$2.8 billion was invested in local startups during 2021, more than the previous 10 years combined

More than $2.8 billion was invested in local startups during 2021, more than the previous 10 years combined, said Chris Albinson, chief executive officer at Communitech.

“That is up 200 per cent year-over-year,” said Albinson. “It’s an exponential curve, I like exponential curves, they are fun.”

The are more than 26,000 tech workers in the region, which is also the western node of the Toronto Waterloo Corridor — the fastest growing innovation hub in world, said Albinson.

The corridor is growing about four times faster than Silicon Valley.

These employment and investment numbers put Communitech years ahead of its 2025 targets of 24,000 tech workers and $1 billion in investment annually.

After consulting with 1,100 founders across Canada, Albinson and his team have developed new objectives and a four-part strategy for doubling the size of the region’s tech workforce to 55,000 by 2030.

By then Communitech also aims to have 14 companies earning at least $1 billion a year in revenues, and venture capitalists investing at least $1 billion annually in startups and rapidly-growing companies here.

Communitech’s new strategy is based on big data, talent attraction, expanding markets and creating a new venture capital fund.

First, Communitech will wrap itself in the thickest layer of data it can build, putting all technical, human and financial resources of the sector in a single place. That will make possible faster connections among institutions and companies looking to solve technical challenges, and find the right tech firms for the job.

Albinson points to Grand River Hospital, which needed new training programs for nurses, and Axonify, which develops mobile learning tools. It allowed nurses to keep working during the pandemic and avoid taking time off the wards for new training.

Talent attraction is the next part of the plan, and Communitech Outposts now enables member companies to hire, pay and manage international employees working from 160 different countries. It reduces the time and costs of international hires.

“The talent war is global,” said Albinson.

Integrated markets is the third focus — locally developed tech should be quickly deployed in other markets across Canada. Albinson said the tech Axonify developed for Grand River is now used in Calgary and other Canadian cities.

“Now that is spreading across the country, that’s how integrated markets work,” said Albinson.

More work needs to be done to open additional markets across the country.

“Canada is the only country in the world that does not buy its own stuff,” said Albinson.

The fourth part the growth strategy is a venture capital fund to channel investments into Canadian tech companies. Albinson is working on that fund now, and said it’s important for the future control of Canadian tech.

Of the record-setting $2.8 billion invested in local startups during 2021, 81 per cent came from the U.S. That gives Americans a lot of influence with board positions and senior leadership, said Albinson.

The renewed focus on big data at Communitech is happening as the Data Hub, now at 14 Erb St. West in Waterloo, is moving into the Tannery at 151 Charles St. West in Kitchener. In the past five years it has become essential to Communitech’s plans for growing the tech sector.

Kevin Tuer, Communitech’s vice-president for Data and Advanced Technologies, said more than 50 startups went through the Data Hub since it opened in 2017, creating more than 400 jobs and attracting millions in investment.

“It was very impactful,” said Tuer. “I think we are just getting started.”

Tuer put together Canada’s Open Data Exchange, which includes data sets from local, regional, provincial and national governments.

The data was used by startups working on 5G networks, AI, Cloud computing and autonomous vehicles. Big data is a key element of artificial intelligence, which is becoming an important driver of the economy, said Tuer.

The Data Hub is where Martin Basiri and his brothers first started working on ApplyBoard, the fast-growing startup that helps international students quickly secure places at colleges and universities in North America, the U.K and Australia. ApplyBoard had $400 million of the $2.8 billion invested last year in local startups.

From The Record

How downtown Hamilton is poised for a big 2022

Like many other places across the country, local businesses in Hamilton have taken some of the hardest hits from pandemic closures and restrictions. One side effect of this is that the downtowns that were once vibrant and attractive destinations have diminished in importance when it comes to our housing decisions.

However, with the end of the pandemic on the horizon, many are now taking a more serious look at the role these businesses will play in local economic recovery as well as attracting new residents.

We spoke to Sandy MacKay, a top local realtor from the Hamilton area, about the role local businesses play in real estate in the city and why investors should pay attention.

