Monthly Archives: March 2011

How raccoons see Toronto neighbourhoods

How raccoons see Toronto neighbourhoods

A fascinating episode on CBC’s The Nature of Things showed how raccoons navigate their territory in our urban space. Turns out they stay within a small number of blocks, avoid large natural areas like parks, and don’t cross major streets.

Researchers tagged raccoons with GPS trackers, and the show has some wonderful animated sequences showing how the raccoons travel. The maps show areas along Danforth, including Playter Estates, Riverdale, and Leslieville. To view the CBC episode, click here.

Toronto mapping expert Patrick Cain has more images from the show here. Incidentally, Cain (who calls himself “a journalist who makes maps for the Web”) received international recognition recently, in the first issue of the stunning new magazine from Google, Think Quarterly. His blog,, was included in a feature on “The 10 Best Places to See ‘Sexy’ Data Online.”

Lovely, but read it for the articles

The paper version of Think Quarterly is not for sale (it was a limited run for VIP distribution), but the online version is a remarkable experience. Beautiful design, great interface, and valuable articles, all on the theme of data. Don’t miss the feature interview with Swedish data guru Hans Rosling, an unlikely rock star in the world of dynamic graphs.

The Joy of Stats

We featured an excerpt from Rosling’s “The Joy of Stats” video in a previous post. Here’s the entire one-hour video. is Rosling’s foundation, based in Stockholm and dedicated to promoting better ways of seeing complex data.


We come in peace!

Mayfair in Space – Rosedale Park, May 14th

Mayfair in Rosedale Park, May 14th 2011

This year’s Mayfair will be a blast! The rides (by Worlds Finest Shows) are going to be out of this world. As a special bonus, the rides will be up and running for four extra hours on the Friday evening before Mayfair. Kids will be able to go on the rides from 5:00 p.m to 9:00 p.m. on May 13th, as well as from 9:00 a.m. till 5:00 p.m. on the Saturday. Good news: the ride-all-day bracelets include unlimited rides Friday evening as well! 

Vouchers for the ride-all-day bracelets are $30 each. They go on sale April 25th, and will be available till Wednesday, May 11th. The sale locations are Summerhill Market, 446 Summerhill Avenue, and Mooredale House, 146 Crescent Road.

We hope that the Friday evening preview will be a fun time for families to come out to Rosedale Park. We’ll have BBQ food and the Beer Garden down the other end of the park, and a traditional jazz combo on the Main Stage.  So let the kids try out some rides, and then bring them on over for an easy dinner in the park!

Busiest weeks just starting

Toronto home sales monthly volume

Sales volume up 50% in last two weeks

Figures released today by the Toronto Real Estate Board show that the number of homes sold this week was up almost  50%, compared to the volume two weeks earlier. For the week ending March 10th, 2,159 homes were sold; in the week ending February 24th, the number sold was 1,460.

It seems that every year, buyers are out in force in the first three months. Then, after March break, more sellers list their homes. The second quarter (April to June) is usually the time when the largest number of homes are sold.

When do home prices increase?

Some years, it’s the first two months that see the greatest increase in sale prices. This is when buyers outnumber sellers, and new price levels get set in many neighbourhoods. The record prices established in January and February have certainly set the tone for the rest of the year.  In the most typical yearly pattern for Toronto home sales, the highest prices are reached in May or June. We’ll have to see how it plays out in 2011.

Buyers can expect to see a greater supply of listings by April. Sellers can still expect to see strong demand this spring. They should keep in mind, however,  that a greater selection for buyers could mean fewer offers on each property. If you’re a seller, the key is to develop a pricing strategy with your agent, and set your listing price accordingly.

New residents flock to urban areas in US

A second look at census data

Recent US census data suggested that older cities have continued to lose population. This has surprised many urbanist scholars who were counting on a renewed movement into vibrant city centres. On closer examination, things may not be so bleak. Richard Florida has just drawn attention to fresh analysis that suggests that we need to redefine our terms.

Urban centres growing, cities losing

According to a report in New Urban Network, the “most urban areas” in US cities like St. Louis , Chicago, Washington DC, and Philadelphia have indeed been growing. These areas, which are safe to walk in, with urban amenities for the Millennial generation, stand in contrast to other, “bad” areas of these older cities. A report by urbanist Jan Gehl lists 3,000 outdoor cafe seats in downtown Philly, compared with zero ten years ago!

When the statistics are sorted out, house values in Philadelphia have apparently gone up 116% during the first decade of this century. During the same time period, the “safe,” walkable downtown area of Philadelphia has grown from about two square miles to 20. Similar patterns were reported in the other major cities. Across North America, there seems to a strong desire to live in the kind of attractive urban communities we take for granted in Toronto.

GTA Market Report – March 3, 2011

Toronto home sales chart

It’s official, now. “Market conditions remain quite tight in the GTA. There is enough competition between home buyers to promote continued price growth,” according to Jason Mercer, TREB’s Senior Manager of Market Analysis. Toronto’s February average resale price was $454,423. Technically, this is a record high price level, but we’d like you to think of it as a “tight market.”

Actually, that’s a nice way to put it. Midtown Toronto is experience the usual bidding wars, with the corresponding anxieties for buyers and sellers (“Do I offer on this, or will it be crazy?”) Even other areas of the GTA are experiencing the “offer night” syndrome, with varying results. Overall, all parts of the GTA are experiencing enough demand that “continued price growth” is the default expectation.

The fact remains, that when 50% of the sales in a given area go over the asking price, that still leaves another 50%  that sold at or below asking. And even during busy periods like the present, there are always properties that don’t immediately get sold. It doesn’t matter whether you’re buying or selling… you need to get the full picture of market activity in your area, if you want to make smart decisions.