Archive for April, 2014

City of Vancouver sells final stake in Olympic Village

Monday, April 28th, 2014

City’s revenue projections with developer fell short $130 million

Mike Howell
Van. Courier

The City of Vancouver says it paid off the entire $630 million debt for the troubled Olympic Village project after selling 67 remaining condominium units for $91 million to the owners of the Vancouver Canucks.

Mayor Gregor Robertson told reporters Monday the Aquilini Group’s purchase of the condos ends the city’s involvement in the project that he once referred to as a $1.1-billion boondoggle.

“It’s a very good day for the City of Vancouver, in particular for city taxpayers,” said Robertson at a press conference at city hall. “Today, I’m thrilled to announce that we at city hall here have delivered gold for the taxpayers on our Olympic Village.”

Though the mayor framed the news as an Olympic-sized achievement, a later briefing by city manager Penny Ballem revealed the original revenue projections for the $1.1-billion project fell short by $130 million.

Originally, developer Millennium Properties Ltd. agreed in a 2006 deal with the city to pay $200 million for the land. The city only received $70 million.

That $200 million was to be used to help build infrastructure such as roads, walkways and amenities including parks and a community centre for the Village and two large properties on both sides of the Southeast False Creek lands.

“There’s no question, that if we had got $200 million, that would have been more money to the city to cover more extensive parts of the infrastructure,” said Ballem, who couldn’t definitively say how or who will pay for infrastructure costs associated to the Village’s neighbouring properties. “We haven’t done all the analysis yet.”

That $200 million land value projection, along with the city acquiring a $690 million loan ($60 million of which came from city coffers) and another $200 million in condo pre-sales from Millennium added up to $1.1 billion.

The city ended up getting the $200 million in pre-sales in August 2010 and later made $411 million by selling off more condos and commercial space. The city also collected $68 million from 32 various properties turned over from Millennium and, finally, sold the 67 remaining condo units for $91 million to the Aquilinis.

That added up to $770 million, which gave the city enough money to pay off the $690 million loan and put $70 million towards some of the infrastructure and amenities on and around the Village property.

“It’s really, honestly, monumental,” Ballem said of the city’s ability to pay off the debt, which the city inherited seven years ago.

The controversy around the project dates back to a 2007 in-camera meeting at city hall when the then-NPA dominated council voted in favour of a $190 million financial guarantee in a complex three-way agreement involving the city, Millennium and New York-based lender Fortress Investment Group.

At the same meeting, council agreed to a “completion guarantee” on the loan to Fortress, effectively making the city the project’s developer and putting taxpayers on the hook for the tab. Up until that meeting, the agreement with Millennium was that the city would not assume any marketing or financial risk on the project, according to an April 2006 city staff report that recommended Millennium be selected the developer of the Village.

There was some urgency at the time of council’s decision to take on the risk because it needed to get the Village, surrounding parks and community centre built by the opening of the Games in February 2010.

Ballem acknowledged the speed with which the Village was built, comparing the time it took to plan and complete to large projects in China.

“Is that the normal way we do business? No,” she said, adding that the Village would have been built over 20 years anywhere else in the city.

Robertson zeroed in on the controversy tied to the development in a separate news release issued Monday by his Vision Vancouver party. In the release, the mayor said the NPA’s financial guarantee to Fortress was “an irresponsible move that left city taxpayers shouldering the risk for the entire project.”

The release did not mention four Vision councillors also agreed to the guarantee. Reminded of that fact Monday, Robertson said “at that point, the Village had to get built. That’s why I’m saying it’s a series of decisions that got made and mistakes all along.”

Once during the mayor’s press conference and twice during Ballem’s briefing, former NPA council candidate Michael Geller, who is also an architect and developer, attempted to ask questions about the cost of the project. Geller later posted comments on his blog in which he questioned how the 252 units of social and rental housing at the Village factor into the city paying off the debt.

