Two Huge Recalls to be aware of

Samsung recalling 3 million washing machines

U.S. recall follows similar notice in Canada and Galaxy Note 7 woes

The top is said to have come off this Samsung washing machine Bangor, Penn. (Micah Martin/YouTube)

Fresh from a recall of its Galaxy Note 7 phone, Samsung says it is recalling some washing machines because the appliance's top can come off.

A recall of roughly 2.8 million washers covering 34 different models was announced Friday in the United States.

An updated Canadian recall notice for many of the same models, along with some Kenmore brand models built by Samsung, was issued on Nov. 4. Approximately 256,000 of the affected models have been sold in Canada.

Got a Samsung Galaxy Note 7? Mail it back in this flame-proof box
The U.S. Consumer Protection Safety Commission said Samsung has received 733 reports of washing machines experiencing excessive vibration or the top detaching from the washing machine chassis. The government agency said there have reports of injuries, including a broken jaw, injured shoulder and other impact- or fall-related injuries.

Health Canada said last month that it had not received any consumer reports of incidents or injuries related to the use of washing machines in Canada, while Samsung Electronics Canada Inc. had received 64 reports of the tops detaching in Canada, with 11 reports of minor property damage, and no reports of injuries.

The affected models were all built between March 2011 and this year.

Samsung Electronics Canada has recommended that consumers with affected models should only use the lower speed, delicate cycle when washing bedding, bulky or water-resistant material to lessen the risk of property damage or injury.

Last month, Samsung issued a recall for more  2.5 million Galaxy Note 7 smartphones due to an unexplained overheating problems, just two months after the product's launch in August. Samsung subsequently discontinued the device.

1.5 million Kidde NightHawk smoke detector, carbon monoxide alarms recalled

Recall applies to KN-COSM-IBCA and KN-COSM-ICA models manufactured between June 2004 and March 2011

The model and manufacturing information of the recalled smoke detector and carbon monoxide alarms is located on the backs of the devices. (Health Canada)

A national recall has been issued for 1.5 million Kidde smoke detector and carbon monoxide alarms in Canada because they may not chirp in the case of an emergency.

The recall applies to two Kidde NightHawk models that are hard-wired into a home's electricity and were manufactured between June 2004 and March 2011. The affected models are:

KN-COSM-IBCA, which has a battery backup
KN-COSM-ICA, which doesn't have a battery backup
The issue is the alarm may no longer chirp in the model with battery backup even after the original batteries have been replaced. In the case of the model without battery backup, the chirp may not work if power is removed and then restored.

"This could lead consumers to believe it is still working, which poses a risk to consumers not being alerted to a fire or carbon monoxide incident in their home," said the Health Canada recall notice.

In Canada, there haven't been any reported incidents, according to Health Canada, but there have been eight in the U.S., where 3.6 million units of the models have been sold. Health Canada did not detail in its recall notice the nature of those incidents, but said there have been no injuries.

The alarms are white, round and measure about 13 to 15 centimetres in diameter. The word Kidde is both on the front and back of the devices, while the manufacturing date is on the back and can be thought of as being in the three or four o'clock spot of a traditional clock.

People with the recalled alarms should stop using them and can contact Kidde for a free replacement or a discount on a new alarm.

Kidde Canada can be contacted at 1-888-784-2323 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET Monday to Friday,  or through its website.

12 Hacks to get you through Christmas

1. Warm up plates in the dishwasher

When your oven is even more stuffed than your turkey, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to squeeze in the dinner plates to heat up. Instead, put your dinnerware in the dishwasher for a quick rinse beforehand, and they’ll be the perfect temperature.

2. Keep your Christmas tree perky

Does your tree shed needles quicker than your father-in-law downs that first glass of port? Then move it somewhere cooler. Many of us unthinkingly put our tree by a radiator or fireplace, but all that heat will dry the tree out more quickly. A cool, draughty place, such as a hallway, will mean you don’t spend the whole festive period glued to your vacuum.

3. …or give it a fuller figure

If your tree is looking thin, there is no need to splash out on a new one. Simply buy some dark-green tinsel (as close to the colour of the needles as you can find) and twist it around the tree to give the impression of fuller branches. Once your children have piled on those terrible decorations they made in school, nobody will know. Or just drown it in lametta.

4. Always win at Christmas crackers

If you never get your hands on that covetable key ring bottle opener, here’s what to do. Hold your end of the cracker lower, so it tilts towards you, and go for a slow, controlled pull, with minimum twisting. Mop up your child’s tears when you win.

5. Make friends with your freezer

It might seem early to think about Christmas dinner, but a surprising number of dishes can be made ahead of time. Potatoes, parsnips and stuffing can all be cooked and frozen, then defrosted and reheated in the oven on the day itself. As for red cabbage – it actually tastes much better if you make it a few days before, and leave it in the fridge for the flavours to deepen.

