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Canadian home sales see a record December — and a record 2020 – CBC.ca

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National home sales set an all-time record in December, the Canadian Real Estate Association reported Friday.

Sales were up 47.2 per cent compared to December 2019, the largest year-over-year increase in monthly sales in 11 years.

The spike in sales from November to December, 7.2 per cent, was driven by gains of more than 20 per cent in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and Greater Vancouver.

It was a new record for the month of December by a margin of more than 12,000 transactions.

For the sixth straight month, sales activity was up in almost all Canadian housing markets compared to the same month in 2019.

It was also a record for the entire year.

Average home price up 17%

Almost 552,000 homes traded hands over Canadian MLS systems — a new annual record. It was an increase of 12.6 per cent from 2019 and 2.3 per cent more than the previous record year, 2016. 

The actual national average home price was a record $607,280 in December, up 17.1 per cent from the final month of 2019.

The CREA said that excluding Greater Vancouver and the Greater Toronto Area, two of the most active and expensive markets, lowers the national average price by almost $130,000.

This chart by the Canadian Real Estate Association shows the dip in sales as the pandemic began and the subsequent rebound. (Canadian Real Estate Association)

Many of the areas with the biggest price gains last month were in Ontario, including Belleville, Simcoe, Ingersoll, Woodstock and the Lakelands region, where prices were up more than 30 per cent from December 2019.

Areas with more modest price growth included Calgary and Edmonton, where prices rose 1.5 per cent and 2.7 per cent, respectively.

TD expects sales and prices to cool

“What a fitting end to a surprisingly strong year,” TD Bank economist Rishi Sondhi said in a note to clients. “Relative strength in high-wage employment, record low mortgage rates, rising supply of homes available for purchase and solid demand for larger units all supported exceptional sales and price growth last year.

“Looking ahead, we’re expecting sales and prices to cool somewhat from their robust pace in the first quarter. However, December’s surprisingly strong performance makes hitting our forecast a tougher proposition.”

Shaun Cathcart, CREA’s senior economist, said in a statement that Canada faces a “major supply problem” in 2021.

“On New Year’s Day there were fewer than 100,000 residential listings on all Canadian MLS systems, the lowest ever based on records going back three decades,” he said.

“Compare that to five years ago, when there was a quarter of a million listings available for sale. So we have record-high demand and record-low supply to start the year. How that plays out in the sales and price data will depend on how many homes become available to buy in the months ahead.”

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How this business is helping Canadians cure their COVID rage, one swing at a time – CBC.ca

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On a quiet crescent in suburban Ottawa, Grace Roswell is seeing red.

Crowbar in hand, Grace is celebrating her 12th birthday inside the crimson-lined Vengeance Van, a rage room on wheels that shatters neighbourhood calm with explosions of glass and booming bass beats.

“It doesn’t want to break,” Grace says, staring down a porcelain angel that stubbornly refuses to perish.

“You might need a sledgehammer,” offers Bren Walker, Vengeance Van’s owner.

One triumphant swing and the winged seraph falls, decapitated. Grace allows herself a sheepish smile, her home-school stresses already flitting away.

The ‘Vengeance Van’

In a year of periodic lockdowns and pent-up frustrations, the Vengeance Van has taken off as a novelty recreation service amid the COVID-19 pandemic, offering a high-energy outlet for letting off a little destructive steam.

Walker, 33, founded the mobile “rage cage” after his seven-year-old business hosting black-lit Nerf battles for kids and corporate teams shut down amid lockdown restrictions and physical distancing requirements. It’s closed for the foreseeable future.

“I was about to lose my shirt,” he said.

Walker mowed lawns and built decks while saving toward a 24-foot box truck. He transformed the interior with red particle-board panelling, armed it with “weapons” like golf clubs and lead pipes, then added speakers and protective gear.

Launched last summer, the Vengeance Van appears to be filling a pandemic-shaped void in the rage room market — Walker is fielding 20 to 30 calls a week.

“It’s just been relentless,” he said, noting bookings shot up after Ontario shut down in late November.

“We started off kind of as an experiment, and it just developed and developed … People are very angry, they’re frustrated.”

Some just want a bit of physical fun. Others covet a renewed sense of control — even dominance — amid the feeling of cloistered helplessness imposed by the pandemic.

“We get a lot of requests for construction material. `My ex works in construction … so I want to break drills and drywall,”‘ Walker said.

Demand is booming

Demand is so high that he’s planning a sister ship: a mobile archery and axe-throwing truck — “Bow ‘n Throw On the Go.”

The smashables, plucked from estate sales or suppliers who would otherwise haul the items to the dump, run the gamut from ceramics to tables, televisions and the odd cuckoo clock.

“I liked smashing the mirror, because I liked how it exploded,” says Grace.

“My favourite was the bottle against the wall,” her mom, Danielle, chimes in.

A VCR and padded chair prove the most resilient foes, with Grace and her sister Emma, 13, recoiling slightly as their father, Darren, kneecaps the furniture legs with a hammer.

Ice Cube lyrics issues from the speakers: “You can do it, put your back into it.”

For the Roswell family, it was about the release as much as the novelty.

Ottawa Morning5:24Vengeance Van

Have you had enough of the pandemic already? We hit the road with the mobile smash room. 5:24

“It’s been a year now and there’s been extra stresses and stuff. So to be able to get out and get some of that stress out and smashing stuff, it was great,” Danielle says.

Spirits seem high and safety precautions protect the sisters as they launch a dinner plate and tea saucer against the pockmarked wall Frisbee-style, their eyes shielded by visored headgear.

