Vancouver Homes With Jay Banks Tue, 20 Feb 2018 23:35:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Vancouver Real Estate: Lack of Affordable Inventory in January 2018 Tue, 20 Feb 2018 23:33:50 +0000 Brenda Kinnear

Charles Dickens once wrote "And though home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than magician ever spoke, or spirit ever answered to, in the strongest conjuration".

A home is one of the most sought after, wished for, impossible dreams in Metro Vancouver today. Affordable home ownership or rental accommodation is unavailable to most of the local younger population, even those with stable jobs and professions. Family formation is put on hold for lack of available housing. A perfect storm of world wide circumstances has created a situation that governments are only now starting to address and they can make little headway without a complete reordering of the existing tax and real estate ownership laws.

The high prices and lack of affordable inventory mean that the basic building blocks of an active informed working community are not there. Nobody can afford to move here to work. Those who already live here can’t afford to stay. Nurses and teachers and social workers and first responders are shut out of the housing market by the high prices. There is no time for a teacher to take on extra-curricular activities when the drive to and from work can be hours long. The Vancouver School Board has had difficulty filling job openings because when teachers have an opportunity to work in a school district closer to home they take it. In Richmond schools are slated for closure because there are no young families moving into the multi-million dollar homes available, many of which are owned but empty.

Douglas Todd of the Vancouver Sun has explored the connection of the 1% vacancy rate in Vancouver to the increased competition of Vancouver’s young adults with international students, foreign workers and financially supportive offshore parents to buy a home or find a place to rent. In Metro Vancouver the number of non-permanent residents has doubled to 140,000 over the last 10 years. A CMHC report shows international students and temporary workers under the age of 25 are responsible for 10% of the bank mortgages issued to that age group in Toronto and Vancouver.

Vancouver City Centre from above by Alex Costin

Construction workers are at a premium because no one can find a place to live within a reasonable driving distance of a project; commuting times are aggravated by the lack of infrastructure and highways. When workers are enticed to Vancouver from other cities they almost never want to take up the opportunities offered. The traffic and the housing costs are a huge deterrent.

Employers in desirable expensive locations such as downtown Vancouver or the North Shore cannot get employees because no one working at a lower hourly rate is willing to spend the money or the time to commute the required distance for these jobs. Highways and bridges are jammed at rush hour with workers leaving jobs in places where they used to be able to live to commute to far flung suburbs.

Tech entrepreneurs are finding it difficult to recruit new qualified employees because of the housing crisis. Potential employees are attracted to the urban centre of Vancouver but there is no affordable housing available to rent or buy. Everyone is wondering where the thousands of Microsoft and Amazon employees are going to reside.

There is a huge outpouring of younger families to other cities in BC where housing is still more expensive than most parts of Canada but much more affordable than the Lower Mainland.

Benjamin Tal, deputy chief economist for CIBC Capital Markets when comparing Toronto and Vancouver stated that Vancouver is an island with no place to build or grow so no reasonable way to moderate housing prices.

"Demand remains elevated and listings scarce in the attached and apartment markets across Metro Vancouver," as stated by President Jill Oudil of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver. "Buyers in the detached market are facing less competition and have much more selection to choose. For detached home sellers to be successful, it’s important to set prices that reflect today’s market trends."

A disturbing unknown is the effect of the new mortgage stress tests. Anecdotally they are having an impact on the number of sales as many buyers can no longer qualify for the same mortgage loan as before. They now have to qualify for a loan 2 points above the loan they actually qualify for under today’s lower rates which have also gone up in the last month.

The Globe and Mail has published another series of investigations into the extensive drug money laundering mortgage loans at extremely high interest rates to Mainland Chinese citizens who buy or own property in Vancouver. The borrowers are loaned cash in Canada to be repaid in Chinese currency through the shadow banking system in China. Often the drug dealer mortgagees take the clients to court to get their usurious fees repaid. Canadian courts accept false affidavits and order properties sold to repay these illegal loans. These mortgages are enabled and registered by Canadian lawyers who do not ask questions about the source of funds. The Supreme Court has allowed lawyers to police themselves and not be forced to disclose any damaging information about their clients. It’s only public demand for change that will force the governments to act.

