Archive for August, 2006

TV Towers & the CBC building new development to get plaza

Tuesday, August 29th, 2006

Officials say the project will result in an integration of studios and resources, but will not produce staff reductions

Brian Morton
Sun

STUART DAVIS/VANCOUVER SUN Project manager Ken Golemba in the plaza in front of the CBC Building in downtown Vancouver. The site will be renovated by 2009.

Vancouver’s downtown CBC building is undergoing a full-scale renovation that will add a multi-use plaza, community space for a non-profit organization, and a more “collaborative working environment” for journalists.

The project, which is estimated to cost between $34 million and $38 million, is being funded through the sale of the property’s parking lot to a real estate development company, which will build condos on the site.

Although the project will result in an integration of studios and resources, staff reductions are not anticipated, project manager Ken Golemba, the CBC’s former operations manager for English television, said in an interview.

“No, that’s certainly not planned,” said Golemba. “The idea of integration is to make better use of the resources.”

Golemba also said the project was not precipitated by staff cutbacks over the past decade, which had left empty space in the CBC-owned building.

“This has nothing to do with any staff reductions. The building is over 32 years old and is in need of renovation.

“As we’ve evolved, the building has become a maze of interior walls, and it’s difficult to move people around. We’re trying to get four newsrooms working closer together.”

The redevelopment of the concrete structure at Georgia and Hamilton, which is home to the CBC’s second-largest English broadcasting centre, is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2009.

Key changes include:

n An enclosed public promenade for passersby to enjoy an “interactive space” and observe the CBC newsroom in action.

n A multi-use plaza featuring a 372-square-metre community performance space, outdoor stage, courtyard and water garden.

n A new newsroom and state-of-the-art production centre integrating studios and all of CBC/Radio Canada’s news and current affairs journalists. Large areas will be visible to the public, with one of the studios opening directly onto the plaza for live news coverage.

n About 780 square metres of community space to house a yet-unnamed non-profit cultural organization.

Golemba said the project is being funded by the sale of the building’s parking lot to Concord Pacific, which plans to build two condominium towers there. Parking will be moved underground.

Work on the condo towers is expected to commence next week.

The non-profit organizations will not pay rent to the CBC, just their own operating expenses.

Golemba said the integrated news room model is already in use in Edmonton and Ottawa.

“This is going to be a very open public space to welcome our community,” he said. “A lot of people don’t know what goes on in this building. You [will be able to] peer right into the newsroom and see it operating.”

Golemba said the CBC in Vancouver has not experienced any major staff reductions since 1997, when 30 to 50 people were let go. “Since then, we’ve gained new programs, and gained a number of staff back.”

Jim Thompson, spokesman for Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, a non-profit group advocating for more and better Canadian programming, said in an interview that he wasn’t aware of the Vancouver redevelopment, but fears there might be pressure to reduce staffing as the news operations are coordinated.

“We would hope there would be no further cutbacks, although the CBC is under tremendous financial pressures,” he said. “And the plans for the CBC by the current government are completely unknown.”

A total of 434 people work in the building, Golemba said.

© The Vancouver Sun 2006

 

Google and eBay strike a deal for ‘click-to-call’ ads outside the U.S.

Tuesday, August 29th, 2006

Alliance aims to satisfy shoppers’ demand for service in a hurry

Lisa Leff
Sun

SAN FRANCISCO – In a deal between two of the Internet’s most prominent properties, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) will begin selling advertising for Web auctioneer eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) outside the United States and help buyers quickly ring an online merchant to do business.

The arrangement announced Monday promises to introduce “click-to-call” website technology to a broader audience and potentially speed its adoption as a means of more quickly connecting online consumers with advertisers. It will allow potential buyers to call eBay merchants or Google advertisers by clicking a link on a Web page.

“We have a chance to create a whole new way for buyers and sellers to connect online and to create what we hope will be a significant revenue stream for both eBay and Google,” eBay Inc. chief executive Meg Whitman said in an interview Sunday night.

Google Inc. CEO Eric Schmidt said the agreement with eBay is “likely to go on for many years,” but he would not disclose the terms of the deal or what it might mean for the Mountain View-based search engine’s bottom line. Whitman said eBay does not expect the partnership to affect its financial performance this year or next.

Under the partnership, Google will become the exclusive provider of text advertising on eBay outside the United States. In May, eBay announced a deal with the No. 2 Internet search engine, Yahoo Inc., to serve all its domestic advertising.

Whitman said eBay decided to give Google’s advertisers access to its international auction sites after choosing Yahoo for its domestic advertising because of the competing Internet search engines’ respective strengths and how they mesh with eBay’s assets.

