Archive for June, 2008

Buying a home in U.S. could land you in a legal minefield

Monday, June 30th, 2008

Ray Turchansky
Province

EDMONTON — A recent column mentioning that the next nine months could be an optimal time to buy a house in the United States caused a couple of readers to warn of pitfalls.

RBC Asset Management senior portfolio manager Brad Willock suggested Canadians should thoroughly research U.S. properties, and noted that planeloads of Europeans are also arriving there with chequebooks in hand, anxious to take advantage of a depressed housing market.

Most people buying U.S. property find that if they do their due diligence they have a satisfactory experience. Many even marvel at how efficiently and cheaply they can hire people there to do renovations, ranging from landscaping to changing appliances.

But there have been problems with some U.S. purchases. People who made a down payment on a house in a planned development have had the developers walk away from the project as local market conditions or credit availability deteriorated. Some U.S. sellers have tried to change the deal at the last minute. And some Canadian owners of U.S. rental property have run afoul of U.S. labour laws.

Reader Michael from Vancouver warns that buyers of U.S. property should be aware of various laws and regulations.

He writes: “Let us assume you can find a renter with a solid income stream who will happily rent your new U.S. property and help you with your investment. Once you rent out this property, you must not be tempted to even so much as cut your grass or paint a fence as, according to federal law, you must hire a U.S. citizen to do any work on your income property. You will be in for a nasty surprise if you believe your unemployed or jealous neighbours will not contact the IRS.”

An Edmonton resident recently completed his purchase of a Phoenix property without any problem, but cautioned that if a person is trying to buy a home that has been foreclosed, there can be holdups at the bank while the i‘s are dotted and t’s crossed on the paperwork. He also noted that some U.S. developers, in a move to avoid speculators, have a clause in their contracts that if you go to sell within the first year or two of possession, the developer has the first right to buy the house.

And buyers are forewarned that America is the land of class-action lawsuits, where you could fall victim to one or be seduced into joining one. That being said, you will likely make your house purchase using an escrow agent rather than a lawyer.

If you are buying a U.S. house with the idea of moving there permanently, a good reference book is The Canadian in America, by Brian D. Wruk with Terry F. Ritchie. It discusses everything from Canada-U.S. differences in medical coverage to auto ownership to rules for pets. Among foods you’ll likely have to live without in the U.S. are Tim Hortons coffee and Boston Pizza.

© The Vancouver Province 2008

 

Mexico City -Its where the most warm-hearted people will charm you silly

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

Colourful, noisy and crazy, it

Las Vegas – Fewer tourists means more room for deals

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

Better buys in Sin City

KITTY BEAN YANCEY
Province

The latest addition to Mandalay Bay is the Komodo Dragon lounge.

LAS VEGAS Despite gloomy reports of tanking tourism and fuel-price flight cuts, Sin City is still dealing visitors a good hand.

Hotel occupancy fell 1.7 per cent from January through April vs. the same period in 2007, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority says. Gaming revenue was down 3.3 per cent in that period, and visitor spending has been on a downward trend.

But a building boom continues. The metro area will add about 20,000 more by the end of next year, Visitors Authority spokeswoman Erika Pope says. Flat visitation also means better buys for tourists.

Some notable Vegas trends:

Better hotel deals

Rates are “8 per cent to 11 per cent lower than last year,” VEGAS.com marketing vice president Bryan Allison says. “There are more value-adds, like food specials and gaming credits.” VEGAS.com has been offering deals such as $51.76 a night for two at Circus Circus in late July, including taxes and fees.

At the new Palms Place Hotel and Spa next to the Palms Casino Resort, a luxurious fully equipped studio in the glass tower where Jessica Simpson has a condo can go as low as $139 midweek. The Visitors Authority also has a full house of deals on its VisitLasVegas.com website.

Non-gaming lodgings

All but one of four hotels at the 67-acre CityCenter — a joint venture between MGM Mirage and Dubai World due by the end of 2009 — will be casino-less for visitors who hate walking through noisy gambling halls to reach rooms.

Adults-only party pools

They’re making a splash, especially with young visitors. The youth-friendly Hard Rock Hotel & Casino reports that revenues for Rehab, its popular Sunday pool party, increased 40 per cent from last year.

The new tops-optional adult pool at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino promises lots of eye candy.

