You don't need money to have a great time in Vancouver this time of year. There are a number of free fun activities going on. Here are just a few:


Metro Vancouver is studded with lights, starting with downtown's dramatic St. Paul's Hospital Lights of Hope display, or the Holiday Lights Walking Tour. You could also hop across to West Vancouver's Dundarave Festival of Lights.


Hop on SkyTrain's Evergreen Extension to Lafarge Lake Douglas Station, where you are only steps from Coquitlam's Lights at Lafarge and if you still have space available on your camera, catch the sight of the CP Holiday Train travelling through the region over the Christmas season. 


There are many more ways to pick up your festive spirit without breaking the bank. Stroll pier-like Canada  Place to  view the antique Woodward's Christmas windows alongside a host of decorated Christmas trees and a nice light display, complete with a giant moose, celebrating Canada's North.

If you need to warm up, hit the Four Seasons Hotel for the Festival of Trees which is in full swing, or the neary Hyatt Regency's Gingerbread Lane which is back with tons of candy-studded miniature constructions.


If it's time to stretch you legs outside, head to Robson Square Ice Rink. It's free with your own skates or you can rent skates for a small fee. Here you will find live music on many nights.  Just a short walk away you will find Vancouver's towering official Christmas tree, and while you are in the vicinity, pop into the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver's lobby to spot a Salvador Dali drooping clock-sculpture framed by sparkling decorations.

If you are looking for a seasonal walk, head to Christmas in Kerrisdale, which is a reminder a time when Christmas shoppers strolled around with parcels and carol singing. On pre-Christmas Saturdays, there's a brass band, wandering Santa and free horse carriage rides.


Burnaby Village Museum is a wonderland of antique buildings brightly decorated or as part of Canada 150 celebrations,entry is free at festively decorated Fort Langley, and Steveston's Gulf of Georgia Cannery, which is hosting its own Festival of Trees.

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Are you in the search for a fun gift, as well as practiical? Whether you are purchasing a gift for under the tree or to send to a Canadian expatriated family member, here are a few gift ideas that are sure to please.

CBC logo sweater - Whether you are mourning the retirement of Rick Cluff from the Early Edition or celebrating Stephen Quinn as the new host, these are the sweatersthat CBC fans will want to be wearing to ring in the new year. They are designed and hand knit in Vancouver, feature the iconic CBC gem logo and zigzags  representing analog radio waves.

Tragically Hip pint glasses - These 16 ounce pint glasses are wrapped with some of the Hip's most iconic album artwork, including Fully Completely, Phatom  Power, Day for Night and Trouble At The Henhouse.

Maple syrup candle with crackling wooden wick - Can you even be a Canadian if you don't love the smell of maple syrup? Not only do these candles duplicate that authentic smell effectively, they are also sold in vintage style, maple syrup cans, giving them throw back loof to induce notalgia. These great gifts burn for a about 75 hours each.

CBC sweaterHipcandle

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The provincial governments announcement that it is changing tenancy regulations to limit rent increases by eliminating a clause that allows landlords to seek massive rent hikes to match neighbourhood prices is being met with applause on local social media.

As of November 2017, the average rent for an apartment in Richmond was $1964, which is a 34.93% increase from last year when the average rent was $1278. One bedroom apartments in Richmond rent  for $1513 a month for an an average 11.75% increase and a two bedroom apartment rents on average for $2420, a 38.39% increase from last year.

These rent increases are dramatic, but as of December 11th, renters no longer need to worry about further rent spikes.

Most comments on social media support the BC NDP's action, but some have concerns about how the change would work.

What are your views?


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In a bid to provide evidence for investigations on collisions, when an accident happens at an intersection in Richmond next year, it is likely to be recorded on camera.

The City of Richmond is planning to install closed circuit television cameras (CCTV) at all the 175 signalized intersections in 2018.

The staff report was passed at the city council's general purposes committee last week and is just pending final approval at the council meeting today.

Once approved, the city will invest approximately $2.2 million to upgrade all existing traffic cameras to allow for live video feed recording, and to add additional video recording cameras at all signalized intersections.

The cameras will provide evidence for investigations on serious collisions at intersections, as well as facilitate the RCMP's ability to identify and locate criminals and investigate threats of violence.

