Author Archives: Jay Banks

Vancouver Film Locations: Vancouver Marine Building

Marine Building is an art-deco styled skyscraper located at 355 Burrard Street in Downtown Vancouver. Designed by architects of McCarter Nairne, it opened its gates in October 1930 as a dominant of our city. At 321 ft with 22 floors, Marine Building remained the tallest building in Vancouver for nine years, until it was bested by Hotel Vancouver in 1939.

marine-building

Marine Building has its name for the extensive decor depicting marine flora and fauna. The architects themselves tried to design the building as a giant crag rising from the sea. Think iceberg from Titanic, but fewer people and more sea-snails, turtles, scallops and sea horses. For it's majestic beauty and extensive decor, it's a popular spot to use as a background in movies and TV shows. Marine Building was almost everything in it's time, from banks and office buildings, to police bureaus and superhero headquarters. Let's take a look how and which movie crews changed this memorable building in the recent years:

Backstrom

Backstrom is a detective comedy-drama set in Portland, Oregon, so of course their main filming location would be Vancouver, because why not. Main character Detective Lieutenant Everett Backstrom, played by Rainn Wilson, who you probably know better as Dwight from the US version of The Office, is an anti-hero on the right side of the law. A bit politically incorrect, rude, and struggling with alcoholism, he is a mix of everything that makes a prototype of a bad cop. Yet, he takes on cases with special interest, that nobody else can solve. And yes, he solves them. Think of him as the very modern, more unpleasant form of Sherlock Holmes.


Marine Building in this TV series represents Portland Police Bureau. Backstrom is seen walking out of the building and lighting a cigar on his way, while rain is pouring down. As spectators say, it was one of the sunniest Easter weekends when Backstrom was filming one of it's most melancholic scenes and the film crew set up a giant rain tower to create the right atmosphere, despite the fact that if they would film any other day, Vancouver would provide the right conditions on its own.

Caprica

Caprica is a victim of yet another 'try to cash on a spin-off that never could work' scheme. Written as a prequel for the geek-beloved Battlestar Galactica (the reboot, not the original, mind you), Caprica is taking place 58 years before the destruction of twelve colonies.


This series maps how humans created the robots Cylons that later turned against their masters in the original Galactica reboot. Do you also have the feeling that this is getting too confusing with the original, reboot original and the prequel? Please, no more sequels, we beg you Syfy.


As is tradition with prequels, the show had low ratings and was pulled from the air on Syfy even before they finished airing the first season and these episodes were later included on DVD. Before that, they aired the episode 5, where the Marine Building is shown as the New Cap City Bank where a heist is in the process. Vancouver substituted nuked Caprica City before in rebooted Battlestar Galactica, heavily altered with CGI to fit the story. However, in Caprica itself, only small additions were made to fit the futuristic look the series was going for.

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency

There's not much to tell about Dirk Gently and its plot without leaving you even more confused with what exactly is going on in this series. Dirk Gently is a holistic detective. Yes, you read that right. Holistic as in he does everything, from your run-of-the-mill lost corgi to supernatural cases of great importance. Because, naturally, everything in the universe is connected.

Confused yet?


It seems as no surprise that this BBC America and Netflix collaboration series is based on the books of Douglas Adams, who you might know as the author of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The show takes place after the first two books and should be an homage to the non-existent third book that Adams planned to write before he died. The first season was filmed almost entirely in Vancouver. Marine Building was used here as a lobby of Perryman Grand Hotel, where Dirk's sidekick-against-his-will Todd works. Or you know, worked, before he got fired in this very scene.

Smallville

Where else would you put a famous news agency, if not the Marine Building? In Smallville, a teen-inspired prequel to Superman movies, The Daily Planet, news agency where Superman - excuse me I mean Clark Kent - ends up working, is pictured as the Vancouver Marine Building.


The most entertaining thing about all of this is that the original building, as it appeared in the comics, was based on the Old Toronto Star Building where the co-creator of Superman Joe Shuster was a newsboy.


He even claimed that fictional city Metropolis, where Superman does most of his saving and hero-related stuff, was based on Toronto. However, this view shifted since then and Metropolis, as we know it now, reminds people New York City more than Toronto.

Fairly Legal

Nothing says I despise the law more than becoming a mediator. Kate Reed (played by Sarah Shahi, who you might remember as Sam from Person of Interest), was a great lawyer at her father's firm. But then she realised she wanted something more, she wanted to help people. And that's where the series starts, with Kate determined to do good by occasional acting a bit against the law.


As it goes in the series about lawyers, nothing says successful as a fancy office building. This USA Network comedy is no exception. In the 7th episode of the first season, the Marine Building served as an entrance to one of the buildings where one of the lawyer's Kate is confronting, has an office.

Fantastic Four

In Fantastic Four, and we mean the more classical 2005 and 2007 movies, not the train-wreck that was 2015 version, the Marine Building is the centre of the attention of fictional New York City. This building represents the Baxter Building, a fictional residence in Manhattan that houses the Fantastic Four headquarters.


In contrast with the comics, where Baxter Building is shown as strictly military and industrial looking, for the movie creators choose the art-deco inspired Marine Building as a bit more indulgent original living quarters of Reed Richards. In the latest comics, the creators even shifted their view and draw the Baxter Building with a bit of flourish, reminding more Vancouver Marine Building, than the original military structure.

Life or Something Like It

Angelina Jolie stars as Lanie Kerrigan in this romantic comedy-drama about a reporter living the perfect life. Or so she thinks until a homeless psychic tells her she is gonna die next Tuesday. From there, things start spinning out of control, as Lanie tries to change the course of her destiny and finding some meaning in her life.


And what movie set in New York City would it be without filming the prettiest buildings in Vancouver. The Marine Building was used as a set for A.M. USA offices, where Lanie longs to work as a big-star reporter. Because every news agency needs its old, art-deco building, right?

Lucifer

If you always wanted to see a supernatural police comedy with an unusual main character, who is good despite being bad, you are in luck because Fox recently introduced Lucifer to its viewers and changed the way you will look at procedural police series. The story is about the proverbial Satan struggling with his "work" (read damning souls for eternity) and going for a holiday to Los Angeles. Do you see the irony in this? Of course, he runs into a very attractive detective, who is somehow immune to his charm and sets to help her solve crimes.


In eight episode of the first season, Detective Chloe Decker and Lucifer come across potential murder suspect Richard Kester, who is standing at the edge of the building, ready to jump. Naturally, this building is the Marine Building in Vancouver, because no other building has such a beautiful rim you can stand on. In this scene, Lucifer manages to talk Richard out of jumping by accident, so it ends well for both Richard and the steps of the building that don't have to be drenched in fake blood. Talk about a step off of the devil path, oops.

The Flash

If you had the power to travel trough mirrors, why not rob a bank in an art-deco building? The same train of thoughts was probably what the Mirror Master from CW's The Flash had. In the third season, he decides to rob Central's City First National Bank, set in the Vancouver Marine Building. He almost succeeded, which is not that surprising, since that building has a very suspicious amount of mirrors for a bank. He is stopped by The Flash and Jesse Quick. Nobody is surprised.

 

Meet The Photographer: Ricardo Vacas

Ricardo VacasRicardo Vacas

Ricardo Vacas, owner of the firm Kerp Photography, always showed intense interest in many forms of creative arts. His professional photography career started in his home country, Spain, where he was the official photographer of several music bands, models and clothing brands. He decided to move to Wellington, New Zealand in 2012, knowing his real interest was fashion photography more than any other field. Currently living in Vancouver, Canada, he now combines his fashion, editorial and commercial photography projects with regular trips to Europe and USA.

KVRVKV

The (Inevitable) Future of Housing in Vancouver

As the city with the highest density rate in Canada, Vancouver architects and city planners need to find new ways to increase housing density to make way for the population growth, which is expected to reach 3.1 million over the next 14 years. Local architect Michael Geller has looked to Europe for inspiration.

Downtown Vancouver by The West EndDowntown Vancouver by The West End
Geller recently wrote about some European concepts for urban homes that he believes would fit in well with the Vancouver scene."Throughout Europe whenever they build townhouses or row houses they are not part of a condominium. They are individually owned just like a single family house is," Geller told Vancouver Homes. One of the attractions of this, he explained, was the freedom to make the house your own.

If you want to paint your door a different colour or plant vegetables in the garden you don’t need the approval of a strata council.

STACKED TOWNHOUSES

There was another innovation of European-style housing that Geller said would work for Vancouver: stacked townhouses.

The idea is that you may have a row house above another row house but each has a front door at the street. So, you can create housing with prices comparable to an apartment but you don’t have to go through a lobby and corridor and elevator to get to your home.

According to Geller these are not only high density buildings but also an attractive option for residents.

Certainly that is something that would be very attractive to a lot of people who can’t afford a row house and really don’t want to live in an apartment building.

He said stacked townhouse style homes were very popular in Toronto and Montreal, who have a higher population than Vancouver.

There are a couple of examples in Vancouver but normally the zoning prohibits them.

They are not unusual to Vancouver, in fact, the Katz company developed the first stacked townhouses in the province on 8th and Cyprus in the 70s. As part of their design the units have a garden and the upper units have a roof garden. There is a communal courtyard and playground incorporated in the design.

However, the assistant director for Urban Design with the City of Vancouver said there may be more of these types of buildings coming on to the market. "You are starting to see them getting built now," Anita Molaro said. "There are more and more applications that are coming on stream."

Some of these projects include Norquay Village and Little Mountain There are also stacked townhomes located in Mount Pleasant. The 16East development was done by StudioOne Architecture. The units are 2-3 bedrooms and include hardwood flooring, rooftop patios and underground parking.

Vancouver by Randy TarampiVancouver by Randy Tarampi

HEIGHT DOES NOT EQUAL DENSITY

Geller said a unique aspect of stacked town houses in Europe was that they were narrow and could be up to four storeys.

When you are starting to get into four storey townhouses, you are getting a density that is comparable to a much higher building,

Geller explained, adding there were some examples in Vancouver.

"Those buildings along Commercial Drive or Fourth Avenue or Broadway they have what we call a floor space ratio or FSR, which is the ratio of the size of the building to the size of the land, of around 2.5. The 12-storey high rise buildings in Kerrisdale or South Granville are less than that." 

"People invariably associate high density with high rise. It is just not necessarily the case." Geller said that in Toronto often the stacked townhouses were situated back to back in an effort to further increase density. In other words, they only have windows on one side, like an apartment would, but you can get very high densities with this type of housing.

