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City of Vancouver announces Greenest City Neighbourhood Grants

April 4, 2011

SHIFT Delivery Co-op Vancouver cargo bike delivery

Granville Online readers are full of inspired, creative ideas for how we can reduce our ecological footprint, increase our quality of life and build strong communities for a better Vancouver…

Have an idea for how to make Vancouver greener? Want to work on a project that contributes to a healthy community where citizens are empowered to make sustainable choices that are delivered in a delicious, socially inclusive and grassroots way?

Then perhaps consider applying for the city's new grant program…

Having set the ambitious goal to be the greenest city in the world by 2020, the City of Vancouver has demonstrated through its various Greenest City initiatives a commitment to engaging the community at all levels in order to meet the challenge. Broad community action and strong local leadership are important components of its strategy.

And I quote: "The City of Vancouver recognizes that when residents become active in their neighbourhoods, communities are strengthened from the ground up."

With that in mind, through its new Greenest City Neighbourhood Grants program, the City is dedicating $100,000 to empowering community leadership from "a range of people, community groups and businesses within neighbourhoods" to create actionable programming that helps us reduce our ecological footprint "while supporting social inclusion, enabling neighbourhood level capacity and resiliency."

Here's the gist on the grants:

If everyone on earth lived as Vancouverites do now, we would need three planets to sustain us. Greenest City Neighbourhood Grants will provide funding towards projects in Vancouver that can best demonstrate that they help us achieve our one planet ecological footprint goal.

Promoting food choices that are seasonal, local and lower on the food chain, reducing unnecessary consumption and waste of resources, nurturing plants and natural environments, and reducing the kilometres that the vehicles in our city travel are all large contributors to moving us toward our one planet footprint goal.

Projects should also be based on neighbourhood priorities and need(s), engage and be supported by diverse members of their community and develop viable approaches to addressing one or more of these four priority areas:

• Green Transportation
• Local Food
• Trees/Greening and
• Zero Waste

Green transportation means walking, cycling, public transit, etc.; qualifying projects will focus on generating new trips via these modes, turning car users on to alternatives and creating a legacy of lasting conversion. A program like the SHIFT Delivery Co-op (pictured at top), which utilizes high-capacity cargo bikes for moving goods around the city without creating pollution or using fossil fuels, would be a prime example.

Local food doesn't just mean farmers markets. It means growing food within the city limits; addressing food deserts to improve our health by ensuring access to fresh, healthy food (especially among those under the poverty level); developing skills and employment opportunities; enhancing access to culturally appropriate foods and more.

An example of a local food program created to address several of these aspects of local food is the Urban Aboriginal Food Enhancement Program, a project of the Vancouver Native Health Society that connected urban Aboriginal community members living in East Van with fresh produce and traditional recipes for purchase through the Good Box as well as community garden land on the UBC Farm on Musqueam traditional territory.

Trees/Greening means literally greening Vancouver. The City's 2020 target is to ensure every person is within a five-minute walk of a park, beach, greenway or other natural space; as well, 150,000 additional trees are to be planted. Look up the Vancouver Fruit Tree Project Society, a community-based project that harvests fruit from the city's many fruit trees and distributes it locally.

Zero Waste means a drastic reduction in the amount of solid waste we're sending to the landfills. The 2020 target is a 50 percent reduction. "To get there, we need new 'zero waste assets' – creative forms of infrastructure, projects and community initiatives that allow residents to share resources, and increase their composting and recycling."

Strathcona's Resource Exchange program is a perfect example of a project working to acheive zero waste that benefits bottom lines, builds community and reduces the environmental footprint of the neighbourhood as it works toward building a Green Zone.

Apply for the Greenest City Neighbourhood Grants

Proposals for the Greenest City Neighbourhood Grants should contribute to a tangible goal related to one or more of the four priority areas while reducing our ecological footprint during the life of the project or program; foster long-term behavioural change for a lasting impact in one or more of the above four priority areas; and directly enhance the capacity of individuals or communities to engage in one or more of the above four priority areas.

Priority will be given to projects that are original, innovative, neighbourhood or community of interest based, include local community partnerships, can leverage other funding and resources, include clear measurable outcomes and indicators that have a legacy, and "create conditions to increase community engagement of people of all ages, abilities, economic levels and cultures."

The application deadline is Wednesday, April 20, 2011. Read more about the Greenest City Neighbourhood Grants [PDF] and download the application [DOC].

