November 30, 2017
Is a 'Vancouver Foreign Buyer Ban' being considered?
Among a number of other strategies, the city of Vancouver is considering restricting ownership of housing to local residents, as it looks to cool a hot real estate market they feel is fueled by foreign and local speculation.
According to the city, Vancouver is the setting for the 'perfect storm' where excessive supply of global capital is flowing into the city, along with builders targeting investors, low interest rates and favourable tax policies.
Vancouver, which is Canada's most expensive housing market has already made numerous moves to try and curb the situation, including imposing an empty home tax and restricting short-term rentals.
Home prices in Vancouver's westside have jumped 57% in the last 3 years, sending the typical price - including condos, townhouses and detached homes - to $1.4 million according the the Great Vancouver Real Estate Board.
In the Greater Vancouver region, the typical home now costs $1 million, 12.5 times the regions median household income of $79,930, which puts home ownership out of reach for many residents.
With rising homes prices we have also seen rents increase, with the vacancy rate hovering below 1%.
This lack of affordable housing is putting a strain on local businesses, with restaurants, retailers and even the city itself struggling to find enough workers.
To address the crunch, Vancouver is considering new strategies including imposing a speculation tax, an increase in the luxury tax and the possibility of 'restricting property ownership by non-permanent residents'.
Vancouver is the latest jursidiction to consider this restriction, following in the footsteps of Australia and New Zealand.
November 28, 2017
Metro Vancouver Trails That Are Accessible To Everybody
Hiking definitely requires full mobility, or maybe it doesn't! If you explore the delightful network of pathways in Sunnyside Acres Urban Forest, you will come to a junction at the Wally Ross Trail. There you will immediately notice the Obstacle Free Trail sign. This trail was created as an universal access trail and made specifically for users who may have varying physical abilities with relatively safe access for all. How fantastic is that - a nature trail designed to be navigated independently by those who may be wheelchair bound. Nature for everyone!
As host city for the 2010 Winter Paralympics,Vancouver welcomed the world and earned a reputation as one of the world's most accessible places to visit. Of course, wheelchair access routes can present a few obstacles in the form of rocks, roots and steep inclines. Enter the TrailRider, a remote wheelchair, provided that access, whose origins are grounded in Vancouver. Former Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan, co-invented the TrailRider as part of his dream to make the outdoors more accessible. Imagine a unique, single tire 'wheelchair' powered by a couple of sherpas. This single piece of equipment allows a person with mobility restrictions to access the great outdoors. From Mount Everest base camp to Mount Kilimanjaro the TrailRider has been tested under extreme conditions and across challenging terrain.
Closer to home, the British Columbia Mobility Opportunities Society operates an accessible hiking program based in Pacific Spirit Regional Park. As part of their goal to make the 'beautiful accessible' BCMSO also coordinates a TrailRider rental program. For only $10 per day, outdoor enthusiasts can rent a specialized TrailRider and embark on a self guided and self paced adventure. Here are a few suggestions for destination hikes:
* Camosun Bog, Pacific Spirit Park
* Spanish Banks, Vancouver
* Lighthouse Park, West Vancouver
* Green Timbers Urban Forest, Surrey
* Burns Bog, Delta Nature Reserve
Check out this terrific list of Accessible Trails in the Lower Mainland from Spinal Cord Injury BC. Are you looking for a more extreme adventure? Trail Peak features a list of TrailRider accessible routes.
November 28, 2017
Become a snow angel in Richmond
Last year was busy for Richmond's Snow Angels and with the winter weather quickly approaching, recruitment is underway for volunteeers.
Heavy snowfall can cause challenges for some residents, particularly senior citizens and residents with illnesses, disabilities and mobility challenges.
Richmond volunteer Snow Angels program is back for its 8th year to lend a hand to those in need of assistance this winter by removing snow from sidewalks and walkways.
An accumulation of 5 or more centimetres of snow is needed to activate the program. Although assistance is not guaranteed, participating volunteers will make every effort to help qualified callers.
If you would like to become a Snow Angel, visit IcanHelp.Richmond.ca, call 604-244-1208 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You may select the geographic community you wish to serve or provide your services city wide.
Snow Angels are to provide their own transportation, equipment and protective gear including shovels, proper footwear, gloves and jackets.
If you are a resident in need, requests should be made in advance of a storm by contacting a Snow Angel coordinator at your closest community centre or by calling 604-244-1208. A full list of coordinators can be found online at Richmond.ca/Winter
November 27, 2017
Enjoy the holiday spirit with movie/tv productions filmed in Vancouver
It's a common sight throughout the year for Vancouverites and visitors to round a corner and step into an enchanting, snow covered scene complete with foreign taxis, fluffy snow defying warm and sunny weather and camera crews capturing every second. Vancouver is loaded with productions filming holiday heartwarmers - and a few comedies that'll jingle your bells as well. Now the city's Yuletide events cast a festive glow that people can enjoy off screen too.
