B.C. provides $12.9 million in grants for fairs, festivals affected by COVID-19


Grants for fairs, festivals

The British Columbia government is spending $12.9 million to make grants available to festivals, fairs and community events affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Melanie Mark, the minister of tourism, arts, culture and sport, says events will be eligible to claim up to $250,000 with applications open until Oct. 1.

The money can go toward operational costs, health and safety measures, venue rental, marketing, wages and promotion.

The provincial government previously announced grants of up to $1 million to help major attractions and tour bus companies cover expenses like payroll, rent and utility costs to restart operations for their gradual reopening as provincial health orders eased.

Mark says the government is committed to helping events and attractions, and no money will be “left on the table.”

Shelley Frost, president and CEO of the Pacific National Exhibition, says the funding provides “tangible” assistance and will help many organizations across the province.

“This funding is a road to recovery, and in some cases it’s a return to sustainability from the financial effects of the pandemic,” she said.

Mark added that the government has given out more than $36 million in grants to what the province describes as “anchor” attractions like the exhibition and other major tourism operations so far.

Get organized and improve the flow of your space with these tips

large, clean room with grey couch, round wooden coffee table and large windows

Your home is your sanctuary; a safe and calm-inducing place you can retreat to at the end of the day. Did you know that our physical environment can affect our mental state? A cluttered countertop can make us feel uneasy and a collection of mismatched shoes at the entrance can change our mood when we walk in the door.

That’s why, in order to have a clear mind, we must start with a clear space. Here are eight ways to improve the organization of your place and create proper flow throughout your home, free of physical (and mental) barriers.

  1. Out of sight, out of mind… Declutter countertops in your kitchen and bathroom. Keep everyday items neatly stored in organizing containers behind closed doors or in drawers and fight the urge to place decorative items in every square inch of free space. Hallways are high-traffic zones that should always be free of clutter.
  2. Keep the path clear… Think about your route through a room and through the house. You should be able to move naturally and freely through your space without obstacles blocking the most common pathway. Consider placing your couch and other large furniture against the wall to avoid breaking up the room.
  3. In smaller spaces, consider tables (coffee, dining) that are round or oval in shape to promote good flow, instead of square or rectangular with hard sharp edges.
  4. The size of your furniture should be directly proportional to the room it’s in. And don’t forget about its purpose: a dining table must also take into account the size and number of chairs around it. People should be able to comfortably get in and out of their chairs, and there should still be room to walk around the table when everyone is seated. 
  5. Let air flow through and around heavy furniture. Avoid piling boxes and storage containers underneath beds and dressers. They look messy and attract dust. Instead, hide them away in a closet with a closed door.
  6. Create fluidity from one room to the next. Paint using a similar colour palette throughout the house. For a pop of colour or texture, add decorative accent pillows or artwork; items that can be removed or replaced at any time. 
  7. Let the light in… Avoid blocking windows at all costs, even partially. Natural light and fresh air can help to create a calm and welcoming atmosphere. Keep doorways clear as well. You should be able to fully open and close a door without bumping into any furniture.
  8. Consider using an air purifier in your kitchen to remove food odours, or a diffuser in your bedroom or den. If using essential oils in a diffuser, choose light, refreshing scents that do not overwhelm the space.

Solving Canada’s Housing Affordability Crisis


While the housing affordability crisis is top of mind for many Canadians trying to get into the market, the chronic housing shortage that is the source of the problem, has been challenging many urban centres from coast-to-coast for years. 

