There's a surprising lot of interesting stuff going on around here, and this space is devoted to discovering and sharing it. We'll post regular updates on merchants, activities and events. Look in often and soon you'll see why Meaford calls itself "The other Big Apple".


posted May 24th, 2014
How a new view of retirement living explodes old ideas

A (sponsored) article today in the Northumberland News attempts to explain the difference between “retirement residences” and “nursing homes”. It suggests that some people are confused, and might shy away from moving to a retirement residence because they equate it with a nursing home.

It boils down to independence, the piece explains, with retirement residences allowing you to live in private and semi-private accommodations, with light housekeeping and meals provided. Long-term-care facilities, on the other hand, offer 24-hour nursing care and supervision among other services for those who are no longer willing or able to live independently.

ontario retirement homes

This is a fairly reductive take on the subject. The article doesn’t explore the options available for those in early retirement – such as fully independent living within a retirement community.

And finally, there’s a new concept of retirement living which combines all three of these scenarios into something much richer. That’s the concept behind Meaford Haven, which makes it a “Three-Seasons Community™”. At Meaford Haven, you can choose the accommodation and lifestyle that suits you. In your early retirement years, you can live independently in a comfortable, manageable bungalow; with outdoor chores crossed off your list, you have plenty of time to explore and engage in all that Meaford and the Georgian Bay area has to offer. Or you can choose the mid-rise condominiums and apartments, which provide a greater level of security and service. And then there’s our full care accommodations.

With all of these different facilities situated in one community, Meaford Haven is greater than the sum of its parts. As you decide you’re ready for a more structured environment, you can move without leaving behind your friends, the places you’ve grown to love and the community you’ve become part of.


posted March 12th, 2014
Ontario baby boomers looking to downsize to enjoy retirement

By downsizing their homes, 50+ retirees in Ontario are looking to reduce year-round maintenance, lowering their cost of living, opening up opportunities to travel, and otherwise help finance their retirement.

That’s the word from a new market research survey conducted by Angus Reid, which found that 60 percent of those surveyed (Ontario homeowners 50 years old and up) plan to sell their existing homes and buy or rent smaller homes sometime during the next five years. The survey also suggests that most of these folks (53 percent) don’t want to live in a highrise apartment or condo block.

Right-sized bungalowAnd nearly 80 percent see this as their last big move – so they’re looking for a community that will continue to serve their needs for years to come. This suggests that a lot of Ontario people preparing for retirement are searching for a place that will offer an active lifestyle in a true neighourhood setting, with the opportunity to age in place and maintain their independence well into the future.

The online survey, which was commissioned by a Toronto retirement community developer, polled 508 randomly selected folks in the 50+ cohort who currently own their homes (88 percent of them own detached homes.)

The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 4.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The results have been statistically weighted according to age, gender and region. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.


posted January 31st, 2014
More historic homes of Meaford

86 Trowbridge Street at the turn of the century

86 Trowbridge Street West today (Google Streetview)

86 Trowbridge Street West

The house was built circa 1900 by either the Finleys or the Littles, but was owned for 50 years by Dr. Francis Louis Eberhart, who purchased it in 1920. In “How Firm A Foundation – Historic Houses of Grey County”, Ruth Cathcart writes that the house epitomized his status in town “It is a rambling, picturesque brick edifice of some character. Count the rooflines, the bays, the chimneys. Admire the cornice and winged brackets, the brickwork, the parade balcony above the curved porch… This is Ontario in all its rock-ribbed stability and prosperity.” (You can see the original square-cornered porch in the historical photo.)

The home was recently extensively renovated and restored.

27 Boucher Street West

27 Boucher Street West

(Note… if you’re from Meaford, you pronounce that “Bow-cher”.) This unique gambrel-roofed home was built in 1907 for Frank Kent – one of the two founders of the Seaman Kent Co. in Meaford. Seaman Kent built the hardwood flooring factory on Boucher Street East in Meaford, and sold their products under the brand name “Beaver Brand”. Fittingly, the house features brass doorknobs embossed with beavers. The main floor features a unique floor plan with three rooms surrounding a triangular hearth, open to each room.

