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What Rob Ford Thinks About The Toronto Condo Market – With Doug Ford

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On this special episode of The True Condos Podcast, Andrew la Fleur reaches out to Toronto Mayor Rob Ford to talk about the Toronto Condo Market. Rob was not available for the interview however his brother, Councillor Doug Ford spoke on his behalf as part of Rob Ford’s re-election campaign.

Interview Highlights

00:50 A Special True Condos Podcast Episode
1:33 Introducing Doug Ford, Toronto City Councillor on Behalf of Rob Ford
2:25 Doug Ford on the Condo Market in Toronto
4:10 The Relationship Between Condo Investors, Developers and the City?
7:10 Doug Ford on Condo Development Charges & Public/Private Partnerships
11:50 How Can Toronto Take Advantage of this Condo Boom to Improve Transit?
14:10 Why Don’t We See More Public/Private Parternships?
16:35 Rob Ford’s Position on the Land Transfer Tax
23:30 The Rob Ford Administration’s Passion

Links

Rob Ford Official campaign website

Councillor Doug Ford

Mayor Rob Ford Official Twitter

Development Charges in Toronto

Subscribe to TrueCondos.com

Read the Doug Ford Interview Transcript

Andrew la Fleur:
Hello and welcome back to the True Condos Podcast. A special welcome if this is your first time listening to the podcast. Thanks for being here. I’m your host Andrew la Fleur and I’m a realtor and I specialize in helping people to make money by investing in the Toronto condo market. For more information you can go to my website truecondos.com and there you can subscribe or you can find out how to contact me. This podcast is a chance to hear from experts and industry insiders about what’s really going on in the condo market. We also like to find out where these insiders are putting their own money when it comes to condo investing.

Today is a very special episode of the show and here is why. The mayoral race of Toronto is starting to heat up. We have an election coming up this year and Mayor Rob Ford is back from spending a couple of months in rehab. I thought it would be good to find out what Rob Ford thinks about the Toronto condo market. As condo investors it’s important to know where the candidates for mayor stand on the issue surrounding the condo market. Also just in general the condo market is such an important part of the Toronto economy we need to know where the candidates stand on the issues.

Rob was not available to speak to me but I was able to arrange an interview with Rob’s brother and current city councilor Doug Ford who spoke to me on behalf of the Rob Ford reelection campaign. Doug talked to me about Rob’s stance on transit plans and how they relate to condo development. We talked about development charges on condos in Toronto which is a big issue right now and we talked about of course the Toronto land transfer tax and what Rob’s plans are to do with that as well as few other topics.

For all the show notes on this episode please go to true condos.com/rob. Without further delay here is my interview with Councilor Doug Ford on behalf of the Rob Ford for mayor reelection campaign.

Thank you very much Doug for your time today. I appreciate you taking the time to speak to my listeners about this important issue. What are your thoughts on the condo market in general in Toronto such a huge part of the Toronto economy. There’s a lot of talk about there being a condo bubble in Toronto but at the same time it is such an important part of our economy. What are your thoughts on the market in general sense?

Doug Ford:
In a general sense I’m proud to say that I just checked with the building inspector last week that we still are ahead of New York, Chicago, LA, Dallas all combined and it says a lot when you have investment coming from all over the world. It’s not just local investment but people using Toronto as a safe haven for great investment. That’s 1 point. It also creates a tremendous amount of employment in the construction, trades and design and architectural areas of the complete city.

It creates thousands and thousands of jobs and I think through the Ford administration we’ve created an environment and you can get testimonials off almost any developer in the city when they have a problem they’ve called the mayor’s office. He is quickly cutting through the red tape, the bureaucracy and help almost the vast majority of developers in this city that have faced some [inaudible 00:04:02] minor issues with the development side of their business.

Andrew la Fleur:
That’s great and that brings up a good point that there is a symbiotic relationship between the condo industry and the development industry and the political machine that runs the city and that represents the people of the city and the taxpayers. What is working about that relationship right now in your opinion and what is not working? What are some areas the relationship could be improved?

Doug Ford:
I think it’s working pretty good every 1 at the end of the day. Ask any developer, any condo person in the city “Are you better off now than you were 4 years ago?” in every aspect and the answer is yes overwhelmingly. In saying that, where can we improve? We believe in continuous improvement. We brought in lean practices into the city and part of lean 6 sigma is continuous improvement. In saying that, the mayor has actually said to the planning process to make it more efficient. I’m going to give you an example here.