6. Save money on wrapping paper

Christmas wrapping paper can be expensive, especially if you have a large family. Instead, buy a large roll of brown paper and some string. Your presents will look both charmingly old-fashioned and on-trend minimalist chic. If it was good enough for Maria von Trapp, it’s good enough for your Great Aunt Bertha.

7. Whip up an easy Christmas cocktail

Keep a few ingredients on hand to produce a festive cocktail when neighbours or friends unexpectedly pop around. Nigella Lawson’s Poinsettia cocktail is a crowd-pleaser – a bottle of fizz mixed with 500ml cranberry juice, finished with a splash of an orange liqueur such as Grand Marnier or Cointreau.

8. Keep the hangovers at bay

Don’t knock back a Bloody Mary if you wake up the morning after your office party with a sore head. Chinese researchers tested 57 drinks, from herbal tea to milk, and found that the most successful in abating hangover symptoms was… (drum roll, please…) Sprite. Buy a multipack?

9. Recycle tangled lights

We’ve all been there – you excitedly unpack the decorations, only to find the lights are so tangled you’d need a Christmas miracle to rescue them. But don’t throw them out. Find a plant pot that is home to some attractive foliage, and place the twisted strands on the soil. They’ll create a magical soft glow beneath the branches. Martha Stewart, eat your heart out.

10. Soften ice cream instantly

The Christmas pudding is blazing on the table, the mince pies are fresh out of the oven, but your ice cream is harder than a South Pole iceberg. The solution – courtesy of hit show America’s Test Kitchen – is to heat a knife under hot water and slice across the ice cream in a cross-hatch pattern. Then warm a spoon in hot water and dig into the sections. And if your ice cream is always full of nasty ice crystals, keep it farther back in the freezer. Ice cream stored near the door is subject to more fluctuating temperatures, and will continually soften/refreeze – leading to those unpleasant lumps.

11. Be the boss of your roll of Tape

Nothing makes wrapping presents more stressful that constantly scrabbling to find the end of the sticky tape. Slip a paper clip over the end of the tape, and you can wrap in peace. If last year’s leftover wrapping paper is a little rumpled, iron it, reverse side up, on a low heat.

12. And for next year…

Here’s a handy tip when you take down your Christmas lights. Instead of just dumping them in a box, wrap them around a coat hanger, or even a piece of cardboard, and they won’t tangle up when you unearth them next Christmas. Alleluia.

Free Parks Canada 2017 Discovery Pass

Canadians begin ordering their free pass to discovery for Canada 150

National parks, historic sites, and marine conservation areas represent the very best that Canada has to offer. They are the essence of our country because they tell stories of who we are, including the history, cultures and contributions of Indigenous peoples.

As we prepare to celebrate Canada 150 from coast to coast to coast, Parks Canada is thrilled that so many Canadians and people from around the world – over 500,000 in the past week – have already ordered their free Parks Canada 2017 Discovery Pass. Discovery passes will be available throughout the whole year. And as in the past, Discovery passes will also be available at Parks Canada places starting January 1, 2017, and through our partners.

The Parks Canada team looks forward to welcoming Canadians and international visitors at national parks, historic sites, and marine conservation areas where they can experience Canada’s outdoors, fun for the whole family and memorable ways to get closer to Canada’s history in 2017.

The 2017 Discovery Pass is the free ticket to 365 days of celebration at some of our country’s most amazing destinations. To make the most of this gift from Canada, visitors are encouraged to plan ahead and reserve their stay. Visitors should also consider discovering Parks Canada’s hidden gems or exploring Canada’s favourite national parks during winter, spring or fall. Please visit for trip planning tools and tips.

In managing national parks, Parks Canada is mandated to maintain or restore their ecological integrity, and provide Canadians with opportunities to discover and enjoy them. While the number of visitors may increase in some places in 2017, Parks Canada remains committed to maintaining its role as a world leader in conservation and in preserving the ecological integrity of these treasured places, now and for future generations. The same holds true for Parks Canada’s commitment to the commemorative integrity of our rich and diverse national historic sites.

“To celebrate our country’s 150th birthday, the Government of Canada is offering the gift of free admission to all Parks Canada places to Canadians. It is fantastic that so many people are excited about free admission and my hope is that every Canadian family will visit a national park, historic site or marine conservation area in 2017.”
Catherine McKenna
Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada

Quick facts

  • Canadians can also enter online for a chance to win amazing prizes, including a dream Parks Canada vacation to breathtaking Western Newfoundland.
  • To learn more about planning your trip, please visit the Parks Canada website at and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for great information about Parks Canada destinations.
  • The Parks Canada campground reservation system launches in January. Visitors are encouraged to reserve early to ensure they have a space and find the perfect spot for their visit.
  • Free admission includes admission to all national parks, historic sites, and marine conservation areas operated by Parks Canada (day use and front-country use), lockage at the canals administered by Parks Canada on historic waterways, and backcountry day use.
  • Fees for recreational services and goods such as camping and firewood, enhanced interpretation programs or overnight backcountry use will remain in place as will mooring fees for boats.
  • Parks Canada manages a network of 46 national parks, 171 national historic sites, four national marine conservation areas, one national urban park and eight historic canals that make up the rich tapestry of Canada’s cultural and natural heritage.