The deal represents the latest advertising win for Google. Earlier this month, News Corp. agreed to make Google the exclusive search partner for most of its sites, including the popular online hangout MySpace.com. Late last year, Time Warner Inc.’s AOL agreed to sell a five-per-cent stake to Google in a $1-billion-US deal that extends and deepens the ties between the two.

The click-to-call component of the new alliance calls for the two Silicon Valley companies to work together on developing a service that lets Web surfers place telephone calls through their computers or handheld devices when they click on a link in an Internet ad.

Its advocates, including some merchants who have tried it, say customers who call are ready to buy and aren’t just browsing the Internet; thus, search engines can charge more — $2 to $10 or even more per call, compared with less than $1 per click with traditional search ads.

Google already has been testing a program in which users click on a phone icon and type their number into a box. Google then dials the user, who hears ringing until the merchant answers.

Schmidt and Whitman said they would begin testing some of their joint services early next year.

Last year, eBay bought the Internet phone service Skype. Google has its own messaging and Internet-based telephone service, Google Talk. Both services will be used in the partnership, though details were not disclosed. EBay does plan to rely on Google’s international presence to build a worldwide market for Skype.

Promoting “click-to-call” advertising was also part of the deal eBay announced with Yahoo in May. Yahoo also has been testing the concept.

San Jose-based eBay also owns PayPal, an online payment service, and when the company joined advertising forces with Yahoo, PayPal became the preferred payment provider for purchases made on Yahoo.

Although eBay already was one of Google’s biggest advertisers, the search engine launched a rival online payment service to PayPal in June. Schmidt said the overlapping services and partnerships are all part of industry’s effort to respond to tech-savvy shoppers who want service in a hurry.

Google shares jumped $7.69 to $380.95 at close of trading on Monday, while eBay rose $0.49 to $25.79.

© The Vancouver Sun 2006

 

Assignment GST & PPT taxes – Questions & Answers

Monday, August 28th, 2006

Other


INDUSTRY UPDATE

Bottom line is that there is a rebate of 36% of the GST for properties up to $350,000 whether it is owner occupied or rented. The rebate reduces as the purchase increases and there is no rebate on properties over $450,000. The rebate is available for both owner occupied and tenant occupied properties (rental rebate is not available if owner is entitled to claim an input tax credit which means the developer who rents units is not entitled to the rebate). To claim the rental rebate the owner must have entered into a lease agreement.

The “transitional rebate” applies to transactions where the contract was entered into prior to May 3, 2006. In this situation you pay the 7% on closing and then claim the 1% rebate. Most developer will allow you to claim the new housing rebate as part of closing, that is you only pay the “net” GST but they require payment based on 7% less rebate and the buyer claims the transitional rebate after closing. If you are leasing the developer will require payment of the full GST and the owner then claims the rebate directly.

Quiz Time: I have written an assignment agreement on an existing new development contract. The contract price with the developer is $500,000.00 + GST and the assignment price is $700,000. On which price does my client (the assignee) pay GST? On which price is the Property Transfer Tax payable on?
 

The price on which GST is payable is the original price on the contract between the developer and the buyer who is now the assignor (the person who is assigning the contract). So in this case GST would be paid on the $500,000. The GST department is aware of this but have not to date addressed it with any changes. This was confirmed to me by Richard Bell, Bell Alliance one of today’s meeting sponsors. Our BC government was more on top of the revenue opportunity and they changed the rules so that they now apply PTT (Property Transfer Tax) to the price on the assignment contract which in this case is $700,000. That means the Assignee (the person taking over the contract from the Assignor) will pay PTT on $200,000.00 more than would have been paid on the original contract of $500,000. It is very important as the licensee in these contracts that you make the buyer fully aware of the GST and PST considerations. They should confirm the exact amounts with their conveying Notary or Lawyer. To be wrong in this area can have some rather serious consequences to the licensee should a complaint arise. We also advise that you leave the calculations to the clients Notary/Lawyer as this is a part of their closing duties; to calculate, collect and submit both of these taxes to the BC and Federal revenue agencies. The duty of the licensee is to make the client aware of the applicable taxes and then point them to the qualified third party for the details before they remove their subjects.

Richard Bell, Partner
Bell Alliance, Lawyers & Notaries Public,
Suite 610, 1385 West 8th Avenue,
Vancouver, B.C., V6H 3V9
604-873-8723 Ext 101 (Tel)
778-998-3055 (Cell)
604-873-8785 (Fax>
[email protected]
www.bellalliance.ca

Assignment Holdback Info for Non resident Sellers


Three options regarding releasing assignment amount

With regards to the release of the Assignment Amount to the Assignor here is a brief explanation of the three options available:

  • Option A – Protects the Assignee the most.  The funds stay in trust until the project is complete.  Commission is payable on completion.
  • Option B – Protects the Assignor.  Once the deal is firm, the Assignment Amount is released and commission is payable.  This option makes sense if the project is well under way and committed by the developer.  
  • Option C – The middle ground.  Once the deal is firm, the Assignor gets back their deposit. The balance of the Assignment Amount is held in trust and released to the Assignor upon completion (and commission is payable at this time).  If the transfer of the property at the Land Title Office does not happen by the latest date specified in the Contract, the Assignee at their option, may terminate the Assignment Agreement and have the Assignment Amount released to them

Assignment contract Q&A

Since the latest standard forms were released, several questions have been raised. These answers were provided by Ed Wilson, of Lawson Lundell LLP, who donated more than 60 pro-bono hours on this project. Ed has been the Canadian Bar Association , BC Branch’s representative on BCREAs Standard Forms Committee for the past ten years.

Q. Why do Clause 5.16 of the new Assignment of Contract of Purchase and Sale (ACPS) (New Development) and Clause 4.13 of the ACPS (Non-Developer) provide that the Assignor will pay GST?

A. That section provides:

GST: The Assignment Amount is inclusive of any GST payable with respect to the Assignment Agreement, and the Assignor shall remit any GST payable.

Clauses 5.16 and 4.13 address the GST payable under the ACPS—not the GST payable under the original Contract of Purchase and Sale. When an assignee assigns a Contract and charges an Assignment Amount (the profit or flip fee), GST may be payable on the Assignment Amount.

Whether GST is payable on the Assignment Amount largely depends on the nature and intention of the Assignor. If this is an isolated transaction, and the Assignor entered into the Contract of Purchase and Sale intending to close on the transaction, the Assignment Amount is probably not subject to GST. If the Assignor entered into the Contract with the intention to flip the Contract, then the Assignment Amount is subject to GST. 

Since whether the Assignment Amount is subject to GST depends on the nature and intention of the Assignor, the ACPS is structured to provide that the Assignment Amount includes GST. If the ACPS is subject to GST, the Assignor will have to remit the GST. For example, an Assignment Amount of $50,000 includes GST of approximately $3,000, so the profit is $47,000. If not subject to GST, the entire $50,000 is profit.

In any event, the Assignee has paid to the Assignor GST payable and, under the Excise Tax Act, the Assignor is responsible to remit the GST to the Canada Revenue Agency. As the Assignee has paid the GST to the Assignor (who is liable to remit it to the Canada Revenue Agency), the Assignee has no further liability with respect to the GST. 

Q. Who remits the GST? 

A. If the assignment is subject to GST, except in certain uncommon situations, the Assignor will have to remit the GST to the Canada Revenue Agency. Therefore, any Assignor has to consider whether the assignment is subject to GST and they should get legal or accounting advice in this regard (see Clause 5.22 (New Development) and Clause 4.19 (Non-Developer). If the assignment is subject to GST, the Assignor (or their legal or accounting advisors, if so retained) will have to complete the appropriate forms and remit the GST to the Canada Revenue Agency.

If the assignment is not subject to GST, then there is no GST to remit and no form to complete.

If the Assignor wants to net a specific amount from an assignment that is subject to GST, they will have to ensure that the Assignment Amount includes a sum to cover the GST.  For example, if the Assignor wants to net $50,000 after paying the GST, the Assignment Amount will have to be increased to $53,000.

It should be noted that Clauses 5.16 and 4.13 have nothing to do with the GST under the original Contract. If the Contract is for a new home, that Contract is subject to GST, which is paid on closing. The GST under that Contract is forwarded to the developer on closing and the developer remits the GST to the Canada Revenue Agency. 

Q. Shouldnt Clause 5.2 of the ACPS (New Development), which provides that the Deposit will be held in trust pursuant to the Real Estate Services Act (RESA), instead refer to the Real Estate Development Marketing Act (REDMA), since it deals with deposits that relate to projects over five units?

A. The Deposit referred to in Clause 5.2 is the Deposit under the Assignment Agreement, not the deposit under the Contract. For example, a Contract to buy a $500,000 unit could provide that the deposit of $50,000 is to be paid to a lawyer in trust. Depending on the nature of the project, it may be subject to REDMA, in which case the lawyer would hold the deposit on behalf of the developer subject to the terms of REDMA. If the deposit was paid to a REALTOR®, the REALTOR&! reg; would hold it subject to the provisions of REDMA, but also subject to the provisions of RESA (i.e., as a stakeholder).

