Category: vancouver

The Best Weekend Of The Year

Canada Day

I have decided that this is the best weekend of the year.  Better than Halloween, better than Christmas, better than my birthday.  This is the weekend of:

  • School Is Out!
  • The Sun Is Coming!
  • Unexpected Holiday!
  • Endless possibilities abound….!

The first year we lived in Canada, we were horrified at the thought of nearly 10 weeks of summer holiday.  How is anyone expected to manage a full time job and afford childcare for that length of time?  The following year we booked every child into every camp possible, and they went back to school in September more tired than they had been in June.  Now we are seasoned, experienced, and almost Canadian.  It helps that our children are old enough to babysit each other, and had been studying karate long enough to inflict discipline on each other without too much real injury.  The prospect of watching them spend the hot months chilling, cycling, swimming and doing what kids are supposed to do (“Stop that, put it down, you don’t know where it’s been, NOW look what you did to your new sandals…”), is just bliss.

Recently we shared a picture on Facebook.  This is what the start of our summer has been like, but it is still better than Juneuary last year, when we were still wrapped in our polar outfits and snow boots, and at least we are not underwater like parts of Alberta.  Summer

This year the rain has meant that everything I planted in the garden, and many things I did not plant (we have an Accidental Pumpkin patch in the area where I spread my home made compost.  I forgot I had put all 7 Halloween pumpkins with their seeds in the compost last November), are growing, and the time of sitting and appreciating the growth, with a little light harvesting, weeding and reseeding, has arrived.  July and August are generally scorching, and the amount of ground water means I may not have to water the lawn or beds for some time.

The Unexpected Holiday is Canada Day.  You don’t realize until you move from the UK how your body has become attuned to the seasons with their high days and Bank Holidays.  I feel a little wrench at the beginning of May when I realize that it’s Spring Bank Holiday, but I am at work.  But that is completely overwhelmed, when you have been dragging yourself and your children to the end of the school year (“Just 3 more days… just one more teacher gift… just one more awards ceremony… I really don’t care where your planner or lunch box have gone, you only have 2 more days at school…”), when you realize that it’s Canada Day Weekend!  Break out the wine and the barbeque!

And now the endless possibilities… tomorrow I am going to load my grumbling husband and happy dog into the car and drive away.  I will leave a note for the children, which will say “Your parents have run away.  You must solve the clues and find them or your college funds are in jeopardy.”  There will be clues to lead them to the Skytrain, along the waterfront, into Stanley Park and round the seawall.  A real adventure to start the holiday, with a picnic and ice cream at the end.   Later in the holiday we will go berry picking, camping, climb the Stawamish Chief, explore Simon Fraser University campus, shop for new school supplies and clothes and backpacks, paint the shed, create a mural of salmon on the wall of the house that faces the salmon creek – or do none of the above.  The kids will play in the street with other kids, and we’ll dish out freezies, After Bite and bandaids in equal quantities.  Before we know it, we will be back in school and greeting our old friends, and loving the run up to Halloween and Christmas!

freezies

You gotta love a Freezie on a hot day!


Springtime in Vancouver

DSCN7115

Spring sneaks into Vancouver.  You’ve got your head down, and your shoulders hunched and your hood up, when you suddenly look up and realize that the sun is shining, and Spring has ARRIVED!

For the last few days I have been working downtown, and there is nothing more beautiful, in my experience, than Vancouver in Spring sunshine.  I catch the Skytrain through New Westminster, along the huge slow Fraser River, into the bustle of Metrotown and out again, beside the peaceful parks and cycle paths.  As we reach Vancouver, the sun glints off the glass towers, the new leaves and the waves out on the water.  I stare at the new Community Garden which has sprung up on an abandoned parking lot near Science World – raised beds which a month ago were barely filled with soil, now a patchwork of shades of green .  The grass and wildflower roof of the Convention Centre is dazzling and busy with the bees from the Centre’s own hives.  The snow on the mountains, which look so close on a clear day, is almost too bright to look at.

I find myself running late for meetings as I am distracted by all the new cleanness around me.  Buildings and signs and people I have ignored over the winter are suddenly too bright and interesting not to stop and watch.  This is a city where people take cherry blossom very seriously; so seriously that it is a weekend and evening pastime to go for a Japanese-style Cherry Blossom walk.

I return home and sit in my garden, chatting to neighbours we haven’t seen since October – everyone is suddenly obsessed with gardening, everyone is growing something, even if it is just a lawn, and we compare notes and growing tips.  A queue of hummingbirds at the feeders, surprisingly noisy as they get into fights; apparently queue-jumpers exist everywhere.  We cannot wait for the full summer to arrive!  Welcome to Spring!

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The pleasures of seasons

Daffodils in VancouverLast week we met up with Andy, a friend from Ontario when he was over in Vancouver for a business trip. It was raining lightly that day, as it does from time to time here, so we ended up comparing the weather.