Click Here to Order your FREE 2017 Parks Canada Pass

News release by Parks Canada Agency December 2016

Selling Your Home - Step Six

Negotiating and Counter Offers

Perhaps the price was lower than you were expecting. Maybe the buyers have asked for some extra inclusions. In some cases, you may have multiple offers from different buyers to entertain. This is one stage where you’ll be glad to have a Royal LePage agent by your side to help. Here are some things to consider now:

•   Counter offers – take a good look at what the buyer is asking for, then ask yourself, “Is it worth losing a sale for a minor inclusion like a rug or drapery?” Maybe not. So, the best strategy is to have one. Know ahead of time what you’re willing to compromise on and, as far as price goes, how much. Finally, if you feel you’re not going to be able to come to terms, don’t be afraid to reject the offer

•   Multiple offers – you may be in the situation where you receive offers from several buyers. Now, you have the opportunity to compare and decide which offer, based on price and conditions best suits you. Things that could make one offer more attractive than the other are pre-approved financing, the buyer has already sold their existing home or they’ve agreed to all conditions of sale without exception. One thing to keep in mind though is that patience and respect are paramount. Your Royal LePage agent will certainly provide sound advice in this scenario to arrive at the best outcome for you and the fairest to all parties

Now, even though you have a signed the Offer to Purchase, it’s not quite done yet…

Next Article - Closing the Sale

Tips to Make Christmas Decorating Easier - Especially at the Last Minute

We are all busy people and if you observe the holidays it is not the holiday season until homes, stores and town centres are decorated in lights and tinsel.

When entire neighbourhoods are enhanced by lights and animated figurines, the celebratory tone is set and decorations can trigger happy feelings associated with holiday gatherings.

Some people find holiday decorating enjoyable, while others are less enthusiastic about readying their homes for the season.

No matter which group you fall into, the following are some simple tips to make holiday decorating easier.

Plan to decorate on a day when you do not have any other responsibilities. Choose to decorate on a day when you can devote your full attention to decorating. If you prefer to decorate alone, ask a friend to watch the kids or have a spouse take them out of the house for a few hours. If decorating is a family event, find a day when everyone’s schedules are clear.

Take out the decorations the day prior. Hauling boxes and containers from the basement or garage can take a while. Take some time to move all of the decorating items to a main floor of the house the day or night before your decorating marathon. This way you won’t get discouraged or tired by the task even before the real decorating has begun.

Put the tree up first. The Christmas tree is the a focal point of holiday decorations, so set up the tree and decorate it before you get started on decorating the rest of the house. If you do not get to all of your other decorating, at least the tree will be ready and your home will still have some holiday appeal. Once the lights are on, decorating the tree is a great activity for keeping the kids busy while you handle other jobs.

Divide and conquer. Nothing makes holiday decorating go faster than delegating decorating tasks. Assign specific tasks to your helpers. Put one person in charge of decorating the living room while another handles the outside lights, wreaths and inflatable items.

Turn on the tunes. Working to music frequently takes your mind off of the work and will help pass the time more quickly. Have your favourite Christmas playlist at the ready and turn up the volume.

Take some breaks. Working hungry or tired may lead to sloppy work or frustration. There’s little chance of untangling a knot in the lights with your patience intact if you haven’t eaten for hours.

Plan some time for lunch while you sit and rest. Survey the work you’ve done and make a list of the next steps.

Good luck and remember you can do it!!!

Business As Usual on Mountain Slopes, COP Closed Due to Cold Weather

Extreme deep freeze a challenge for skiers and outdoor events, but good news for snow making.

By Dan McGarvey, CBC

WinSport is extending its ski and snowboard hill closure at Canada Olympic Park through Friday as Environment Canada forecasts a high of –23 C and a wind chill that will make it feel like –36 C.

Normal operating hours are expected to resume Saturday and updates will be provided on WinSport's website.

Meanwhile, ski hills in the mountains west of the city remain open for die-hards this weekend despite the biting conditions.

"It's cold in the morning, but as soon as the sun hits the lifts things get better quickly, especially higher up the hill," said Dan Markham with Lake Louise Ski Resort.

"By Saturday we'll have 110 runs open, including three newly opened runs on the lower half of the front side. We're also opening some double black diamond terrain on Friday, including Whitehorn 2 Gullies B&C and North Cornice," Markham said.

A Mount Norquay spokesperson said the cold weather is helping them crank up their efficiencies on snow making and build on conditions there.

