Have you ever gone to an auto repair shop for an oil change, only to have the mechanic say you need to have some serious repairs done? Or has the mysterious 'check engine' light come on, and the next thing you know the mechanic has a list of engine parts that need replacing?
Now there's a way to help you avoid any of these issues! Introducing FIXD...an easy to use maintenance monitor that gives you real time diagnostic results right on your phone.
A new affordable device that plugs into you car's OBC (on-board diagnotics) port - the very same port that mechanics use to figure out what's wrong with your car.
Every car built since 1996 has this port. This device is simple to use in 3 easy steps.
1) Plug it into your car's port - takes less than 60 second and anyone can do it.
2) Sync it with your phone - using the free app (available on Adroid and IOS)
3) Start getting health updates immediately - just like that, your car tells you how it's doing and what is needs. And based on your cars make, model and year, FIXD sends your phone notifications about upcoming oil changes and scheduled maintenance needs, and more.
Now, when your 'Check Engine' light comes on, FIXD tells you exactly what's causing it, in a way anyone can understand.
You can also turn off your check engine light right from the FIXD app if the problem is not serious or if you want to see if it will reoccur.
With over 40,000 cherry trees lining the streets of Vancouver, it's time to celebrate the pink blossoms that dominate the neighbourhoods in the springtime. The Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival runs from the end of March to the middle of April each year and offers a calendar full of opportunities.
My favourite is the Bike The Blossoms bike ride with is a free tour that starts out by Trout Lake and winds through of Vancouver's blooming neighbhourhoods, led by a Vancouver Parks Board arborist.
You can also lace up your walking shoes and take part in the guided tour, Tree Talks and Walks. This walk actually starts before the official kick off to include some of the neighbourhoods that are planted with early blooming varieties. The dates haven't been set yet, so check the site for dates and times. Enjoy.
Vancouver City council votes on a staff report next week that, if approved, will see Vancouver become one of the 1st cities in the world that would require new residential buildings to be 100% electric ready.
The report calls for all parking spots - excluding visitor parking - to be equipped with charging infrastructure, a significant increase over the current required 20%.
The report also recommends building more Fast Charging hubs and creating reserved parking stalls for zero-emission vehicles at city owned EasyPark lots.
The city's goal is to be 100% renewably powered by 2050, but it can't be done without providing the infrastucture people need in order to make the transition.
Vancouver has the largest municipal fleet of 30 electric vehicles in Canada, powered by more than 70 city owned charging stations, which are among the most heavily used in the province and electric vehicle sales are projected to steadily increase - 70% year over year from 2011.
With more electric vehicles on the road, the city says the need for convenient charging stations is greater than ever.
Do you currently own an electric vehicle? Do you plan on buying one?
The Altus Group's Canadian Construction Cost Guide for 2018 has been released. A high-quality 2,000 square foot detached house in Vancouver would cost up to $460,000 to build, while in Toronto the same house would cost $420,000 and in Montreal, Calgary or Halifax, it would run you around $300,000.
This price spread is also there in the condo sector.
In Vancouver, for example, you would pay $250 per square foot for a high-quality 4 storey wood frame condo. This compares with $195 per square foot in Toronto and $175 or less in nearly every other city in the country.
These estimates are for hard contruction costs only and do not include land values or any of the soft costs, including profit.
The Altus Group did not provide an explanation why these costs vary so much from region to region. Any thoughts?
So far about 98% of the city's homeowners have declared their properties. Of those a total of 6,349 were either declared vacant by the owner or claimed an exemption, with many of them ending up being taxed.
The homeowners that have not declared, which is about 2%, or about 2,132 homes will automatically be deemed vacant and will be issued a tax bill this month, with a payment deadline of April 16th. If each of these property's is worth about $1 million, as most of them are condos, that would raise about another $21 million in tax revenue.
The empty home tax is 1% of the property's assessed value.
Will this be enough to encourage most of these 8,000 plus properties to became rentals? Is this a step in the right direction?
With Lower Mainland housing prices soaring past our incomes in the last couple of decades we are moving further and further away. Some young people looking to buy a home are now looking at places like Abbotsford, Chilliwack and even as far as Hope, which is 155 km away from Vancouver. Cities that used to draw these young first-time buyers like Surrey and Langley are getting too expensive.
With affordable housing moving so far out, Vancouver commuters really have to do their math with our increasing gas prices. How about a high speed train? Would you consider living in the Fraser Valley and commuting to Vancouver for work if you had the option to ride a high speed train?