The cameras will also help to monitor big events such as the Steveston Salmon Festival and Richmond World Festival, to ensure public safety.

The Richmond RCMP and the city's transportation department hopes the technology will deter crime, reduce traffic accidents and provide an additional tool in crime and accident investigations.

Based on statistics from ICBC, 88% of accidents in Richmond occur at intersections.


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You often hear that 'trend' is a bad word, and whenever you talk about trends you may get strong reactions from people. There are some people who instantly assume trends should be avoided, while others can't wait to see what's up and coming in the design world. A lot of people never plan their renovations around specific trends because you never know if they will last or not, however there are definitely some that make their way into a lot of projects in subtle ways.

Regardless of whether or not you're a trend hunter, it's always interesting to see what's popular and what direction the renovation design industries are heading in. Here are 3 kitchen trends that a currently hot!

Quartz Counters -  This trend has been embraced in a big way, and often in almost every room in the house.  In the kitchen, Quartz is a great idea for a few reasons - it looks great, it's incredibly durable and it won't scratch or stain. So while it may be considered trendy at the moment, it is fully expected to stick around for the long haul.

Universal Design - Elements of Universal design have been creeping into interiors for a while now.  As our population ages, it's becoming more and more important to ensure we keep our loved ones safe in the home. Things like home automation, barrier free bathrooms, open shelving and wider doorways can make our homes function better for the elderly and those with accessibility issues. As the design and renovation communities begin to explore these principles further, even more great looking options are become available.

Two Tone Cabinets -  When this idea was first tried a few years ago people thought it to be a little strange, but suddenly it's gaining traction. It's a great way to breathe life into a plain kitchen and it can work with pretty much any style. The look may or may not be here to stay, but as long as you stick with neutral colours and a simple design, you should be safe.Scott McGillivray Kitchen.jpgS10E131Kitchen1S9E108Kitchen4

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A unique urban park will be built on the rooftop of Oakridge Centre as part of the ambitious redevelopement of the shopping centre.

The Vancouver Park Board has launched a public consultation phase for the design concept of the 9 acre park that will replace the existing rooftop parking over the mall.

The park is one of the public amenity requirements under City Council's 2014 approved rezoning of the 28.5 acre shopping centre in exchange for the site's added retail, office and residential density, which will see a floor area increase to up to 4.6 million square feet.

The redevelopment will include relocating the 70,000 square foot Civic Centre with a new library, daycare, senior centre, community centre and 290 affordable homes from the southwest corner to the northwest corner, as it is a more prominent and accessible area.

As well, the roof for the park will be lowered, and the park's levels will be closer to the street. There will also be 3 varying park levels instead of 1 single level park as previously proposed.

The 'Oakridge Park' will be surrounded by the Civic Centre, office and residential towers, townhouses and restaurants with patios.

At least 6 major entrances into the park space will be created from the street level, the SkyTrain  station entrance plaza and the indoor shopping mall level. Visitors will be able to  access and move between the 3 park levels by stairs, walkways, escalators and elevators.

Six zones - each with varying concepts intended for different usages are envisioned for the park and all of the zones are connected by a grand staircase and looping walking path that doubles as a running track. There is a 1/4 mile (400metre) loop and a 1/2 mile (800 metre) loop.

All the construction will be funded by the developer and the park will be operated by the Park Board when complete.

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I don't necessarily want to own one, but I would love to drive one. Yes, any of the top 10 exotic cars are the stuff which we dream of. I am quite certain that if I found myself face to face with one, dissappointment would be nowhere to be found.

To make this list, each care must be the top performance model manufactured by a series production builder and certified for operation on public roads. In other words, these cars are all 'mainstream mass market goods'. 

In the world of exotic cars, you would expect particular demands to be replaced in exchange for the experience. When Audi brought the all-wheel drive R8 along, all those myths were dispelled. It is said that driving it feels like driving any other car. In fact, Audi's R8 is remarkable in just how unremarkable it feels - until you find someplace to turn it loose and let if fly.

How serious is Audi about boosting the R8? The  5.2 litre, V10 Plus model, the one just about anyone can buy, as long you have $200,000+, has more horsepower than the LMS, that's the Le Mans Series racing car it's based on - at 610 horsepower. With a redline all the way to 8700 rpm, the R8 will reach 100km/h in a very supercar-like 3.1 seconds, which is the very same as Lamborghini's latest Huracan, and has a top speed which is equally eye opening at 330 km/h.  Now that's flying!