In the case of the deposit with respect to the Assignment (e.g., the Assignment Amount is $100,000, but a deposit of $10,000 is paid until the Assignee removes his subject when he increased it to the full $100,000), the REALTOR® would hold that deposit pursuant to RESA (i.e., as a stakeholder), not pursuant to REDMA.

Q. What is a deposit (protection) contract?

A. The Deposit PROTECTION Contract referred to in Clause 2 of the ACPS (New Development) is provided for under REDMA (see s. 19(1)). It allows the developer to make use of the deposits placed by purchasers in new projects.

Under REDMA, the deposit normally must be held by a lawyer, notary or REALTOR® until titles are raised (see s. 18(1) of REDMA). However, if a deposit protection contract is in place, the deposits may be released to the developer to fund the construction.

A deposit protection contract is a contract between the developer and an insurance company, wherein the insurance company agrees to refund the deposits to the purchasers if the developer fails to complete the project. The deposits are paid as usual into a lawyers or REALTOR®s trust account, and the insurance company issues a policy in favour of the original purchaser. As construction proceeds, the lawyer or REALTOR® holding the deposit is authorized by the insurance company to release ! portions of the deposits in draws to the developer to fund construction. This significantly reduces the developers cost of borrowing.

If the original Contract is assigned as contemplated by the ACPS, the insurance company will insist on having a release signed by the original purchaser and the developer, stating that the original purchaser releases the insurance company of all liability under the deposit protection policy and they have assigned their interest in the deposit monies to the Assignee. If the insurance company does not get the release, the closings may be held up.

The question (Is a deposit protection contract in place?) is asked on the ACPS to flag the issue for the parties. If the answer is yes, the REALTOR® should get the form of release from the insurance company (the name of the insurance company will be in the REDMA Disclosure Statement), so the REALTOR® can have it signed when the ACPS is firm.

Edward L. Wilson
Lawson Lundell LLP, Partner
Suite 1600 Cathedral Place
925 West Georgia Street
Vancouver, British Columbia
V6C 3L2

Phone: 604.631.9148
Facsimile: 604.669.1620

Tips on buying a condo assignment

Other

Monday, July, 21, 2008

The B.C. office of the superintendent of Real Estate has issued an updated information bulletin for those buying assignments for a new condo or other residential property.

The alert is provided to consumers for information purposes only. It is important for purchasers to obtain appropriate professional real esate and legal advice prior to entering into an assignment agreement.

Things to consider before buying an assignment:

- Consider whether an assignment is permitted under the purchase contract. Some developers do not permit assignments. Others may require the developer’s consent and a substantial assignment fee;

- Review the developer’s Disclosure Statement and thoroughly review all documents related to the sale;

- Obtain advice from a lawyer and/or real estate professional prior to entering into an assignment contract;

- Consider all your options, such as whether the deposit and “lift” will be paid to the assignor upon signing the agreement or held in trust until some later date. Generally, it is preferable from the assignee’s perspective if money is released to the assignor only after the unit is built and title is being transferred; and

- Confirm in the assignment agreement how the assignor will meet all of the requirements for a valid assignment, and set out what will happen if there is ony breach of the assignment agreement or the pre-sale contract.

For further information on real estate transactions and contact information for government offices and industry associations, visit www.fic.gov.bc.ca; or the Homeowner Protection Office website at www.hpo.bc.ca.



[email protected]

GST/HST New Housing Rebate
GST/HST New Residential Rental Property Rebate
GST/HST Transitional Rebate Application 

The fallacy of building homes to imposed standards

Monday, August 28th, 2006

William Watson
Sun

A CanWest News Service story recently reported on construction industry concerns that new Kyoto-inspired changes in national building codes could raise the price of new homes by as much as $15,000.

It quoted the president of the Ontario Home Builders Association: “We will basically have to unlearn everything we’ve learned over the last 30 years and retrain virtually our [entire] industry workforce to build houses to a higher energy-efficiency standard.”

For a whole industry to unlearn and re-learn everything it knows could be very expensive.

Even so, a new report from the federal government, the Canadian Gas Association and the Canadian Electricity Association said aggressive new regulation probably wouldn’t cut the growth of energy demand by more than half.

Other people told CanWest the cost of new energy-efficiency codes wouldn’t be as high as feared.

Once everyone gets used to the change, there are economies of scale. A regulatory change in Quebec a few years ago supposedly added only $3,000 to the price of a home.

And, said the man from the Sierra Club, it’s all a matter of balancing costs and returns: “It’s a question of whether you pay a bit more at the beginning and a lot less [in energy costs] every month, or whether you pay less at the beginning and a lot more every month.”