The Vancouver Sun published an article linking money laundering, drugs and guns in Metro Vancouver.

The sales to active listing ratio for January 2018 is 26.2%. By property type, the ratio is 11.6% for detached homes, 32.8% for townhouses, and 57.2% for condominiums.

In January 2018 the benchmark price for a detached home across the region was $1,601,500. An 8.3% increase from January 2017.
In January 2018 the benchmark price for a detached in North Vancouver was $1,670,100 up 5.5% in one year, up 80.0% in 5 years and up 89.1% in 10 years.
In Richmond the benchmark price was $1,690,500 up 8.2% in one year, up 80.2% in 5 years and up 132.9% in 10 years. In Vancouver East the benchmark price was $1,564,000 up 8.6% in one year, up 91.1% in 5 years and up 140.2% in 10 years. In Vancouver West the benchmark price was $3,548,400 up 3.8% in one year, up 77.6% in 5 years and up 129.1% in 10 years. In West Vancouver the benchmark price was $3,099,500 up 5.7% in one year, up 70.8% in 5 years and up 99.3% in 10 years.

Each year affordability declined for local buyers. First time buyers are particularly hard hit by mortgage stress tests, high prices and lack of inventory.

In January 2018 the benchmark price for an apartment property across the region was $665,400. This was a 27.4% increase from January 2017. In January 2018 the benchmark price for a condo apartment in North Vancouver was $567,200 up 22.9% in one year, up 64.7% in 5 years and up 62% in 10 years. In Richmond the benchmark price was $649,900 up 33% in one year, up 89.1% in 5 years and 90.9% in 10 years. In Vancouver East the benchmark price was $552,300 up 25.9% in one year, up 84.4% in 5 years and up 91.4% in 10 years. In Vancouver West the benchmark price was $812,400 up 21.9% in one year, up 76% in 5 years and up 76.9% in 10 years. In West Vancouver the benchmark price was $1,179,400 up 20% in one year, up 66.2% in 5 years and up 70.9% in 10 years.

The BC Government has been promising action in their Budget to be presented in the Legislature on February 20. They may bring in regulations to require full disclosure of financing sources for mortgages, of disallowing bare trusts where beneficial ownership of properties is undisclosed, adding a speculation tax and forcing absentee owners to pay full taxes. We shall see what really comes down and how enforceable it may be.

More anon.


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Vancouver Winter Sat, 17 Feb 2018 18:51:55 +0000 Vancouver photographer roaming-the-planet bid farewell to the Year of the Rooster with this spectacular view. Thank you for submitting!


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Granville Bridge Wed, 07 Feb 2018 22:19:55 +0000 Vancouver's scenery is astonishing from the iconic Granville Bridge. Enjoy the view in this photo by GoToVan!


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By the Seawall Sun, 28 Jan 2018 13:20:23 +0000 Winter can be grey or rainy in Vancouver - but it still allows for some atmospheric photos. Colin Knowles captured this foggy landscape near the Vancouver Seawall, the world's longest uninterrupted waterfront path.


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Vancouver Market in 2017: Affordability Declined for Local Buyers Wed, 24 Jan 2018 19:43:15 +0000 To paraphrase Mac Davis: Happiness was Vancouver real estate prices in our rearview mirror...

The elephant in the room in today’s market is the steep decline in affordability over the past few years. The Vancouver Sun reported on the 14th annual Demographica list of severely unaffordable world wide cities. Vancouver came third after Hong Kong and Sydney. Survey is prepared by U.S. firm Demographia and New Zealand firm Performance Urban Planning. They state that Vancouver became severely unaffordable faster than any other city on the list. They measure unaffordability by the "median multiple" achieved by dividing the median house price by the median household income. It works out to 12.6 in Vancouver. A median multiple of 5.1 which means a house costs 5x the average annual income is considered severely unaffordable. In 2004 the median multiple for Vancouver was 5.3, unaffordable but manageable. Today Victoria is at 8.1, Nanaimo 7.2, Chilliwack is 6.8 and Kelowna is 6.6. Toronto is at 7.9 up from 3.9 in 2004. The most affordable median multiple in Canada was Moncton NB at 2.1.

