Richmond is currently preparing to rebuild 4 pump stations as the equipment has reached the end of its useful lifespan, and about 1,750 metres of river fronting dykes will be raised and strengthened.

Richmond is only about 1 metre above sea level, makeing it vulnerable to the risk of flooding by storm surge and freshet - the overflow of the Fraser River from heavy rainfall and snowmelt.  It is also severly susceptible to the effects of climate change, with the expectation that sea levels will rise by about 1 metre over the coming century.

Richmond's population is expected to grow from 195,000 today to about 275,000 in 2041.

Currently, Richmond is protected by 49 kilometres of dykes, 112 pumps and 39 pump stations, 320 kilometres of ditches and canals and 600 kilometres of box culverts and storm sewers.

To date there has never been a recorded breach of the dyke, but there have been minor floors in the low-lying areas caused by heavy rainfalls.

According to Natural Resources Canada, Richmond is not at significant risk of a tsunami as Vancouver Island acts as a barrier from Pacific-generated tsunamis, which would lose most of its energy along the way and hit Richmond's western shore with a wave of less the 1/2 a metre high.

How does our confidence in our dyking system affect Richmond Real Estate pricing?

Image: Government of B.C.

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It won't be delivered for more than a year from now, but none the less, fans of Tesla's new economy car have been camping out for that past few days in front of the company's Robson Street showroom downtown.

The new model 3 will be unveiled today and Tesla has begun to take US$1000 deposits in Vancouver this morning when the storefront showroom opened.

The US$35,000 sticker price might not make the Model 3 an economy car but compared with the Model S at Cnd$101,900 it is a bargain at about Cnd$50,000

The Model 3 has been kept tightly under wraps, with only a slihoutted image to tease visitors at Tesla's website.

All that is known for sure is that it will be a sedan.  Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said the 200 miles is the minimum drivers should expect out of the battery's charge. The Model 3 will be a bit smaller than the Model S, about the size of an Audi A4, and will have its own platform separate from other Tesla models.

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The first ever Tree Week is being launched this coming Saturday, April 2nd and to celebrate the Vancouver Park Board is selling more than 3000 fruit, flowering and shade trees to Vancouver residents for only $10 each. The upcoming week is slated to include a dozen tree-themed events, talks and walks in an effort to support the city's urban forest goal of planting 150,000 new trees in Vancouver by 2020.

With almost 100,000 more trees needed to be planted, the Vancouver Park Board is asking Vancouverites to help out by visiting the Tree Week events, planting trees in their yards and encouraging neighbours to do the same.

Interested parties can buy trees online and then pick them up at tree-sale events held at Nat Bailey Stadium on April 2nd and Trout Lake Community Centre on April 10th.

More information about Vancouver Tree Week can be found here.

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If you are living in the Lower Mainland you are no doubt aware of the volatile Real Estate market in which you live in.

We are currently seeing activity like never before. Homes are sellilng at lightning speed with multiple offers, for over asking price.

When I am asked to provide a comparataive market analysis, I point out that current market value at the moment is just that - at the moment. What a home will sell for today will likely need to be adjusted within a week or in some cases just days.

Now more than ever, home owners are witnessing buyers, developers and realtors knockinng on their door making offers, offers that appear to be very generous.

In some cases, home owners take advantage of these offers and sell without having to cope with the whole listing process... prepping their home for sale, showings, etc. And while they have done remarkably well, they could have done better.

Just as concerning is the number of sellers who list their property and accept an offer immediately -  within 0-1 days.  MLS and various other Real Estate sites grant sellers massive exposure, but unless you allow your home to be fully exposed and thoroughly marketed, unless you provide ample time for your home to be found on-line, unless you allow for sufficient time to enable buyers to view your home, you are leaving money on the table.

To be certain you are selling for top dollar in today's market you need to make certain to invite every potential buyer to view your home. You must allow buyers time to do their due diligence, and arrange for a convenient time and place for presentation of all offers in a relaxed manner, preferably no sooner than 7 days after posting your listing.

By taking these simple steps you are doing everything possible to generate the absolute best price possible for your home at that given time.  Leave nothing on the table.  Sellers- be patient, sell smart!

Before you accept an unsolictied offer - let 'The Kazamea Real Estate Group' guarantee you a better net price in 7 days.  Call for details.

Keith Vines - The Kazamea Real Estate Group

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Today there are appoximately 450 licensed home inspectors in B.C.  To be licensed as a home inspector in B.C., a person has to meet the requirements of one of four designated associations.  Inspectors must pass regular examinations to obtain and keep their license but the four different associations each have their own evaluation process.

