July 28, 2017
Cool Apps - Lark
Lark uses a mix of artificial intelligence and human experts to help people lose weight and get more fit. The app helps you track your workouts and meals, and has a textng interface to make it seem like you're communicating one-on-one with a personal health coach.
The idea is to take the complexity out of tracking meals and exercises. Just tell lark what you had to eat and it will give you nutrition coaching based on your goals and past eating habits.
The app uses your smartphone and Apple Watch's sensors to track your workouts for you.
Lark was named Forrester Research's most innovative digital health product of the year. The app is free to use and offers enterprise pricing for coaching teams or patients and working with health care providers.
"We use artificial intelligence to clone some of the world's best health experts," lark founder Julia Hu told Tech Insider, referencng MBA coaches and behaviour change experts from Harvard and Stanford that work at her startup. "The idea is to make those people your personal coach. We really make it personal".
Lark is free and is available on iOS and Android.
July 27, 2017
1922 'Electric Home' destined to be no more
The owners and their designer first met with the city staff about their plans to demolish the house and replace it with a new home in June 2013, before council approved the Heritage Action Plan (HAP).
They were told that they could persue an application as long as no objections were raised during the neighbourhood notification period.
The city went ahead and sent notifications to the neighbourhood in 2015 and no one responded, so conditional approval was granted in April 2015.
In March 2016 residents started emailing the city to oppose the demolition plan, which garnered a lot of media attention. In May 2016, the city issued a temporary heritage protection order to prevent it from being knocked down.
In May 2016 the city and the owners looked at options to retain the house through incentives such as infill or the addition of square footage to the house, but the owners were not interested in infill.
On March 1, the owners submitted a development permit application to retain portions of the home and add to it. The director of planning advised them at the time that there would need to be more retention. A revision was submitted a few weeks later with some more of the original house being retained.
On May 29, the application was presented to the Vancouver Heritage Commission for its advice and the commission concluded that more retention of the original building was required for its support.
Within just a couple days the owners advised the city that they no longer wanted to proceed with the retention plan and wanted to revert back to their original application to demolish the home.
While the home has heritage value and could be a 'Heritage A' building in the heritage registry, it wasn't formally added to the register because discussions were ongoing. Typically, in these kinds of circumstances, if there's an application that goes to council, the building is added to the register as part of that process.
In this case, even adding the house to the heritage register at that point wouldn't allow the director of planning to do anything other than what has already been done.
Last weekend deconstruction of the house began. Efforts were made to try and move the house, but that would take at least 2 months to coordinate, but this delay did not fit with the owners' development timeline.
Is this a prime example of the lack of tools that the City has to protect character properties under threat? What are your thoughts?
July 25, 2017
The Steveston boardwalk has hotel plans
There are currently a variety of things being discussed for the Onni boardwalk at Imperial Landing. Onni is still proposing the potential for a grocery store in the second closest building to the village which is not viable for the merchants. The merchants understood that Onni was looking to instead establish a gym or even relocate Steveston Hardware but an Onni representative says a grocery store is still in the cards.
The merchants also have concerns that a hotel may not span both of the two most easterly buildings, which is critical because it would pare down the retail options on the site, thus reducing competition.
Other ideas for the 60,000 square foot development include office space and a bank.
If the site is rezoned, the closest building to the village appears slated for retail and/or a restaurant, which is fine with the Merchants Association.
Onni's proposal will go before a pubic hearing on October 6th, a significant step in the official city hall discourse.
As far as what will weigh strongest in regards to opinon of what will happen, there is no formula. It is unclear as to who has more sway, a merchant, a group member or a resident that lives across the street from the proposed hotel or someone who lives in the City Centre.
A resident currently living across the street says there is more support for a Granville Island style rezoning that features local, artisan crafts and a market.
He say's a waterfront location is no place for a large grocery store.
A major bone of contention with the city is the amount of money Onni is offering to rezone the buildings.
City staff and Onni agreed that rezoning would increase the value of the land by $4.8 million and Onni is saying it would pay half. That amount is actually lower than the $3 million it offered 2 years ago, because the cost of retrofitting the hotel units eats into the profit.
The city typically receives 100% of the land lift when it allows developers to rezone for density.
July 24, 2017
Housing starts drop 80% from this time last year
Vancouver's new housing sales have been on a blistering pace over the past 2 years and inventory of new condos has fallen to historic lows, so it may have been a surprise to some when housing starts started slowing down for the first half of 2017.
Total housing starts in Vancouver have dropped 80% in the first 6 months compared with the same time last year, according to CMHC, from 5,784 to 1,860 units.
Total housing starts across Metro Vancouver region also fell, but by a smaller margin, to 12,200 units so far this year, compared with 14,840 in the same period a year earlier.
Increases were seen in the larger suburban areas of Burnaby, Surrey, Coquitlam and New Westminster.
The number of homes under contruction hit a record high of 39,141 units across all of Metro Vancouver in May and remained near that level in June. The downturn may relate to developer fatigue.
The constraints on builders are very real in terms of availability and costs of equipment and materials, which means further increasing the pace of contruction is difficult.
Also slowing the pace of condo starts is the current backlog of applications and the fact that many developers are probably waiting for permits.
July 20, 2017
50% of China's rich are moving overseas!
Among the Chinese millionaires that are worth more than $1.5 million, about half are considering moving abroad. This wealth is likely to continue to flow into U.S. homes and buildings, helping with demand and prices in certain real estate markets.
The U.S. remains the most popular destination of the wealthy Chinese moving their families and fortunes abroad with Canada ranking second, overtaking the U.K., which is now third and Australia fourth.
The favourite city for these people in the U.S. is Los Angeles, while Seattle ranks second followed by San Franciso and New York.
Education and pollution are driving China's rich to emigrate. If China can solve these issues then the primary incentive to move will be taken away.
But the fear of a falling Chinese currency is also driving many of the rich abroad. About 84% of these millionaires are concerned about the devaluation of the yuan, up from only 50% last year.
So far, Trumps administration's restrictions on immigration have not touched the EB-5 program, a favourite of the wealthy Chinese that allows them a path to citizenship in the U.S. in exchange for an investment in property of $500,000, but waiting times are the biggest hindrance to overseas immigration. How is this going to effect our market? Are we likely to see much change?
July 18, 2017
Basement Suite Transformation Sees The Light
With our housing market reaching new peaks in price and density, the idea for young families being able to afford a home in Vancouver is just a dream.
But here is a nice taste of reality... local interior designer Angela Robinson created a beautifully functional suite for a young couple living in their parents house. Click here to see how she was able to completely redevelop the basement of a Kitsilano home to create a stunning space, with a little innovation.
July 18, 2017
Richmond's World Festival 2017 announces headliners
One of the lower mainland's most multicultural spots, Richmond has plenty to offer in terms of global diversity. Boasting a population with the highest proportion of immigrants of any city in Canada, Richmond is proud of its heritage and always keen to celebrate the uniqueness of its people.
For those looking for an excuse to experience the cultures that make up the fabric, the Richmond World Music Festival is great.
A free celebration of music, food and culture, this years festival has not only grown to cover 2 whole days, but will feature a vastly expanded roster of talent and eats.
In just 2 years, the Richmond World Festival has become a can't miss date on the summer calender.
One of the festivals biggest draws is its performers. As well as showcasing 75 music and dance artists over nine different stages, the event has snagged 2 first class headline acts.
The Korean hip hop star Verbal Jint: a performer who has changed the face of rap in his native country. Jint was the first to create actual rhyme schemes in Korea, deftly engineering rhythmic sentences with tight gramatical accuracy.
The second headline slot will go to Ontario indie group Tokyo Police Club, which has graced stages all over the world including America's Coachella, Britain's Glastonbury festival and Germany's Rock am Ring.
More than just the music, there's plenty to keep the family occupied over the 2 days. Attendees will be fueled by the FEASTival of Flavour, comprised of more than 50 food trucks, while they check out spots like Global Village, which features interactive cultural activities and performances. The Kids World Children's activity area will give parents a chance to drop off their youngsters and sample the Artisan Marketplace which features over 50 vendors.
Bursting with entertainment and boasting free entry, there's plenty of reason to head to Minoru Park on September 1st and 2nd.
July 17, 2017
North Vancouver's Grouse Mountain 'Sold'?