Vancouver at Dawn by Murray Foubister

"Market activity differed considerably this past year based on property type" as stated by President Jill Oudil of Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver. "Competition was intense in the condominium and townhome markets, with multiple offer situations becoming commonplace. The detached home market operated in a more balanced state, giving home buyers more selection to choose from and more time to make decisions."

"Strong economic growth, low interest rates, declining unemployment, increasing wages and a growing population all helped boost home buyer demand in our region last year," said Oudil.

Here we are in the New Year that is looking slightly different than the last one. 2017 ended on a bang with the second best December on record. Most of it was triggered by the impending rise in interest rates and mortgage qualification levels.

The activity in the townhome market has already burst its bounds. A 3 bedroom + den townhome in Langley listed in the low $500ks attracted 23 offers and sold substantially over the list price. Local buyers cannot get a break anywhere.

Foreign buyers and investors are blamed by many for overheating the market. Calls have been made to follow New Zealand in forbidding any foreign ownership of real estate in that country. Diane Francis of the Financial Post supports this position and makes the point that Canada is clueless about the extent of foreign manipulation of the real estate market. Premier John Horgan who is now in the position of leading the entire province, not just the political left, has stated that BC is the gateway to Canada and it is not planning to restrict foreign investment.

Douglas Todd of the Vancouver Sun writes regularly on immigration and the lack of responsibility that the federal and provincial governments have shown for overview and supervision and enforcement of immigration and financial services laws including those concerning money laundering.

There has been so much discussion with so little concrete information that a recent court case between two wealthy immigrant Chinese families has surprised everyone with its details of the illegal scams some immigrants to Canada use to become citizens. Douglas Todd did a full report on the judge’s ruling.

There appears to be some blowback from exposes about immigration fraud and tax evasion around real estate. The BC Real Estate Council is expected to be more forceful in charging realtors who enable clients to avoid the law.

The sales to active listing ratio for December 2017 is 29%. By property type, the ratio is 14.4% for detached homes, 38.8% for townhouses, and 59.6% for condominiums.

In December 2017 the benchmark price for a detached home across the region was $1,605,800. A 7.9% increase from December 2016. In December 2017 the benchmark price for a detached in North Vancouver was $1,679,700 up 5.2% in one year, up 81.7% in 5 years and up 92.6% in 10 years. In Richmond the benchmark price was $1,692,500 up 7.1% in one year, up 78.4% in 5 years and up 136.9% in 10 years. In Vancouver East the benchmark price was $1,559,900 up 7.1% in one year, up 88.2% in 5 years and up 141.6% in 10 years. In Vancouver West the benchmark price was $3,556,100 up 3.3% in one year, up 77.2% in 5 years and up 132% in 10 years. In West Vancouver the benchmark price was $3,093,200 up 4.0% in one year, up 73.6% in 5 years and up 102.4% in 10 years.

Each year affordability declined for local buyers. First time buyers are particularly hard hit by mortgage stress tests, high prices and lack of inventory.

In December 2017 the benchmark price for an apartment property across the region was $655,400. This was a 25.9% increase from December 2016. In December 2017 the benchmark price for a condo apartment in North Vancouver was $560,600 up 22.2% in one year, up 62.4% in 5 years and up 60.5% in 10 years. In Richmond the benchmark price was $637,200 up 31.7% in one year, up 86.3% in 5 years and 88.9% in 10 years. In Vancouver East the benchmark price was $545,600 up 25.4% in one year, up 79.9% in 5 years and up 90.7% in 10 years. In Vancouver West the benchmark price was $807,100 up 20.2% in one year, up 73.4% in 5 years and up 75.8% in 10 years. In West Vancouver the benchmark price was $1,171,000 up 19.5% in one year, up 65.0% in 5 years and up 65.6% in 10 years.

The Provincial Budget will be introduced in the Legislature in February. Premier John Horgan and Finance Minister Carole James have stated that new rules to curb speculation in real estate will be presented then. We shall see. More anon.


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Vancouver Guide: What to Do in Bad Weather Wed, 24 Jan 2018 00:04:08 +0000 When the weather in Vancouver is good, it’s great; but when it is bad, it is grey, wet and chilly. Thankfully, there are plenty of fun places to go to pass a rainy day in Vancouver without staying on your couch. 

