August 31, 2011
Tayu Hayward finds adventure in We Don’t Live Here Anymore
A nice article that I found in the Georgia Straight by Robin Lawrence. Sounds like an exibition worth seeing.
Tayu Hayward: We Don’t Live Here Anymore
At the Teck Gallery, SFU Vancouver, until November 23
Tayu Hayward’s colour photographs form an unusual exhibition for an academic setting. Handsomely composed, richly hued, and often dramatic shots of wilderness settings in Canada, Japan, and the United States, his work could easily find a home in a glossy geographic or adventure-travel magazine. Instead, Hayward’s small show of landscape images, subtitled We Don’t Live Here Anymore, is on view at the Teck Gallery at Simon Fraser University’s Vancouver campus.
Although Hayward describes what he does as environmental photojournalism, his position is more celebratory than critical, as gallery director Bill Jeffries points out in the show’s introductory panel. Jeffries notes that Hayward is not going the Ed Burtynsky route, using his camera to demonstrate the massive impact human beings have had on the natural world. Instead, this young photographer, who recently graduated from McGill University with a degree in geography and environmental studies, hikes or bikes into remote areas, far removed from the malignancy of development.
Snowy mountain tops, glacier-fed lakes, redwood forests, rock formations in the high desert, and starry skies above unpopulated coastlines are shot on film using either a 35-mm or a medium-format camera. As with Burtynsky’s photos, Hayward’s images bear a wealth of detail. In Bryce Canyon Ampitheatre, Utah, for instance, equal visual consequence is given to the red dirt and gravel in the foreground as to the spiky evergreens on the ridges and mesas in the background. Oneonta Gorge, Oregon articulates everything from the mosaic of smooth brown stones in the shallow river that runs through the gorge to the bright green vines, ferns, and moss that cover its towering, perpendicular walls.
Hayward’s work is “inspiring”, Jeffries notes, in the way thousands of such landscape photographs are. More interesting about this show, however, is the dialogue it stimulates around a “hierarchy of place”—what places on Earth, natural or manmade, we value, and for what reasons. It also provokes thinking about our evolving relationship with the idea of wilderness. Through these photos, we might be moved to consider an array of North American attitudes, from the misguided colonial belief that aboriginal lands were unoccupied, through the late-19th- and early-20th-century advocacy for and creation of national parks, to enduring arguments between conservationists and preservationists about whether there should be controlled human use of or no human access whatsoever to land designated as wilderness.
Many of Hayward’s images were taken in national and state parks, where recreational access is a given. In one image, Angel’s Landing, Zion National Park, Utah, a road with a couple of cars on it winds through the valley below. In another, Asulkan Pass, Glacier National Park, B.C., Hayward includes the colourful tents of winter campers on a snow-covered mountain. Since these photos express the pleasure and freedom experienced by their hiking, biking, stargazing maker, they fall on the conservationist side of the argument.
The location of the Teck Gallery, on either side of a window overlooking the busy port of Vancouver and the densely developed North Shore mountains, lends a poignant air to Hayward’s show. On that very North Shore, a number of black bears have been shot this season, mostly because they’ve confused their habitat with ours. However we define it, their wilderness is gone.
August 30, 2011
Vancouver drops from number 1 spot in livability survey for first time in nearly a decade
After nearly a decade of topping livability studies, the city has slipped to number three behind Melbourne and Vienna according to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s latest Global Livability Survey.
Photograph by: Jenelle Schneider, PNG
Vancouver is no longer the best place in the world to live. After nearly a decade of topping livability studies, the city has slipped to number three behind Melbourne and Vienna, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s latest Global Livability Survey.
It was not the riots that did it. Instead it was an adjustment in Vancouver’s score for transport infrastructure, “reflecting recent intermittent closures of the key Malahat highway that resulted in a 0.7 percentage point decline in the city’s overall livability rating,” said the report.
The June riot came too late in the year to affect livability, the report said, but could lead to further downward revisions of Vancouver’s overall score in future surveys.