Learn more about the Greenest City goals:

By Hilary Henegar Published: March 30, 2011


Real Estate Deal Finders can be Hired!

March 30, 2011


Below, is an article from todays Vancouver Sun, about some of the positives to working with a Mortgage Broker. It is the first step, and  'prerequisite' to working together with me as your Real Estate Agent, to chat with a Mortage Broker. I have many fantastic Brokers that I refer people to, and I have never had anything but huge hugs, and many thanks for setting up prospective buyers with this CRUCIAL advisor. Biggest things to take away from all of this: 1) Mortgage Brokers shop for the best rate/plan that you can afford. They do not work with one bank, they work with many many banks and lenders. 2) You do not pay a mortgage broker. The Lender you choose, pays them for the 'connect' with you. What's not to love?

If you are thinking of taking the leap from renting to buying, and are unsure if you could qualify for a mortgage, write me a note or call me, and my partner and I will get you off to a great start!


Mortgage Specialists can guide novice buyers through the process of purchasing their first home…

Cheryl Hutton and Aaron Coates always thought getting a mortgage would be a challenge. But within 18 days of visiting a mortgage broker, they were able to close a deal on a new townhouse in Calgary without a hitch.

Now in their early 30s, both have careers in the theatre, something Hutton says has been a bit of a sticking point with banks. "In our industry, we never fit the paperwork guidelines for the banks. For some reason people don't think we pay our bills."

Although it was their first home purchase, Hutton says it was surprising how easy the whole process was once they had someone who could walk them through it. "He sat us down, told us what our options were, showed us that it was possible, and explained all the steps we needed to take. If it wasn't for him, we may not have made the leap."

Sorting through a mortgage process and negotiating rates can be overwhelming for first-time and seasoned home buyers alike. That's why people such as Hutton and Coates turn to brokers to do the legwork for them.

Yet mortgage brokers will tell you that a good portion of home buyers out there don't really understand that they do. "Part of the challenge we have in our world is that people aren't really sure what a mortgage broker is," says Gary Siegle, regional manager for Invis Inc., a mortgage brokerage firm in Calgary.

Brokers should not be confused with "rovers," mortgage specialists attached to a specific financial institution who visit customers outside of banking hours, he explains. "They only deal with that bank's product. A broker, however, is an intermediary whose job is to make a match between a lender and a borrower. We represent the individual, not the bank."

About 30 per cent of mortgages in Canada are done through a broker, according to Perry Quinton, vicepresident, marketing for Investor Education Fund, a Toronto-based, non-profit financial information service. "The reason more people don't know about them is because the banks are so visible. It's easy to gravitate to them when you have your savings accounts, credit cards and investments there already."

Going for the comfort factor could cost you however, she adds. "A broker has access to different lenders including banks, and can shop rates and features. A half-per-cent may not sound like much but that could make a difference of about $20,000 for a $250,000 mortgage amortized over 25 years. Any little bit helps."

Siegle confirms that shopping around can deliver significant savings. "Let's take today's average posted rate is 5.44 per cent and you get a point off that at your bank. So you think you just got a really great deal. But the vast majority of rates we deal with as brokers would be another 30 basis points lower -around 4.14 per cent. And if you look at preferred deals that don't offer features such as prepayment privileges, it can get as low as 3.89 per cent. That's another 25 basis points below what's generally available."

The reason for that is simple, he says. "We offer wholesale rates, banks offer retail."

For anyone considering a broker, Quinton advises people to do a bit of groundwork first if they have the time. "It helps to educate yourself about options and what you can afford. Look at all your living expenses, including student loans and credit card debt. Chances are you are understating those."

Another thing to look into is the different types of available mortgages and features, including interest rates, payment frequency, amortization, cash back programs, and the ability to make lump sum payments. "Knowing these things before you go in can save you a lot of money," she adds.

Any mortgage broker you choose should always meet the right licensing and education requirements, so be sure to check their registration.

If you're not completely prepared however, that shouldn't be a concern when working with a good mortgage broker, Siegle says. "After all, mortgages are pretty much all we do. So even if you come in cold, good brokers will walk you through the process and ask all sorts of questions. You just need to be prepared to answer them openly and honestly so they can get you the best deal possible."

Read more:

Top 25 grants and rebates for Buyers and Owners

March 16, 2011


I'm all about a good deal. You should be too, if you're taking part in a Real Estate Market like Vancouver's! Here are some fantastic ways to help get you on the right track…….