According to Geller the urban dwellers would be attracted to these sorts of buildings because they offer freedom that apartment living doesn’t, as well as some special features. "A lot of the stacked townhouses or row houses will have a roof terrace," he said. "A backyard might be better but if you can’t afford a place with a backyard there is another option especially in the city."

UNIQUE BUILDING DESIGNS

In the quest to make affordable, high density homes attractive to urban dwellers in Vancouver, Bjarke Ingels, an architect from Denmark, has created a unique residential building, the Beach and Howe Tower near Granville Bridge. The building, which was reported about by CNBC, will stand 151 meters and provide a view of the beach and mountains to attract residents. Its unique, twisted shape was designed to avoid unsightly views of the nearby highway.

The building has brought to the Vancouver housing market an extra 600 units, including 180 that are market value. There is also a plan to create an outdoor art gallery on the underside of the Granville Bridge, which will give a modern feel to the neighbourhood.

Vancouver House by BIGBeach and Howe Tower by BIG

BIGGER NOT ALWAYS BETTER

Geller said another concern he had was the size of homes being built in the region: "Most new houses in metro Vancouver tend to be 2,250 square feet or more." 

When I was growing up we all lived in houses of less than 1,000 square feet. I think there is a need and demand for small houses of under 1,000 square feet both for empty nesters who want to downsize but also young households who really want a house and are just getting started.

Molaro said the City did not have a say in the size of housing that developers build: "Our zoning in our single family neighbourhoods allows for the majority of the city a floor area of 0.6 times the site area."

That is what the zoning will allow and that is what the zoning has been in place for, I would say, at least 30 or 40 years.

"It is true there is a lot of construction going on in the single family neighbourhoods and they are optimizing their full density potential," she said. However, Molaro also said that a lot of older homes have been built smaller but it was at the discretion of the builder.

What people chose to build on that property is their choice up to that limit.

She said that although the homes were large, most often there was a basement suite being developed on the land as well, all within the square footage.

Vancouver Canada by Nick KenrickVancouver Canada by Nick Kenrick

URBAN CHANGE NOT JUST FOR VANCOUVER

According to the report by CNBC, the World Health Organization has predicted the world’s urban population will be 6.4 billion by 2050. Thus, city planners around the world need to take into consideration how to obtain higher density spaces in attractive buildings, and how to make them affordable.

It has created a demand in cities around the world, including London, for thousands of new homes. In fact, the London Councils has said there is a need for 809,000 new homes in the next four years. In New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio has made a commitment to provide 200,000 affordable houses over the next three years. Molaro said that Vancouver was going to be a part of that change.

Ground-orientated type residential units and stacked townhouses are part of that sort of portfolio of typologies under consideration.

 

CL00KV

Photo Essay: Catfe

Bringing together cats and coffee, Vancouver's first cat café quickly became a popular spot for the city's cat lovers. The concept of the themed café where visitors can watch and play with cats and take one home have spread throughout the world after the world’s first cat café opened in Taipei, Taiwan in 1998.

1-catfe

Vancouver’s version opened in December 2016 at International Village and is a home to eight to twelve adoptable rescue cats at a time. The capacity of this place is limited so no wonder that Catfe has been very successful - almost too successful - getting cats adopted when it almost run out of kitties shortly after its opening. Catfe staff member Leah explained the idea behind this unique place:

It’s not just a café with cats. Cats can be used as therapy too and people can connect with animals. It’s difficult to find a place that allows cats In Vancouver so some people come here to get that contact. Cats are also relaxed here and I love seeing them changing. When they come here, they are sometimes frightened so you see how they change from nervous to happy after a while.

2-catfe

Catfe offers drinks, snacks and coffee from local roasters. The light lunch menu includes Tartine quiches, vegetarian soups, savoury pastries and cat-themed treats as well as vegan and gluten-free options.

The café is open daily from 11 am to 9 pm except for Thursdays when the new cats are welcomed and the adopted ones picked-up. The public demand is exceeding the capacity of the café, so in order to maintain a healthy cat-to-human ratio, the number of visitors is limited to 16 people at the time. Admission is $5 per person with any cafe purchase (or $8 with no purchase) for a one-hour visit.

3-catfe
 
Matthew-1
5-catfe
6-catfe
7-catfe
catfe-leah
9-catfe
10-catfe
11-catfe
12-catfe
catfe-yayoi
14-catfe
15-catfe
16-catfe
17-catfe
19-catfe
20-catfe

Meet The Photographer: Ricardo Vacas

Ricardo VacasRicardo Vacas

Ricardo Vacas, owner of the firm Kerp Photography, always showed intense interest in many forms of creative arts. His professional photography career started in his home country, Spain, where he was the official photographer of several music bands, models and clothing brands. He decided to move to Wellington, New Zealand in 2012, knowing his real interest was fashion photography more than any other field. Currently living in Vancouver, Canada, he now combines his fashion, editorial and commercial photography projects with regular trips to Europe and USA.

DTRVKV

Vancouver Restaurants With the Longest Tradition: Minerva’s

minervas-1

A fixture in Kerrisdale since 1973, Minerva's has provided Mediterranean food to the neighbourhood’s people for more than a generation.

Minerva's’ owner, Nonda Pavlakis, was a young man of 17 when he came to Vancouver from Greece in 1967 to be with his brother and sister. He did tailoring and sales at a clothing store, and later became part owner of the Copacabana night club.

I was at Copacabana and we had just sold the club. A friend of mine came along and he asked if I wanted to buy a restaurant. My answer to him was, ‘What the hell would we do with a restaurant? I don’t know anything about restaurants.’ A month later, I was involved in the restaurant. I just saw the opportunity was here. It was a little restaurant that was doing okay then.

minervas-2

In 1975, he and his friend purchased a small, two-year-old pizza joint on West 41st from a Greek couple. The name Minerva's, from the Roman goddess of wisdom, came with the restaurant, even though the previous owners were Greek.

I took it over, with a friend of mine, actually, but he stayed here for about eight months and he left. I took over the restaurant and worked hard. About a couple of years later, we expanded.

At the time, Kerrisdale was, as Nonda puts it, "a nice little village. It has changed a lot now. It used to be all kinds of stores. Now you see coffee shops, beauty salons, and banks. That’s all you see in Kerrisdale."

As Kerrisdale evolved, Minerva's evolved along with it, going through renovations and expansions roughly every decade.

When we bought it, it was the old style with the red carpet, red chairs, velour wallpaper. We changed it over the years. Every few years we like to do something to update.

Currently, Minerva's has an understated style of comforting earth tones and diffused lighting, with paintings of Mediterranean scenes on the walls. In the summer, the large windows open onto the sidewalk.

minervas-3

For our business, the changes were good, actually. Ninety per cent of our customers are repeat customers. They live in the neighbourhood, but the neighbourhood has changed a lot. It used to be older people here, but now there are a lot of young families moving into the area.

His wife Kay works behind the restaurant’s bar, and his son John runs the business as a manager, since 2007. In August of 2016, it opened up an adjoining bar on the corner, Barra 41, which John runs.

Over the years, we’ve changed the menu a lot. Because it was just a pizza and pasta place. Then we kept changing the menu every so often. We take something out, we add something. We go with the times. We go with the people’s needs. Now it’s mostly a Mediterranean restaurant. We still have the pizza, of course, but we’re very well known for our steaks and our barbecue. And of course, we have lots of Greek dishes, as well.

minervas-4

Asked about the secret of his establishment’s longevity, Nonda is characteristically modest.

You have to take care of your customers. Give them the right things, give them the quality of the food. We have very good quality of food, and our prices are affordable. Our steaks, for example. We use the best steaks here. Downtown you would pay sixty dollars. Here you will pay thirty or thirty-five dollars.

Nonda talks about how former BC Premier Bill Vander Zalm and former Prime Minister Kim Campbell have visited and stops himself before he can name a certain Vancouver-born movie star who regularly eats there.

This is characteristic of how Nonda treats all of his customers, some of whom are neighbourhood regulars who eat there seven days a week.

I can walk around here right now, and I know every one of my customers. When you come in through that door, we try to make you be happy when you go. That’s the success of a restaurant. You don’t see the people as a dollar sign. You go to some places and they try to grab the dollar and they don’t care about the mood. Here, we like to see you over and over and again and again.

minervas-5

After running a restaurant for more than forty years, Nonda says right now, he doesn't have any plans for the future.

I’m still working. I’m going to continue working.

The sample dinner was barbecued baby back ribs with spaghetti. The generously sized portion of ribs were tender and easily separated from the bones, which provided the requisite tactile experience. The barbecue sauce was tart and tasty. The accompanying spaghetti came with a red sauce with more subtle flavours than you would find in other restaurants. The side dishes were garlic bread and Greek salad made with crisp and fresh vegetables, which together with the main entrée made for a satisfying dinner.

minervas-6
minervas-7
minervas-8
minervas-9
minervas-10
minervas-11
minervas-12
minervas-13
minervas-14
minervas-15
minervas16

Meet The Photographer: Ricardo Vacas

Ricardo VacasRicardo Vacas

Ricardo Vacas, owner of the firm Kerp Photography, always showed intense interest in many forms of creative arts. His professional photography career started in his home country, Spain, where he was the official photographer of several music bands, models and clothing brands. He decided to move to Wellington, New Zealand in 2012, knowing his real interest was fashion photography more than any other field. Currently living in Vancouver, Canada, he now combines his fashion, editorial and commercial photography projects with regular trips to Europe and USA.

PTRVKV

Parking in Vancouver: Parking Spots, By-laws

One of the major problems that drivers in Vancouver encounter is the lack of parking spots. Vancouver has a limited number of parking spaces compared to the number of vehicles on the road each day. It is important to be aware of the City’s rules and regulations when it comes to parking on city streets both to avoid a fine and also upset neighbours. There are different rules depending on whether there are signs on the street or if you are at a meter.

parking-in-vancouver-6

Parking Regulations and Bylaws

All of the City’s parking meters run from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. every day (including holidays). Many residents are unaware of the three-hour bylaw that states you cannot remain parked in front of a property you don’t own or live at for more than three hours. It is in effect between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. daily.

Another regulation to pay attention to is parking near a fire hydrant; there must be at least five meters between the hydrant and the car.

Drivers are also not allowed to idle a vehicle for more than three consecutive minutes per hour or while there is no one in the vehicle and it is unlocked. There are several others regulations about parking on the City website.

