A Personal Story from Ghost Hacked ~ Agenda 21 and the Shared Economy

I was sent to Toronto for my work.

My boss had asked me and I said sure, because I was really the only option at that point. I said as long as you have everything set up right. There will be no problems. When I heard about an Airbnb booked for my two week stay. I asked what was the reasoning for it? They could not find something for two weeks. Hotels were booked enough that I maybe have to switch rooms a couple times. That did not bother me at all.

I hop on the train for the first time in my life. Loved it, relaxing, got to see a nice view. Rolled into Downtown Toronto. And that is where things started to go downhill.

I got to the airbnb location and it's two stack em and pack em residential towers billed as 'airbnb friendly'. Before I left the lady had send me an app via text that will unlock the door via blutooth. I discovered quickly how old my phone was and how outdated it is. Now that's not the real issue, because I like the phone that way for a damn good reason. So I could not even install the app.

I call the lady , I get buzzed in by security guard, does not know who I am. I inquired about things, and then I went through a couple doors that should be locked and took the elevator up. Got to the unit, she was able to unlock the door via ..wait, how did that happen? She used her phone to send a code via the Internet to the home network and then to the device, and I am in, then lock the door behind me.

Instantly I started to feel sketched out. I am here for two weeks. The place is a small 800 sqr foot 1 bedroom 'stylish condo'. By the people going in and out with luggage when I got to the lobby and the amount of wifi network had names that would easily point it out as one of these airbnb types.

My view from the unit.

https://thecontrail.com/photo/toronto-substation?context=user

So by that I estimate there is 30-50%  of these towers are really just airbnb. So what they mean by mixed residential/retail/commercial (Agenda 21) is this type of scenario. Meaning the whole building is that mixed model. 

I am not comfortable with any of this. The place you live should be your sanctuary. And with that many people going in and out daily. I would NOT want to live here. Oh and the price of one of these units?  About 450Gs CND.

The unit is trash. The thinking was to stay in one of these and I can save some money with cooking a few of my meals (low per diem). They also wanted to save money and well it was really a last minute thing.  The interior walls are paper thin. The fixtures and cabinets are generic as fuck. Cramped space, the windows are garbage and there are cracks in the ceiling, it might be the paint cracking but the patterns indicate a larger issue. This unit was built 15 years ago and it looks like it is falling apart already.

They were doing renovations too. The walls were being sanded and painted, the fixtures were being installed in the hallways.  I woke up yesterday morning to the sound of sand paper on the walls. I get ready for work, walk out the unit and there is a guy RIGHT there on a rolling stand to sand the high spots. The hallway was filled with dust and so was the unit when I got back that night.

Good morning!

https://thecontrail.com/photo/airbnb?context=user

OH right so after I got here I took a shower, got dressed and headed out for the night...

I head out and grab some pizza at a shop near by.. Nice place, I recommend it. I had a few beers which did not calm my nerves at all. Me and the bartender talked about this stuff and he pointed to the wall where there was a box with a screen connected to it. A guy walks up to it, swipes his phone , one small door pops open, he grabs a key and he is on his way.

What's this?

https://thecontrail.com/photo/blutooth-activated-lock-box?context=user

I then started to question. If this the tower I am in is like that, how many more are there in the area? And what does that all mean? The more I thought about it, the more macro it got and the more I realized that I am not in Kansas anymore (Wizard of Oz). All the videos I watch online for Agenda 21 has not prepared me for the real fucking rude awakening I about to experience.

I got back, tried to smoke some pot (it's legal now!!) but I did not get any calm my nerves at all. So I end up not sleeping a wink that night.  Great that's going to be a problem when I arrive on site for the client. That's another shit story but I shall concentrate on the Agenda 21 aspects of it.

Now for the next morning ...

I get ready for work and head out, I take a cab the firs time, then I decided to walk the rest of the time as it was close enough to get to.  The streets were filled with Ubers, Lyfts and who the fuck knows what else is out there. In my walk, the streets are crowded, the people are rush rush rush....and if you are not strong in your walk, you are going to get crushed.

But that is all Toronto for you. A fucking catastrophe of modern living. Driving here is a hassle on purpose I guess, narrow streets, deciated bike lanes. OH I guess this is a good time to mention the shared bikes. I asked someone. 'Ok well what happens when there are too many bikes for the racks when you drop it off?' the reply was 'someone goes around and redistributes them.' Interesting, jobs are created? I walk another block and sure as fuck, there are a stack of bikes locked up with a long cable lock, ready for pickup. And then I saw it again two more times in 3 blocks.  These things are on every 2nd to 3rd corner.

https://thecontrail.com/photo/rent-a-bike?context=user

All of this is tied into the shared economy. You don't own a fucking thing. We refer it to something called '*As A Service.' And we see it HEAVILY in the IT industry. It's subscription based and you pay month to month, quit anytime, but you keep nothing in the end.

