October 30, 2017
The Hopscotch Festival is back
Libations lovers, rejoice: Hopscotch Festival sweeps over Vancouver on Monday, November 20th, bringing with it 7 days and nights of enticing tipples and prime pours. Whether a sampling free-for-all at the Grant Tasting Hall or an intimate whisky masterclass, the event shines a spotlight on spirits from around the world of scotch, craft beer, cider, wine, cocktail and spirits aficionados and newbies alike.
This year you will find an expanded roster of special events and masterclasses at various locations across the city. Don't miss the Grand Tasting Hall (Nov 24-25) at the PNE Forum, which showcases all manner of booze in B.C. and beyond as well as a selection of palate-pleasing treats. Sample your way through the room, then take a well deserved rest in the music lounge before purchasing your favourite sips from the on-site liquor store.
The new Wine Garden is a must see for wine lovers with flavourful and generous pours from international and domestic wineries. Beer fans will gravitate to the BC Craft Beer Pavilion, which features nearly 100 craft beers from 25 B.C. breweries. You will also find more than 120 whiskeys at Whisky Corner, from single malt to rye, irish, bourbons and blends. Cocktail enthusiasts will delight in the Craft Cocktail event where a life sized art piece built to create the world's best Negroni is guaranteed to steal the show.
Those who prefer a savoury bite alongside their spirits can grab a street food inspired dog at Juno Kim's Hot Dog Throw Down; or tantalize their taste buds at Restaurant Row, featuring tasty bites crafted by chefs from restaurants across the city, including Steel Toad, Dixie's BBQ, La Pentola and more.
Maybe download the new Hopscotch app, which allows users to access festival information, navigate the Grand Tasting Hall and remember their favourites as they sip their way through Hopscotch. Cheers!!
October 19, 2017
The Dark Secrets of Stanley Park
Stanley Park, as we all know it, is a lush green park which offers us a welcome break from the urban landscape surrounding it. Stanley Park is a thriving rainforest whose sprawling 400 hectares contains scenic trails, sandy beaches, historic landmarks and the famous Vancouver Aquarium. But did you know that underneath the beauty and splendor of the national historic sight lies a complex, exciting past filled with famous crimes, secret cemeteries and bizarre public art.
Forbidden Vancouver is currently offering walking tours, sharing these secrets with the public through a new experience, Secrets of Stanley Park, a 2.5 hour walking tour that covers the parks scenic stretch of the seawall, roams winding trails and wanders amid towering old growth trees. Along the way, guides relay harrowing stories about crime, persecution, military installations, poetry, scandals and even murder. These tours are fun and interactive, while jam packed with fascinating historical, architectural and cultural information. Secrets of Stanley Park is designed for the adventurer who wishes to forgo a simple stroll in the park and instead take a deeper dive into the forest.
This is the perfect time of year to tag along on the tour. The park is bright and cheery with its orange, red and yellow leaves, making it a photo worthy trip at every turn.
Learn about the reason the park was open, how the Lions Gate Bridge was built on beer and what really went down on Deadman's Island.
Secrets of Stanley Park runs on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 2pm to 4:30pm until the end of November. The start and end point is just outside the Aquarium.
October 18, 2017
Canada's banking watchdog sets tough mortgage rules - will this do more harm than good?
Ottawa plans to move forward with regulations that would make it tougher for Canadians to qualify for uninsured loans, affecting consumers with down payments of 20% or more.
The new stress test is the latest in a series of changes aimed at ensuring that Canadians can afford a home even in the event of an interest rate increase.
Today borrowers with 20% or more down can qualify for a mortgage at rates as low as 2.97%. In the next few months, that hurdle will jump to almost 5%.
The big question at the moment is whether credit unions, which are provincially regulated and don't fall under the federal restrictions will allow people to qualify at a lower rate.
Are these federal changes necessary or will they do more harm than good? Will these changes result in a less competitive mortgage industry and disable some niche players in the residential market, like those who focus on the self-employed?
The number of borrowers who are in arrears in Canada, more than 90 days behind in their payments, is basically the same as it was in 2002. This group hasn't really grown at all over the years, including during the 2009 finanical crisis when the rate rose to 5% south of the border.