Overall, there was only a difference of 0.2 points between Melbourne (97.5) and Vancouver (97.2). The top three cities stacked up equivalent points for the indicators of stability, health care and education, with Vancouver scoring much higher than Melbourne and Vienna for culture and environment (100 as opposed to 95.1 and 94.4 respectively). The only place it stumbled was in terms of infrastructure — scoring 92.9 in the face of a perfect score of 100 by the other two cities.
Seven of the top ten cities are in Australia and Canada. Toronto ranked fourth and Calgary fifth.
The Economist Intelligence Unit’s livability rating is an annual survey aimed to quantify “the challenges that might be presented to an individual’s lifestyle in any given location, and allows for direct comparison between locations.”
Here are the world's 10 most livable cities, according to the EIU:
1. Melbourne, Australia
2. Vienna, Austria
3. Vancouver, Canada
4. Toronto, Canada
5. Calgary, Canada
6. Sydney, Australia
7. Helsinki, Finland
8. Perth, Australia
9. Adelaide, Australia
10. Auckland, New Zealand
August 29, 2011
Vancouver startup uses QR codes to replace loyalty cards
Vancouver startup Reward-Loop is putting a high-tech twist on customer loyalty programs, replacing that wallet full of cards and stamps with an electronic code.
Instead of fumbling for the right card when you buy a cup of coffee so you'll eventually get a free cup, under RewardLoop's system you'd just have to scan a QR code on your smartphone. The code automatically credits loyalty points or stamps to your account, dispensing with the need to carry around cards for multiple businesses and services.
Nigel Malkin, RewardLoop/ Photos by Glenn Baglo, Vancouver Sun
"Nobody likes to carry loyalty cards," Nigel Malkin, CEO and co-founder of RewardLoop, a graduate of Vancouver's Wavefront wireless incubator program and winner of the BC Technology Industry Association's most promising startup award. "People who do have loyalty cards forget to carry them.
"This is a point of sale adapter, it plugs into a merchant's point of sale system."
RewardLoop is now in beta testing - Vancouver diners can try it out at Prestons restaurant - with plans for a wide-scale offering through a number of merchants and services starting in November.
For Malkin and RewardLoop co-founder Jeff LaPorte, the Entrepreneurship@Wavefront program provided the catalyst they needed to quit their day jobs and take their wireless idea from a concept to a product ready for market. During its stay at Wavefront, RewardLoop launched a pilot, raised a seed round of funding and hired three new employees.
"It's incredible being here," Malkin said of Wavefront's offices downtown, where startups get office space, wireless phones for testing, help from mentors and other support. "We are surrounded by so many other wireless companies.
"Anytime there is something we can't figure out, there is someone around who can help us."
After a successful launch year with eight companies, Entreprenuership@Wavefront, which is funded by the BC Innovation Council, is expanding to 12 companies. Deadline for applications is Aug. 26 with successful applicants to be announced Sept. 7. Details and applications are online at the Wavefront web site here.
Vancouver also saw the launch of another accelerator program this week, GrowLab, an initiative funded by Canadian and Silicon Valley investors, many who are taking part in this week's Grow Conference for tech entrepreneurs.
While Wavefront doesn't take equity in the companies in its accelerator program, GrowLab is getting a stake between eight and nine per cent in the companies it is fostering. In exchange, the startups get about $25,000 in funding along with training and mentorship, with three months in Vancouver and one month in San Francisco.
"We have pretty much every Canadian VC [venture capitalist] as funders," said Boris Wertz of W Media Ventures, which is among VCs behind the initiative.
Five companies are in the first cohort, two from Vancouver, one from Toronto, one from Romania and one from Philadelphia.
"We are trying to create more companies, more entrepreneurs in the city," said Wertz.
Wertz said the investors in GrowLab, which has raised $2.3 million or enough money to keep it running for four years, see it as a way to encourage Vancouver tech talent to stay here instead of leaving for jobs elsewhere.
"These guys see it as an investment in the ecosystem," said Wertz. "It's creating a startup academy, a startup university that is going to train the next generation of entrepreneurs."
August 26, 2011
To dream the impossible dream: Home ownership
It concluded that ownership costs for a standard bungalow in Vancouver amount to 92.5 per cent of median household income, prompting chief economist Craig Wright to say that owning a home in Vancouver "is a dream that only the area's highest-earning households can contemplate."