Hi-tech high jinks and sexy fun

At the new Wet Republic adult pool at MGM Grand, cabanas come with Xbox gaming systems and flat-screen TVs and are served by waitresses in bikinis made to fit them via a special body-scan system.

The Rio’s just-opened iBar boasts a halfdozen tables with Microsoft Surface computer-screen-like tops, which patrons use to order drinks, play games — even flirt with strangers at adjoining tables via instant messages and shared photos.

CatHouse, a restaurant/lounge in the Luxor Hotel & Casino, has a bordello theme and features a lingerie-clad model primping at a dressing table. More G-rated is the Komodo Dragon, making its debut today at Mandalay Bay’s aquarium.

“Tourism is our No. 1 driver,” VEGAS.com’s Allison says. “We’re all pulling together to keep it going.”

$60-a-month start for Rogers’ iPhone

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

Derek Abma
Province

Rogers Wireless says the price of its basic voice-and-data combo for iPhones, which become available in Canada on July 11, will start at $60 a month.

Customers must commit themselves to a three-year contract under this and all other plans.

The $60 service will get a person 150 minutes of voice time with unlimited evenings and weekends, allow-ance for 75 outgoing text messages, and, as with all plans, unlimited incoming text messages and voice mail. Rogers said the 400 megabytes of data customers get with the package will allow a person to transmit up to 200,000 text e-mails or 3,100 web pages or 1,360 photo attachments.

The plans come with unlimited Wi-Fi access at Rogers or Fido hot spots.

At $115 a month, the highest-end service gets you 800 minutes of voice, permission to send 300 text messages, and two gigabytes of data transmission. Rogers says that’s equal to more than one million text e-mails or 16,000 web pages or 7,000 photo attachments.

Rogers spokeswoman Liz Hamilton said the iPhone itself will cost $199 for the eight-gigabyte model or $299 for the 16-gigabyte version.

Asked about the three-year contract, she said: “Our business model is not unique in Canada.

“It is a subsidized one that takes many factors into account.”

The iPhone 3G is what Rogers will make available. It is promoted as being twice as fast as the first iPhone launched by Apple Inc. last year.

Rogers said data-less plans for the iPhone, with just voice and basic text, will start at $15 a month.

© The Vancouver Province 2008

 

There are incentives to entice people to council

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

Tony Gioventu
Province

Dear Condo Smarts: Our strata is a 55-and-over retirement community on Vancouver Island. We have an excellent manager and our properties are in great shape. There is one problem: We have an owner who harasses everyone to the point that at our AGM, no one would stand for council. This owner demands reports on everything we do and interrogates every contractor who comes on site. What happens when no one will be on council? Will the government appoint someone to administer our complex? Many of our owners can’t be bothered with the harassment.

– PH

Dear PH: Many strata corporations struggle with people unwilling to be on council. It’s either too much time, too much trouble or too much conflict. There are steps a strata can take to reduce harassment and operate smoothly. When there is a shortage of willing council members, the bylaws can be amended to permit other types of council eligibility. An example of that is a 36-unit building in Vancouver where the strata has amended the bylaws to permit owners’ children or grandchildren, who are not on title, to be eligible to be elected to council.

The other option is to adopt governance bylaws that strictly control how business is conducted. If owners violate the bylaws, the strata then needs to take bylaw-enforcement seriously. Occasionally, the matter results in the strata council fining the offender or proceeding to the courts to enforce the bylaws and end the constant harassment.

The next challenge is attracting people to council. Use professional services to deal with the problem people. While it may be costly, a strata council has much less stress if they can refer a matter of conflict to their legal counsel rather than struggle with it alone.

Strata councils can also be remunerated for their time. A bylaw can be created that compensates council for their time on behalf of the remaining owners. The 360-unit strata in Vancouver pays three strata council members $100 per month each.

The government will not impose someone on your strata. If the corporation fails to elect a council and ceases to function, eventually an owner(s) will commence a Supreme Court application to have an administrator appointed. This can be a positive decision for a dysfunctional corporation incapable of conducting business, but it is costly.

Tony Gioventu is executive director of the Condominium Home Owners Association (CHOA). E-mail: [email protected]

© The Vancouver Province 2008

There are incentives to entice people to council

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

Tony Gioventu
Province

Dear Condo Smarts: Our strata is a 55-and-over retirement community on Vancouver Island. We have an excellent manager and our properties are in great shape. There is one problem: We have an owner who harasses everyone to the point that at our AGM, no one would stand for council. This owner demands reports on everything we do and interrogates every contractor who comes on site. What happens when no one will be on council? Will the government appoint someone to administer our complex? Many of our owners can’t be bothered with the harassment.

