TORONTO – The Toronto Real Estate Board says there is fresh evidence indicating that speculation and foreign ownership make up a small component of the city’s housing market, raising questions about the need for Ontario’s plan to tax foreign speculators.
The board released new data on foreign buyers at the same time as it reported that prices continued to soar last month, though there were signs the market may be cooling as the number of transactions slipped.
TREB says that between 2008 and April 2017, the average share of foreign buyers of properties in the Greater Golden Horseshoe region, which stretches from the Niagara Region to Peterborough, Ont., was 2.3 per cent.
It says during the same time period, the share of homes that were bought and sold within one year of the original transaction – an indication of speculative activity – was also low.
READ MORE: Ontario government to impose 15% tax on foreign homebuyers, expand rent control
In 2016, less than five per cent of transactions fit that definition, while in the first four months of this year, it went up to seven per cent.
TREB says its analysis was based on property assessments and land registry data in the province.
The new data came as the average price for all properties in the Greater Toronto Area last month rose to $920,791, an increase of 24.5 per cent compared to a year ago. That was slightly below the 33.2 per cent year-over-year increase in prices in March.
TREB says there was a dramatic increase in the number of new listings, which rose by 33.6 per cent since April 2016. But it also found the total number of sales in the Greater Toronto Area in April was down by 3.2 per cent from a year ago.
VIDEO: How skyrocketing Toronto house prices could impact Nova Scotia
London city council approved $5.2 million in cleanup and development subsidies Tuesday, including the much-debated removal of contaminated soil at Camden Terrace.
After weeks of debate, council moved forward with the request for a $2.7-million subsidy for Rygar Properties Inc. to help clean up the site of their proposed high-rise on Talbot Street.
Rygar is planning a $300-million multi-tower development that includes a nine-storey, a 29-storey, and a 38-storey building.
READ MORE: Controversial downtown London skyrise denied full cleanup funding
Last month, the subsidy was questioned by a city committee as to whether the full amount was necessary. Since Rygar plans to build a four-storey parking garage, councillors argued the soil would be excavated regardless.
“Prior to the application for the grant, all indications were this was full steam ahead,” said Coun. Stephen Turner during the debate Tuesday night.
“This is but a percentage of the entire project, I don’t see this as necessary in order to make the project go forward.”
Turner, who voted against the subsidy, said the grant shouldn’t be awarded just because other projects were subsidized.
Coun. Jesse Helmer put forward a motion to have the subsidy reduced by about $200,000 to encourage the disposal of the contaminated soil at the city dump.
“I think if we put a little constraint on the budget, it’s more likely that it’s going to end up in our landfill, which I think is the more environmentally responsible thing to do, it’s the cheaper thing to do, and then we get that money back,” he said.
Ultimately, council approved the full ask for Rygar.
Council also approved a $2.5-million subsidy for Sierra Construction for their cleanup and development of the old McCormick factory on Dundas Street.
The seven-man, seven-woman jury in the William Sandeson murder trial saw more of his police interrogation on Wednesday.
Sandeson, 24, stands accused of killing 22-year-old Taylor Samson. Both men were students at Dalhousie University when it’s alleged the crime took place. Samson was studying physics and Sandeson was about to start his first year of medical school.
READ: Murder trial hears from police, Taylor Samson’s girlfriend
Det.-Const. Roger Sayer, a member of the Halifax Regional Police, was once again called to the witness stand by the Crown. The jury didn’t hear from Sayer on Wednesday, instead, continued watching Sandeson’s interrogation video.
In the video, a police officer repeatedly asks Sandeson what happened at his apartment, where Taylor Samson is and whether or not he’s still alive. Sandeson is often seen crying and breathing heavily in the video. He remains silent for quite some time while an officer questions him, asking if he’s telling the truth and pressing him to describe exactly what happened the evening Samson was last seen alive.
Eventually, Sandeson tells police that intruders broke into his Henry Street apartment when Samson was there. The plan, according to Sandeson’s interrogation video, was to scare Samson over his drug dealing.
READ: Jury in William Sandeson murder trial sees police interrogation video
Sandeson said the intruders asked him to turn off the surveillance video he had set up. Once it was off, Sandeson said he heard a single gunshot and believes Samson may have been shot in the back of the head.
After that, Sandeson tells the officer that the intruders removed Sandeson in a large black bag, which also contained a quantity of marijuana. The court previously heard that Samson and Sandeson had planned to meet up on the night of Aug. 15, 2015 as part of a pre-arranged drug deal to sell 20 pounds of marijuana for $40,000.
Sandeson told the officer who was questioning him that he didn’t follow the intruders or see where they went with Samson once they left his residence. Instead, he stayed behind and cleaned up the scene.
READ MORE: Murder victim last seen at William Sandeson’s apartment building, prosecutor tells jury
The interrogation video ends with a police officer reading Sandeson his rights and informing him that he is being placed under arrest for murder.
The trial is now in its third week. Testimony is scheduled to resume Thursday morning at Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax.