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How tall can buildings possibly get? New kilometer-high tower being built
Tuesday, 06 May 2014, 11:46:16 AM

kingdom tower

We've all heard the saying "the sky's the limit" and maybe it truly is. The world's first kilometre-high tower is currently being built in Saudi Arabia, planned to be finished by 2018. That's 1001 metres. For comparisons sake, the Empire State Building stands 381 metres tall. The current tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, stands 828 metres tall.

Named The Kingdom Tower, it will have 12 escalators and 59 elevators, some of which will be able to travel 36 kilometers per hour. Unusually large-scale buildings require an unusual amount of internal infrastructure.

Canadian expert on tall buildings, Richard Witt, claims that there are no true physical limitations when talking about just how high skyscrapers can go. Mr. Witt claims that "We can pretty much do anything we want. It's just that if you were going to build a 20-kilometer tower, and it would take 100 years to build, it becomes unreasonable in terms of management and payback". He even suggests that there's not many ingredients or magical materials needed...other than money.

That's not to say there aren't challenges in constructing skyscrapers such as these. The elements can pose an obstacle to tall towers: wind can sway the structures, and sun on one side may cause them to curl. On top of that, columns in high concrete buildings can shorten or shrink, which must be taken into account beforehand.

The Kingdom Tower is expected to cost somewhere around $1.2 billion U.S. dollars to build. The reason these kilometer-tall towers haven't been built yet all around the world is due to the lack of billionaire investors who want to gamble on real estate projects that could end up being more about ego or legacy than stellar profits, given the potential for delays and cost overruns.

Can't wait to see the finished result!

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City Brokerage has a new location!!
Thursday, 01 May 2014, 09:54:51 AM

After almost a full year at our old James St. location, we've decided that it's time for a change of scenery!

City Brokerage has moved to 793 Main Street East as of this past Monday.

new location

Bigger and better than ever before. Beautiful, isn't it?


For All Your Real Estate Needs!

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Hamilton vs. Ontario on idea of 'mid-peninsula highway'
Tuesday, 15 April 2014, 09:20:32 AM

mid-peninsula highway

The city is spending a million dollars on studies for a future urban boundary expansion that is currently opposed by the province, in fact it is constantly being challenged at the Ontario Municipal Board.

It's another problem where council stands in direct opposition to provincial policies, with at least one instance leading a cabinet minister to describe where the city stands as "ridiculous". That was Minister of Transportation Glenn Murray, when he responded to the demand of the majority of councilors for a resurrection of the mid-peninsula highway.

Council has pushed repeatedly for an expressway connection between the US border and Hamilton's (struggling) John C. Munro International Airport. This is despite the environmental consequences and exhaustive provincial studies concluding that the billion dollar project can't be justified.

At each stage in the consultations on these studies, council ignored the findings and passed resolutions in favour of the contrary position. They even funded their own study which specifically instructed the consultant to only identify reasons in favour of the highway.

The latest council move includes risking important money on winning an OMB decision against the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. The city wants to save a 2500-acre area south and east of the intersection of Rymal and Upper Centennial well before being able to show that the expansion is unavoidable, as required by provincial planning rules. Council included the future Elfrida expansion in its Official Plan, and the province removed it before approving the plan. Council and developers who own the lands have appealed that change to the OMB.

Council is also singing from a different song sheet on other transportation priorities championed by the province, especially improved public transit. While both governments endorse better GO Train service to Hamilton, they are displaying quite different levels of enthusiasm for Light Rail Transit, and have diametrically opposed positions on how to fund Ontario’s massive transit improvement plans. In one city motion, all but one member of council rejected all options being considered by the province to pay for the LRT and other transit initiatives of the Big Move, although continuing to demand 100 percent funding for Hamilton’s light rail proposal.

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Hamilton punk band Teenage Head getting book written about them
Tuesday, 08 April 2014, 10:12:30 AM

teenage head book

"Once upon a time, Hamilton let some amazing noise loose on the world."

The above is from the preface of the book named Gods of the Hammer: The Teenage Head Story, written by Geoff Pevere.

If you haven't heard of Teenage Head, they were easily one of the most popular Canadian punk rock bands during the early 1980s. The group was formed in Hamilton by Frankie Venom, Gord Lewis, Steve Mahon and Nick Stipanitz. They had hit songs such as Let's Shake, Picture My Face, and Top Down.

Any band popular enough to cause a riot is definitely deserving of a book, so after nearly 35 years, that time has finally arrived for beloved Teenage Head. Published by Toronto's Coach House Books, the book will hit stores on May 8th.

gods of the hammer

Gods of the Hammer focuses on the band's glory years--1975 to 1982. The author has been quoted saying "I saw The Clash, The Ramones, The Jam at their peak...Teenage Head was as good, if not better than any of them". This goes to show how good and potentially underappreciated the band was...or how big of a fan Pevere is...or both.