There is this restaurant near the client. Nice looking upper style pub type. Had a chat with the owner day, and I mentioned the situation, and I also asked, how do you deal with the delivery services? He said simply 'I don't.' Turns out he is against it and will not deal with it at all. I looked around and agreed, he's got a nice pad to hang out in. Why the fuck would you not hang out in his pub? These delivery services do not give an incentive for people to go out and enjoy some hospitality. You are paying the same price, hell more (delivery) so go there and enjoy it. Fuck.

Now about those poor suckers who get into these services ...

All these service people are considered independent contractors. That means, they take care of their own benefits, and their own taxes and record keeping. But do any of them pay taxes? How so? All through the cashless society?

https://thecontrail.com/photo/stack-em-n-pack-em?context=user

This kind of shit is killing the real hospitality businesses and the jobs that go with it. A hotel is established, a reputation and provides certain services and amenities that an airbnb will never have. Not unless the price goes up, then you might as well just stay in a real hotel.

This also creates artificial inflation on the price of these units. And many of them are airbnb types. Now, let's talk about creating an artificial housing crisis where I am staying in a shit hole condo that someone is making money off of...oh in the end it turns out the price of the two week stay is very comparable to a hotel for that duration anyways.

Now if many of these towers are airbnb types, then you may have about a few thousand units that could easily go to people who actually NEED a place to LIVE, outrageous as the prices are.

All while I see many people sleeping in the streets, and there must be others in hidden places.... cold, dark and lost.............. it's December in Canada.

All these service people are considered independent contractors. That means, they take care of their own benefits, and their own taxes and record keeping. But do any of them pay taxes? How so? All through the cashless society?

https://thecontrail.com/photo/stack-em-n-pack-em?context=user

This kind of shit is killing the real hospitality businesses and the jobs that go with it. A hotel is established, a reputation and provides certain services and amenities that an airbnb will never have. Not unless the price goes up, then you might as well just stay in a real hotel.

This also creates artificial inflation on the price of these units. And many of them are airbnb types. Now, let's talk about creating an artificial housing crisis where I am staying in a shit hole condo that someone is making money off of...oh in the end it turns out the price of the two week stay is very comparable to a hotel for that duration anyways.

Now if many of these towers are airbnb types, then you may have about a few thousand units that could easily go to people who actually NEED a place to LIVE, outrageous as the prices are.

All while I see many people sleeping in the streets, and there must be others in hidden places.... cold, dark and lost.............. it's December in Canada.

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...ok some parts end up missing .. but here is the rest.

All these service people are considered independent contractors. That means, they take care of their own benefits, and their own taxes and record keeping. But do any of them pay taxes? How so? All through the cashless society?

https://thecontrail.com/photo/stack-em-n-pack-em?context=user

This kind of shit is killing the real hospitality businesses and the jobs that go with it. A hotel is established, a reputation and provides certain services and amenities that an airbnb will never have. Not unless the price goes up, then you might as well just stay in a real hotel.

This also creates artificial inflation on the price of these units. And many of them are airbnb types. Now, let's talk about creating an artificial housing crisis where I am staying in a shit hole condo that someone is making money off of...oh in the end it turns out the price of the two week stay is very comparable to a hotel for that duration anyways.

Now if many of these towers are airbnb types, then you may have about a few thousand units that could easily go to people who actually NEED a place to LIVE, outrageous as the prices are.

All while I see many people sleeping in the streets, and there must be others in hidden places.... cold, dark and lost.............. it's December in Canada.

Wow! Thanks for sharing that update GH - glad it's not me there, I would burst a blood vessel for sure.

My anxiety level was super high, which I don't think I ever experienced in my life. It was such a shocker and eye opener.

So my company moved me into a hotel based on my request. 

I woke up to some terrible news where a shooting resulted in a fatality in a town an hour away from me, where we have another colleague staying. I contacted my work to make sure he was ok. He was.  And then reports of another shooting in another airbnb about a block from where I was. So I think going forward the travel policy will be updates and airbnb will not be used for our business travel. It's too risky, to variable and a liability.  A hotel is established as I mentioned and has services, security and amenities an airbnb can never achieve. Do not .. do NOT support this business model.

