Category: personal reflection

What’s your favourite area code?

BC is getting a new area code (236) as of June 2012. Up until 1996 we only had 604, but then 250 was introduced to cover the area outside Vancouver. When we began running out of numbers again, 778 was introduced in 2001. This was used in Vancouver initially then spread out across the province. The new 236 code will be used all across the province too.

You still see signs which have phone numbers without the area code. Most of BC still thinks like it is a small town and everyone should know the area code. That’s changing. In fact they’ve already set aside 672 as the next area code to use when we run out of numbers again.

What’s your preference for your area code? 604, 250, 778, 236 or will you wait for 672?

Blueberry bonanza

Blueberries
Blueberries from our local fruit stand

Did you know that BC is the second largest producer of blueberries in the world? We produce about 28% of the world’s blueberry crop, and 97% of Canada’s. That’s huge!

And most of the blueberries are produced in the Lower Mainland – around Abbotsford, Pitt Meadows, Surrey and Richmond. Which explains why we see fruit stands around Vancouver with local blueberries for sale.

In the summer we get most of our fruit and veggies from these local fruit stands or farmers markets. It seems like a good thing for a number of reasons.

Firstly the quality is generally way better than we find in the supermarkets.

Secondly, supporting local producers seems to be a win-win for our local economy. Why support farmers in California or Mexico?

Thirdly, the whole 100 mile diet idea struck a chord for us. Again this is about local food and reducing the carbon impact by eating locally. Eating what is in season and comes from the area keeps you in touch with the seasons and, going back to reason no. 1, it just tastes better!

So we are enjoying the peaches, nectarines, cherries, tomatoes, peppers, nugget potatoes and green beans now. Oh and my favourite topping for ice cream – blueberries.

Vancouver’s birthday party in the park

Vancouver celebrating its 125th birthday
The main stage at Vancouver's birthday celebration

Last weekend Vancouver had a birthday celebration in Stanley Park. Well a major milestone like your city reaching the ripe old age of 125 needs to be marked.

Vancouver put on three days of family oriented events, featuring a lot of local musicians. This is one of those events that Vancouver does so well.

Stanley Park is a perfect location too. You can look across the water at the glass towers of Vancouver’s skyline and the sails of Canada Place, while sitting on the grass and listening to the music.

Some elements were typical of Vancouver. We were encouraged to use public transit, or bikes. There was a free shuttle bus from Canada Place to and from Stanley Park. The wait for this was quite long, so many people ended up walking or getting a cab. Those who did drive were rewarded by spending a lot of time in the resulting traffic jams.

Another Vancouver element was the recycling bins set up all around the stages. These were there to encourage, and educate you, into sorting your recycling appropriately. There were volunteers on hand to help you dispose of your trash in the right bin. They were needed as it was pretty confusing!

The food concessions and giveaways were there to make sure that there was a lot of material available for later disposal in the recycling centres. We ate at the mexican concession, drawn to it by its popularity as much as anything.

There were beer gardens set up. These are fenced off and patrolled by security guards. You needed two pieces of ID to get in and were only permitted two drinks each. Vancouver obviously wanted to ensure drinking was done responsibly.

The overall feel of the event, from our visit on the Friday evening, was of a summer festival. People were chatting, listening to the music, checking out the concession stands and scoring as much free stuff as they could.

Walking back to the Seabus along the seawall, we were reminded of how easy life is in this beautiful city.

Lessons from the Stanley Cup riots

Cleaning up
The clean up

It was a sad day for Vancouver and for hockey fans when the Canucks lost the final game in the Stanley Cup. The sadness was not from losing but from the violence and looting that followed.

We were in England at the time. The reaction in the media there was bemusement. How could a hockey game provoke such strong emotions? And were these really mild mannered, polite Canadians rioting. I think it was this disconnect between the image of Canada and the violence that made this story of such interest world wide.

The next day we were on a flight to Dublin and the man sitting next to me was reading about the riots in the Irish Times. When we got talking he said that the reason he’d been reading the article was because it just wasn’t what he expected of Canadians.

So the perception of Canadians as polite, well-mannered people isn’t entirely true. Such broad generalizations never are true. Hey, even pigeons don’t live in pigeon holes!

Canadians are more complex. Our views of them are to some extent a reflection of what we want to see. If you think they are polite, you’ll notice that. If you think they lack a sense of humour then you’ll find that too.

I noticed that the reaction to the riots was another demonstration of this. People found the cause of the riots where they wanted to. Whether it was alcohol, poor policing, out of town yobs, gang members, or “young people today”. None of these is true – nor completely false.

The reaction I noticed in people in Ireland and England was a shrug. The riots were a blip in an otherwise peaceful and gentle nation. I doubt that many people’s perceptions of Canada have changed.

What about your perceptions?

My personal June real estate round up

Dundarave
Dundarave is one of the hot areas in West Vancouver

This is a quick look at the sale prices for houses in a few of the areas that we personally serve as realtors. I pulled out the average sale price in these cities this June and June of last year.

What is interesting is that prices have gone down in the outlying suburbs [Maple Ridge (-5.6%), Port Coquitlam(-0.3%) and Port Moody(-5%)] and up in other areas. The increases in Vancouver West(30.3%), West Vancouver(19.7%) and North Vancouver(13.9%) were all substantial ones.

Sales volume was down in most of these areas, with West Vancouver(100 sales compared to 60) and Vancouver West(144 v 132 in June 2010) being the main exceptions.

This continues the pattern we have seen lately of certain areas being “hot” (perhaps with buyers from Mainland China fuelling the fire?) and others being cooler.

City\Year
June 2010
Avg Sale Price
June 2011
Avg Sale Price
Coquitlam 702,367 734,168
Maple Ridge 497,450 469,555
North Vancouver 928,704 1,057,940
Port Coquitlam 546,700 544,968
Port Moody 863,591 820,088
Vancouver West 1,923,164 2,505,286
West Vancouver 2,016,225 2,413,915
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