Canada’s housing affordability crisis affects almost everyone, directly or indirectly. There are positive social and health benefits when housing insecurity is reduced. And, when housing becomes unaffordable for even the middle class, it can be the source of social unrest. Furthermore, the impact of the housing affordability crisis on the economy is significant. For example, the Toronto Board of Trade and WoodGreen Community Services recently found that the city’s housing shortage costs the economy and employers between $5.88 billion and $7.98 billion per year.1  

Over the years, Royal LePage has been proactive in raising this issue through ongoing market commentary in our press releases and in the media. In addition to listening to our on-the-ground agent network, we have also conducted third-party demographic research on a variety of topics such as consumer confidence, intention and even the anxiety caused by prices getting further out of reach. Not surprisingly, 75 per cent of first-time homebuyers in Toronto and 69 per cent in Vancouver reported feeling worried that they would not have a large enough down payment to purchase a home (68% and 58% in 2019, respectively).2

“Concerns about housing affordability are no longer the exclusive domain of traditionally high cost cities like Vancouver and Toronto. The national housing shortage that is driving up home prices everywhere is a public policy crisis of the highest order,” said Phil Soper, president and  CEO, Royal LePage. “Across the country, those looking to purchase homes locally are at risk of being priced out of the market as home prices surge with the influx of home buyers from even more expensive regions, a trend that disproportionately impacts young families. 

“Our public leaders must work to remove the barriers, regulatory and economic, that are preventing home builders from meeting the growing needs of those seeking shelter,” he concluded. 

What is the solution?

The goal is simple – more housing supply more quickly. The best way to address a shortage of homes, especially in a country with a growing population like Canada’s, is to create public policy that encourages and streamlines the home building process.  It will take years of planning and construction to shift towards a healthier real estate market that can absorb current and future demand. According to a recent report by Scotiabank, Canada has the lowest number of housing units per 1,000 residents of any G7 country and this number has been falling steadily since 2016.3 By allowing developers to move quickly while adhering to environmental standards and community consultations, we can address the issue. 

Governments have taken action in the past. Why isn’t it working?

Incentive policies, for example increasing the amount of money a potential home buyer can access from an RRSP, can certainly help prospective purchasers achieve their dream of home ownership. Unfortunately, in an environment with severely restricted housing supply, rising prices can be an unintended consequence. 

Tax policies that make homeownership more costly also do not increase the number of homes for sale. They simply temporarily sideline families seeking a home, creating pent-up demand which can result in spikes of house price inflation.  

But what about homeowners who own more than one property?

Secondary properties that are located in urban centres are overwhelmingly tenanted rental units. Policies that make secondary properties more costly could sharply increase the cost of rent as investors offload their rental properties into the resale market. With so few purpose-built rental buildings (rental buildings run by a single property manager), secondary units purchased for rental income are providing much needed rental stock for those who cannot afford or choose not to purchase a home. 

Ultimately, the most well-intended policies can have serious unintended consequences. 

What are home prices doing now?

The rate at which home prices are rising peaked in the first quarter of 2021. While we expect to see moderate price gains in the near- and mid-term due to continued lack of supply and historically low interest rates, we believe that record high rate of price appreciation is likely behind us, at least in the short term. A caveat to this is that while real estate markets have been very active during the pandemic, the future economic and health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic remains unknown. 

1 Toronto Region Board of Trade and WoodGreen Community Services, July 2021. https://www.bot.com/Portals/0/PDFs/The_Cost_of_Inaction_Workforce_Housing.pdf

2 Royal LePage, May 2021.

3 Scotiabank, May 2021.


Federal Election: Housing Affordability and Climate Change Top of Mind in BC

This means that as campaigning (officially) begins, candidates will be listening to the issues that British Columbians are keen to talk about. A recent Angus Reid survey found that housing affordability, along with climate change, are the two issues British Columbians care about the most.

The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and the BC Real Estate Association (BCREA) are taking advantage of election season to highlight the policy solutions that Canadians and British Columbians are looking for. CREA has developed an election website, www.REALideas.ca, which focuses on these election issues:

  • Home supply and infrastructure. Two thirds of Canadians who don’t own a home want to some day. Unfortunately, two thirds of Canadians also believe it has become harder to buy a home in the past year. Creating bilateral agreements between Infrastructure Canada and the BC Government, along with other provinces, would work towards addressing the shortage of housing supply while improving quality of life. Within a BC context, BCREA is also calling on the next federal government to tie transit infrastructure investments to increased density around transit nodes.
  • National housing roundtable. Establishing a national housing roundtable with all levels of government, along with builders, REALTORS® and civil society organizations would help ensure every Canadian has a place to call home.
  • Affordability and debt reduction. Increasing the Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) withdrawal limit from $35,000 to $50,000 and reintroducing the 30-year amortization for insured mortgages for first-time homebuyers would provide more young Canadians the opportunity to enter the housing market while saving and investing for their futures.
  • Climate change resiliency. Providing more incentives for voluntary energy retrofits to the existing building stock can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, providing more leadership in mitigating climate change risks and preparing for disaster recovery from wildfires and floods could assist with BC’s current and future natural disasters.

