COVID-19 exposure on Air Canada flight to Kelowna

Kelowna flight exposure

The BC Centre for Disease Control is advising of another possible exposure of COVID-19 on a recent flight into Kelowna.

According to the BCCDC, someone aboard an Oct. 18 Air Canada flight from Vancouver to Kelowna has tested positive for the virus.

Passengers on Air Canada flight 8422, seated in row 8 through 12 may have been affected.

Those passengers are advised to self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days.

This is the fourth flight either coming into, or originating from Kelowna with a known case of the virus this month, and the 22nd such case since the BCCDC began reporting such occurrences in early March.

Interior Design Secrets to Elevate Your Style

Image: Africa Studio / Shutterstock.com

Most people believe that the size of their house, its location and the floorplan are the most important factors of their house, but this isn’t actually true. Rather, a home’s style is of utmost importance. In fact, if you’re living in a home that has been decorated in the wrong style or, worse, has no style at all, nothing else matters. So, if you’re thinking about elevating your interior style and taking it to the next level, here are a few ideas to consider.

Stick to Your Budget

This may seem insignificant, but if you’re about to start decorating your entire home, thinking about the budget is simply a must. Therefore, avoid going all in and spending more money than you can afford. Instead, look into your finances and define the amount you’re willing to spend. That way, you’ll be able to track your investments and decide what’s worth your money and what’s not.

Fortunately, decorating your home without breaking the bank isn’t as difficult as you might expect. In fact, you can do wonders with an affordable, yet effective makeover and still stay within your budget. Just remember to stick to choices that are simple and easy to handle, and don’t be afraid to test your DIY skills, as well. Even if you’re not the handiest person in the world, you can still create something on your own and impress your visitors, which is what we all hope to do when decorating our homes.

Try Different Styles

A larger home enables you to explore different decorating styles and be as imaginative and creative as you want. And, while most people select a primary style and use it in every room of their house, others decorate each room differently. Either of these approaches is fine, so choose whichever you prefer to begin introducing style into your home.

Incorporating different styles is possible in a smaller home, as well, although you will have to plan ahead and select a style for each room. However, there are plenty of different interior design styles you can opt for, so finding one shouldn’t be too difficult. From contemporary to vintage or Scandinavian to coastal — all of these styles are practical and visually appealing, so all you need to do is find the ones that suit you best.

Invest in Your Bathroom

As the smallest space in the house, most homeowners don’t think that their bathroom needs to be styled. On the contrary, your bathroom is actually an area that requires significant attention and can elevate your entire home’s style without you even noticing. So, no matter how spacious your bathroom is, try to spice it up from time to time.

While renovating a bathroom may not be the simplest project you’ll ever do, it’s certainly among the most satisfying. Specifically, it will help you introduce new colors into your life, spice up your living space, and provide your family with a soothing spot where they can feel relaxed and comfortable. What’s more, it will also boost the value of your home. As a result, if you ever decide to sell your home, a nicer bathroom will also help you earn more money.

Update Your Kitchen

Bathrooms aren’t the only way that you can change your living space and boost the value of your home at the same time. Updating your kitchen and making it more open, cohesive, airy and enjoyable is also beneficial, regardless of the size of your home and whether you actually enjoy cooking.

Again, the key here is to find smart projects that go a long way. Start by updating your cabinets — you can either install new ones, repaint your current cabinets or replace the hardware. Whichever you choose, each of these ideas has an amazing effect on your kitchen as a whole.

Next, focus on finding new countertops — specifically, an option that will work best for you. Many people choose between hardwood and natural stone, so looking into each of these carefully is essential. Finally, upgrading your appliances will transform your cooking experience and also make it more enjoyable. Plus, updating your kitchen will not only take your entire home design to the next level, but it will also make you a happier and more satisfied homeowner.

Finding the right projects to elevate your interior style doesn’t have to be difficult — just spend your time on those that appeal to you the most. Meanwhile, don’t listen to others and their tips. Instead, introduce changes that work for you and your family.

13 AFFORDABLE UNITS PLANNED

Vernon council approves rezoning for potential new affordable housing

A new affordable housing facility project is off the ground after Vernon city council approved the rezoning of three lots near the airport.

