Whoa, if you are like me, December is certainly a month full of indulgences. After all the turkey and fixings accompanied with some Christmas cookies and your share of wine, you might be feeling a bit sluggish.

If this sounds like you, then the Grouse Mountain Snowshoe Grind is one of the best activities around.

When the weather can be pretty crappy down here, there is a good chance that it's snowing up the mountain - and what a great way to stay (or get) into shape.

With the official Grouse Grind closed for the winter, Grouse Mountain has created a really nice alternative for the snowy months.

The Snowshoe Grind will take you on a climb up a spectacular mountain with some stunning views, which will take your mind off your workout. At the top you will be rewarded with a stunning 360 degree view of the surrounding mountain ranges and a the city below.

The Snowshoe Grind promises to be a challenge, not a simple walk in the park. In fact, you can burn around 500 calories and hour on snowshoes, and that's just walking on a flat path. You will be able to feel the calories burning away as your legs burn from the exertion.

The Snowshoe Grind is 4.3 kilometres (2.67 miles) and the elevation gain is 240 metres (787 feet). The average time is about 1 hour and anyone reaonably fit could do it.

But, if you are looking for something a bit easier, the Mundy Showshoe Park offers a few other options from beginner to intermediate snowshoe trails of the Blue Grouse.

Whatever you decide, you will be able to find the trails easily with clearly marked signs from the top on Grouse Mountain.

Most of all, have yourself a fun filled Christmas and a happy, safe New Year!

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Some of the big freight haulers want some tryout time with the new upcoming Tesla semi-truck.

The orders are just starting to trickle in with UPS ordering 125, PepsiCo 100, Budweiser 40, Sysco 50 and Walmart 15.

Of course that's just peanuts compared to the 940,000 heavy-duty trucks that are  sold around the world each year, but the Tesla truck won't even be available until 2019 at the earliest.

It's a strong start for a new entry in the semi market and proves that major freight operators are serious about cutting costs without giving up on performance.

The Tesla Semi is said to be the safest, most comfortable truck ever, with 4 independent motors providing maximum power and acceleration. The enhanced, Autopilot helps avoid collisions, a centered driver position provides maximum visibility and control and a low centre of gravity offers rollover protection.

It is expected to reach 60miles /100km with an 80,000 pound load in 20 seconds, and can maintain this speed up a 5% grade - quicker than any other semi.

Depending on the model, the Tesla semi will have a range of 300mi/480km or 500mi/800km with an energy consumption less than 2 kWh per mile with an annual fuel saving of over $200,000, and a 2 year payback period.

Sounds pretty impressive to me. What are your thoughts?

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The City of Richmond will begin public consultations soon regarding the redevelopment of Lansdowne Mall, which will include 24 new towers.

The owner of the shopping centre, Vanprop Investments Ltd, would like to redevelop the existing 50 acre mall with 22 residential towers and 2 office towers, as well as a new retail space and 10 acre city park.

The plan is to concentrate the greatest density within 400 metres of the existing Lansdowne Canada Line station. The maximum height of the buildings will be 45 metres, as all building heights in Richmond are restricted due to the proximity to the Airport.

A new east to west road and the extenstion of Hazelbridge Way and Cooney Road through the site are also proposed to improve transportation. Hazelbridge Way is envisioned as a new retail 'high street' lined with shopping, restaurants and cafes.

A city owned amenity building, such as a community or recreation centre is planned for the corner of Lansdowne and No. 3 Rd and the city would like to see a plaza for large events and activities like Canada Day celebrations, outdoor movies and seasonal events.

However, don't expect the current mall to disappear anytime soon. We are probably looking at 10 years of development around the mall before touching the shopping centre.

The public consultation on the Lansdowne redevelopment plan will wrap up next spring, and the developer's plans should be available to the public to view in person at Lansdowne Centre in the new year.