To learn more about Meaford’s historical architecture, visit:
Heritage Meaford
Meaford Museum, which has walking tours available.
Building Stories


posted November 16th, 2013
Top four online retirement calculators and tools

Retirement income calculator

Service Canada has a calculator which provides you with retirement income information, including OAS and CPP benefits. It takes about 30 minutes to work through the series of modules, at which point you’ll discover how your retirement income stacks up against the 70 percent income replacement rate a lot of planners recommend. A separate calculator helps you understand how contributions to the new Post Retirement Benefit (PRB) can contribute to your financial security.

www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/services/pensions/cric.shtml

TFSA vs RRSP calculator

If you’re debating the benefits of a Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) over a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), here’s help. By filling out a few fields, you’ll get a good idea of whether you’ll be bettter off with contributing more to a TFSA or an RRSP now.

www.retirementadvisor.ca/retadv/apps/tfsaRrsp/tfsaRrsp_inputs.jsp

Life Expectancy Calculator


While you might approach it with a little trepidation, this calculator can give you a rough idea of how much you’ll need to have in retirement based on your genes, your health and your lifestyle.

tools.moneysense.ca/calc/lifeex/

Home financing, mortgage management, amortization and more

Choose from a number of mortgage calculators using the right-hand drop-down. There’s a tool for planning every stage of homeownership and mortgage renewing.

www.canadamortgage.com/calculators/amortization.cgi?CFID=5872154&CFTOKEN=34950454


posted November 9th, 2013
Why Meaford is well positioned as a retirement destination

Last month we presented some of the findings from a major market study commissioned by Meaford Haven. Affordable housing in a high demand area and Meaford Haven’s progress on the development path, with Draft Plan of Subdivision approval, positions the retirement community as a prime location.

The study’s conclusion sums up what makes Meaford Haven a great choice. “Meaford is… removed from the hub of the bustling luxury housing market The Blue Mountains, [offering] potential buyers the advantages of a small community atmosphere, less density (more possibility for private outdoor space), with a full range of services in Meaford and an easy commute to Collingwood and Owen Sound for additional shopping and entertainment. Many potential buyers will prefer to retire to a smaller community, like Meaford, rather than places like Collingwood or Owen Sound, because of the unique charm and quaintness of Meaford, with a historic main street, and the friendliness of its residents.”

It points out that as the seasonal homes in nearby communities become retirement homes for their owners, “Meaford will be an increasingly popular location to retire for more price-sensitive older buyers from outside of the GTA and the local area. This will result in positive and stable growth overall.”

You can read the full study here.


posted October 12th, 2013
Intel for boomers shopping for a retirement community

A lot of baby boomers have discovered a new hobby – shopping around for retirement communities that fit their future plans. So when N. Barry Lyon Consultants Limited undertook a major market study commissioned by Meaford Haven, they took into account the rural and urban areas of Meaford, as well as the Town of The Blue Mountains (Thornbury and surrounding area), Collingwood and Owen Sound.

The neighbouring municipalities acted as benchmarks, recognizing that those people searching for retirement communities would compare housing options, including pricing, sizing, location and level of amenities nearby.

At the time of the study, 25 projects, comprising 3,726 units were under application in the area.. Many of these consisted largely of traditional and bungalow townhomes, but only six included condominium apartment buildings. Meaford itself accounted for 45 percent of the total proposed units, a large amount compared to its current share of the market. Municipal planning staff suggest that the development community is discovering Meaford.

The twist is affordable housing. Many of the developments proposed, including a large one outside of urban Meaford, are aimed at an affluent market, including people looking for seasonal homes, with larger units and higher pricing. By contrast, Meaford Haven is looking at retirees and pre-retirees who are “right sizing”, and it plans to keep prices affordable.

As well, Meaford Haven is much further along in the development process than the other major proposed Meaford development, with Draft Plan of Subdivision approved.