Hamilton has seen a lot of interest in recent years both from migrants out of the GTA and those from smaller towns looking to move urban. According to MacKay, Hamilton has a lot to offer its new residents, including “affordability and a lower cost of living, yet still within reach of all the GTA has to offer. Hamilton is the closest city to Toronto, which is not part of the GTA, so it’s very attractive to those who want to live a city life, at an affordable cost.”

The challenge now for the city is to offer the same attractive amenities that have made the GTA region so appealing. Though Toronto is a city known for it’s good eats and variety of dining establishments, MacKay highlights how Hamilton has a burgeoning hospitality industry of its own.

In particular, Mackay cites the downtown area of the city both for its businesses and for its real estate opportunities. The area is the heart of local business in the city with a wide selection of businesses to explore. This also has the effect of making it a hot spot for real estate as inhabitants come to live and work in the surrounding neighbourhoods.

“Hamilton has become a hot spot for restaurant owners and chefs in recent times,” said MacKay. “The cost of running a business like this in Hamilton is far less than in Toronto, largely due to the lower cost of space. With the pandemic hitting, and restaurants changing their business models, this has only increased the movement of business out of the GTA and into cities like Hamilton.”

There is also a wide variety of available properties in the area.

“There are plenty of mixed-use and live-work opportunities in these areas,” said MacKay. “Opportunities also exist to convert some commercial units into residential units, where the commercial units are no longer needed. Many of the side streets just off the main streets could work well for this. There are also many multi-family residential units available around these locations, which are still great investments as well”

The hope is that as a local business is reinvigorated by easing restrictions, many more will be drawn to the area to live and work, allowing for businesses to grow and presenting a great opportunity for investors. For now, however, we should support our local businesses where we can as they work through the hard times.

“Hamilton has a thriving young entrepreneurial population. With a diverse economy and proximity to the GTA, there is opportunity in Hamilton for practically every type of career focussed individual.”

The city of Hamilton has already shown huge growth potential in recent years and a look at recent market statistics out of Hamilton proves this fact. In December of 2021, the average sale price for a home in Hamilton rose to $861,695, around a 30% increase from December of 2020. Detached homes averaged at $924803, while semi-detached and apartment properties went for $761,318 and $605,958 respectively. High demand for homes in Hamilton has made housing supply drop in recent years and it currently sits at its lowest level on record.

In terms of affordability, the city is still doing much better than nearby cities in the GTA. For comparison, detached homes in the GTA averaged at over $1.5 million for the same period, with prices for residential properties costing almost 40% more on average than in Hamilton.

For investors looking at Hamilton as a potential spot to put down some money, MacKay says now is as good a time as any.

“Waiting for prices to go down or cash flow to increase is simply not realistic and you most likely will be disappointed in that approach,” says MacKay. “In Q1 we should see more price increases and activity. More and more migration from the GTA into Hamilton should also increase rental and housing demand. We are projecting another strong Q1 and spring market for practically all types of Hamilton real estate.”

 

From Canadian Real Estate Wealth Magazine

Construction underway on Waterloo International Airport’s $44M expansion

WATERLOO – Construction is underway on the Region of Waterloo International Airport’s $44 million expansion project.

The project should see the airport double in size in the next six months in a bid to increase the number of passengers from 70,000 in 2019 to more than one million in 2023.

Region of Waterloo Chair Karen Redman, council, and staff celebrated the occasion Thursday by putting shovels in the ground.

“It is an exciting time for the region and today is an important milestone as the airport continues to grow and drive a thriving economy,” said Redman in a release. “Airline partners have recently announced an increase in destinations and frequency of flights, which will move the airport to the next level in world-class service. This will also provide more opportunities for the Region in terms of jobs and economic expansion.”

The project, which initially broke ground this summer, includes the construction of two buildings featuring baggage carousels, holding areas, food services, retail and pre-board screening.

“The increased commercial service into our Region coupled with increased capacity gives our destination a competitive edge and bodes well for the strength and growth of the community,” said Minto Schneider, chief executive of Explore Waterloo Region.

Officials said the expansion, which is receiving $4 million from the federal government, will help drive economic growth in the region, create jobs and support tourism.