Duh? Well, how stupid are we?

If building a better-insulated home pays back in reduced energy bills, real estate agents should be able to explain that to prospective buyers. When thousands of our own dollars are involved, maybe tens of thousands over the life of a home, even the most innumerate among us generally is able to noodle around a calculator and figure out what’s best for the pocketbook.

And if making more environmentally efficient buildings can put cash dollars in buyers’ pockets, you’d think builders would be falling all over themselves to learn new tricks without having to be frog-marched into it by government regulations. They’re in the business of attracting customers, after all.

Which raises the deeper policy question of why we need building codes in the first place.

If it’s the 19th century and you’re living cheek by jowl with your neighbours in wooden row housing, maybe you want to make sure the guy half a mile down the road doesn’t start a conflagration that ends up burning your hovel down. Suing him after the fact — or more likely his estate — won’t do you much good.

But in the 21st century, even fire safety codes are of questionable value in many places.

When single-family dwellings are separated by spacious backyards, fires don’t tend to spread. Build or buy yourself a fire-prone house and you alone are the likely victim.

Yet, as explained on a helpful federal government website on “Canada’s code development system,” we now have national plumbing, farm building, housing, safety, accessibility, environmental and fire codes, though because all these are provincial responsibilities, they’re only law if provinces adopt them.

The history of codes suggests they arose because a multiplicity of municipal codes made it difficult for “designers, product manufacturers and contractors to conduct business in more than one region.”

The feds don’t say so, but local regs may have acted as a protectionist device for local suppliers; only they were intimately familiar with the rules, having probably helped write them.

Yes, if you do insist on legislating how things must be done, it may be very hard for producers to comply with multiple local codes. One code may therefore be better than many.

But zero codes may be better still. If you don’t have any codes, industry standards are bound to emerge as best practices spread by word of mouth and consumer demand.

If local governments don’t insist and builders do things differently from town to town and city to city, they probably won’t.

© The Vancouver Sun 2006

Granville Island driving the locals away

Monday, August 28th, 2006

Robert Forbes
Sun

Granville Island is a unique component of the Vancouver landscape.

Its success is due to the foresight of the governments and Vancouver citizens of the 1970s and a perfect location at the centre of a thriving community on the north and south sides of False Creek.

Granville Island’s continued success depends on its local customers. So it is imperative that the elements that drive customer allegiance be retained.

We are, however, dealing with a government bureaucracy. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., the Island landlord, used to have an open office where anyone could walk in to talk to the Island manager. CMHC people were freely available and enthusiastically participated in the operation.

Today there are layers of CMHC personnel running interference for the top brass. Ottawa is directing the marketing and promotion plans for the Island from afar.

Key long-time Island CMHC personnel are leaving because they are fed up with the new structure and increased influence from Ottawa.

We are seeing key long-time Island tenants leave out of frustration. They are being replaced by businesses catering to tourists rather than local customers.

The market’s prices used to be competitive. They are now so far out of line that those of us who used to shop daily at the Island market now drop by just once a week. This applies especially to vegetable and dairy products.

There is not-so-subtle pressure on all Island retail tenants to present a slicker image for the tourists, especially evident at lease renewal times.

Note that it is the local customer who keeps the market profitable. The tourists buy very little there.

The more it caters to the tourists the less likely we as customers will want to face the crush to buy our daily groceries.

Robert Forbes lives in Vancouver.

© The Vancouver Sun 2006

 

Owning a cottage is an all-time Canadian dream

Saturday, August 26th, 2006

Karen Turner
Sun

A shed is a convenient storage spot for pool accessories and garden tools. Photograph by : Julie Oliver, CanWest News Service

Jackson, 11, Avery, 6, and Nolan, 10, leap into the family’s new salt-water swimming pool — their parents’ affordable, easy maintenance alternative to a family cottage. Photograph by : Julie Oliver, CanWest News Service

Owning a cottage is an all-time Canadian dream. A cabin in the woods on the fringe of a quiet lake, where swimming off the dock and toasting marshmallows over an open fire are favourite summer pastimes, offers a relaxing escape from hectic urban life.

It’s a place where breakfasts are big, suppers are late and the only fashion decision you need to make is whether to wear a bikini or a one-piece to the beach.

While our cottage lacks a sandy waterfront, its split-second commute and easy access to pristine salt water are hard to beat. The best part is that our dream retreat only cost us $11,000 and a healthy helping of sweat equity.

This spring, my husband Anthony Clayton and I decided to turn our backyard into a suburban cottage by installing an above-ground swimming pool in the corner of our lot.