More detailed findings from the market study:

  • Across the study area, despite all being within a 25 minute driving distance, there is a tremendous range of unit pricing in the study area.
  • Pricing ranges from $239,900 for a 985 sq. ft. for a bungalow townhome ($244 psf) at Gates of Kent in Meaford, by Reid’s Heritage Homes, or $239,900 for a 1,458 sq. ft. traditional townhome in the urban fringe of Collingwood at Tanglewood, by Sierra Group, to $699,900 for a 2,903 sq. ft. home ($241 psf) in The Blue Mountains at the Lora Bay master planned community, by Reid’s Heritage Homes.
  • In recent years, there have been homes as high as $1.2 million for a 3,759 sq. ft. townhome ($319 psf); however, such higher priced housing appears to no longer be available, perhaps indicating a slight softening of the luxury home market.
  • The majority of the vacant lot subdivisions, due to their location, exclusivity, and available lot sizes, have much higher land values than typical housing developments in the area. As a result, such subdivisions, once built upon, would constitute the high end of the price range in the study area. For example, The Birches of Georgian has serviced lots as high as $259,900, Peaks Bay in Camperdown has lots priced as high as $599,900, and Windrose Valley (actually located in Clearview Township directly abutting the Craigleith area) has five completed model homes on lots priced as high as $2.25 million.
  • All of the above indicates that many potential buyers, including younger and older seniors, looking to purchase in the area will be priced out of The Blue Mountains.
  • On an overall basis, the less expensive homes in the study area are located in Meaford and Collingwood.
  • Typical entry-level pricing for new housing in Meaford is roughly $75,000 lower than projects in Collingwood and $220,000 lower than projects in The Blue Mountains.
  • By housing form, pricing and sizing is as follows:
    • Detached homes in the study area range from $259,000 at Golfview Estates, to $699,900 for
      a 2,903 sq. ft. unit ($241 psf) in Lora Bay.
    • Interestingly, some of the most expensive housing units in the study area are townhomes –
      bungalows or traditional two to three storey units. Townhomes in the study area range from $239,900 for a 985 sq. ft. unit ($244 psf) in Meaford, to $579,900 for a 3,318 sq. ft. unit ($175 psf) in Thornbury.
    • Semi-detached units, of which there are four developments in the study area, range from $259,990 for a 1,040 sq. ft. unit ($250 psf) in Collingwood’s new urban area, to $599,900 for a 2,343 sq. ft. unit ($241 psf) in Craigleith.

More from the study next time.


posted September 6th, 2013
A development primer – how to turn a field into a community

Last month we looked at the history of Meaford Haven – revealing how a chance drive through Meaford inspired Toronto developer Pierre Boiron to begin work on a unique Three Seasons retirement community.

From the beginning the project caught the attention of people looking for a friendly, small-town Ontario retirement community, and Boiron has received a lot of interest from potential residents.

Now, as the project has achieved a number of important steps and cleared numerous hurdles on the way from dream to developed community, folks keep asking, “When can I move in?” To help answer that question, here’s a behind-the-scenes look at how a major development such as Meaford Haven progresses.

When Pierre committed to moving forward with Meaford Haven, he planned to take all the necessary steps to prepare the property for construction. Then, he’d sell the new subdivision (including the market research, the vision and guidelines to achieve it) to a builder who would actually build and sell the bungalows, condominium apartments, and other buildings in the retirement community. As the very first step, Pierre made an offer on the land, conditional on successfully getting approval on a draft plan of subdivision from the Municipality of Meaford.

After nearly three years of painstaking work creating a vision for the community, laying out the neighbourhood, retaining various consultants and engineers, listening to nearby residents and the many stakeholders in the region (including the County and conservation authorities), and satisfying all demands, Meaford Haven had its draft plan of subdivision approved. The sale of the property concluded and Boiron took over the property.

A Draft Plan of Subdivision comes with a list of conditions of approval that must be approved before construction gets underway. Conditions include such items as installing roads, water, sewers (sanitary and storm), providing utilities, telephone and cable to each lot, and posting of security (usually in the form of letters of credit from a bank.) At this stage, Boiron had the option of satisfying these conditions and selling the lots to a builder, or selling the land as is. As originally planned, it was time to seriously seek out interested builders.