“Many will recall this was supposed to cost $65 million but ended up costing over $110 million,” he wrote. “It’s not worth $110 million. In fact, the city cannot find any non-profit willing to take over the social housing portion at anywhere near the price it paid. This, too, is a loss that will never be recovered.”

NPA Coun. George Affleck, who also attended the mayor’s press conference, said Robertson and his Vision Vancouver party cannot take credit for the debt being paid on the Village. Affleck was elected in 2011 and not part of the council that agreed to bail out Millennium.

“This was done by a receiver and a real estate company,” he said, referring to Ernst and Young, which took over management of the Village in November 2010, and Rennie Marketing Systems. “We were hands off. We merely oversaw the process. So for Vision and the mayor to take credit and say we had good business sense has nothing to do with this process. It’s simply the receiver that did the good work.”

The Courier left a message Monday at the offices of the Aquilini Group but was not returned before deadline. Francesco Aquilini, managing director of the Aquilini Group, said in a release Monday the city “has shown sound business-like leadership that has made the Olympic Village project an attractive investment and we’re pleased to be investing in such a great neighbourhood.”

Olympic Village timeline:

  • November 2002 – City of Vancouver signs multi-party agreement for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
  • June 2003 – Vancouver wins bid to host the Games.
  • April 2006 – City council selects Millennium Properties Ltd. as developer of Olympic Village. Millennium agrees to a final purchase price for the land of $200 million.
  • June to September 2007 – Millennium arranges financing for $750 million from New York-based hedge fund, Fortress Credit Corp. The NPA-dominated council, which includes four Vision Vancouver members, approves a $190 million financial guarantee and completion guarantee as part of agreement with Fortress. As a result, the City of Vancouver is exposed to the entire financial risk of the project, initially estimated at $750 million.
  • May to August 2008 – Fortress claims Millennium’s loan “out of balance” after project experiences cost overruns.
  • September 2008 – Fortress stops advancing money to Millennium for construction.
  • October 2008 – The City of Vancouver, as guarantor of Fortress loan, steps in to keep project moving along to meet tight timeline for Games, which are to begin in February 2010.
  • December 2008 – Mayor Gregor Robertson and his Vision Vancouver majority are sworn in to office. Vision hires city manager Penny Ballem to replace Judy Rogers. Robertson asks for review of entire Olympic Village project. City council appoints KPMG as an auditor to examine Village finances.
  • January 2009 – Provincial government amends Vancouver Charter to allow the city to borrow and lend money to complete the development of the Village. The mayor also creates an advisory group with developers and business leaders, including billionaire Jimmy Pattison.
  • February 2009 – City negotiates purchase of Fortress loan and becomes the lender to Millennium. City arranges financing through a syndicate of Canadian chartered banks. Lower interest rates secured by the city saves taxpayers an estimated $110 million.
  • February 2010 – The Games open and close in Vancouver.
  • April 2010 – The Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee for the Games turns over the Village to the City of Vancouver.
  • August 2010 – Millennium defaults on city’s loan.
  • November 2010 – The city announces it reaches an agreement with Millennium to place the project in receivership. Ernst and Young named as receiver. City negotiates settlement with Millennium and other guarantors and successfully transfers 32 properties worth $68 million which were part of loan guarantees to city.
  • February 2011 – Rennie Marketing Systems re-launches first sales of the Village, which is renamed “The Village on False Creek.”
  • December 2011 – Receiver achieves opening of first commercial spaces Terra Breads, TD Bank, Legacy Liquor Store and Village Cleaners.
  • March to August 2012 – Subway, Urban Fare, London Drugs and Tap and Barrel open.
  • May 2012 – Creekside Community Centre opens.
  • April 2014 – City retires $630 million debt, with the Aquilini Group buying the 67 remaining condos for $91 million. City manager Penny Ballem says city projections in 2006 to receive $200 million for land falls short by $130 million.

© Vancouver Courier

CMHC cutting back on what it covers with mortgage default insurance

Friday, April 25th, 2014

Garry Marr

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., the Crown corporation that controls the vast majority of mortgage default insurance in the country, says it plans to get out of the market for second homes and is adding restrictions for self-employed Canadians.

