“Waterfront” View Often Comes With Waterfront Noise…

I couldn’t help putting “waterfront” in quotations, since many “waterfront condos” either aren’t on the water, don’t have a view of the water, or worse – both.

I shot this video a few days ago from a new waterfront development that has rave reviews, but I’m going to let you guys judge for yourselves.

Not only is it so windy on the balcony that the glass rattles, but there’s so much noise from the Gardiner and the GO Train that you can hear it even with all the doors and windows closed.

You have to see this train – watch as it basically goes right underneath the building…

I have only really seen one waterfront view that could be described as a “million-dollar-view,” with a honest-to-goodness, 100% true “waterfront view.”

About eight years ago, I sold a unit to a client at Palace Pier, that faced south.  And if you know Palace Pier, you know that this building’s south-wall is about twenty feet from the water!  So if you’re on the 33rd floor, you basically feel like you’re hovering over Lake Ontario.

That condo cost over $1,000,000 back then, so imagine what it would cost now.

Personally, I’d love to have a true waterfront view.

Considering how many condos are in the downtown core, and how many units stare out directly at those condos, or at billboards, or at office towers, just imagine having a 180-degree view of the lake.

Having said that, we all know that way, way too many condos are listed on MLS with “waterfront views,” when they don’t really have waterfront views.  Imagine an east-facing unit (like the one in the video), where you can turn your head to the right, look south, and see the water……..on the other side of the Go Train tracks, the Gardiner, the Lakeshore, and the condos and factories south of Queen’s Quay.

$750 per square foot is a lot to pay for something with as much noise as what was shown in the video.  The view is amazing, but you can hear the traffic on the Gardiner from the bathroom!  The Go Train isn’t as bad as I thought it would be, although it didn’t honk once during the video.

In the end, to each, their own.

For every person that watches that video and hates the idea of having a train right beneath you, there’s going to be another person that dreams about this view…

P.S. I shot this video right after getting the iPhone and thus I had no clue how to hold it.  Hence the tall and narrow video.  Technology….dammit….


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  1. WEB says:

    I lived in 77/99 Harbour Square for about a decade and occupied 4 units between both buildings. I once had a unit on the north side of 77 Harbour Square which basically faces Queen’s Quay and the Gardiner. I also had a unit on the South Side of 99 Harbour Square which basically looks over the lake (the building is 20 feet from the water.) Anyone want to guess which unit was quieter? Well, if you guessed the south facing unit in 99 Harbour SQ, you are wrong! The south facing unit was incredibly noisy – mainly due to the airport but also due to party boats in the harbour at night. In terms of the airport, when flight school was in full gear and the planes took off in an easterly direction, it was hell. Picture this….Sunday night between 8:00 PM and 11:00 PM and during this entire time, you hear a plane take off every 40-50 seconds or so. There were four planes, taking off and doing a loop and coming back and landing/taking off over and over again, for hours. Add to this, party boats in the harbour at 3AM with the base turned up – you put your head down on the pillow….and you hear…..boom boom boom boom….

    Now as for the north unit in 77 Harbour Square, you don’t notice the Gardiner at all. Because the noise is effectively white noise….a constant whooosh sound. And actually, the constant whoosh sound acts to drown out any intermittent noise, the worst type of noise. So I actually found the unit, quite peaceful! The south facing unit had a peaceful view, but the noise was hell! The north facing unit had a busy city view, but it felt quite peaceful!

    Just some food for thought for anyone wanting to live in the waterfront.

    1. EdenRam says:

      Thank you for sharing your experiences! I didn’t realize party boats could ignore the noise bylaws which govern us here on dry land.

    2. PinkLucy says:

      And that’s why we looked at a unit in 99 Harbour Sq. on one of the high floors and despite the amazing water view, said no thanks.

  2. johnny chase says:

    I’m 99% sure L Tower was built not just with Chinese glass – but with an entire Chinese wall system. Pure crap. Developer probably saved over $30M using them.

  3. Mike James says:

    It’s amazing people still call these crappy condos “investments”…. A lot of dumb folks out there are going to lose their shirts on these garbage towers of junk….

  4. Cliff says:

    Exterior noise in condos is a problem because a) the glass is plentiful and cheap. b) the noise comes through the air vent that is vented outside. Soundproofing in new condos is a big problem both outside and in. If the building code was updated, this wouldn’t be a problem.

    I was in a codo the other day along the waterfront. When the train passed, the whole place shook and the noise was LOUD. Some people don’t mind.

  5. ScottyP says:

    $750 per square foot for this is sheer madness.

  6. DocBenway says:

    Plus if the via/go train sounds too noisy or causes a residence to shake, it is likely do to an imperfection on the track. Neighbourhoods have lobbied via/go to repair them and have noticed a reduction in sound.

  7. FritoBandito says:

    I lived near GO / VIA tracks and the noise from them is nothing. People see tracks and think there’s a constant flow of trains, but in reality you’re at work during the peak times for activity on the tracks. I enjoyed the sight of the train, it was never a noise issue. The Gardiner is the real noise problem because it never stops.

  8. George says:

    The train would be horrible noise pollution, but I’ve found most pockets of the downtown have at least one new building under construction. Construction noise is relentless and seemingly unavoidable for any condo owner who likes to open their windows.

  9. DocBenway says:

    The old harbourfront condos that are south facing have amazing views. I had a friend with just a postage stamp apartment but the view made the apartment seem like a spa.