The property at 6309 Okanagan Landing Rd. made the switch from rural residential to low-rise apartment residential, and the properties at 6321 and 6335 Okanagan Landing Rd. shifted from airport residential to low-rise apartment residential.

The 13 units on the proposed site will be comprised of four one-bedroom, eight two-bedroom, and one three-bedroom units.

“The project would be for affordable housing targeting seniors, individuals who are differently abled, and families in need of affordable housing,” states the proposal.

This is only the first step in the process for this project, and the proposal will still have to go to a public hearing.

Canadian Home Renovation Spending Bounces Back

Image: Zivica Kerkez / Shutterstock.com

After reaching record highs in 2019, Canadian spending on home renovations declined drastically in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. But following months of lockdown and with remote work still in place, Canadians are now looking to make improvements to their homes once more. And they’re willing to spend quite a lot doing so.

Canadian residents spent more than $80 billion on home improvements in 2019, according to Altus Group, a figure which actually outpaced growth in the country’s economy for the same period.

Last year’s increase in home reno was particularly significant, as the sector previously declined by more than 5% in 2018. Additionally, the billions spent on fixing up homes last year ended up being more than what Canadians paid to own new homes. With this in mind, many businesses in the home improvement market assumed 2020 would be another big year for their industry.

But COVID-19 had other plans, bringing consumer spending to a halt and impacting most of the Canadian economy. By March and April, spending on home renovations had significantly declined.

Borrowing Increases for Reno Projects

As there is a delay of a few months in relevant data, insight into what happened in May and June is only now becoming clear. Based on the most recent numbers, it seems Canadians have moved ahead with the home reno projects they put on hold, or haven’t even been planning on doing pre-pandemic.

Some financial institutions have reported similar trends, starting with strong demand for loans earlier this year, followed by everything being on pause and now an increase in demand again.

Homeowners across the country are borrowing against their property equity to make the desired changes to their homes, often as a result of the new reality resulting from COVID-19.

Pandemic-Related Home Renovations

The pandemic has prompted many people to look for more space, or space that is used differently, which is likely what’s driving current real estate sales and home renovation projects.

With millions of people now working from home, the housing market is seeing more activity in remote, less densely populated areas, as day-to-day commutes aren’t as necessary. Those who plan to remain in cities are looking to spend some money to make their homes better suited for living, working, learning and spending leisure time in the same space.

Things like home offices, finished basements, home gyms and backyard pools are more in demand now, as people spend most of their time at home.

Still, it appears that homeowners are trying to be careful with their home reno spending, as Altus Group data shows fewer Canadian homeowners are planning improvements that cost more than $5,000 compared to a year ago.

Even though the home reno sector has picked up, experts forecast that overall spending in 2020 will decrease in every province compared to last year’s record numbers. Specifically, the largest drops are expected in Quebec (6.4%), Alberta (6.3%), Ontario (5.6%) and Saskatchewan (5.2%). Renovation spending in the Atlantic Provinces and Manitoba is not predicted to decline as much, at 3.7% and 3.6%, respectively. Of all provinces, BC will likely see the smallest decrease at 2.3%.

U.S. Sees Similar Patterns

Canada isn’t the only country which saw an uptick in the home improvement sector during the last few months. In a recent report, Bank of Montreal economist Sal Guatieri noted that U.S. consumers are also spending more on home renovations than before, even after the dips recorded in March and April.

In fact, spending on household maintenance, furnishings and equipment surpassed $650 billion in the U.S. this June, which is now above pre-pandemic levels.

It’s great news that the Canadian reno market is starting to make a significant recovery. But with the steep decline earlier this year, even a strong end to 2020 might not be enough to exceed last year’s pace. However, experts predict things should return to normal in 2021, since reno spending in the country is expected to pop back up to around $80 billion.

Source: CBC

Comparing Provincial Party Housing Platforms

COVID-19 Economic Recovery

Green

  • Allocate $300 million to create a six-month rent subsidy program for small businesses.