This season, visit some of your old holiday favourites and discover new finds. You'll be surprised at how many productions you're familiar with that were filmed or digitally finished in Metro Vancouver.
Every day between now and December 12 (excluding weekends), Tourism Vancouver will profile one holiday film or TV show shot in Vancouver, paired with a can't miss Vancouver holiday attraction or activity.
Here are the attractions that will be highlighted during the Productions of Christmas:
* Bright Nights Christmas Train in Stanley Park
* Vancouver Christmas Market
* Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
* Festival of Lights at VanDusen Botanical Garden
* Peak of Christmas at Grouse Mountain
* Vancouver Bach Choir Presents Handel's Messiah
* Christmas Classics at Granville Island with Vancouver Foodie Tour
* FlyOver Canada Christmas
* Heritage Christmas at Burnaby Village Museum
* Holiday Traditions Start at Vancouver Aquarium
* Christmas at Canada Place
November 24, 2017
Double-decker buses having a trial run - adding capicity on highway routes
Transit riders will get a chance to test out the new double-decker buses starting now in Richmond and South Delta, Langley, Surrey and White Rock.
The pilot project is a way to test double-decker buses on long distance communter routes.
The 2 buses were supplied at no charge by British bus manufacturer Alexander Dennis.
The double-decker buses can seat 80-86 passengers, up to 83% more than the older highway coaches, and have double overall capacity.
The pilot program will allow TransLink to see how double-decker buses fare in the Lower Mainland, both from a customer experience and operational standpoint, and to evaluate bus depot requirements.
TransLink is preparing for 1.2 million more people in the region over the next 30 years. With growing suburban demand in communities south of the Fraser River, they are looking at new ways to ensure that transit is an attractive option for commuters.
Double-decker buses are currently working very well in other cities, such as Victoria and Seattle and should work well here as well. And yes, they can fit through the tunnel!!
November 22, 2017
Is Metro Vancouver's housing shortage a 'myth'?
We often hear about how our shortage in supply of housing is the root cause for Metro Vancouver's skyrocketing prices, but maybe that's not the whole story.
John Rose, a geographer at Kwantlen Polytechnic University has studied housing supplies in Canada's 33 largest municipalities since 2001. He claims the record shows that while prices in Metro Vancouver escalated dramatically over the past 15 year, the supply actually grew during that period.
For every 100 individuals or families who moved to the region since 2001, there have been 119 housing units added to the market.
Rose says, 'The market has provided a lot of units, yet at the same time, we've seen affordability get degraded'. Rose contends that 'speculative investment' has resulted in tens of thousands of empty homes and have led to the regions sky high prices.
In 2016, the Metro Vancouver region had more than 60,000 vacant units. We have all this available supply, but they are just sitting empty.
Roses' word to policy makers is that we need to be really measured and careful about how we go forward, we really need to go forward in a different fashion from what we have been doing.
Perhaps we need more restictions or laws to be put in place to curb the speculative demand, because in the absence of that, we could add thousands upon thousands of housing units, but they are being easily snapped up by speculators and not getting to the people who need them.
Vancouver is currently in a league of its own as the most unaffordable housing market in North America, surpassing New York and San Francisco.
The average family income is $81,608, while the median homes sale price in the City of Vancouver is more that 17 times greater at about $1.7 million.
Don't you think it time to make some changes? Maybe start with stopping the sale of assignements with pre-sale developements. Reduce the incentive for 'the investor', and give the first time buyer a greater chance of a reasonable purchase. Your thoughts?
November 21, 2017
World's most exotic cars: The 2017 Pagani Huayra Roadster
If there is one thing that supercar builder Horacio Pagani wants everybody to know about his new Pagani Huayra roadster, it's this: This is not just a Huayra with the roof removed. This is a brand new car, even if it has the same name and general shape as the gullwing coupe that came before. The roadster uses the same Mercedes AMG V12, but is more powerful, lighter, stiffer and is said to offer better handling.
Ludicrous in every way and utterly fascinating in every detail, this mid engined supercar is for those who have grown bored with mere Ferraris and Lamborghinis and already have 2 Bugattis in the garage.
Each of the 100 roadsters built will sell for $2.4 million, but leave your checkbook where it is: Every single one is already spoken for.
November 20, 2017
The Largest Free Light Display in the Lower Mainland
A quick trip out of the city will take you into a dazzling display of lights at the annual Lights at Lafarge installation set up by the City of Coquitlam.
Wander around the waters edge of Lafarge Lake for some fun this winter with the lights shining from November 25th until January 21st. There will also be a special pre-lighting event on opening night to celebrate the return of the fantastic light display.