– PH

Dear PH: Many strata corporations struggle with people unwilling to be on council. It’s either too much time, too much trouble or too much conflict. There are steps a strata can take to reduce harassment and operate smoothly. When there is a shortage of willing council members, the bylaws can be amended to permit other types of council eligibility. An example of that is a 36-unit building in Vancouver where the strata has amended the bylaws to permit owners’ children or grandchildren, who are not on title, to be eligible to be elected to council.

The other option is to adopt governance bylaws that strictly control how business is conducted. If owners violate the bylaws, the strata then needs to take bylaw-enforcement seriously. Occasionally, the matter results in the strata council fining the offender or proceeding to the courts to enforce the bylaws and end the constant harassment.

The next challenge is attracting people to council. Use professional services to deal with the problem people. While it may be costly, a strata council has much less stress if they can refer a matter of conflict to their legal counsel rather than struggle with it alone.

Strata councils can also be remunerated for their time. A bylaw can be created that compensates council for their time on behalf of the remaining owners. The 360-unit strata in Vancouver pays three strata council members $100 per month each.

The government will not impose someone on your strata. If the corporation fails to elect a council and ceases to function, eventually an owner(s) will commence a Supreme Court application to have an administrator appointed. This can be a positive decision for a dysfunctional corporation incapable of conducting business, but it is costly.

Tony Gioventu is executive director of the Condominium Home Owners Association (CHOA). E-mail: [email protected]

© The Vancouver Province 2008

 

Vancouver & Victoria – home prices coming down with a 20% decline, market is cooling

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

Cassidy Olivier
Province

After years of listening to customers vent about soaring housing prices, says North Vancouver realtor Jackie Reid, it’s nice to see a return to days where buyers have more selection and bidding wars are scarce.

“They [buyers] just couldn’t afford it,” she said of the boom years. “Who can? Think about it; it is ridiculous.”

But based on a report released last week by TD Economics, those boom years are over for most of Canada‘s housing markets, especially the previously red-hot spots of Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto and Vancouver.

And in Victoria and Vancouver, there is new evidence of some prices coming down.

More listings and weaker demand, the report said, have caused a fall in sales and “softer” prices not seen in the past six to seven years.

Year-over-year price growth for existing homes in the country’s major markets is slowing. As of May, the increase was 1.1 per cent, down from 8.6 per cent four months ago.

The report predicted further sales slips and a decline in year-over-year national price growth of 2 to 3.5 per cent by 2009.

Most recently, in Victoria, sales are down 11 per cent and the total value of sales is down 1.95 per cent.

But Tony Joe, president of the Victoria Real Estate Board, said “it’s certainly not a time for panic.”

“There is no question things softened a bit,” he said. “We have to remember, 2007 was an exceptional year.”

For Vancouver, the cooling has seen resale activity slip “far below” last year’s levels, with 2008 sales expected to be 20 per cent lower than sales posted in 2007.

And like the rest of the country, price growth is on the slide.

May 2008 statistics show the average residential sales price in greater Vancouver was $624,639, up 5.6 per cent from the previous year, but down from the 2006-2007 increase.

In October 2007, the average price of a house was $590,577, a 7.8-per cent jump from 2006.

Rob Chipman, a Greater Vancouver realtor, said a drop to single-digit growth wasn’t unexpected and doesn’t mean the market’s in crisis.

“The market hasn’t panicked. We haven’t seen prices drop,” he said. “But it is also now really tough for sellers,” he added, mostly for those investors needing a quick sale.

Demand, said Cameron Muir, a chief economist with the B.C. Real Estate Association, has been affected by shaky consumer confidence, the U.S. subprime mortgage scare and rising fuel and food costs.

“It is a return to more normal conditions,” he said. “The market is no longer in the seller’s advantage.”

Muir couldn’t predict the effect on prices but said sellers now will have to have a “sharper pencil” when pricing their homes.

Caroline Hong, a realtor with Sutton Group West Coast Realty, said she’s already noticed many sellers in her West End region are slashing asking prices to attract buyers, generally by 5 per cent.

“It all depends on how desperate they are,” she said.

Hong stressed, however, that this just brings property to more “normal levels.”