Once all the party platforms are released, we will write a post comparing the different promises affecting the real estate sector in BC. To keep updated with BCREA’s and CREA’s election publications, visit the Lobbying and Legislation page on REALTOR Link®.


Swimming at Kal Beach in Coldstream still discouraged due to algae bloom


Stay out of the water at Kal

Swimmers are still being urged to stay out of the water at Kal Beach.

The District of Coldstream, Regional District of North Okanagan and Interior Health have received reports of an algae bloom on the north end of Kalamalka Lake.

IH is currently classifying the bloom as active.

A post on Coldstream’s website states it has “not been able to verify these reports through water testing and visual inspections; however, since algae can be harmful to humans and animals, we are posting this information out of an abundance of caution.”

The District of Coldstream issued an advisory Aug. 12 that people not swim at the beach.

Interior Health is advising residents and visitors of the north end of Kalamalka Lake to:

  • Avoid all direct contact with the bloom. If contact is made, rinse your body with clean water.
  • Do not drink or allow pets to drink water directly from the lake.
  • Recreational activities, such as swimming, are discouraged.

Greater Vernon Water has a drinking water intake on Kalamalka Lake and is closely monitoring the situation.

GVW has increased water sampling, specifically looking at algae levels, and is conducting regular visual inspections of the lake. As of Aug. 20, GVW has no concerns about the safety of drinking water.

GVW will continue with increased sampling and will notify customers if there is a change in water quality.

Area restriction lifts at site of Brenda Creek wildfire


Fire zone restrictions lift

The BC Wildfire Service has lifted the area restriction around the Brenda Creek wildfire, near Brenda Mines off Highway 97C.

The fire, which at one point threatened the only power lines linking West Kelowna to BC Hydro’s grid, was reclassified to “under control” on Wednesday.

The public is being reminded that the Brenda Creek fire zone is still an active job site and caution should be taken. Damaged trees and ash pits are just a few dangers that could cause serious injury.

“Nearby communities may see smoke within the fire’s perimeter over the coming weeks. Smoke appearing from within the fire perimeter and burned material is common; however, smoke that rises from green, unburned fuel or from outside a fire’s perimeter should be reported,” BCWS said.

The Headwaters Family Camp, which was within the now-lifted area restriction, has already announced that it will not be opening until Aug. 31 due to fire risk.

Two stamps specially designed to celebrate Oliver’s history for their 100th anniversary


Stamp reflects town’s history

A new stamp has been created to honour the 100 anniversary for the Town of Oliver, specially designed for their One Hundred X One Hundred event.

Peter Lepold has designed several stamps commemorating Okanagan anniversaries and was asked by The Okanagan Historical Society and Oliver Parks and Recreation to assist them in the designs of a couple of stamps for their anniversary.

“This project makes reference that the Syilx Okanagan Nation stretches back 10,000 years ( 100 x 100 years),” Lepold explained over email.

One of the logos which features the McIntyre Bluff north of Oliver and adopted the logo and changed the text to read X100 x 100 in the Okanagan First Nation Syilx language.

The second stamp depicts the Oliver Municipal Hall which at one time used to be the Southern Okanagan Land Project Office.

Canada Post runs a collector stamp program that allows individuals to submit stamps for approval and printing.

Both stamps can be purchased from Carol Sheridan at Oliver Parks and Recreation by contacting ? carol@oliverrecreation.ca (250-498-4985) ext. 201.