Effective May 30, CMHC said it will discontinue insuring second homes and will require self-employed Canadians to have third party income income validation.

The Crown corporation said the changes are being made as part of its review of its mortgage loan business. The organization has already said it is raising rates across the board May 1, a move that comes after the federal government last year appointed a new chair for CMHC and brought in a new chief executive.

“CMHC helps Canadians meet their housing needs and contributes to the stability of the housing market and finance system” said Steven Mennill, senior vice-president, insurance, in a release. “As part of the review of its mortgage loan insurance business, CMHC is evaluating its products and services to ensure they are aligned with these objectives.”

The agency said it’s the first set of changes resulting from the review of its operation. The Financial Post reported this month that Evan Siddall, a former investment banker brought in as CEO, has been asked about the possibility of a risk-based method of assessing mortgage default insurance. Sources say the new CEO has told people he doesn’t disagree with the principal of risk-based insurance.

The changes announced Friday affect a small portion of the market. CMHC said its second home and self-employed without third party income validation business account for less than 3% of CMHC’s insured business volumes in units.

“Given the limited use of these products, their discontinuation is not expected to have a material impact on the housing market,” the agency said in a release.

CMHC first introduced the program for self employed people in 2007 in response to “industry competition” which at its peak saw some U.S. players enter the market and encourage changes that created amortization lengths as long as 40 years. The government has since restricted loans to 25-year amortizations.

The second home product was introduced in 2005 and applied when purchasing an owner-occupied second home anywhere in Canada.

CMHC said it will limit the availability of homeowner mortgage loan insurance to only one property (one to four units) per borrower/co-borrower at any given time.

Benjamin Tal, deputy chief economist with CIBC, said the announcement was not “a big surprise given the mandate of providing more stability. That might not be the end of it. We might see more coming from CMHC.”

Finn Poschmann, vice-president of research at the C.D. Howe Institute, said the requirement for validation seems reasonable.

“What is interesting is the question of whether the change will tend to shift risk away from CMHC and toward the private insurers. Whether that is the outcome will be determined by the private insurers’ responses,” he said, in an email.

© 2014 National Post

In Vancouver, lots of money for not much house

Friday, April 25th, 2014

Kerry Gold

Amid reports of strengthening consumer confidence, prices are expected to increase 2 per cent this year, according to the recently released Re/Max Spring Market Trends report. It also says that the foundation for growth is the domestic buyer, including first-time buyers and those who are trading up.

It’s making an already unaffordable market even more unaffordable, but buyers seem unfazed at paying record prices for houses that have gone up 35 per cent since 2009. Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver data shows an average sales price of a detached house for March, 2014, of $1.213-million. That number dropped from February, when the average was at $1.367-million. Back in January, 2009, the average price was $783,721.

Some buyers are finding better value in eastern pockets of the city.

“There are buckets of people looking for anything under $1.5-million,” says Sotheby’s agent Gregg Close, who held an open house for a $1.350-million property near Wall Street in east side Vancouver on Easter Sunday. He saw 42 groups walk through the door. Mr. Close usually markets houses on the west side of the city, but is increasingly finding that those west-side buyers are looking east.

The east side has maintained its artistic community and has spawned a diverse restaurant, distillery and boutique retail shopping scene, while the west side has become more generic with chain stores. As well, anything priced below $1.5-million, he says, is a sweet spot for the family looking for a completely renovated home with a revenue suite.

“For around $1.5-million you get something you want to go home to. You know your neighbours on the east side. It’s like the way Kitsilano used to be,” says Mr. Close. “I know builders who tell me they’re looking for a 33-foot lot on the west side, and I ask, ‘Why?’”

That’s not to say that the average middle-income earner is getting a lot for their buck on the east side of the city. An east side house that was listed for $599,000 made headlines this month because of its “low” sticker price. It sold for $643,000 after a week, even though it’s bereft of a front yard and faces the thoroughfare that is Clark Drive. The windows must shake every time a semi-truck rattles by.