“This investment in the airport will help to ensure we are attracting people and companies to put down roots in Waterloo Region,” Redman said. “This growth is just the beginning as we build a community that is globally competitive and one of the world’s greatest places to live.”

Redman adds that about 80,000 passengers came through the airport in 2019, but that number is expected to grow by one million by 2023.

WestJet, Sunwing, Pivot Airlines, and Flair are all flying out of the regional airport, but plans are in the works for others to come.

“This has been successful, so this may see other airlines say okay maybe we should think about that,” said Chris Wood, the general manager for the airport.

In 2017, WestJet cancelled its weekly flight to Orlando due to demand issues, and in the summer Flair cancelled a number of flights out of the region’s airport as well.

“They’re not going to continue to lose money on routes that aren’t working,” said Wood. “You can now fly to Calgary. I think you could buy tickets today for $89. You could never do that before.”

The terminal expansion project is expected to be completed next spring, but the new arrivals building should be un and running by the end of 2021.

From CTV News

Ontario and Canada Investing $3.4 billion to Advance Hamilton LRT

HAMILTON – The Ontario government is welcoming a new federal funding commitment of $1.7 billion to advance the Hamilton Light Rail Transit (LRT) project, which matches Ontario’s $1.7 billion investment into the project for a total investment of $3.4 billion to support construction. Through this partnership, the province and federal government are taking a significant step towards advancing this shovel-ready LRT project that will offer frequent and reliable connections on the 14-kilometre line from Eastgate Square through downtown Hamilton to McMaster University.

The funding announcement was made today by Caroline Mulroney, Ontario’s Minister of Transportation, and Catherine McKenna, Federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities.

“From our original $1 billion capital commitment for the project to our strong calls over the past two years for a federal funding commitment, we have remained focused on delivering rapid transit for the people of Hamilton,” said Minister Mulroney. “Ontario has increased our investment to $1.7 billion to ensure that we can get Hamiltonians a 14-kilometre line that connects Eastgate Square through to McMaster University, and to ensure that we can get shovels in the ground as soon as possible for this critical transit project. The LRT will improve connectivity and create thousands of sustainable jobs for the future.”

“We are very excited the Hamilton LRT project is back and the people of Hamilton will get the project they need, all the way from McMaster to Eastgate,” said Phil Verster, President and CEO of Metrolinx. “The LRT will bring safe, accessible travel to help get Hamilton moving, both locally, and as part of a great regional transit network that connects right into GO Transit.”

To help identify the most meaningful transportation options for Hamilton that could use provincial support, Ontario created a Hamilton Transportation Task Force and continuously called on the federal government to work with us to help shape the future of high priority transit in Hamilton.

In November 2020, a technical review indicated that a $1 billion LRT system funded solely with provincial capital would not be of sufficient length to be a viable project to benefit the people of Hamilton and required federal funding to create a feasible project. Today, with the welcomed news of federal investment, Ontario is pleased to be honouring its commitment to the people of Hamilton.

The Hamilton LRT project is Ontario’s fifth priority transit project, joining the Ontario Line Subway, Scarborough Subway Extension, Eglinton Crosstown West Extension and Yonge North Subway Extension projects. Under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program, the federal government will also contribute 40 per cent of funding to these priority subway projects.

Quick Facts

  • Through the federal funding commitment under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program, Canada will match Ontario’s contribution of $1.7 billion for the Hamilton LRT Project.
  • The Hamilton LRT is a 14-kilometre LRT line that will offer service from McMaster University to Eastgate Square.
  • On February 9, 2021, Ontario announced its continued commitment to providing $1 billion in capital investment for a meaningful LRT project in the City of Hamilton and identified it as the fifth priority transit project.

 

From Ontario Newsroom

Movement on the Kitchener Line: How Metrolinx is expanding GO Train service on one of Ontario’s busiest passenger routes

Individually, there are a lot of interesting projects underway on the Kitchener GO Line. When you put them all together, they start to form a telling picture of improved service and more options for transit customers. If you live near the line or count yourself as a loyal customer (even during the current COVID-19 pause), this roundup is for you.

Putting together a 1,000-piece puzzle is a lot of work, but the finished product is definitely worth it.

