Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Saving The Nottawasaga Lighthouse

  Last year I was asked if I would let my name stand for the Board of Directors of the Nottawasaga Lighthouse Preservation Society (NLPS) and as someone who likes to give back to the community, I heartily agreed.  At the NLPS Annual general meeting in June I was both elected to the Board and subsequently asked if I would act as Chair for the group which I further agreed to.  My great grandfather was a lighthouse keeper at South Baymouth on Manitoulin Island so I suppose its in my blood.


  A lot has happened in the ensuing nine months some of which I will share here, and it's all due to the efforts of what has to be the hardest working, most dedicated group of individuals on the Board of Directors as well as other volunteers engaged in fundraising etc. that I have ever had the pleasure of working with.

  Ten or twelve years ago when I was a Director of the Collingwood Chamber of Commerce, the late Jim Kilgour came to the Chamber with the idea of restoring the Nottawasaga Lighthouse.  At the time this seemed like an ambitious plan, little did we know back then just how large this undertaking actually is and not just from a monetary standpoint.  Multi-levels of the federal government are involved including the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and Public Works both of which have been extremely supportive of our efforts.  The DFO who is tasked with disposing of dozens of lighthouses across Canada has called us "the most credible group we are working with," granting us permission to access the island last fall to undertake the shrink wrapping of the tower.  Despite a very uncooperative Mother Nature which necessitated wrapping of the tower not once but twice, the work was completed under the most adverse of conditions while I guiltily vacationed in New Zealand.  Special mention and thanks goes out to NLPS Vice-Chair Stephen Emo, Board Member Robert Square and to our Engineers Doug Harkbart and Erle Heintzman for persevering literally to the bitter end, completing the work on December 8th and remarkably under budget.  During the work we completed last fall, the government commissioned a structural assessment of the tower Stantec Engineering and despite the significant amount of exterior stone that has fallen off, the tower is structurally sound with no signs of leaning or other movement.

The current issue of On The Bay magazine features a letter I submitted thanking a number of local businesses who generously helped us throughout the wrapping process.  These include: Weatherall Dock and Dredge of Markdale, CRS Rentals Collingwood, Bill Brown Lumber Collingwood, SDM Construction of Woodbridge, Collingwood Home Hardware and the Town of Collingwood, Parks and Rec Department.


Since last year's Annual General Meeting our Treasurer Nancy Leno, sister of the late Jim Kilgour and NLPS secretary Pat Anstett have worked behind the scenes building a much improved accounting and membership management system along with better banking arrangements.  Last fall we launched a newsletter to keep our Members abreast of our activities and accomplishments and we trust they have found this informative.  For the most up-to-date and accurate recap of our activities, NLPS members and the public-at-large are encouraged to visit the  "Official" NLPS Facebook page.

  As with any project of this size, fundraising is a huge component of what needs to be done to accomplish the ultimate goal, first restoring the lighthouse and later rebuilding the lightkeeper's house which fell victim to a fire many years ago.  NLPS Fundraising Chair Gary Norman has and continues to work tirelessly on numerous initiatives aimed at building our financial reserves and creating awareness of our cause.  Throughout the past months we have received some noteworthy contributions from both private individuals and corporate donors.  Most recently we launched the sale of lighthouse prints, featuring the work of local artist Andrew Peycha.  Andrew's picture of the tower was commissioned by local Collingwood residents John and Carol Saunders who graciously loaned us their original to make 200 limited edition copies each one signed and numbered by the artist.  Prints are available for $125.00 with a framing package offered by Georgian Frame Gallery.

  Despite a blustery winter with a lot of severe winds,  the accompanying photo I recently shot with my drone shows that the wrapping of the tower completed last fall has stood up as expected.  The initially installed shrink wrap which fell victim to high winds last November was replaced with a heavier, reinforced tarpaulin material used by the trucking industry`and we anticipate it will readily stand up for two or three years while we raised the necessary funds to commence the restoration process.

  As of this posting, discussions are underway for the eventual transfer of ownership of the property from the government to NLPS.  Land Registry records which as a REALTOR® I have access to reflects the current owner as "Her Majesty The Queen in Right of Canada."  Prior to any transfer of ownership taking place, an environmental assessment of the tower lands and other steps need to be completed.  During the remainder of this year we hope to undertake a thorough cleaning of the interior, complete some additional wrapping of the exterior a start work on some shoreline improvements for a better docking arrangement at some future point in time.  None of this work will happen quickly but it will nonetheless be rewarding and will get us that much closer to realizing our ultimate goal.    

  We have seen an overwhelming level of support from the community all of whom are hoping to see our vision for the restoration of the lighthouse fulfilled. We have made numerous presentations to local community groups including probus clubs and others, sharing the history of the Nottawasaga Lighthouse and our vision for its future.  If you and your group would like to learn more and would like to arrange a speaking engagement please feel free to contact me by phone or email as shown at the bottom of this post. 

While we are a determined and dedicated group that has accomplished a great deal, we need your help.  Volunteers are needed for a variety of functions including fundraising, membership promotion, marketing and other activities.  If you would like to learn more or to volunteer for what is proving to be a fun project please visit the NLPS website, and be sure to LIKE the Official NLPS Facebook page.  Please feel free to contact me at 705-443-1037 or via email chair@nlps.info to learn more. 