A one-level house at 2543 E. 27th Ave. just sold for $820,000 after 47 days on the market. The buyer got tired of losing out to multiple offers, so they settled on a house that requires a major renovation, according to listing agent Keith Roy. It came with “old carpets, damaged walls, old appliances and no dishwasher,” he says.

“The reason renovated houses in east Vancouver are so expensive is that people can’t afford to have work done, so they end up competing,” says Mr. Roy.

Nearby, about a half block from Clark, a lovely yellow 102-year-old craftsman on a narrow 25-foot lot sold for $1.210-million, above the $1.199-million asking price. It was previously purchased in May, 2008, before the economic downturn, for $657,500 after 84 days on the market. The owners updated the house with a significant renovation. With a hot market factored in, the house sold for 45 per cent more than it had been purchased six years ago.

“That area used to be considered less desirable, but as more and more folks leave the west side seeking greater affordability, then prices go up,” says listing agent Dwayne Launt.

Such homes are sought out by families who’d otherwise have purchased in west-side neighbourhoods like Kitsilano and Dunbar. It’s small wonder. A quick survey of Realtylink listings shows a west-side starter home listed at around $1.5-million.

Other than the very wealthy, only those who got into the market early on the west side can afford a house there.

Fourteen years ago, Brendan Tompkins and Luc Morin purchased a tiny corner lot bungalow at 606 W. 17th for $350,000. They are currently finishing a major renovation that has transformed the one-bedroom bungalow with basement into a three-level, 3,100-square-foot craftsman-style house that includes a three-bedroom suite and two-car garage.

“The biggest reason for doing the reno was great location, and getting better functionality while keeping as much of the house because it was so well built,” says Mr. Tompkins.

Their property was appraised this year at $2.3-million. With so much equity in the house, it made sense for them to realize their dream home.

Now, as the $599,000 Clark Drive listing illustrated, an east side home – albeit within range of truck traffic – is the new reality for first-time buyers willing to carry a big mortgage.

There are signs that the east side is moving further out of range, however.

The median house value in Vancouver is $1.29-million. Almost every house west of Ontario Street is above that median price according to a map of single detached homes provided for The Globe and Mail by Landcor Data Corporation. The vast majority of houses eastward are below the median, but the map shows a surprising shift underway. Those areas above the median price are, predictably, around Main Street, Commercial Drive, and Strathcona. However, there are not-so-obvious, much bigger pockets of the east side that are far above the median price – areas far to the southeast of the city, around Fraserview Golf Course, close to Southeast Marine Drive, as well as nearby Everett Crowley Park. Those neighbourhoods are becoming high-end east-side enclaves unto themselves.

Purchasers are buying because interest rates don’t appear to be increasing any time soon, and inventory will always be limited due to Vancouver’s geography. There are even some bidding wars, says Richard Laurendeau, long-time managing broker for Re/Max Westcoast in Richmond.

“Today, it is a fair representation of the market,” says Mr. Laurendeau. “It’s not particularly bearish and not bullish. It’s fair.

“In the market between 2008 and 2009, we heard a lot of stories about multiple offers – it was almost common place. Today some multiple offers are returning, but not to the frequency they were before. And that’s healthy. There’s nothing good that comes from [multiple offers]. That same seller will be faced with that type of market when he purchases again. It’s not comfortable. I don’t mind it from time to time, which we currently have, but it’s not commonplace.”

The numbers don’t indicate a lack of inventory is driving the market. Instead, he believes people are feeling more secure in their jobs and in real estate in general.

“And where are you going to go rest your money?” he says.

“They may have been expecting that crash in the market, but they think, ‘it’s not happening, so I will buy into the market.’”

Mr. Laurendeau is speaking about the detached house market. The condo market is a different animal, more affected by increased supply and developer costs that get transferred to the consumer.