Parking Apps

There are two major smartphone apps that help find and manage parking on Vancouver streets. The first app is Easy Park app, by a City-owned, not-for-profit parking company. Drivers can find lot locations, entrance locations and rates. You can also pay from your phone as well as extend your parking time when you are away from your vehicle. Find it on Google Play and App Store.

The second app is Pay by Phone. It can be linked to your credit card and uses your license plate number to register you car for parking. It can be used at meters around Vancouver and also some lots. The app will send you a text message when the time is nearly done. Users can extend the time from the app. Pay by Phone is available for Apple, Android and Blackberry phones.

parking-in-vancouver-4

Referendum Rejected

With an average of 870,000 vehicles on Metro Vancouver roads daily and just 10,000-metered parking spots plus about 17,550 at Easy Park lots the city faces a challenge.

Add to that the expectation that there will be 170,000 new residents by 2045 the City needs to advance a plan to ease the congestion. Because there is a shortage of land in Vancouver it is easier to make the transit system more efficient and more attractive rather than try and increase the available parking spots. This is the problem the Mayors Council Plan hopes to help by promising to reduce the traffic problem by 20 per cent.

The plan largely focuses on improving the region’s public transportation system including an expansion to the Millennium Line along Broadway from Commercial Drive and UBC. It will also add five new b-lines to the roughly 210 bus routes it already has. The new routes have been defined as:

  • Downtown to SFU via Hastings Street;
  • Downtown to SE Marine Drive via Victoria Drive and Commercial Drive;
  • Downtown to Lynn Valley Centre in N Vancouver by West Georgia Street;
  • Joyce-Collingwood Station to UBC along 41st Ave;
  • Southeast Vancouver to Richmond and Burnaby via Knight Street.

The plan also commits to increasing sea bus service by 50 per cent.

However, residents essentially voted against funding the plan by rejecting a tax that would have covered the cost of the project in a 2015 referendum. Elections BC website records a total of 61.68 per cent of voters against the tax while 38.32 per cent supported it. Reports state the tax would have been a 0.5 per cent sales tax and revenue was expected to cover the $7.5 billion of in projects. It would have helped pay for some of the 10-year plan, which included an east-west subway line, a light rail system for Surrey that would reach to Langley and 11 new rapid bus lines in the suburbs, as well as a third harbour ferry.

Matt Taylor, a Master’s of Engineering Student at UBC has outlined the transportation problem in Vancouver in a YouTube video. He estimates there will be about 1,100,000 new residents in Vancouver. Which will mean an addition of 730,000 vehicles "at current ownership rates."

Taylor said that with that amount of growth the city would need an addition 2,200,000 more parking spaces. Due to the lack of land in the city most of the spots would need to be built underground. At a cost of $40,000 per spot Taylor said that would be a total cost of $90,000,000.

While Vancouver’s transit system is robust, the City estimates about 50 per cent of trips are done by walking, cycling or using public transit.

Transit Options

Vancouver’s public transportation options include the Skytrain, which has the Expo Line running north-west to south-east and the Millennium Link that runs in a loop east to west. There are also over 210 bus routes running around the City and the Seabus, which connects downtown to North Vancouver from waterfront station to Londsale Quay.

TransLink, the body that is in charge of the city’s public transportation claims that 85 per cent of Metro Vancouver residents live less than 400 metres from a bus stop. They also run HandyDART, which is a door-to-door service for people with disabilities.

parking-in-vancouver-3

Conclusion

Although Vancouver has a reliable public transportation system many families still feel the need for at least one vehicle. Given that residents voted against implementing a tax to improve the system it is likely to assume that they will be relying more on their vehicles to get around. Yet, with the estimated population growth in the next 20 years the City will find itself unprepared for the increase in traffic flow and need for ample parking in public areas and streets.

CL00KV

Top 3 Local Food Stores in Vancouver

"People think food just appears," says Nicole Robins, owner of North Vancouver’s Sprout Organic Market. In actuality, the food we eat is still grown on farms. Much of it comes from far away, shipped from around the world by ships and planes, with attendant problems in freshness, chemical exposure and production practices. One alternative is to eat food that is produced locally.

With the ocean to the west and farmlands to the south and east, Vancouver has many sources of locally produced food. The 2007 bestselling book The 100 Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating was written by Vancouver residents Alisa Dawn Smith and JB MacKinnon, who lived in Kitsilano during their experiment. Today, there are many local stores around the Lower Mainland where you can buy locally made food.

Home-on-the-Range-1

Home on the Range Organics

Address: 235 East Broadway, Vancouver
Opening hours: Monday - Sunday: 11am - 6pm
Website: www.hotro.ca

Home on the Range Organics is a storefront on East Broadway near Main, only a block away from the Buy-Low Foods in Kingsgate Mall. Jackie Ingram, the shop’s co-owner and co-founder, says that it has survived for five years because they're niche.

And the other thing is the customer service. When you come in here, you can ask anyone of my team about the nutritional aspect of their food, even the kitchen staff, and they will know. Whereas the supermarkets aren’t training their staff.

Her shop specializes in locally produced, organic food.

It took off organically; excuse the pun. About five years ago, we realized people really wanted nourishing food and they really didn’t want to be part of this forty-year-old processed food ribbon that we’ve all got stuck in in Europe and over here in North America. People want to return to their roots. They want nourishing food. They want real food, slow food, fermented food. They want it and they’ll pay for it.

Home-on-the-Range-2

The shop’s refrigerators and deli cases are stocked with meat and dairy products, ranging from ground beef and lamb raised in BC to house-made meat pies that contain local meats, to pepperonis and chorizos made by a fifth-generation German sausage maker just on the other side of Broadway. There’s locally made duck and quail eggs, milk, cheese and yoghurt. There’s a kitchen in the back where Jackie and her staff make bone broth, duck liver paté, duck confit, ham hock tureen, sausage rolls, soups, and other goods. Most of this comes from inside BC.

It’s local where we can. And not just certified organic. We’re really looking for animals that eat grass out on pasture. With the chickens, you want the feathers to get wet. It’s hard to find. A lot of work goes into that. Our suppliers that we work very closely with will go and visit the farms and check out the pigs. And when they say, ‘This is exactly what you want, Jackie,’ we’re going to order them in.

Home-on-the-Range-3

Jackie is a strong believer in the benefits of locally produced and organic foods. The customers who shop at her store not only keep their money in BC but enjoy the health benefits of fresher food. Many of her clients are health workers or referred by health workers.

They want healthy food, that hasn’t had to travel and put on a blueprint that says it’s traveled four days on a truck. How fresh can it be? What would you rather, a tomato from a garden or a tomato that’s come from Chile?

This means accepting the imperfections of food that isn’t produced industrially and shipped over long distances.

We’re not trying to say, here’s a strawberry, and it’s going to be this big all year, and it’s going to taste exactly the same. As humans, do we really want that? We don’t.

Home on the Range also carries locally made health and beauty products, and a small amount of imported goods, such as coffee from Venezuela or chocolate from France. This would seem to conflict with the locally produced ethos, but Ingram says this is only five per cent of the store’s profits.

Home-on-the-Range-4
Home-on-the-Range-5
Home-on-the-Range-6
Home-on-the-Range-7

August Market

Address: 3958 Main Sreet, Vancouver
Opening hours: Monday - Friday 10am - 8pm, Weekends 9am - 8pm
Website: www.augustmarket.ca

Founded in September 2015, August Market is a boutique-sized grocery store on Main Street, also specializing in local foods. Its owner and manager, Gogan Shottha, used to work for the Persia Food supermarket chain as a manager, among other jobs.

I bounced around a lot. I didn’t have much direction. I never imagined myself opening up a grocery store until I was doing it. Then there was an overwhelming urge that this is what I needed to do at the point that I did it.

The neat shelves in August are stocked with a full range of products, including meats, produce, grains and packaged foods. Gogan’s priorities are local before organic.

August-Market-1

Local first. I would love to support local as much as possible. And then organic if possible. The idea behind the market was really that I wanted to make this very much an experience. I wanted everyone to leave feeling happier than when they came in, from the customer service to the product selection to the price. They didn’t feel guilty about overspending. They got what they were looking for. They felt like they were supporting a local business, that they felt good about.

However, Shottha’s definition of "local" is more about relationships than geography.

I define it as ‘where I am, outwards’. Literally, where I am. It’s not even a matter of national borders, for me personally. I think some people would very much say, ‘Support Canadian before American.’ That’s what I have been doing because getting stuff across the border would be more difficult. When it’s physically closer to you, the logistics of everything makes much more sense in terms of freshness, in terms of quality control, in terms of the connection. You could literally drive there, or travel there, to see where your food is coming from. You could meet these people, you could have a conversation with them.

Some of the products come from as close as urban farms further north, near Main Street. Others come from as far as California or Mexico, or from a mountain farm in the BC interior, which doesn’t even have paved roads. Gogan does his best to visit these farms and see first-hand how the food is produced and delivered.

August-Market-4

He had to overcome people’s preconceptions about his specialty store.

When I first opened up the shop, a lot of people would avoid it because it looked like it was ‘bougie’ and expensive. On a window, we put up a sign, ‘Not as expensive as you think.’ That attracted quite a few people to come in. ‘Oh, you have a funny sign, and the prices are reasonable.’

Over the first year, he has put a lot of work into community building, including reaching out to vegetarian and vegan communities and hopes to turn the store’s loft into a community arts space.

I would say I know roughly 80 per cent of the people who come in here’s names. And I have a great opportunity to introduce people to each other,

August-Market-3
August-Market-2
August-Market-5
August-Market-8
August-Market-7
August-Market-6
August-Market-9

Sprout Organic Market

Address: 700 E. 7th St., Vancouver
Opening hours: Monday - Friday: 9:30am - 6:30pm, Saturday: 9:30am - 6:00pm, Sunday: 9:30am - 5:30pm
Website: www.sproutmarket.ca

Sprout Organic Market is the only grocery store in a North Vancouver residential neighbourhood. The boutique-sized shop offers a full range of organic and locally produced foods, as well as housewares and health and beauty products.

Nicole Robins, the owner, used to be a banker until she started her family with her husband.

When you start a family, you start becoming acutely aware of what you’re putting into your body, and what you’ll eventually be feeding your children. It set me on a path. That started when I was pregnant with my first child. He ended up having severe food allergies, that really opened my eyes to not only organic food but beyond: supply chains, and where food comes from, and how people touch it.