North Vancouver's iconic Grouse Mountain will be sold within days.
According to the Globe and Mail, the potential sale of the resort property to China Minsheng Investment Group, which is connected to the Chinese central government, is for $200 million.
Grouse's management confirms that there has been an agreement reached with a potential purchaser on a pending transaction. The transaction is expected to close in the coming days.
District of North Vancouver Mayor, Richard Walton said the district will be watching closely and eager to meet with the new owners. Most importantly, he said, they will be making sure the new owners understand where Grouse fits within the larger community.
When Grouse was put on the market last year, district staff prepared a report available to all prospective buyers outlining the zoning and land use regulations. Marketing material at the time of the listing mentioned the potential for a mountain top hotel, spa facilities and lift serviced mountain biking. Some of the improvements would require rezoning. Others wouldn't.
The fact that the potential buyer is linked to the Chinese government may raise eyebrows for some, but there are many resource companies owned by Chinese capital operating in Canada that operate in a socially responsible way, according to Walton.
The jury is out.
Grouse employs upwards of 800 workers at peak season.
July 13, 2017
Weiner Dogs are Racing in Vancouver
Who will be the weiner in the race for top dog? This weekend, Hastings Race Course is going to the dogs with the annual Weiner Dog Races taking place this Saturday, July 16 and Sunday July 17. The Weiner Dog Races at Hastings Park are a highlight every Vancouver summer and its a sight that really must be seen at least once. You may have never actually seen a dachshund run, but these dogs can go fast when money and dignity are on the line.
These races are free to attend, and each heat is held in between the live horse racing events. To crown top dog, there are 5 qualifying heats on Saturday and 3 races on Sunday with the championship showdown taking place at around 4pm.
When the gates open - the dachshunds make a made dash...well, at least some of them do. While most of the dogs rush to greet their owners on the other side of the finish line, some participants prefer to stop and smell the roses, and others bolt to the out of bounds area. Still others don't even make it out of the starting gate and prefer to turn back around and wait until the excitement is over. Check out the fun and cheer on the spirited and short-legged competitors.
July 12, 2017
Cool Apps - RunGo
Jogging is a great way to get a bit of exercise, but unless you're a native that knows that lay of the land, it can be tough finding a good and safe jogging route when you are travelling. Enter RunGo, a mobile app that serves as a run tracker and navigation aid, allowing you to discover new jogging routes, complete with voice navigation to help guide you through unfamiliar locales. You can download routes for offline use, start routes halfway or create your own route within the app. Coolest of all, premium subscribers can access 'guided tours,' verified routes created by local runners through safe and scenic areas, with the app announcing points of interest and other interesting information.
July 8, 2017
It's Celebration season in Vancouver - see what's going on
You can feel it on your skin with the warming sun. You can smell ocean air, barbecue and tropical sunscreens. You can see it as you watch people riding their bikes, carrying dewy growlers and walking their dogs and sun hatted kids onto the nearest swath of grass in parks across the city. It's Celebration Season in Vancouver and the Canada Day festivities were only the beginning!
Check out the Tourism Vancouver events page for a list of outdoor theatre, summer festivals, art shows, Canada 150+ events and concerts happening from now until the end of September.
July 7, 2017
The CBC Free Musical Nooner Series is Back!
The CBC free summer concert series Musical Nooners is back, kickin off the season with a great performace by Said the Whale this week.
Other highlights coming our way include a Kids Day, a Brazilian style dance party and more singer/songwriters than you can imagine. Now in its 8th year, the CBC Vancouver's Musical Nooner free concert series runs Monday to Friday from noon -1pm, at the CBC Broadcast Centre at 700 Hamilton St. until August 25th.
Some of the highlights include:
The Long War (July 27) - A Vancouver based folk rock band that was selected from 1,200 Canadian music acts across the country as the winners of CBC's 2017 Searchlight contest for their song 'Breathe in Breathe out'
Ruffled Feathers (July 31) - a Vancouver chamber pop band complete with ukuleles, guitar, paina, violin, trumpet and horn.
Miss Quincy and the Showdown (Aug 3) - Rootsy rock from vocalist Miss Quincy and her band the Showdown. Listen to their song 'You Remind Me of Myself' here.