Back in North Vancouver, Reid said she doesn’t think the downturn will result in price-slashing, and she cites a recent sale in Norgate of a $925,000 home as evidence.

“It is going to take longer to sell your house, but it will sell,” she said.

© The Vancouver Province 2008

 

EcoDensity raises fears of crowding without amenities

Saturday, June 28th, 2008

Frances Bula
Sun

VANCOUVER I The city is getting international admiration for its catchily named EcoDensity initiative, but some city residents are nervous about what it means for them.

As the city heads into the home stretch of public consultation on what will become an “EcoDensity Charter,” resident groups have banded together to express their concern that the policy — marketed as a way to make Vancouver a more environmentally sustainable city by promoting compact living and green building — may result in density just being shoved into their neighbourhoods.

As well, they worry there isn’t enough emphasis on creating affordable housing or complete neighbourhoods with libraries, transit and community services to go with the density.

Those are some of the points that a consortium of 23 neighbourhood groups has made in a formal letter to city council, in an effort to modify the final EcoDensity Charter, which is due to be voted on at the end of the month.

“The concept isn’t bad, but we want a sustainable city, not just a dense one,” said Mel Lehan, a veteran Kitsilano resident activist, who speaks behalf of groups from Southlands to Commercial Drive and Dunbar to southeast Vancouver.

Lehan said people feel the process is being rushed through and they fear that the new charter will mean that “we will have 40-storey towers that will be built in the middle of nowhere.”

As well, they don’t like a postscript added by Coun. Suzanne Anton to consider taller buildings in the city’s heritage neighbourhoods of Chinatown, Gastown and the Downtown Eastside.

City planning director Brent Toderian said he can understand why the proposed EcoDensity Charter is provoking fear and skepticism.

“It’s an unusual process and it was launched in an unusual way, so it’s a challenge for the community,” said Toderian, who inherited the job of putting the initiative into action when he started his job as planning director a year and a half ago.

Mayor Sam Sullivan had announced the EcoDensity initiative as a way to launch the World Urban Forum in Vancouver the previous June, somewhat to the surprise of some of his councillors.

“There are concerns about the politics and process and that’s making it a challenge for us,” Toderian said.

However, he said he and his staff are meeting with every community group that wants to meet with them and he is reassuring them that the EcoDensity Charter will not override the local plans most Vancouver neighbourhoods developed over the past decade as a part of CityPlan.

Instead, he said, the new charter will allow planning staff to push for environmental initiatives that complement existing policy or where policy is vague.

“I think we can do a lot that is different but is not incompatible,” Toderian said.

Some resident groups are cautiously willing to give him, and the city, the benefit of the doubt.

Colin Gray, chairman of the Dunbar Visions group, which developed the west-side neighbourhood’s local plan 10 years ago, said Toderian met the group before Christmas and allayed some of their fears.

On the other hand, Gray said, residents hear about proposals to build seniors’ residences in their neighbourhood that are much higher than the current four-storey limit.

“There’s this pressure to use the seniors’ card to get more height. It just feels like there’s huge pressure to get higher density.”

But Gray said his group is waiting to see how events evolve.

“We’re nervous, but we’ll play a little bit longer.”

© The Vancouver Sun 2008

The secret to small-space residency? Few walls

Saturday, June 28th, 2008

Sun

The False Creek North survey was organized and financed by companies and individuals who led the conversion of the old Expo lands into a residential neighbourhood. It was conducted by University of BC graduate students enrolled in the community and regional planning school. It was directed, in part, by Larry Beasley, until his retirement as co-director of planning at Vancouver city hall. It was financed by Concord Pacific, Hillside Developments, Amacon Group, cith hall’s planning department, and two others, Beasley’s consulting practice and Sarkission Associates Planners. Wendy Sarkissian was Beasley’s co-director of the survey.

EDITOR’S NOTE – Fifty-five hundred households reside in the Vancouver neighbourhood called False Creek North. Last year, 500 of them participated in a survey organized to gauge their satisfaction with their neighbourhood and their homes and buildings.

Of all the things that might be said about these 500, or the 5,500 the survey organizers hope they represent, let us restrict it to this: By making their homes in the highrises along the north shore of False Creek, they returned to downtown Vancouver a residential purpose that it had lost, the West End notwithstanding.

What follows was excerpted from a summary of the survey findings.