Sprout-Market-1

Nicole took an interest in holistic nutrition, and she and her husband bought Organics at Home, one of the first companies delivering organic food to homes in Vancouver, founded in 1999 by Chris Michael.

Home delivery is a really complicated business model and what I realized was that I far preferred dealing with people face to face. I enjoyed sourcing local products, artisan-made local products. I wanted to expand towards packaged things that are made locally, but also look at more health and beauty products. I wanted to evolve a little bit and use my holistic nutrition training that I had received as well.

Sprout-Market-3

Nicole began to open her warehouse one or two days per week, starting in 2009. It became a destination for people interested in organic and local food from all over North Vancouver, and as far away as Richmond and Aldergrove. In 2012, she shut down the delivery business and opened Sprout, a retail market for local and organic foods, in the middle of what would otherwise be a food desert. The closest other food sources are Lonsdale or Park and Tilford.

Certified organic is number one priority at Sprout. We’re a small, locally owned business. It’s one of the only grocery stores in Vancouver that is 100 per cent organic from dairy, from grass-fed meats and chicken, from produce, grocery items.

This includes wild cod and salmon, caught in the Queen Charlotte Islands, processed and flown to Vancouver. Locally produced food is a secondary priority, but an important one.

To have to import our food leaves us vulnerable if there are problems. For example last year, there were problems in California with the drought. That really impacted our ability to get a number of different foods: lettuce, kale, you name it. And it drove the prices up. People are becoming more aware of protecting our food security. They are also more aware that, the further food has to travel, the older it is. You want fresh food because it is more nutritious.

Part of Nicole’s interest in local food stems from the idea that the system that puts food from all over the world on our plates is more vulnerable to disruption than we might think. Local production reduces our dependence on outside forces, whether political or ecological.

Sprout-Market-2
Sprout-Market-4
Sprout-Market-5
Sprout-Market-6
Sprout-Market-7
Sprout-Market-8

The challenges of seasonal availability

There are two perennial problems of locally produced food: the cost relative to supermarkets and other mainstream sources, and the seasonal changes in availability. But all the above retailers say that their price points are comparable to those of mainstream supermarket retailers for organic foods.

Each retailer deals with the problem of seasonal availability in a different way.

August Market just goes further afield for its wares. Gogan says that, for the most part, they just have to switch to foreign sources like California and Mexico.

Jackie says you just have to switch it up

For example, let’s take the milk and the butter. Where the cows have got luscious fresh grass in the end of March, you look at the thickness of the cream, and you look at the colours of the butter. It’s really nice to see that changing, but they’re still producing milk, they’re still making yoghurt and butter. But in winter months it might not be so yellow. Customers don’t mind because it’s real."

Sprout has to compromise in order to serve its customers. Some of the stock is locally produced, and some is shipped in; the proportions vary depending on the season. The store’s website includes charts that indicate the availability of different fruits and vegetables by month.

Because I’m a retail grocery outlet, I can’t offer 100 per cent local produce year round. You will find year round that I have most of the time things from BC. For example, we’re in BC’s fall season right now. I’ve got cabbage. I’ve got potatoes, squashes, garlic. We always have tomatoes and peppers that are local. It’s the greens that I can’t source locally.

Like August Market, Nicole turns to suppliers further afield, such as California and Arizona, and her stock varies with the season.

I would say that I’ve got a good 45 to 50 per cent local right now. It is possible to do local throughout the year. It’s just that at certain periods, I have to trade out. In the summer, it’s all local. All my greens are local.

Meet The Photographer: Ricardo Vacas

Ricardo VacasRicardo Vacas

Ricardo Vacas, owner of the firm Kerp Photography, always showed intense interest in many forms of creative arts. His professional photography career started in his home country, Spain, where he was the official photographer of several music bands, models and clothing brands. He decided to move to Wellington, New Zealand in 2012, knowing his real interest was fashion photography more than any other field. Currently living in Vancouver, Canada, he now combines his fashion, editorial and commercial photography projects with regular trips to Europe and USA.

PTRVDT

Photo Essay: Vancouver Gardens You Can Visit All-Year-Round

There is nothing like having a walk surrounded by nature on a dreary day. If you think Vancouver's gardens are worth visiting only in spring or summer, you will be surprised - our city's climate allows to create places that are a real pleasure to see any time of year. See the gardens that have something to offer all-year-round in this photo essay! 

Bloedel Floral Conservatory

Address: 4600 Cambie St, Vancouver
Opening hours: 
May to August: Monday to Friday: 9:00am to 8:00pm, Saturday and Sunday: 10:00 am to 8:00 pm
September to April: Monday to Sunday: 10:00am to 5:00pm
Website: 
www.vandusengarden.org/explore/bloedel-conservatory

The Bloedel Floral Conservatory opened in 1969 and lies within Queen Elizabeth Park, which is said to offer the most spectacular views of Vancouver. The futuristic building contains three different climate zones: a tropical rainforest, a subtropical rainforest, and a desert. It also hosts 200 free-flying exotic birds, 500 exotic plants and flowers while some of the most popular features are citrus and coffee trees, colourful 'Koi' fish and eye-catching birds and parrots. 

As of 2010, the Bloedel Conservatory is part of the VanDusen Botanical Gardens and continues to draw lines of visitors. This tropic escape in Vancouver is a perfect place to visit year-round so why not to enjoy a self-guided visit while wandering through and looking at tropical plants and birds? The helpful staff and volunteers are happy to answer all your questions.

Bloedel_conservatory-1
Bloedel_conservatory-2
Bloedel_conservatory-3
Bloedel_conservatory-4
Bloedel_conservatory-5a
Bloedel_conservatory-6
Bloedel_conservatory-7
Bloedel_conservatory-8
Bloedel_conservatory-9

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden

Address: 578 Carrall St, Vancouver
Opening hours:
SPRING May 1 – June 14 10:00am – 6:00pm
SUMMER June 15 – August 31 9:30am – 7:00pm
FALL September 1 – 30 10:00am – 6:00pm
WINTER October 1- April 30 10:00am – 4:30pm
Website: www.vancouverchinesegarden.com

The Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden is the first, full- scale classical Chinese garden outside China. It was built in 1985–1986 and constructed using 14th-century methods - no glue, screws or power tools were used. The garden recreates Ming Dynasty traditions and balances yin and yang and four main elements: plants, rock, water, and architecture - and you can learn exactly why certain things have been placed where they have been.

The rich collection of this garden which was named a World Top City Garden by National Geographic includes winding paths, rocks, plants, a large pond that houses turtles and fish. Enjoy a guided tour which is included in your gate admission, sip a cup of Chinese tea or simply stop for a moment and relax in this urban oasis in the heart of Chinatown. 

Sun_Yat_Sen_Gardens-1
Sun_Yat_Sen_Gardens-2
Sun_Yat_Sen_Gardens-3
Sun_Yat_Sen_Gardens-4
Sun_Yat_Sen_Gardens-5
Sun_Yat_Sen_Gardens-6
Sun_Yat_Sen_Gardens-7
Sun_Yat_Sen_Gardens-8
Sun_Yat_Sen_Gardens-9
Sun_Yat_Sen_Gardens-10
Sun_Yat_Sen_Gardens-11

UBC Botanical Garden

Address: 6804 Marine Dr SW, Vancouver, BC
Opening hours: Daily 9:30 am-4:30 pm
Website: www.botanicalgarden.ubc.ca

The UBC Botanical Garden was established in 1916 and is the oldest botanical garden at a university in Canada. The garden covers an area of 44 hectares and features a world-class collection of 8000 different kinds of plants, making it the right place to wander around and learn about flora from every corner of the world. The jewel of the garden is the David C. Lam Asian garden with its inventory of more than 400 varieties of rhododendrons and azaleas. 

The UBC Botanical Garden has something for everyone: choose one of the walking trails, stop at the tea house or gift shop and don't forget to check the garden's event calendar before your visit.

UBC_Botanical_Gardens-1

UBC_Botanical_Gardens-2

UBC_Botanical_Gardens-3
UBC_Botanical_Gardens-4a

UBC_Botanical_Gardens-5

UBC_Botanical_Gardens-6

UBC_Botanical_Gardens-7

UBC_Botanical_Gardens-8

UBC_Botanical_Gardens-9

UBC_Botanical_Gardens-10

UBC_Botanical_Gardens-11

Meet The Photographer: Kevin Eng

Kevin EngKevin Eng

Kevin's passion for photography has encouraged others to see the splendor and beauty of nature right at their doorstep, as he captures the sights of the day, and colors and mystery of world while it sleeps. Many of the subjects of his work are based locally in his hometown in Vancouver, B.C., where he first discovered his fascination with night photography. Kevin is currently working as a music teacher, music director for his church, and landscape photographer.

DTKEDT

How to Avoid Vancouver Traffic Jams – Updated!

road-traffic

Vancouver is regularly named the most congested city in Canada. This designation is mostly due to the heavy commuter flow across the limited number of bridge crossings entering the city’s downtown core – a factor that is exacerbated by the seemingly constant interruption of new construction projects that block roads and cause further delays. While traffic in Vancouver can be a real problem for its residents, there are several ways to avoid it. We updated our article How To Avoid Vancouver Traffic Jams to help make your commute time shorter and less frustrating.


 

CW00DT

Vancouver’s Best Gluten-Free Bakeries

More people are opting for gluten-free nowadays, whether it’s for wheat disorders or simply for health reasons. Fortunately, Vancouver has a selection of certified gluten-free bakeries that offer a wide range of breads, sweet treats, and baked goods that will satisfy both gluten-free and non-gluten-free eaters.

Lemonade Bakery

Address: 3385 Cambie Street
Website: www.lemonadebakery.ca

Serving 100 per cent gluten-free freshly-baked goods, all-natural ingredients, and an impressive range of quality treats to suit all tastes, Lemonade Bakery is undoubtedly one of Vancouver’s best GF bakeries.

 97A99182

Located on Cambie Street close to the Olympic Village, Lemonade Bakery is proud to be a locally-owned bake shop that sells every type of treat you could possibly want. Their top sellers include the gluten-free sourdough bread, morning pastries, muffin scones, and the extensive bread line. Along with the signature products, the bakery also creates seasonal features, such as the Christmas fruit cake and chocolate raspberry yule log.

