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New MiWay Express Service Boosts Pearson Transit Terminal Plan

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“When my ship comes in…”, the old joke goes, “I’ll be at the airport!”

Joking aside, the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) wants to turn that cliche-twister further around so that, one day soon, people will seriously say, “When my bus comes in, I’ll be at Pearson airport.”

The GTAA is developing plans for what it’s dubbing “Union Station West“, a regional transit hub at Toronto Pearson International Airport, which it hopes to open by the late 2020s. The airport authority continues to reach out to, and work with, transit agencies and governments to firm up plans for rapid transit to and from the Pearson area. For example, the GTAA”s vision includes extending the light rail transit lines along Eglinton and Finch Avenues West and connect the future Highway 407 rapidway to the air terminals and the Mississauga Transitway.

Map illustrating how Pearson could link to LRTs, trains and buswaysA transit hub at Pearson could link several major transit services, image, GTAA

Speaking of the transitway, that’s why the GTAA’s president and chief executive officer Howard Eng joined the federal member of parliament, the Honourable Navdeep Bains, and the City of Mississauga‘s mayor, Bonnie Crombie, to officially launch a new express bus service linking central Mississauga to Pearson Terminals 1 and 3 on Friday, November 23.

Since October 29, MiWay passengers have been able to travel along the entire transitway between Winston Churchill and Renforth stations and then express through mixed-traffic to and from Pearson. MiWay “MiExpress” buses along the new 100 Airport express route stop at all 12 transitway stations, also allowing passengers to connect with the TTC, GO Transit and Brampton Transit buses.

MP Bains and Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie beside a MiWay busBains and Crombie pose with a PRESTO farecard before boarding a MiWay bus at Mississauga City Hall, image, City of Mississauga

“Mississauga residents now have better transit options to access the Toronto Pearson International Airport,” said Minister Bains. “Our government is helping create a new route that will serve the growing needs of riders in Mississauga, whether they travel for work or pleasure.” Bains, who is the federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, represented the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities at the launch event. But Bains would likely have appeared anyway–his home riding of Mississauga-Malton contains Pearson airport.

Map illustrating MiWay MiExpress route 100 Airport expressMap of MiWay MiExpress route 100 Airport express, image, MiWay

The federal Public Transit Infrastructure Funding program—an equal cost-sharing funding program in which the City of Mississauga and the Government of Canada each contributed $58 million—helped the City to fund the new express bus service. The program is also helping the city improve other transit services, including buying 13 new buses, buying another 80 buses to replace part of the current fleet and rehabilitating another 280 more buses.

Dignitaries pose before MiWay bus at PearsonThe GTAA’s Eng and Mississauga councillors Ron Starr and Dave Cook joined Bains and Crombie at Pearson, image, City of Mississauga

“This new route offers a quick, efficient and more affordable way for residents, visitors and thousands of airport employees to get to and from Toronto Pearson International Airport,” said Mayor Crombie. “It is also good for business because it makes it easier for international companies to move employees from the airport to their offices in Mississauga. By strengthening regionally connected transit, we are helping create jobs and grow our economy.”

MiWay bus at Orbitor Station on the Mississauga TransitwayA MiWay bus leaves Orbitor Station on the Mississauga Transitway, August 7, 2017, photo, James Bow, Transit Toronto

The rationale for a building a major transit terminal at or near the airport is becoming increasingly clear. Pearson welcomes more than 47 million passengers annually and contributes directly or indirectly to 6.3 per cent of Ontario’s gross domestic product. The airport zone now offers jobs to 300,000 people and 49,000 of those jobs are at Pearson itself. The GTAA estimates that “in the future”, the airport would handle 85 million visitors, while the nearby area would supply 700,000 jobs and generate 8.5 per cent of the provincial GDP.

In fact, the airport area is now the second-largest employment centre in Canada–behind downtown Toronto but ahead of Montreal and Vancouver in the list. (And many of the people working there live in Mississauga.) Unlike most major Canadian employment areas, however, this one currently has very poor transit connections.

“We congratulate the City of Mississauga on the launch of [this] service, which will improve transit connectivity to Mississauga for our passengers and employees. Mississauga is home to more than 13,000 airport employees and many global businesses that rely on timely access to the airport,” said Eng. “We look forward to continuing to work with the City and other surrounding municipalities to enhance Toronto Pearson’s regional transit connectivity as we work towards our vision of serving as the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area’s second major transit hub.”

