The Canadian economy grew 0.3 per cent in November, following 0.1 per cent growth in October. Production was higher in most industrial sectors with the main contributions to growth coming from manufacturing, oil and gas and mining.  

Our updated fourth quarter GDP estimate is currently reading just 1.1 per cent growth (at an annual rate), in-line with the Bank of Canada's most recent forecast. We anticipate that growth will continue to be modest through the first half of 2013 before accelerating in the second half of the year and into 2014.


This year, for the first time in many years, a number of homeowners in some areas of B.C. will see a drop in their property assessment, B.C. Assessment said Wednesday.

The most significant decreases will be seen in Whistler, Pemberton, on the Sunshine Coast and on Bowen Island, said Jason Grant, B.C. Assessment Authority assessor for the Vancouver Sea to Sky region.

“In stark contrast to last year, where (more than) 25-per-cent increases weren’t unusual, most residential homeowners (in Vancouver Sea to Sky) will open their assessment this year and say, ‘I’m within about five per cent … of where I was last year,’” said Grant McDonald, deputy assessor for B.C. Assessment’s Vancouver Sea to Sky region.

“Looking at the city of Vancouver, if you drew a graph for a 10-year period from 2002 to 2012, it pretty much is a very steep curve in terms of value increases, with a blip in 2008 when values appeared to be falling a bit. Now it has sort of flattened off; the market is taking a bit of a breather.”

Last year, homeowners in some areas of Vancouver, West Vancouver, Richmond and Burnaby saw their assessments rise as much as 30 per cent, while some areas, such as Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton saw decreases of 10 to 15 per cent.

“Some of the markets that saw some pretty good run ups in prices in 2011, saw a kind of floating back to earth in 2012,” said Cameron Muir, B.C. Real Estate Association chief economist. “For example, we’ve seen the single-family, detached-home market on the west side of Vancouver show more softness after a relatively strong 2011.”

Property assessments for a given year reflect market value as of July 1 the previous year. B.C. Assessment does not provide averages, but it did provide some specific “representative examples” of properties and how much their values changed this year.

A 50-foot, single family lot on Vancouver’s west side that was assessed at $1,645,400 in 2012 is assessed at $1,622,900 for 2013, a drop of 1.3 per cent. A single-family home on a 33-foot lot on the west side of Vancouver is assessed at $1,256,200, a drop of 5.8 per cent compared to a 2012 assessment of $1,329,600.

On the city’s east side, a 33-foot single-family lot assessed at $1,031,300 last year is assessed at $1,081,700 this year, an increase of 4.9 per cent.

In Whistler, a single-family dwelling in Alpine Meadows that was assessed at $2,252,000 last year is assessed at $2,145,000 this year, a drop of 4.8 per cent. In Whistler Village, a two-bedroom apartment that was assessed at $491,000 last year is assessed at $429,000 this year, a drop of 12.6 per cent.


Harvard Business Review, January 16, 2013


Transitions are ideal times to create multi-faceted change in our lives. Moving across four different countries and three different continents during the past seven years has made that truth crystal clear for my family. The start of a new year can give equal cause for recalibrating a life. Many of us have set a few goals during the past couple of weeks, and a few of us have set many goals. But we all know that goals set are not necessarily goals met. At best 20 percent of us will succeed at achieving our objectives. To buck those odds, try this trick: Set a question goal instead of a statement goal.

Here’s what I mean.

Have you ever been in a meeting where a group was asked “What challenges do you face at (fill in the blank)?” The “blank” could be filled in by “leading others,” “leading yourself,” “changing your company’s culture,” and the list goes on. At the beginning of executive workshops conducted around the world, I often ask that kind of question to get a better sense of the problem-terrain people are traversing. Small groups spend 7-10 minutes defining the top 2-3 challenges they face. (You might even take a moment right now to do the same.) Then they present their list of top challenges to the rest of the participants. Funny thing is that most challenges are problems “out there,” not “in here.” What I mean is that problems are often framed as a “system issue,” a “top management issue,” a “supplier issue,” or a “direct report issue.” Rarely are they framed as an “I’m part of the problem” issue.

But when you push a group to take their top three challenge statements and translate them into concrete questions, it often refines their understanding of what the problem really is. Initially, groups think this simple request will be easy to do, but it usually takes longer than expected. The mere act of changing a statement-based challenge into a question-based goal puts a much sharper focus on the issue at hand. Here are a few examples to illustrate what this dynamic looks like (they come from a couple of teams that I recently worked with):

Goals Into Questions Table

 Fundamentally, I’ve discovered that turning a challenge statement into a challenge question consistently turns the finger of responsibility away from others and back to ourselves. Someone “out there” is no longer responsible for solving the problem. Instead, someone “in here,” me, is responsible for making change happen. Almost always when debriefing this goal-to-question exercise, several insights surface about how the mere act of translation ratchets up a sense of personal responsibility for identifying and implementing a solution to a problem.