ABC Development Company calls up and submits their plans in and a month goes by and they’re trying to get an answer while they call the city and for example maybe it’s going through the process and it lands on heritage or it lands on transportation or it lands anywhere in each department through the process. They can’t get an answer. Not all the time but they can’t get a quick enough answer I should say. What we would like to see implemented is putting a barcode tracking system on each set of the plans when they go in so not only does it hold the bureaucrats accountable on timing but it also tracks the system.

The contractor doesn’t have to be calling in chasing the plans. They’re [keyed up 00:06:14] on their computer just like any manufacturing business has a tracking system and they’d be able to find out is it in transportation. Yes it is transportation. Now John Smith in transportation just had this sitting on his desk for 2 weeks meanwhile he’s on vacation. He’s out fishing somewhere and they can’t get this thing moving forward. The bells and whistles are going to go off on John Smith’s desk and the supervisor is going to be able to tell the 2 week timeframe that they’ve allocated for process in transportation. We got to get cracking. You can’t manage anything unless you measure it.

That’s our philosophy going down to city hall. I feel that’s a philosophy in any business. That’s 1 of the areas we can improve in is …

Andrew la Fleur:
Efficiency.
Doug Ford:
The efficiency.

Andrew la Fleur:
In terms of the development application process.

Doug Ford:
Absolutely.

Andrew la Fleur:
A lot of developers have been complaining fairly loudly lately with the recent hike in development charges, DCs development levies as they’re known. Developers are saying that the charges have virtually doubled as of late. Is that an accurate assessment first of all and secondly what’s your take on development charges with respect to condominiums?

Doug Ford:
I believe that at the end of the day you put the development charges in and the consumer ends up paying for it. Its supply and demand with any market. On the development charges, I don’t believe that’s 100% accurate. I’d be able to get the exact details of planning before I give you 100% answer on that but that’s saying its doubled is not 100% accurate. If you start tacking on all these development charges there’s going to be a certain point it’s going to slow down the market because they have to build that into the cost of the condominium.

What we do believe in, should there be a very small fee. If you’re building on top of or within 100 yards of a subway, absolutely there should be a very small fee. I don’t think people would be against that buying a condo. I’m going to give you an example. You have 2 condos 1 a mile away from a subway station and I’m throwing out some wild fictitious figures. It’s worth $250,000 for example. Then you have the exact same condo on top of a subway with retail underneath it and connects your [rate 00:09:06] to a main line. Are you a consumer willing to pay an extra $10,000?

A matter of fact, I would say and I’m not setting prices here. I would say they’d be willing at least myself as a consumer I’d be paying another 25,000 to know that there’s a subway system right underneath my building. That should be tied into the developer, a public private partnership that if there’s a subway going in that it’s going to benefit the developer. They should be able to partner with TTC and build a subway station.

There’s subway stations of all sizes around the world and that will determine how large they want the subway station. You can put a little hole in the ground like they do in London. You could shoot right down there and that’s 25 million or you could put a subway going into Scarborough town center and I’m sure our friends at Scarborough town center would be more than happy to help out on the cost to drive business Oxford properties.

Andrew la Fleur:
You’re proposing increase …

Doug Ford:
Public private partnership on transportation, subways and you can’t gouge the developers because at the end of the day it’s just going right back to the consumer and its demand and supply.

Andrew la Fleur:
Are you proposing that development charges be variable in a sense that if you’re building right on top of a subway charges would be higher than if you’re building further away? Are you speaking more [inaudible 00:10:57] partnership?

Doug Ford:
There has to be an incentive to build on top of a subway and as much as they may have a small … I say a small added cost that will pay tenfold for the sale of the condos. I think it’s just common sense. You would know Andrew if you have a choice of 2 condos. They’re a mile away and 1 is on top of a subway you’re picking the 1 on top of the subway with retail underneath.

Andrew la Fleur:
Absolutely. Of course if the price is the same without question with the prices a lot different then you …

Doug Ford:
Well it’s not. It’s $10,000 more and …

Andrew la Fleur:
Right the margin of difference.

Doug Ford:
Yeah marginal difference. You’re picking the one with the subway.