The real estate industry have been lobbying furiously for changes to the final guidelines, worried tougher borrowing conditions would squeeze more people out of the market. But the banking regulator thought differently.
How are these new rules going to affect buyers? To what degree will our home values decrease? Your thoughts?
October 17, 2017
Renting a one-bedroom apartment in Vancouver jumps to $2,120
October's median asking price for a one bedroom apartment in Vancouver has climbed up to a whopping $2,120 a month.
PadMapper's latest Canadian rent report was released yesterday and it shows asking prices for Vancouver rental listings have gone up again, keeping the city in the top spot as the country's most expensive rental market.
A one bedroom apartment in Vancouver has taken a 5% jump from just last month and a 15.8% jump over last October. Meanwhile, a two bedroom apartment is about $3,200 a month, a 1.3% increase from September and a 14.3% increase from last October.
Among those in the top five most expensive cities are Toronto in second place, with $1,940 for one bedroom apartments and $2,430 for two bedroom and Barrie Ontario in third place with one bedroom apartments priced at a median of $1,210 and two bedroom at $1,560.
The PadMapper Canadian rent report looks at rental data from hundreds of thousands of active listings across Canada. Only listings for long term rental properties from rental management companies and smaller independent landlords are included.
The report does not include short term listings such as Airbnb, and calculates the median rent for all advertised listings - not occupied units - in each city for each month.
October 16, 2017
Virtual Reality Halloween is a Scream!
Haunted houses are horrifying enough, but add a virtual reality spin and you've catapulted from spine-tingling shivers to ear-splitting screams. This month, SmartyPantz, one of Vancouver's original escape rooms, has teamed up with virtual reality experts at vrCave to produce the Hospital of Horror - a terrifyingly lifelike VR experience that instantaneously transports guests to a derelict sanitorium where they might or might not be alone.
Hospital of Horror isn't so much an escape room as an immersive journey into a completely fabricated, yet realistic virtual world. Before entering the abandoned 'hospital' you'll strap on VR headsets and don backpacks with necessary equipment. Then, you plunge into darkness with complete freedom to explore and ultimately scare yourself silly. We won't give away the surprise here, but rest assured it won't take long for your heartbeat to ratchet up to top speed.
The experience is designed for 2 people to play at once, and trust us, you'll be thankful to have a partner in crime. It lasts an agonizing 10 minutes that feels much, much longer. This definitely isn't for the faint of heart. Be prepared for spooks and haunts to send you shrieking at every dark corner, but it's buckets of fun and makes for a memorable date night or fearfest with friends. Just beware: the Hospital of Horror will linger with you long after you've departed for the night.
October 13, 2017
Condo prices are up - Detached home prices are down
A recent housing survey is verifying pretty much what we have been saying for months. In July, August and September the condo market has been very hot, and the detached housing market not so much.
Condo prices in Metro Vancouver are up 17.6% year-over-year, with the average condo price now at approximately $620,000.
Now might be the best opporutunity in a long time to purchase a little bigger house, particularly if you are moving from a condo or townhouse and starting a family.
The gap between condos and detached homes has shrunk by roughly $110,000, which is great news for anyone considering upgrading.
Very expensive single family homes are also correcting in terms of price. An example is West Vancouver, where prices have dropped about 10% from $3.8 million to $3.4 million.
The average price for a house in Greater Vancouver now is just over $1.5 million, and may drop a bit more as we work our way towards a more balanced market (a larger supply for the demand)
For a balanced market we need about 15,000 listings, and currently we are around 9,000.
October 12, 2017
Vancouver Pushing the Boundaries in Sustainability
The Vancouver Convention Centre has announced that its iconic West building has been awarded LEED Platinum certification (version 4) for Exisiting Buildings: Operations and Maintenance by the Canada Green Builiding Council. Coupled with its 2010 Platinum certification for New Construction, the Vancouver Convention Centre is the first double LEED Platinum convention centre in the world.
Platimum is the highest level of LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and version 4 is the newest version of the rating system, considered 'the framework and benchmark for the next generation of green buildings.
The Vancouver Convention Centre was built to the highest environmental standard with features like a six-acre living roof, marine habitat and impressive green technologies. Their commitment to the environment is more than the building. When the West building opened, they set out to be a global leader in sustainability to make a difference in the community and the global industry.