During the period Meaford Haven was taking the steps to get the Draft Plan of Subdivision approved, Boiron was also working hard to market the community to potential buyers – a big added value for the builder. The builder is not only getting a property ready for development but it comes complete with a vision, market research, recommendations and choices for home styles and amenities. And the Meaford Haven development team plans to assist the builder as much as possible in implementing these, insisting on high standards for the community.

A website directed specifically at builders, www.meafordhavenforsale.com, presents details on the development to date, including development charges, and offers for sale the residential development blocks and, separately, the retirement residence block.

The website points out numerous advantages of the site, the location, the concept and the demand, saying some nice things about Meaford in the process. It also addresses the potential obstacle of Meaford’s low absorption rate – the yearly number of new homes sold in a community. A builder’s Number One interest is how many units might he sell in a year. Meaford currently issues 40-50 new home building permits a year, so a builder might conclude he could only sell 15 or 20 homes a year. Meaford Haven’s take on this relies on its market research and the careful development of the concept for the retirement community: with the right product in place, the demand will increase.

Boiron is currently speaking to a few builders interested in the Meaford Haven concept and hopes to strike a deal (or deals) before long. The options are many.

One builder might buy all the residential blocks, including the retirement residence, leaving Boiron to develop the commercial/medical centre.

A builder may buy only the residential sites for the cluster bungalows and low-rise condominiums, and a retirement residence specialist would buy that block.

Different builders might purchase different residential blocks.

Another option might see Boiron entering into a joint venture with a builder or builders, providing the land as collateral. Builders can find this arrangement attractive as it makes financing easier.

So, there are lots of ways to take the next steps with Meaford Haven, but from the standpoint of the new resident in the community, the end result is the same: a beautiful new home in a small town retirement community where you can age in place, staying in the neighbourhood you’ve grown to love with the people you’ve come to know.


posted July 4th, 2013
The story of Meaford Haven’s Ontario retirement community

One summer day in 2010, Pierre Boiron, a Toronto real estate broker, author, educator and developer, drove through Meaford on his way to look at some investment properties along the southern shore of Georgian Bay. Soon after he passed the deep blue sweep of the Bay in downtown Meaford, he spotted a ReMax “For Sale” sign off Highway 26, and pulled over. The 38-acre property was on the edge of one of Ontario’s prettiest small towns, close to Georgian Bay, and local homes were affordable relative to the GTA. He was intrigued.

“I came to Meaford by accident,” says Boiron. “I knew very little about the town before. But the more I dug into it, the more I thought there was potential here.”

Five years before, Boiron had successfully developed a subdivision in Pickering, obtaining Plan of Subdivision approval on the property and selling the 39-lot subdivision to a builder. The larger Meaford property looked to offer much greater potential.

Boiron sought out local businesspeople, and the portrait they painted of Meaford sparked a vision for an “aging-in-place” retirement community. “I talked to many, many people, Realtors mostly, and they all told me about all the activities available here – skiing, golfing, boating, cycling, hiking, culture, entertainment, and all the rest. They said that, along with the quiet, small town atmosphere, made Meaford a popular retiree and pre-retiree destination,'” he says.

The property – located close to downtown and Meaford harbour and right next door to the Meaford Golf Course, yet virtually “out in the country” – was perfectly situated for a neighbourhood of active retirees and pre-retirees through to those seniors requiring nursing home care. Boiron made an offer on the property, conditional on getting approvals in place for a 400 unit subdivision, including 320 homes in bungalows and low-rise apartments. Meaford Haven – and its “Three Seasons Community™” concept – began to take shape.

***

Pierre BoironBoiron grew up in Avignon, France and launched his career in real estate in the 1950s. By 1967, he had operated his own construction, land development and property management companies, and he’d developed two residential subdivisions in France. “Those were a piece of cake,” he says with a chuckle.

But he began to look for new opportunities – in life and in business – beyond France. “I considered Africa, the U.S. and Australia, but Canada seemed to be the best,” says Boiron. “At the time, it was a very foggy decision, but it turned out to be the best. I’m very glad I chose Canada; it’s a very good country.”