"We're actually pretty thankful for the cold. This is catch up time for snow making so it's a good thing," said Norquay's director of sales and marketing, Simon Moffat, who noted Norquay's lifts can run into the deep minus 30s, so operations aren't slowing down.

But he said Norquay's ski programs for kids start this weekend and they could be impacted.

"There's a cut-off temperature so we'll have to wait and see if that affects the camps and lessons this weekend," said Moffat.

Selling Your Home - Step Five

Receiving an Offer

Not all offers are created equal. Fortunately, your real estate agent is there to help you review an Offer to Purchase and discuss all the details. Here are a few things you should do:

•   Get to know the terms – the main factors on most offers will include the price the buyer wants to pay, details about the offer and financing as well as any conditions, inclusions or exclusions the buyer wants to make contingent on the closing. These offers can be “firm” which means that they’re willing to buy the home exactly as it is. Or, the offer could be “conditional” on things like a home inspection, approval of financing or the sale of their existing home

•   Review every detail – it’s not just about price. The buyers may have asked for other things to be included like appliances, draperies or chandeliers. They may have even requested some minor renovations like reshingling your roof or repairing your driveway. Some buyers may have asked for longer or shorter closing periods or made it contingent upon something else like selling their current home. All these factors influence what the offer truly looks like. An experienced Royal LePage agent will help you decide whether to accept, reject or make a counter offer

If you accept, congratulations.
If not, then it’s time to move onto the next step in our series… Negotiating and Counter Offers

7 Free Apps for the Weekend Warrior

These free apps will make trip planning faster and easier and the ability to look back at your trips with a plethora of data is fun!  However, apps should not be relied upon entirely; you should always carry a copy of a map, trail description as well as a compass.  Recently a lot of controversy has surrounded apps that claim to act as avalanche transceivers; the Canadian Avalanche Centre has warned against using these apps.  In the end, when your life is at stake, carrying the proper equipment is well worth the price tag.  The same advice can be extended to these app suggestions, in the right time and place they’re more convenient, but they should not be replacing appropriate reliable equipment. Not to mention, cold weather zaps electronics of battery power, potentially making app usage problematic in the winter. Tip: Keep your device on an inside pocket close to your body.

1.       Weather Network

One of the first things you should do before heading out is check the weather! Often weather in the city is not what will be encountered in the mountains or wherever your adventure is planned for the day.  I’d say 80% of the success of the trip depends on your planning, and taking into account what the weather will be is part of that. The Weather Network app has pretty reliable information for urban and rural centers as well as provincial and national parks.  It offers a forecast right down to the hour, which should be taken with the grain of salt. For example, if their forecasting 30% chance of rain in the afternoon for the Kananaskis Park region, I would plan to take my rain gear! Even though the chance is small, Kananaskis Provincial Park covers a lot of area and mountains can be pretty unpredictable; one valley could be basking in sun while the other being drenched.

2.       On The Snow Ski Report

This is a handy app to check in the winter when trying to decide where to go skiing or boarding or if you need a heads up on whether or not to play hooky from work on a powder day.  It offers up to date snow reports for resorts around the world.  You can select your favorite resorts to appear under My Areas for quick reference. The Powder Points tab offers a quick overview of resorts that have received powder in the last 24 hrs.  My favorite thing about this app is you can set it up to send you automatic notifications if one of your favorite resorts receives a specified amount of new snow. I have mine set at 15cm, anything below that I have trouble getting excited about. The Nearby tab automatically lists all ski areas within a certain radius to your current location.  It even has an option to download trail maps for the ski areas in your My Areas tab! You’ll never get lost again!

3.       Avalanche Report

If you’re more into playing in the backcountry than at the resorts, checking the latest avalanche bulletin should be at the top of your list of trip planning. The Canadian Avalanche Centre does a fantastic job of updating and providing avalanche bulletins for multiple areas in British Columbia and Alberta.  They even make it more accessible by having them all available on an app, no more excuses! If you’re new to the sport of backcountry skiing or snowboarding they have outlined all the essential gear you’ll need to take with you right in the app.  Even more impressive is they’ve teamed up with Mountain Equipment Co-Op, offering easy links to shop for that essential gear online or at your nearest MEC store.

4.       Topographic Maps

It’s always a good idea to have a topographic map and not just a trail description when out on a hike, snowshoe or ski.  Topographic maps give tons of information like when to expect elevation changes and creek crossings.  A paper copy is way more valuable than an electronic version, but one is better than none! My suggestion is to save it as a picture on your device beforehand, that way you’re not relying on GPS or data service. A cool thing about this app is that it allows you to measure distances, and therefore makes it easier to compare different routes.

5.       Map My Hike

This is a handy tool to documenting your adventure. Ever wonder how far you really went? How fast you were hiking? How much elevation gain you conquered? This app will help document all of that. It uses your device’s GPS to track your activity (choose from a huge list including hiking to mountain biking) and records your workout details, including duration, distance, pace, speed, elevation, calories burned, and your route traveled.  You can keep a log of all your adventures to track your training or share it with your friends via social media.