Liberal

  • Eliminate the Provincial Sales Tax (PST) for one year and then set it at three per cent for subsequent years.
  • Permanently eliminate the Small Business Income Tax.
  • Implement a short-term commercial rent relief that flows directly to tenants.

NDP

  • A one-time $1,000 direct deposit to families ($500 for individuals) whose household income is under $125,000 annually ($62,000 for individuals).
  • A 15 per cent refundable tax credit for small and medium-sized businesses based on eligible new payroll.

Rental Housing

Green

  • Close the gap between affordable rent and what renters are actually paying.
  • Provide a means-tested grant that applies to low- and moderate-income earners who are paying more than 30 per cent of their income in rent.

Liberal

  • Create a new residential property sub-class for rental housing of three or more units.
  • Change BC Assessment practices to ensure rental properties are no longer valued based on the highest and best use, but rather on actual rental use.

NDP

  • Freeze rental rates to the end of 2021. After 2021, permanently limit rent increases to the rate of inflation.
  • Provide an ongoing income-tested renter’s rebate of $400 per year for households earning up to $80,000 annually that are not already receiving other rental support.
  • Provide new rent supplements for residents of supportive housing ready to move on to independent living.
  • Ensure no net loss of rental units in real estate redevelopment projects.
  • Ensure prompt and effective resolutions of tenancy disputes.

Market Housing Affordability

Green

  • Close loopholes in the Speculation and Vacancy Tax that allow many foreign owners and satellite families to be exempt.

Liberal

  • Work with municipalities to review the current property tax structure to incent affordable housing development, prevent speculation and drive affordable rental housing.
  • Develop tax-relief measures to help people hurt by COVID-19 economic impacts to keep their homes.
  • Replace the Speculation and Vacancy Tax with a condo-flipping capital gains tax.
  • Implement higher property taxes for non-residents of Canada.

NDP

  • Eliminate outdated parking minimums in projects close to public transit.
  • Develop a single-window provincial permitting process.
  • Work with local governments to streamline the approval process.

Strata Insurance

Green

  • Convene a taskforce to deal with the rising cost of strata insurance to develop solutions as soon as the BC Financial Services Authority finished their investigation. The taskforce should include insurance brokers, insurers and strata owners

Liberal

  • Encourage and facilitate self-insurance models for stratas.
  • Eliminate the practice of “best-terms” pricing.
  • Reduce statutorily-required insurance for strata properties from full replacement value to a level in line with actual claims cost history.
  • Modernize the BC Building Code to address strata insurance premiums.

NDP

  • Continue with the BC Financial Services Authorities’ investigation to bring down strata insurance costs. If rates have not been corrected by the end of 2021, develop a public strata insurance option, similar to Saskatchewan.

Housing Supply

Green

  • Expand supports for co-op housing through extending leases for existing co-ops about to expire, create a land bank for new co-ops and provide security of tenure for co-ops on leased land.
  • Work with local governments to expand the “missing middle,” such as townhouses and triplexes.

Liberal

  • Establish an incentive fund for municipalities with housing policies that enable demonstrable increases in the construction and supply of new housing.
  • Implement tax and permitting changes to boost housing supply, including rental and market housing, to increase choice and improve affordability for British Columbians.
  • Require reviews of Official Community Plans every five years and require zoning bylaws be updated to reflect changes to the plan within one year after adoption.
  • Allow the waiving of hearings for Official Community Plan compliant projects.
  • Support zoning reform to provide inclusionary zoning and to ensure the Residential Rental Tenure Zoning tool cannot be used to devalue and downsize property.
  • Use provincial and municipal land for affordable housing.
  • Reduce delays in building-permit approvals and new homeowner costs.
  • Improve the municipal development approval process, based on best practices.
  • Strengthen and enforce Regional Growth Strategy targets so they are robust and effective.
  • Provide provincial funding to create a digital tracking tool to allow municipalities and applicants to track the progress of individual applicants and identify roadblocks.

NDP

  • Continue with the 10-year housing plan to provide 114,000 new, affordable homes.
  • Continue rolling out the Homes for BC plan.
  • Deliver the remaining units in the previous $550 million commitment for on- and off-reserve housing for Indigenous people, while pressuring the federal government to do its share.