BCREA 2021 Third Quarter Housing Forecast Update: Provincial Housing Market Activity Normalizing into 2022

BCREA 2021 Third Quarter Housing Forecast Update: Provincial Housing Market Activity Normalizing into 2022

To view the BCREA Housing Forecast PDF, click here.

Vancouver, BC – August 17, 2021. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) released its 2021 Third Quarter Housing Forecast today.

Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) residential sales in the province are forecast to rise 26 per cent to 118,350 units this year, after recording 94,007 sales in 2020. In 2022, MLS® residential sales are forecast to pull back 15 per cent to 100,150 units.

“The pace of home sales in the province has slowed in recent months but an unprecedented start to the year still has BC on track for a record-breaking year,” said Brendon Ogmundson, BCREA Chief Economist.

With strong demand being supported by low mortgage rates and a rapidly rebounding post-COVID economy, the more significant concern is whether there will be an adequate supply of listings in the market. The supply situation is especially severe in markets outside the Lower Mainland, where new listings activity has been lackluster. As a result, the average price in 2021 is on track to post a second consecutive year of double-digit gains. We are forecasting the provincial average price to rise 16.6 per cent to $911,300 this year, followed by a 2.9 per cent gain next year to $937,300.

How to Become a Landlord in 10 Steps



Renting out a property is a superb way to earn a little passive income. But how do you make the change from homeowner to landlord? In this guide, we’ll discuss the ten essential steps you need to make.

Find an Investment Property

If you already have an unoccupied house or apartment, this first step is the easiest. But if you have to buy the property, there are a few differences between buying an investment property and a home for yourself. Look for a low-cost property in an up-and-coming area, but avoid straining your budget with a fixer-upper. Also, keep in mind that lenders have stricter criteria for investment properties simply because they stand a higher risk of foreclosure.

Research the Local Market

Get to know your competitors by finding out what types of properties are most commonly rented nearby, how much the average rent is, what amenities are typically being offered. It’s also worth finding out what type of people are looking to rent in your area. For example, if your property is close to office buildings, it may attract young professionals. If it’s close to a school, it may attract families with kids or teachers. You can use this information to draw up an attractive rental ad later.

Crunch the Numbers

Decide how much rent you’re going to charge each month. Most landlords use the 1% rule, where the rent is calculated at around 1% of the property value. On top of this, you should also prepare a budget for unexpected expenses, such as late rent payments, repairs and maintenance, and even legal fees in case you have to deal with evictions.

Understand the Local Laws

Landlord-tenant laws vary from region to region, so make sure you are familiar with the local requirements. For example, some regions have limits on late fees or require that the late fees be written in the rental agreement. In addition, you may be required to have a rental license in some areas, or you may have to pay interest on the security deposit.

Get Your Property Ready

Ensure that your property is livable and ready for tenants as soon as possible. Provide all necessary amenities, from furniture and appliances to smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Make any repairs or renovations if needed, then give your property a good clean. When all this is done, take some photos of the space and prepare for the next step.

Advertise Your Rental

Post your property on several listing platforms to get as much exposure as possible. Your rental ad should include photos of all the rooms, list the location, square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, amenities, rental price, security deposit and other lease terms, such as no-pet clauses and income requirements.

Screen Your Tenants

Finding the right tenant is one of the most important steps in becoming a landlord. Once you have a few applications sent in, take the time to screen your potential tenants. Run credit and background checks, ask for references and set up an interview. Also, make sure that your screening process is in accordance with the fair housing laws.

Draw Up a Lease Agreement

A lease agreement is a legal document outlining the terms under which the property will be rented. Ideally, it should be in writing and should stipulate the length of the lease, rent amount, security deposit, nonrefundable fees and which utilities are included. On top of this, it should also highlight circumstances under which you, as a landlord, are allowed entry on the property, any maintenance tasks that are the tenant’s responsibility, and any clauses you might find necessary, such as a no-smoking or quiet hours clause.

