Have your say about rental apartment licensing

When I was a young lad in some dim and distant past, rental apartment buildings were glamorous creatures. They were modern, had great views, lots of room and everything was included in the rent. Most had a sauna and outdoor pool. For gosh sakes they even had laundry facilities in the basement!

Then in the 1970s, the practice of subsidizing tenants in rental apartments was a cheaper alternative to building public housing. Poor people flooded apartment buildings and with rising incomes, middle-income earners began to abandon rental housing. For the most part, rental apartments became the domain of the poor and were synonymous with shabby conditions and health issues. Conditions steadily deteriorated and ten years ago, in Weston, the two towers at 1765 and 1775 Weston Road were in atrocious condition and the subject of bitter complaints. The federal government stepped in with forgivable loans and millions were spent upgrading rental buildings.

1765 Weston Road in 2012 (file).
1765 Weston Road pictured in 2012 (file).

Nowadays, renting is the only option for many people in the current real-estate market. While conditions have improved, many buildings are poorly maintained and it is felt that legislation concerning these buildings needs an overhaul.

The City of Toronto wants to hear from its citizens about licensing rental apartment buildings. According to the City,

The intended goal of the licensing framework is to build on the current Multi-Residential Apartment Building Audit Program by promoting best practices in building maintenance, strengthening enforcement of property standards violations, and improving tenant engagement and access to information.

The public and stakeholders will have an opportunity to:
• contribute to establishing goals and objectives for a licensing framework
• create recommendations related to current challenges and/or gaps in regulation; rules governing the operations of rental apartment buildings such as maintenance and cleaning plans; enhancement of the current building audit program, including enforcement of property standards; and improved public access to information about rental buildings, and
• submit their own recommendations for improving tenant living conditions.

The meeting for our area will be held tomorrow, Wednesday, August 24: Etobicoke Civic Centre, 399 The West Mall, Meeting Room 1/2/3, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Summer sights along Weston Road…

It’s the height of summer and some things are happening yet some things stay the same.

Cruickshank Ford is still open but its main building is being demolished to make way for a more updated showroom. Sales now take place in a trailer on the site and service is still in the old location for now.
Cruickshank Ford is still open for business but its main building is being demolished to make way for a more modern showroom. Sales now take place in a trailer on the site.
The temporary sales office.
Cruickshank Ford’s temporary sales office. Service is still in the old location for now.
Weston Towns are nearing completion.
Weston Towns: This development quickly sold out with prices starting at $399,000. They are being built on the former Beer Store site and some will be occupied this year. These at the rear are the most complete and will be the first to be occupied.
Later phases of the townhomes closer to Weston Road.
Weston Towns: Later phases of the townhomes closer to Weston Road. According to the builder, First Avenue Properties, the first 16 owners will be moving in on November 17 this year.
Not much is happening at the future Weston Hub apart from some rehabilitation of the parking garage that will provide the parking for residents of the 30 storey rental that will be placed on the old Farmers Market site.
Weston Hub: Not much seems to be happening at the future Weston Hub apart from some rehabilitation of the parking facility that will provide parking for residents of the 30 storey rental soon to be placed on the old Farmers Market site.
Looking over the Hub site towards John Street.
Weston Hub: Looking over the Hub site towards John Street.
The beautiful flower display by Weston's war memorial contrasts nicely with James Gove's stonework.
Little Avenue: The beautiful flower display along Little Avenue by Weston’s Cenotaph contrasts nicely with James Gove’s famous stonework.

Opposition to 96 John

Community members are petitioning to stop the severance of 96 John St. The owners asked the city to allow them to split the property into two, and to build another house with a shared driveway.

The houses would be violating several planning rules; in short, they would be too big for the properties.

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In other planning news, Frances Nunziata says that the developers of 8 Oak Street (the Satin Finish property) are asking to change their plans. Now they want a  “mid-rise development” instead of 3-storey townhomes.

Interesting Commercial Properties for Sale in Weston.

According to Toronto’s chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat, there may be a movement of commercial offices to the downtown core and that this is coming at the cost of the suburbs. One can only assume that the long commute times are responsible for this trend.

“Previously thriving suburban office parks are now experiencing double digit vacancy rates and declining rents, as employers flock downtown.”