Energy Efficiency

Green

  • Enact Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE)-enabling legislation.
  • Work with industry partners to enhance the Clean BC Better Homes, Better Buildings program by:
    • increasing the short-term incentives offered to stimulate retrofits,
    • accelerating the requirements of the building code and efficiency requirements of equipment, and
    • partnering with colleges, technical institutes and private organizations to develop training programs to expand employment in green retrofit space.

Liberal

  • Encourage the retrofitting of homes and businesses.
  • Modernize the BC Building Code to address energy efficiency.

NDP

  • Increase programs and incentives for both residential and commercial buildings, including PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) financing that allows homeowners to take out loans for efficiency upgrades and pay them back over time through annual property taxes.
  • Require REALTORS® to provide energy efficiency information on listed homes.
  • Empower local governments to set their own carbon pollution performance standards for new buildings.

Wildfire and Flood Protection

Green

  • Provide $100 million over four years to fund climate adaptation initiatives.
  • Protect communities from wildfires and flooding through landscape level, ecologically-centred, forest management and fuel treatment projects.

Liberal

  • Reduce the impact of climate-related disasters like wildfires and floods.

Agricultural Properties

Green

  • Make food production and food security part of the Agricultural Land Commission’s mandate.
  • Restrict and regulate foreign ownership of Agricultural Land Reserve land.

Liberal

  • Implement reforms to the Agricultural Land Commission to allow more opportunities for secondary residences.

To learn more, read the NDPGreen and Liberal platforms.

Find out voting information, including how to vote by mail, here.

To see BCREA’s election asks, visit bchousingaffordability.ca.

Canada’s Average House Price Soars 17.5% In ‘Very Strange Year’ For Real Estate

Home sales soared 45.6 per cent from a year earlier, the Canadian Real Estate Association says.

VLADONE VIA GETTY IMAGES
A villa sits on a hillside near Mont Tremblant, Que., in this undated file photo. The average house price has jumped 17.5 per cent in a year, the Canadian Real Estate Association says.

Canada’s housing market has come racing out of the pandemic lockdowns this spring, setting a third consecutive monthly record for home sales in September.

The association says September home sales were up 45.6 per cent compared with the same month last year. Compared with August, CREA says home sales were up 0.9 per cent on a seasonally adjusted basis.

Month-over-month gains in Ottawa, Greater Vancouver, Vancouver Island, Calgary and Hamilton-Burlington, Ont., were mostly offset by declines in the Greater Toronto Area and Montreal.

The actual national average home price also set another record in September at $604,000, up 17.5 per cent from the same month last year.

CREA says excluding sales in Greater Vancouver and the Greater Toronto Area, two of the most active and expensive housing markets, lowers the national average price about $125,000.

“Many Canadian housing markets are continuing to see historically strong levels of activity as we enter into the fall market of this very strange year,” CREA chair Costa Poulopoulos said in a statement.

“Along with historic supply shortages in a number of regions, fierce competition among buyers has been putting upward pressure on home prices. Much of that was pent-up demand from the spring that came forward as our economies
opened back up over the summer.”

The Ontario Real Estate Board earlier this month requested that open houses be suspended during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many economists who chimed on in the latest CREA numbers said the aggressively strong market can’t continue.

“We doubt that this recent sizzling strength can persist amid some of the building headwinds, which should at least somewhat tame market conditions in the months ahead,” Bank of Montreal chief economist Doug Porter said.

“The underlying economic conditions simply do not support such a piping hot market over a sustained period.”

HuffPost Canada, with files from The Canadian Press

New Federal Programs to Assist Canadians Impacted By the Economic Fallout of COVID-19

As the federal government enters its next phase of economic recovery, new programs have been announced, while others have been modified or phased out. The following programs may benefit REALTORS® impacted by the economic effects of COVID-19.

The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) has been extended until summer 2021. CEWS provides a wage subsidy for employers who have seen a reduction in revenue due to COVID-19 to allow them to re-hire workers and prevent further job loss.