Does B.C's Motor Vehicle Act need an update to better reflect modern day use of our roads?
The Motor Vehicle Act was written in 1957 and hasn't really changed fundamentally since then. It should be modernized and be recognized that it doesn't just regulate motor vehicles, but how we share public space and the rights and responsibilities have to be divided up between cyclists, pedestrians and vehicle users.
Back in 1957, motorists were the primary consideration. Since that time, car volume has increased by 1,400% and cycling volumes have increased by 300%.
The Road Safety Law Reform Group of BC is recommending 25 changes to the existing act, including changing the name to the Road Safety Act, adding rules for cyclist and pedestrian safety and adding fines for violations that theaten vulnerable road users.
Some of the recommendations include:
Amending the MVA to include the definition 'vulnerable road user', which means pedestrians and operators cycles, including motorcycles.
Set the default provincial speed limit to 30 km/h for local streets that do not have a centre line and specify that a vehicle must be at least 1 metre away when passing a cyclist.
What would you like to see included in a new Act?
A new carshare... or should I say bikeshare... company called Veemo has launched. Veemo is sort of a new electric-assist solar-powered enclosed tricycle out at UBC that you can take for a ride after signing up for their service.
Since the vehicles are classified as bicycles you can ride...or drive...them in the bike lanes and park them as you would a bicycle.
Much like Evo and Car2Go, but with a more eco-forward mission, Veemo's next move will be into the downtown core. Beyond that they are considering a more global expansion as well as selling bikes directly to consumers.
Sounds like a great idea - I Want One!
A recent article posted by 'ThinkPol' states that "Asking home prices fall by double digits in Metro Vancouver as BC budget begins to bite". It went on to say that asking home prices in Richmond dropped by as much as 73%, while suggesting that budget measures announced by the NDP government have begun to work, even before they come into force.
Is this what 'fake news' really is?
If you want to make a point, please use some relevant examples. The example used in this article was a home listed on the 10000 block of Seaward Court. The current price dropped from the original listing price of $5,880,000 on Februay 14, 2018 to $1,588,000.
If you did just a little bit of research, nobody would have taken the original price of $5,880,000 seriously. The three best prices of similar homes in this exact neighbourhood sold for $1,660,000 on April 26, 2016, $1,640,000 on May 13, 2017 and $1,565,000 on April 21, 2017.
The 'Best All Time' price was just $1,660,000, and that was back in 2016.
Come on - Give me a break. It you want to stir some emotion, use some relevant facts. This just really makes you think twice before reading these articles.
Sorry for the rant!
If you are like me, and have spent many hours watching CBC this month and enjoying the up and downs of Team Canada at the 2018 Winter Olympics, we are not alone. But the commercial breaks also stirred up more feelings on Canadian pride, thanks to some Olympic themed ads that tugged at our heart strings.
One of the ads is from Canadian Tire, featuring a group of kids curling their young hearts out with intensity and passion. The rink is dimly lit, and looks like it's been a part of the community forever, giving the ad a sort of timeless feel. That's because the rink in real life has been part of a Vancouver community for nearly 60 years. This Canadian Tire commercial was filmed at Vancouver's Marpole Curling Club, a facility that was built in 1959, and it still holds the same inviting atmosphere that it did back then.
Obviously there was some dramatic lighting at work in the TV spot, but the Marpole Curling Club has kept their facility and 6 sheets of ice, meeting rooms and cafe up to date, while preserving it vintage vibes. Congratulations Team Canada on a great Olympics!
So B.C. will now have a speculation tax, which will be 2% annually of a homes value for those who don't pay taxes but own a property, and an increase in the foreign buyers tax to 20%.
But the foreign buyers tax will still not apply to farmland, despite the government committing to examining taxes on the Agricultureal Land Reserve.
In fact, the increase in the foreign buyers tax on residential properties will likely incentivize farmland even more.
With somewhat lax rules on the size of a home you can build in Richmond's ALR, and the fact these these properties will remain exempt from the foreign buyers tax, you can only wonder how the landscape of Richmond's farmland will change.
The few gigantic homes that we now see on these lands might be nothing compared to what the future might hold. Once again can you hear the uproar? And as usual, only after the damage has been done!
TV shows portraying kitchens as a 'negative and aggressive' place to work has contributed to a labour shortage in the restaurant industry and is currently affecting Metro Vancouver.