6.       All Trails

This app is like a trail guide book in your phone! It uses your current location (or a specified one) to find nearby hiking trails.  You can filter the search on type of activity (select from an extensive list that includes everything from hiking to fly fishing), rating, difficulty, whether it is open now, kid friendly and if dogs or horses are allowed. Once you complete a hike you can keep a log of them and share with your friends! Although not 100% of all hiking and scrambles are included in this app, it has an extensive library to get you started. If you find a trail that you notice isn’t on the app, write up a trail report and submit it!

7.       MEC

Last but not least, if you are unsure about what equipment you need or what to look for, MEC is a great resource.  Their staff are extremely knowledgeable from firsthand experience and their easy to navigate app will have you set up with the right gear in no time! Also it comes with a handy barcode scanner. That’s great for when you see something on your friend and want the same thing or if you get sucked into the MEC vortex and want to see what the damage is before you reach the till.


Patagonia Had $10 Million In Sales On Black Friday And Is Donating Every Cent To Save The Planet

The company’s “fundraiser for the earth” proves people really do care.

Photo: Robert Alexander via Getty Images
Article: Chris D’Angelo - Associate Editor, HuffPost

Patagonia saw an astounding $10 million in Black Friday sales  ― five times its own expectations ― and, as promised, will donate every cent toward helping save the environment.

The high-end outdoor apparel and gear retailer announced the record-breaking haul Monday, saying the “enormous love” its customers showed to the planet will benefit hundreds of grassroots environmental organizations around the world.

Company spokeswoman Corley Kenna told The Huffington Post that the idea ― which customers reportedly took to calling a “fundraiser for the earth” ― surfaced during an internal brainstorming meeting following the U.S. presidential election. Patagonia, she said, was looking for something to showcase the importance of the environment and climate change.

“We felt that these were issues that united us and I think this is a demonstration that people agree,” Kenna told HuffPost. “Our customers agree.”

Patagonia gear will no doubt be a common sight this winter season. But it’s possible we won’t see President-elect Donald Trump sporting one of the company’s fleece jackets anytime soon.

Trump has repeatedly called climate change a “hoax” and is surrounding himself with like-minded deniers. He has promised to pull the U.S. out of the historic Paris climate deal, cut all federal spending on the issue, increase America’s production of coal, oil and natural gas, and do away with Obama administration regulations aimed at cutting emissions.

The Republican, who prides himself on his business savvy, has received backlash from hundreds of big businesses, including Patagonia, which say failure to keep the U.S. in the Paris pact “puts American prosperity at risk.”

Patagonia said in a release that the money generated from its Black Friday initiative will go to grassroots environmental groups ― many of which are small, underfunded and under the radar ― that are “working on the front lines to protect our air, water and soil for future generations.”

“The science is telling us loud and clear: We have a problem,” the company said. “By getting active in communities, we can raise our voices to defend policies and regulations that will protect wild places and wildlife, reduce carbon emissions, build a modern energy economy based on investment in renewables, and, most crucially, ensure the United States remains fully committed to the vital goals set forth in the Paris Agreement on climate change.”

Patagonia has been a longtime steward of protecting the environment, donating 1 percent of its daily global sales to green causes and urging its customers to buy fewer jackets to combat the fashion industry’s wasteful culture. Earlier this month, it announced its re\\\collection line of jackets and other gear, which are made of “as many recycled materials as possible.”

Kenna told HuffPost the company’s Black Friday initiative didn’t include discounted items, but still drew thousands of first-time Patagonia customers.

“We’re just really humbled and grateful to our customers for coming out,” Kenna said.


Selling Your Home - Step 4

Showing Your Home

The way your home looks to prospective buyers can make a striking impression. The goal is to get buyers to feel like they can already see themselves living in your home. There are a few tricks of the trade that can help you do this:

•  Home staging – this literally means, getting your “set ready” for buyers. In other words, cleaning your home from top to bottom including carpets and drapes, kitchen and bathroom tiles, walls, ceilings and trim. Next, dispose and declutter which entail getting rid of those items in your home that make rooms feel smaller than they actually are. Then, organize. Tidy up cabinets, bookcases, closets and toys and put away personal items such as photographs, souvenirs and other memorabilia. If your home has empty rooms, stage it with the right furniture. You may be able to borrow some nice furniture from family or friends. There are even places to rent furniture for staging. Keep it simple and classic, nothing too trendy that could potentially turn off a buyer

•  Prepping for an Open House – a successful open house is key for generating quick interest in your home. Some last minute tips? Make your rooms bright and airy by opening blinds and windows and turning on lights in darker rooms. Help the buyers imagine themselves in your home by setting the dining table or putting out some fresh flowers. Light a scented candle. Leave some refreshments out. And for your own security, make sure you store all your valuables. When the open house is over, ask for feedback so you can make a few tweaks before the next one