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1.  It was built for passengers

The Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) opened the first Hotel Vancouver in 1888 as a compilment to the successful opening of the city's new railway a year prior. It was meant for weary train passengers who would arrive just steps away at the Granville Street Station.

2.  Vancouverites did NOT like the design

One year before completion, local newspaper The Ledge, suggest that the Hotel Vanouver's architectural rendering resembled 'a compound of a decayed grist-mill with bits of bastile and the tower of London added,' and that the design was a 'monument of external ugliness.'

When speaking to the designer, CPR president William Cornelius Van Horne commented, " so you're the damn fool who spoilt the building with all those windows." Not a great start for the city's largest hotel...

3.  Van Horne imagined a string of grand hotels across Canada

The Hotel Vancouver opened on May 16, 1888, followed by a similar hotel in Banff, Alberta, just 2 weeks later. The hotels were meant to tempt Canadians with the idea of riding the CPR railway across the country.

4.  Vancouverites also did not like the location

Despite being in what is not the centre of the city, the 60 room hotel was deemed 'out of the way,' because of its distance from the city centre (present day Gastown). The hotel sat surrounded by forests and brush. It was located on Georgia and Granville Street.

5.  It was so successful that it had to be replaced

With Vancouver's economy booming, the CPR welcomed thousands of new tourists and workers to Vancouver. In 1916, the CPR replaced the Hotel Vancouver with its second incarnation, which was much grander in both capacity and design. The Italian Renaissance style building was passed on to the Canadian Pacific Railway and eventually demolished in 1949.

C.P.R. Station Vancouver on Granville St, 1900. Photo: Vancouver Archives Item: S-3-2Hotel Vancouver, 1900. Photo: Vancouver Archives Item: Hot P88Dominion Photo Co. photo, Vancouver Public Library VPL 24322.Hotel Vancouver, 1917. Photo: Vancouver Archives Item: CVA 677-21

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Among a number of other strategies, the city of Vancouver is considering restricting ownership of housing to local residents, as it looks to cool a hot real estate market they feel is fueled by foreign and local speculation.

According to the city, Vancouver is the setting for the 'perfect storm' where excessive supply of global capital is flowing into the city, along with builders targeting investors, low interest rates and favourable tax policies.

Vancouver, which is Canada's most expensive housing market has already made numerous moves to try and curb the situation, including imposing an empty home tax and restricting short-term rentals.

Home prices in Vancouver's westside have jumped 57% in the last 3 years, sending the typical price - including condos, townhouses and detached homes - to $1.4 million according the the Great Vancouver Real Estate Board.

In the Greater Vancouver region, the typical home now costs $1 million, 12.5 times the regions median household income of $79,930, which puts home ownership out of reach for many residents.

With rising homes prices we have also seen rents increase, with the vacancy rate hovering below 1%.

This lack of affordable housing is putting a strain on local businesses, with restaurants, retailers and even the city itself struggling to find enough workers.

To address the crunch, Vancouver is considering new strategies including imposing a speculation tax, an increase in the luxury tax and the possibility of 'restricting property ownership by non-permanent residents'.

Vancouver is the latest jursidiction to consider this restriction, following in the footsteps of Australia and New Zealand.

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Hiking definitely requires full mobility, or maybe it doesn't! If you explore the delightful network of pathways in Sunnyside Acres Urban Forest, you will come to a junction at the Wally Ross Trail. There you will immediately notice the Obstacle Free Trail sign. This trail was created as an universal access trail and made  specifically for users who may have varying physical abilities with relatively safe access for all.  How fantastic is that - a nature trail designed to be navigated independently by those who may be wheelchair bound.  Nature for everyone!

As host city for the 2010 Winter Paralympics,Vancouver welcomed the world and earned a reputation as one of the world's most accessible places to visit.  Of course, wheelchair access routes can present a few obstacles in the form of rocks, roots and steep inclines.  Enter the TrailRider, a remote wheelchair, provided that access, whose origins are grounded in Vancouver. Former Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan, co-invented the TrailRider as part of his dream to make the outdoors more accessible. Imagine a unique, single tire 'wheelchair' powered by a couple of sherpas.  This single piece of equipment allows a person with mobility restrictions to access the great outdoors. From Mount Everest base camp to Mount Kilimanjaro the TrailRider has been tested under extreme conditions and across challenging terrain.

