Friday, February 24, 2017

Real Estate Bidding War in Birch Glen!

Can you believe that an attached townhouse in Birch Glen recently sold for $130,000 over list price?

We all have heard there is a real estate boom in the GTA with constant bidding wars where offers are well above the asking price. And, yes, we acknowledge that sale prices within the neighbourhood have generally been $10,000 to $40,000 over list during the past 12 months (through 2016). However, we were not totally prepared for this latest hike.

House prices in Birch Glen have been steadily on the rise over the past ten (10) years -- a somewhat slow slog at first, but a meteoric climb in the past year. It has been encouraging to see residents and homeowners ask a going market rate, and even more encouraging to discover buyers were not only willing to meet the asking prices but, in some cases bid higher! Prices for townhouses, attached and semi-detached houses are in the range of average house prices for Mississauga. Prices for detached houses are only slightly below average for Mississauga, but are edging up.

Talk in the newspapers seems to predict a slowdown or downturn in house prices on the horizon. We will simply have to keep our eyes and ears open as houses go on the market. For now, it appears to be a boom for sellers. And what a boom!


Thursday, February 16, 2017

$10,000 Fine for Toronto Homeowner for Use of Airbnb to Attract Short Term Rental Tenants

Will a large fine such as this put an end to short-term rentals, as some people might hope? This is not a simple issue with a "one size fits all" solution. Read the Toronto Star article here.

Concepts such as Airbnb, Uber and other sharing economies are, of themselves, a necessary and welcome part of the overall business environment and should not be shunted aside simply because they do not work for everyone. They are extensions of existing businesses that the public already uses -- hotels and other forms of short-term accommodation, for example. When we travel to a city or country for a holiday or on business, we do have to find a place to stay for the duration of our visit. Some people prefer to stay in well-known luxury hotels or resorts where their every whim is catered. Some look for lower-priced hotels or motels to suit their budgets and time constraints. Others prefer the bed-and-breakfast scenario, where they can obtain accommodation in (usually) a house with the feel of being at home yet having someone else do the cooking and cleaning. And since the owners of a bed-and-breakfast establishment usually live on the premises, and there may be visitors in other rooms, it does become a sharing experience over breakfast and in the common areas. Visitors are encourage to meet and mingle in the evenings as well. So how does this compare to short-term rentals such as Airbnb?

The majority of Airbnbs or STRs are in private homes where the owner may dedicate one or more bedrooms or floors (basement, upper floor or loft space) to rental accommodation while sharing the kitchen and living room with visitors and welcoming them to watch television or share in other activities. Some offer breakfast and tourist information as well, echoing traditional bed-and-breakfast establishments. They may differ in that some STRs have only one room to rent out at a time. Some STR/Airbnb owners may offer a complete house for rent, offering privacy to the visitor. This goes back to the roots of online home-sharing where two people trade homes for a specific amount of time to enjoy a vacation in another city or country. Usually there was no money exchanged, just keys and the assurance that the visiting party would take care of the house or apartment  while there, would clean up before leaving, and would leave the place in the same state they found it. There was a mutual respect, treating the home as you wanted the other person to treat yours.This evolved over the years into what it has become today.

One benefit to short-term rentals such as Airbnb is that many of them may be pet-friendly, which the majority of hotels are not. For travellers who wish to bring Fido along, this is extremely attractive. STRs are, generally, less expensive than hotels, making them attractive to a wide variety of guests. Most also require a minimum of two or three nights per booking. However, some offer single night options, while some define "short-term" as four to seven days -- even up to a month.

Problems arise when an owner -- or owners -- take advantage of the situation and become hands-off absentee landlords of more than one property. Even one home without oversight or monitoring can lead to problems and concerns from neighbours. Where, and to whom, can complaints be filed? Is it the responsibility of the municipality, the police or Airbnb itself? Who has the authority to deal with the owner of the STR? A look at the Airbnb website provides information on the company's policies. It seems that the company would welcome feedback in the form of complaints re noise or other abuses. The reputation of the "brand" should be of utmost importance to its founders.

Is the ownership of one STR considered a business that must be licensed and pay appropriate fees and taxes to the municipality? If the owner lives in the house and rents one or more rooms, is that considered a business? Where does one draw the line, and how can STRs be accommodated within the City without causing upheaval for residents or for the City?

A $10,000 fine may be appropriate for an absentee landlord renting out a complete home without supervision or monitoring, or for one who owns multiple properties. However, what would be the effect if a similar fine were applied across the board? Would it cause individuals to rethink the idea of renting out a room on Airbnb, Expedia or any other STR site? Average homeowners who might consider hosting an STR might be looking at this as a means of supplementing income to help pay mortgage or property taxes. Is this any different than deciding to turn a basement into an accessory apartment to rent out? And whose business is it anyway if a homeowner wants to do this -- neighbours, the municipality?