In a survey conducted by the provincial Office of Housing and Construction Standards, 78% of home inspectors felt that the requirements for a licence are too lax. 

While there are minimum levels of training and certification, and standards of practice, each association has its own code of ethics and methods of handling complaints.  As a result, it can be difficult for consumers to know the qualifications and competency of their home inspector, what is covered in an inspection, how to choose a home inspector and who to take complaints to and how complaints will be addressed.

Most home inspectors will agree that action is needed to increase consumer protection and to address the challenges in the current model.

Hence - The provincial government is going to be introducing new rules for homes inspectors in B.C.

These new rules will require home inspectors to describe in advance what will be covered in an inspection and they will no longer have limited liability for their inspections.  Home Inspectors will be required to have valid professional and general liability insurance.  There will also be standardized training and examination requirements.

'The reason it's being done this way is that we couldn't actually get agreement within the industry to come together as an industry because there were a number of professional organizations representing them so we finally said, "alright fine, we will create this licensing regime with qualifications and you'll all meet it,' said Minister of Housing Rich Coleman.

If you are purchasing a home - have an inspection done.  If you need a home inspector, ask a lot of questions about their background, check their current licensing and if possible get a referal from someone who has used them before.

Image result for picture of home inspection

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Could public drinking be allowed in Vancouver?

The provincial government is discretely floating the idea of allowing public comsumption of alcohol in specific locations, according to a report in the Vancouver Sun.

Earlier in March, municipalities across the province were asked for feedback on a little known provision of B.C.'s liquor law allowing the designation of special public spaces where liquor can be consumed.

On the books since the 1970's, the provision has apparetnly never been used.  But momentum is gathering.  Any change would bring to an end of long standing policy of strictly prohibiting public consumption of alcohol.  Though it's not uncommon to see 'brown-baggers' at the beaches during the summer months, anyone who consumes alcohol in public is technically breaking the law and could be ticketed.

The province has outlined 2 possible scenarios for public drinking.  The 1st calls for the designation fo certain public parks a zones where alcohol consumption would be permitted.  These kind of open-container parks are commonplace across Europe and also in certain North American municipalities, including San Francisco and in Quebec.

The 2nd scenario would see an entire street sanctioned as a drinking zone. similar to Bourbon Street in New Orleans or popular party strips in Europe.  In Vancouver, the most likely candidate would be Granville Street, with its high density of bars and clubs.  The street is already cordoned off to vehicle traffic on many weekends and has a festival-like atmosphere on busy nights. 

A new policy such as this could potentially boost tourism and also free Vancouverites from having to sneak a sip of wine on summer picnics. Opponents point out that excessive drinking could lead to rowdiness in parks and that public drinking is already a known nuisance in spots across the city.

Personally I would look forward to enjoying a nice glass of wine while watching the sun go down at Kits beach.  Sounds very civilized!  What are your thoughts?

Photo credit: Duncan Rawlinson - Duncan.co - @thelastminute | Flickr

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Once Upon a Time, since 2011, film crews have been descending on our quaint little fishing village of Steveston and have transformed it into StoryBrooke, Maine.   The businesses in the 'Real Storybrooke' are often seen in the show, and crews spend hours changing signs and building set pieces prior to filming. The Steveson Post Office & Visitor Centre becomes the Storybrooke Post Office, Steveston Coffee Co transforms into Storybrooke Co., and Pieces home decor and gift shop turns into Purbeck Shoes.  Romania Country Bread has truly embraced its fictional alter ego, and maintains thier Storybrooke Country Bread signage year-round.

You can pick up a free "Once Upon a Time' walking map at the Tourism Richmond Visitor Centre on Moncton (where much of the filming takes place)  and take your own self guided tour of Steveston.  It's fun to walk in the footsteps of the show's stars, such as Robert Carlyle (Rumplestiltskin), Jennefer Morrison (Emma Swan) and Lana Parrilla (Regina Mills).

Stop by the Visitor Centre to get your official licensed OUAT souvenirs, such as t-shirts, hats, mugs, magnets and much more.

Several shops in Steveston carry OUAT-themed merchandise or have created themed food or beverages.  The Candy Dish carries a variety of sweet treats such as Snow White Fudge and Rumpel's Chocolate Dagger.  Visitors can also try a Dark Swan Latte at Village Books and Coffee House or Henry and Emma's Special Hot Chocolate with Cinnamon at Steveston Coffee Co.

Tourism Richmond's Real Storybrooke Facebook page features photos, film updates and shooting schedules.  Come on down and check out Storybrooke!