Effective as of September 27, 2020, Employment Insurance (EI) benefits were temporarily expanded to include more Canadians. Eligible Canadians who were on CERB will receive the same payment, $500 per week, through EI. Most persons receiving CERB will not be required to reapply for these EI benefits, unless they are self-employed, have a SIN that starts with a 9 or have returned to work fulltime. Those who qualify for the new EI benefits will be required to continue completing reports to demonstrate eligibility. Those who do not qualify for the new EI benefits will be notified by mail.

The Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) will replace the Canada Economic Recovery Benefit (CERB), which ended on October 3. Beginning on October 12, CRB will assist Canadians who have stopped working due to COVID-19 but do not qualify for Employment Insurance (EI) or have experienced a reduction in income of at least 50 per cent. The program will be available until September 25, 2021.

The Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) will be extended and expanded. CEBA provides up to $40,000 in guaranteed loans, interest-free until 2022 as well as $10,000 in forgivable loans to eligible businesses and non-profits. It’s not yet known for how long the program will be extended.

The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit is a new program that offers $500 per week to Canadians that might take time off from work due to COVID-19. The program is available until September 25, 2021. The program is currently open for applications.

The Canada Caregiving Benefit is a new program providing $500 per week for Canadians who need to care for a child under 12 or a family member due to daycare or school closure. Eligible applicants can receive benefits for up to 26 weeks.

The Regional Relief and Recovery Fund will provide assistance to businesses and communities that may require additional economic recovery assistance. The program will be available through individual regional development agencies and will provide support to small- and medium-sized enterprises.

You can find up-to-date information on these and other programs by accessing Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan.

To subscribe to receive BCREA publications, or to update your email address or current subscriptions, click here.

Documentary shows how we can control flooding

A documentary debuting on Oct. 21 will show how the Okanagan is using natural assets to control flooding and prtect water quality.

“Utilizing natural assets proves to be the low-cost way to replace aging, depreciating infrastructure and to control flooding and water quality,” said Camille Saltman, managing director of entrepreneurship@UBCO, which is producing the program.

“Building major infrastructure projects and water treatment plans is unsustainable for our small communities up and down the Okanagan Valley. We need alternatives,” she said in a news release.

The program interviews community leaders like Kelowna city manager Doug Gilchrist; Tessa Terbasket, researcher for Okanagan Nation Alliance; Emanuel Machado, city administrator for Gibsons and chair of the Municipal Natural Asset Initiative; Anna Warwick Sears, CEO of Okanagan Basin Water Board; Herb Hammond, professional forester and forestry ecologist; Taryn Skalbania, co-founder of Peachland Watershed Protection Alliance; and researchers from the University of British Columbia.

“Guest participants include municipal leadership together with leading minds in land preservation, flooding and water quality. All are working on parallel initiatives. Our goal is to coalesce efforts and resources to create powerful outcomes for our region,” said David Saltman, Chair of the Okanagan Sustainability Council, which is a partner in the project.

Viewers will see how forests, streams and grasslands are being used to mitigate flooding and take a look at resiliency projects that incorporate Indigenous traditional knowledge as well as state-of-the-art technology.

The program will delve into work that is underway to predict flooding, protect vulnerable areas and make the region more climate resilient.

It will also look at watershed challenges that have been solved in Victoria and Vancouver but still need to be addressed in the Okanagan.

Viewers interested in the program can register for free at ubc.ca1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_9pEYbFgDAnsmLDn

Record September for BC Housing Markets

Vancouver, BC – October 14, 2020. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that a total of 11,368 residential unit sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in September 2020, an increase of 63.3 per cent from September 2019. The average MLS® residential price in BC set a monthly record of $803,210, a 15.3 per cent increase from $696,647 recorded the previous year. Total sales dollar volume in August was $9.1 billion, an 88.3 per cent increase over 2019.

chart

“The provincial housing market had a record-setting September,” said BCREA Chief Economist Brendon Ogmundson. “Both total sales and average prices were the highest ever for the month of September as pent-up demand from the spring pushes into the fall.”

“Average prices are skewing higher as demand for space during the pandemic drives sales of single-detached homes,” added Ogmundson. Total provincial active listings are still down about 12 per cent year-over-year, with some markets even more under-supplied as the pandemic continues to keep listings low.