You’ll find an extensive range of cakes, tarts, and other pastries on the menu, and the bakery is the only one of its kind in Vancouver to offer wheat-free, traditional butter croissants. As well as being 100 per cent gluten free, the baking ingredients are all-natural with the eggs sourced from free-run Rabbit River Farm.

Head pastry chef Tracy notes that Lemonade Bakery was born from personal experience, when, after 25 years of working with gluten as a chef, she developed a wheat allergy. As the saying goes, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade" – and that’s exactly what Tracy did when she opened the bakery four years ago.

 97A9900

When asked about how the bakery came to fruition, Tracy explain she started experimenting at home at first:

I started baking from home, using different flours, experimenting, and applying the skills and knowledge I already had. I came up with gluten-free recipes and my family and friends enjoyed it, which is how the bakery came about.

Whether you’re living the gluten free life or not, the bakery has something for everyone. Tracy’s mission is to create pastries and baked goods that are comparable in taste to non-gluten-free products, which she has certainly achieved.

Before I opened the bakery there were very little options out there, and what was out there wasn’t good. I couldn’t believe that gluten-free food wasn’t tasty, and I found it silly that I couldn’t find palatable food. We now have eight different flour blends, and the blends we use depend on the products and which blend works best and behaves best for the desired outcome. It involves a lot of trial and elimination!

Lemonade Bakery boasts a quaint, friendly, and community vibe with a welcoming atmosphere and every type of baked good that you can imagine. The bakery is open seven days a week. Baked goods are available to order, and the bakery supplies for large events and birthday parties. 

 97A9871
 97A9868
 97A9880
 97A9877
 97A9902
 97A9879
 97A9905

The Gluten Free Epicurean

Address: 633 E 15th Avenue
Website: www.glutenfreeepicurean.ca

Situated at Fraser and Kingsway, The Gluten Free Epicurean is a 100 per cent gluten-free bakery that specializes in serving quality, local ingredients and creating hand-baked goods to suit all taste buds and requirements.

With a selection of both sweet and savoury products as well as dairy free, refined sugar free, nut free, grain free, and vegan options, The Gluten Free Epicurean has something for everyone. All foods are gluten-free and soy-free, with the exception of chocolate chips and sprinkles, and the bakery offers a different special every day.

 97A8624

The location opened five years ago and has quickly become one of Vancouver’s best bakeries. Taking after a French-style bistro, the monochromatic colour scheme creates a simple yet classic design with a community-based, family-oriented ambiance. Delainy, the owner of The Gluten Free Epicurean, says he wanted to create a place for people to come and feel like at home:

I’ve been gluten free since the age of 19 and could never find foods that I wanted to eat, so I want to be able to offer people a large selection of freshly-baked items to choose from.

Delainy bakes her products using a special organic flour blend to create a selection of delectable treats and savoury snacks including sandwiches and pizzas. Alongside baked goods, Delainy also notes that she’s managed to create a gluten-free apple fritter, which is one of the things she missed most after switching her diet.

Among the bakery’s wide range of freshly-baked goods, Delainy notes that the salted oat chocolate chip cookies are one of their signature sweet treats, while the pizza, which is available in four varieties including vegan and dairy free, is the most popular savoury product.

 97A85902

The Gluten Free Epicurean also offers baking classes for those who are passionate about learning how to bake. The Sandwich Bread & Baguette class teaches the art of making a fresh bread loaf in a hands-on way, giving students the knowledge to make their own at home, while the Cake/Cupcake/Donut class teaches how to make a cupcake and donut base, as well as the basics of cake decoration. The classes accommodate a maximum of eight people and aim to share a few bakery secrets to help people recreate the signature products for themselves.

The bakery also hosts the Vancouver Chapter Celiac Association meeting on the second Thursday of every month.

The bakery is open from Tuesday-Sunday, 9am-6pm. They work with DoorDash for lunch deliveries, and baked goods orders must be made in store. Cake orders must be made 24 hours in advance. Find out more at www.glutenfreeepicurean.ca.

 97A8626
 97A8597
 97A8582
 97A8612
 97A8620
 97A85903
 97A8607

Panne Rizo

Address: 1939 Cornwall Avenue, Kitsilano, 4544 West 10 Avenue, Point Grey
Website:www.pannerizo.com

Having mastered gluten-free baked goods since 1998, Panne Rizo knows how to make gluten-free work. Using all-natural ingredients, GF flours, and non-hydrogenated oils, the bakery is popular among Vancouverites looking for a Celiac-friendly spot for freshly-baked foods.

With two locations – one in Kitsilano and one in Point Grey – Panne Rizo has established a great presence in the city and offers a range of gluten-free breads, shortbread cookies, cakes, pies, bars, delicious desserts, and deli items. The bakery prides itself on a handcrafted menu and high-quality food, and the menu features a range of savoury foods including crepes, macaroni and cheese, soups, breakfast wraps, and paninis.

 97A96742

Panne Rizo is 100 per cent gluten free with a number of dairy-free and vegan-friendly items. The bakery uses a mix of different flours, including potato, corn, amaranth, and chickpea flour, and opts for flours with high nutritional value. Allergies can be catered to as the bakery strives to keep its customers satisfied, and the bakery offers a range of seasonal features for major holidays such as Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter. As one customer said,

just because it's gluten-free, it doesn't have to taste like it - and Panner Rizo is one of the places proving this with its quality and consistency. The place is tiny but the selection of pastries is overwhelming. 

The bakery is known for its signature baked goods, such as the delicious apple-spiced muffin which is pegged as one of the best in town. Panne Rizo was undoubtedly one of the "original" gluten-free contenders, and the bakery is constantly revamping and evolving its menu and improving its recipes.

The Kitsilano location is open seven days a week, while the Point Grey location is open Tuesday-Sunday. Panne Rizo provides event catering for birthdays, meetings, or parties.

 97A9694
 97A9716
 97A9742
 97A96743
 97A9700
 97A9704
 97A9713

Meet The Photographer: Ricardo Vacas

Ricardo VacasRicardo Vacas

Ricardo Vacas, owner of the firm Kerp Photography, always showed intense interest in many forms of creative arts. His professional photography career started in his home country, Spain, where he was the official photographer of several music bands, models and clothing brands. He decided to move to Wellington, New Zealand in 2012, knowing his real interest was fashion photography more than any other field. Currently living in Vancouver, Canada, he now combines his fashion, editorial and commercial photography projects with regular trips to Europe and USA.

ALRVDT

Photo Essay: Vancouver’s Indoor Ice Skating Rinks

With winter being just around the corner, it's finally time for ice skating. Although most ice rinks in Vancouver are open since September, now is the time when people start thinking about spending some quality time on ice, right before the holidays. Fortunately, the city has plenty of ice skating rinks both indoors and outdoors - and the best way to sharpen up your skating skills before the holiday outdoor rinks open is to skate indoors. Here is the list of four Vancouver's indoor ice skating rinks to choose from.

Vancouver Ice Skating Rinks Hillcrest Park4

Admission fees for all the rinks on the list:

  • Single visit admission fee: $2,95-$5.86, with the option of low cost skate activities which are 50% off
  • Flexipass - 1,3 or 12-month access to Park Board and participating fintess centres, swimming pools, and ice rinks
    • Adult (19-64 years) | $45.28 |  $120.05 | $382.67
    • Youth (13-18 years) | $31.70 | $84.05 | $267.86
    • Child (3-12 years) $22.64 | $60.05 | $191.33
    • Senior (65+ years) $31.70 | $84.05 | $267.86

Skate rental fees:

  • Public Skate Rental | $2.90
  • School Skate Rental | $1.52
  • 10-pack Skate Rental | $23.24 

Killarney Rink

The Killarney Ice Skating Rink is located north of Killarney Secondary School near Rupert Street and East 49th Avenue. It is a part of the Killarney Community Centre. The Killarney Ice Skating Rink was one of the 2010 Winter Olympics facilities.

With the NHL size ice surface and 150 seating places, the Killarney ice rink is open to public from September until March. From April to August, the ice is removed to make space for dry-floor activities, such as ball hockey, in-line hockey, various special events and trade shows.

There is no need for registration ahead of time for most of the activities, but for some, such as Skating Lessons for different age categories, ranging from Preschool to Adult, you need to register here.

Vancouver Ice Skating Rinks Killarney8
Vancouver Ice Skating Rinks Killarney7
Vancouver Ice Skating Rinks Killarney6
Vancouver Ice Skating Rinks Killarney2
Vancouver Ice Skating Rinks Killarney
Vancouver Ice Skating Rinks Killarney4
Vancouver Ice Skating Rinks Killarney1
Vancouver Ice Skating Rinks Killarney9

Kitsilano Rink

Located near West Broadway and Macdonald Streat, Kitsilano Rink is a part of the Kitsilano War Memorial Community Centre. The ice skating rink is open from September until March and offers skating lessons for all ages. The seating holds up to 100 visitors.

If you're up for some special skating activities this winter, make sure you check the rink's schedule and register for the activities with limited drop-in spaces.

Vancouver Ice Skating Rinks Kitsilano9
Vancouver Ice Skating Rinks Kitsilano2
Vancouver Ice Skating Rinks Kitsilano3
Vancouver Ice Skating Rinks Kitsilano4
Vancouver Ice Skating Rinks Kitsilano10
Vancouver Ice Skating Rinks Kitsilano8
Vancouver Ice Skating Rinks Kitsilano11
Vancouver Ice Skating Rinks Kitsilano7

Hillcrest Rink

Hillcrest Ice Rink is located in the Riley Park Community Centre in central Vancouver. It is open all year and offers both public skating and skate lessons for all age groups and abilities. In addition to skate lessons, you can sign up for figure skating, drop-in hockey and multiple hockey leagues. It is bigger than the rest of the rinks on the list and it can seat about 400 people.

Check out Hillcrest Park's schedule for this winter here.

Vancouver Ice Skating Rinks Hillcrest Park1
Vancouver Ice Skating Rinks Hillcrest Park2
Vancouver Ice Skating Rinks Hillcrest Park5
Vancouver Ice Skating Rinks Hillcrest Park6
Vancouver Ice Skating Rinks Hillcrest Park3

Trout Lake Ice Rink

 Trout Lake Rink is a new skating venue opened in 2010 for the 2010 Winter Olympics training. It is located in John Hendry Park near Victoria Drive and East 12th Avenue and it is a part of the Trout Lake Community Centre. 