City of Richmond Lansdowne rendering


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For every electronic product, there are hundreds of different makes and models. And TV's are no exception. The devices on the 'list of the best' will only change when something better comes along and knocks the reigning champ off its top spot.

What that means is that sometimes the list doesn't change for a long time, and every device on the list has stood up to the test, meaning they are truly essential purchases. 

If you are the sort of person who wants to have the best of everything then you may want to consider the best TV in the world right now, which is the LG OLED C7. It's available in 55 and 65 inch versions and manages to strike a fine balance of industry leading OLED technology and a wallet friendly price.

All of LGS OLED televisions include exactly the same panel, which means that although the C7 is a fraction of the price of the flagship W7, it still looks stunning. The reason for the lower price is in the sound quality, but it is thought that the C7's audio strikes a good balance between price and performance.

The C7 also delivers greater brightness and light control than it's predecessor, the C6, meaning that it's able to offer OLED's phenomenlly dark blacks without compromising on great peak light performace.

The 4K powerhouse delivers class leading perfomance via self illuminating pixels at a price that many more of us than ever can afford. And that's a good thing.

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You don't need money to have a great time in Vancouver this time of year. There are a number of free fun activities going on. Here are just a few:

CHRISTMAS LIGHTS

Metro Vancouver is studded with lights, starting with downtown's dramatic St. Paul's Hospital Lights of Hope display, or the Holiday Lights Walking Tour. You could also hop across to West Vancouver's Dundarave Festival of Lights.

LIGHTS IN THE BURBS:

Hop on SkyTrain's Evergreen Extension to Lafarge Lake Douglas Station, where you are only steps from Coquitlam's Lights at Lafarge and if you still have space available on your camera, catch the sight of the CP Holiday Train travelling through the region over the Christmas season. 

DOWNTOWN WONDERLANDS

There are many more ways to pick up your festive spirit without breaking the bank. Stroll pier-like Canada  Place to  view the antique Woodward's Christmas windows alongside a host of decorated Christmas trees and a nice light display, complete with a giant moose, celebrating Canada's North.

If you need to warm up, hit the Four Seasons Hotel for the Festival of Trees which is in full swing, or the neary Hyatt Regency's Gingerbread Lane which is back with tons of candy-studded miniature constructions.

OUTDOOR ACTION

If it's time to stretch you legs outside, head to Robson Square Ice Rink. It's free with your own skates or you can rent skates for a small fee. Here you will find live music on many nights.  Just a short walk away you will find Vancouver's towering official Christmas tree, and while you are in the vicinity, pop into the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver's lobby to spot a Salvador Dali drooping clock-sculpture framed by sparkling decorations.

If you are looking for a seasonal walk, head to Christmas in Kerrisdale, which is a reminder a time when Christmas shoppers strolled around with parcels and carol singing. On pre-Christmas Saturdays, there's a brass band, wandering Santa and free horse carriage rides.

YESTERYEAR CHEER

Burnaby Village Museum is a wonderland of antique buildings brightly decorated or as part of Canada 150 celebrations,entry is free at festively decorated Fort Langley, and Steveston's Gulf of Georgia Cannery, which is hosting its own Festival of Trees.


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Are you in the search for a fun gift, as well as practiical? Whether you are purchasing a gift for under the tree or to send to a Canadian expatriated family member, here are a few gift ideas that are sure to please.

CBC logo sweater - Whether you are mourning the retirement of Rick Cluff from the Early Edition or celebrating Stephen Quinn as the new host, these are the sweatersthat CBC fans will want to be wearing to ring in the new year. They are designed and hand knit in Vancouver, feature the iconic CBC gem logo and zigzags  representing analog radio waves.

Tragically Hip pint glasses - These 16 ounce pint glasses are wrapped with some of the Hip's most iconic album artwork, including Fully Completely, Phatom  Power, Day for Night and Trouble At The Henhouse.