1. Home Buyers’ Plan

Qualifying home buyers can withdraw up to $25,000 (couples can withdraw up to $50,000) from their RRSPs for a down payment. Home buyers who have repaid their RRSP may be eligible to use the program a second time. Canada Revenue Agency Enter ‘Home Buyers’ Plan’ in the search box | 1.800.959.8287

2. GST Rebate on New Homes

New home buyers can apply for a rebate of the federal portion of the HST (the 5% GST) if the purchase price is less than $350,000. The rebate is up to 36% of the GST to a maximum rebate of $6,300. There is a proportional GST rebate for new homes costing between $350,000 and $450,000. Canada Revenue Agency Enter ‘RC4028’ in the search box | 1.800.959.8287

3. BC New Housing Rebate (HST)

Buyers of new or substantially renovated homes priced up to $525,000 are eligible for a rebate of 71.43% of the provincial portion (7%) of the 12% HST paid to a maximum rebate of $26,250. Homes priced at $525,000+ are eligible for a flat rebate of $26,250. | 1.800.959.8287

4. BC New Rental Housing Rebate (HST)

Landlords buying new or substantially renovated homes are eligible for a rebate of 71.43% of the provincial portion of the HST, up to $26,250 per unit. | 1.800.959.8287

5. BC Property Transfer Tax (PTT) First Time Home Buyers’ Program

Qualifying first-time buyers may be exempt from paying the PTT of 1% on the first $200,000 and 2% on the remainder of the purchase price of a home priced up to $425,000. There is a proportional exemption for homes priced up to $450,000. BC Ministry of Small Business and Revenue | 250.387.0604

6. First-Time Home Buyers’ Tax Credit (HBTC)

This federal non-refundable income tax credit is for qualifying buyers of detached, attached, apartment condominiums, mobile homes or shares in a cooperative housing corporation. The calculation: multiply the lowest personal income tax rate for the year (15% in 2010) x $5,000. For the 2010 tax year, the maximum credit is $750. Canada Revenue Agency | 1.800.959.8281

7. BC Home Owner Grant

Reduces school property taxes by up to $570 on properties with an assessed value up to $1,150,000. For 2011, the basic grant is reduced by $5 for each $1,000 of value over $1,150,000, and eliminated on homes assessed at $1,264,000. An additional grant reduces property tax by a further $275 for a total of $845 for seniors, veterans and the disabled. This is reduced by $5 for each $1,000 of assessed value over $1,150,000 and eliminated on homes assessed at $1,319,000+. BC Ministry of Small Business and Revenue or contact your municipal tax office.

8. BC Property Tax Deferment Programs

Property Tax Deferment Program for Seniors. Qualifying home owners aged 55+ may be eligible to defer property taxes.
Financial Hardship Property Tax Deferment Program. Qualifying low-income home owners may be eligible to defer property taxes.
Property Tax Deferment Program for Families with Children. Qualifying low income home owners who financially support children under age 18 may be eligible to defer property taxes.
BC Ministry of Small Business and and enter ‘Property tax deferment’ in the search box or contact your municipal tax office.

9. Canada Mortgage and Housing (CMHC) Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program (RRAP) Grants

This federal program provides financial aid to qualifying low-income home owners to repair substandard housing. Eligible repairs include heating, structural, electrical, plumbing and fire safety. Grants are available for seniors, persons with disabilities, owners of rental properties and owners creating secondary and garden suites. | 1.800.668.2642 | 604.873.7408

10. CMHC Mortgage Loan Insurance Premium Refund

Provides home buyers with CMHC mortgage insurance, a 10% premium refund and possible extended amortization without surcharge when buyers purchase an energy efficient mortgage or make energy saving renovations. | 604.731.5733

11. Energy Saving Mortgages

Financial institutions offer a range of mortgages to home buyers and owners who make their homes more energy efficient. For example, home owners who have a home energy audit within 90 days of receiving an RBC Energy Saver™ Mortgage, may qualify for a rebate of $300 to their RBC account. | 1.800.769.2511

12. Low Interest Renovation Loans

Financial institutions offer ‘green’ loans for home owners making energy efficient upgrades. Vancity’s Bright Ideas personal loan offers home owners up to $20,000 at prime + 1% for up to 10 years for ‘green’ renovations. RBC’s Energy Saver loan offers 1% off the interest rate for a fixed rate installment loan over $5,000 or a $100 renovation on a home energy audit on a fixed rate installment loan over $5,000. For information visit your financial institution. and and in the search box enter ‘energy saver loan’.