Not to take issue with such a renowned economist, but the dream is still realizable for median-income earners if buyers are willing to make compromises.
Let's start with the RBC assumptions that form the basis of the affordability index. These include a 25-percent down payment, a mortgage with a 25-year amortization and a five-year fixed rate. The standard bungalow has a floor area of 1,200 square feet, the standard condo 900 square feet and the standard two-storey 1,500 square feet.
While these measures are necessary to create a universally applicable index, they tend to simplify the reality of Vancouver's real estate market. A cursory glance at property listings, for instance, indicates that although condos of 900 square feet represent an average of the inventory in the city, units of that size do not dominate the market. More often, what's on offer are condos ranging from 500 square feet (or less) to 800 square feet. The website Realtylink.org lists 442 apartment properties below the RBC average price of $410,800. And that's just on the west side. There are 336 more in east Vancouver.
Furthermore, there are options between a bungalow and a standard two-storey home. You can't buy a twostorey detached house in Vancouver for $660,000, but that's the asking price for a two-level, three bedroom townhouse on West 8th with mountain and city views and nearly 1,600 square feet of floor space, which is larger than the RBC standard twostorey.
That being said, RBC's average price of a standard two-storey house of $843,300 may understate the case because there is virtually nothing detached on the west side for under $1 million and it's slim pickings on the east side as well. Indeed, the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver says its benchmark price for all single detached homes in Metro Vancouver is $902,000. However, anyone prepared to commute can buy a lot of house nearby at prices far below those in the city. Detached homes can be had for just over $500,000 in Squamish, less than hour's drive from downtown Vancouver; and $360,000 in Mission, at the end of the West Coast Express line. There are also bargains - relatively speaking - in Tsawwassen, Coquitlam, Langley and Surrey and other Lower Mainland communities.
What's more, RBC's index requirements fail to take into account the flexibility buyers have in arranging their financing. About a third of Canadians opt for variable-rate mortgages, which were recently two percentage points below the current posted fiveyear fixed rate. At a variable rate of three per cent, a $100,000 mortgage works out to a monthly payment of $474, or $110 less than the five-year rate. Extend the amortization to 30 years, as many Canadian have chosen to do, and the variable rate monthly payment drops to $421, or $163 less than the five-year rate.
Lowering expectations - do you really need five-bedrooms on a halfacre lot backing onto a green belt 10 minutes from downtown? - and making financing choices that reduce the monthly payment can dramatically alter the calculation of affordability. A consensus of lenders agree that no more than 32 per cent of gross annual income should go to home carrying costs, namely principal, interest, property taxes and utilities. Based on RBC data, the qualifying income for a condo in Vancouver is $80,500, for a bungalow $157,800 and for a twostorey $163,100. The median household income in Vancouver is $67,550. These depressing numbers may be valuable for studying trends, making predictions and agitating for policy changes, but they are not useful as a buyer's guide to the market.
The variety of properties available at different price points and flexibility in financing, including variable rate mortgages and extended amortization, along with a bit of luck, can help fulfil the dream of home ownership for agile buyers willing to keep their options open - even in Vancouver's "unaffordable" market.
August 25, 2011
Housing correction not in the cards, according to CMHC report
The Canadian housing market - particularly in Vancouver and Toronto - is due for a correction, TD Economics says.
Photograph by: Thinkstock, Postmedia News
OTTAWA — A much anticipated correction in the Canadian housing market is not in the cards, according to a report by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.
In its third-quarter market outlook, the national housing agency forecasts the market will ease slightly but "remain steady" this year and next.
"Housing starts have been strong in the last few months, but are forecast to moderate closer in line with demographic fundamentals," Mathieu Laberge, deputy chief economist for CMHC, said Wednesday. "Despite recent financial uncertainty, factors such as employment, immigration and mortgage rates remain supportive of the Canadian housing sector."
In fact, CMHC revised up its outlook for 2011 housing starts to 183,200 units from 179,500 in its second quarter report. It forecasts the number will climb in 2012 to 183,900 units.
In 2010, there were 189,930 housing starts.