Representatives of the business community, including David Wojcik, president and chief executive officer of the Mississauga Board of Trade, endorsed the new bus service and supported the goal of improving regional connections to Pearson.

“As a global organization, we frequently travel and welcome a great deal of guests through Toronto’s Pearson International Airport,” said Alok Kanti, President and CEO, Bayer Inc. “We are pleased to see that this expansion has been completed as it will lead to improved accessibility for our employees and those that we do business with.”

Dignitaries pose inside Pearson's Terminal One.GTTA Mississauga officials and business people with the other dignitaries at Pearson’s Terminal 1, image, City of Mississauga

“[Our company] owns and manages an extensive portfolio of commercial real estate, with properties and team members located across North America,” said Tullio Capulli, Vice President, Property Management and Leasing Office and Industrial, Eastern Canada, Morguard Brokerage. “Having a direct transit line between the airport and the Mississauga core, where our head office is located, is a great option for our tenants and our employees.”

The MiExpress buses along route 100 operate every 16 minutes from about 4 AM until 7 PM Mondays to Fridays. But, they also add to the mix of MiWay services along the bus-only roadway, offering passengers frequent service—about every five minutes—during rush hours. GO Transit buses also operate along the transitway linking Hamilton and Pearson to the airport and central Mississauga. Those buses, however, require an extra fare, making them less attractive to Mississauga commuters.

The City of Mississauga has opened the transitway in stages since 2014. In 2014, the shorter route attracted 8,022 riders. In 2017, 15,143 passengers boarded buses along the transitway—an increase, the City of Mississauga says, of 77 percent. End to end, it has reduced bus travel times by about fifteen minutes per trip.

Early rendering of the proposed Pearson transit hubA very early rendering of the proposed Pearson transit hub, image, GTAA

Last February, the GTAA engaged HOK to design the regional transit centre and passenger processing facility. HOK is leading a design team that includes WSP Engineers and Weston Williamson + Partners. It intends to engage with many stakeholder groups, including airport partners, government and local community members.

We will continue to update you on plans for the “Union Station West” terminal at Pearson as they unfold. What do you think of the proposal? Add your comments by filling in the form below this page. Or take part in our Forum by joining one of these discussion threads:

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UrbanToronto has a new way you can track projects through the planning process on a daily basis. Sign up for a free trial of our New Development Insider here.


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Real Estate

5 ways to reduce your mortgage amortization

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Since the pandemic hit, a lot of Canadians have been affected financially and if you’re on a mortgage, reducing your amortization period can be of great help.

A mortgage amortization period is the amount of time it would take a homeowner to completely pay off their mortgage. The amortization is typically an estimate based on what the interest rate for your current term is. Calculating your amortization is done easily using a loan amortization calculator which shows you the different payment schedules within your amortization period.

 In Canada, if you made a down payment that is less than the recommended 20 per cent of the total cost of your home, then the longest amortization period you’re allowed to have is 25 years. The mortgage amortization period not only affects the length of time it would take to completely repay the loan, but also the amount of interest paid over the lifecycle of the mortgage.

Typically, longer amortization periods involve making smaller monthly payments and having a much higher total interest cost over the duration of the mortgage. While on the other hand, shorter amortization periods entails making larger monthly payments and having lower total interest costs.

It’s the dream of every homeowner to become mortgage-free. A general rule of thumb would be to try and keep your monthly mortgage costs as low as possible—preferably below 30 per cent of your monthly income. Over time, you may become more financially stable by either getting a tax return, a bonus or an additional source of income and want to channel that towards your principal.

There are several ways to keep your monthly mortgage payments low and reduce your amortization. Here are a few ways to achieve that goal:

1. Make a larger down payment

Once you’ve decided to buy a home, always consider putting asides some significant amount of money that would act as a down payment to reduce your monthly mortgage. While the recommended amount to put aside as a down payment is 20 per cent,  if you aren’t in a hurry to purchase the property or are more financial buoyant, you can even pay more.

Essentially, the larger your down payment, the lower your mortgage would be as it means you’re borrowing less money from your lender. However, if you pay at least 20 per cent upfront, there would be no need for you to cover the additional cost of private mortgage insurance which would save you some money.