So, the crowds are pouring in and loving your home. It won’t be long until you get an offer…

Watch for our next post - Receiving an Offer


Listing Your Home

Your home is about to make its big debut on the market. And there’s more to it than sticking a sign on your lawn and doing an MLS listing. Establishing a home’s true worth can be tricky. A Royal LePage agent will be there to make sure your home is poised for success. Here’s how they can help:

•  Set a price – this isn’t as easy as you might think. Price your property too high and buyers won’t be motivated. Price it too low and you stand to lose thousands. A Royal LePage agent can help by doing a complete property profile of your house, including current condition, location, surroundings, special features like a view from the property or high ceilings; a comparative market analysis that will show you what houses in your area have sold for in recent months, and a total market overview. Your agent will take into consideration as many factors as possible to accurately assess the fair market value of your property so it sells fast while maximizing your profit

•  Market your home – no matter how well your home is priced you will need a sound plan to attract buyers. That’s where your Royal LePage agent will offer invaluable experience. Aside from newspaper advertising and listing your home on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), they will work with you to create a “features sheet” or video to make your home stand out from the pack. They will also market it through blogs, social media channels, various websites and their own personal peer network. Royal LePage agents also have a national network of 14,000 on which to draw upon for contacts and referrals

So now you’re fully committed. It’s time to make your home shine. But how to show it in the best light?

Watch for our next post - Showing your home.

CMHC’s Mortgage Business Vulnerable to Sharply Rising Interest Rates

A sudden sharp rise in interest rates that could cause Canadian home prices to plunge 30 per cent would trigger more than $1-billion in losses to the country's government-backed mortgage insurer, according to the results of stress tests released today by the federal housing agency.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. released the results of internal modelling that show how vulnerable its mortgage insurance and securitization business is to a variety of severe economic shocks. The agency, which began publishing its stress tests last year, described the process as "searching out extreme scenarios that have a very remote chance of happening and planning for them."

CMHC tested its portfolios against several different hypothetical scenarios. The events are not forecasts, but a test of how likely the taxpayer-backed institution would be to withstand a series of doomsday-style economic surprises without needing a government bailout.

It studied how its portfolio would perform if interest rates suddenly rose by 2.4-percentage points over two quarters, triggering a home-price crash, a rise in the unemployment rate to 11.3 per cent and the failure of a Canadian lender. CMHC's insurance business would lose $1.13-billion in that case.

Despite the prospect of steep losses in its insurance business in the wake of a sever and unexpected economic shock, the federal agency said the results of its stress testing show that it holds enough capital to keep operating, even under dire circumstances.

The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, the federal financial regulator, sets the minimum amount of capital that lenders and insurers are require to hold to withstand a severe hit to their business. Insurance companies such as CMHC are required to stop writing new insurance business if their capital ratio falls below 100 per cent of required minimum level set by OSFI. They become insolvent if their capital levels hit zero.

CMHC's stress tests show it would suffer the most dramatic losses in the event of a severe and prolonged global economic depression that sent unemployment soaring to 13.5 per cent and triggered a 25-per-cent drop in national home prices. In that case CMHC said its mortgage insurance business could lose more than $3.1-billion over five years. However CMHC said it would have more than 200 per cent of its required minimum capital, even after accounting for stricter capital requirements that OSFI is expected to introduce in January.

CMHC's stress testing comes amid heightened concerns over the health of the Canadian housing market. Last month, the housing agency issued its first "red" warning for Canada's housing market as a whole, saying it now sees "strong evidence of problematic conditions" in six of the country's largest housing markets.

In yet another scenario the Crown corporation said its insurance business would lose more than $2-billion if Canada experienced a "U.S.-style" housing correction, where home prices drop by 30 per cent and the unemployment rate rises to 12 per cent.

The insurer predicted it would still stand to turn a profit even if oil prices fell to $20 (U.S.) a barrel next year and remained between $20-30 for the next four years, a scenario that involved the national unemployment rate rising to 8.8 per cent and home prices dropping by 7.8 per cent. (West Texas Intermediate crude has hovered between $40-$50 a barrel for much of the past year.)

CMHC also tested its business against the prospect of a high-magnitude earthquake that delivered critical damage to a major urban centre. The agency would still return a profit to the federal government in that case, which CMHC predicts would cause unemployment to rise to 8.4 per cent and trigger a small decline in national home prices.

The agency said its "base case" scenario – the most realistic economic projections that it uses to set its capital levels – is for unemployment to peak at 6.6 per cent and for home prices to rise 9 per cent over the next five years, in which case CMHC's mortgage insurance business would generate more than $6.4-billion (Canadian) in profits.

The Canadian Real Estate Association reported earlier this week that national home sales hit record levels for October last month while the association's 11-city composite benchmark price soared an annualized 14.6 per cent to $579,800.