CMHC also forecasts existing home sales will total 446,700 units in 2011 — approximately the same level as in 2010, although slightly lower than its second quarter forecast of 452,100. It forecasts sales will rise "modestly" in 2012 to 458,000 units.
The outlook runs contrary to a report in July from TD Economics, which projected that Canada's housing market was poised to correct over the next two calendar years, with resale activity falling 15.2 per cent and average prices dropping 10.2 per cent.
"A combination of more subdued job and household income growth, rising interest rates, the recent tightening in borrowing rules for insured mortgages and fewer first-time home buyers are expected to be the chief culprits behind the slowdown," said the report, prepared by deputy chief economist Derek Burleton and economist Sonya Gulati.
Earlier this summer, BMO Capital Markets warned that the Canadian market could suffer a price setback if there is a rapid rise in interest rates due to higher inflation, an increase in unemployment because of a weak U.S. economy or a slowing in foreign investment.
CMHC, however, projects that despite a slowing in the second half, average resale prices will deliver an overall increase in 2011, and continue to rise, albeit at a more modest pace, in 2012.
© The Financial Post
August 24, 2011
There's an app for that: sipping wine, snapping panoramic photos
The 360 Panorama app lets you create panoramic photos.
iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, free
Even if you wouldn’t know a Chablis from a Chardonnay, thanks to this made-in-B.C. app you can fool friends and impress dinner guests when it comes to choosing a wine to go with your meal. Dubbed the pocket sommelier, the Wine Guru matches your menu to a choice of three wines — basing it on the type of cuisine, the ingredients and the price you want to pay, starting from $10-to-$30 bottles of wine up to $50+ and the money-is-no-object “I don’t care” option. You can add your own wine notes and keep track of favourites. There’s a link to finding the wine nearby but that feature isn’t up and running yet.
$1.99, iPhone, iPod touch, iPad 2
I downloaded this when it was free on a promo this past week but even at $1.99, 360 Panorama is an excellent bargain when it comes to photo apps. My film-student nephew gave it a high rating for capturing location shots. I could see this as a handy tool for real estate agents. It’s a great way to wow friends when you’re vacationing at some exotic locale and there are lots of other occasions when capturing a 360-degree panorama is just more useful than a regular photo. This newest version of 360 Panorama stitches the photos in real time, giving you a grid to follow as it automatically snaps the photo, so even the klutziest photographer can instantly create a decent-looking panorama. You can post your panoramas to Facebook, tweet them, put them in a photo album or even email them.
iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, Android
There is no shortage of public sharing sites, but the Glassboard app is one of those that narrows your news feed to just a select group (they call them boards — you get to chair your own boards) you’d like to share photos, videos and messages with. You only be on a board by invitation, or you can sign up to create your own board and invite people to join. There’s no online listing to indicate you’re running this members-only meeting place.
If you’re not already using Prezi, the cloud-based online presentation software, you need to try it out and, with it, the newly updated Prezi Viewer for your iPad. While you can’t create or edit prezi preentations with the app (it would be nice to see that in an update) you can use the Prezi Viewer to show off the ones you have created online.
August 23, 2011
Retail Sales - August 22, 2011
Canadian retail sales advanced for the third month in a row, growing 0.3 per cent in June. However, the increase in sales was driven almost exclusively by motor vehicle sales. Excluding auto-sales, retail sales managed to eke out a 0.1 per cent gain. BC retailers continue to tread water, with June retail sales recording an increase of 0.4 per cent over May and 2.6 per cent over last year.
BC consumers have been very cautious to start the year and retailers are bearing the brunt of that caution. Retail sales grew only 1.3 per cent year-over-year through June as households have pared back spending in the face of mounting debt burdens. Although we anticipate sales will pick up in the second half, restrained spending will likely cut into economic growth for 2011. We have therefore trimmed our forecast of economic growth this year from 2.7 per cent to 2.5 per cent.
August 23, 2011
Fun and Interesting Facts about Vancouver
Here is a list of facts that a true Vancouverite is going to be aware of, but you might find one or two tidbits you didn't know or maybe have forgotten.
- Vancouver is named after Captain Vancouver.
- Vancouver is situated at an altitude of 71m/236ft.