“Thankfully, real estate goes up because the value of land goes up faster than the building on it depreciates,” he says. “I think that is why it outperforms the strata. And I think we can layer onto that. The boom that has happened in the strata-development segment of the market … that abundance of supply puts pressure on pricing.

“I don’t want to confuse that with the idea that prices will come down in condos – that’s not the message. But it makes it hard to understand significant appreciation with the abundance in the strata market.”

© Copyright 2014 The Globe and Mail Inc

New Anti-Spam Law: What You Need to Know

Friday, April 25th, 2014

Elizabeth Wilson

As of July 1, your commercial emails and other electronic communications will fall under the most stringent anti-spam law of all the G8 countries.

What does this mean for you? For years you’ve been carefully collecting contact information and sending updates, holiday greetings, relevant listings, market analysis and/or newsletters to your list.

Will the new rules turn one of your best marketing tools into a criminal act?

Unlikely. The legislation is aimed at serious spammers and phishers. But you may be doing a few things that don’t fit under the new rules, so here’s a quick overview.

Main Points

Spam is the electronic equivalent of junk mail or cold calls: commercial messages that you never asked for, but they come to your home or your phone anyway.

Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL) basically says that you require prior consent to send an individual any kind of electronic communication (email, text, instant messaging, apps and private messages via social media) for the purpose of encouraging them to engage in a commercial activity.

This does not apply to messages you send as part of conducting transactions. It’s only for messages that promote or market your services.

It’s up to you to prove that you’ve been given that consent, whether it’s verbal, electronic or written. For instance, anyone who signed an opt-in box on your website to receive your newsletter has given you express consent to contact them, and you will have a record in your web logs. Someone who signed up to receive news of similar listings at an open house has given you consent in writing and you keep the signup sheet.

Express consent is valid until the person requests no further commercial communication (unsubscribes).

Consent is implied if you already have a business relationship with the person. A “business relationship” means that you and this person have done business or had a contract, or this person has inquired about your services or a listing.

If you’ve been regularly communicating with people who fit those criteria (and who haven’t given express consent), their consent is implied for now. You have until July 1, 2017 to get them to confirm their consent or unsubscribe from your messages.

As of July 1 2014, a business relationship is defined as anyone you have done business with in the last two years and anyone who has sent you an inquiry in the last six months. You can add these people to your list, but you’ll need to confirm their consent within the two-year or six-month time frame.

Consent is also implied if you have a personal or family relationship with the recipient, called a “non-business relationship.”

CREA has prepared an in-depth guide called Guidance on CASL for REALTOR® Members. Any questions can be answered there. Meanwhile, here are some helpful tips on what to do.

Best Practices for Commercial Electronic Communication

Responding to inquiries/referrals: In your initial message, ask for permission to contact them again. You are allowed to respond to referrals once, but after that there must be consent for any commercial message.

Making initial contact with a prospective client: Determine if this person has given you permission before you send a commercial message. If not, don’t send it.

Following up on networking contacts: Business cards are not invitations for solicitation messages.
If you meet someone who says “I’m looking for a buyer’s agent. Here’s my business card; please get in touch,” that constitutes verbal consent. It’s still a good idea to confirm that it’s okay to contact them.
Otherwise, you can only send commercial e-messages if the service you offer relates to the business on their business card.


Not acceptable:

Obtaining consent: After July 1, 2014 you must obtain consent before you send commercial messages to anyone not already on your list. Your request must include:

  • What the person is signing up for
  • Who will be sending it
  • Who is requesting consent (and on whose behalf, if applicable)
  • Your contact information, including physical address and phone, email or web address.
  • Unsubscribe information

Enabling unsubscribes: If you’re sending regular messages, e.g., listings or a newsletter, every message must provide a clear, simple way to unsubscribe, like this:

Talk to your email marketing provider about the best system for allowing recipients to unsubscribe.
Take unsubscribes off your list within 10 days and do not contact them again.

Obtaining consent from your current list: Consider this an opportunity to reach out to your list… and to clean it up. Just to be on the safe side, you could ask for express consent before this July’s deadline, even though you have three years. By doing it before the rules change, you’ll be building on a list that’s already in compliance.

