Only 8% (or 21) out of 277 new housing units completed and sold in Newmarket last year were deemed “affordable” according to a report going to York Region’s Committee of the Whole this week (11 June 2015).

The affordability threshold in York Region is $443,874 but there are local thresholds that vary with different patterns of income distribution across the Region’s nine municipalities.

In Newmarket, the affordability threshold is $429,715 compared to Aurora’s eye-watering $502,516.

Last year, 279 new housing units were completed in Aurora with 131 (47%) deemed “affordable”.

The Regional measure of affordability for home ownership is calculated by looking at the household incomes for each decile or every 10% of the spread of income distribution. The affordability threshold is currently $443,874 which means that only households with a total income of $112,835 or more (the top 40% of earners) would be able to afford a home costing $443,874. Across the Region, this means that 60% of households cannot afford “affordable” housing – though it varies by municipality.

Here is what households on the income shown can afford to buy:

Household income      Maximum affordable housing

$94,575                       $372,044

$77,276                       $303,990

$60,404                       $237,620

$44,146                       $173,663

$27,036                       $106,355

The report says:

“Ownership units account for 90% of the affordable units and are found throughout the Region. However, over three quarters of the affordable ownership units are one and two bedroom condominiums.”

This poses a real problem for larger families. And the condos where people live may be far from where they work.

In Newmarket last year, 71 new rental units came on the market and all were deemed affordable using the region wide rental affordability threshold of $1,270 per month. Only 4 new rental units came on the market in Aurora and none in East Gwillimbury.

The report shows a crisis in rental housing. “Private purpose built rental units account for only 0.3% of the affordable units and are found in 1 local municipality.”

A few days ago, Money Sense magazine ranked Newmarket as the best place to live in York Region and the 23rd in the whole of Canada out of 209 communities listed.

That is, of course, if you can afford to live here.

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Canada Post and Community Mailboxes

Like many people in Newmarket, I shall be losing my home mail delivery and I am not looking forward to it. It is a degradation of service, pure and simple.

The postal workers provide a good service. Besides delivering mail they help keep neighbourhoods safe. They are an extra pair of eyes and ears. They note when mail isn’t taken indoors. They get to know their patch.

Canada Post says getting rid of door-to-door delivery to 100,000 homes and 10,000 business will save them between $400 - $500 million annually. Five million Canadians will be affected. 

Canada Post says it will allow them to shrink their workforce by 6,000 – 8,000 people.

So, with all this in mind, I was interested to hear Tom Mulcair make a “solemn pledge” to stop the community mailbox programme in its tracks if the NDP is elected to Government in October. He will have to come up with a costed and itemized manifesto or people will dismiss this as an airy promise, quickly made and soon forgotten.

This is what he told a meeting of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities at the weekend

It’s also no wonder the Conservative plan to impose community mailboxes is facing vigorous municipal opposition as it would negatively affecting millions of Canadians in your cities and towns.

The NDP has made a solemn commitment:

We will restore door-to-door mail delivery to all those who have lost this service under the Conservative government.

According to the Toronto Star, Mulcair:

“received hearty applause from several hundred convention goers when he said an NDP Government would restore door-to-door mail service for all those who have lost it under Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Government."

We shall see.

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