- Vancouver is the third largest city in Canada, after Toronto and Montreal.
- Vancouver is North America's second largest Port; both in tonnage & physical size, and is also one of the world’s major cruise ship ports.
- Vancouver has the highest per capita proportion of Asians of any North American city.
- Vancouver is amongst the largest film production centers in North America. It is second to LA in Television production & third behind LA and NYC in Feature film production.
- Vancouver has been labeled as the ‘World’s Most Liveable City’ by a research group connected to the highly reputed British financial journal.
- According to Forbes magazine, Vancouver and Vienna have the third highest quality of living in the world.
- Vancouver was once ranked as Canada's second most expensive city to live, after Toronto, and the 89th most expensive globally.
- In 2006, Vancouver was ranked as the 56th most expensive city to live, amongst 143 major cities in the world.
- In 2004 and 2005, Vancouver was voted as the ‘Best City in America’ by the Conde Nast Traveler Magazine.
- In 2007, Vancouver was ranked as the 10th cleanest city in the world.
- A resident of Vancouver is called a Vancouverite.
- Vancouver is probably the only place in the world where it is possible to ski, play golf and go sailing, all in the same day.
- Vancouver is the birthplace of the one of the world’s largest environmental organizations, called Greenpeace.
- The 2010 Winter Olympics will be held in Vancouver and nearby Whistler.
August 22, 2011
Canadian homes less affordable in the second quarter; Vancouver mainly to blame
Housing in Canada became harder to afford in the second quarter, with Vancouver's pricey market playing a major role in the deterioration, according to a report by Royal Bank of Canada on Monday.
Photograph by: Mark Van Manen, Vancouver Sun Files, Vancouver Sun
Housing in Canada became harder to afford in the second quarter, with Vancouver's pricey market playing a major role in the deterioration, according to a report by Royal Bank of Canada on Monday.
It was the second straight quarter in which the bank's quarterly Housing Trends and Affordability Index dropped. The cost of housing rose nationally across all the housing types the index tracks in the second quarter.
The index measures the proportion of pretax household income needed to service the cost of owning a home. A rise in the measure indicates a loss of affordability.
For a detached bungalow, the measure rose 1.7 percentage points to 43.3 percent. For a standard condominium, it edged up 0.8 percentage points to 29.2 percent, and for a standard two-storey home it climbed 1.8 percentage points to 49.3 percent.
Vancouver, which has long seen exceptional growth in home prices compared with other Canadian cities, directly accounted for up to one-third of the deterioration in affordability on the national score, the RBC report said.
"Vancouver's housing market is without a doubt the most stressed in Canada and is facing the highest risk of a downturn," said chief economist Craig Wright.
Other local housing markets were reasonably affordable or at worst, slightly unaffordable, the report showed.
Housing sector observers generally see the overall pace of housing activity, from starts to resales, slowing in the coming months, partly due to tighter mortgage regulations introduced earlier in the year and as pent-up demand gets absorbed.
© Copyright (c) Reuters
August 19, 2011
WOOT! makes its way into Oxford dictionary
Web deal of the day retailer woot.com was an early convert to woot.
Photograph by: Screen grab, woot.com
LONDON — Are you familiar with the brabble of cockyolly birds in the growlery?
Probably not, but now this forgotten terminology has been revived in a limited edition facsimile of the 1911 Concise Oxford Dictionary (COD), published to mark the centenary of the linguistic treasure trove.
The reprint appears alongside a new 12th edition of the Concise Oxford English Dictionary (COED), which contains more than 240,000 words, phrases and definitions, including 400 completely new entries.
Clad in an art deco cover, the 1911 limited-edition dictionary offers a glimpse into a world where a “jet” was a stream of water, and the words “cockyolly bird”, “growlery”, and “brabble” referred to a nursery phrase for a bird, a private room or den, and a noisy quarrel.
“The 1911 dictionary is a lot smaller than the latest version and is phrased more quaintly in some places, but my overriding impression of it is how good it was,” Angus Stevenson, an editor of the 12th edition of the COED, told Reuters.
Unlike the vast, high-tech database of texts and articles used today to analyse language, the editors of the first dictionary used rather more laborious methods.
