3 Tips to Stay Safe During BC’s 2nd Wave

With BC in its second COVID-19 wave, it’s time to reaffirm our shared commitment to slowing transmission. As a REALTOR®, that means continuing to demonstrate leadership in your community by following public health orders and professional safety guidelines. Here’s a reminder of three steps you can take to help make yourself, your clients, your families and your communities safer.

1. Prioritize Virtual Tools Above all, we need to continue reducing our in-person interactions whenever possible. Realtors and other real estate professions were quick to adapt in the early days of this pandemic, with new technology tools to facilitate virtual transactions. Continue, to encourage your clients to take advantage of the many impactful virtual marketing tools to make buying and selling safer for everyone.

2. Wear a Mask Dr. Bonnie Henry recommends that all British Columbians wear masks in public places. In July, BCREA and the Real Estate Council of BC (RECBC) recommended that Realtors require anyone entering a home for an open house or showing to wear a mask. Be sure to communicate your expectations around masks with consumers before meetings or showings. Realtors are often well-known members of their communities. Wearing a mask whenever in public – whether for business or personal reasons – is a great way to show leadership in your community.

3. Review and follow COVID-19 guidelines Now that we’re in the second wave, it’s a good time to review WorkSafeBC’s Real Estate Protocols for Returning to Operation and the guidelines for safer open houses we issued in partnership with Council earlier this summer. Reassess whether there are any additional measures you can take to increase your clients’ and your safety and make sure to have a plan to communicate any changes to clients. If you have any questions or concerns, make time to discuss them with your managing broker.

Remember that things are still changing quickly. We all have to remain prepared to adapt to new public health guidance as it comes available. BCREA continues to stay in close contact with RECBC, WorkSafeBC and member boards to support Realtors in adapting their practice to meet the challenges of COVID-19. By taking steps like these, we can help the whole province bend the curve so that our businesses and schools can stay open and our loved ones stay safe.

COVID-19: Population Growth and Housing Demand

Summary Findings:

  • Immigration is the most important driver of population growth in BC, with a growing share within the prime working-age and household-forming demographic.
  • The global pandemic has resulted in a sharp drop in immigration and consequently BC reporting one of the lowest quarterly increases in population growth since 2011.
  • In the short term, the impact of lower population growth will weigh most significantly on the rental market due to a significant reduction in international students and new permanent residents.


Bat-friendly street lighting proposed for Peachland

The District of Peachland should reconfigure its street lighting to accommodate the flying corridors of a local colony of bats, council will hear next week.

A report from Bat Education Ecological Protection Society suggests a proof-of-concept project be launched in the area around the Peachland Historical School, where 1,500 Yuma myotis and little brown bats roost.

Another report from Shaun O’Dea of Langara College makes a number of suggestions to make the lighting more bat friendly, such as installing LED lights with a different hue that would make it easier for bats to navigate, or lowering street lights to create corridors for the bats to pass through on their way to feeding grounds.

“The lights must fulfill the role of providing urban light, the lights should allow for the congregation of food insects of bats and be non damaging to the eyesight of bats,” said the report from the Bat Education Society.

“The highly sensitive eyes of bats may be affected by large sources of light and thus may create regions avoided by bats, resulting in possible habitat loss.”

In the direct flight path of bats exiting the school, are two lights posts at Swim Bay and three Bollard lights along the walkway of the historic schoolhouse. The report suggests those lights be reconfigured to be more bat friendly.

The Peachland Historic School was built in 1908 and served the community up until 2003. After being vacated, the site fell into disrepair, but the discovery of the bat colony in 2009 was one of the catalysts for the schoolhouse restoration.

Council will discuss the proposal on Tuesday.


Church builds candy chute drive thru for kids on Halloween

A group of volunteers is making sure kids still have an opportunity to get a candy this Halloween by building a candy chute that runs right into the car.

“We have kind of like a drive up driveway and it overhangs so we’re gonna decorate it. We built a big chute to send candy bags into the car so it’ll be contactless” Debbie Jacyna, office administrator for the Penticton Church of Nazarene. “It’ll be up on the scaffolding and it’ll shoot right down into the car.”

The event runs from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Halloween night and will have attendees stay in their car while moving through to adhere to safety protocols.

“In the past we’ve always done a trunk or treat where we’ll have cars in the parking lot and people can come in and walk around. The cars are usually decorated but because of COVID we tried to think of something different to do this year.”

Everyone is welcome to attend and there will be volunteers directing traffic through the parking lot.

“This is a way that we thought we could do contactless but still give kids an opportunity to get candy. The candy bags that we’re doing are a little bit different than normal because we know that kids aren’t going to go house to house most likely. We have bigger sized candy bars too,” Jacyna said.

“I know that there’s not a lot going on in the community and we just wanted to provide a place for people to come.”

Fore more information, email the church at info@nazpen.org

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.


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


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


  • 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.


  • 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


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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


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


  • 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.


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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.


  • 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


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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


  • 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.


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


  • 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


  • 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.


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

Agricultural Properties


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


  • 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.