Years ago, before there were four sons to feed and shuttle from soccer fields to swimming lessons, we talked about investing in a recreational property where we could spend summer weekends splashing around in the water and dining on barbecued steaks and burgers.

But our cottage dream never got any further than scouting the real estate listings.

Talk is cheap, but waterfront properties aren’t.

Besides the hefty price tag, there’s also the upkeep of two properties to consider and the lost time spent loading and unloading the van for the commute back and forth from the city. A stay-at-home cottage, we had decided, was our best solution.

Though in-ground swimming pools are beautiful, they cost about four to five times more than an above-ground system, not including landscaping, lighting and decking. That expense, as well as the long-term commitment to a fixture in our backyard, was not what we wanted.

Having just moved into our four-bedroom house last August, budget played a key role in our decision-making. And with a large deck already jutting off the back of the house and a yard fully hedged with 30-year-old cedars offering maximum privacy, an above-ground pool plunked into the back corner of the yard was a perfect fit.

We started our search in March, comparison shopping 21-foot round, all-resin pools.

Having grown up with a conventional chlorine pool, my husband insisted on buying a saltwater system, which is not only easier on the eyes and skin, but doesn’t require mixing a lot of toxic chemicals to keep algae and bacteria at bay.

By shopping early, we lucked out and saved ourselves more than $500 on a saltwater conversion kit on sale for $450. More dickering ensued and we shaved another $100 off the cost of having a light installed inside the pool for night-time swimming.

With the ladder, pool-cleaning equipment and filter and pump, our new pool cost just under $5,700 installed.

Next came the levelling of the ground where the pool would sit.

This would have cost several hundred dollars given the slope of our yard. By doing the digging ourselves, we saved another $400.

Many more blisters were earned from lugging river rock to form a wide border around the base of the pool. Easy maintenance was our objective, so we skirted the pool with landscape tarp topped with coloured pebbles to avoid having to mow unwanted grass and weeds.

I put my novice green thumb to good use and planted beds of bushy ferns, black-eyed Susans and hardy hostas near the entrance of our yard and next to the new garden shed to camouflage the sides of the pool. Screens of lattice provide a graphic backdrop to the greenery and hide the clunky pump and filter.

They also keep the boys from darting through the gardens to retrieve wayward balls and overboard pool noodles.

Of course, no cottage would be complete without a dock to jump off or sit on with your feet dangling in the cool water.

To connect our pool to the existing wood deck, my husband built a raised extension out of pressure-treated lumber that follows the curve of the pool. The “dock” floats just above the pool lip, offering enough spring for the boys to do perfect cannonballs into the water at full sprint.

We may not have loons bobbing past our dock, or white sand for building castles, but our cottage in the city is private, convenient and ultra-relaxing. And family and friends are always welcome.

LESSONS LEARNED

- Shop early to secure the best installation date so you can start enjoying your pool sooner rather than later.

- When you pay to have a pool installed, it doesn’t include the electrical connection or filling the pool with water. Budget at least $400 for these additional expenses.

- Be sure to apply for your pool permit as soon as possible, because the pool can’t be installed until the permit is approved and in hand.

- Spend the extra money (about $200) on a pool light because it allows you to safely use the pool after dark and provides a moody backdrop for evening outdoor parties.

- A pool heater is a wise investment to maximize your swimming season. A gas heater for a 21-foot pool starts at about $1,000, about double the cost of an electric heater.

© The Vancouver Sun 2006

 

Tourists becoming full-time residents & have sustained Whistler & Kelowna

Saturday, August 26th, 2006

LIFESTYLE I They are changing the makeup of resort towns, study says

Michael Kane
Sun

Tourists who come to play and then go away have sustained B.C. towns like Whistler, Kelowna and Qualicum Beach for decades.

Now some tourists are becoming year-round residents and changing the makeup of resort communities, according to preliminary findings of a two-year study by researchers at Simon Fraser University.

It’s an “amenity-driven tourist migration” that’s just begun but will spread if Canada follows the trail blazed by the money-drenched ski resort of Vail, Colo., said Peter Williams, director of SFU’s centre for tourism policy and research.

It’s not only early retirees but also a lifestyle choice for another group of middle-agers who can work anywhere thanks to technology.

That means greater housing demand and higher prices. It also spawns upscale retail services that may be beyond the reach of average wage earners while straining services like roads, health care and garbage removal.

In some cases, professionals such as teachers and accountants can no longer afford to live in the communities where they work.

“I’ve heard it said that the filthy rich are pushing out the wealthy,” Williams said in an interview Friday.