Maple syrup candle with crackling wooden wick - Can you even be a Canadian if you don't love the smell of maple syrup? Not only do these candles duplicate that authentic smell effectively, they are also sold in vintage style, maple syrup cans, giving them throw back loof to induce notalgia. These great gifts burn for a about 75 hours each.

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The provincial governments announcement that it is changing tenancy regulations to limit rent increases by eliminating a clause that allows landlords to seek massive rent hikes to match neighbourhood prices is being met with applause on local social media.

As of November 2017, the average rent for an apartment in Richmond was $1964, which is a 34.93% increase from last year when the average rent was $1278. One bedroom apartments in Richmond rent  for $1513 a month for an an average 11.75% increase and a two bedroom apartment rents on average for $2420, a 38.39% increase from last year.

These rent increases are dramatic, but as of December 11th, renters no longer need to worry about further rent spikes.

Most comments on social media support the BC NDP's action, but some have concerns about how the change would work.

What are your views?

Rent

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In a bid to provide evidence for investigations on collisions, when an accident happens at an intersection in Richmond next year, it is likely to be recorded on camera.

The City of Richmond is planning to install closed circuit television cameras (CCTV) at all the 175 signalized intersections in 2018.

The staff report was passed at the city council's general purposes committee last week and is just pending final approval at the council meeting today.

Once approved, the city will invest approximately $2.2 million to upgrade all existing traffic cameras to allow for live video feed recording, and to add additional video recording cameras at all signalized intersections.

The cameras will provide evidence for investigations on serious collisions at intersections, as well as facilitate the RCMP's ability to identify and locate criminals and investigate threats of violence.

The cameras will also help to monitor big events such as the Steveston Salmon Festival and Richmond World Festival, to ensure public safety.

The Richmond RCMP and the city's transportation department hopes the technology will deter crime, reduce traffic accidents and provide an additional tool in crime and accident investigations.

Based on statistics from ICBC, 88% of accidents in Richmond occur at intersections.

CCTV


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You often hear that 'trend' is a bad word, and whenever you talk about trends you may get strong reactions from people. There are some people who instantly assume trends should be avoided, while others can't wait to see what's up and coming in the design world. A lot of people never plan their renovations around specific trends because you never know if they will last or not, however there are definitely some that make their way into a lot of projects in subtle ways.

Regardless of whether or not you're a trend hunter, it's always interesting to see what's popular and what direction the renovation design industries are heading in. Here are 3 kitchen trends that a currently hot!


Quartz Counters -  This trend has been embraced in a big way, and often in almost every room in the house.  In the kitchen, Quartz is a great idea for a few reasons - it looks great, it's incredibly durable and it won't scratch or stain. So while it may be considered trendy at the moment, it is fully expected to stick around for the long haul.


Universal Design - Elements of Universal design have been creeping into interiors for a while now.  As our population ages, it's becoming more and more important to ensure we keep our loved ones safe in the home. Things like home automation, barrier free bathrooms, open shelving and wider doorways can make our homes function better for the elderly and those with accessibility issues. As the design and renovation communities begin to explore these principles further, even more great looking options are become available.


Two Tone Cabinets -  When this idea was first tried a few years ago people thought it to be a little strange, but suddenly it's gaining traction. It's a great way to breathe life into a plain kitchen and it can work with pretty much any style. The look may or may not be here to stay, but as long as you stick with neutral colours and a simple design, you should be safe.Scott McGillivray Kitchen.jpgS10E131Kitchen1S9E108Kitchen4


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A unique urban park will be built on the rooftop of Oakridge Centre as part of the ambitious redevelopement of the shopping centre.

The Vancouver Park Board has launched a public consultation phase for the design concept of the 9 acre park that will replace the existing rooftop parking over the mall.

The park is one of the public amenity requirements under City Council's 2014 approved rezoning of the 28.5 acre shopping centre in exchange for the site's added retail, office and residential density, which will see a floor area increase to up to 4.6 million square feet.

The redevelopment will include relocating the 70,000 square foot Civic Centre with a new library, daycare, senior centre, community centre and 290 affordable homes from the southwest corner to the northwest corner, as it is a more prominent and accessible area.