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Recap of Around the Bay 2014, Hamilton Road Race
Monday, 31 March 2014, 09:55:21 AM

around the bay 2014

Thousands upon thousands of runners, from Olympian alumni to complete novices, came to downtown Hamilton on Sunday morning for the race. It's the oldest of its kind in North America, and features both 30-kilometre and five-kilometres courses, as well as two relay races, depending on what sort of running style you prefer.

The starting gun for the 30-km race went off at 9:30 am, with top competitors ensuring they were the first ones out of the gate. The Around the Bay Road Race is an athletic competition just as much as it is a 'festival of fitness' if you will. Runners have the option to take it in a competitive light or to simply go to enjoy themselves and be healthy.

More than a few participants wore neon running gear: gleaming pink, orange, yellow, green blue...others even came dressed in costumes! The event also drew politicians looking to appeal to the general public. Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne wished contestants good luck before clocking in at 27:01 on the five-kilometre course.

After our unusually cold and stormy winter, the weather on Sunday was surprising. Sunny and around 5 degrees celsius was certainly cause for celebration on its own.

The true excitement arrived when winners of the 30-kilometre course strode past the finish line, pride held high. Inside of FirstOntario Place, fireworks and cheers from the audience erupted as the first-place finisher arrived. Toronto-based and Kenyan-born, Paul Kimugul took the top time at an amazing 1:35:34. The top women's time happened when Brantford's Krista DuChene clocked in at 1:47:13.

paul kimugul, krista duchenePaul Kimugul (top men's, left), Krista Duchene (top women's, right)

It seems as though everybody involved had a great time. Everybody's a winner in these kinds of events and it's great to see native Hamiltonians and those not living here working together to make something like this happen. The annual run boasted blasting music, cheering event-goers, lots of water, bright colours, and lots of effort.

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Hamilton to host the 2015 JUNO Awards! We sure love our music
Friday, 28 March 2014, 09:43:00 AM


Hamilton was recently selected as the city that will host next year's JUNO Awards! Just further proof that we love our music.

The Juno Awards are presented annually to Canadian musical bands and artists in order to acknowledge their artistic achievements. This week, Hamiltonian representatives will be travelling to Winnipeg for this year's JUNO Awards in order to help generate excitement for next year's awards here in Hamilton.

Next year will be the 44th JUNO Awards, held on March 15, 2015. The events will take place at FirstOntario Centre (formerly Copps Coliseum) and will be broadcast nationally via CTV. This is going to be Hamilton's sixth time hosting the national music awards, the other 5 being between 1995 and 2001. This announcement helps to distinguish Hamilton as a leading destination for musicians and music-lovers alike. People will be able to celebrate the city's deep musical roots.

The JUNO Awards bring great economic news to us, with an impact of $11.9 million for Hamilton including 5,200 hotel room nights for nearby hotels. Adding onto the Awards show being held at Copps, Hamilton will host numerous JUNO-related industry and fan events, using venues across the city from March 9 to 16.

Fun Facts

  • Hamilton recently hosted the nationally-broadcasted 2011 Canadian Country Music Awards.
  • Hamilton hosts many high-profile annual festivities such as: SuperCrawl, Festival of Friends, Greenbelt Harvest Picnic, Boris Brott Festival, and the Hamilton Music Awards to name a few
  • There are approximately 200+ live music venues in Hamilton; ranging from bars, pubs, clubs, to theaters and large stadium venues.
  • The 2015 JUNO Awards will mark the 20th anniversary of the first JUNOs held at Copps Coliseum back in 1995.
  • 2013 JUNO winners from Hamilton include Monster Truck, Steve Strongman, Elliott Brood and The City Harmonic.

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Venues of the 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games
Thursday, 27 March 2014, 10:15:39 AM

pan am

Toronto is preparing itself for the upcoming 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games. Many participating venues are anticipating the Summer Olympic and Asian Games hosted by our very own city. Some locations are currently under construction, like the University of Toronto field and the new Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre in Scarborough. The city's budget for all of this is $1.44 billion, with over $674 million used to build new venues and renovate existing ones.