Congratulations to the whole team at the Vancouver Convention Centre.
October 11, 2017
Two Nature Inspired Developements Proposed for the West End
Rezoning applications have been submitted for 2 residential developments in Vancouver's West End, one at the corner of Thurlow and Harwood and the other at Alberni and Bidwell, according to the city's website.
The first one is a proposed 39 storey market residential tower with a 6 storey podium located on the southwest corner of Alberni and Bidwell. Local developer Westbank Projects and Bing Thom Architects are responsible for the project. The tower has a rather striking architectural design, with the buiilding's out structure mimicking the look of an exoskeleton.
The profile of the exoskeleton will create an unique alternating patter that literally steps up the building, moving away from the typical stratified or monolithic extruded towers design so prevalent in Vancouver, or for that matter, the rest of the world. Four levels of underground parking, with 180 parking stalls and 120 bicycle parking spaces will be included.
The 2nd development consists of 2 residential towers located at Harwood and Thurlow, and is being proposed by BlueSky Partners and Henriquez Partners Architects. According to the rezoning application, the north tower will be made up of 59 market residential units on floors 18-33 and 98 social housing units on floors 2-18. The 2nd tower will have 1 less floor and be made up of 143 market residential units.
The proposed towers in a park are inspired by the clean modern lines of the West End character and contextual relationship to the surrounding fabric. A modern minimalism that is designed as a complementary addition to the existing context and a urban retreat for residents.
October 10, 2017
Fall Hiking - What's in your backpack?
Fall in one of the best times of year to hike. From St. Mark's Summit to Quarry Rock, autumn is an excellent time to tackle the trails. Crowds have dwindled, as though hikers, not unlike our local bears, have begun an early hibernation. The air is fresh and crisp and as the days are quickly becoming shorter time outside is precious. The sound of crunching leaves under your boots will serve as a reminder that winter is just around the corner. Fall is for hiking!
In this area, we are blessed with some of the best hiking in the province, perhaps in the country. Mountains, lakes, rivers and alpine meadows are all a short distance away. However, don't let the closeness create a false sense of security. You want to be accustomed to dealing with the seasons and changing weather conditions. Skilled hikers with proper gear and clothing learn to embrace the often erratic weather fall can bring. However, some casual walkers are often ill-prepared. Remember, mountain weather can and will change often and quickly. Your sunny stroll can soon become a cold wet slog, and a potentially dangerous situation. Planning and preparation is your best safety bet. Consider packing a little extra caution into your backpack and ensure you are carrying the essentials.
The 10 essentails are: Flashlight or headlamp; Whistle/signalling device; Fire starter; Extra clothes; Pocketknife; Tarp/shelter; Water and snacks; First aid kit; Compass, map and GPS; Fully charged cell phone.
No matter what motivates you to enjoy a fall hike, dress in layers, log your trip plan, double check your backpack is loaded with the essentails and adventure smart!
October 6, 2017
What will $500,000 buy you today?
We live in such as diverse area in Canada, or even B.C. for that matter. Prices can differ so dramatically with just an hour or so drive.
So what can you buy for $500,000 today? Well the truth is whether you are in Vancouver or as far east as Chilliwack (or even Agassiz) you really aren't going to find a decent detached home for under $500,000. So let's look at strata properties.
In Vancouver you can currently find a 1 bedroom, 657 square foot home in Mount Pleasant that is spotless clean and ready to move in for $500,000.
In Richmond, that same money will get you at 2 bedroom 2 full bath 1,186 square foot condo with insuite laundry near the city centre.
In South Delta, you can find a 2 bedroom, 2 full bath condo which is only 12 years old in Tsawwassen's Beach Grove with just under 900 square feet.
Cloverdale's Clayton neighbourhood, $500,000 will get you a 1180 square foot 3 bedroom, 2 full bathroom townhouse which is only 4 years old and just a little further east in Langley you can buy a 4 bedroom 2102 square feet townhouse in the heart of the city.
A 12 year old townhouse is waiting for you in Abbotsford for $500,000 which is only 12 years old and features 4 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms and over 2240 square feet or you can purchase a brand new townhome in Chilliwack that has 3 bedrooms and 3 full bathrooms on just under 2000 square feet of living space.