The results of each scenario on CMHC’s regulatory capital requirements (% MCT) are as follows:

Scenario Descriptions


Hiring an Agent

Now that you’re ready to sell, the next thing you should do is list your home with a real estate agent. Because the reality is, selling a home involves a great deal of research, paper work, effort and most importantly, trust. Ideally, you should seek out an agent that has a good knowledge of your neighbourhood and local market trends. A good agent will provide a wealth of knowledge and breadth of services that will help you accomplish your goals. At Royal LePage, we’re committed to helping you and our agents have a fiduciary duty to act in your best interests, to be completely transparent and accountable.

We are Home Investment Advisors and are able to provide analysis that clients might need to assess rent revenues, costs and returns, for both residential and vacation properties, including full and fractional ownership units. For vacation properties, we are able to provide detailed information on vacation condos, including options for in-house management, self-management and personal use.  We’ve learned many things though along our path of Real Estate Guidance.  We also have a group of professionals that we can refer our Clients to, when they need specific tax, zoning, residency, accounting, legal, property inspection, condominium document review and property management advice.

More important, we can help Buyers identify whether Canmore is the right fit for them, their families and their investment dollars.  There’s a lot of cool things about Canmore from it’s friendly, small-town nature to its incredible recreational facilities, both indoor at our new $41m Elevation Place complex or the amazing trail network, peaks, rives and lakes throughout the area.  How many places in Canada boast both a summer biking mecca and Winter Olympic venue for cross-country skiing?

Then there’s the Banff Centre with Inspiring Music, Drama, and Film.  Consider Canmore as a place to invest, visit, work, live and play.

We feel that in addition to investment opportunities, Canmore has inherent values of ownership.  Value has so many meanings……


Just as much goes into selling a home as it does into buying one. It’s a bit of a science actually. You want to get the best price, but you can’t be out of line with market conditions. What to do? Start by being as informed as you can and by choosing an experienced agent who knows your neighbourhood inside out.

Since 1913, Royal LePage has been helping Canadians sell their homes and guiding them through every step of the process. From showing you how to increase the appeal of your home and setting a price that will maximize your profitability to discussing offers and closing the sale. Below, you’ll find it all outlined in eight simple steps.

Step 1: Deciding to Sell

Everyone has their own reason for selling their home. One thing, however, is universally true: the desire to get as much as you can for your home. There are a lot of ways you can add value that you might want to consider, such as:

•  Renovating – this can be something as simple as freshening up the walls with a coat of paint or updating your door knobs and lighting with more contemporary styles all the way to major renovations like installing a new kitchen, bathroom or hardwood floors. Before you do anything though, it’s probably wise to know how much value a renovation or remodel will actually add to your sale price and how much other comparable homes in your neighbourhood are selling for. A Royal LePage agent is a great source of information. They can give you an assessment on your home so you don’t embark on expensive renovations before knowing

•  Enhancing curb appeal – first impressions mean a lot. Which is why you want your home looking its very best when a potential buyer is standing at the bottom of your driveway or simply passing through the neighbourhood. So, make sure the lawn is cut and raked. If there are some dead patches of grass, overseed or sod. Trim bushes and trees, even add a few brightly coloured flowers. Touch up any peeling paint around exterior windows and doors, stain the fence or deck, clean up your garage or shed and ensure that your home looks just as enticing at night by making sure it’s well lit

•  Getting a home inspection – the last thing you want is for the deal to fall through due to an unpleasant surprise. It’s also highly likely that the buyer will ask for a home inspection anyway. So you may want to consider taking the initiative yourself. That way, if there are any major repairs that need doing now, it won’t jeopardize the sale of your home or force you to lower the price later on

So, now you’re all ready to put that For Sale sign on your front lawn.

Watch here for more in this series!


 Click here for the full guide
Inside you will find:

•    Nine Savvy ways to save and fast-track your finances to home ownership
•    House hunting tips
•    The buying process: build your dream team
•    Closing and moving in
•    House hunting checklist
•    And more!

Click here for the full guide


Globe and Mail - Sharon Crowther

Affordable housing in Canmore has been an issue for the last 30 years. … I’m inclined to say it's going to get worse before it gets better, especially with market value in Canmore rising at the rate it’s rising.

Alaric Fish Manager of planning and development in Canmore

Although it’s a bright spot in Alberta’s real estate market, the resort town still struggles to provide entry-level homes

Canmore’s real estate market is booming. Q3 2016 was the town's strongest sales quarter in a decade with 174 recorded transactions and inventory levels in almost every segment indicating a seller's market. It's a stark contrast to the landscape just 100 kilometres east in Calgary.

But the town's planning team says Canmore is still facing “significant issues” around affordability and diversity within its market leading to “a struggle to retain the essence of what is appealing to people about the place.”

