Thu. Jan 20th, 2022

There are long-term wait times: for example, at an island home or an opening at a dream wedding venue. And there are short waits: on a hot release in a pop-up store. Regardless of the queue, Torontonians spend much of their lives queuing. This week we occasionally introduce a feature on who is waiting, where and why.

Islanders is perhaps the city’s most exclusive club. There are fewer than 300 homes in the Toronto Islands and only 500 vacant waiting list places, all of which are currently up for grabs. Even if you are on the list, it will take decades to get to the top of it. Each year, about 15 to 20 people decide not to renew their place on the list, freeing up a little bit of space.

How long did you wait

20 years

The story of your wait

“When the waiting list first opened, my husband read about it in the newspaper and wrote his name,” said Catherine Parsonage, who moved to Ward’s Island in 2015. “It’s a really beautiful place. It’s the combination of nature and city that makes it so attractive.We were really lucky about six years ago after 20 years of waiting – we got the opportunity to buy a home here.It was a huge decision for us because you are taking a real financial blow by stepping out of the real estate market in Toronto.But we thought this was the place we would retire.

“When they first started the list, people were assigned numbers and my husband was very disappointed to be in the 200s. I know he had hoped to have been luckier. Over the years, you visit the island and you walk around dreaming and thinking about how wonderful it would be to live there. There were probably 15 years or more on the list before we started to be included in the houses that may be vacant, because they only send them to about the 150 best people on the list.

“We made bids on three houses before we had success with this one. Another higher on the list always knocks us out.

“When we finally got it, we said ‘Oh god, we have to sell (our house). We have six weeks to decide.’ “It’s a really fast process. There are two very short views, so you make your decision. It was a little scary at the time, but we are very, very happy.”

The verdict

“It’s very different from living in the city,” the rectory said. “We do not have a vehicle. It is very expensive to have things delivered to the island, there are no grocery stores on the island. You have to learn to live by the ferry schedule.

“But at the same time we have blue jackets and cardinals and hummingbirds. Coyotes and wild mink. Swans swim past, ducks walk on your lawn. It’s a magical place.

“It is a very warm and caring community. Many artists, many people doing eclectic things. It’s a community that stands together, and they should, because it can be hard to live here, especially in the winter. It is also an aging society. Many of us are seniors or heading in that direction. But that is the function of the list. If you are waiting for a list for 20 years, you are much older when you arrive.

“It was worth the wait. It’s better than we ever expected. We sit on our porch every single day and enjoy the sunset. We look at the city, we see the CN Tower, we see the planes, we see the boats. We feel so blessed. “

How do you get on the list?

The buyer list is closed now and will reopen “when space allows,” according to the official website. To become one of the 500 people on the list, you have to wait for an opening, generated by someone leaving their seat.

When that happens, the Toronto Islands Residential Community Trust Corporation puts out a note on its website and an ad in Star inviting people to participate in a raffle for a spot on the list. Applications are open for four weeks.

Trust deliberately does not give direct message to people when applications are opened because “the process must be completely self-directed.”

It costs $ 20 to apply to be on the buyer list. Being on the list comes with an annual fee of $ 45. When a house is put up for sale, which happens on average once or twice a year, offers to rent them are sent to the top 150 to 200 people on the list.

An island home costs up to $ 700,000, with an average house ranging from $ 150,000 to $ 400,000. This does not include a one-time rent payment for the land the house is located on – $ 60,000 for Ward’s Island and $ 76,000 for Algonquin Island.

If you were to buy a house on the island, it should also be your primary residence. It can not be a part-time, holiday or rental property.

Ben Cohen is a Toronto-based staff reporter for Star. Follow him on Twitter: @bcohenn

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