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    Toronto's rental landscape is changing so quickly that it's hard to keep up. Now it seems that another layer may be added within the coming months: a 4 per cent tax on hotels and short term rentals.

    City officials have proposed a 4 per cent tax on hotels, motels, and short term rentals like AirBnB, in addition to the upcoming regulations being rolled out later this year.

    The idea behind the tax is to level the playing field among all commercial and private accommodations around the city by subjecting short term rentals to the same standards as bigger establishments.

    The city estimates that the tax would generate around $37 million in revenue, much of which would be portioned to Tourism Toronto before being funnelled back into the city's collective piggybank.

    There's been a lot of debate surrounding how to effectively regulate the short term rental craze that has swept over many major cities, with Toronto standing pretty divided on how best to proceed.

    While the city considers applying the 4 per cent tax, it's also set to look at a relief program for the many small business that got slammed when their property values were reassessed. 

    The proposal will go before city council for debate on January 24.

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    The Avenue is one of the more exclusive condos in Toronto, as the price tag for this 1 + 1 bedroom unit will tell you. Listed at over $2 million, the idea here is that the address is worth a hefty amount itself.

    avenue condo torontoThat's not to say this isn't a luxurious condo. From high ceilings to marble floors and countertops, the finishes are top of the line. I particularly like the large kitchen and breakfast bar, the latter of which look like the perfect spot to have a drink while someone else cooks.

    avenue condo torontoAs it's staged here, the den is set up as a TV/entertainment room, but it would also work as an office space or even a bedroom if it was needed. The usable square footage here is bigger than you might think if you didn't take a closer look. 

    avenue condo torontoPart of the reason for this is that the master bedroom is legitimately huge. For me, this is the nicest room in the suite thanks to the walkout south-facing balcony and the adjoining en suite (also huge). 

    avenue condo torontoWhile the condo is on the third floor, the mature trees in the area offer a nice backdrop in place of a sprawling view. If only the outdoor space was a bit deeper, it'd be a nice spot to dine in the summer.

    avenue condo torontoSpecs
    • Address: #305 155 St. Clair Ave. West
    • Price: $2,085,000
    • Bedrooms: 1 + 1
    • Bathrooms: 2
    • Parking: 1
    • Walk Score: 89
    • Transit Score: 88
    • Maintenance Fees: $1,737.20
    • Listing agent: Janice Fox
    • Listing ID: C4017171
    avenue condo torontoGood For

    Given its conservative but elegant design, this is the type of condo that's going to appeal to an older and well established crowd. It has empty nesters written all over it.

    avenue condo torontoMove On If

    You'd prefer something with historical character. This building is luxurious, but it's also a bit boring. 

    avenue condo torontoavenue condo torontoavenue condo torontoavenue condo torontoavenue condo toronto

    Thanks to Bosley Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage for sponsoring our condo of the week. All editorial written and selected by blogTO.

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    A King St. nightclub is calling it quits, although there's little evidence this  turn of events has anything to do with the recent shenanigans over the neighbourhood's streetcar pilot project.

    Bloke, near the corner of King and Spadina, announced it's calling it quits after a 7 year run.

    The club had become somewhat of a fixture within the Entertainment District nightclub scene but isn't going away until they host one final huge bash.

    One of the club's partners, Nick Regina, recently told Toronto Nightclub that ownership is ready to "start a new chapter at 401 King Street West," and explained that the space would be renovated and rebranded into a new venue that will offer a new experience for patrons.

    The building at 401 King Street West is also up for development with a 44-storey condo set for construction so chances are whatever the new venue becomes it will have to be a bit on the quieter side.

    Bloke is best known for hosting weekly events that, in its heyday, showcased established and emerging Toronto talent like Tory Lanez and even got a shoutout in PartyNextDoor's song "Don't Run"

    A post shared by Bloke (@bloke_toronto) on

    Closing events will be happening this weekend and ending with one final blowout on January 22.

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    The Sugar Shack is back! Sugar Shack TO is returning this year with a bunch of sweet treats from local vendors. And best of all, it's free!

    Redpath Sugar and Water's Edge Festival and Events are teaming up to host the Sugar Shack at Sugar Beach. The event brings together activities like Battle of the Chainsaws with the cozy comforts of a warm hot chocolate.

    It's not just sweets, either. There will be plenty of hot, comfort food available to help keep warm while visitors can enjoy fresh maple taffy boiled on site and rolled in the snow for dessert.

    This year's event will be hosting a specialty bar serving up spiked hot chocolate, live music, and a winter marketplace with more maple-infused treats.

