A Tale of Two Shores – Chapter 2
The first point of fascination for me in regards to these two municipalities is that they’re functionally very similar, and a
small detail in their past has made them ever so slightly different. That detail is proximity to a 400-series highway, which Innisfil has had since 1952, and Georgina has had for less than five years.
This detail had led to a marginal increase in the propensity for a white-collar worker to live in Innisfil rather than Georgina. Apparently, those of us in the knowledge work economy prefer to drive ’til we qualify on 400-series highways. What this meant was that, during a period of time where knowledge work may have had higher earnings than skilled trades, blue-collar workers were competing with white-collar workers for real estate along the 400. Many who needed 400 exposure went to Barrie or Alliston. Many who preferred the 404 decided to brave the harsh, white-out winters along the sod farmed Queensville Flats of Woodbine Avenue and Leslie Street. Those brave souls arrived at a place called “Keswick”. Ultimately, the fate of Georgina arriving at a populous that is (or was, until now) more blue-collar might have just been because blue-collar folks didn’t really have a problem driving on shitty, windy, often unplowed roads for their commute. In fact, many of us preferred it to the soul-sucking 400 traffic.
My argument is that the arrival of a Metrolinx GO Train station in Innisfil will merely perpetuate this existing phenomena, which was an accidental municipal segregation of white-collar and blue-collar affordable housing, divided only by the gloriously swampy Cook’s Bay. Given this assumption, I want to understand what the future of each municipality looks like. Given that I believe the GO Train is going to have a similar effect as the 400 highway, I look mostly to the past and present to understand the future.
They’re called “skilled” trades for a reason
A lot of people think I’m in some way implying that Georgina becoming a blue collar town implies inferiority – this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, I think that being a blue collar anything is the strongest hedge one can have against automation in the current economy – and that’s the foundation of my thesis here. I’m very bullish on skilled trades for a few reasons:
- entry level skilled trades earn greater than their knowledge work counterparts;
- most blue-collar workers started earning 4 years earlier than white-collar counterparts, straight out of high school;
- as a result, many already own a home;
- most have no student debt;
- skilled trades earnings growth is outpacing some sectors of knowledge work;
- trades are more difficult to replace with a robot, algorithm, or automation;
By this logic, it could mean that Georgina’s existing base of blue-collar work and its new ability to attract neighbours to the south in York Region who already use the 404, (see post, or keep my regional migration map to the left in mind), Georgina may actually have a better shot at growth in property value from cost-push inflation associated with wage-growth of the households occupying the product. Based on the planning Innisfil has associated with the GO Station, it looks like they’re aiming for greater density and affordability anyways, so, it’ll be interesting to see the evolution here.
From my perspective, the biggest differences are going to occur in the urban planning and in the ability to attract the two largest buyer groups that are moving through our population distribution right now – boomers and their children:
P.S. Anyone else think Lake Simcoe kind of looks like a hand pointing?