- – -

Overall, residents recognize that smaller living space is inevitable in multi-family housing and have adjusted their lifestyles to accommodate this constraint. Nonetheless, a commonly held view is that the unit (and building) space should be designed more creatively, flexibly and efficiently, particularly for storage.

LAYOUT

Unit layout is a feature that elicits a high number of comments, particularly by those who live in L-shaped or traditionally compartmentalized units with walls dividing such rooms as kitchen and living room. These floor plans are less open, give the impression of more walls and create the feeling of too many hallways. This makes the unit feel smaller and, in some cases, darker than it might otherwise be.

Unconventional-shaped walls and windows are appreciated by some for their interesting architecture, but they contribute to inflexibility, invariably making it difficult to arrange standard furniture in smaller apartments. For some, the finer details of design, such as the placement of electrical outlets and overhead light fixtures, are not conducive to the arranging of standard furniture, further reducing flexibility in use of space.

Evidence suggests that many owners have made, are making or will make renovations to their units to meet their taste or changing needs. Some renovations are as simple as removing glass doors from the enclosed balconies or interior glass dens to incorporate them into the living space. Others involve an entire reconfiguration of the unit’s space. Esthetic changes are also very common, such as replacing carpet with hardwood flooring. In general, having a unit that lends itself well to renovations is a source of satisfaction for homeowners. Renters and people in co-ops clearly have less flexibility because they are generally not permitted to renovate.

Our findings indicate that residents with and without children are equally satisfied with the overall layout of their suites, but families with children express dissatisfaction with particular rooms such as additional bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchens. Residents complain of odd-shaped walls and unconventional placement of light fixtures, which make arranging furniture difficult. A fireplace next to a window was identified as an example of inflexible design.

BEDROOMS AND BATHROOMS

Bedrooms and bathrooms are considered by many to be rooms that require privacy and therefore should, wherever possible, not be accessible directly from the foyer or living areas. Those in units with more than one bedroom also prefer that the bedrooms not be adjacent to each other. Evidence suggests that many of the two- and three-bedroom units purchased in FCN are being used, not for more people, but for more flexible space.

Many residents with multiple bathrooms also note that multiple full bathrooms (with tubs) are unnecessary and are a waste of space when space is at such a premium. Additional bathrooms are noted by parents as being indispensable.

BALCONIES AND ENCLOSED BALCONIES

Private open balconies that are sufficientl*y large to allow for a conversational arrangement of patio furniture and a handful of adults standing comfortably are highly appreciated, particularly if they have sun exposure and good drainage. Glass railing walls are popular because they give the impression of a larger space.

Some units have multiple balconies, both enclosed and open. Whereas those who have an open balcony are very grateful for it, those with an enclosed balcony, particularly those with only an enclosed balcony, express mixed views about this hybrid feature. Some residents rave about it and use it as an office, dining room or solarium. Others feel that it is a waste of space because its function is unclear: a compromise of both indoor and outdoor space. At the very least, these respondents feel that residents should have the option of renovating the space to make it more functional.

IN-SUITE STORAGE

Most residents who have in-suite storage consider it a major strength of their unit and use it for storage, instead of converting it to other uses. Those without in-suite storage complain of a lack of general storage for large household items such as vacuums and children’s sports equipment. Many point out a lack of specific storage spaces such as kitchen drawers and cabinets, linen closets and main bedroom closets. Many respondents indicate that their long narrow walk-in closets are so poorly designed they cannot get into the closet to retrieve their items.

KITCHENS

More cupboards and kitchen storage space are the most commonly desired changes in the kitchen. A preference for an open-plan, as opposed to a separated kitchen, may be a matter of personal taste and is perhaps also related to generational and cultural preference. Most residents, particularly those in smaller units, value the openness, spaciousness and light that open-plan kitchens provide. Others enjoy some privacy in the kitchen, especially when entertaining. These findings suggest that it may be advantageous for developers to leave the design of the kitchen layout as flexible as possible as an option for purchasers.

NOISE

Overall, noise is not as great an issue as one might expect in a downtown high-density, mixed-use neighbourhood. In fact, some residents even identify the quietness of their unit as one of its major strengths.

Where noise is a problem, noise generated primarily from outside of the unit and building remains an issue, particularly for those who live on Pacific Boulevard. Many residents cannot understand the rationale for having such a major thoroughfare in a residential neighbourhood and think that it is not only a source of noise, dust and pollution, but that it is also ugly and dangerous and acts as a mental and physical barrier separating their neighbourhood from the rest of the city.