Visit one of the galleries

The Vancouver Art Gallery, located downtown just off Robson Street, usually has several different exhibits open. You can roam its otherworldly white halls and see fascinating artworks, both historical and contemporary, in traditional and modern media, and from around the world. Future shows in 2018 include a review of modern Japanese painter Takashi Murakami, and the Bombhead exhibition that explores the impact of the nuclear age on art and society. You can get a deal on admission by buying an individual or household annual membership, which includes free gallery admission and entry to many events. The gallery also has admission by donation on Tuesdays after 5pm. 

Vancouver Art Gallery by Timothy Neesam

Also downtown, the Contemporary Gallery is a non-profit space for contemporary visual art. There are regular tours of the gallery space with artists and curators (in multiple languages), and talks on anything from textile art to cultural accessibility and human rights. 

Tucked into a Chinatown storefront, Access Gallery is an artist-run, non-profits pace that aims to show more provocative visual art. One of their past shows was "Twenty-Three Days At Sea", showing the works created by artists in residence aboard a cargo container ship traveling from Shanghai to Vancouver. The gallery is open Tuesday to Sunday. 

Discover that science is fun - in Science World

Across the street from the Main Street Skytrain station, Telus World of Science is full of educational exhibits about many different sciences, for adults and kids. Bodyworks explores our bodies down to the cellular level. At Living Lab, you can work directly with UBC researchers who are studying cognitive development. You can do hands-on engineering experiments at Tinkering Space. The five-storey high screen in the OMNIMAX theatre makes documentaries, like Amazon Adventure and A Beautiful Planet into visually stunning, immersive experiences. 

Vancouver Science World by Franco Ng

Enjoy a concert or a play

Built in 1927, the Orpheum Theatre is a monument to design, with sweeping staircases, a domed auditorium with a ceiling mural and a giant crystal chandelier It hosts shows like the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s New Music festival, stand up comedy stars, a Beatles tribute called Classical Mystery Tour, family-oriented explorations of classical music through legends and fairy tales, food tastings as part of Dine Out Vancouver,and orchestral and choir performances. 

Orpheum Theatre by Colin Knowles

Just a few doors from the Orpheum on downtown Granville, the Art Deco-style Commodore Ballroom is coming up on its own 90th anniversary. This Vancouver landmark has survived many musical eras, and shut down a few times, only to be revived a few years later. It’s hosted musical stars from all over the world, as well as local bands and fund-raiser events. The huge venue has a dance floor and concert stage, tiered seating, and a fully equipped commercial kitchen and service staff for food and beverage. 

Also downtown, the Queen Elizabeth Theatre is a dramatic venue for everything from orchestral music to opera to stand up comedy to touring Broadway musicals. It’s home to Ballet BC, Vancouver Opera and Broadway Across Canada. 

Watch classic and new films 

When you’ve run out of things to watch online,you can go to an independent theatres such as the Pacific Cinematheque, the Rio Theatre, and the Vancouver International Film Centre which have diverse schedules of classic, foreign and cult films. Note that you have to pay a modest fee for a membership at the Pacific and the VIFC. The Rio also does live performances, like burlesque shows, The Gentlemen Hecklers, who do comedic commentary on bad movies, and The Critical Hit Show, which merges improv comedy with Dungeons and Dragons, with audience members invited on stage to play monsters. 

Rio Theatre by Kyle Pearce

The many branches of the Vancouver Public Library provide lectures, readings, workshops on coding and media, and screenings of features films and documentaries, some of them family-friendly. 

Shop local in one of the indoor markets

Greater Vancouver has a few indoor markets where you can browse a wide variety of shops and food venues while staying warm and dry.

Take a quick Seabus trip from downtown across Vancouver harbour and visit LonsdaleQuay Market in North Vancouver.Directly connected to the Seabus terminal, it’s more than 80 shops and services, including clothing, wine, accessories, leather goods,and a food court and two restaurants.