The Kitchener GO Line is a lot like that. It’s a massive project, made up of lots of different pieces that fit together to form important transit connections.

For the first time, Metrolinx News is taking a look at all of the different segments that make up the whole Kitchener Line picture. Think of this as everything that’s soon coming down the tracks on the Kitchener Line.

The Kitchener Line has seen dramatic advances in recent times. In the past few years, before the pandemic, Metrolinx increased service on the corridor – including mid-day and late-night options – by nearly 45 per cent.

On a related note, Metrolinx recently published the Preliminary Design Business Case for expanded service along the Kitchener Line which is the next step in the transit building process.

But Metrolinx isn’t stopping there. As part of the overall GO Expansion project, the transit agency has a number of key improvements in the works. But before diving into that, a bit of needed background.

Kitchener Line Pre-Pandemic

More people and businesses are moving to and operating out of Peel and Waterloo Regions than ever before. Prior to COVID-related passenger rail service ridership decline, the Kitchener Line was transporting 22,000 people a day at peak times and 4,000 people during mid-day and off-peak.

The Kitchener Line serves urban centres and communities west of Toronto with direct connections to Brampton, Guelph, and Kitchener-Waterloo. To meet this growth, Metrolinx is looking for new ways to improve service on the corridor.

Currently, the Kitchener Line provides a four-train peak service between Kitchener GO Station and Toronto’s Union Station in the morning rush as well as the same number of trips heading back west during the evening peak. An additional two trains per peak period run between Bramalea and Union Station in the morning peak and the same trips reversed in the afternoon peak.

There is also two-way hourly service between Union Station and Mount Pleasant. With so much expansion happening, more and frequent connections across the GO Network is vital.

Kitchener Line Upgrades

The planned work and projected service levels on the Kitchener GO corridor can be divided into three geographic parts. Here’s that breakdown:

Part One: Union Station to Bramalea:

Fourth Track Installation

In 2018 Metrolinx completed the installation of a fourth track from Nickle Street to Black Creek Drive. The addition of a fourth track allows all day service in two directions from Toronto to Brampton.

The installation of the fourth track between Lansdowne Avenue and Black Creek Drive is expected to go to tender in May 2021.  Work includes a new access pavilion and pedestrian tunnel from the West Toronto Rail Path and Dundas West TTC Station that connects with the existing tunnels at Bloor GO Station.

New Mount Dennis Station

Construction of a new transit hub at Mount Dennis will provide direct connection to the Eglinton Crosstown LRT. The Crosstown project is currently under construction and planning for this station has begun. Construction coordination is underway.

Weston Station Improvements

A new north side platform, two pedestrian tunnel extensions with stairs and elevators, new shelters and platform canopy, snow melt system, and installation of a fourth track within station limits will allow for increased train traffic through the station in two directions. This work is underway and is expected to be complete in early fall 2021.

Highway 401 and 409 Rail Tunnel

Metrolinx is constructing twin tunnels, less than three metres underneath Highways 401 and 409 – all without disrupting the 21 live traffic lanes directly above. The 401 and 409 tunnels will provide space for two additional tracks in the future and supports increased service to give communities additional options outside of their typical rush hour commitments.

This work is part of the GO Expansion program, which will transform the Kitchener line to a more convenient transit experience with frequent, two-way, all-day rail service on core segments of the corridor. Read more about this project here.

Malton GO Station and Track Upgrades

Ongoing work at this station involves a new retaining wall, hydro capacity upgrade, installation of digital signs, culvert replacement, platform widening to accommodate the new track alignment and upgrades. Work includes upgrades to the north service track between Etobicoke North and Bramalea GO Stations, which are required to allow for service increase to two-way trains every 15 minutes on the corridor. Work on the tracks and at this station is expected to be completed by fall 2022.

Bramalea GO Station

As the section of track between Bramalea GO Station and Georgetown GO Station is not owned by Metrolinx this station will be the terminus of the proposed 15-minute electrified service.

In order to seamlessly marry the two service models, major station and platform work is required. Work includes a new multi-level parking structure, a new station building, and upgrades to platforms and the bus loop. These improvements are well underway, with some work being accelerated due to low ridership levels during the pandemic. Read more about this project here.