Here are just a few examples that make a hotel the better option.

-- Land line to the front desk for any emergency or need assistance

-- Well labeled exits and placards on the doors for the fire exits.

-- Better security with a door that has not one but two dead locks

-- If there is a problem with the room, they can easily switch you.

The problems with this particular airbnb are

-- Bluetooth activated deadbolt (making it not a deadbolt) that unlocks the door if you don't have the key

-- no fire exit plan on the door, and exits not clearly marked

-- Security has no idea who is coming or going

-- It's a residential tower billed as airbnb friendly

-- The unit was absolute shit

-- Door lock was physically loose and I could move both the handle and the deadbolt easily.

So take care of your people when sending them on the road. Don't cheap out. You are inconveniencing them with sending them on the road. Again, take care of them.  When I made the request some of the replies were 'well it's farther and more expensive'.  And I made and ultimatum,  get me out of here or I come back home. It took them only 2hrs to get me into a proper hotel. So props to my team for that.  But I guess I had to go through this so none of our other colleagues will have to.

The other things that are a factor is that I was sent down to help out a high profile client that demanded on site presence, in which they are paying for the trip. Why would you cheap out on that? My stress levels directly contributed to some issues I had on site which worked to my disadvantage. They already have an issue with us, and this is not helping. My team sent me out ill prepared and that meant chaos for me.

I am glad I am out of there and I feel way more safe/secure and confident in an established hotel.  As I left the arbnb unit I called the lady and said, I am gone, lock the door. So she sent the signal to the device to lock. What if I had kept it open and she 'locked it'?  The door could have remained open. Again too many variables.

Now for week two. .... which should be better

Saw something on tv for this Agenda 21 place.

https://condonow.com/Humberwood-Heights-Towns

"The Humber River Valley is one of the true natural treasures of the GTA. Surrounded by protected parklands and woodlot, this picturesque landscape provides a much needed natural refuge to busy city dwellers. Boasting chic contemporary home designs, and many lots backing directly onto protected ravine lands, the townhomes of Humberwood Heights represent a rare opportunity to enjoy a peaceful natural lifestyle in one of Etobicoke’s most convenient locations."

So they build a condo unit in a protected nature area. I cannot make this shit up.

Units seem to start at about 650Gs and the larger ones are close to 1M. And then you are still paying condo and maintenance fees. People are getting financially bled and raped.

Awesome blog GH..freaky to see it first hand eh. I keep thinking about when I travelled with my girl friends back in the day and how theres no way we would have felt safe not being able to properly lock the doors. Ewww, just ewww!!!

My 2nd hand AirBnB story...

Some cuzzies came from the UK a while back and tried out an AirBnB here in NZ. Was the freakiest thing ever, they turned up at the house where they had rented the top floor but get this...it belonged to an elderly relative of the young woman living in the ground floor apartment, (we assume it was her Grandma), and the old lady had literally passed away that week.

The old ladies clothes and personal items were still all over the flat. Was really tragic, and when they asked the young lady downstairs what was going on she burst into tears on them so they felt too embarrassed to ask for their money back. I think she was the granddaughter and the place had been let to them by some other family member.

My cuz sent us photos of the place... it was really sad. Medical stuff and stair lift and walking frame still there. Sickening, and so disrespectful all round. :-(

Air BnB is also making people homeless, private landlords can make more money that way so its drying up the permanent accommodation. Happening in my region as we speak.

Same everywhere...this is in Ireland but exactly same in NZ.

(We are putting tourists into houses and homeless people into hotels)

https://www.thejournal.ie/readme/airbnb-we-are-putting-tourists-int...

On and on it goes. 

 

I am with you, I want no part of it. Morally and ethically I cannot be a part of it. Maybe if I was in a better unit I may not have said anything or the impact could have been a lot less. but I guess it's all luck of the draw.

And yes the locking of the door is a huge thing.

I have to make a correction. When I got to the lobby the first night.  I called the lady and she unlocked the door. I had not even gotten to the unit yet. I get up the elevator and the door was actually open, not just unlocked. It happened to me when I unlocked it one time with the key and the door swung open. the latch had not caught.

Yeah that's all kinds of messed up.

Seems that for a long time people have been packed closer together in living conditions.  Amounts to more tax for the taxing entities.

I spent a few hours walkin around and taking pictures today, and got some great shots from the CN tower today. Checking the dystopia from 1000 feet up.

My estimate of half a million people can be accommodated by these new towers, might be .. on the low site.

Crazy stuff , pics to come soon.

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