Other sources of noise include sirens, party boats, construction, bar spill-over, noise from shopping carts in laneways or noise from activity from commercial and shopping areas such as Urban Fare.

The SkyTrain, once complete, is also anticipated to be an added source of noise. Those who face the water or pedestrian thoroughfares rate the noise levels from outside as quite low or explain that they hear only “people noises”, which they enjoy.

Noise transmission from other units is generally not a concern…Some residents mention that they hear less from their neighbours than they would expect or have experienced in other multi-family buildings. Hardwood and tile floors above units and renovations and repairs throughout the building are repeatedly mentioned as primary sources of noise within the building.

The noise level from within units (room-to-room noise) is unanimously not a problem for residents. Smaller spaces, in particular, could benefit from quiet appliances such as dishwashers.

LIGHT, HEAT AND VISUAL INTRUSION

Overwhelmingly, residents are pleased with the amount of sunlight their dwellings receive and, if anything, say that they have too much sun. This is a benefit in the winter in a climate that is notoriously cloudy most of the year and results in residents turning on their heat very rarely. This poses a problem in the summer, however, when the heat can be unbearable, particularly for those in the higher floors and south-facing units. Air conditioning or better cross-ventilation are identified by many as ways to improve thermal comfort. Several residents believe that more could have been done to mitigate temperature variability when the units were constructed, rather than installing air conditioning. For example, installing UV-controlled glass films or overhangs and designing windows that open more fully are potential passive solutions.

Large windows are generally appreciated because they add much needed light. Few residents report visual privacy as an issue and many comment good-naturedly on the “mutual understanding” that everyone living in a highrise building has with regard to looking into each others’ windows. For the most part, those interviewed and surveyed recognize this as an accepted part of highrise living and mitigate visual intrusion by drawing their blinds or curtains. Some, however, think that full windows in bedrooms are not appropriate for privacy reasons. Floor-to-ceiling windows in the bedroom also constrain flexibility in furniture arrangement and storage in rooms that may already be quite small.

© The Vancouver Sun 2008

It’s that time of year when many of us are heading out for our annual vacations

Saturday, June 28th, 2008

TIMELY REMINDERS FROM WEISER LOCK COMPANY

Sun

It’s that time of year when many of us are heading out for our annual vacations — the ideal time to review the security of our homes while we’re away.

The Weiser lock company has come up with some good ideas that might help protect your home and your belongings from the attention of thieves while you’re away.

- A car parked in the driveway gives the appearance that someone is home.

- Good exterior lighting around your perimeter creates a psychological barrier.

- Make sure all exterior doors have deadbolts with at least a one-inch throwbolt.

- Keep your doors locked at all times. Half of all break-ins are through unlocked doors.

- Going out of town? Give your neighbour a house key so he or she can check in.

- Help the police help you. Make sure you keep your street address visible. When affixing numbers to your house, make sure they are at least four inches high, reflective and visible from the street.

- Park your car outside? Always lock your vehicle and consider taking your garage door opener with you instead of leaving it in the car.

- Been at the same house for a while? Replace your outside locks as you’ve probably given out your house key a lot through the years.

- Backyard secure? Consider installing a fence and plant fast-growing bushes as extra barriers around the exterior of your home.

- Start a Neighbourhood Watch program — it’s the most effective method of keeping your home safe.

- Keep an extra key outside your house? Not a good idea. Burglars know all the hiding spots. Instead, leave a key with a trusted neighbour. Better yet, install a keyless entry system.

For more information, check out weiserlock.ca.

ENVIRONMENTALISTS PUT IT ALL ON THE LINE

Growing concerns about the environment have prompted some British Columbians to call for a revival of an age-old institution — the backyard clothesline.

Victoria‘s Leah Sherwood and friends have launched what they call The Great Rebate Ecochallenge, and are encouraging British Columbians to pool their $100 climate-action dividend and invest it in grassroots environmental action. Among their green goals: more clotheslines.

They may be in luck. British Columbia homeowners will be able to air their clean laundry in their yards if the B.C. government follows in the wake of Ontario‘s new law that bans clothesline restrictions in single detached, semi-detached and row houses.

Graham Currie, speaking for the B.C. Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, says the province is informally reviewing the issue. “If you want, call it the right-to-dry issue,” says Currie.

© The Vancouver Sun 2008