%, Grey Highlands -9.4%, Municipality Meaford -33.0%, Town Blue Mountains -7.9% and Wasaga Beach -13.3%. Unit MLS® sales in total have decreased 6.3% to the end of August versus the same period last year but with increased sales activity over the last three months the gap is quickly narrowing.
Despite decreased sales activity, pricing has remained relatively constant with the year-over-year average residential price in the area holding steady at just over $278,000. Average prices in the Municipality of Meaford and Town Blue Mountains have increased 8.5% and 4.9% respectively. In other municipalities average residential sale prices have declined between 2% to 17% driven largely by the fact that higher end home sales have been noticeably weaker during the past 12 months.
Sales in the upper price ranges however is where some of the greatest improvement in market activity has taken place. Year-to-date we have seen 8 sales between $1.0 to $1.5 million which is double the number of properties sold in that price range last year.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Area Real Estate Sales Continue to Show Strength in August

Sales of property in Collingwood, the Blue Mountains and other municipalities throughout the Georgian Triangle continued to show renewed strength in August posting significant gains over the same month last year.
Real estate sales reported through the MLS® system of the Georgian Triangle Real Estate Board reflected unit sales gains of 30% over August 2008. Sales revenue was also up by 30% with total sales for the month of $53.7 million compared to $41.2 million in 2008. (click on graph to enlarge)
This marks the 3rd straight month wherein sales have registered double digit increases over the same months (June, July & August) of last year. At the end of the first quarter of this year sales were off 40%. By the end of June the shortfall had been reduced by more than half to -19% now just two months later, year-to-date sales total 1,205 properties, just 6% behind the 1,287 properties sold in the first eight months of 2008.
Pricing for the most part has remained stable with the 12-month average residential price to the end of August virtually unchanged from last August, $278,115 for 2009 as compared to $278.888 at the end of August last year. In my next post I will provide some sales results for the various municipalities throughout the area.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Recreational Properties Not a Good Investment?

A considerable amount of real estate activity in Collingwood and the surrounding area is centered around what are deemed to be recreational properties, be it a waterfront cottage, ski chalet or resort condominium. I have read a couple of newspaper articles of late in which recreational properties were criticized as being so-called bad investments from a financial standpoint.
One such story was penned by a disgruntled cottage owner that clearly objected to the annual expense and what he deemed as being work that is associated with owning a recreational property. Others simply felt that once you added up the annual costs for maintenance, utilities, taxes and the like then weighed them against the rate of appreciation for the property, it does not create a very good rate of return from an investment standpoint.
I was fortunate to have grown up enjoying the cottage life and to this day own a waterfront property along with my brother. Is it a sound investment? When you add up the annual costs for 5 or 6 months of sporadic use I guess that is questionable. But more specifically when I look at it as an investment I simply answer no. The reason being? It will never be sold and just like some people collect cars, art, stamps or antiques, owning anything that you will not part with can hardly be deemed a financial investment.
Many of my clients are shocked to learn that I live in Collingwood and own a cottage. To them, this is cottage country so why the need for something else? Well, everyone needs to get away from their day-to-day living and work environment at some point and for me, going to the cottage has always been a great sanctuary to escape to. I just spent four exceptional days there last week with my son and it was a great father/son experience, an investment if you will in our relationship. Further, it will be an experience that he too will share with his children some day and in my opinion you can't make a better investment than that.
Seldom do I sell a recreational property only to have the buyer(s) want to unload it a year or two later because they don't use it. Most by that time are ready for something larger because they are using it far more than they thought. A recent survey by Royal LePage found that 64% of Canadians viewed recreational property as a sound investment. Further, 55% of those surveyed said they were "willing to make compromises with regards to their financial or lifestyle choices, such as purchasing a property with family and friends, renting out their cottage, making their cottage their primary residence, buying a fixer-upper, or moving to a smaller principal home in the city" all in the name of affording a recreational property.
Financial reasons aside, in today's fast-paced stress-prone world, owning a recreational property is an investment in yourself, your family and your sanity which is why more and more people are flocking to an area that those of us who live here, all too often take for granted.

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