The ice rink is open from Septmeber to March, and during the spring and summer months it is used for dry floor activities. Trout Lake can seat up to 250 spectators.

Vancouver Ice Skating Rinks Trout Lake12
Vancouver Ice Skating Rinks Trout Lake3
Vancouver Ice Skating Rinks Trout Lake2
Vancouver Ice Skating Rinks Trout Lake7
Vancouver Ice Skating Rinks Trout Lake4
Vancouver Ice Skating Rinks Trout Lake10
Vancouver Ice Skating Rinks Trout Lake
Vancouver Ice Skating Rinks Trout Lake9
Vancouver Ice Skating Rinks Trout Lake8

Meet The Photographer: Ricardo Vacas

Ricardo VacasRicardo Vacas

Ricardo Vacas, owner of the firm Kerp Photography, always showed intense interest in many forms of creative arts. His professional photography career started in his home country, Spain, where he was the official photographer of several music bands, models and clothing brands. He decided to move to Wellington, New Zealand in 2012, knowing his real interest was fashion photography more than any other field. Currently living in Vancouver, Canada, he now combines his fashion, editorial and commercial photography projects with regular trips to Europe and USA.

SKRVDT

Protecting Your Home Against Weather Hazards in Vancouver

Vancouver is known as having one of the mildest climates in Canada, but that doesn’t mean that homeowners don’t need to worry about Mother Nature. The City of Vancouver lists several situations that homes need to be prepared for including flooding, earthquakes and wind storms.

With the large amount of precipitation that Vancouver sees each year – particularly in the winter months – homeowners need to be sure water is draining well on their property. Wind storms are the next common incidence around the city: winds can be the most powerful between October and February. The City also also advises homeowners to be prepared for earthquakes.

Here are some of the top ways you can make sure your home will withstand the weather conditions.

Vancouver Storm by 3dpeteVancouver Storm by 3dpete

Prepping your home against water damage

Vancouver typically gets between 1,000 and 1,500 mm of rain each year, making water damage a big concern for homeowners. However, the home inspector John Schiffer of Quality Home Inspections says there is little to worry about if regular maintenance has been done on the outside of the home.

If the outside of your building is well-maintained usually bad weather isn't so much of an issue. It is the places that aren't maintained that have problems.

Two of the major parts of the house that need to be kept up to date include the roof and windows/doors, according to Schiffer.

Protect your roofs and windowsProtect your roofs and windows

Schiffer advises to have the roof inspected every two to three years:

Wind can cause shingles to blow off and you would never know it until there is a rain storm. Then you get water inside. If you do regular maintenance, you can pick things like that up.

Another important way to prevent water damage to a home, according to Schiffer, is by sealing windows and doors properly.

People hardly ever check that. I always find that it is degraded or it is missing. It is what keeps water from getting into areas where your doors and windows are, or any opening in the outside wall, like a light fixture, a chimney, an electrical outlet, a dry air vent, or anything like that.

The City reminds homeowners to keep all storm drains clear of debris and to monitor water drainage on their property often. As extra precaution, residents can seal their basement walls and also install drain tiles around their homes.

Siding

Consumer Reports has looked at several types of siding including the most popular vinyl, which is low in cost and low in maintenance.

Their siding tests show that vinyl holds up well against water but is at risk for cracking, melting and burning. A little more expensive then vinyl is plastic. It is thicker and can resist impact better in cold weather.

Siding also comes in fiber cement and wood however they are both more susceptible to water damage so would not be a wise choice for a home in the lower mainland.

Paint is another important consideration for home appearancePaint is another important consideration for home appearance

Paint

Paint is another important consideration for home appearance. Consumer Reports has tested several kinds and suggests using flat finish for exterior, weather-worn walls.

Schiffer says regular painting would also help a home stand up in Vancouver’s weather:

Paint in this climate for wood should be done every seven years. If you don't do that, even for a long period of time, when it rains the wood tends to weather a lot and you can get water behind the siding.

Consumer Reports also looked at what stains hold up best in harsh weather. Their tests have found that most stains need to be redone every three years, with solid stains lasting the longest. According to their tests Benjamin Moore Arborcoat Solid Deck & Siding and Behr Solid Colour Waterproofing Wood Stain were among the top.

Wind Storms

High winds occure most often between October and February, according to the City of Vancouver. To protect your home experts recommend trimming dead or weak branches from trees and securing any loose items such as patio furniture, toys, barbecues and garbage cans.

Direct Energy also recommends examining all trees on your property often, watching for signs of decay or loose branches that can fall off in a wind storm:

Prevent decay with proper tree maintenance. Keep lawn mowers and weed trimmers from 'wounding' bark, and don't over-prune branches. Over-watering can lead to shallow root systems, which will make them less able to stand firm in high winds.

Schiffer agrees with Direct Energy, saying you should check for any dead branches, which are the sign that the tree is going to come down, and you should remove it yourself.

Definitely Fall by Kenny LouieDefinitely Fall by Kenny Louie

Insulation

Most experts recommend insulation for Vancouver homes for extra protection as well as for environmental reasons. BC Hydro recommends homes over 10 years of age to be insulated:

Like a good winter coat, the right insulation in the right place gives you a warm feeling all over.

Key areas to insulate, according to the company, is the attic, basement, crawl space. They also advise homeowners to use weatherstripping on doors and windows to help against wind and water. There is a wide variety of material and methods used to put insulation in homes and BC Hydro says the main types include blanket insulation, blown-in or loose-fill insulation and rigid board insulation.

Earthquake safety

The City also recommends homes in the Vancouver area be prepared for earthquakes. They advise that homeowners may want to seek the advice of a professional engineer to examine their structure.

The City website also advises bolting down homes, water heaters and any gas appliances to prevent damage.

A test done by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has shown that certain materials have been better able to stand up to earthquakes.

Which materials hold-up the best against earthquakes?

CMHC states that non-structural building components, such as stucco cladding and drywall, can have a major influence on earthquake performance.

They also advise using staples with panels to secure the building:

The earthquake performance of panels with staple lath fasteners was found to be superior to that of panels with nail fasteners.

Those with longer staples also proved to have more strength than shorter staples.

The study also showed that rainscreen stucco wall systems have been helpful in reducing moisture damage.

In 2012 BC changed their Building Code to ensure more safety with regards to seismic activity. In new regulations homes are now expected to be built with panels:

Several of these braced wall panels installed at key locations from the foundation to the roof structure, and located on all exterior walls of the house, result in a very strong structure.

Snowy Stormy Vancouver by Richard WinchellSnowy, Stormy Vancouver by Richard Winchell

Protect your pipes

Expert home builder, Mike Holmes advises pipes to be wrapped and that homeowners drain exterior plumbing lines to prevent frozen pipes.

To prevent freezing, Milani Plumbing recommends wrapping pipes in:

  • newspaper
  • foam pipe insulation
  • self-adhesive insulating tape

It only takes one frozen pipe to ignite the freezing process on the nearby ones! If pipes have already frozen call in a professional rather than trying to fix it on your own.

According to RB Plumbing pipes can freeze even in mild Vancouver weather:

Building codes keep interior pipes away from outside walls where they would be susceptible to freezing.

Experts say that pipes can freeze at -6° Celsius. Some have advised letting water drip a little through the pipes to relieve the pressure and avoid freezing:

Opening a faucet will provide relief from the excessive pressure that builds between the faucet and the ice blockage when freezing occurs.

Don't forget to remove any hoses that are hooked up in the back yard. If you are planning to be away for a period of time, be sure to drain the water.

Better Safe Than Sorry

Despite the unpredictability of Mother Nature there are several things that homeowners can do to ensure their homes stay safe an damage-free. The City of Vancouver offers advice and services to homeowners to help prepare their homes for the most common environment concerns in the lower mainland. By being proactive, residents can prevent unnecessary water or wind damage, and can also take steps to ensure their homes stay standing in the event of an earthquake. While we all hope that these disasters do not happen, we can be confident that with some extra care our homes will last for a long, long time. 

CL00DT

From Curb to Roof: Tips for Profitable Home Renovations

Despite the hot housing market in Vancouver, for those homeowners who want to maximize their home’s value, a few renovations may make all the difference. The CEO of the Greater Vancouver Home Builders’ Association, Bob de Wit, believes that renovations are a "critical piece of selling a home."

I think that you can do a very good return on investment with a small amount of work. You can improve the selling price of your home by doing some very simple things.

If you’ve been thinking about the things you can change around your home to increase its sale value, here is some advice from expert renovators that you will want to consider before moving forward with renovation plans.

You can improve the selling price of your home by doing some very simple things

Rooms to Focus On

The Appraisal Institute of Canada (AIC) recommends focusing on main rooms like the kitchen or bathroom. Small changes like replacing the door knobs to replacing the fixtures can bring in a good return. National Bank Insurance, a Canadian company based in Quebec, said upgrading the kitchen and bathroom could give homeowners a 75 per cent return on their investment.

You shouldn't start by doing any major recommendation such as changing the counter tops. Focus on smaller features instead, like updating the cabinets. This can cost between $3,897 and $5,474. Updates to a bathroom can run between $3,955 and $5,555, depending on the project.

ReVISION Custom Home Rennovations’ Kevin Parenteau said buyers were looking for nice rooms.

People buy and pay for nice kitchens and bathrooms and floorings and stuff. The façade is what I think maybe draws them in.

Home interior renovation

Curb Appeal

Another change many homeowners can consider without breaking the bank is outside the home. Kenny Gemmill of Kits Construction & Development has over 20 years' experience in the industry  and is also a contractor for Love It or List It Vancouver.

We get a lot of calls, especially from people who are selling their home, for landscaping.

Some changes to the exterior of a home that cost little and bring in buyers are a deck, which can cost up to $4,500, or a patio, which can cost up to $2,000. LendingTree, an online loan marketplace based in the United States, suggested that a deck could make "it feel larger for not a lot of money."

Parenteau also said that exterior work could ensure the home maintains its value.

If you maybe clean up your drive way or what have you it does make it more enticing from a buying perspective. I don’t know in terms of if you will get your money 100 per cent back, you might break even on it.

Exterior painting can cost between $1,713 and $2,406, while siding is between $10,834 and $15,216. According to National Bank Insurance, putting a new coat of paint inside or outside the home is a good way to get 50-100% return on investment.