Pack Your Bags and Head to Storybrooke

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In 1845, Sir John Franklin departed England on a quest to traverse the last uncharted section of the fabled Northwest Passage. His ships became icebound high in the Canadian Arctic and Franklin, with his crew of 128 men, ware never heard from again.  For more than 150 years, the fate and final resting place of Franklin's lost expedition was on the greatest mysteries of Canadian history.

But it's a mystery no longer - and now Vancouverites can get the inside scoop at a special new exhibition at the Vancouver Maritime Museum as of March 23rd.

In 2014, after years of scouring the Arctic waters around Victoria Straits, a Canadian search team located the remains of Franklin's vessel, the HMS Erebus, remarkably preserved after all this time.  Sonar picked up tantalizing details of the ship, including the hull, deck planking and objects onboard. Underwater archaeologists subsequently recovered dozens of artifacts, ranging from a canon, the wheel of the ship, plates, a boot and mariner' tools.

Now replicas of some of those artififacts, as well as in-depth diplays about the expedition itself, are coming to Vancouver.

The Franklin Exploration kicks off on March 23rd with a special Parks Canada presentation at the Vancouver Maritime Museum.  Join along online starting at 11am for an interactive presenation about the Franklin Expedition and the latest discoveries. From 2pm to 4pm, stop by for a view and handle reproductions of real artifacts from the HMS Erebus, including an illuminator, a patterned plate and a small replica of the HMS Erebus bell.  

Images from Parks Canada

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I am sure you have heard about Vancouver's burgeoning craft brewery scene.  And BC wines have long been a favourite among discerning oenophiles.  But did you know that Vancouver is also at the epicentre of Canada's micro-distillery renaissance?

The number of craft distilleries in BC has doubled just in the past 2 years, from 18 to 34. Local distilleries are now turning out everything from gin and vodka to amaretto and whisky.   And spirit lovers can sip and sample nearly all of their creations at the BC Distilled Festival, March 25th - 26th in Vancouver.

This is the 3rd annual festival and features nearly 30 BC based artisan distilleries showcasing dozens of inspired spirits.  The highlight: the Main Tasting Event, Saturday March 26th at Vancouver's Croation Cultural Centre. Some 27 local distilleries will be on hand, pouring locally made gins, vodkas and brandies, as well as more unusual creations including honey-based spirits and bitter liqueurs like amaro.  Also this year are aged spirits, including gins that have been specially aged in barrells to give unique tasting profiles.

But it's not all about the booze.  The festival's partnering restaurants-including Forage, Edible Canada, The Uniion and others-will also be serving canapes specially prepared to complement the artisan spirits.  At the trade tasting, you can even snack on donuts from Vancouver's own Cartems prepared with Sons of Vancouver Ameretto and Longtable Gin.  Tickets to the main event are $59.99  Should be fun!

Photo sourced from bcdistilled.ca

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The 2016 Vancouver Sun Run, one of Canada's biggest organized 10km runs, is quickly approaching. On Sunday, April 17th the streets of Downtown Vancouver will be taken over by a sea of blue t-shirts as the whole city seems to come together to run.

If you've already started your training for the run, or if you haven't moved from the couch quite yet we have an idea on where to enjoy a nice run outside now that the weather is starting to cooperate.  

Richmond is the perfect place to go running because it is nice and flat. There's no chance of randomly running into a big hill that causes you to have to slow down to a walk - you can just keep steaming along steadily.

The West Dyke Trail is a peaceful piece of land in Richmond that skirts the water on the way to Steveston.  You'll be sharing the trail with cyclists, so make sure you stick to one side.  There are plenty of side trails to explore on the run as well, if you get bored of the same landscape.

Best of all, you can stop at Steveston for a post-run treat.  Where's you favorite place to run?

Dyke-Trails-Richmond-BC

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The City of Richmond has received approval to sell Mitchell Island property currently designated as park space in what will eventually be a land swap that will bring more park space to the city centre.

The city is expected to sign off on the sale of 11191 Twigg Place, transferring the par to River Road Investments Ltd for $5.125 million.

The city is expected to put to proceeds toward the purchase of property at 7080 River Rd., located on the south side of the Fraser River, east of Gilbert Rd.  The long term plan is for that property and others aquired by the city to form an expansion of the Middle Arm Waterfront Park to 37 acres.

There are still a few properties remaining that the city has not yet purchased but they are currently working with the businesses in the area.  The city doesn't want to push anybody out, but as the properties become available for sale, or the owners express interest in relocating the city will work with them in an orderly transition.

The city has been developing the park for some time including upgrading the greenway along the dyke prior to the 2010 Olympics.  More work is planned for a new section closer to the Richmond Olympic Oval that fronts the River Green development underway.