Your email marketing provider will help you find the most efficient way to collect the information.

For more detailed information, consult the CREA Guidance on CASL for REALTOR® Members.

© 2014 Real Estate Weekly

Harvest at 31032 Westridge Place Abbotsford 87 two and three bedroom townhomes by Polygon Homes

Thursday, April 24th, 2014


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Assessment Access and Title Search access to change May 1, 2014

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Land Title and Survey Authority: New Portal, New Services


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Surrey’s Cinderella story amazes planners

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

Experts laud municipality’s reinvention of itself as a major city with thriving core

Glen Korstrom

Surrey’s transformation from an agricultural and bedroom community into a city with an urban core is as shocking as it is impressive, say urban planners from across North America.

“It’s astonishing what they’ve accomplished in Surrey,” University of Washington urban planning masters student Nathan Daum told a panel earlier this month when the Washington, D.C.-based Urban Land Institute (ULI) held its annual spring meeting in Vancouver.

Daum and other ULI delegates had just returned from a bus tour of Surrey to learn about how suburban development in Metro Vancouver differs from the norm in many North American cities.

One key difference is that Metro Vancouver has a second city with an identifiable city core – one that is home to major projects such as the 52-storey 3 Civic Plaza tower now under construction.

Density advocates in Seattle celebrate whenever a six-storey building is approved in outlying parts of the city, such as Ballard, and in suburbs such as Redmond, said Daum.

“It takes tremendous effort and there are battles and fights, so it is incredible to come here and see what’s happened in such a short time in Surrey,” he said.

Former Vancouver chief planner Larry Beasley pointed to Metro Vancouver’s “peculiar” regional government model – comprising 21 municipalities, the Tsawwassen First Nation and an electoral area – as a good structure for fostering a second regional downtown.

“There’s a regional consciousness but, on the other hand, a lot is left to the municipality to reinvent itself in its own way with its own personality,” Beasley said. “When you go to Surrey city centre as compared to Vancouver or North Vancouver, it’s vividly different. Its character and personality is defined by its people and its leadership.”

Curiously, the concept of tall buildings to mark a downtown in Surrey was once a source of ridicule, not praise.

Back in the 1990s, the then-governing New Democratic Party decided that the Insurance Corp. of British Columbia (ICBC) should get into the property development game. The Crown corporation financed, built and operated the 25-storey Surrey Central City tower, which sat virtually empty for years and forced the incoming Liberal government to write down $140 million in debt in the 2000s.

Years passed, ICBC sold its tower and the city provided incentives for developers to build near its city centre.

Tien Sher Group of Companies embarked on its Quattro project: a four-building, 12.5-acre development set to eventually include 1,900 homes. WestStone Properties Ltd. completed its 40-storey Ultra 3 tower in early 2013, and Century Group partnered with the Surrey City Development Corp. to build its 3 Civic Plaza tower.

The City of Surrey added to the hub by locating a library, new city hall and a large civic plaza next to an expanded Simon Fraser University (SFU).

“As we grow, and our population becomes increasingly more youthful, we absolutely have to have economic opportunities in our municipality,” said Coun. Bruce Hayne. “That’s not only for our residents to be able to have their families in the community, it also reduces stress on our infrastructure regionally so we don’t have to keep building larger and larger bridges so they can commute to Vancouver every day.”
Hayne also touts the job-creation aspects of the city’s Innovation Boulevard, the one-square-kilometre area in the city’s core, stretching south from SFU to the Surrey Memorial Hospital. In between there’s a University of British Columbia teaching hospital, a Kwantlen Polytechnic University presence and the headquarters for Fraser Health.

“It’s a health innovation hub and incubator space for new technology companies,” Hayne said. “That kind of coming together in one sector will really help drive our economy forward.” •

Copyright © Business In Vancouver

Cedar Cottage Cohousing at 1729 – 1735 East 33rd Avenue 31 units in a three storey building

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

Vancouver’s first cohousing project waits for final permits

Naoibh O’Connor
Van. Courier

Neighbours are curious why construction hasn’t started on the cohousing complex destined for East 33rd near Argyle Street in Kensington-Cedar Cottage.