Closer to home, the British Columbia Mobility Opportunities Society operates an accessible hiking program based in Pacific Spirit Regional Park. As part of their goal to make the 'beautiful accessible' BCMSO also coordinates a TrailRider rental program. For only $10 per day, outdoor enthusiasts can rent a specialized TrailRider and embark on a self guided and self paced adventure. Here are a few suggestions for destination hikes:

*  Camosun Bog, Pacific Spirit Park

*  Spanish Banks, Vancouver

*  Lighthouse Park, West Vancouver

*  Green Timbers Urban Forest, Surrey

*  Burns Bog, Delta Nature Reserve

Check out this terrific list of Accessible Trails in the Lower Mainland from Spinal Cord Injury BC.  Are you looking for a more extreme adventure? Trail Peak features a list of TrailRider accessible routes.

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Last year was busy for Richmond's Snow Angels and with the winter weather quickly  approaching, recruitment is underway for volunteeers.

Heavy snowfall can cause challenges for some residents, particularly senior citizens and residents with illnesses, disabilities and mobility challenges.

Richmond volunteer Snow Angels program is back for its 8th year to lend a hand to those in need of assistance this winter by removing snow from sidewalks and walkways.

An accumulation of 5 or more centimetres of snow is needed to activate the program. Although assistance is not guaranteed, participating volunteers will make every effort to help qualified callers.

If you would like to become a Snow Angel, visit, call 604-244-1208 or email  You may select the geographic community you wish to serve or provide your services city wide.

Snow Angels are to provide their own transportation, equipment and protective gear including shovels, proper footwear, gloves and jackets.

If you are a resident in need, requests should be made in advance of a storm by contacting a Snow Angel coordinator at your closest community centre or by calling 604-244-1208. A full list of coordinators can be found online at

Snow angel

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It's a common sight throughout the year for Vancouverites and visitors to round a corner and step into an enchanting, snow covered scene complete with foreign taxis, fluffy snow defying warm and sunny weather and camera crews capturing every second. Vancouver is loaded with productions filming holiday heartwarmers - and a few comedies that'll jingle your bells as well. Now the city's Yuletide events cast a festive glow that people can enjoy off screen too.

This season, visit some of your old holiday favourites and discover new finds.  You'll be surprised at how many productions you're familiar with that were filmed or digitally finished in Metro Vancouver.

Every day between now and December 12 (excluding weekends), Tourism Vancouver will profile one holiday film or TV show shot in Vancouver, paired with a can't miss Vancouver holiday attraction or activity.  

Here are the attractions that will be highlighted during the Productions of Christmas:

Bright Nights Christmas Train in Stanley Park

Vancouver Christmas Market

Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

Festival of Lights at VanDusen Botanical Garden

Peak of Christmas at Grouse Mountain

Vancouver Bach Choir Presents Handel's Messiah

Christmas Classics at Granville Island with Vancouver Foodie Tour

FlyOver Canada Christmas

Heritage Christmas at Burnaby Village Museum

Holiday Traditions Start at Vancouver Aquarium

Christmas at Canada Place

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Transit riders will get a chance to test out the new double-decker buses starting now in Richmond and South Delta, Langley, Surrey and White Rock.

The pilot project is a way to test double-decker buses on long distance communter routes.

The 2 buses were supplied at no charge by British bus manufacturer Alexander Dennis.

The double-decker buses can seat 80-86 passengers, up to 83% more than the older highway coaches, and have double overall capacity.

The pilot program will allow TransLink to see how double-decker buses fare in the Lower Mainland, both from a customer experience and operational standpoint, and to evaluate bus depot requirements.

TransLink is preparing for 1.2 million more people in the region over the next 30 years. With growing suburban demand in communities south of the Fraser River, they are looking at new ways to ensure that transit is an attractive option for commuters.

Double-decker buses are currently working very well in other cities, such as Victoria and Seattle and should work well here as well. And yes, they can fit through the tunnel!!

This photo shows the kind of double-decker bus that TransLink will be testing on three routes in Metro Vancouver this fall.