The first editors, brothers Henry and George Fowler, wrote letters to friends and experts and drew on the work done for the Oxford English Dictionary to compile the first concise version of the book from their cottage on the Channel Island of Guernsey.
“They tried hard to be as up to date as possible,” Stevenson said. “They included the entry ’aeroplane,’ even though the first flight had been made in 1903, and ’Duma’, even though the Russian parliament had only been created in 1906 — it was a very good dictionary.”
Some of the slang in the 1911 edition, including “shirty” for annoyed and “parky” for cold, is still in use today.
“Although these terms might be considered a little old fashioned, they were cutting-edge Edwardian slang, and their inclusion shows how progressive the Fowlers were in their editing,” Stevenson said.
Together, the 12 editions provide a fascinating record of the influx of new words into the English language over the past century.
“Computer” was not recognised in 1911 - in contrast to the entries found in the 2011 version, such as “cyberbullying” and “retweet”, which reflect the growing influence of the internet on the use of language.
“Social networking sites have created a real language of the net. We’ve noticed that new words come into currency much more quickly as a result of the internet, as people see friends, or friends of friends, using new words and copy them,” Stevenson said.
Varieties of English spoken around the world are also becoming less distinct as a consequence of increased global connectivity through the World Wide Web, he added.
The latest edition of the COED covers English spoken in India, as well as Australia, New Zealand, the West Indies and America.
“There used to be very little American in the dictionaries. It was a variety of English distinct from that spoken in Britain, but now the versions are merging together.” Stevenson said.
A prime example of this is “woot” — an exclamation used predominantly online to express elation, enthusiasm or triumph.
“The expression ’woot’ began in America but was picked up very quickly by people in Britain, as a result of the internet breaking down international boundaries,” Stevenson said.
“I don’t know why people can’t just say ’hurrah’ but maybe I’m being old fashioned.”
August 18, 2011
SALMON ROW - live theatre at the Britannia Heritage Shipyard-Steveston
Taking place on site at the Britannia Heritage Shipyard in the Steveston area of south Richmond, Salmon Row tells the story of a place of plenty, the mouth of the Fraser River, and the creatures and peoples who subsisted, thrived and profited from the seemingly endless resource of salmon which they found there. Our saga follows the stories of some of these people - First Nations and Chinese and Japanese immigrants - as they are caught in the nets of big business in the new country. This compelling and vibrant piece of theatre explores issues of immigration, ethnic conflict, labour history, and memory.
The show will feature Mortal Coil's signature stilts, masks, a live 4-piece band, and allows the audience to experience the history of the community of Steveston while moving from one site to the next. Click here for more details.
August 17, 2011
VANCOUVER STREET EATS
Summertime is a great time to eat outside, except maybe this year because of our weather. Vancouver is fast becoming a great city with quality and variety in Food Carts and there are plenty of ways and means to find out from other eaters which carts are worth a visit and which ones are not.
Vancouver Street Eats is an open blog which shows reviews from patrons, photos of the food and locations of the carts right on a Google Map. Very handy in making culinary choices on a sunny summer midday.
Most of the carts are on Facebook and Twitter so finding out about their locations, if they change and/or any promotions they are having is easy. If you have to work and you can’t get outside just to play, at least get outside to eat!
August 17, 2011
Why our immigration levels can't climb too high
Former federal Liberal cabinet minister Robert Kaplan recently proposed that Canada increase its population to 100 million through increased immigration in order that we become more influential on the world stage. While some may find this visionary in its scope, it totally fails to take into account the realities of today's Canada. Many of our larger cities are already groaning under the weight of high immigration intake that is increasing congestion, house prices and costs to taxpayers. A recent paper by Herbert Grubel and Patrick Grady estimated that newcomers cost Canadians between $16 and $23 billion a year because of what they receive in government benefits over what they pay in taxes.