Brampton GO Station Improvements:

On March 1, 2021 Metrolinx released the project construction tender for parking improvements at Brampton GO Station. There will be a new surface parking lot on the south side of the tracks at Elisabeth and Railroad Street adding over 200 new parking spots. While the tender will be awarded later this month some work to remove vegetation will take place the week of March 22.

GO Expansion/Electrification

While the GO Expansion Program will see improvements across the GO Rail Network, the related improvements to this piece of the Kitchener corridor include more than 7 kilometres of new track, 23 new rail switches, and eventual electrification of the tracks from Union Station to Bramalea GO Station.

Part Two: Bramalea to Georgetown:

To most riders, all train tracks look alike. But their ownership can vary.

The rail network between Brampton and Georgetown was first built to principally carry freight. While GO Transit owns over 80 per cent of the rail it operates on, the small stretch of track between Bramalea and Georgetown is owned and operated by freight company CN Rail. Metrolinx works closely with their rail partners to operate a robust passenger service within a complex freight network.

There are ongoing discussions with CN to explore more frequent two-way all-day GO Transit services on this section of the corridor.

While this section of track west of Bramalea will not be electrified, Metrolinx is working to bring more service to all Brampton customers.

Metrolinx is seeking approval for additional investments on the Kitchener Corridor. The Kitchener GO Rail Service Expansion Preliminary Design Business Case speaks to additional benefits realized by the minimal infrastructure solution on the Kitchener Corridor. The investment would allow for two-way all-day GO rail service from Union Station to Kitchener in the coming years.

Heritage Road Layover:

Metrolinx is proposing a new layover facility between Heritage Road and Winston Churchill Boulevard that will support future service increases on the Kitchener Corridor. On March 5, 2021 Metrolinx issued a request to qualify and quote for design and environmental assessment. There will be four storage tracks with capacity to accommodate one double headed twelve car consists on each track. Metrolinx will begin public consultation later this year once a technical advisor is brought on board.

Part Three: Georgetown to Kitchener:

Track Work

Since taking over ownership of this section of the Kitchener Line in late 2018, Metrolinx has been moving forward on extensive rehabilitation of the rail corridor between Georgetown and Kitchener.

Metrolinx has been working on installing thousands of feet of new and improved rails, replacing over 3000 track ties, rehabilitating 24 level crossings, extensive bridge work, more than 4000 feet of undercutting and ballast improvements, and fencing off the right-of-way. All of which contribute not only safer service but support increased train speeds, reduce noise, a more comfortable ride and ultimately increased service.

Metrolinx continues to work and is looking at where they can construct passing tracks to help achieve GO Expansion service levels into Kitchener.

Speed River Bridge Improvements (Guelph)

To support short-term operational improvements, Guelph’s Speed River Bridge will be rehabilitated. Construction is expected to start this spring.

Guelph Locomotive Relocation

While this may not sound like it would have an impact to GO service, last November, Metrolinx helped to relocate this 490,000 lb historic locomotive to free up some space to allow for more GO service to Guelph Central Station. You can read more about this move in a Metrolinx News post.

King Victoria Transit Hub (Kitchener)

Metrolinx is collaborating with the Region of Waterloo to design and construct a new multi-model transit station that will provide connections to GO Transit, VIA Rail/Amtrak train services, ION (LRT), Grand River Transit (bus), pedestrians, and cyclists in one location. While this is a City of Kitchener/Region of Waterloo project, moving the station will provide connections in one convenient location. Read more about this project here.

So, after dumping all of these puzzle pieces onto the table, it gives you a better idea of what the end product should look like. The culmination of all these projects will help to increase and improve the corridor and transform the Kitchener GO Line from a rush-hour commuter service into a true rapid transit corridor.

 

From Metrolinx

Just when the housing market needs a firm hand, Ottawa makes it easier to get a mortgage

So much for the adult supervision of our housing market.

The federal government was onto a good thing when it introduced a stress test for home buyers a few years ago that demanded they be able to afford mortgage payments if interest rates spiked higher. The stress test was tough, but all in a good cause, in that it limited the risk of people buying more house than they could properly afford.