As well, the roof for the park will be lowered, and the park's levels will be closer to the street. There will also be 3 varying park levels instead of 1 single level park as previously proposed.

The 'Oakridge Park' will be surrounded by the Civic Centre, office and residential towers, townhouses and restaurants with patios.

At least 6 major entrances into the park space will be created from the street level, the SkyTrain  station entrance plaza and the indoor shopping mall level. Visitors will be able to  access and move between the 3 park levels by stairs, walkways, escalators and elevators.

Six zones - each with varying concepts intended for different usages are envisioned for the park and all of the zones are connected by a grand staircase and looping walking path that doubles as a running track. There is a 1/4 mile (400metre) loop and a 1/2 mile (800 metre) loop.

All the construction will be funded by the developer and the park will be operated by the Park Board when complete.

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I don't necessarily want to own one, but I would love to drive one. Yes, any of the top 10 exotic cars are the stuff which we dream of. I am quite certain that if I found myself face to face with one, dissappointment would be nowhere to be found.

To make this list, each care must be the top performance model manufactured by a series production builder and certified for operation on public roads. In other words, these cars are all 'mainstream mass market goods'. 

In the world of exotic cars, you would expect particular demands to be replaced in exchange for the experience. When Audi brought the all-wheel drive R8 along, all those myths were dispelled. It is said that driving it feels like driving any other car. In fact, Audi's R8 is remarkable in just how unremarkable it feels - until you find someplace to turn it loose and let if fly.

How serious is Audi about boosting the R8? The  5.2 litre, V10 Plus model, the one just about anyone can buy, as long you have $200,000+, has more horsepower than the LMS, that's the Le Mans Series racing car it's based on - at 610 horsepower. With a redline all the way to 8700 rpm, the R8 will reach 100km/h in a very supercar-like 3.1 seconds, which is the very same as Lamborghini's latest Huracan, and has a top speed which is equally eye opening at 330 km/h.  Now that's flying!

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1.  It was built for passengers

The Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) opened the first Hotel Vancouver in 1888 as a compilment to the successful opening of the city's new railway a year prior. It was meant for weary train passengers who would arrive just steps away at the Granville Street Station.


2.  Vancouverites did NOT like the design

One year before completion, local newspaper The Ledge, suggest that the Hotel Vanouver's architectural rendering resembled 'a compound of a decayed grist-mill with bits of bastile and the tower of London added,' and that the design was a 'monument of external ugliness.'

When speaking to the designer, CPR president William Cornelius Van Horne commented, " so you're the damn fool who spoilt the building with all those windows." Not a great start for the city's largest hotel...


3.  Van Horne imagined a string of grand hotels across Canada

The Hotel Vancouver opened on May 16, 1888, followed by a similar hotel in Banff, Alberta, just 2 weeks later. The hotels were meant to tempt Canadians with the idea of riding the CPR railway across the country.


4.  Vancouverites also did not like the location

Despite being in what is not the centre of the city, the 60 room hotel was deemed 'out of the way,' because of its distance from the city centre (present day Gastown). The hotel sat surrounded by forests and brush. It was located on Georgia and Granville Street.


5.  It was so successful that it had to be replaced

With Vancouver's economy booming, the CPR welcomed thousands of new tourists and workers to Vancouver. In 1916, the CPR replaced the Hotel Vancouver with its second incarnation, which was much grander in both capacity and design. The Italian Renaissance style building was passed on to the Canadian Pacific Railway and eventually demolished in 1949.

C.P.R. Station Vancouver on Granville St, 1900. Photo: Vancouver Archives Item: S-3-2Hotel Vancouver, 1900. Photo: Vancouver Archives Item: Hot P88Dominion Photo Co. photo, Vancouver Public Library VPL 24322.Hotel Vancouver, 1917. Photo: Vancouver Archives Item: CVA 677-21

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