2. Make bi-weekly payments

Most homeowners make monthly payments which amount to 12 payments every year. But if your bank or lender offers the option of accelerated bi-weekly payment, you will be making an equivalent of one more payment annually. Doing this will further reduce your amortization period by allowing you to pay off your mortgage much faster.

3. Have a fixed renewal payment

It is normal for lenders to offer discounts on interest rate during your amortization period. However, as you continuously renew your mortgage at a lower rate, always keep a fixed repayment sum.

Rather than just making lower payments, you can keep your payments static, since the more money applied to your principal, the faster you can clear your mortgage.

4. Increase your payment amount

Many mortgages give homeowners the option to increase their payment amount at least once a year. Now, this is very ideal for those who have the financial capacity to do so because the extra money would be added to your principal.

Irrespective of how small the increase might be, in the long run, it would make a huge difference. For example, if your monthly mortgage payment is about $2,752 per month. It would be in your best interest to round it up to $2,800 every month. That way, you are much closer to reducing your mortgage amortization period.

5. Leverage on prepayment privileges

The ability for homeowners to make any form of prepayment solely depends on what mortgage features are provided by their lender.

With an open mortgage, you can easily make additional payments at any given time. However, if you have a closed mortgage—which makes up the larger percentage of existing mortgages—you will need to check if you have the option of prepayments which would allow you to make extra lump sum payments.

Additionally, there may also be the option to make extra lump sum payments at the end of your existing mortgage term before its time for renewal.

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Mortgage insurance vs. life insurance: What you need to know

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Your home is likely the biggest asset you’ll ever own. So how can you protect it in case something were to happen to you? To start, homeowners have a few options to choose from. You can either:

  • ensure you have mortgage protection with a life insurance policy from an insurance company or
  • get mortgage insurance from a bank or mortgage lender.

Mortgage insurance vs. life insurance: How do they each work?  

The first thing to know is that life insurance can be a great way to make sure you and your family have mortgage protection.

The money from a life insurance policy usually goes right into the hands of your beneficiaries – not the bank or mortgage lender. Your beneficiaries are whoever you choose to receive the benefit or money from your policy after you die.

Life insurance policies, like term life insurance, come with a death benefit. A death benefit is the amount of money given to your beneficiaries after you die. The exact amount they’ll receive depends on the policy you buy.

With term life insurance, you’re covered for a set period, such as 10, 15, 20 or 30 years. The premium – that’s the monthly or annual fee you pay for insurance – is usually low for the first term.

If you die while you’re coved by your life insurance policy, your beneficiaries will receive a tax-free death benefit. They can then use this money to help pay off the mortgage or for any other reason. So not only is your mortgage protected, but your family will also have funds to cover other expenses that they relied on you to pay.

Mortgage insurance works by paying off the outstanding principal balance of your mortgage, up to a certain amount, if you die.

With mortgage insurance, the money goes directly to the bank or lender to pay off the mortgage – and that’s it. There’s no extra money to cover other expenses, and you don’t get to leave any cash behind to your beneficiaries.

What’s the difference between mortgage insurance and life insurance?

The main difference is that mortgage insurance covers only your outstanding mortgage balance. And, that money goes directly to the bank or mortgage lender, not your beneficiary. This means that there’s no cash, payout or benefit given to your beneficiary. 

With life insurance, however, you get mortgage protection and more. Here’s how it works: every life insurance policy provides a tax-free amount of money (the death benefit) to the beneficiary. The payment can cover more than just the mortgage. The beneficiary may then use the money for any purpose. For example, apart from paying off the mortgage, they can also use the funds from the death benefit to cover:

  • any of your remaining debts,
  • the cost of child care,
  • funeral costs,
  • the cost of child care, and
  • any other living expenses. 

But before you decide between life insurance and mortgage insurance, here are some other important differences to keep in mind:

Who gets the money?

With life insurance, the money goes to whomever you name as your beneficiary.

With mortgage insurance, the money goes entirely to the bank.

Can you move your policy?

With life insurance, your policy stays with you even if you transfer your mortgage to another company. There’s no need to re-apply or prove your health is good enough to be insured.

With mortgage insurance, however, your policy doesn’t automatically move with you if you change mortgage providers. If you move your mortgage to another bank, you’ll have to prove that your health is still good.