Starting April 6, the stress test will get easier for insured mortgages, which typically means the buyer has a down payment of less than 20 per cent. An already hot market in many cities is getting more stimulus through the easier stress test. Prices will rise, affordability will fall and more people will buy homes they can just barely afford. Wait until they add kids, cars and rooms full of furnishings.

The revamped stress test requires that buyers be able to afford payments calculated using the greater of the rate offered by their lender, or a new weekly reference rate based on real market five-year fixed rates for insured mortgages plus a mark-up of two percentage points.

The current stress test is based on posted five-year fixed-rate mortgage rates at the big banks, which are higher than what the banks will offer homebuyers, and now uses a rate of 5.19 per cent. A competitively discounted five-year fixed-rate mortgages today goes for about 2.69 per cent, which means the current stress test is roughly 2.5 percentage points higher than what people are actually paying.

In pure economic terms, that’s an excessively big margin of safety to require from buyers. There is zero risk of rates rising 2.5 points any time soon. With the full impact of the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, on global economic growth still to be determined, there’s a bigger chance that rates will fall from current levels.

In fact, worries about COVID-19 have helped to cause a drop in the bond market interest rates that guide mortgage rates. Yet, that 5.19-per-cent reference rate for the stress test has held steady.

This resistance to market trends has led to criticism of the current test for being too rigid, and thus causing too many people to rethink their home purchase. The usual choices for these frustrated buyers: Wait and save a bigger down payment, buy a smaller house or find a cheaper neighbourhood.

The toughness of the original stress test did slow the housing market, but it’s feeling much better now. The average resale home price nationally surged 11.2 per cent in January over the same month of 2019. Prices jumped 19.5 per cent in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont., 8.7 per cent in Toronto, 9.8 per cent in Montreal, 11.1 per cent in Saint John and 7.8 per cent in Halifax.

Vancouver is still recovering from a slump, and markets in Alberta and Saskatchewan are still hurting as a result of low oil prices. But there was an overall sense of renewal in the housing market prior to the announcement that the stress test would be softened.

The housing industry has hammered the stress test for being too harsh and for ruining the home-ownership aspirations of young first-time buyers. Just as this argument was weakening amid strong sales, the federal government has stepped in to make it easier to buy a home.

The revamped stress test is better in some ways than what it replaces – more commonsensical and responsive to what’s actually happening to interest rates in the here and now. But the toughness of the current test is what’s needed as housing mania reawakens in many cities.

Forget the idea that the current stress test requires buyers to afford rates at levels they may not see for a decade or more, if ever. The real value is that it forces buyers to save more or borrow less money. To make more conservative home-buying choices, in other words.

Easing the stress test will add fuel to the market and make it less onerous to qualify for a mortgage. Housing needs a firm hand right now, not a more indulgent approach.

 

From the Globe and Mail

Downtown Kitchener college campus expected to give economy a boost

KITCHENER — Businesses in downtown Kitchener could see an uptick in sales next week as the new Conestoga College campus at Market Square prepares to welcome students.

Over 800 students are enrolled in programs at the campus, with classes set to begin Monday.

Another 100 part- and full-time faculty will also work out of the building.

That means that nearly 1,000 people will become patrons of downtown shops, amenities and restaurants: the college made the decision not to include food services on the campus.

“What we decided really consciously to do was not offer food services internally in our space, what we really want the students to do is utilize the other spaces within Market Square, to visit the shops, restaurants and other amenities that already exist downtown,” explains Associate Vice-President of Student Affairs Trish Weigel-Green.

“So if you think about having 1,000 young people descending really on the downtown core, what we really hope is that they become part of the community and part of that is the economic contribution that they bring.”

Almost all of the 800 students registered for January are international students.

Many are expected to rent homes and apartments near the campus, while others will live further away and use the LRT to get to school.

Construction at the campus is mostly finished, but there are still workers on site putting together furniture, installing technology and putting finishing touches on the space.

The campus will mainly offer business programs, but in the coming months there are also plans to expand to other areas.

Conestoga College has also partnered with Apollo Cinema to host a Bollywood night to give them a taste of some of the social activities the city has to offer.