Putting a new coat of paint inside or outside the home is a good investment

The Appraisal Institute of Canada’s website suggest choosing renovations that have long life expectancy. These include roofing, energy-efficient heating and cooling and changing the windows. These changes can last for up to 15 years. The costs of replacing a roof can run from $5,312 and $7,460 while new windows can cost between $4,133 and $5,805. National Bank Insurance also recommended repairing the roof and said, installing an energy-efficient system generates an estimated 50% to 80 % payback.

Know the Price

Experts have also advised that homeowners do some research and budgeting before beginning a renovation project. You should always consider the neighbourhood the property is in when planning your next renovation and you should think about the expectations of the possible buyers. It's a good idea to renovate the property you're trying to sell, as it will increase the value of it. But be careful not to go overboard. Set a reasonable budget and don't experiment a lot, as the future buyers might not appreciate your efforts.

Tips for profitable home renovation

The Little Extras

There are also a few other changes you can make that will increase the resale value of your home. Consider updating your lighting fixtures, adding some light landscaping or even upgrade the door handles. Decluttering can make your home more attractive to buyers, too. Stay as neutral and clean as you can: a little bit of colour is okay, but you should stay close to neutral, as it is appealing to a wider range of potential buyers. A few people will like a hot pink room, but a dozen people will opt for the neutral white or beige set up. It is very important for the buyer to be able to envision themselves in their possible new home.

First impressions are very important, so choose wisely. You only get one chance to impress the buyer.

CL00DT

SaveSave

Vancouver Restaurants With the Longest Tradition #6: Ovaltine Cafe

The Ovaltine Café looks like it somehow became unstuck in time. It lies less than a block from the intersection of Main and Hastings, arguably the centre of the Downtown Eastside. Outside, people sell used clothes and DVDs on blankets spread on the sidewalk. Others walk by on their way to the Carnegie Community Centre or Owl Drugs on the other side of Main Street. 

Ovaltine Cafe 1

Unlike most storefronts in this neighbourhood, the Ovaltine does not have metal bars or grates covering its windows beneath the neon signInside, most of the room is taken up by a U-shaped Formica counter, with vinyl stools, plus booths on the west wall. An old-fashioned milkshake machine churns in metal cups. Cans of actual Ovaltine, for mixing into milk, sit on the shelves. The menu promises classic Canadian fare "since 1942", with staples like burgers, mac and cheese, meatloaf and fried chicken dinner. The ambiance is decidedly not modern, and the out-of-time quality has been used for numerous film and television shoots, including DaVinci’s Inquest,The X-Files, Supernatural, The Man in the High Castle and I, Robot

Ovaltine Cafe 2

Dating back to 1943, the Ovaltine Café on Hastings near Main was part of the golden age of the Downtown Eastside, and has been a fixture ever since. Two years ago, the new owner and manager Grace Chen took over and revitalized it, but now faces the new challenge of a neighbourhood that is still changing. 

Grace left Beijing and came to Vancouver in 2000, where she worked at another landmark on Hastings Street, Save On Meats, for 10 years. She retired after that, but when the owners of the Ovaltine Café, Eugene and Jean Xiu, also wanted to retire, she accepted their offer and took over the establishment in 2014. 

Since then, she has worked hard to revitalize the Ovaltine, which employs five people. According to her

The business is getting better. We get everything from wholesale. We have to go there early so everything’s fresh. We come here every morning at 6:30, turn on the grill, boil the potatoes, cook the potatoes, cook the bacon and sausage every morning. We make the food fresh.

She describes her offerings as, "Normal food. Normal breakfast, hamburger, dinner. It’s fresh, and like grandma made. They come here and say it’s like home."

Ovaltine Cafe 6

This attracts a loyal set of regular customers.

"Any kind of people. Office people, street people, any kind of people come here. The customers are just like my friends, my family. They’re really nice." 

Part of the attraction is the low prices and large portions. Grace maintains this for the local people. "Since I came to Canada, I worked in the Save On as my first job, so I really know my way around this area. The poor people don’t have that much money, so I try to keep lower prices. I know it's really hard. They teach me a lot about English, about cooking, lots of things. I just want to give back. I love them. Maybe later prices will go up a little but that’s for the suppliers. For me I like to keep a low price." 

Julie Turcotte, an assistant residence attendant for the City of Vancouver, is a friend of Grace from her days at Save On Meats, and still visits her at the Ovaltine. 

Ovaltine Cafe 3

"In the '50s, people lined up around the block to come to the Ovaltine Café," she says over a cup of coffee in one of the booths.

They had really great food. I’m not sure if it was Asians who owned it or not. All I know is from what I’ve read and from other people I’ve talked to this café was the place to come,and it had a great soda fountain thing. You can see where they had all the stuff. And all along here, all these glassed-in cases would have been full of baked goods: cakes, pies, et cetera. They’re not allowed to do that anymore because it’s not refrigerated.

In decades past, the Ovaltine’s neighbourhood was far different. Hastings Street lit up with neon signs, Woodwards was a major department store, and people from all over the west coast would come to the only restaurant and sit at the counter for fresh fish and chips. The Ovaltine was part of that era, and managed to survive through the area’s decline, but just barely. "I have to tell that it wasn’t doing so well before Grace came along. You could come in here any day of the week and you’d be lucky to find one other person."

Julie attributes the Ovaltine’s revival to its new manager.

I think people just followed Grace. People who used to go into Save On Meats all the time, although people came from all over the city to Save On Meats, the ones you saw there the most were the people who came on very limited, very small fixed incomes and would buy three pieces of ham, and two of roast beef and that would be it. Now you have people that come here. The food’s pretty good here. It’s very much, I’d say pedestrian, but the burgers are great and breakfasts are wonderfully large and they certainly fill the hole in somebody’s belly when they don’t have a lot of money.

Ovaltine Cafe 4

A lot of the people who eat here live in SROs or other buildings in the neighbourhood, or are street people. Julie explains, "The Ovaltine fills a crying need. There’s a thousand free places to eat down here, but here you’re not getting it for free, it’s not being handed to you. You feel a little bit different when you come in here. You order a meal and you pay for it. You feel like you are part of the real people. It’s a different place for them. They are ordinary people when they come in."

The Ovaltine’s reputation in the neighbourhood definitely helps it. Most storefronts on this part of Hastings have heavy metal bars or grates over their windows, but the Ovaltine’s large front windows are unprotected. Julie says, "If the window got broken, it would probably be accidental, because people don’t really bite the hand that feeds them, unless the hand that’s feeding them slapped them on the side of the head."

I don’t need them [bars on windows]. The street people are nice to me. In the morning, when I open the door, to clean up the front, the people there just say, ‘Okay, I’ll help you.’ 

Ovaltine Cafe 5

However, the neighbourhood around the Ovaltine is changing with a new wave of gentrification, with new expensive restaurants and residences that threaten to displace the local community. Grace says people have made offers to purchase the restaurant or the entire building. "I don’t think they would make a big change but I think they would make the price go up and that would push the poor people out. I cannot do that. I know the money is good for me but that’s not what I want to do." She intends to expand the Café’s nighttime hours and continue serving the community. 

The sample dish was the ¼ pound burger with American cheese, sautéed mushrooms and a green side salad. While the burger’s white bread bun was not at all substantial, the beef patty was thick, well-done and flavourful, which combined well with the sautéed mushrooms and the creamy American cheese. The side dish was a green salad consisting of shredded iceberg lettuce, with sunflower seeds and raisins in Caesar dressing. The combination made a tasty and satisfying lunch or dinner, and certainly cost less than a comparable meal elsewhere. 

Ovaltine Cafe 7
Ovaltine Cafe 8
Ovaltine Cafe 9
Ovaltine Cafe 10
Ovaltine Cafe 11
Ovaltine Cafe 12
Ovaltine Cafe 13
Ovaltine Cafe 14
Ovaltine Cafe 15

Meet The Photographer: Ricardo Vacas

Ricardo VacasRicardo Vacas

Ricardo Vacas, owner of the firm Kerp Photography, always showed intense interest in many forms of creative arts. His professional photography career started in his home country, Spain, where he was the official photographer of several music bands, models and clothing brands. He decided to move to Wellington, New Zealand in 2012, knowing his real interest was fashion photography more than any other field. Currently living in Vancouver, Canada, he now combines his fashion, editorial and commercial photography projects with regular trips to Europe and USA.

PTRVDT

Vancouver’s Rental Market: The Disruption Called Airbnb

Airbnb is a classic Silicon Valley startup success. A couple of guys realized people had a hard time booking hotel rooms for an industrial design conference, and started selling nights on air mattresses in their living rooms. They launched a website in 2008, funded by sales of custom-made breakfast cereals, which filled the gap between conventional hotels and couchsurfing. People could rent out their houses, apartments, rooms or just a couch for visitors. Six years later, the company was valued at $10 billion US. 

Apartment Interior

Vancouver is one of the many cities now listed on Airbnb. A 2015 academic paper found 4,628 places for rent in Metro Vancouver, ranging from luxurious suites to single bed rooms with shared bathrooms. 

Airbnb and similar services have disrupted the rental and hotel businesses in communities around the world. Property owners can rent out living space with more ease than ever before. Municipalities and strata councils are considering whether these services have a net positive or negative impact, especially in Vancouver, a city with a shortage of affordable rental housing and a large tourism industry. 

Airbnb

Services like AirBnB, Vacation Rentals By Owner (VRBO), and Homeaway link property owners—"hosts"—with people who want a place to stay, usually for less than a month. This can range from a couch in someone’s living room to a furnished house. Airbnb's site also provides user reviews. Online classifieds like Craigslist and Kijiji also enable renting or booking local accommodation. Other well-known companies in this field include ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft, which link people who want transportation with drivers and their privately owned vehicles.

Inevitably, Airbnb came under criticism. Cities and other jurisdictions have taken legal action to restrict short term rentals. In 2016, Berlin prohibited the rental of entire apartments, and rooms can only be rented with a permit. In 2010, New York State passed a law prohibiting rentals for less than 30 days. Though based in San Francisco, Airbnb housing was not legal there until 2014. Airbnb’s own policies state that the onus is on the hosts to familiarize themselves with local laws.

Airbnb in Vancouver

Vancouver

Airbnb’s impact needs to be considered in light of Vancouver’s large tourism industry and its constricted rental market. 

Tourism Vancouver estimates 9.3 million people visit Vancouver every year, bringing in $6.1 billion annually and providing over 66,000 jobs. All of those visitors need to stay somewhere. Airbnb’s impact on the hotel industry is a separate issue to consider. 

Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation reports put Vancouver’s vacancy rate at 0.8 per cent in 2015, compared to 1.8 in Toronto and 4.0 for Montreal. Critics argue that apartments and rooms that could be on the rental market for locals are instead being diverted into the much more lucrative travellers' market. Compare an average $1,090 monthly rental for a one-bedroom apartment in Vancouver to Airbnb’s rentals which start at $80 per night and can go much higher. 

Part of the problem of assessing homesharing’s impact on the rental market of Vancouver and other cities is that Airbnb is notoriously reluctant to reveal information about their business. The best information on the company’s presence in Vancouver comes from independent reviewers.

Karen Sawatzky, a Simon Fraser University student, made a study of Airbnb in Vancouver in June 2015 as part of her Urban Studies master’s thesis. Her "webscraping" of the Airbnb website database indicated that on June 1, 2015, the City of Vancouver had 3,473 listings, while Metro Vancouver had 4,628. Both figures had increased over the previous five months. Most of the listings were concentrated in Downtown Vancouver, the West End, and Kitsilano. Most of the listings (71 per cent) were entire homes or apartments, including condos. 

According to Sawatzky's report, the business opportunity is obvious:

if you look at average rents (such as provided by CMHC) versus Airbnb rates (data on that below) for a roughly equivalent unit, it’s clear that someone who’s willing to invest some time in becoming a savvy and available Airbnb ‘host’ can make two to three times as much by renting a property on a short-term basis to tourists than is possible by renting long-term to someone who actually lives here. But that’s not to say that everyone who can do that is doing so.

Vancouver Skyline

Impact 

Working out the exact relationship between Airbnb short term rentals and the rental housing market is not easy. According to Sawatzky’s 2015 report, it would be wrong to say that all short term rentals are out of the Vancouver's rentals stock:

It’s not accurate to say that all units that are dedicated to STR [short term rental] use are being taken out of the rental stock because some of them have perhaps never been part of it, and/or those who own them are unwilling to have a tenant and so would leave the unit vacant if they could not rent it out short term.

By analyzing her data from the Airbnb site, Sawatzky estimated that out of 2,640 Airbnb hosts, there were 381 with more than one listing, controlling a total of 1,215 units. She is careful to add that the number of additional units indicated by these figures (834) is, at best, a rough estimate. Some of those units are controlled by businesses that would never make them available for residents, while others may be dedicated to STR use and not primary residences. Still, others may be owned by people whose primary residence is elsewhere, and they rent out their properties when not using them:

I am trying to get a ballpark sense here of how the number of Airbnb units might impact the rental vacancy rate. It seems that if even 10 per cent of the 3,473 June 1 [2015] Airbnb listings might otherwise be available to tenants, that would have an impact on the vacancy rate. Given the number of operators with multiple listings (381) and the number of units they held as of June 1 (1,215), this 10% estimate seems quite conservative. 

Furthermore, Sawatzky says Airbnb primarily benefits residents who already have property to rent out, not tenants (who need the permission of their landlord) or prospective tenants

...if you’re homeless or precariously housed – i.e. if you're one of those most in need of affordable, accessible housing – don’t count on Airbnb helping you out with this.

Sawatzky also points out that Airbnb rentals are concentrated in the Downtown core and adjacent areas, which forces residents to move outwards, with consequent increases in transportation costs for residents who have to commute to work.

...it seems to me at this point that the net effect of Airbnb in Vancouver is to further enrich those who are already housing-advantaged and to worsen the situation of those who aren’t.

A Home Detail

Airbnb’s response

Airbnb released its own report on its activities in Vancouver in July 2016. The document, based on a survey administered to a random sample of guests in 2015, emphasized the benefits of homesharing:

For thousands of hosts in the City of Vancouver, Airbnb is making it possible for regular people to make ends meet, pay the bills and stay in their homes. Meanwhile, with Airbnb listings throughout the city, including outside of traditional hotel and tourist zones, neighbourhood businesses are benefitting from an influx of visitor spending.

Apart from the tourism money, the "typical" host earned $6,500 annually. This money is said to help hosts afford their homes and avoid evictions and foreclosures.

According to Airbnb's report, the number of listings booked in Vancouver is not that as significant as some see it:

It is worth noting that, despite the year-over-year growth in listings that have been booked, only 4,400 entire home listings were booked in [the City of] Vancouver in 2015 – which represents about a per cent and a half of the total housing units in Vancouver.

Regulations

Despite the numbers, the short term rentals facilitated by Airbnb are technically illegal in Vancouver. Current bylaws say that residential properties must have a tenancy of at least 30 days, and the appropriate licenses for the type of property. Less than thirty days is only allowed if the residence is licensed as a bed and breakfast, with a maximum of two bedrooms and four guests. This also requires an additional parking space, a business license, a city safety inspection and a one-time permit fee. However, enforcement of these regulations is complaint driven, and often absent. 

Furthermore, the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver states that strata councils have the authority to limit or ban short term rentals. The board also advises renters to understand and comply with the Goods and Services Tax and Provincial Sales Tax, the Income TaxAct, the Health Act, the Hotel Keepers Act, and other legislation and regulations.

Airbnb offers cozy places for your stay

Fellow Realtor Brenda Kinnear says that strata councils are worried about this new development:

What started out as homesharing has evolved into a much larger economic driver.

Outside investors are now interested in renting via Airbnb, but they are concerned because there is, 'a lot more management, and a lot more political interference.'

According to Brenda, there aren’t many purpose-built rental buildings left in Vancouver, and new ones aren’t being built because of limited land and NIMBY-ism ("Not In My Back Yard"). Airbnb is contributing to the shortage, but is not the only cause; others include the sheer expense of land downtown, which puts property out of the range of many young people. 

In July, the BC provincial legislature passed Bill 28 which authorizes the City of Vancouver to impose an annual vacancy tax on specified residential properties. Hosts with four or more units must charge provincial sales tax, and any income earned must be reported on the host’s tax return. (Note that, according to Sawatzky’s data, 20 per cent of Vancouver Airbnb hosts provide four or more units.) Unlike the complaint-driven process previously, the Ministry of Finance has a dedicated investigations unit to look into non-compliance and fraud, and operates a tip line. 

Call for report

On April 5, 2016, Vancouver city councillor Geoff Meggs called for a study of the effect of short term rentals on Vancouver’s housing market, to be delivered in September of 2016. The Globe and Mail quoted Councillor Meggs:

I think we passed the tipping point some time ago, where the downsides of this new business are becoming much bigger for people than the upsides.

Conclusion

Airbnb and services like it have formalized a process that used to be conducted informally through networks of friends, and greatly increased its scale. It is to be expected that municipalities and other agencies will try to regulate this new industry. Owners who wish to rent out part of their property need to be aware of the evolving regulations before they can take advantage of this new opportunity.

PT00DT

Vancouver Neighbourhood Photo Essays: Mount Pleasant

Mount Pleasant has undergone an amazing transformation since the 1990’s, opening new businesses and changing the whole landscape of the community as East becomes the new West. This area is located between Cambie Street to the west and Clark Drive to the east, 2nd Avenue to the north and 16th Avenue and Kingsway to the south. Mount Pleasant is also called SoMa or South Main. SoMa refers directly to the area around Main Street.

1a Olympic Village SquareOlympic Village Square

This neighbourhood is popular with first-time homebuyers, urban professionals and families. You can find nine parks here, making it easy to find a spot to walk the dog, a place to play tennis or soccer, or take your kids to a playground. China Creek North Park has a popular jogging trail and beautiful views of the North Shore Mountains. The site was originally known as Douglas Park, and was purchased in 1911 as an easement for a trunk sewer. Some of the most interesting views in the area can be had from the high point of the park, including the North Shore Mountains and the remaining industrial areas of Southeast False Creek.

13 China Creek North ParkChina Creek North Park
2 Christine
4 Tap and Barrel Olympic VillageTap and Barrel - Olympic Village
3 Sahalli Park perfect for a picnic or viewing the neighborhoodSahalli Park is a perfect place for a picnic 

The name of the Sahalli Park means “high place or ground”, and it comes from the Chinook Jargon, a language that the first Europeans and natives developed to communicate. It was a blend of native language, French and English words. Between 1800s until 1920s, over 80% of Vancouver population spoke this language. The park is a great place to enjoy the view, and it also features a playground and community garden.

9 Heritage Hall originally Postal Station C in 1915Heritage Hall - originally a Postal Station C in 1915

The Heritage Hall at 3101 Main st was built in 1915 as the Postal Station C, being the major north-south connector between “uptown” at Main st and Broadway, and “downtown” at Main and Hastings. It was included in the first list of buildings identified by the City of Vancouver as having historical importance. The space can be currently rented for weddings, parties and events of all kinds.

5 Holy Trinity Ukranian Orthodox Cathedral2The Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral, Clock at Main Street and Kingsway Street
6 TELUS World of ScienceTELUS World of Science
7 Habitat IslandHabitat Island
8 Street ArtMount Pleasant Street Art
10 Rodney
11 City Hall2aVancouver City Hall
12 Sport JunkiesSport Junkies Storefront
14 China Creek South 2China Creek South
15 Vancouver Mill Machinery 1968Vancouver Mill Machinery, 1968
16 Martinis Restaurant and City HallMartini's Restaurant, Vancouver City Hall
17 Mount Pleasant ParkMount Pleasant Park
18 Mount Pleasant ParkMount Pleasant Park
19 St Patricks Parish2St Patrick's Parish
20 Mark
21 Mexican Street Food"Mexican street food at its finest!"
22 Street ArtMount Pleasant Street Art
23 WaterfrontWaterfront
24 Food TrucksFood Trucks
25 ANZA Australian New Zealand Association is a favourite meeting place for a wide range of communities ANZA (Australian New Zealand Association) is a favourite meeting place for a wide range of communities
26 Kingsgate MallKingsgate Mall
27 Olympic Village Dog ParkOlympic Village Dog Park

Meet The Photographer: Ricardo Vacas

Ricardo VacasRicardo Vacas

Ricardo Vacas, owner of the firm Kerp Photography, always showed intense interest in many forms of creative arts. His professional photography career started in his home country, Spain, where he was the official photographer of several music bands, models and clothing brands. He decided to move to Wellington, New Zealand in 2012, knowing his real interest was fashion photography more than any other field. Currently living in Vancouver, Canada, he now combines his fashion, editorial and commercial photography projects with regular trips to Europe and USA.

DTRVDT