Monday, April 3, 2017

Area MLS® Real Estate Sales Up 41% in The First Quarter

  Following record sales which saw MLS® real estate sales across southern Georgian Bay break through the $1 billion barrier in 2016, demand for area properties in the first quarter of 2017 shows no signs of letting up notwithstanding there is an ongoing shortage of properties listed for sale.

  First quarter MLS® sales as reported by the Southern Georgian BayAssociation of REALTORS® totalled $246 million an increase of $71 million or 41% over the first quarter of 2016.  MLS® unit sales for the first quarter of 2017 saw 560 individual properties sold compared to 472 sales last year an increase of 19%.  Conversely, the number of new MLS® listings that have come to market year-to-date to the end of March totals 748, down 21% or 200 less than the 948 MLS® listed properties than came on the market in the first three months of 2016.  As we have stated for quite some time, the ongoing lack of inventory both locally as well as in many markets across Canada is the only real threat to residential property sales nationwide.
 
  Not all area municipalities are experiencing the same level of sales growth and some of this stems from the lack of inventory.  Year-to-date single family home sales are up a modest 7% to the end of March with 336 MLS® sales reported. Single family MLS® home sales in Collingwood are unchanged with 61 sales reported year-to-date while sales of 40 homes in Clearview Township is one less than a year ago.  Home sales in Wasaga Beach are down 11% with 109 sales this year compared to 122 in 2016.  Sales in other area municipalities are up as follows: Grey Highlands 20%, Municipality of Meaford 35% and the Blue Mountains 38%. MLS® condominium sales are up a modest 12% with 111 sales reported this year compared to 99 sales in the first quarter of last year.  As we have pointed out in the past, the above mentioned results are for MLS® sales only and do not include the sale of new homes and condominiums made by builders and developer several of whom are selling out their projects very quickly.

  Whereas single family home and condominium sales are experiencing modest growth, MLS® vacant land sales are up a whopping 159%.   A total of 96 sales have been reported through the end of March versus just 37 sales during the same period last year.  Over the past several years there has been a glut of vacant land inventory.  Whether its the absence of available houses and chalets listed for sale or just a matter of personal preference, buyers are quickly gobbling up building lots at a pace unlike anything we have seen in recent years and this is especially true in the Blue Mountains where 57 sales represents 59% of the vacant land sales in the region year-to-date.

  MLS® sales in total dollars continues to driven in large part to the sale of higher priced properties.  Sales between $350,000 to $499,999 are up 54% this year with a total of 157 sales reported.  In the $500,000 to $799,999 category sales total 96 units an increase of 85% while sales between $800,000 and $999,999 of 21 properties represents a 75% gain from one year ago.  Lastly, sales above the $1 million mark are up 115% with 28 sales reported this year compared to just 13 in the first quarter of 2016.   

  Over the past 18 to 24 months we have seen the real estate sales atmosphere very rapidly move from a Buyer's to a Seller's market.  Unlike in the GTA and typically a rarity in our market, multiple offers have become very commonplace with resulting sale prices often exceeding the seller's asking price.  A small 3 bedroom Collingwood townhouse condo garnered a record 17 offers and sold for $33,000 over the $169,000 asking price.  Similarly a single family home in the area recently had over a dozen offers and sold for more than 29% over the $400,000 list price.  Buyers and their sales representatives in this market need to act quickly with financing in place, a home inspection completed prior to offer submission and or waived altogether enabling them to go in with the cleanest offer possible.  Furthermore, Buyers must possess the willingness to put their absolute best foot forward in terms of price as with competing offers, there is seldom a second chance for negotiation.


  Whether or not we can sustain the level of MLS® sales activity in 2017 that saw last year remains to be seen.  While the demand for area real estate across southern Georgian Bay shows now signs of diminishing, what remains to be seen is whether there is a sufficient supply of properties listed for sale to satisfy what appears to be an insatiable demand for area real estate.    

  If you are uncertain as to how current market conditions are impacting your real estate plans either as a Buyer or Seller, please feel free to Contact Me for a no obligation confidential consultation to discuss your particular circumstances.    






Contact Me

Royal LePAGE Locations North (Brokerage)

330 First Street, Collingwood, ON L9Y 1B4



Email:
rickcrouch@propertycollingwood.com



Direct: 705-443-1037



Office: 705-445-5520 ext 230




Website:
www.rickcrouch.realtor















My Profile

Rick relocated to Collingwood from Toronto in 1985 through a transfer with Goodyear Canada. In 1987 Rick was recruited by a major client of Goodyear’s, managing their Canadian business based in Barrie before moving to Chicago in 1992 as Vice President of Sales & Marketing. Upon returning to Canada in 1996, Rick ran an industrial products manufacturing company in Stratford, Ontario. In 1998 Rick returned to Collingwood with his two children. Rick is a licensed real estate Broker with Royal LePAGE Locations North in Collingwood and holds his MVA designation (Market Value Appraiser-Residential). He is an active volunteer in the community serving several years on the Board of Directors with the Collingwood Chamber of Commerce as Treasurer, 6 years on the Board of Directors for the Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS® of which he is the Past President (2008) and currently serves on a committee with the Ontario Real Estate Association. Rick is a diverse executive manager with extensive experience in strategic planning, manufacturing, finance, human resources and quality assurance management.