Eventually River Rd. will be re-routed along the old CPR right-of-way to the south to accomodate the expanded park.  I like the idea of expanding park areas in the city. What are your thoughts?

Richmond is selling a Mitchell Island property and planning to use the $5.125 million coming back on the purchase of a River Road property that will one day be part of Middle Arm Waterfront Park (pictured). 
City of Richmond

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Outdoor lovers of all stripes have a lot to be excited about in Vancouver.  Afters years of dispute, the city of Vancouver has finally reached an agreeement to buy the Arbutus Corridor rail route from CPR.  The 9km long stretch of track, which hasn't been used in 15 years, extends all the way from False Creek in downtown Vancouver to near the Fraser River on the city's south side.

With the $55 million acquisition, the city plans to transform the corridor into one giant greenway.  Designed for use by cyclists and pedestrians, the new pathway will connect neighbourhoods stretching all the way from False Creek to Marple, slicing across some fo the prettiest parts of the West Side en route. The city is alslo considering using a portion of the corridor for public transit, either in the form of a streetcar or light rail.

The railway last saw service in 2001.  In the absence of rail traffic, residents along the route had converted sections of the corridor into lush community gardens.

But the situation deteriorated in 2011 when negotiations by the city to buy the 42 acre tract of land collapsed.  The city had offered to pay $20 million for the land, but CPR asserted that it was worth $400 million fully developed.  The Railway then exercised its right to use the old tracks  Community gardens were demollished and removed, in the face of outraged opposition from residents.

Moving forward, the city will be seeking input on how to best utilize the new greenway, budgeted to cost from $24 million to $35 million.  Early input suggests that the light rail option may not be feasable; meanwhile, many residents hope that new plans included space for  community gardens once again. What are your thoughts?

Image from City of Vancouver

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FlyOver Canada is an amazing virtual flight ride including special effects such as wind, scents and misting combined to make you feel like you are truly flying over some of Canada's most spectacular sights. 

Now you can make the most of your spring break and create a lasting family memory.  Weekdays from March 14 - March 24, 2016 guests save 25% on children and youth tickets.  This is the perfect activity for families of all ages. Jouney from coast to coast, getting up close to Canada's beautiful scenery and natural wonders.  Spring Break tickets are available at FlyOver Canada either at the sight or online.  Have fun!!

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The fastest growing Auto Show in the country is returning for its 96th year as the best attended consumer show and automotive event in Western Canada. The Vancouver International Auto Show is gearing up for its best show yet, returning to the Vancouver Convention Centre on March 23rd to the 27th.

Most of the worlds leading manufacturers will be onsite showcasing their hottest new models and trends, with the latest design and technical innovations. Special features of this years event include Exotics; the selection of truly exhilarating automobiles; Classic Alley; a tribute to our shared automotive; the Green Ride and Drive; offering guests the opportunity to test-drive the latest eco-friendly vehicles; and dozens of world renowned specialty vehicles built right here in B.C.

This is the premier showcase for car enthusiasts, providing the best opportunity of the year for a hands-on experience with some of the world's most popular brands.

It all starts Wednesday with general admission on Wednesday and Thursday at $16 and Friday to Sunday at $18. Multi day passes and family packs available.

Have fun!! 

vcc-car-display

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On April 4th, TransLink will officially shut all the gates at SkyTrain and SeaBus stations, a roll-out that is expected to be completed by April 8th.  Riders will be required to use a valid Compass Card or single-use Compass ticket to tap into the system and open the gates.  Compass Card holders must also tap out to avoid being charged for more zones than they actually travelled.

Passengers will still be able to use cash or old-fashioned FareSaver tickets on buses which aren't outfitted with gates.

Currently, 675,000  people have signed up for Compass Cards, which allows users to load a balance in advance to be deducted with each use of the transit system.  An estimated 300,000 cards are tapped in and out every weekday, according to an article in Vancity Buzz.

Those who fail to tap out on the SkyTrain are charged for 3 zones of travel, even if they've only gone 1 zone. Right now, only 92% tap out.  TAP OUT!

The $194.7 million fare gate and Compass Card system has be plagued by delays.  Original plans called for fare gates to be in place as early as 2010, but reliability concerns repeatedly pushed back the implementation date.  Better later than never I guess!!

Photo credit: Shwangtianyuan | Wikipedia

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In our current real estate market where inventory is low, prices are high and competition is fierce, the seller holds a great deal more power than the buyer.

Mulitple offers have become the new normal in the Metro Vancouver market, with many properties selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars over the asking price.

Those bidding wars have buyers going to extra lengths to get a change a getting into a market that is really out of control.