These are just a few examples of what $500,000 can get you. Of course there are many more examples . If you would like to find out what $750,000 or any other price range will get you in Metro Vancouver drop us a line. We are here to assist.
October 3, 2017
Is the homeless population growing in Richmond?
A young homeless couple in their early 20s are attracting some attention in the neighbourhood around Cooney and Saba roads after moving into the area last month. They are dressed well and look out of place in their 'home' which is comprised of stacked suitcases, open umbrellas and a sheet of green plastic, tucked into a corner of a vacant building lot near the Brighouse Station. The couple say that their home is waterproof, skunk proof and the dragon doll scares the raccoons away. The couple keeps their heads down when people walk by...they feel embarassed. They young man said that he and his partner have been living on the street for almost a year since his parents kicked him out of the family home. He is working as an on-call laundry person, while his girlfriend is unemployed. They live on food given out by nearby restaurants and food court owners and shower in community facilities.
The couple have money (a government rental subsidy) but can't find a place. They have been applying for houses, going to view places but never hear back from the landlords.
The Homeless population keeps growing. This young couple are just a snapshot of the growing homeless population in Richmond.
The 2017 homeless count in Richmond is currently 70, of which 29 are unsheltered. This includes 10 children and youth under 25, and 15 seniors. 41 of these people say that they have been homless for more than one year. The figure is an 84% rise compared with the last count in 2014 (38) and is the highest since 2005, when the count was first conducted.
Almost half of the survey say the high rental rates and a lack of income are the major factors fuelling homelessness. In fact, more than 20% of the surveyed homeless people have either part time or full time jobs.
Non-profit housing and service providers estimate that there are currently more than 120 homeless individuals in Richmond. The Richmond shelter turns away 130 people each month.
The Salvation Army Richmond House on Shell Road is the only homeless shelter currently available in Richmond, offering 10 beds to male applicants and no capacity for those with disabilities.
Female homeless individuals may seek accomodation in the city's domestic abuse care centre, Nova House.
Just recently, The City of Richmond and BC Housing announced that the Salvation Army is to receive an expanded facility on Horseshoe Way next year. This shelter will have 36 beds for both men and women and people with disabilities.
The city is also updating its affordable housing strategy, which includes new policies to build more affordable housing for people who are most at risk.
The issue is that demand is outstripping the supply. Addressing homelessness is not a simple solution and it's not something the city, by itself can resolve. Running shelters is very expensive and work needs to be done to get help from the community partners, as well as funding from the provincial and federal governments. According the the city's Emgergency Services and Transitional Housing report released in 2015, it costs about $1,932 per month for a sheltered bed.
October 2, 2017
Fright Nights at Playland - Scaring you senseless!
Are you afraid of the dark? Well, you should be because what lurks in the shadows during Fright Nights at Playland comes straight from your nightmares...
Experience the terror being stalked by a chainsaw wielding maniac during Fright Nights at Playland on select nights from October 6th through to the 31st. Each night features 8 haunted houses including a new one: The Bloodshed...and live performances that'll scare your socks off!
Fright Nights is open on weekends and select weekdays as we get closer to Halloween, and yes, it's definitely open on Tuesday, October 31st. Gates open at 7pm and the fun keeps going late into the night. General Gate Admission provides access to all Haunted Houses, 20 rides and Monsters of Schlock sideshow.
Here's a preview of some fo the haunted house attractions:
Car-N-Evil: It's the year of clowns with success of IT, so what better way to spend an evening than with a bunch of them, waiting to show you a party trick.
Asylum: Check into this hospital and you may check out with less body parts than you arrived with... that is, if you can get out!
The Bloodshed: This family of mutated murders and sadistic aberrations feed of your fear, and your insides. Their wholesome foundation is built on the blood and bones of their victims.
Fear: What are you afraid of? Face your biggest phobias at FEAR! This house will bring you face-to-face with your innermost nightmares, the things you avoid during the day, and hope to not dream about at night. Good luck.
Sound like fun? No? Well, too bad.. you should go anyway! Fright Nights at Playland is the most fun you could have while screaming your head off.