Andrew la Fleur:
It’s great. With respect to transit and condominium development, how can the city better take advantage of this condo boom like you mentioned. We’re the condo capital of North America. We’re the envy of the world in many sense at the condos that were building in a density and the intensification that we’re creating in the core of the city especially, how can the city better take advantage of this condo boom that’s happening with respect to transit working with the development industry?

Doug Ford:
I’m going to go back to what I was just about talking about is sitting down … A matter of fact we’re doing this already. Let me back up a bit. What we’re doing build Toronto and what we’re doing at the TTC all the stops now … Anyway to the exception of a handful, we’re encouraging density. Once you put the density on top of the subway stations, adds more money into the city coffers so therefore we can put that money directly into transit.

We differentiate ourselves from the rest of the group that’s running. Rob Ford is the only 1 that believes in building subways. We do not believe in those LRTs, street cars or better running along St. Clair, that destroyed a lot of businesses along St. Clair, went triple over budget. We believe in underground transit. I know the folks in … and fair transit by the way. Right now we have a 2 tier system Andrew. We have 1 for the downtown core which is God bless them we’re happy that everyone has subways down there. Then we have another tier called Scarborough and Etobicoke that the Eglinton across town. As soon as it hits the Scarborough border bang it comes above ground.

When everyone else is staying warm and cozy in the winter, the folks of Scarborough and Etobicoke are going to be standing outside in the freezing cold. If you’re going to do it, do it properly and do it fair across the city. Then we believe in … As I go back into the public private partnerships too. It’s critical that when we’re doing the subway station …

Andrew la Fleur:
Let me ask you this. When you look at it a lot of American cities especially you do see a lot more public private partnerships in that sense, why don’t we see more of it already? In your opinion, what’s not working with respect to that right now?

Doug Ford:
There’s not the political will and I’m going to talk straight out like Rob and I talk straight out all the time. The left wing part of the council does not believe in public private partnerships. They don’t believe in the private sector and that’s fact. We have on numerous occasions put motions out to partner up even explorer to see what the market will bear. Not even signing a contract Andrew.

Let’s go to the market and find out what the market bears. If the market bears that they’re going to help out on building a subway and completing the Sheppard loop and we have people that want to get involved in that. It’s a benefit to the city. It’s a benefit to our complete transportation system in closing the loop. Believe it or not Andrew I can go out on a street and talk to a 10 year old show him a map and they would say close the loop. We’re going along Sheppard the subway that goes nowhere.

Their proposal, Tory, Stintz, Soknacki and Olivia Chow is go along Sheppard get off the subway, go up 3 flights of stairs to an LRT, go 6 km or 7 km down Sheppard, get back off the LRT, go downstairs and hop on a subway. It’s common sense that you close that loop and you make it 1 continuous subway. Even if you do a kilometer a year you’d do a kilometer, the problem is over the last 50 years they’ve ignored underground transit in the city.

Now everyone’s trying to play catch up and you don’t play catch up with a band aid solution with LRTs. It’s just the wrong plan. You got to plan for 100 years not 30 or 40 like the Scarborough LRT out there that’s falling apart. It’s like going on in the old flyer roller coaster at the exhibition.

Andrew la Fleur:
That was a classic. That’s great. The last question before I let you go. Thank you again for your time Councilor Doug Ford. The land transfer tax, obviously Rob has a different view on the land transfer tax from most of the other candidates. Can you explain his position on that if Rob Ford is reelected? What’s the plan with the land transfer tax which obviously is a big impact on the real estate market in Toronto?

Doug Ford:
We’re strong believers that the people of Toronto can spend that 20% of land transfer tax a lot wiser and generate more money into the economy than the government. The government meaning the council believes they’re smarter than people and they know what to do with that money. I’ll give you an example. We had $232 million surplus this year. I don’t call it surplus I call it savings because we found the efficiencies. We balance the books for the first time, first time ever in Toronto. The books are balanced.

They want to going out and they want to use it to instead of giving it back to the people and give these special interest groups a grant and so on and so forth. What we have implemented we said we want to put money back into state of good repair and infrastructure. We’re doing that to a tune of $162 million and then the balance we want to put in reserves because the previous administration under the Miller administration has raided all the reserves. They were selling of our hydro poles. We believe in putting some in the piggy back for the rainy day. Literally we had last year when we have the storm July 8th I believe almost a year ago and then the ice storm so we need to have reserves in there.