“It’s a two-sided coin because the migration also provides work for locals. We’re finding that the people who come are more apt to spend money locally than the locals because they are trying to become locals.

“It’s a paradox because on the one side you have them coming in and creating jobs and on the other side you have them displacing people.”

In Whistler, town councillor Tim Wake said he has noticed the trend of tourists becoming year-round residents. The resort’s housing shortage is exacerbated by large numbers of second-home owners as well as young people coming for a year or two and then deciding to stay.

In Kelowna, the high-tech industry is attracting young migrants from places like California, Asia and Ontario, but the Alberta oil executives driving the area’s recreational property boom aren’t likely to become year-round residents until they retire, said Elton Ash, regional executive vice-president for Re/Max Western Canada.

“There is some telecommuting but it is not a huge segment of the market,” Ash said. “If you are in the petrochemical business, it doesn’t work until you retire.”

Williams and his researchers are six months into their study which seeks first to identify the migrants and then figure out how they engage in the community and what that does to the locals.

The ritzy Colorado communities of Steamboat Springs and Vail are included because they have incubated trends like the so-called “trustafarians” who live on trust funds provided by their baby boomer parents and seek safe and enjoyable places to raise their own children.

There is also the phenomenon of affluent middle-agers “playing at work” by establishing retail businesses like art galleries and bistros that allow them to become part of the community while making the community more upscale, said Ottawa-born Williams who describes himself as “the first baby boomer” because he turned 60 in July.

“You get a different retail mix with more on the arts, cultural and health care/wellness side of things. Even the hardware stores begin to change while some of the traditional businesses fall off. If there was a diner it becomes a period art deco diner or has some kind of theme.”

© The Vancouver Sun 2006

 

US close to edge on recession – can have ripple effects in Canada

Saturday, August 26th, 2006

ECONOMY I Canada would need lower taxes and interest rates, bank economist says

Eric Beauchesne
Sun

OTTAWA — The odds of a U.S. recession have increased dramatically, a Canadian bank economist is warning.

And if the U.S. does see a prolonged period of negative growth, it would require a shift in policies by governments and the Bank of Canada to keep the Canadian economy from slipping into a recession, too, the National Bank of Canada’s chief economist said Friday.

That would require income tax cuts by the federal and other levels of government and interest rate cuts by the Bank of Canada, Clement Gignac said in an interview after the bank announced the odds of a U.S. recession have nearly doubled to 40 per cent from the 25 per cent it estimated in the spring.

Its announcement came in the wake of further evidence this past week the U.S. housing market is going from boom to bust, including a much steeper-than-expected drop in home sales and a surge in the inventory of unsold homes on the market.

“We have long held the view that a bursting of the U.S. housing bubble would be bearish for the U.S. economy,” the bank said in a statement issued at week’s end.

It’s only a matter of time before the surge in inventories leads to a nationwide decline in home prices that will erode personal wealth at a time when energy bills and debt obligations have hit record highs and that in turn will force consumers to cut spending and rebuild their savings, it said.

“Against this backdrop, we have decided to raise the odds of a U.S. hard landing,” it said.

That means a recession of two straight quarters “or worse” of shrinking economic activity, Gignac noted. The odds are still a bit greater the U.S. will avoid a recession, but “we are close to the edge.”

Patricia Croft, chief economist with Phillips, Hager and North Investment Management Ltd., agreed the slump in the U.S. housing market is increasing the risks of a U.S. recession, which would sink Canada’s economy as well.

“It’s the single biggest risk to the U.S. economy and . . . we haven’t seen the bottom yet,” she said. “There may be a bit of a lag but if the U.S. goes down we’re going down with them.”

Gignac agreed that normally a U.S. recession would drag Canada’s economy down with it, noting one-third of Canadian economic activity is from trade, more than 80 per cent of which is with the U.S.

But Canada might be able to escape with merely a slowdown rather than an outright recession, he added.

Despite some hot spots, Canada’s housing market never really overheated, so there is no Canadian housing bubble to burst, Gignac said. And the Western provinces, especially, are booming, which will also help buoy the national economy.

But to limit the damage of a U.S. recession to the Canadian economy, he said the federal governments and the Bank of Canada will have to shift to a “much more aggressive expansionist policy.”

And they are in a position to do that, he said, noting that unlike other industrial countries, governments here are in a budget surplus position and can afford to cut income taxes.

“We are in the best position in five decades to deal with a U.S. recession . . . if the monetary and fiscal authorities react promptly,” Gignac said.

In fact, Canada avoided being dragged down by the last U.S. recession at the start of this decade thanks in large part to the economic stimulus from the former Liberal government’s $100-billion five-year tax cut package.

However, in its first budget earlier this year the Conservative government, while cutting the GST, raised income taxes.

Some other economists, meanwhile, remain optimistic about the outlook for both the U.S. and Canadian economies.

“We’re just basically moving from a high gear to a low gear, and then it will be onward and upward again,” said Scotiabank economist Aron Gampel.

© The Vancouver Sun 2006

 

Wireless mouse can learn lots of tricks

Saturday, August 26th, 2006

Sun

1) APPLE WIRELESS MIGHTY MOUSE, $79.

We’ve always found the freedom provided by a wireless mouse was the freedom to accidentally drop it in our wastepaper basket, but that’s just us. Others have been hankering after a wireless version the multi-button Mighty Mouse for some time now, wondering what has been taking Apple so long to cough it up. This Bluetooth 2.0- based mouse comes with four independently programmable buttons so that users can do all sorts of neat things like call up Dashboard or Spotlight instantly. It automatically switches to low power mode during inactivity.

2) SONY TAV-L1 ALL-IN-ONE HOME THEATRE SYSTEM, $4,000 US.

The Sony TAV-L1 might seen a touch pricey for what is essentially a 32-inch LCD flat panel HDTV in a motorized housing, but heck, it does look kind of neat and it has everything you’ll need for great sound. The components of the audio system, including an individual slot-loading DVD player, are housed in the motorized unit that, when you push smartly on that remote, lowers itself to reveal the 1366×768 resolution screen. Other elements of the audio system include two vibration cancelling sub-woofers and a digital amplifier.

3) PENTAX OPTIO S7, ABOUT $300 U.S., AVAILABLE IN SEPTEMBER.

Another one of those ideal trip cameras, although priced less than most in this category, the new Optio S7 comes with face recognition technology (it knows a face when it sees one) and ISOs automatically adjusted as high as 1600 so you can shoot in lower light or catch the action at sporting events. Comes with a 3x optical zoom, a 2.5-inch LCD monitor and 23 megs of internal memory just in case you run out of space on your digital card and absolutely have to have that final photo of the day.

4) STANLEY FATMAX TRULASER DISTANCE MEASURER TLM100, $160.

It’s one thing to sort of know how far away something is and quite another to know the distance for sure. This new device from Stanley has an accuracy at 100 feet of plus or minus 1/4 of an inch. It’s range is two to 100 feet. Now, if you have bigger places to measure then you might want to go to the TLM200 and TLM300 models ($400 and $550.00 respectively).

© The Vancouver Sun 2006

 

Network to link wireless world

Saturday, August 26th, 2006

TECHNOLOGY I Organizer says companies need to talk to each other

Gillian Shaw
Sun

Caroline Lewko, founder of the Wireless Innovation Network of British Columbia, is going global with a new organization that will bring together researchers, developers, companies and venture capitalists in an online network.

The new organization, the Wireless Industry Partnership or WIP, has its official launch Monday but already it counts 148 members on its roster, including the Ontario-based Ottawa Wireless Cluster to the MX Alliance in the United Kingdom.

Lewko said she came up with the idea of establishing a connector point for wireless businesses around the world when she found herself linking emerging companies with larger players and investment firms that are fuelling growth in the area.

“WIP is taking it to the next step,” she said. “I was finding there are more emerging companies that need to talk to each other; that need to be smarter about how they are building their technologies.

“They need those linkages to the investors and strategic partners.”

Members pay an annual fee of $300, which drops to $200 if they belong to one of WIP’s partner organizations such as WINBC. Lewko said her goal is to have 5,000 to 6,000 members participating in the network. The WIP connector portal is at www.wipconnector.com.

With wireless encompassing a wide range of technologies, from WiFi to 3G (third generation) to RFID (Radio Frequency Identification), Lewko said companies and individuals face a daunting task in finding the right help. They might need information on developing programs, deciphering regulatory issues or finding the right equipment.

“Wireless is a really complex issue,” she said. “It is overwhelming for a lot of people.

The Wireless Industry Partnership website links members through a ‘connector’ section that focuses on the strengths of each organization, detailing their markets, value chains and the types of transmission and technologies they use.

“It is a really different approach to networking and directories,” said Lewko.

Lewko points out that the wireless sector is one that faces huge growth. While the global telecommunications market is expected to grow in the single digits in the coming years, wireless is expected to enjoy double-digit growth. WIP points to Insight Research Corporation’s 2006 Telecommunications Industry Review, which predicts the wireless services market will approach $1 trillion US by 2010 and represent more than 55 per cent of the entire telecommunications sector.

© The Vancouver Sun 2006