Added to this is concern over the increasing concentrations of immigrants who come from cultures and traditions that are very different from those of most Canadians. An example of this is the controversy over Muslim prayer sessions at the Valley Park middle school in Toronto, where 80 to 90 per cent of the students are Muslims. Such problems can be expected to occur more frequently even at current levels of immigration.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is quite right when he questions whether Canadians are ready to accept higher immigration levels. He recently told the Vancouver Board of Trade that we do not have the resources or ability to integrate much larger numbers of immigrants every year and pointed out that we can't flood our taxpayer-funded services or put pressure on real estate markets.
While Kenney is the most effective immigration minister we've had in a long time, and is prepared to acknowledge and deal with some of the most difficult issues, even he would appear to be off-base in his belief that most Canadians accept intake current levels.
When Canadians say they are happy about immigration in general, this should not be interpreted as meaning they are satisfied with the numbers we are bringing in, particularly if this affects them (which is the case in larger cities, where most newcomers settle). An Ekos Research survey released in November, for example, found that, while 71 per cent of respondents said they felt immigration was good for Canada, this declined to 48 per cent when asked if they thought it was good for their neighbourhood.
A recent poll by Léger Marketing found 55 per cent of Calgarians thought their city was already too large and only 39 per cent thought it had the right number of people. This means 94 per cent didn't want it to get larger - which will be increasingly difficult to achieve unless we dramatically reduce immigration, as most of the population increase will be from this source.
Only five per cent of the people in Toronto and Vancouver wanted their numbers to increase. Yet Toronto is projected to grow by three million people and Vancouver by almost one million in the next two decades if current immigration levels are maintained.
That there is a gap between what our leaders think we want and what average Canadians want is not surprising. The Centre for Immigration Studies in Washington found that among opinion makers in the United States (politicians, leaders of church groups, business executives, union leaders, academics, etc.) only 18 per cent thought immigration should be reduced, compared to 55 per cent of the public. Although various reasons have been advanced for why Canada should continue with high immigration levels even if this causes problems for many Canadians, at least some fallacious arguments have been discarded.
The present government, for example, does not attempt to perpetrate the myth that immigration is a realistic way of dealing with the costs associated with the aging of our population. A more pervasive fiction, however, is that we must have large-scale immigration if we are to meet looming labour shortages and that Canada cannot prosper without a constant infusion of workers from abroad.
The fact is, most of our labour shortages can be met domestically if we make the best use of our existing workforce and educational and training facilities.
This point was made not only by the Economic Council of Canada 20 years ago, but has been reiterated and updated more recently by renowned labour economists such as Alan G. Green of Queen's University and David A. Green of the University of B.C. Green recently told a conference in Vancouver that using immigration to fill labour-force gaps carries pitfalls and that natural market responses to labour shortages, such as pay hikes, can be obstructed when immigration increases the supply of workers and thus reduces wages.
While Canada should remain an immigrant-friendly country and invite newcomers to come here in reasonable numbers, it is clear that not only would we be foolish to embark on a massive increase in population by means of immigration as suggested by Robert Kaplan, but that maintaining anywhere near current levels brings with it almost no benefit to most Canadians and, indeed, is very costly.
Martin Collacott served as Canadian ambassador in Asia and the Middle East. He is a spokesman for the Centre for Immigration Policy Reform and lives in Vancouver.
August 16, 2011
Existing home sales flat in July, cooler markets to blame
Sales of existing homes in Canada in July was little changed from June, partly because some major markets, including Toronto and Vancouver, cooled, the Canadian Real Estate Association said on Tuesday.
Sales of existing homes in Canada in July were little changed from June, partly because some major markets, including Toronto and Vancouver, cooled, the Canadian Real Estate Association said on Tuesday.
The industry group said a total of 37,492 homes changed hands in July, down 0.1 percent from June. But it was up 12.3 percent from the same month last year.
CREA said the national average price in July rose 9.3 percent from a year earlier to $361,181 (US$368,552).
The number of new listings edged up by less than 1 percent in July from June. New listings decreased in 60 percent of local markets, but increased in many large urban centers.
© Copyright (c) Reuters
August 11, 2011
BC Homes Sales Edge Lower in July
The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that Multiple Listing Service (MLS) residential unit sales in the provinice rose 12.9% to 6,533 units in July compared to the same month last year. The average MLS residential price climbed 10% to $540,877 last month compared to July 2010.