STRs, exemplified by Airbnb, are not for everyone, whether a host or guest. Not everyone wants to share their home with strangers as guests, and not everyone feels comfortable spending the night in the home of a stranger as host. As with any and all sharing economies, a person's comfort level will determine how deeply to get involved. That same comfort level will determine how a person will react to having an STR in the neighbourhood or even next door.

Whether it is done or not, it seems that a first step before joining Airbnb or any other group as a host would be to talk with neighbours to guage reaction and determine whether or no they are in agreement with this decision of they will oppose it. It would also pay to talk with the Board of the ratepayer association representing the neighbourhood community. Find out about parking regulations, local by-laws, etc. which might influence the decision to become a host.

However, STRs have filled a niche in the accommodation market, one which many people feel is necessary. Have they taken away homes that could have been affordable long-term rentals? Yes. Do they provide an immediate solution for someone moving to a city such as Mississauga but without sufficient information or knowledge about the city to decide where they would like to live -- and at an affordable investment? Yes again.

This issue of short-term rentals is not going away any time soon. It needs -- and deserves -- clear heads and calm minds and a great deal of discussion and deliberation. That discussion needs to start at the neighbourhood level -- which means that neighbours should begin by getting to know each other (if they don't already) and having frank conversations amongst themselves and with their ratepayer/resident association about issues such as this. Then the discussions can progress to the next levels involving neighbouring ratepayer associations within the Community, within the Ward, and within the City.

We have groups and connections in each of these levels. Many of them are studying this very issue. There have been deputations and discussions at Mississauga City Council as well. The more input we -- and they -- have, the closer we can come to a resolution..

Please have your say by commenting below. We are eager to hear your point of view now. What would you think about having an STR on your street or next door to you? Can we have this discussion?

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Family Day Events in Mississauga

There is plenty to do in Mississauga if you are staying in the city for Family Day, Monday, February 20, 2017. 
Of course, there are movies and other indoor activities to experience; however, if you are interested in being outdoors -- in the City -- here are a couple of activities that are sure to please both adults and children, as well as visitors.


Family Day at City Hall and Celebration Square
12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Lace up your skates, get the family together, and head to Celebration Square this Family Day for an afternoon full of winter fun! Explore the Canadian wilderness with Birds of Prey. Demos, nature-themed story-telling, face painting in the Great Hall, roaming "wild" animals and ice carving demonstrations outdoors. Don't forget to bring your skates and hit the ice at Mississauga's largest outdoor skating rink, and warm up with a tasty Canadian treat -- Beavertails!

Grab your touques and mitts, and get ready for a full day of fun for everyone. Presented by RBC. For other RBC Family Day recreational activities at City facilities across the city, please visit mississauga.ca/familyday.
Family Day in Clarkson
February 20, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. 
If you want to stay closer to home, drop by Bradley Museum and Benares Historic House for family tours, crafts and activities.
Offered at both Bradley Museum, 1620 Orr Road and Benares Historic House, 1507 Clarkson Road North. 
Family admission is $15.

For more information and for more events, visit mississaugaculture.ca/museums or call 905-615-4860 extension 2110

Monday, November 28, 2016

Ducks in the creek!

With all of the construction going on in Birch Glen Park and the creek area, it is heartening to see a pair of ducks swimming in the creek.

Update on Kos Blvd Culvert

Work is continuing on the reconstruction of the culvert on the western arm of Kos Blvd., as shown in the accompanying photos. It is messy, and part of the road is still closed. However, we are hopeful this will  improve the stability of the culvert as well as the flow of the creek.

They appear to be dredging the floor of the culvert at the moment, judging by the amount of mud there is piled on the sidewalk. As well, the ground on top of the culvert has been cleared of bush and scrub and some trees.

No word yet on the completion date, but winter is fast approaching.



Birch Glen Playground





Work has begun on the playground! The old equipment and surface have been removed. An additional play area has been created on the west side of the Pathway, and some super-looking monkey bars have been installed. At least one adult exercise station has been started. It is happening!

At the moment, the complete area has been fenced off while construction is underway. The photos show the progress. Please add your comments and any photos you may have taken as well.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Open House Information Centre a Great Success!

Wow! Residents came out in relatively large numbers to view the information boards set up by Councillor Karen Ras and City of Mississauga staff last night in Birch Glen Park. They were able to ask questions, make comments and suggestions. And moreso, they saw the vision that the City has for multiple improvements to the park area -- its pathways, retaining walls, the children's playground and lighting.

A really big thank you to Councillor Ras for bringing this Information Open House to us, and for holding it in our neighbourhood -- in the place where the project will actually happen. Thankfully, the weather cooperated (we just wish the mosquitoes had stayed away!). 

This is a major improvement project that has been on the books for about 7 years, but was recently fast-tracked due to an infusion of Federal Infrastructure money that will see improvements for our playground and pathways, as well as the children's playground in Birchwood Paark (near the baseball diamonds and soccer pitches) and along Sheridan Creek Trail. We feel extremely fortunate that our own Birch Glen Park has been selected to receive this much needed upgrade.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures last night. However, I can tell you that the pavilion set up in the park was filled with residents who were interested in knowing what was in store for the park and creek area. The last stragglers left just after 7:00 p.m., as the sun was going down. A great evenihng!