Located just steps away from Lafage Lake-Douglas Skytrain Station, or you can take the 45 minute drive from downtown Vancouver and park off Trevor Wingrove Way. The lights will remain lit from dusk each night until 11pm, except on New Years eve, when the lights will stay lit until midnight.
The display, made up of hundreds of thousands of twinkling lights, will wrap itself entirely around the lake, taking you on a 1.2 kilometre loop through themed zones. The lights are set up outside, so make sure you dress for the weather.
Fun Fact: many of the lights have been made by Coquitlam community members, often using recycled materials. For exampe, tulip lights were hand crafted out of pop bottles and lotus blossoms out of milk jugs.
On opening night there will be a special pre-lighting event from 2:30-5:30 with a few festive extras like roving performers, free hot chocolae, crafts, photos with Santa, a holiday market and choirs. The big light up will happen at 5:30.
If you can't make opening night, you can consider Jingle Bells Night being held on Friday, December 22nd. This event aims to break the previous record of 500 singing voices.
The lights themselves will remain lit each night until January 21st.
November 17, 2017
Cool Gadget - A Watch that doesn't require sight
'Eone' believes that timepieces should be designed for everyone, which means they should be able to be read by the visually impaired. Their unique watches were inspired by Bradley Snyder, an ex naval-officer who lost his eyesight in Afghanistan and won the gold and silver awards in swimming at the 2012 Paralympics one year later. For the visually impaired, these masterpieces make day to day life possible without drawing attention to their disability; and for sighted users, they offer a unique and discrete way of telling time. The Bradley timepiece features two ball bearings. One on top and one on the side - so that all you need to do is touch your watch to find out the time. Winner of numerous design awards.
November 16, 2017
Rainy Bicycle Rides
There are many wonderful reasons to live and work around Vancouver. One of many is the ability to ride year round. Of course, summer riding is supreme, but with storm season officially upon us, a whole new dimension has been added to the morning bike commute. For the brave, torrential rain and gusty winds on the downtown bike lanes tend to separate the weak from the strong. Rain during rush hour certainly brings some challenges, but for those who enjoy a good dose of nature, it also offers up unexpected thrills and delights; the sound of the wind, rain pelting in your face and slippey corners testing your balance.
Most of us are creatures of habits, and those dedicated and passionate commuting cyclists are no different. They tend to ride the same route, at the same hour of the day on their quest to get to work on time. During storm season, a purpose is evident. Simply observe a group of cyclists at the next stop light. Splattered with mud, soaked to the skin, they will nod to each other, in solidarity. Comrades in Gortex, they bravely forgo the comforts of a car or bus and spin along our transportation corridors undeterred by the conditions.
While biking in the rain isn't for everyone, for many of our car free citizens it's a must. How do they survive the elements? Here are a few tips for riding in the rain from those die-hard, weather beaten commuters.
* Install front and back lights on your bike or helmet - see and be seen
* Wear good eye protection - keep debris away from your eyes.
* Rain gear - invest in a good quality rain jacket and pants
* Fenders - although a little 'nerdy' fenders will protect you from taking a mud bath
* Footwear - from plastic bags to neoprene booties, keeping your feet warm and dry is the goal.
* Gloves - warm hands make the difference
* Smile - it works to lighten your mood and of course, keeps those in their vehicles guessing.
Gear up and ready to roll? Check out Vancouver's cycling map.
Here's a question for you. Will you get wetter if you walk, run or ride in the rain? Thankfully Harvard mathematician David Bell answered this old age question. It is true! When the rain is falling vertically, or the wind is in your face, you should ride, and the faster you ride, the less wet you will get. And that's science.
November 15, 2017
Home sales up - Supply down in B.C.
The B.C. Real Estate Association reports that a total of 8,677 residential units sold on the MLS in October, an increase of 19.3% from the same period last year. Total sales dollar volume was $6.25 billion, up 41.6% from October 2016. The average MLS residental price in the province was $720,129 up 18.7% from October 2016.
Cameron Muir, BCREA's chief economist says, B.C. homes sales trended higher in October, up 23% from January on a seasonally adjusted basis, likely due to a lack of supply in the resale market, which continues to put upward pressure on home prices in most B.C. regions.
Total active listings were down 5.1% to 27,987 units in October compared to the same month last year, and have declined 49% over the last 5 years. The ratio of home sales to active listings was up from 24.7% in October 2016 to 31% last month. The BC housing market is considered to be in relative balance when the ratio of homes sales to active listings is between 12% and 20%.
November 14, 2017
Vancouver's Annual Chowder Chowdown is back
When the weather turns to autumn like, do you develop a longing for a bowl of hearty chowder? If you are reaching for your soup spoon, you'll find plenty to dig into at the upcoming Seafood Chowder Chowdown, the soup event of the season.