One of the findings is that TV shows like to make the kitchen look like a hostile workplace, which is misleading and discouraging to operators. Often when you watch TV, you see people being yelled at, saying something negative and very aggressive, where this is usually not the case in reality.
Running a restaurant actually requires a lot of teamwork. Everyone has to work together to make sure you take care of all the people coming in.
Restaurant owners in Metro Vancouver would like to tell the stories that actually happen in the kitchen.
About 94% of restaurant operators are looking for chefs and cooks, and 76% of the operators want managers and dishwashers. Those are the 3 positions most in need in the restaurant industry.
Wages are not the only challenge, as many restaurant employees are being paid $15 to $20 per hour. People from 16 to 24 represent about 30% of the workforce, but there are more people retiring than people entering the workforce.
Restaurant owners would also like to see longer transit hours, and access to ride sharing, if possible. People need more opporunities to travel early in the morning and late at night to get to their jobs.
The owners also need to work on benefits and scheduling. Let staff make an 'averaging agreement' so they work 10 hours for 4 days instead of 8 hours for 5 days. 3 days off is a nice opportunity to do something fun.
Would you like to work your charm and creativity in a restaurant kitchen?
I didn't even know that Metro Vancouver still had a drive-in theatre, but the only remaining drive-in in the area, the Twilight Drive-In in Aldergrove kicks of its 2018 season on February 23rd.
If you have never been to this drive-in, but the venue looks familiar, that might be because you've seen in on TV's popular Riverdale.
Twilight is one of only 51 remaining operating drive-in theatres in Canada, and one of 3 in B.C. They operate typically from mid-February to November.
Movies on the docket for this year at Twilight include: A Wrinkle in Time, Star Wars Solo, Ocean's 8 and Skyscraper.
I have never been to a drive in movie? Maybe it's about time.
In January this year, there were a total of 5,306 homes sold in the whole province of B.C., a 7.5% decrease from a month earlier in December, when 5,738 homes were sold.
In Metro Vancouver, a total of 1,846 homes were sold in January, compared to 2,069 which were sold in December - almost a 11% decrease.
Does it appear that the new mortgage rules are effecting Metro Vancouver more so than the rest of the provinice?
How about prices? While the average price of a home in Metro Vancouver is still over a million dollars, it dropped to $1,036,968 in January, from $1,049,424 in December - a 1% drop in the very first month of these new rules. Coincidence?
Is this the beginning of a trend? Are the new borrowing rules going to have a lasting effect of Metro Vancouver home prices?
Are vehicle headlights getting brighter, like blinding bright? Well it's not our imagination, headlights are getting brighter, and this is creating a dangerous situation.
But blindng headlights are not our only traffic concern. With all the congestion and longer commutes, it appears that more and more drivers are running red lights. This is happening while many motorists oppose the installation of more red-light cameras, or a 24 hour operation of the 140 cameras currently in place at the province's most accident prone intersections. Did you know that most of these cameras are only operating 6 hours a day so our governments don't upset voters?
With the increase in traffic accidents and fatalities, as well as increasing insurance costs, maybe it's time to rethink how we enforce the rules of the road.
Should we implement a camera program that operates both speed and red-light cameras? Let's not only catch those running red lights, but also speeding.
With all the safety features in most cars today, you would have expected the number of injuries to be reduced - but they have gone way up.
If you look around, you will find that many motorists don't appear to know how to drive properly. They may not always be in accidents, but they cause them.
How about more regular road testing for drivers? I haven't been tested since I first received my license. Can we insist that anyone deemd to have caused a serious accident must be re-tested before thay can drive again?
Yes, many drivers will just see this as another cash grab - but I think it will just make driving safer. Your thoughts?
Once Upon a Time, the TV show that put Steveston on the map back in 2011 has been axed when its 7th season comes to an end later this year.
The show which attracted a global cult following, was primarily shot in Steveston, AKA Storybrooke.
This show was so popular that fans travelled from all over the world to experience Steveston and explore the village.
It became so hot that Tourism Richmond would promote special package deals for fans which included hotel stays and Disney-licensed 'Once' merchandise, such as t-shirts, tote bags, hoodies... sold at Tourism Richmond's Visitor Centre/Museum on Moncton Street along with self-guided walking maps of 'Storybrooke'.
