City orders Toronto homeowner to take down treehouse

“A Toronto father who built his sons a $30,000 boat-shaped treehouse vowed Wednesday to defend what he considers a family haven from city officials who want it torn down.

John Alpeza spent years working on the naval-themed treehouse for his boys Kristian and Matheas, now 10 and 8.

It started as a simple platform in the tree, then grew more sophisticated as the family hired contractors to give it its signature shape and finishes, he said,” wrote Paola Loriggio for The Globe and Mail on Wednesday April 20, 2016.

Loriggio continued, “A spokesman from the city said a building permit wasn’t required for the treehouse, but an investigation was carried out to ensure compliance with a zoning bylaw.

Mark Sraga, director of investigations with the city, said that in August 2014 the treehouse was found to exceed the maximum allowable height.

Alpeza was issued with a notice of violation and given the option to either apply for a minor change to the bylaw or alter the treehouse to comply with the existing rule, he said.”


Read the full article here.

Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS

Ontario hydro rates continue to rise

“There’s not much point in investing in heavy blankets and wool sweaters to tame your hydro bill, because in Ontario, no matter how much electricity you conserve you’ll still end up paying higher rates.

Why? Well, you have the provincial government, and its push for more green energy, to thank.

A balmy winter created a shortfall for the province’s electrical utilities, something the Ontario Energy Board will bridge with a rate hike on May 1 — a response to our collective conservation effort that’s likely to happen again, critics say.

While it may seem counterintuitive to pay more in order to use less, Brady Yauch, the executive director of the Consumer Policy Institute, says the province promised high rates to several sustainable energy providers following the Green Air Act in 2009,” wrote Laura Fraser for CBC News on Friday April 15, 2016.

Fraser continued, “Those rates contribute to the electricity industry’s fixed costs — and that means those costs stay steady regardless of how much energy people are using.

For the average household bill, the latest rate hike translates into a jump of $3 a month, according to the Ontario Energy Board’s figures — or roughly 2.5 per cent for homes that use 750 kilowatt hours each month.

Utilities have some leeway if rate increases are connected to a drop in energy consumption, Yauch said, largely because they’re operating in a framework that was first set up by provincial legislation.”

Read the full article here.

Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS





Refugees being targeted by telephone scammers

“Telephone scammers have begun to target refugees in Canada with extortion schemes by posing as government employees and threatening them with arrest or deportation unless they immediately wire money, Canadian authorities said.

With complaints to Canada’s government surging, law enforcement officials last week warned that the scammers were taking aim at immigrants and refugees,” wrote Ethan Lou for The Globe and Mail on April 5, 2016.

Lou continued, “Daniel Williams, a senior fraud specialist with Canada’s Anti-Fraud Centre, said the agency started receiving complaints about such scams in late 2013. The scammers initially looked through phonebooks and targeted people with south Asian names, operating on the assumption they were new to the country, but have become more indiscriminate and expanded to include other groups, Williams said.

Williams said such scams involve fraudsters demanding money to resolve what they claimed were tax or immigration issues and threatening victims with jail or fines.”

Read the full article here.

Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS

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