Looking at commercial properties for sale in Weston, there is currently only one office property on offer:

2000 Jane Street: Asking Price $3,295,000
2000 Jane Street: Asking Price $3,295,000. This is a large property on about an acre of land by the Highway 400 ramps and the new hospital.

When it comes to retail stores however, there is no shortage of properties for sale, some of them very well known to Westonians.

2387 Weston Road: $599,000
2387 Weston Road: $599,000. This property A.K.A. ‘Artcube’ is near the Weston Plank Road building in a busy spot near Weston Road and St Phillips. It has served as an art store and taxidermists in recent incarnations.
1982-1986 Weston Road & 1 Little Avenue: $1,199,000. This comprises several properties and includes the former Chelli shoe store, the pizza restaurant next door and the barber shop on Little Avenue. There is a two bedroom apartment on the upper level.
1676 Jane Street: $2,499,000
1676 Jane Street: $2,499,000. This is a parcel of five properties fronting on Jane and Ellis Avenue. It has been approved for redevelopment.
1744 Jane Street: $759,800
1744 Jane Street: $759,800. This property comprises two retail units with an upstairs apartment.
1542 Jane Street: $249,900
1542 Jane Street: $249,900. This modern Subway outlet at Jane and Denison has 1100 square feet of floor space.
18 - 2007 Lawrence Avenue W: $249,900
18 – 2007 Lawrence Avenue W: $249,900 Near the Weston Station Tim Hortons, formerly the Brotherhood of Christ Healing Temple Ministry, this property has been reduced from $299,000.
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#2-213 Lawrence Avenue W:  $259,900 Also near the Weston Station Timmies.
1650 Weston Road: $689,000
1650 Weston Road: $689,000. Currently operating as a convenience store, there is a three-bedroom apartment upstairs.
1746 Weston Road: $1,899,000
1746 Weston Road: $1,899,000. This property currently hosting a seafood store at Weston and Wilby is across the street from the new GO station. Wilby was the site of an affordable condo project that failed to get off the ground a couple of years ago.
1705 Weston Road: $4,650,000
1705 Weston Road: $4,650,000. This grouping of three properties is next to the Weston GO station and are being sold ‘as is’.
2464 Weston Road: $989,000
2464 Weston Road: $989,000. This property comprises two units of differing sizes with a total of 3200 square feet of floor space.

All images from Realtor.ca

Landlords mapped

The City of Toronto gathers and publishes data when officers attend and verify that a by-law infraction has occurred in an apartment building.¹

Now, I present to you the fruit of a sleepless night: the first-ever map of building infractions in Weston and Mount Dennis, using that data.²

Every landlord on Jane and Weston who received a visit from the Municipal Licensing and Standards is on the list. The majority of buildings receive only one or two visits in a year.

The infractions range from the minor (fallen branches) to the severe (unsafe conditions). Which infractions apply to which building is somewhat difficult to determine, though I’m working on it. (Any Excel masters want to pitch in?)

Buildings with 1–2 visits received a star. 3–6 visits are coded green. 7–12 visits are coded yellow, and 13–24 are pinkish. More than 24 are coded with a caution sign.

There are at least four good reasons to be careful before saying that more visits is worse:

  1. First, a large building will get more visits
  2. The severity of the infractions is not coded (and I’d worry more about, say, a hole in the roof than junk on the lot).
  3. Buildings change and improve. Landlords fix problems.
  4. It’s possible‚ even likely, that the data or I am in error

Still, the buildings with a caution sign received more visits than 97.5% of the rest of the community, for one reason or another.

 


¹ The city is amazing at open data, at least compared to the province and the feds, which really pale in comparison.

² I was inspired by Landlordwatch, who are working on a similar project. They, however, are rather political, and their data has a few flaws.

Plans for Christian Bros

Frances Nunziata had a meeting tonight to discuss the future of the Christian Brothers warehouse site at 30–46 Rosemount. In her flyer, Nunziata says that the new owners, the Varone Group, are asking to develop office and retail space, as well as a daycare.

The last institutional daycare in Weston closed in 2013.

Your correspondent was not able to attend (bedtime), but I would love to hear news from the meeting.