Steveston merchants had mixed feelings about the show taking over large parts of 'the Village' during filming, with some revelling in the publicity, and others lamenting the distruption to their businesses.
It's funny - it's been said that tourism in Steveston has jumped about 75% since the show first aired - how much of a distruption to their business could that be?
Understandably, fans around the globe took to social media to express their dissappointment of the cancellation.
Are you going to miss the 'Steveston Buzz' created by 'Once'? Did you have an opporunity to experience the gathering crowds during filming?
We hear about the issue of Chinese-Only signage in Richmond from time to time. What are the answers for these concerns?
Well the issue has resurfaced again. This time it's an ad on the side of a bus travelling along Steveston Highway last month that has ruffled some feathers.
It's an ad for a Richmond based financial company that covered the entire side of a bus.
Do you find this disgraceful or not? Would you like to see tougher language laws - whether they be municipal or better yet provincial? Or do we have bigger fish to fry? Your thoughts!
Heading south on Highway 99 approaching the Massey Tunnel you will notice a line up of BC Ferries to your right. But the Fraser River isn't a Ferry route. So what is going on?
I am sure many of you know the answer - this is the location of what's known as ''Deas Dock', the primary ship repair and maintenance location for BC Ferries. What you may not know, is there are lot of people working there - approximately 250 of them full time and up to 350 during the peak refit season, which runs from September to May.
If you drove by today you would see the Queen of Oak Bay, Queen of Capilano, Salish Orca, Northern Adventure and the Queen of Burnaby which is retired.
The Salish Orca was put into service in 2017 on the Comox-Powell River route to replace the Queen of Burnaby.
You might remember the Queen of Burnaby being put up for auction, initially at a low, low price and the eventual high bid was $653,000, which is now subject to approval by BC Ferries.
Of course the Massey Tunnel has been a hot topic over the past few years, as talk of a bridge or some other repair/replacement alternative has been in the news, but BC Ferries doesn't see that impacting their operation.
So, have you noticed the ferries parked by the Massey Tunnel, and did you know what they were doing there?
It has been said that wealth is not how much you make, but how much you can save. Now maybe you can do just that with a new app that has come up with a creative way to allow people to slowly save and invest their money.
'Mylo', a personal finance investing app, rounds up users' purchases to the nearest dollar and invests spare change.
In Metro Vancouver, the median individuals after tax income is about $24,129 (based on 2016 census data for people 15 and over). With that income, many people likely think investing is out of reach. With 'Mylo', you can start investing with as little as $1.
CEO & founder, Philip Barrar, says the idea came from his own experience. "I tried to save and do well with my money, and I found putting away a bit of money every single time I purchased worked well for me. With the money I saved, I had my first vacation in 3 years. Now I hope to share this saving technique with others."
It only takes a few minutes to sign up for an account, which links to a credit or debit card. Every time users make a purchase, 'Mylo' rounds up the amount and puts the change into an ETF (exchange-traded fund), which is managed by an investment firm.
For example, 'Mylo' would take 75 cents from a $4.25 latte purchase made on your debit or credit card and put it in the users investment account. Users can withdraw their money at any time, and keep all the returns - a fixed fee of $1 a month is charged to 'Mylo'.
But be careful. While an app such as 'Mylo' makes saving easier, it could also encourage overspending by psychologically rewarding that habit through the automatic saving. It might be a good idea to link 'Mylo' to your debit card, so that you can immediately see the money leave your possession.
The provincial government has put out the word to drivers wanting to earn a little extra cash by joining a ride-sharing service - 'We will find you and fine you.'
So far the Ministry of Transportation has issued 20 cease and desist orders and 23 fines of $1,150 to drivers who are using personal vehicles as a commercial venture.
The ministry is going after the driver, not the app. Their press release went on to say 'It is important that drivers providing commercial transportation services through these social media apps understand that they are assuming all of the risk related to providing the service'.
The companies that appear to have been actively recruiting drivers include Longmao, Udi Kuaiche, U Drop, RaccoonGo, GoKabu, Dingdang Carpool and AO Rideshare.
In order to be licensed there must be a regular government-safety inspection of the vehicle, insurance that will cover the carrying of paying passengers and a police background check on the driver.
In the meatime, Uber is laying the groundwork for expanding its brand. Last month it launched its food-delivery service, UberEATS, in select Vancouver neighbourhoods. The delivery service allows Uber to recruit potential drivers to transport food before regulations are introduced to transport people.