Vancouver Granville Island Market by IQRemix

Granville Island Public Market, beneath the Granville Street bridge and reached from the Kitsilano neighbourhood, is an old industrial space that has been converted into an open market. Most of it is devoted to gourmet foods, offering fresh local seafood, meats and poultry,sausages and deli meats, fresh local fruits and vegetables, cheeses, chocolates, and pastas. If you really want to know your way around, book with Vancouver Foodie Tours and enjoy more than twenty food tastings. For lunch and snacks, take your pick from bagels baked in a flame oven, fudge, pastries, muffins, and donuts. The rest of the area includes many other shops, restaurants and theatres. 

Relax in Vancouver's swimming pools

Funny how we hate cold water outdoors, but we immerse ourselves in warm water indoors. The best way to pay for visits to swimming pools, ice rinks and fitness centres is the Vancouver Park Board OneCard. You can get a card for free at any centre and load it with passes online. If you’re particularly extravagant, you can reserve a lane or an entire pool by the hour. 

Located near Queen Elizabeth Park, the Hillcrest Aquatic Centre is the largest aquatic facility in Vancouver, built for the 2010 Olympics. You can splash around in the leisure pool, swim lengths, or participate in an aquafit class. 

Swimming in Vancouver by Cara

Another city-run swimming pool is the Vancouver Aquatic Centre, locate in a bunker-like building near Sunset Beach. The huge, naturally-lit main pool has fifty-metre lap lanes and diving towers up to ten metres. You can also heat up in the sauna, cool down in the whirlpool, or exercise in the weight room. It’s wheelchair accessible and has universal change rooms. 

Downtown, you can go to the Robert Lee YMCA Pool. There are open swim times, and teen and adult swimming lessons are included in your membership. You can also check out many fitness activities such as yoga, pilates, cycling, and cardio dance. 

Recently rebuilt, the UBC Aquatic Centre can hold nearly 1,000 bathers, with a fifty-metre competition pool and a twenty-five-metre recreational pool, a steam room, a sauna and a hot tub. The facility is built to be as accessible as possible, with power-operated doors, Braille signage, male, female and universal change rooms, and access ramps in the pools. You can drop in to many different exercise and fitness classes. There are drop-in fees or membership passes. 

Cozy up at a café

If you don’t want to go home right after your day trip, Vancouver has many cozy places to pass a chilly, damp afternoon with a cup of something hot. 

Platform7 has two locations, one in East Vancouver and one in Kitsilano, modelled after 19th century British and French train stations. Each has three bars, one for espresso creations, one for single-origin coffees from around the world, and one for cold brews, plus locally-sourced baked goods and sandwiches.

Coffee in Vancouver by Kenny Louie

Aperture lies on West Broadway, three blocks from Cambie Street, and doubles as a gallery space. The gourmet cookies are hand made by the Cannele & Honeybun bakery. 

49thParallel, with locations on Thurlow Street downtown, Main Street and West 4th, is for the dedicated coffee lover. You can get your own coffee brewing kits, coffee machines, cups, branded apparel and other paraphernalia, so you can enjoy this kind of coffee at home. If you’re serious about your coffee, the website includes details about growing region, elevation, variety and harvest year for each type sold, and detailed instructions on proper brewing. The subscription plans will bring selected packages of filter coffee and espresso to your home on a regular schedule. They make Lucky’s doughnuts on site, and the Thurlow location also has a brunch and lunch menu. 

Experience beer tasting

Granville Island Brewing, located near the Public Market, does multiple tours and tastings each day of the week, and afterwards you can enjoy a drink with food pairings in the taproom. 

You can explore Vancouver’s brewing community in more depth with Vancouver Brewery Tours. They’ll take you and your group to three different breweries and distilleries in three different neighbourhoods, teaching you about craft spirits, beer brewing, and barrel aging. On dryer days during the summer, you can do the walking tour of three breweries in three hours. 

Granville Island Brewery Samples by Conrad Olson


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False Creek Panorama Sat, 13 Jan 2018 13:05:51 +0000 Vancouver photographer Gord McKenna captured this panorama during a landscape photography course using long-exposure, a photography technique that turned the water in this picture still and the sky smooth.  