We also believe within that $232 million dollars 20% of land transfer tax which is a small amount approximately $30 million should go back into the taxpayer’s pocket. When someone is buying a new place, they’ll have that money in their pocket Andrew. Majority of the people are going to go out and buy refrigerator, buy a couch, buy something, do renovations and it stimulates the economy. Some people will save some of those. God bless them for saving it.

Andrew la Fleur:
Just to be clear here, Mayor Rob Ford’s platform on that is a 20% reduction in the cost of the price of the land transfer tax?

Doug Ford:
Right off the hop and then as we move forward year after year as we find efficiencies as we had for the last 4 years, then we can start looking at chopping it more. What did we do? I always ask all these leftie politicians and everyone that voted for this land transfer tax. What did we do before we had this a few years ago?

Andrew la Fleur:
That’s a good question.

Doug Ford:
It’s a tax. They found a way to spend within their means. Andrew, as soon as we came in the first words from the city manager and the CFO to Rob and myself, we’re facing $774 million of pressure and by the way we have to increase taxes by 30%. We were like “Wow! It’s time to knuckle down.” Within 3 years we were able to find hundreds of millions of dollars of savings through the labor negotiations driving efficiencies, bringing in KPMG. At the end of the day we now can say that we balance our books. We don’t have to rely on the 1 time money as we did in the previous year.

Andrew la Fleur:
If Mayor Ford was reelected within his next 4 year term, could you foresee or predict the land transfer tax being completely eradicated?

Doug Ford:
If I mean this is a big if, if the right councilors are elected there’s endless amounts of waste that has be taken cared of on all 3 levels of government. I’m going to speak on the municipal side. We put forward over $60 million of savings that would not cut anything actually and just find efficiencies throughout the system and I’ll give you 1 example. In certain departments for every 4 employees there’s 1 supervisor. That’s staggering. Imagine if every private sector company had a supervisor for every 4 employees. We’re middle management heavy and we can find efficiencies throughout that whole city.

To answer your question, if we have the right council could we eliminate in 4 years? Absolutely in my personal opinion. They can throw $50 million away in a council meeting in the blink of an eye. We collect a little over 300 million depending on the year obviously in the market but they think it’s their own little [inaudible 00:21:57], their own little piggy bank. I’ve been budget vice chair for 4 years. I’m the only councilor down there that’s been on budget for a solid 4 years. I see where the savings are. I meet with every single department and go line item by line item but when you don’t have the political will from the council, it’s hard to make things move forward.

In fact it goes back to all other conversation in other days but a strong mayor system. You need a strong mayor system. I don’t care who’s mayor. I said it under Miller and I say it under the next 10 mayors. You can’t have 44 mayors or you might as well throw all their names on the ballot and let’s move forward that way.

Andrew la Fleur:
That’s great. Thank you very much for your time again Councilor Doug Ford. Appreciate your insights and appreciate you speaking on behalf of the Rob Ford for mayor reelection campaign.

Doug Ford:
No problem at all Andrew. You can hear the passion in my voice because Rob and I are passionate about this. It’s frustrating sometimes. You feel like you’re banging your head against the wall. I think it comes down to we need great councilors. We don’t need these half pokey ones I wouldn’t trust them running my daughter’s lemonade stand. That’s my comment for the day.

Andrew la Fleur:
Great. Thank you again very much.

Doug Ford:
You can quote me on the lemonade.

Andrew la Fleur:
That would be a good one. Thank you again Councilor Ford. Hopefully we can speak to you again on the podcast soon.

Doug Ford:
Excellent. Look forward to it. Thanks so much.

Andrew la Fleur:
Bye bye.

Doug Ford:
Take care.

Andrew la Fleur:
I hope you enjoy that great interview with Councilor Doug Ford on behalf of his brother Mayor Rob Ford who’s running for reelection for mayor in the city of Toronto. I would like to interview the other candidates for mayor about their take on these issues as well. I hope to be able to bring those interviews to you the listener really soon. Please watch for that on the podcast.

Once again for all the show notes on this episode head on over to truecondos.com/rob. If you like the show, once again please leave me a review on iTunes. Reviews are very important to helping get the word out about the show and they’re greatly appreciated so thank you for that. Thanks again for listening to the show this week. That’s all for now until next time. Talk to you later. Bye.

Thanks for listening to the True Condos Podcast. Remember your positive reviews make a big difference to the show. To learn more about condo investing become a true condo subscriber by visiting truecondos.com.

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