    It's all going down March 10 and 11 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day at Sugar Beach. Here's what the event looked like last year.

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    Upcoming food events in Toronto will include plenty of free eats this week, including Taiwanese mochi and Neapolitan-style pizza. There will also be loads of haggis, as Robbie Burns day is coming up. We've rounded up a list of those events here.

    Events you might want to check out:

    Free mochi at Meet Fresh (January 19-21 @ Meet Fresh)
    Taiwanese dessert spot Meet Fresh soft opens on Friday, January 19, and to celebrate, it will be giving away 300 sets of Q Mochi (8 pieces each) to the first 300 customers all weekend (Friday-Sunday).
    Shacklands First Anniversary Party (January 20 @ Shacklands Brewing Co.)
    To celebrate its one-year anniversary, the brewery will be breaking out barrel-aged rarities, old favourites and new beers. There will also be eats from Oakwood Hardware Food & Drink.
    Tasting Menu with Chef Scott Pickett (January 20-21 @ Canoe)
    Chef Scott Pickett, one of Melbourne's most celebrated chefs, will be collaborating with Canoe's chefs John Horne and Ron McKinlay to craft an exceptional six-course tasting menu featuring a diverse mix of local and seasonal ingredients.
    Free pizza at Pi Co (January 23 @ Pi Co)
    Pi Co.has opened a new location in the Financial District, and to celebrate, it'll be giving away free Margherita pizzas. Math nerd alert: free pizza (one per person) will be available for 3 hours and 14 minutes, from noon until 3:14 p.m. (Get it? Pi?)
    The God of Cookery (January 25 @ Revue Cinema)
    This 35mm screening of Cantonese film star Stephen Chow's comedy The God of Cookery will be accompanied by a complimentary snack by Asian-fusion pop-up Revel Food.
    Winterlicious 2018 (January 26 - February 18 @ Multiple Venues)
    This ever-popular, prix-fixe meal extravaganza featuring more than 200 Toronto restaurants is back, and there's never been a better excuse to explore the city's culinary scene and try something new.
    Latte Royale (January 31 @ Propeller Coffee)
    Propeller Coffee Co. will be hosting a Barista Competition with 32 competitors going head to head in a single-elimination style tournament. Food, beer and giveaways will accompany this fun, inclusive night in support of Food 4 Farmers.
    Winter Craft Beer Festival (February 10 @ Roundhouse Park)
    Sample the wares of 40 different Ontario craft breweries at this one-day outdoor winter festival that will also include a bunch of local food vendors. Get there early, because the first 500 guests will receive a free toque. How Canadian, eh.
    Hungry for Comfort - Surviving a Canadian Winter (February 24 @ Fort York National Historic Site)
    Join other fellow food enthusiasts and history buffs in exploring how the First Nations, Metis, French and English survived in Canada’s bitter winter with speakers, demonstrations, workshops and tastings.
    Dixonlicious 2018 (March 1 @ Daniels Spectrum)
    A fundraiser in support of food programs in downtown east and Regent Park run by Dixon Hall, this one-night event will raise money to help provide 25,000 meals to those in need.
    Toronto Winter Brewfest (March 2-4 @ Enercare Centre)
    Toronto's biggest indoor beer festival is back for a third year, with more than 150 beers, food trucks, DJs, games and more to discover, all taking place over the course of two days.

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    The best new cheap eats in Toronto are, as the Barenaked Ladies would say, like LeAnn Rimes: all about value. While Chinese chicken isn’t necessarily on this list, there are a whole lot of other great Italian, vegan, pizza, Taiwanese, Greek, Japanese and Korean eats that feel worth much more than they’re listed for on the menu.

    Here are the best new cheap eats restaurants in Toronto that opened in 2017. 

    4 - Planta Burger

    Divine vegan eating is no longer solely the realm of this Financial District's big sister, Planta. Now herbivores can get gourmet plant-based burgers for around ten bucks, along with caesar salads and buffalo cauliflower for under $10.
    5 - General Assembly Pizza

    Personal-size pies at this cashless Entertainment District restaurant are designed around convenience and flavour and usually don’t top out over $15. Scrumptious salads and tap cocktails and wine are rarely over $10.
    7 - Fat Lamb Kouzina

    Authentic Greek food for less can be found at this warm and cozy little spot near Bloor and Yonge. While it’s not exactly the cheap takeout gyros and souvlaki we might expect here in Toronto, it’s all made from scratch, and where else can you say you got a quick lunch of roast leg of lamb?
    8 - Wilson's Haus of Lechon