“We’ve had little cuts and bruises here and there, but no one’s ever been maimed,” Walker says.

The weapons rack — from hatchet to Easton baseball bat — is sanitized after every session. Hairnets are provided, along with disposable gloves for those who don’t bring their own.

The Vengeance Van was born after it’s creator 7-year-old business hosting black-lit Nerf battles for kids and corporate teams shut down amid lockdown restrictions and physical distancing requirements. (Patrick Doyle/Canadian Press)

Bookings cost $100 for 30 minutes and $175 for an hour, with the number of items at customers’ disposal ranging from 35 to 55. Insurance is the main expense, as well as gas; an extra fee attends visits outside the Ottawa area.

Whether the catharsis helps with mental health is far from certain.

A healthy outlet

Patrick Keelan, a Calgary-based psychologist in private practice, doubts that violence against inanimate objects provides a healthy emotional outlet.

“The notion of catharsis with aggressive behaviour” is not supported by research, he said, warning of the potential for “harmful effects.”

He said studies suggest that aggressive activity begets more of it, instilling habits of hostility rather than releasing it like a valve.

Keelan cited the concept of an “anger iceberg,” where surface acrimony belies deeper causes that should be confronted head-on, such as frustrations at work or at home. He suggested more productive ways to vent include physical activity like martial arts, football and other sports.

“If it’s a one-time thing that’s in good fun ‘I don’t have a problem with it,” he qualified.

Kevin Bennett, a psychology professor at Penn State University and a fellow at the Centre for Urban Design and Mental Health in London also discourages the idea of rage rooms — stationary or mobile — as a therapeutic prescription.

“I don’t know of any counsellor who would say to their patient, `You’re feeling anxiety and frustration, I want you to go out and smash wine bottles and glass tables and you will feel better in the long run,”‘ Bennett said.

“The good news is, for most people, it is a reasonable way to spend an evening. It’s probably fun,” he added.

“I would love to try it, to be honest.”

Back in Ottawa, Grace feels her birthday wish was worth it.

“I’ve been less active because of the COVID restrictions,” she says. “But this really helped.”

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GTA malls entering grey zone use staff at doors, tech to track capacity – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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TORONTO — Greater Toronto Area malls are using capacity tracking technology and staff stationed at doors to abide by COVID-19 rules that went into effect in parts of the region today.

Under provincial regulations, non-essential stores and malls in Toronto and neighbouring Peel Region are allowed to open, but required to keep capacity at 25 per cent or below.

Oxford Properties says it has staff at designated Yorkdale, Square One and Scarborough Town Centre entrances to stop people from entering when capacity has been reached.

The Oxford malls are also showing on their websites how full they are so that shoppers can have an idea of whether they should expect to wait to enter once they arrive.

Websites for Cadillac Fairview Corp. Ltd. shopping centres like the Eaton Centre and Fairview Mall showed the number of entrances visitors can use will be limited and staff will be at the doors to control how many people enter.

Oxford and Cadillac Fairview both say they are screening guests as they enter the mall and encourage shoppers to complete the province’s online questionnaire about COVID-19 symptoms and recent travel in advance of their visit.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 8, 2021.

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Ontario reports largest daily increase of COVID-19 cases in over a month – 680 News

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The province says today’s case count is higher than expected due to a data catch-up process related to the provincial CCM system.

Ontario is reporting 1,631 new COVID-19 cases and 10 deaths on Monday.

It is the largest daily increase the province has seen since Feb. 5 when 1,670 cases were reported.

Locally, there are 568 new cases in Toronto, 322 in Peel and 119 in York Region.

The province completed 38,063 tests in the last 24 hour period compared to over 46,000 tests a day ago. Testing numbers are typically down earlier in the week in the days following the weekend.

The test positivity rate jumps to 3.4 per cent from 3.1 from on Sunday. It is the highest positivity rate reported by the province in nearly two weeks.

The latest provincial numbers confirm 51 additional cases of the B.1.1.7 variant first detected in the UK.

There are now 879 cumulative cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, 31 cases of the B 1.351 variant first detected in South Africa and three cases of the P.1 variant first detected in Brazil.

The province reported 1,299 cases and 15 deaths on Sunday.

The rolling seven-day average climbs to 1,155, the highest number in over three weeks. The seven-day average has levelled off in the last three weeks after consistently declining each day since Jan. 11, where it peaked at 3,555.

There have been 309,927 cases in the province since the onset of the pandemic and 7,077 people have died as a result of the virus.

There are now 11,016 active cases in the province, it is the first time that active cases have gone over 11,000 since Feb. 16.

Among active cases, 626 have been hospitalized and 282 are in the ICU.

The Ford government announced Friday that Toronto and Peel Region would be placed into ‘Grey-Lockdown’, heeding requests from the top doctors in both regions.

North Bay Parry Sound District is returning to the ‘Red-Control’ level. The three regions are the last three in the province to return to the colour-coded pandemic response framework.

As of 8:00 p.m. Sunday, 912,486 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered and 273,676 have been fully vaccinated.

Canada is expected to receive more than 900,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses this week, though none of them will be of the newly-approved vaccines from AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson.

The Public Health Agency of Canada says the country will receive nearly 445,000 shots from Pfizer, along with another 465,000 from Moderna.

The country’s top doctor Theresa Tam expressed optimism over the weekend that brighter days were coming, thanks to the recent approvals of the Johnson & Johnson and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines.

“This week has been a very good week for Canada’s COVID-19 vaccination programs,” she wrote.

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