Some tips that may help you get the property you want are as follows:

1) If at all possible write an unconditional offer. The key to winning a bid now is going in with zero conditions attached.  This means having your financing in place well ahead of even going to see properties.  It also means having a your bank draft deposit in hand to present to the listing realtor and homeowner.  It may even be beneficial to have a deposit higher than the standard 5%

2) Do you home inspection early.  If possible take your home inspector with you to the open house. You will likely see dozens of other buyers doing exactly the same thing.

3) Write a personal letter.  Not always, but in enough cases it will be worth your while to make an effort to make a pesonal connection with the seller. Explain why you want the home, and what the home and location mean to you.  This just may appeal to the seller and make sure your offer stands out over the others.

4) Appeal to the seller's timeline. Try and find out the sellers preferred timeline and try to make things work in the timeline they want.  Your needs unfortunately should come last when it comes to the real estate sale.  Home sellers don't want to be bogged down with the interested parties priorities in regards to completion and possession dates.  Those with the most flexible dates stand a huge edge of winning out.

But be warned.  Prior to writing an offer that works solely around the sellers interest, seek legal advice before writing a 'no conditions' offer.  You need to be aware of the risks. Happy house hunting and good luck!!

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Macdonald Realty was recongized for its excellence in service and marketing at the annual Leading Real Estate Companies of the World Conference at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach last in February.  For the fourth consecutive year, Macdonald Realty was presented the Global Alliance Award.  This award is presented ot the international firm that closes the most cross-border referrals.  Our outstanding marketing materials, that we create in-house were very well receiveed.  Keith Vines and Associates is proud to be part of this fantastic group and take pride in supporting this hardworking team that is able to develop quality tools and provide us with unparalleled service.   Hats off to you!!

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Are your ready to wear plaid with pride?  The largest festival of French Canadian culture on the West Coast is coming to Metro Vancouver.   On March 4th to the 6th the Festival du Bois rolls into Coquitlam with a full weekend of live music from the heart of Quebec, traditional cuisine and plenty of Quebecois cheer.

All this French Canadian inspired fun will take place at Mackin Park in the historic community of Maillardville.

Excitement at the Festival du Bois centres around the Grand Chapiteau (main stage), where there will be live music through the day on Saturday and Sunday.  Foot-stomping, fiddle playing acts include Le Bruit court dans la Ville, comprised of 3 legends of Quebec's music scene.

The Festival is also a chance to try traditional French Canadian food rarely seen on this side of the Rockies.  Dig into a hearty tourtiere or smoked meat sandwich, and wash it down with the festival's fittingly named French Lumberjack Ale.

There's also an artisan market focused on French Canadian products.  

Of course, Festival duBois is also the place in Metro Vancouver to see and be seen in plaid.  Grab your finest lumberjack-inspired flannel and join the sea of red and black checkered fun.   Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for students and seniors and $7 for kids 5-12. 

Photo credit: Geoffery Kehrig | Flickr


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If you are one of those who often waits in the long lines to catch the 99 B-line bus along Broadway a new app may be your answer.

A group of Vancouver entrepreneurs has just debuted a new app that takes carpooling into the 21st century.  Called Spare Rides, the iPhone app (Android coming soon) helps connect drivers commuting to work along the Broadway corridor with passengers looking for a lift.

Riders open the app, indicate their destination and then see drivers in the area with ETA's.  After tapping to accept a ride, the car's model and license plate number is shown.

Just days after its launch, the app has already had 400 users and plenty of satisfied drivers and riders, according to an article in the Vancouver Sun. All logistics - including pickup location and destination-are handled inside the app, and the transactions are also processed in the app, so no money has to change hands.

This app is intended for actual commuters driving to and from their job who are looking to offset the cost of the drive by picking up carpoolers.  It's not intended as a way for drivers to earn an extra profit.  And the rates reflect that.  Riders pay a $1.50 base fee, then $.50 per kilometre after that - roughly half of Uber's standard rate.  The driver receives $1 in base fare and $.35 per kilometre, which works out to approximate the actual  operating costs of the vehicle for the trip.  The unique arrangement means that  Spare Rides is fully cleared in B.C. as opposed to Uber, which for the moment, at least is still banned.

Currently, Spare Rides operates only within a narrow section of the city defined by the Broadway corridor.  The service covers the area stretching from UBC to Commerical Drive, from 1st Ave in the north to 16th Ave in the south. It's only available during peak traffic hours: weekdays from 8am -11am and 3pm - 6pm.

What are your thoughts?  Do you expect this service to expand to more areas?

Image sourced from sparerides.com

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