He moved to Toronto with his wife in 1967, and began working in industrial, commercial and investment real estate (ICI) sales and leasing. During the next 40 years, he became one of Canada’s foremost ICI professionals.

Early on, Boiron founded a commercial real estate brokerage firm, which he eventually sold to Canada Permanent Trust. He also invested in (owned or held substantial interests in) industrial buildings, a commercial development, and an office building. He served on the 12-member ICI Executive Council of the Toronto Real Estate Board. And over the years, he shared his knowledge with other real estate professionals, teaching courses and writing. Beginning in the 1970s, he lectured on commercial real estate for the Ontario Real Estate Association, and he currently teaches commercial real estate investing courses at the University of Toronto. He’s the author of Commercial Real Estate Investing in Canada: The Complete Reference for Real Estate Professionals and Investors (Wiley Canada, 2007).

It sounds like more than enough to fill anyone’s schedule. But then Boiron took a drive along Georgian Bay.

***

“Meaford Haven allows people to grow older while staying in one place, to remain in the same community as their living needs change over time” says Boiron. “We’ll have cluster bungalows close to the golf course for pre-retirees, semi-retirees and retirees; low-rise condominium apartments for when people would prefer something a little smaller; and a retirement residence on-site for when people require additional help with their daily needs – along with a medical and commercial centre which might house such businesses as a pharmacy, hearing-aid centre and offices for optometrists, dentists and others.”

Meaford Haven’s “three seasons” refer to these stages of retirement life, and the idea is that a true dynamic and cohesive community will grow to include younger 50-plus folks along with older residents. As people move through the seasons they’ll stay involved with the community, giving back as they have more time and, in turn, receive care and companionship as they grow older.

The development will include a clubhouse and lots of opportunities to be involved with the Meaford Haven community and the Meaford community at large.

During the last two years, as Boiron’s team has worked on developing the property and getting the necessary approvals in place, they also began to inform potential residents about Meaford Haven, asking for their input on the project and gathering names of people interested in living there. The response has been extremely positive, says Boiron. “We heard many encouraging things from people participating in our ‘virtual focus groups’. And the concept has evolved with the feedback we received.”

“Most places for seniors isolate themselves from the community,” said one respondent. “In a place like Meaford I would prefer not to have a gated community… It is wonderful to be able to transition from a home to a unit in a condo that has medical attention.”

“Aging in place means that the necessary medical facilities are there, and it’s a social place that has different activities for different levels of people,” said another. “I’d appreciate possible social group outings and a place where there is a environment of feeling accepted, while at the same time, not pressured to do something that you would not be interested in doing.”

Earlier this year, Meaford approved Meaford Haven’s Draft Plan of Subdivision, and the next step of finding a builder is well underway. More on that in Part 2, “A development primer – how to turn a field into a community.”


posted June 26th, 2013
The story behind this Ontario retirement community

The Meaford Independent has published an article about the origins of Meaford Haven.

It all stems from a drive Pierre Boiron took three summers ago along the southern shore of Georgian Bay. Passing through Meaford, Ontario he discovered both the town and the perfect location for an aging-in-place retirement community.

We’ll have a little more in-depth history of Meaford Haven and the vision behind the Ontario retirement community soon, but in the meantime, please read the article here


posted April 13th, 2013
Meaford Haven part of Meaford’s attraction for retirees

A few weeks back, Meaford’s mayor spoke to a group of seniors about developments which will help make Meaford even more attractive for retirees. Speaking to residents at the Meaford Long Term Care Centre, he cited the new medical clinic as a key factor in Meaford’s ability to attract new doctors to Meaford.

“We desperately need space for doctors.” he told the group. “The doctors that are here now have been with us for long time and they would like to retire.”

He also share information on Meaford Haven, noting its proximity to the new medical clinic.

“The Mayor also spoke about the Meaford Haven development that is proposed for land next to the proposed medical clinic,” says the article in the Meaford Express. “He said the Meaford Haven development is a large subdivision that will include up to 400 units. He said part of the development plan is a retirement facility similar to Seasons in Owen Sound.”

But while most people are excited about the new medical clinic, there have been grumblings about its location. We’ll take a look at those arguments next time.

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