By Tegan Versolatto – CTV News

Kitchener rents appreciating at one of Canada’s fastest rates

KITCHENER – Lots of demand, few options and sky-high prices: this is the reality for local renters.

Apartments in Kitchener are appreciating at the second-fastest rate in Canada, causing an affordability crunch in the city.

If you want to rent a new condominium downtown, it will likely cost between $1,700 and $2,100 a month. That’s if you can get it before someone else does.

A bunch of my friends who were born and bred in Kitchener were like, ‘You’re ruining the market for us,’” she says.

Her Kitchener rent then is still more than the average rent now. A one-bedroom is now averaging $1,300 a month, according to Pad Mapper, a 15 per cent increase over last year.

That average is city-wide—downtown is different.

“Socio-economics is a thing we don’t talk about enough and people are in really tight positions,” she explains.

There are a lot of them. On Monday night, Kitchener council passed a new bylaw that may provide some renter relief, allowing granny suites and tiny homes.

That bylaw will open up 50,000 properties to densification.

“This is one little piece of the puzzle, it’s not going to solve the affordability in Kitchener,” Coun. Sarah Marsh told CTV on Monday.

Navarro likes the idea, but cautions that it may not slow the spiking rents downtown because it’s still cheaper than Toronto.

“That’s why people are leaving, but we’re driving up prices in other cities because we’ll take it, because automatically it’s cheaper,” she explains.

paying that $1,800 a month, she was able to land a two-bedroom apartment for $1,400 a month, including parking.

She says she’s lucky, because it was still under construction when she signed the lease.

 

By Max Wark – CTV News

PM announces $52M for ‘innovation network’ between Waterloo, Toronto and Ottawa

The federal government is investing $52.4 million in an innovation network that is expected to create 18,000 skilled jobs in Waterloo, Toronto and Ottawa.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the funding for the new “Scale-up Platform” program for tech companies at the Communitech technology hub in Kitchener, Ont., on Tuesday.

The federal government says the platform will be the first of its kind in Canada, and it will incorporate the skills of Ontario’s “top innovation hubs”: Communitech, in Kitchener, the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto and Invest Ottawa.

The three will work with tech companies to grow their businesses.

The government said it expects the platform will help 30 Ontario companies, create 18,000 skilled jobs “and achieve revenues of $100 million or more by 2024.”

“For the first time in decades, we have a crop of scale-ready firms that are on the path to $100 million. Our job — through the Scale-up Platform — is to help those high-growth firms find the talent and capital to accelerate their growth,” said Iain Klugman, President and CEO of Communitech.

“We need to pool our expertise, our networks, and our resources to help them compete globally and create good-paying jobs for Canadians.”

This is one of many stops made by the prime minister this winter and spring, talking about jobs and the economy as his party prepares to launch its campaign for the federal election coming up in October.

Read Full Article

Jackie Sharkey · CBC News 

Too few houses for sale in Waterloo region spark bidding wars, says realtors group

REALTORS ASSOCIATION GROUP SAYS MULTIPLE OFFERS ON PROPERTIES ARE INCREASING PRICES

Bidding wars are breaking out because the number of homes going on the market in Waterloo region is at “historic low levels,” local realtors say.

Housing prices continue to rise even though the number of sales has slowed, said Kitchener-Waterloo Association of Realtors president Tony Schmidt.

“We continue to see multiple offers on properties putting upward pressure on prices,” he said in a news release with January’s sale numbers.

In terms of sales, if you don’t count the past two years where the market was hot, Schmidt said it was “a very typical January.”

The follow are sales figures compared to those in January 2017:

  • 149 detached homes were sold last month, down from 194.
  • 70 condo units, down from 79.
  • 27 semi-detached homes, down from 32.
  • 22 freehold townhouses, up from 20.

The average sale price of all residential properties in January rose nine per cent to $458,750, compared to January 2017, when the average sale price was $421,104.

Schmidt noted tougher mortgage rules came into play on Jan. 1 this year, which has “sidelined some homebuyers.”

But the rise in prices is largely due to so few homes going up for sale.

“The reality is we’re still experiencing more demand than supply right now,” Schmidt said.

Original Article