    Pick up a whole lechon chicken for ten bucks from this hidden gem in North York and feed an entire family on the cheap. Chopped pork lechon is sold by the pound here, and pork skewer or chicken leg combos are just $6.50.
    9 - Hoja Luwei

    Koreatown is already the king of cheap eats, but they just got a destination for more that are unlike the others. Luwei is a type of Taiwanese broth, and the style of street food here is completely customizable, with options for different kinds of noodles, veggies, and other bowl ingredients.
    6 - Randy's Roti

    Doubles are 2 for $5 at this permanent physical Bloor and Yonge location of what before was only a food truck.
    11 - Go Topoki

    A Korean street food dish of rice cakes most commonly slathered in neon red spicy sauce called topoki are the specialty at this North York spot. A warm and comforting bowl won’t cost you more than ten bucks.
    3 - Sugo

    This Bloordale powerhouse is turning out quality Italian for a reasonable price like nobody’s business. Plates of gnocchi and spaghetti, saucy Italian sammies, and caprese salads with house mozzarella go for far less than their upscale counterparts, simply yet beautifully presented.
    10 - Onnki Donburi

    Japanese rice bowls are the signature of this casual restaurant near Yonge and Bloor, and even with ingredients like salmon, pork belly and short rib, they still start around $10 and typically don’t top out over $15.

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    The TTC is remaining firm in its decision to leave a controversial art installation– one that's already been paid for – in the dark at Toronto's new Pioneer Village Station.

    At least, until someone can figure out a way to prevent hate speech without drawing comparisons to North Korea for censorship.

    This is what came out of yesterday's TTC Board meeting in relation to LightSpell, a gigantic, interactive, public message board of sorts by the German artist collective realities:united.

    That, and the fact that this dormant installation was about $1.5 million more expensive than initially reported by the transit agency. Oops.

    LightSpell, approved by the City of Toronto and TTC Board over five years ago as part of the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension, was widely believed to have cost about $500,000... until yesterday's board meeting.

    A report for action from the meeting pegged the actual cost of designing and constructing the work at approximately $1.9 million – roughly $200,000 of which was paid to artists Jan and Tim Edler.

    The artists have been vocal in opposing the TTC's decision not to activate their work, as have many citizens and advocates for freedom of expression.

    "As a publicly commissioned work it certainly enjoys protections under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, both in its concept and in content," reads a letter to TTC officials from the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression regarding LightSpell.

    "There are innumerous positive sentiments which can be expressed in 8 characters," it continues "The 'risk of hate speech' should never be cited as the sole reason to limit access to expression in public."

    Still, on the advice of its lawyers, the TTC board has elected not to activate LightSpell until "mitigation features can be added to limit the potential for misuse."

    "The current installation allows customers on the subway platform to type in any eight character message," reads a report from the TTC's legal counsel in regards to Thursday's board meeting.

    "There is a significant risk that the system could be misused to include hate messages or messages that target and/or discriminate against a specific individual or group of people."

    The lawyers set out some recommendations for further action, but those recommendations are at this point confidential thanks to client-solicitor privilege.

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    The Toronto Light Fest has once again taken over the Distillery District, which will be a transformed by  whimsical installations for the next 45 days. Put on by the same people who organize the fantastical Christmas Market, it's totally free to visit every night starting at sundown.

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    Protesters are out in full force today across Toronto and much of Ontario to tell Tim Hortons what they think of its response to the province's minimum wage increase.

    A total of 18 demonstrations are scheduled to take place in Toronto on Friday between 8 a.m and 6 p.m. as part of Leadnow and Fight for $15's National Day of Action.

    The advocacy groups are encouraging citizens to boycott the coffee juggernaut and "stand with Tim Hortons workers," many of whose paid breaks, benefits and even tips were recently taken away.

    This is the second round of widespread, organized protests to sweep the City of Toronto since workers at one Cobourg, Ontario store went public with a letter from management.

    That letter, and several like it since, told employees they would be losing a number of different benefits and incentives as a result of the province's new $14 standard minimum wage, which came into effect on Jan. 1.

    People across the country – including Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne – have been criticizing the company (which brought in $4.15 billion during 2016 alone) in droves ever since.

    While their punny signs (you haven't seen muffin yet!) and hashtags are cute (#DonutsNotCuts!), protesters are serious about the message they've been trying to drive home.

    "When Ontario’s minimum wage increased to $14, Tim Hortons immediately began to eliminate workers’ paid breaks, reduce access to basic drug and dental benefits, eliminate uniform and drink allowances, and even cut employees’ hours of work," reads a flyer being handed out to customers during today's protests.

    "This is outrageous coming from a wildly profitable multinational corporation."

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    Doesn't it kind of feel like the construction at Union Station should be done by now?

    Whether you're there 10 times a week as part of your commute or once in a blue moon to take the train, it's hard not to wonder.

    The busy transportation hub has been a mess of barriers, hard hats, and pedestrian detours for years now, leading some to wonder if it will ever not be under construction again.

    According to a draft city report recently obtained by the Toronto Star, the end is now in sight.

    Renovations on the Bay Concourse and lower retail levels will finally be complete by late 2018 if all goes as planned, leaving Union Station a new-and-improved version of its older, stuffier self.

    Or not. I mean, construction was actually supposed to have wrapped up three years ago, in 2015 for a price tag of $640 million. The city pushed the renovation project's deadline back to early 2018 after a series of delays and contractor disputes.

    Now, city officials say the project will be take another eight to twelve months to complete.

    "City staff have made clear in their report that the increased costs and further delays at Union Station are largely due to changes triggered by Metrolinx," said Mayor John Tory in a statement.

    "While I agree that these changes are necessary and will ultimately enable RER and SmartTrack, I won't accept Toronto taxpayers footing the bill for the resulting cost increases."

    Union Station is now expected to be ready in late 2018 for a grand total of $823.5 million – about $22.8 million more than the city's last estimate.

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    When I think about snowshoeing, I often recall an ill-fated school trip during which those who weren't capable of downhill skiing were made to endure a five kilometre trek through the forests of Quebec. At the time, I found the activity painfully boring and physically exhausting.

    How wrong I was. 

    Snowshoeing through a powder-coated landscape is one of the most scenic ways to enjoy the winter, and while it's physically challenging, you don't need to be an endurance athlete to try it out. 

    snowshoeing at night

    Nighttime snowshoeing is at its finest after a fresh snowfall. Photo courtesy of Scenic Caves Adventures.

    The most intriguing snowshoeing adventures near Toronto this winter dial the atmosphere up by taking place at night. You can trek through the heart of a forest with only a head lamp and moonlight to guide you.

    There's actually quite a few places to try out this novel outdoors experience. The folks at Scenic Caves Adventures run regular guided nighttime snowshoe hikes, which include passage across their giant suspension bridge (though it's obviously less impressive in the dark).

    You'll also find a similar program at Horseshoe Valley, which heads out on the cross country ski trails after darkness falls. There's also occasionally night skiing through the woods, but it's less frequent. 

    night snowshoeing ontario

    The view from the suspension bridge is still majestic at the outset of nighttime snowshoeing adventures. Photo courtesy of Scenic Caves Adventures.

    Two other nighttime snowshoeing adventures worth mentioning are coming up later this month. Hardwood Ski & Bike will host a moonlight snowshoe and fondue feast on January 27 (and again on February 10), which involves a 5km hike followed by dinner in the chalet.

    Astronomy fans, on the other hand, might consider the snowshoe adventure at Cold Creek Conservation Area, which also takes place on January 27. Located near King City, this one is just a short drive from Toronto up the 400. 

    Most snowshoe events have rentals on site, but even if they don't, you can rent a pair at Mountain Equipment Co-op before heading out to explore the snowy nocturnal world north of Toronto. 

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    There's just something about historic churches that make a lovely base for condo developments – like, aside from all of the unused airspace above a low-rise building in a prime real estate location.

    Bloor Street United Church was built in the Norman-Gothic style at Bloor and Huron streets more than 125 years ago, around 1886.

    Rich in local history, the church is known for its social services and as a progressive force within the religious community – but the building itself needs a bit of work (and a lot of money) to bring it up to code.

    So, in an effort to fund the heritage building's preservation and keep up with its community outreach activities, the church wants to build a condo tower right on top of itself.

    300 Bloor WestThat's right – this is Bloor Street United Church's idea, and it's a pretty cool one. 

    Represented by Northrop Development Inc., the church has partnered with Collecdev to develop a 38-storey mixed-use tower and podium. It will be designed by KPMB Architects, with heritage elements overseen by ERA Architects.

    The church submitted a rezoning application to the City of Toronto last month in the hopes of getting started on a mixed-use building with office, residential, retail, cafe, community and worship uses.

    "The submission marks the beginning of the formal process of working with the City to determine the appropriate outcome for this redevelopment," wrote the church on a website set up for the development project.

    "As a part of this process, the City will lead a formal consultation process that will likely include additional community consultation."

    300 Bloor StreetThe proposal also includes the redevelopment of Pidgeon House, an adjacent building on Huron Street owned by the church.

    If built according to plans submitted to the city, the proposal will result in 259 new residential units, 5,573 square metres of new office space, and 3,736 square meters of church space.

    A new promenade is proposed around the property and the church space will be "an adjustable sanctuary space" for use by people of multiple faiths, as well as for community functions.

    The development would also include a public three-storey atrium that serves as a climate-controlled, indoor connection between Bloor and Huron Streets, which could be huge for people who live, work and study in The Annex.

    "The proposed 38-storey high-rise building would contribute to the ongoing revitalization of the Bloor Street corridor," reads the project's planning rationale document, "while preserving and enhancing existing significant heritage resources, in one of the most transit-supportive locations in the City of Toronto."

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    The little library that could will be growing to three times its current size in just a few years, thanks to the development of a 14-storey, mixed-used building in The Junction Triangle.

    The Perth/Dupont Library at 299 Campbell Ave. has long been one of the smallest public libraries in Toronto at just 3,600 square feet.

    In 2015, city council approved plans to replace thelibrary with a new, 10,000-square-foot facility at the base of a forthcoming condo building.

    Construction on that building has yet to start, and new renderings show that it could look quite a bit different than how it was first imagined. The residential portion is now slated to be rental apartments, which the neighbourhood could really use.

    The new library will only be one floor when completed, but it promises to be an open and sunny space thanks to large glass walls and windows. It will be located on the condo building's ground floor with an entrance at the corner of Campbell and Dupont.

    Community members met earlier this week to discuss the branch's design, and it appears to have been well received.

    Everything is running smoothly and The Junction Triangle is on track to see its new library rise by 2021. Construction is expected to start this spring.

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    Is there a nicer street in Toronto than Ellis Park Road? Winding above and beside High Park, it's certainly a contender for the title of most picturesque thoroughfare in the city.

    32 Ellis Park RoadUnlike some of the other candidates out there— I'm thinking foremost of Rosedale Valley Road — a few lucky people actually get to live on Ellis Park and enjoy the stunning view of the park below. This is a street that features incredible homes but also more modest dwellings.

    32 Ellis Park RoadBy modest, I don't mean small or inexpensive. The difference here is between dream houses and just really nice houses, of which 32 Ellis Park is the latter. This four bedroom, four bathroom residence is fairly conservative on the architecture front, but offers lots of space and a marvellous view.

    32 Ellis Park RoadThe interior has a cottage-like feel, which makes sense given that the first structure built in this area were more akin to cottages than houses. It's carved into the slope of the ravine, such that the backyard is small but very pretty if you're into steep gardens. 

    32 Ellis Park RoadAlong with the view and easy access to the park, being on the northern portion of the street, the access to transit is also surprisingly high given how secluded it can seem nestled among the trees.

    32 Ellis Park RoadThe Essentials
    32 Ellis Park RoadWhy it sold for what it did

    A house of this size in this location doesn't come cheap, even if its last renovations already seem just a tad dated. 

    32 Ellis Park RoadWas it worth it?

    This house first hit the market at $2.2 million in July 2017, but was subsequently re-listed at $1.9 million in October, after which it finally sold this month for $1.82. That's not too far off the second list price, but it's slightly surprising that it didn't get snapped up around $2 million.

    32 Ellis Park Road32 Ellis Park Road32 Ellis Park Road32 Ellis Park Road32 Ellis Park Road32 Ellis Park Road

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    In just over two months, it will be illegal for anyone to knock on your door and pressure you into buying a new HVAC system or whatever. 

    Legislation passed by the provincial government last year will effectively ban door-to-door sales across Ontario starting on March 1, 2018.

    Only certain types of products are covered by the ban, however – most of them related to home services; things like water heaters, furnaces, air conditioners and water filters.

    The rules are meant to protect vulnerable people from falling victim to "unclear contracts" and "misrepresentations by salespeople."

    Salespeople can still go door-to-door, hawking prohibited items, but Bill 193 forbids them from making a sale - unless they're invited into a person's home first. Like a vampire.

    Therules don't apply to marketing or advertising activities either, so don't call the cops on kids who sell chocolate-covered almonds to raise money for their school's choir. Or Girl Guides. Their cookies are great and they, too, are safe from Ontario's new legislation.

    Eligible individuals who are caught violating the rules will be charged up to $500 for the first offence, $1,000 after a second offence, and $2,000 after a third.

    Corporations will be charged up to $25,000 for the same.