"BC homes sales edged down 4% from June to July, on a seasonally adjusted basis" said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. "Less frenetic buying actitivity in Vancouver operated to pull total provincial sales lower."
"The silver lining in the recent global economic uncertainty is that mortgage rates have the potential to reach record lows in the coming weeks as investors flock into bond markets," added Muir. "The increased affordability and added purchasing power from lower mortgage rates will help bolster housing demand."
Year to date, BC residential sales dollar volume increased 16.5 % to $28.2 billion, compared to the same period last year. Residential unit sales increased 1% to 46,628 units, while the average MLS residential price rose 15.3% to $579.645 over the same period.
August 10, 2011
Mangan's condo book answers many questions
Had I known about Mike Mangan's book, The Condominium Manual, when I started writing this column, it would have answered a lot of questions. As someone new to the world of strata, I found all the rules and regulations perplexing.
In fact, my experience trying to get up to speed was probably similar to that of new strata owners.
Mangan, a lawyer, is an expert in real estate law and teaches in the real estate division of UBC's Sauder School of Business. Back in the spring of 2000, he travelled the province at the behest of government, explaining to strata owners what they needed to know about the new Strata Property Act that was about to replace the old Condominium Act.
Mangan knows strata law and excels at explaining it. He's just released the third edition of The Condominium Manual. It takes into account changes the government made to the Strata Property Act in 2009, as well as significant court cases since 2004, when the previous edition was published.
Mangan explains the Strata Property Act in plain language and as simply as possible, given the complexity of the Act. The hard copy of the book is in relatively large font and organized into chapters by subject with lots of subheadings. And for the first time, the book is available online. I like this version because of its hyperlinks to relevant sections of the Strata Property Act and court decisions.
I was reminded of the importance of strata owners being informed of the law when a flurry of letters to the editor appeared in my local newspaper. They were in response to an earlier opinion piece on the shortcomings of the Strata Property Act.
One writer noted that successive strata councils in his building have flouted the law in various ways and harassed owners who objected. But he ended his letter saying, "The owners themselves are to blame at times because they, generally, fail to acknowledge the necessity of being informed of the basics of condominium bylaws."
If you're one of those uninformed owners, Mangan's book will help you understand the Strata Property Act and make sense of your own strata's bylaws. It's available in bookstores, libraries and online at www.condomanual.ca/
Suzanne Morphet reads email (but does not give advice) at firstname.lastname@example.org
August 9, 2011
I heard about this smart pen on the radio this morning. What a great idea. I want one!!
I was listening to Phillip Til on CKNW this morning and I heard this little segment on the 'live scribe' Thought it was worth sharing.
August 9, 2011
A note from my mortgage broker - Michael Friedman
As you most likely are aware the United States has some issues of late that has transcended into another stock market meltdown.
It is amazing that only 45 days ago we were getting strong indications that mortgage rates, fixed and floating, would start to move up gradually over the next year.
When discussing mortgage rates there are two distinct pricing areas, fixed and floating. Fixed rates are mainly price driven from the Canadian bond market and the floating rates are mainly priced from the actions of the Bank of Canada.
As of 630 AM this morning our pricing model for fixed rates indicates that a five year mortgage could go as low as 3%. This will happen if Canadian bonds stay at current levels for another few days or maybe even a week. The major banks have not yet moved their fixed rates downward, as I suspect they are waiting to see if the Canadian bonds will snap back once the market levels out.
In regards to the floating rate mortgages, it is widely suspected that the Bank of Canada may in fact lower its key rate by a ¼ percent at its meeting on September 07, 2011. This is a complete 180 degree, as we were expecting a few weeks back an interest rate increase from the Bank of Canada.
If you have any questions about the current mortgage rate market, please feel free to email me at email@example.com or directly at 604-657-1684.
August 8, 2011
WORLD’S 10 MOST NOCTURNAL CITIES
Vancouver Sun, July 27, 2011
A new study about the world’s most 24-hour cities ranks New York 32nd on the list, well behind most European capitals.Of the top ten most nocturnal cities in the world, six of the top 10 were in Spain — Malaga, Zaragoza, Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Madrid. Click here for photos of top 10 nocturnal cities.