CREA reports August home sales up from year ago raises forecast for

OTTAWA — The Canadian Real Estate Association raised its forecast for home sales this year, helped by economic fundamentals and falling mortgage rates.The organization says national home sales are now projected to rise to 482,000 units this year, up five per cent from 2018. In June, CREA predicted sales to climb 1.2 per cent to 463,000 this year.The improved outlook for the year came as CREA reported home sales in August were up five per cent compared with the same month last year.Home sales were up in most of the country’s largest markets, including B.C.’s Lower Mainland, Calgary, Winnipeg, the Greater Toronto Area, Ottawa and Montreal.The actual national average price for a home sold in August was about $493,500, up almost four per cent from the same month last year.Excluding the Greater Toronto and Greater Vancouver regions, the national average price was less than $393,000, while the year-over-year gain was 2.7 per cent. The Canadian Press read more

Irvingowned railway pleads not guilty to safety violations in oil transport

SAINT JOHN, N.B. — A railway owned by New Brunswick’s Irving family has pleaded not guilty to 24 charges alleging the company violated safety standards in the way it transported oil.The allegations against the New Brunswick Southern Railway Company Ltd., a subsidiary of J.D. Irving Ltd., occurred after a Transport Canada probe set off by the 2013 rail derailment in Lac Megantic, Que., that killed 47 people.According to court documents, half of the 24 charges against the railway related to an alleged failure to create proper shipping documents and the other half allege unqualified personnel were involved in the shipments.These were not violations relating to the Lac Megantic disaster itself, but came from other occasions between Nov. 3, 2012, and July 5, 2013, in the Saint John area.The company was originally due in court Nov. 27 but delays in disclosures from the Crown resulted in the plea coming on Friday.Last fall, Irving Oil was ordered to pay $4 million after pleading guilty to 34 counts stemming from the investigation into the Lac Megantic disaster.The charges under the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act resulted from a joint investigation by Transport Canada and the RCMP that was prompted by the deadly train derailment.On July 6, 2013, a train carrying 7.7 million litres of crude oil sped toward the small Quebec town at 104 km/h before derailing.The case against New Brunswick Southern Railway will return to court on June 4 to set trial dates. read more

56th Field Regiment puts skills to test

Reservists with the 56th Field Regiment were able to put their skills to the test during a recent week-long exercise that took them to Petawawa, Meaford and the Collingwood Airport.Close to 70 reservists from the regiment, which includes Brantford, Simcoe and St. Catharines, participated in Exercise Stalwart Guardian. The exercise is the final summer training program and brought together about 1,000 soldiers from across Ontario.“It was a great exercise for our regiment,” said Lt. Col. Lawrence Hatfield, commanding officer of the 56th. “They were given a number of challenging tasks throughout the week and performed admirably.“I’m proud of their efforts and of their commitment.”The exercise gave the soldiers an opportunity to move, set up and fire howitzer guns, as well as participate in a direct fire drill, said Hatfield.“It’s one thing to try and hit a target when you’re not under attack,” he said. “It’s something different altogether when you have to engage in some direct fire because the enemy is coming towards you and, at the same time, fire at unseen targets.”As part of the exercise, reservists with the 56th Field were transported to the Collingwood Airport to participate in a drill, Hatfield said.On Sept. 28, the regiment, in partnership with the City of Brantford, is holding Valour Day to honour Brantford’s wartime sacrifice and service.Valour Day includes an inspection of the regiment at Victoria Square followed by a regimental march on Dalhousie Street. At 11 a.m., the Jubilee Terrace Howitzer, a First World War war trophy awarded to Brantford, will return to its home beside the Brantford Armouries for a dedication ceremony.The howitzer has been refurbished after years of deterioration.A public reception will be held following the dedication ceremony. As well, there will be a army reserve recruiting open house.All events are open to the public.Vball@postmedia.comtwitter.com/EXPVBal read more