Which offers more flexibility, life insurance or mortgage insurance?

With life insurance, your beneficiaries have the flexibility to cover the mortgage balance and more after you die. As the policy owner, you can choose how much insurance coverage you want and how long you need it. And, the coverage doesn’t decline unless you want it to.

With mortgage insurance through a bank, you don’t have the flexibility to change your coverage. In this case, you’re only protecting the outstanding balance on your mortgage.

Do you need a medical exam to qualify? 

With a term life insurance policy from Sun Life, you may have to answer some medical questions or take a medical exam before you’re approved for coverage. Once you’re approved, Sun Life won’t ask for any additional medical information later on.

With mortgage insurance, a bank or mortgage lender may ask some medical questions when you apply. However, if you make a claim after you’re approved, your bank may ask for additional medical information.* At that point, they may discover some conditions that disqualify you from receiving payment on a claim.

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5 common mistakes Canadians make with their mortgages

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This article was created by MoneyWise. Postmedia and MoneyWise may earn an affiliate commission through links on this page.

Since COVID-19 dragged interest rates to historic lows last year, Canadians have been diving into the real estate market with unprecedented verve.

During a time of extraordinary financial disruption, more than 551,000 properties sold last year — a new annual record, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association. Those sales provided a desperately needed dose of oxygen for the country’s gasping economy.

Given the slew of new mortgages taken out in 2020, there were bound to be slip-ups. So, MoneyWise asked four of the country’s sharpest mortgage minds to share what they feel are the mistakes Canadians most frequently make when securing a home loan.

Mistake 1: Not having your documents ready

One of your mortgage broker’s primary functions is to provide lenders with paperwork confirming your income, assets, source of down payment and overall reliability as a borrower. Without complete and accurate documentation, no reputable lender will be able to process your loan.

But “borrowers often don’t have these documents on hand,” says John Vo of Spicer Vo Mortgages in Halifax, Nova Scotia. “And even when they do provide these documents, they may not be the correct documentation required.”

Some of the most frequent mistakes Vo sees when borrowers send in their paperwork include:

  • Not including a name or other relevant details on key pieces of information.
  • Providing old bank or pay statements instead of those dated within the last 30 days.
  • Sending only a partial document package. If a lender asks for six pages to support your loan, don’t send two. If you’re asked for four months’ worth of bank statements, don’t provide only one.
  • Thinking low-quality or blurry files sent by email or text will be good enough. Lenders need to be able to read what you send them.

If you send your broker an incomplete documents package, the result is inevitable: Your mortgage application will be delayed as long as it takes for you to find the required materials, and your house shopping could be sidetracked for months.

Mistake 2: Blinded by the rate

Ask any mortgage broker and they’ll tell you that the question they’re asked most frequently is: “What’s your lowest rate?”

The interest rate you’ll pay on your mortgage is a massive consideration, so comparing the rates lenders are offering is a good habit once you’ve slipped on your house-hunter hat.

Rates have been on the rise lately given government actions to stimulate the Canadian economy. You may want to lock a low rate now, so you can hold onto it for up to 120 days.

But Chris Kolinski, broker at Saskatoon, Saskatchewan-based iSask Mortgages, says too many borrowers get obsessed with finding the lowest rate and ignore the other aspects of a mortgage that can greatly impact its overall cost.

“I always ask my clients ‘Do you want to get the best rate, or do you want to save the most money?’ because those two things are not always synonymous,” Kolinski says. “That opens a conversation about needs and wants.”

Many of the rock-bottom interest rates on offer from Canadian lenders can be hard to qualify for, come with limited features, or cost borrowers “a ton” of money if they break their terms, Kolinski points out.

Mistake 3: Not reading the fine print

Dalia Barsoum of Streetwise Mortgages in Woodbridge, Ontario, shares a universal message: “Read the fine print. Understand what you’re signing up for.”

Most borrowers don’t expect they’ll ever break their mortgages, but data collected by TD Bank shows that 7 in 10 homeowners move on from their properties earlier than they expect.

It’s critical to understand your loan’s prepayment privileges and the rules around an early departure. “If you exit the mortgage, how much are you going to pay? It’s really, really important,” Barsoum says.

She has seen too borrowers come to her hoping to refinance a mortgage they received from a private or specialty lender, only to find that what they were attempting was impossible.

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