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Vancouver Rain Thu, 04 Jan 2018 23:36:47 +0000 There is no doubt that the streets of Gastown look charming even when it rains - and Viv Lynch captured this mood perfectly. Thank you for submitting!


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Photo Essay: Vancouver’s Holiday Lights Thu, 04 Jan 2018 08:39:54 +0000 Whether we have snow or not, there is one thing that can't be missing every holiday season besides the many ice-skating rinks and Markets to get you in the festive mood; the colourful decorations all over the city! Vancouver lights up its parks, the shopping centers certainly don't hold back and everyone living in Vancouver and its suburbs wants to have the nicest front yard of the street. Holiday lights are, however, not just about beautiful views and thousands of twinkling lights: they can also serve a good cause by supporting a charity. Where to see the City's most beautiful holiday lights? See a selection of our favourite places in this photo essay!

VanDusen Festival of Lights

Where: VanDusen Botanical Garden, 5151 Oak Street
When: December 1 - January 7

The VanDusen Botanical Garden is worth visiting every time of the year - but it is particularly magical in the winter season! In 1994, a small part of the garden was turned into a beacon of light. Since then, the VanDusen Festival of Lights became the City's most popular and longest running Christmas attraction.

The 15 acres area is decorated with more than one million lights - and not only literally. A group of volunteers check the bulbs each year and it takes months to create this beautiful winter wonderland. This is the perfect place to take beautiful photos, watch the dancing lights show on Livingstone Lake or simply enjoy a walk with a hot drink in your hands. You can also contribute to a good cause by supporting the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which works to grant the wishes of kids with life-threatening illnesses by lighting a candle at the Candle Grotto.

The VanDusen Festival of Lights features several themed areas and runs from December 1 to January 7.

Stanley Park and the Bright Lights

Where: Pipeline Road in Stanley Park, via the West Georgia Street park entrance
When: November 30 - January 6

One of the biggest parks in Vancouver, Stanley Park, lights up with almost three million twinkling lights during the holiday season. Which is really nice, considering how early it gets dark this time of the year! When you enter the park, it feels like you're entering a fairy tale: this is the best place to take children in December to see holiday decorations and illuminations in the Lower Mainland. Some of the popular features are the miniature train with a ride full of breathtaking displays, and live performers along the route, Santa’s Workshop or the craft hut. 

Bright Nights has been running at Stanley Park since 1997 annually from the end of November until the beginning of January. Admission is by donation with proceeds benefiting the BC Professional Fire Fighters Burn Fund. $1.4 million has been raised to help burn survivors and their families since 1998.

Lights of Hope

Where: St. Paul’s Hospital, 1081 Burrard Street
When: November 16 - January 8

Every year, over 100,000 bulbs and hundreds of sponsored stars illuminate the St. Paul's Hospital as part of Light of Hope, St. Paul's Foundation's campaign raising funds for the hospital’s most immediate patient care and equipment needs. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the campaign that raised more than $31 million since its launch in 1998. The installation opens each year in mid-November with a festive, family friendly launch event featuring fireworks and live entertainment, taking place outdoors the hospital.

Lights of Hope brings hundreds of thousands of visitors to see the beautiful light tunnels and the building lit up with stars from top to bottom. The iconic installation, which is built by volunteers using donated materials, features over 10 kilometres of lights. The Lights of Hope is shining from dusk till dawn until January 8th.

Light a Life - Canuck Place 

Where: 1690 Matthews Avenue 
When: December 7 - December 31

Canuck Place Children’s Hospice annually lights the hospice and surrounding gardens. by 60,000 lights that are installed over a period of one month. These lights represent the spirit of care and support 

This event has been a wonderful tradition since the Canucks Place opened in 1995 and is a celebration of the donations given towards the hospice's care to children, however, this isn't the only way to get involved: during the holiday season, anyone can contribute to the hospice through the Light a Life campaign. 

While the Hospice is decorated to bring joy to the children and families and isn’t open to the public, you can enjoy the lights from outside the gates.

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.


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Festival of Lights Mon, 25 Dec 2017 18:38:59 +0000 It's the most wonderful time of the year... We would like to wish you a joyous Holiday Season and a Happy New Year with this photo of the VanDusen Festival of Lights by Arthur Castro!


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