The city approved rezoning in March 2013. The complex will be built on three properties, but they’re surrounded by yellow construction fencing, leaving nearby residents to question whether the project has been delayed.

Ericka Stephens-Rennie, a spokesperson for the co-housing initiative, said plans are moving forward and construction is expected to start soon.

She told the Courier Monday they’re waiting for various permits. (Tuesday, Stephens-Rennie said they have the development permit and are awaiting the building and demolition permits.)

The process was held up due to the cohousing covenant that will be placed on the title. The covenant creates requirements for the owners and residents to function as a cohousing community such as maintaining common space at a percentage approved by council, offering common meals, participating in shared goals and making decisions by consensus.

“Common covenants approved by council are rental covenants requiring units be rented out, not lived in, by owners. Given there is more interest in cohousing in Vancouver, I suspect the city wanted to get it right,” explained Stephens-Rennie, adding one goal is to make sure the covenant’s wording has the flexibility to grow and change with the community.

She will be moving into a two-bedroom, 800-square-foot unit with her husband and 15-month-old son once the building is completed. The move-in date is expected to be late June 2015.

“[The cohousing group] made a choice not to undertake Hazmat remediation and demolition before we had a building permit to minimize disruption for neighbours, and to ensure the site remained as secure and tidy as possible,” Stephens-Rennie said. “We check the site every couple days and do our best to keep it looking as tidy as possible behind the fence. I don’t like the aesthetics of the fence and secured houses, but I do like that they are secured and that construction is imminent.”

The complex will include one level of underground parking and five buildings ranging from two to three storeys above grade.

The four residential buildings will be separated from each other, but have a common courtyard in the centre. There will be a 6,510-square-foot common house at the back of the property. There will also be a common deck and garden space outside.

The building will be a regular strata development like other condo buildings, but the covenant on the land will ensure it remains a cohousing community in perpetuity.

Twenty-six of the 31 units, which range from studios to three-bedrooms, have been sold. Three of the remaining units are unsold but there are a number of interested parties who are going through the membership process and will have an opportunity to purchase in coming months. The two covenanted rental units are unsold but negotiations are underway with a local non-profit.

Buyers include young couples with no kids, a couple of young singles in their early 30s, a few young families with one or two kids, and couples with babies due in coming months. Most of the kids are under 10, although there is one teenager. There aren’t many owners in their 50s, but there are some of pre-retirement or retirement age. Stephens-Rennie noted one woman bought a unit and a second one for her mother, who is a senior.

She added that members of the cohousing development are trying to be good neighbours and they plan to do things such as deliver ear plugs and wash neighbouring residents’ cars during the construction period, which she acknowledges will be disruptive, to alleviate some concerns.

“We’re hoping the measures we’re taking will help neighbours warm up to us… I know we have work to do to build bridges with the current residents, especially those who did not support the project. ” she said. “Our cohousing community is used to wrestling with hard issues. Our decision-making process puts respect and care for people first — whether they are members of the cohousing or neighbours currently living near the site. As we move into the construction period, we will continue to do that. We will also continue to keep the neighbours informed, and will seek further opportunities to engage and interact with people currently living in Kensignton-Cedar Cottage.”

Stephens-Rennie said the cohousing residents are also looking forward to becoming part of the community.

“We’re spread out across the Lower Mainland and Sunshine Coast, so we can’t wait until we’re together in Kensington-Cedar Cottage. So, yeah, there’s a sense of impatience but there’s a sense of excitement that we’re getting ready to put a hole in the ground.”

© Vancouver Courier

St. George Townhomes 5731 St. George Street 16 Townhomes by Silk Properties

Thursday, April 17th, 2014


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Don’t get stuck with a builders lien

Thursday, April 17th, 2014


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