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We often hear about how our shortage in supply of housing is the root cause for Metro Vancouver's skyrocketing prices, but maybe that's not the whole story.

John Rose, a geographer at Kwantlen Polytechnic University has studied housing supplies in Canada's 33 largest municipalities since 2001. He claims the record shows that while prices in Metro Vancouver escalated dramatically over the past 15 year, the supply actually grew during that period.

For every 100 individuals or families who moved to the region since 2001, there have been 119 housing units added to the market.

Rose says, 'The market has provided a lot of units, yet at the same time, we've seen affordability get degraded'.  Rose contends that 'speculative investment' has resulted in tens of thousands of empty homes and have led to the regions sky high prices.

In 2016, the Metro Vancouver region had more than 60,000 vacant units. We have all this available supply, but they are just sitting empty.

Roses' word to policy makers is that we need to be really measured and careful about how we go forward, we really need to go forward in a different fashion from what we have been doing.

Perhaps we need more restictions or laws to be put in place to curb the speculative demand, because in the absence of that, we could add thousands upon thousands of housing units, but they are being easily snapped up by speculators and not getting to the people who need them.

Vancouver is currently in a league of its own as the most unaffordable housing market in North America, surpassing New York and San Francisco.

The average family income is $81,608, while the median homes sale price in the City of Vancouver is more that 17 times greater at about $1.7 million.

Don't you think it time to make some changes? Maybe start with stopping the sale of assignements with pre-sale developements. Reduce the incentive for 'the investor', and give the first time buyer a greater chance of a reasonable purchase.  Your thoughts?

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If there is one thing that supercar builder Horacio Pagani wants everybody to know about his new Pagani Huayra roadster, it's this: This is not just a Huayra with the roof removed. This is a brand new car, even if it has the same name and general shape as the gullwing coupe that came before. The roadster uses the same Mercedes AMG V12, but is more powerful, lighter, stiffer and is said to offer better handling.

Ludicrous in every way and utterly fascinating in every detail, this mid engined  supercar is for those who have grown bored with mere Ferraris and Lamborghinis and already have 2 Bugattis in the garage.

Each of the 100 roadsters built will sell for $2.4 million, but leave your checkbook where it is: Every single one is already spoken for. 

2017 Pagani Huayra Roadster: A Born-Again Topless Supercar

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A quick trip out of the city will take you into a dazzling display of lights at the annual Lights at Lafarge installation set up by the City of Coquitlam.

Wander around the waters edge of Lafarge Lake for some fun this winter with the lights shining from November 25th until January 21st. There will also be a special pre-lighting event on opening night to celebrate the return of the fantastic light display.

Located just steps away from Lafage Lake-Douglas Skytrain Station, or you can take the 45 minute drive from downtown Vancouver and park off Trevor Wingrove Way. The lights will remain lit  from dusk each night until 11pm, except on New Years eve, when the lights will stay lit until midnight.

The display, made up of hundreds of thousands of twinkling lights, will wrap itself entirely around the lake, taking you on a 1.2 kilometre loop through themed zones. The lights are set up outside, so make sure you dress for the weather.

Fun Fact: many of the lights have been made by Coquitlam community members, often using recycled materials. For exampe, tulip lights were hand crafted out of pop bottles and lotus blossoms out of milk jugs.

On opening night there will be a special pre-lighting event from 2:30-5:30 with a few festive extras like roving performers, free hot chocolae, crafts, photos with Santa, a holiday market and choirs. The big light up will happen at 5:30.

If you can't make opening night, you can consider Jingle Bells Night being held on Friday, December 22nd. This event aims to break the previous record of 500 singing voices.

The lights themselves will remain lit each night until January 21st.

lights at lafarge Christmas 2017

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'Eone' believes that timepieces should be designed for everyone, which means they should be able to be read by the visually impaired. Their unique watches were inspired by Bradley Snyder, an ex naval-officer who lost his eyesight in Afghanistan and won the gold and silver awards in swimming at the 2012 Paralympics one year later. For the visually impaired, these masterpieces make day to day life possible without drawing attention to their disability; and for sighted users, they offer a unique and discrete way of telling time. The Bradley timepiece features two ball bearings. One on top and one on the side - so that all you need to do is touch your watch to find out the time. Winner of numerous design awards. 