We cannot publish all of the details at this time, but will update you as information comes in. What we do know is that both the east/west and north/south pathways will be repaved, that new retaining walls will be installed along the north/south pathway from Kos Blvd. to Ithaca/Lefkas. The planter boxes in this area will be removed and replaced. And the children's playground will be replaced with modern equipment. Again, we do not have the final details. Last night's open house provided the City with a great deal of feedback.

Meanwhile, the rehabilitation of the culvert under Kos Blvd. is still happening. 

We will keep you informed as to when the work will be underway for both of these projects. And we will provide links to the project when they become available.

We would be interested in your comments on the evening and the presentation. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

REMEMBER! Open House Information Centre in Birch Glen Park TONIGHT!

just a reminder that the Information Centre open house on improvements to the playground and pathways of our very own Birch Glen park is happening tonight -- Tuesday, September 27, 6:00-7:00 p.m.  Please remember to show up and have your say.

In talking with residents about this, there seemed to be some confusion as to which of our parks is meant. We have two parks in the neighbourhood; the big one to the west that has the basketball pad is Birchwood Park and the smaller one in the middle of the neighbourhood (with the pathways, children's playground and bridge) is Birch Glen Park. We have attached a drawing of the location below.


So -- make your way to the centre of this map. It is easy to get to from anywhere in the neighbourhood. Or just follow the crowd!

We hope this clarifies the confusion. See you there tonight between 6:00 and 7:00 p.m. Drop by to view the panel boards and to speak with Councillor Karen Ras and City staff.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Information Open House for Birch Glen Park Improvements

We are asking you to mark your calendars for this event:
Date:   Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Time:   6:00 - 7:00 p.m.
Place:   Birch Glen Park, by the Children's Playground and Bridge

By now, you will have received a notification from the City of Mississauga Parks Department with the above date, time and place. An open house is being held here in the neighbourhood to provide information to the residents regarding upcoming improvements to our Birch Glen Park. The City has received some infrastructure funding to make improvements to our playground, pathways, bridge, retaining walls and lighting within the park.

We are not privy to all of the details, which is why we are going to attend the Open House in the park on Tuesday, September 27. We hope that everyone will make the effort to come out to see the plans and to have discussions with City staff about these improvements.  This is your opportunity to have your say about what you think is appropriate for our neighbourhood!

We are extremely fortunate in this circumstance:  within Ward 2, there were two playgrounds and two "trails" that were chosen to receive the infrastructure funding and our neighbourhood playground and pathways make up two of the four projects. (The other playground is in Birchwood Park by the baseball diamonds; the other trail is the Sheridan Creek Trail).

This will be a substantial improvement to the park/pathway gem we have in the centre of our neighbourhood. The current playground is nearly 20 years old; the pathways were revamped around 15 years ago; and the retaining walls are the originals built in 1978.

So, show your pride in Birch Glen and indicate your interest by coming out on September 27. You don 't have to travel far to attend -- just make your way to the children's playground by the bridge over the creek.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Road Closures due to Ontario Summer Games in August

We have just received information indicating that the Ontario Summer Games are coming to Mississauga for four days in August, from Thursday, August 11 to Sunday, August 14, 2016. You can get more information about the events, schedule, opening ceremonies, etc. at www.osgmississauga.ca  

The part of the Games that will have an impact on residents of Clarkson involves the Road Cycling and Triathlon events, which will take place on the Friday and Saturday of that weekend, and will involve some closure along Lakeshore Rd.W., as noted below. The triathlon events will use Jack Darling Park and Rhododendron Gardens and the east bound lanes of Lakeshore Rd.W. between those two locations.  The road cycling will use Lakeside Park, Winston Churchill Blvd., Royal Windsor Drive and Avonhead Road on both Friday and Saturday.


Road Closure Information 

Friday, August 12 - Triathlon

Race begins at 10:00 am
Expect delays from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm

Saturday, August 13 - Triathlon

Race begins at 8:00 am
Expect delays from 7:30 am to 10:30 am

  • No entry/exit into Jack Darling Park before race
  • Lakeshore Rd W – east bound lanes (south half of street) closed from entrance of Jack Darling Park to Brueckner Rhododendron Gardens (Shawnmarr Rd.). Two way traffic on west bound lanes (north side)

Saturday, August 13 - Road Cycling

Race begins at 8:00 am
Expect delays from 9:00 am to 10:30 am

  • Full closure on Lakeshore Rd W from small west Parking Lot at Lakeside Park to Winston Churchill
  • Closure of north traffic on Winston Churchill from Lakeshore Rd W to Royal Windsor. Southbound traffic local only.
  • Royal Windsor – south half of street closed. Two way traffic on north side. From Winston Churchill to Avonhead Rd
  • Full closure on Avonhead Rd from Royal Windsor to Lakeshore Rd W