Andy started off being quite smug, since it was raining outside. (Not heavily enough for most Vancouverites to wear rain gear, or even notice). He got somewhat less smug when Sue said how much she loved spring in B.C. It is a beautiful time of year, with the spring flowers, buds on trees and of course our cherry blossoms at their best. (We celebrate this with our annual Cherry Blossom Festival in April).

Cherry blossom trees in Kits Tulips at the ObservatoryAndy, not the keenest of gardeners, hadn’t really noticed the cherry trees until we pointed them out. It was then that he admitted nothing much was growing in Ontario as yet. (This has it’s benefits, since I am already cutting the grass every week).

The difference that we most appreciate about B.C. is not only the milder weather but particularly the fact that there are seasons. We have spring as I’ve said. Much of the rest of Canada leaps from winter to summer since the sub-soil is too frozen to allow for spring flowers to appear.

Admittedly our winters are not real Canadian winters. That’s OK because the snow is still there on the hills ready for us to go play whenever we want. And not having to shovel snow off the drive does leave you with more time for golf, fishing or hiking.

My mother lived in Calgary for many years. She told me that she missed the spring, but she did love the cold winters, with sunny days and snow on the ground. She was a real Canadian! I remember one time when I visited her in the winter the temperature was -28°C. Not for me, but my mother liked it, so maybe you would.

Summer in Vancouver is not super hot and humid, as it can be in Ontario for example. We certainly make the most of the summer as you’ll see if you go to the beaches in English Bay or Kitsilano.

Autumn (or Fall as I still struggle to say) is often a very good time in B.C. The summer weather seems to stretch well into October, so visiting in September or October isn’t a bad idea for a research trip. But eventually the autumn weather comes, with rain being the main feature!

If you’re still deciding on where to live in Canada, then the seasons may be something to consider. We like gardening (Sue especially) and having a real spring is important as it brings in so many beautiful blooms and it is always a cheery sign of good weather to see the spring bulbs appearing. Just saying!

January 2013 real estate market still slow

Monday, February 4, 2013

VANCOUVER, BC – Home buyer demand remains below historical averages in the Greater Vancouver housing market. This has led some home sellers to remove their homes from the market in recent months.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential property sales in Greater Vancouver reached 1,351 on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in January 2013. This represents a 14.3 per cent decrease compared to the 1,577 sales recorded in January 2012, and an 18.3 per cent increase compared to the 1,142 sales in December 2012.

Last month’s sales were the second lowest January total in the region since 2001 and 18.7 per cent below the 10-year sales average for the month.

“Home sale activity has been below historical averages in Greater Vancouver for about seven months. This has caused a gradual decline in home prices of about 6 per cent since reaching a peak last spring,” Klein said.

Since reaching a peak in May of $625,100, the MLS® Home Price Index composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Greater Vancouver has declined 5.9 per cent to $588,100. This represents a 2.8 per cent decline compared to this time last year.

“It appears many home sellers are opting to remove their homes from the market rather than settle for a price they don’t want,” Eugen Klein, REBGV president said.

New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties in Greater Vancouver totalled 5,128 in January. This represents a 10.9 per cent decline compared to the 5,756 new listings reported in January 2012. Last month’s new listing count was 18.9 per cent higher than the region’s 10-year new listing average for the month.

The total number of properties currently listed for sale on the Greater Vancouver MLS® is 13,246, a 5.6 per cent increase compared to January 2012 and a 4.5 per cent decline compared to December 2012. This is the fourth consecutive month that overall home listings have declined in the region.

“When a home seller isn’t receiving the kind of offers they want, there comes a point when they decide to either lower the price or remove the home from the market. Right now, it seems many home sellers are opting for the latter,” Klein said.

With the sales-to-active-listings ratio at 10.2 per cent, the region remains in buyers’ market territory. Since June, this ratio has ranged between 8 and 11 per cent.

Sales of detached properties in January 2013 reached 542, a decrease of 17.8 per cent from the 659 detached sales recorded in January 2012, and a 31.7 per cent decrease from the 793 units sold in January 2011. The benchmark price for detached properties decreased 3.1 per cent from January 2012 to $901,000. Since reaching a peak in May 2012, the benchmark price of a detached property has declined 6.9 per cent.

Sales of apartment properties reached 576 in January 2013, a decline of 12.3 per cent compared to the 657 sales in January 2012, and a decrease of 19.2 per cent compared to the 713 sales in January 2011. The benchmark price of an apartment property decreased 2.9 per cent from January 2012 to $358,400. Since reaching a peak in May 2012, the benchmark price of an apartment property has declined 5.6 per cent.

Attached property sales in January 2013 totalled 233, a decline of 10.7 per cent compared to the 261 sales in January 2012, and a 25.6 per cent decrease from the 313 attached properties sold in January 2011. The benchmark price of an attached unit decreased 1.7 per cent between January 2012 and 2013 to $449,900. Since reaching a peak in April 2012, the benchmark price of an attached property has declined 7.7 per cent.

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