Kids Day (Aug 2) - Will Stroet of Will's Jams from CBC Kids will perform a Kids' Day concert including guests, a craft centre and a scavenger hunt.
Ache Brasil (Aug 15) - which brings a taste of Brazil to the CBC Vancouver Musical Nooners Stage with music, dance and acrobatics.
Other acts include Buckman Coe, Wesli, Melisande, The Velveteins and many more. Click here for the complete lineup.
July 7, 2017
Having a laugh at English Bay
Vancouver Biennale wants everyone to laugh and is hosting a Day of Laughter this coming Thursday at Morton Park in English Bay.
The group celebrates art in public spaces and Day of Laughter is being organized to honour Chinese artist Yue Minjun, the man behind one of the city's most iconic public art installations, A-maze-ing Laughter, which is made up of 14 giant smiling bronze men, all featuring Minjun's smiling face.
The free event will include the mayor officially proclaiming the Day of Laughter and a laughing yoga class.
This is Minjun's first trip to Vancouver and his first visit to his sculpture in situ at English Bay.
So 'strike a pose, take a silly photo, tell a joke, and let people know what makes you laugh and why it's important to you.
Thursday's event starts at 10am at Morton Park. The laughing yoga session at noon.
July 6, 2017
Fire Ban is in Effect!
A total fire ban has gone into effect for all of southern and central BC, and it's expected to last into October.
The ban covers almost of all the Coastal Fire Centre region, which encompasses Metro Vancouver, the Sunshine Coast, Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and the area west of Manning Park and south of Tweedsmuir Park.
The 2 areas on the south coast that are exempt are Haida Gwaii and the 'Fog Zone', a strip of land that stretches along the west coast of Vancouver Island.
The ban includes campfires, tiki torches, fireworks, firecrackers, sky lanterns, burning barrels or burning cages of any size or description. Gas, propane and briquette cooking stoves are permitted.
The fines for burning during a fire ban range between $1,150 & $10,000. If convicted in court, a guilty party can be fined up to $100,000 or sentenced to one year in jail. Those found to cause or contribute to a wildfire can be ordered to pay all firefighting and associated costs.
Campfires are not permitted in Vancouver's parks and beaches and carry fines between $50 and $2,000, depending on the location and severity of the fire.
Up to date fire regulations and info can be found at bcwildfire.ca
July 5, 2017
Vancouver looking for input regarding its public spaces
Vancouver wants to know what you think about public spaces in the downtown core.
Last week, the city launched the Places for People Downtown program with the aim of crafting a long term strategy to create vibrant, exceptional and memorable public spaces downtown.
The city currently doesn't have a comprehensive strategy to guide the planning and delivery of public spaces across the city.
The first stage of the program includes various forms of public consultation, which started with the Wednesday launch, which included a number of information boards set up on Robson Street in front of the art gallery. The display gave members of the public a chance to share ideas for what they would like to see in the city.
The city will eventually look at expanding the program into other areas of the city, but it's starting with the downtown core. The program will focus on public spaces such as streets, plazas, laneways, public open areas and privately owned public spaces that are part of retail or office buildings.
The program will take 18 months with the goal of presenting a draft stategy to the city next summer.
Public consultation will take several forms, including pop up tents, walking tours, workshops and questionaires.
Click here for more informations and/or to get involved.
July 4, 2017
Five Reasons Why You'll Think Twice Before Leaving Home Without A Reusable Bag
Did you know?
* At a rate of 2 million bags per day, 730 million plastic bags are ending up in the landfill every year.
* Laid end-to-end, Vancouverites annually dispose of enough single use plastic bags to circle the equator 9.7 times (388,291 kilometres).
* The amount of energy required to make just 12 plastic bags could drive a car one mile (2.2 kilometres) - that means the amount of energy needed to make the number of bags thrown out in Vancouver every day could drive a car 166,667 miles (366,667km), or all the way around the world almost 6.7 times.
* Paper bags aren't much better. The production of paper bags has a high environmental impact, such as the effect on global warming, and the use on non-renewable energy and water.
* Combined, plastic and paper bags make up 3% of large litter items found on Vancouver streets and 4% of items collected during shoreline clean ups.
Have Bag Will Travel!! Let's not leave home without a reuseable bag.