Eone Bradley Canvas Quartz // BR-C-BLACK

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There are many wonderful reasons to live and work around Vancouver. One of many is the ability to ride year round. Of course, summer riding is supreme, but with storm season officially upon us, a whole new dimension has been added to the morning bike commute. For the brave, torrential rain and gusty winds on the downtown bike lanes tend to separate the weak from the strong. Rain during rush hour certainly brings some challenges, but for those who enjoy a good dose of nature, it also offers up unexpected thrills and delights; the sound of the wind, rain pelting in your face and slippey corners testing your balance.

Most of us are creatures of habits, and those dedicated and passionate commuting cyclists are no different. They tend to ride the same route, at the same hour of the day on their quest to get  to work on time. During storm season, a purpose is evident. Simply observe a group of cyclists at the next stop light. Splattered with mud, soaked to the skin, they will nod to each other, in solidarity. Comrades in Gortex, they bravely forgo the comforts of a car or bus and spin along our transportation corridors undeterred by the conditions.

While biking in the rain isn't for everyone, for many of our car free citizens it's a must. How do they survive the elements? Here are a few tips for riding in the rain from those die-hard, weather beaten commuters.

*  Install front and back lights on your bike or helmet - see and be seen

*  Wear good eye protection - keep debris away from your eyes.

*  Rain gear - invest in a good quality rain jacket and pants

*  Fenders - although a little 'nerdy' fenders will protect you from taking a mud bath

*  Footwear - from plastic bags to neoprene booties, keeping your feet warm and dry is the goal.

*  Gloves - warm hands make the difference

*  Smile - it works to lighten your mood and of course, keeps those in their vehicles guessing.

Gear up and ready to roll? Check out Vancouver's cycling map.

Here's a question for you. Will you get wetter if you walk, run or ride in the rain? Thankfully Harvard mathematician David Bell answered this old age question. It is true! When the rain is falling vertically, or the wind is in your face, you should ride, and the faster you ride, the less wet you will get. And that's science.

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The B.C. Real Estate Association reports that a total of 8,677 residential units sold on the MLS in October, an increase of 19.3% from the same period last year. Total sales dollar volume was $6.25 billion, up 41.6%  from October 2016. The average MLS residental price in the province was $720,129 up 18.7% from October 2016.

Cameron Muir, BCREA's chief economist says, B.C. homes sales trended higher in October, up 23% from January on a seasonally adjusted basis, likely due to a lack of supply in the resale market, which continues to put upward pressure on home prices in most B.C. regions.

Total  active listings were down 5.1% to 27,987 units in October compared to the same month last year, and have declined 49% over the last 5 years. The ratio of home sales to active listings was  up from 24.7% in October 2016 to 31% last month. The BC housing market is considered to be in relative balance when the ratio of homes sales to active listings is between 12% and 20%.

File photo.

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When the weather turns to autumn like, do you develop a longing for a bowl of hearty chowder? If you are reaching for your soup spoon, you'll find plenty to dig into at the upcoming Seafood Chowder Chowdown, the soup event of the season.

Returning for its 10 anniversary on November 22nd, Ocean Wise will be holding their annual chowder event at the Vancouver Aquarium. The Chowdown started in Vancouver and has since  spread across the country, with 2 other dates happening in Toronto (November 14th) and Calgary (November 15). Other cities have also been inspired to produce their own versions of the themed initiative

The Chowder Chowdown is intended to be about good sustainable eating: food-related connections among guests, chefs and producers; and increased understanding in terms of how to keep the oceans abundant for the future.

The evening will include a wander through the Vancouver Aquarium's impressive galleries and a sampling of a diverse and delicious range of chef created seafood chowders, as well as craft beer.

For this years event, 13 past winners will be participating in the event, vying for the stomachs of guests, as well as industry and media judges. The judging panel will crown the 2017 Chowder Chowdown All-Star Champion and the Best Chowder and Beer Pairing, while guests will get to vote for the People's Choice Award winner.

This event is expected to be a marvelous (and filling time). Enjoy everything from crab chowder with crispy pancetta, to a cedar smoked sablefish chowder.

Tickets are $75 and are available online. This event is sure to sell out, so don't wait long to purchase your tickets.

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