There's an interactive map with 26 different locations pinpointed onto it, over on the Curbed Toronto article about this. This one isn't interactive, but it's still informative and you're only a click away from the real deal:

venues of the 2015 pan am and parapan am games

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Knob-and-tube wiring in a nutshell
Wednesday, 26 March 2014, 10:09:00 AM


Knob-and-tube wiring is popular among older homes, but it is controversial to say the least. Having knob-and-tube wiring isn't always a problem, and in many ways it isn't inferior to modern wiring despite what people seem to believe. It's a good idea to understand knob-and-tube wiring and its issues in order to determine whether or not you should keep or replace it.

So what is knob-and-tube wiring? It was used in homes until roughly the 1950s. It gets its name from the ceramic knobs that support it, as well as the tubes that protect the wire as it passes through wood framing members (i.e. floor joists).


One of the main differences between our two wiring types are how the wires themselves are run. In knob-and-tube, the black and white wires are run separately, spaced several inches apart. In modern wiring, the black wire, white wire, and ground wire are collectively wrapped up in one cable. Another difference is wire insulation. In knob-and-tube, it's insulated with rubber. In modern wiring, it's insulated with plastic.

There are distinct advantages to knob-and-tube wiring in comparison. The biggest one would be that the copper wire used is typically a significantly larger diameter than that in today's wire. Larger wires stay cooler as electricity flows through them. A disadvantage for knob-and-tube, however, would be that the wire is older and has been in service for many years. Another would be that it lacks a ground wire, which typically creates an emergency path for stray electricity. Modern cabling has a ground wire.

Some other common problems with knob-and-tube wiring includes:

  • Damage - invariably old, may have been subjected to multiple handymen, mechanical abuse, wear and tear...
  • Poor connections - problems almost always result from amateurish connections made after installation
  • Circuits extended - older electrical systems had fewer circuits, so they've likely been extended over the years, increasing the possibility of poorly-made connections
  • Brittleness - rubber insulation can become brittle, often in high-heat areas, including connections above ceiling light fixtures

All of the above can cause wires to overheat or short circuit. If you have any concerns about these knob-and-tube related issues, contact an electrician.

If you don't have any specific issues with knob-and-tube wiring but would like to replace it nonetheless, the best time to do it is when you're remodeling your home. This makes it far less expensive when the walls, floors, and ceilings are all open and readily accessible.

While knob-and-tube wiring is older and has its problems, it is rarely necessary to replace simply because you have it in your house. If you're worried, have it inspected and evaluated on an annual basis. Some insurance companies don't insure homes with knob-and-tube wiring, so you may want to replace the wiring for insurance reasons. Look into this before making any pricey decisions.

Information like this is always important to know as a homeowner. You never know when it might come in handy, and if you ever have any wiring-related problems it's better to know relevant info ahead of time. Become an expert on home care by staying informed with tips like these!

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Bad neighbours can ruin your chances of selling!
Tuesday, 25 March 2014, 09:40:39 AM

bad neighbours

A bad neighbour can not only be a nuisance, but can also completely destroy the chances of you selling your house. Irritating neighbours easily wreck the value of nearby houses, dropping the price considerably through even the smallest of acts.

Bad neighbours can appear an any price range or type of neighbourhood there is, be it a lower-income townhouse subdivision or an upscale 'golf community' neighbourhood.

Any of these following scenarios can definitely be turn-offs to potential buyers:

#1 barking dogs

#2 cars

#3 noisy

#4 busybody

#5 loudmouths

#6 unmowed

#7 abandoned

#8 party house

#9 cluttered

#10 ugly

So what do you do about any of these situations?

You can try talking it out with the neighbour in question. Often times small problems can be solved with a little conversing. Some people don't realize that what they're doing can be taken offensively.

You can contact the Homeowners' Association. You can also contact your City Department depending on the severity of the issue. Last but not least, foreclosures are always an option.

Don't let bad neighbours ruin a sale for you...if you're a buyer or a seller you deserve better than that sort of interference.

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Ravenscliffe Castle, 1881, now for sale!
Monday, 24 March 2014, 10:14:35 AM


Most people love castles: they look amazing and are great historical and architectural reminders. The visual appeal is unbeatable (even for modernists) and the inside makes you feel cozy. That's why it's big news that the Ravenscliffe Castle here in Hamilton has recently went up for sale again. The price is $1.75 million, and that's surprisingly not bad a price. Hell, I've seen bachelor pads in NYC that have costed more.

The Ravenscliffe Castle was built in 1881, designed by Hamilton architect James Balfour. It spans 11,000 sqft. with six bathrooms and eight bedrooms! It first hit the market in 2010 for $3 million dollars and wasn't bought at the time. Definitely one of the city's most notable properties, and it is one of few castles here in Hamilton. It seems like the property could do with some work put on it, but given that it's over a hundred years old I wouldn't really expect otherwise.

Here are some floor plans for the castle:

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