Returning for its 10 anniversary on November 22nd, Ocean Wise will be holding their annual chowder event at the Vancouver Aquarium. The Chowdown started in Vancouver and has since spread across the country, with 2 other dates happening in Toronto (November 14th) and Calgary (November 15). Other cities have also been inspired to produce their own versions of the themed initiative
The Chowder Chowdown is intended to be about good sustainable eating: food-related connections among guests, chefs and producers; and increased understanding in terms of how to keep the oceans abundant for the future.
The evening will include a wander through the Vancouver Aquarium's impressive galleries and a sampling of a diverse and delicious range of chef created seafood chowders, as well as craft beer.
For this years event, 13 past winners will be participating in the event, vying for the stomachs of guests, as well as industry and media judges. The judging panel will crown the 2017 Chowder Chowdown All-Star Champion and the Best Chowder and Beer Pairing, while guests will get to vote for the People's Choice Award winner.
This event is expected to be a marvelous (and filling time). Enjoy everything from crab chowder with crispy pancetta, to a cedar smoked sablefish chowder.
Tickets are $75 and are available online. This event is sure to sell out, so don't wait long to purchase your tickets.
November 10, 2017
Small Rate Hike? How a $1 million mortgage rate hike can now cost you over $900,000
Our real estate prices aren't just getting more expensive, the cost of carrying a mortgage is as well. The power of compound interest is a powerful force, which is great for people lending money, but not so much for home buyers borrowing. As interest rates rise, so do mortgage rates. Despite the seemingly small increase in mortgage rates, the costs to these hikes add up. Click here for a thorough explanation of what happens when you run the numbers and breakdown the final cost of a mortgage over its amortization. I think you will find it very interesting.
November 8, 2017
Government housing measures are hurting, not helping first time buyers
The federal government's tougher mortgage lending rules and the British Columbia government's affordable housing measures are working against one another. Ultimately, these moves will hurt first time buyers the most.
Canada's banking regulator, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions says it wants to reduce the risk of mortgage defaults due to high levels of household debt. But applying stricter lending guidelines is making it more difficult for home buyers to access mortgage funds, says Dan Scarrow, vice-president at Macdonald Realty.
Last year, the former Liberal government offered first-time buyers help in covering the cost of a mortgage down payment with an interest free loan of up to $37,500, which is payment free for the first 5 years. The new NDP government says it wants to continue that program for the time being.
These initiatives, on top of government intervention with the 15% foreign buyer tax introduced last year and 2 interest rate hikes this year, are causing major market distortions, such as overheated entry-level home buying and a cooling of the higher priced homes.
Over the past year, MLS stats show that the benchmark price for a single family home in Greater Vancouver rose only 2.9% to $1,617,300 while condo prices soared 21.7% to a benchmark price of $635,800
In the end, all these initiatives are hurting the very people that various levels of government are trying to help.
While Macdonald Realty realizes there is a place for some government intervention in the housing market, it is against the mortgage regulation changes that is sees as unnecessary, especially considering that Canadian Banks have long been recognized globally for managing their business well.
The regulators have arbitrarily insisted that buyers undergo stress testing that artificially limits the amount they can borrow, making it hard for first-time buyers to compete with already wealthy landowners. The banks have always had their own risk assessment and have made the determination that these are acceptable risks and returns that they are willing to take.
Your thoughts? How are the tougher rules going to affect the marketplace for you?
November 7, 2017
Where in B.C. is it best to invest in? You might be surprised!
Surrey may be BC's second largest city, but it is the number one place to invest in, in the province.
Surrey has topped the list of the 10 towns and cities with the best real estate potential.
Surrey's proximity to major transportation and trade routes, a 6% growth in business last year and its relative affordability helped push it to the top of the list.
It is expected that Surrey's real estate market will outperform the rest of the province for the next 5 years.
Surrey is starting to see that the demand for secondary suites, the demand for densification is really occuring as the population is growing both in births and migrations.
Second and third were Abbotsford and New Wesminster respectively.
The complete list, in order:
3. New Westminster
8. The Tri-Cities (Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody)
November 6, 2017
Driving through the past - a 1966 photo log made by rigging camera to dash
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure just recently release its latest video in their series: BC Road Trip Time Machine. This one chronicling the journey from Horseshoe Bay to New Westminster in 1966.
The video shows Highway 1, which was only one lane in each direction at the time, before the Upper Levels Highway was built. It features a number of notable landmarks on Georgia Street, including the Christ Church Cathedral, Hotel Georgia and the Hudson's Bay Building. Also visible is the Biltmore Moter Inn, the original Jim Pattison dealership and many of Kingsway's famous neon signs.
From boxy station wagons to 39 cents per gallon gas, this video provides us with a nostalgic snapshot into B.C.'s past, before high-rise buildings filled Vancouver's downtown core. Have a look for yourself!