Year-to-date, BC residential sales dollar volume was up 25.1 per cent to $49.7 billion, compared with the same period in 2019. Residential unit sales were up 12.5 per cent to 65,023 units, while the average MLS® residential price was up 11.2 per cent to $764,298.

Finalists announced in Kelowna Chamber of Commerce awards

Chamber reveals its best

The Kelowna Chamber of Commerce has announced 32 finalists in 13 categories for its annual business excellence awards.

The 33rd edition of the annual awards gala will be, of course, virtual due to the pandemic.

“Our independent Chamber judging panel reviewed all completed applications from the 146 nominations we received since mid-summer,” said Chamber president Jeffrey Robinson.

“This final list represents the best of the best who will vie for the hardware at our virtual gala November 26. All the finalists are outstanding, and we are inviting our thousand-strong Chamber membership to tune in and follow the action. Even though the usual gala excitement will be on a different plane, the excellence of the companies and individuals remain outstanding.”

This year, judges will combine in-person visits with virtual reviews of all finalists’ places of business. Video profiles of each finalist at work will be compiled for online viewing prior to the awards gala on November 26. Winners will be revealed throughout the “Resiliency-themed” event.

The Business Leader of the Year is selected by an independent committee and will be named in early November. Co-presenting sponsors in 2020 are Farris LLP and Interior Savings Credit Union.

Finalists include:

Rising Star Business of the Year – less than three years in business

  • TasteAdvisor
  • You Are Collective
  • Shambhu’s Spice House Cuisine of India

Sponsor: GreenStep Solutions

Small Business of the Year – 1-15 employees

  • Portia-Ella
  • Twirling Umbrellas
  • DEW IT Solutions

Sponsor: Prospera Credit Union

Midsize Business of the Year – 16-50 employees

  • Kelowna Hyundai
  • Secure-Rite Mobile Storage
  • TKI Construction Ltd.

Sponsor: BDO LLP

Large Business of the Year – 51+employees

  • Anodyne Electronics Manufacturing Corp.
  • Current Taxi Ltd.
  • Highstreet Ventures Inc.

Sponsor: Grant Thornton LLP

Not for Profit Excellence Award

  • The Bridge Youth & Family Services Society
  • Childhood Connections
  • BC SPCA

Sponsor: Impact Tomorrow Foundation

Social Leadership Award – for profit

  • Kelowna Hyundai
  • BalAnce Well-Being Centre Inc.
  • Secure-Rite Mobile Storage

Sponsor: Rogers for Business

Marketing campaign of the year

  • Anodyne Electronics Manufacturing Corp.
  • Okanagan Lifestyle Apparel
  • Okanagan Bucketlist

Sponsor: Pushor Mitchell LLP

Arts & Entertainment Achievement Award

  • Kelowna Pride Society
  • Studio9 Independent School of Arts Society

Sponsor: Hergott Law

Technology Innovator of the Year

  • Hybrid Elevators
  • The Valens Company
  • Perfit Dental Solutions Inc.

Sponsor: The University of British Columbia Okanagan

Young Entrepreneur of the Year

  • Jaclyn Robertson from Okanagan Lifestyle Apparel
  • Julie Michaud from Portia-Ella
  • Brandon Panopoulos from TKI Construction Ltd.

Sponsor: TD Benefits Solutions

Ethics in Business

  • Inspire Property Management Ltd.
  • Secure-Rite Mobile Storage
  • TKI Construction Ltd.

Sponsor: Better Business Bureau

Inclusive Workplace Award

  • Hampton Pools & Landscape
  • Mario’s Towing Ltd.
  • Kelowna Pride Society

Sponsor: Crowe Mackay LLP Diamond Sponsor

Excellence in Tourism

  • Paynter’s Fruit Market Ltd.
  • Big White Ski Resort Ltd.
  • Myra Canyon Ranch

Sponsor: YLW & EIA International Airports

Business Leader of the Year Award

  • The Award winner is chosen by the Independent Judging Committee and will be announced at the beginning of November.

Sponsor: MNP LLP