13. LiveSmart BC: Efficiency Incentive Program

Home owners improving the energy efficiency of their homes may qualify for cash incentives through this provincial program provided in partnership with Terasen Gas, BC Hydro, and FortisBC. Rebates are for energy efficient products which replace gas and oil furnaces, pumps, water heaters, wood stoves, insulation, windows, doors, skylights and more. The LiveSmart BC program also covers $150 of the cost of a home energy assessment, directly to the service | 1.866.430.8765

14. BC Residential Energy Credit

Home owners and residential landlords buying heating fuel receive a BC government point-of-sale rebate on utility bills equal to the provincial component of the HST. or go to Google and in the search box type in ‘Residential Energy Credit rebate program.’ It is the first item. | 1.877.388.4440

15. BC Hydro Appliance Rebates

Mail-in rebates of $25 – $50 for purchasers of ENERGY STAR clothes washers, refrigerators, dishwashers, or freezers until March 31, 2011, or when funding for the program is exhausted. | 1.800.224.9376

16. BC Hydro Fridge Buy-Back Program

This ongoing program rebates BC Hydro customers $30 to turn in spare fridges in working condition. | 604.881.4357

17. BC Hydro Windows Rebate Program

Pay no HST when you buy ENERGY STAR high-performance windows and doors. This offer is available until March 31, 2011. | 604.759.2759 for a free in-home estimate.

18. BC Hydro Mail-in Rebates/Savings Coupons

To save energy, BC Hydro offers rebates including 10 % off an ENERGY STAR cordless phone. Check for new offers and for | 1.800.224.9376

19. Fortis BC (formerly Terasen Gas) Rebate Program

A range of rebates for home owners include a $50 rebate for upgrading a water heater, $150 rebate on an Ener-Choice fireplace (both good until March 31, 2011) and a $1,000 rebate for switching to natural gas (from oil or propane) and installing an ENERGY STAR heating system (good until February 29, 2012). | 1.888.224.2710

20. Fortis BC (formerly Terasen Gas) Efficient Boiler Program

For commercial buildings, provides a cash rebate of up to 75% of the purchase price of an energy efficient boiler, for new construction or retrofits. | 1.888.477.0777

21. City of Vancouver Solar Homes Pilot

This rebate of $3,000 (about 50% of the cost) is for a Vancouver home owner upgrading to a solar hot water system from a gas system. Offered by the City of Vancouver, SolarBC, Terasen Gas and Offsetters on a first come, first served basis until March 2011 or until the City reaches its target of 30 solar homes. | 604.873.7748

22. City of Vancouver Rain Barrel Subsidy Program

The City of Vancouver provides a subsidy of 50% of the cost of a rain barrel for Vancouver residents. With the subsidy, the rain barrel costs $75. Buy your rain barrel at the Transfer Station at 377 W. North Kent Ave., Vancouver, BC. Limit of two per resident. Bring proof of residency. and in the search box enter ‘rain barrel program.’ 604.736.2250. Other municipalities have similar offers.

23. Vancity Green Building Grant

In partnership with the Real Estate Foundation of BC, Vancity provides grants up to $50,000 each to qualifying charities, not-for-profit organizations and co-operatives for projects which focus on building renovations/retrofits, regulatory changes that advance green building development, and education to increase the use of practical green building strategies. GreenBuildingGrant | 604.877.7000

24. Local Government Water Conservation Incentives

Your municipality may provide grants and incentives to residents to help save water. For example, the City of Coquitlam offers residents a $100 rebate and the City of North Vancouver, District of North Vancouver, and District of West Vancouver offer a $50 rebate when residents install a low-flush toilet. Visit your municipality’s website and enter ‘toilet rebate’ to see if there is a program.

25. Local Government Water Meter Programs

Your municipality may provide a program for voluntary water metering, so that you pay only for the amount of water that you use. Delta, Richmond and Surrey have programs and other municipalities may soon follow. Visit your municipality’s website and enter ‘water meter’ to find out if there is a program.

Renting vs Buying

February 1, 2011

Turning to parents for new-home advice not always smart!

January 25, 2011

The Most Expensive Homes Currently Available in Vancouver

January 20, 2011
Now and again I can't help but dream……….

I spend much of my day scanning through the Realtor's MLS system for my buyer clients…

The Vancouver Sun summed it up nicely with some currently listed properties that we can all drool over. I play the lottery, do you?

Vancouver’s Housing Market – Decade in Review

January 20, 2011
Great Video from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver…