Investors lobby for transit upgrades

Condos in Toronto are being snapped up by investors as millennials depend on transit to commute -- but with future builds planned to exclude parking, some worry the system won’t be able to handle demand.

Some are suggesting that these types of builds come with a levy to leverage extra funding; however, with condo fees already at an all-time high, some aren’t willing to consider extra fees as a means to improve transit.

“Why not put a levy on these units so they contribute to transit expansion?” Omer Quenneville, a real estate agent with Real Estate Homeward, asked CREW. “Car owners pay extra tax for roads... If you want to build a tower with no parking, have a levy on each unit to put into a transit fund.”

"The only problem is that this would require a transit plan which, in the case of Toronto, just won't happen. They will use the money to buy morning coffee for council or to fund studies like the closing of Yonge Street to make a pedestrian mall.”

If the comments reflect a little cynicism, it’s because Toronto has waffled on its transit plans for the better part of the last decade and changes in leadership have led to re-designs of the TTC’s transit plan.

With more condominiums being built near major transit stations on both the Yonge and Bloor lines, the network will see a larger influx of people using the service.

Brandon Sage, a real estate investment consultant, Landlord Property & Rental Management Inc., told CREW: “Owners/investors/landlords would stomach a fee if there was a solid transit plan in place. I fondly recall how realtors decried that this tax would be the death of the real estate market when it was introduced in 2008, but I think we all saw how abjectly wrong they were about that.”

According to a recent Urbanation report, growth near public transit stations on Yonge Street, Bathurst and Highway 7, as well as the development of East Toronto, will lead to significant growth that outweigh negative sentiments from potential renters.

While the idea of a levy to facilitate more investment in transit is seen as a good idea for some, it’s not welcomed by everyone, especially those who said that condo investors already pay enough in fees.

“Given how much condo investors are already paying for development charges, education levies, and now a park levy before?” said Kenny Wong, a real estate agent with Tradeworld Realty Inc. “We are already paying the highest closing cost than anywhere else in Canada. Where will it stop?”

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