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Archive for April, 2017

Laneway Houses Provide Affordable Urban Living

Thursday, April 20th, 2017

Imagine a world in which space was abundant and economical. There are parts of the world where that exists and there are parts of Toronto where that can also exist but for some reason we mainly fail to notice it.

Living in laneways is something of a foreign concept in North America. Underused and underappreciated, city laneways are being touted as the next best thing when it comes to residences and commercial locations especially in those neighbourhoods in which real estate has grown prohibitively expensive.

City councillors promoting the concept say laneway housing could provide secondary suites or the equivalent of basement apartments with the difference being they would be situated in garages on laneways, according to the Toronto Star. They would naturally be serviced with hydro, gas and plumbing from the primary home. And just like living in a basement suite, calls for emergency services or pizza delivery would be made to the primary dwelling’s street address.

According to Now magazine, the city has approximately 2,400 laneways stretching about 300 kilometres through downtown corridors between city streets.

But building a laneway house in Toronto is not easy and approvals are handed out on a case-by-case basis. The good news is that the complicated process is likely going to change soon thanks to Ontario Housing Minister Chris Ballard. Efforts to make laneways more of a reality in Toronto have been stepped up thanks to a memo Ballard sent last year to every Ontario municipality demanding the implementation of secondary suites.

Advocacy group Lanescape is joining forces with sustainable city-building non-profit Evergreen and Councillors Ana Bailão and Mary-Margaret McMahon to amend city bylaws and loosen restrictions on the development of laneway houses, says Now.

According to Lanescape, here are some advantages to laneway housing:

  1. An increase in the quality of affordable rental housing
  2. Intensifies neighbourhoods in a way that preserves character, form and scale of built environment
  3. Uses existing infrastructure
  4. Affords increased animation and activity in laneways, enhancing pride of place

Since 2009, Vancouver has been home to over 500 laneway homes. Ottawa has recently launched a laneway housing policy and Regina is close to doing so also.

If restrictions are eased in Toronto, the city could see the addition of thousands of low-rise rental units mainly in desirable downtown neighbourhoods.


Go Green with your Spring Clean

Friday, April 14th, 2017

Tough on dirt and soft on Mother Nature is how you’ll want to tackle indoor and outdoor spring cleaning this year if being kinder to the environment is on your bucket list.

Besides dumping VOCs and phosphates back into the water system which creates health and environmental hazards, another good reason to use green products is that they are easy on your wallet. Green cleaners such as vinegar, baking soda and borax are inexpensive when compared to store-bought brand-name cleaning products.

Using green products is also simpler.  There are eight products that will clean just about anything. In addition to the three already mentioned stock up on hydrogen peroxide, lemon juice, olive oil, castile soap, and washing soda.

House Exterior – For some exteriors all you need is water and a pressure washer. Be careful though. Scale back the pressure when using on masonry and vinyl because full-blast water can get in behind the vinyl and loosen mortar from stone and bricks. Another sure-fire method calls for a bucket and mild soap. Rinse with your water hose.

Driveways – Watch the type of cleaning products used since chemicals can end up in the local water supply. Use organic, biodegradable soaps. Using a street-sweeper style broom and hosing down dirt and dust regularly should do the trick. For oil stains try super absorbent materials such as cat litter, sand or sawdust. Simply cover the stain and let sit for a few days then sweep away.

Windows – Eliminate the use of paper towels by using a clean, lint-free soft cloth or sponge. Try cleaning your windows with baby shampoo or vinegar and water. Window screens can be cleaned in a shower or tub or outdoors. Spray gently and use a soft bristle brush to reach small spaces. For stubborn dirt, use mild soap and water.

Patios & Decks – If your metal lawn furniture is looking dirty, try a mixture of warm water, hydrogen peroxide, a squirt of natural dish soap and a scoop or borax. Spray, let stand for 15 minutes then scrub and rinse. Mold occurs regularly if you’re not super diligent about covering your furniture. Mix one teaspoon of tea tree oil for each cup of water. Test it on the back of a cushion and if it’s okay spray on the moldy areas. The oil will kill the mold and there’s no need to wipe it off.

No Waste – Aiming for a no-waste clean is a smart move for those wanting to reduce their carbon footprint. So ditch the use of paper towels, Swiffer cloths and disposable mops. Try instead microfiber cloths and sponges, brooms and a reusable mop.

The 3 Rs – Did you forget what they are? Go through your house with a fine-tooth comb, especially those spots that accumulate junk: attics, basements, spare closets and drawers. Chuck it or better yet donate it. Of course, you can always reuse things. Think you’d like to turn those old teacups into a pretty planter? Go right ahead. The idea here is to save you from buying more stuff. Finally, the third R, recycle. This is your final option once you’ve exhausted the first two.

Spring cleaning can be done without harming your health and the planet. These are sustainable baby steps, to be sure, but imagine the collective pay off.


Sources: www.bobvila.com, www.treehugger.com, www.sparkpeople.com


The data included on this website is deemed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed to be accurate by the Toronto Real Estate Board. The trademarks REALTOR®, REALTORS® and the REALTOR® logo are controlled by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.