Prepare a Rental Inspection Checklist

Shortly before or as soon as the lease agreement is signed, you should also prepare an inventory checklist for your property. Each room should have a list of all items and their condition upon arrival, from the ceilings and floors to fixtures and furniture. Fill in the list in the presence of your tenant, and use it at the end of the lease to compare the condition the property is in upon their departure. This will help you assess any damage to the property and whether you will need to use the security deposit to cover the repairs.

Consider Hiring a Property Manager

If you have more than one rental, hiring a professional to handle property management can be of immense help. Not only can they handle advertising your rental and screening tenants, but they can also help with collecting rent, maintaining the property, communicating with the tenant, and allowing you to take a step back and simply enjoy generating a passive income.


How to Decorate a Small Living Room



Trying to figure out how to decorate a small living room can sometimes lead to a design dilemma. After all, it may seem impossible to get your living room looking just right when you don’t even have space for a full-size sofa.

But just because you’re working with a small space doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice on style. Make the most of a less-than-large area with these nine tips on how to decorate a small living room.  

Cut the Clutter

The quickest and easiest way to make a small living room feel more spacious is to remove all the unnecessary items. Start by clearing all surfaces and removing things that belong elsewhere or don’t get used on a regular basis. Then consider if you really need each piece of furniture in the room. For example, removing even one chair or end table can open up a whole lot of space.

Look for the Legs

Image: Photographee.eu / Shutterstock.com

The secret to making any small room feel bigger is to expose as much floor space as possible. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have any furniture in the room; it just means you have to choose the right pieces. Look for furniture with slim legs and plenty of open space underneath.

Fashion a Focal Point

Image: Photographee.eu / Shutterstock.com

Creating a functional floor plan is one of the toughest tasks when figuring out how to decorate a small living room. To make it work (and save your back), start by sketching it out on paper.

Choose a focal point such as a fireplace, TV or coffee table to act as the room’s anchor.  Arrange your furniture so that it faces the focal point and creates a comfortable space for conversation.

Choose Pieces that Do More than One Job

To get the most out of a small space, it helps to define how you want to use the room before you decorate it. Then, once you have a plan, you can choose items that will add both function and style.

Small ottomans that can be tucked away under tables will provide extra seating when you need it but leave you with room to move the rest of the time. Or try using a bar cart as an end table so you can still serve up drinks without sacrificing space.

Take Your Lighting Up a Level

Proper lighting is a critical component of any well-designed living space, but it’s even more important when you’re decorating a small living room. The right lighting can increase function, add depth, create ambiance and make the room feel larger.

To show your small space in the best light, think in layers. Use a combination of wall sconces, pendant lights and ceiling lights to provide adequate light for any task or activity. Avoid tall lamps that take up valuable floor space and use table lamps sparingly to avoid making the room feel cluttered.

Splurge on a Statement Piece

Image: New Africa / Shutterstock.com

To really make an impact when decorating a small living room, forgo a lot of little decor in favor of one stand-out piece. A brightly colored sofa or a boldly patterned accent chair will make a statement and express your style. If you’re not ready to commit to a statement sofa, try a fun area rug or curtains instead.

Reflect on How to Decorate A Small Living Room

When you’re searching for that perfect piece of artwork to decorate your small living room, consider less color and more shine. Mirrors are the ideal small space art hack. A large mirror creates a dramatic focal point when you walk into a room. It also reflects light and creates the illusion of more space. And there are endless styles and sizes to choose from, so it’s a go-to solution for any design style.

Add Architectural Details

If you want to add a lot of character to a room without filling it full of stuff, architectural details are the way to go. Something as simple as upgrading your door and window frames or adding crown molding can really create an impact. Or try adding wall trim in an exciting pattern to instantly add style and elevate the look of a small living room.

Try A Smaller Scale

Image: ben bryant / Shutterstock.com

Want that super-comfy sofa with all the bells and whistles, but it won’t fit in your small space? Ask if they have an apartment size model. Many furniture manufacturers have adapted to meet the growing trend of small space living by creating smaller versions of their most popular models.

If you’ve been stumped by how to decorate a small living room, we’re here to help. These nine tips will have your small space looking its best in no time!