Bottom line, one way to make 2013 better than 2012 is to take all those goals that you’ve just set and transform them into questions. You just might be surprised at the quizzical magic of aspirations turning into accomplishments.



It may be a new year but it is the same story this morning from the Bank of Canada which once again held its target for the overnight rate at 1 per cent. The statement released in support of the interest rate decision noted that the global economic outlook is weaker than the Bank previously projected, though risk of a severe external shock to the economy has diminished. As a result, the slowdown in the Canadian economy in the second half of 2012 was more pronounced than the Bank had anticipated. The Bank has revised its estimate for economic growth in 2012 lower, to 1.9 per cent, and now forecasts 2 per cent growth in 2013 before an acceleration to 2.7 per cent in 2014. Importantly, the Bank has also shifted its expectation that the economy will reach full capacity out to the second half of 2014. On inflation, the Bank expects growth in consumer prices to run significantly below its 2 per cent target for much of 2013 before gradually rising to target in 2014.

Following two years of overly optimistic forecasts, the Bank has struck a slightly more dour tone in its outlook. The gloomier growth forecast and positive signs that households are reigning in household debt have prompted the Bank to revise its language on the gradual withdrawal of monetary stimulus.  In its concluding statement accompanying the rate decision, a key focus of monetary policy watchers over the past year,  the Bank continued to note that a withdrawal of stimulus would likely be required over time, but that the timing of any such withdrawal is less imminent than previously anticipated. This strongly suggests that interest rates will remain constant at 1 per cent for all of 2013


“Significant” decreases are occurring in the value of real estate in Whistler, Pemberton, the Sunshine Coast and Bowen Island, but much of B.C. is remaining stable.

BC Assessment, a crown corporation which assesses property values, said Wednesday that homeowners in resort communities such as Whistler will see their property values decline in 2013.

“For the first time in many years, a significant number of properties in the Vancouver Sea to Sky region are decreasing in value,” said assessor Jason Grant in a news release.

Pat Kelly, president of Whistler Real Estate, said vacation properties are still feeling the effects of a massive real estate downturn which began in the U.S. four years ago.

“A year or so ago there was some [additional] consolidation of the market in Whistler,” Kelly said. “The value of a vacation and luxury home is a function of consumer confidence.

“The economy is still very uncertain. There’s some hangover from the 2009 real estate meltdown in North America,” he said.

“Credit isn’t quite as available as it used to be. People are more conservation spending the extra $100,000,” he said.

BC Assessment said one Whistler property’s 2013 notice dropped by $65,000 to $969,000 from 2012.

There were also significant dips in the North Vancouver District. One single-family home in Blueridge dropped $60,000 to $850,000.

No average assessment values were provided by BC Assessment, which only released data from individual properties.

Elsewhere in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, changes in assessment values will range from as much as minus 10 per cent to plus 15 per cent.

UBC real estate professor Tsur Somerville said the provincial data is difficult to explain because “no one thing is going on.”

“Kitimat is up. It’s not surprising because they’re building an LNG plant. Certainly resource communities are up because stuff is happening,” he said.

“The Interior is seeing a little bit of a pickup because of Alberta purchases. Most of the Lower Mainland is pretty flat. There are hits on Whistler and the Sunshine Coast. Some areas like Richmond are down a bit,” he said.

“It’s hard to put any one label on it. If you take away Richmond, West Vancouver and Vancouver, there was not much of a run-up in 2011,” he said. “Prices peaked in the spring of 2012.”

In the Fraser Valley, homeowners will see “minimal” changes to their values. Langley Township, Chilliwack, Maple Ridge and Abbotsford are “remaining stable,” said assessor John Green.

The value of a single family home increased in the Whalley area of Surrey by $17,500 to $454,000.

On Vancouver’s West Side, values decreased. A single-family home on a 33-foot lot dropped $73,000 to $1.256 million.

Property owners can expect to receive their 2013 assessments in the next few days.

The numbers provide the foundation for local and provincial authorities to raise $6.2 billion in property taxes each year.

Somerville said angst concerning the relationship between assessed values and tax increases is often misplaced.

“Given the way that governments increase taxes, assessments don’t matter as long as the property in your jurisdiction is moving the same way as other properties. Your taxes are going up because governments are spending more,” he said.

The total number of properties on the 2013 roll is 1,935,426, an increase of 0.92 per cent from 2012.

The total value of real estate in B.C. is $1.29 trillion. New construction and development accounted for an increase of $16.64 billion.

Craig Barnsley, deputy assessor for the South Fraser region, said assessments can be challenged.

“Property owners who feel that their assessment does not reflect market value as of July 1, 2012 should contact our office,” he said.

To find out more, go to and click on the e-valueBC link.

The provincial government said homeowner grants will rise by $10,000 across the province to keep pace with the overall rise in values. The grant threshold will now be $1.295 million.

“At least 95 per cent of B.C. homeowners are eligible for the grant,” said Minister of Finance Michael de Jong.

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