“Affordable housing in Canmore has been an issue for the last 30 years,” says Alaric Fish, Canmore’s manager of planning and development. “Diversity and density go hand in hand with that. I'm inclined to say it's going to get worse before it gets better, especially with market value in Canmore rising at the rate it's rising.”

Mr. Fish says Canmore's planning department has been tackling the issues with programs for several years now, with varying degrees of success.

“Canmore’s Perpetually Affordable Housing program has been very successful,” he says. “It ensures more than 70 ownership units are capped under market value for full-time residents who qualify with a maximum income.”

But with demand far outstripping supply, prospective homeowners can expect to join wait lists of up to 18 months for suitable properties to come to market. There are also 120 rental units with wait-list times reaching eight months for studio rental properties.
Laneway housing presents another potential solution to both density and affordability within the rental and entry-level home market. An incentive program was launched in June this year, offering homeowners up to $10,000 toward the cost of adding a laneway home but, so far, interest has been low.

“We’ve had no uptake on the laneway incentive at all,” admits Mr. Fish. “I think it’s a mix of the financial outlay being significant for a secondary suite and also some of the regulations which are in place around laneway housing in Canmore. That’s something we're going to be looking at loosening in the future to encourage interest.”

In addition to entry level properties, affordable family homes are also in dire short supply.

“Between 2004 and 2014 we had a drive for density in Canmore which led to an oversupply of row and stacked townhouses and an under supply in single family homes and duplexes,” explains Mr. Fish. “That under supply has driven house prices in those sectors up, out of reach of many families.”

According to Canmore’s 2014 census, single family homes account for 45 per cent of the town's total housing inventory. The current average sale price for a single family home is $916,775, more than 80 per cent above the single family home benchmark price of $503,400 in Calgary, where single family homes account for 60 per cent of the housing inventory.

Duplex townhouses, though marginally less expensive, account for just 8 per cent of the town's real estate inventory.

“As a result, it's very difficult for someone to move to Canmore within that single family home or duplex market without a significant cash sum behind them.”
It’s an issue that locals like 32year-old developer Sky Mitchell are all too familiar with.

An avid skier and mountain biker, Ms. Mitchell has lived in Canmore since 2013 and calls it “a little piece of paradise.” But, she claims, many others in her age group are being driven out of the Bow Valley by its spiralling real estate market.

“I have so many friends who have left Canmore to set up home in places like Golden and Nelson, places that offer the same great outdoor living experience that Canmore does but without the impossible real estate prices,” she says. “I was biking with friends just last week and they’ve decided to move to Vernon; they just can’t make a go of it in the Bow Valley because of the price of land and property. It just breaks my heart to see that happen.”
Ms. Mitchell currently owns and lives in a condo in Canmore and the cost of making the step up to a family home is something she knows first-hand.
“My husband and I have been looking at some of the cheaper lots in Canmore, which start from $400,000 just for the land. We just can’t afford that. In Vernon, my friends will be getting the land, the house, the garage, everything for that sort of money. They can probably even get a horse for that.”

A member of the Canmore Planning Commission, Ms. Mitchell says things need to change in order for Canmore not to fall victim to its own economic success.

“Canmore needs real estate projects that make sense in various economies,” she explains. “We’re getting more and more tourist overspill from Banff which is making Canmore less affordable for visitors. The population of Canmore is growing but there aren’t enough affordable properties to ensure families stay and put down roots. Business in Canmore is booming, but employees can’t find accommodation. Canmore needs solutions to these challenges, not just more million-dollar homes.”

Ms. Mitchell, who has worked for several major developers in Calgary and the Bow Valley, recently launched her own company, Big Moose Realty, and she’s determined to “break the mould” in Canmore and address some of the issues affecting the town she loves.

“I have two adjacent sites on Bow Valley Trail. Phase 1, Base Camp, will be 34 nightly vacation rental units plus four affordable employee housing units. Phase 2 will be a mixed-use development with commercial at grade and affordable residential apartments and townhouse-style units above.”

Calgary-based designers, Studio North, have provided the creative vision for Base Camp, which broke ground Oct. 24. Phase 2 is pegged for August, 2017.
Mr. Fish says “innovative development is more essential than ever in Canmore. I certainly hope we’ve never discouraged that.”

Ms. Mitchell says her long-term ambitions in Canmore are to tackle the single-family home market, she’s just not sure how yet.

“I would love to do that. So few single family homes come to the market in Canmore under $750,000 and when they do they’re snapped up fast. If we could bring more product to the market under that price range, to give regular people a fighting chance, that would be amazing.”


Snow predicted at higher elevations on Tuesday and Wednesday
CBC News

It's not even the first day of fall, but people in the mountains west of Calgary are getting an early taste of winter as rain showers turn to snow in Banff National Park.

There was just a light dusting Tuesday morning in the Banff townsite, but further down the Trans-Canada at Lake Louise Ski Resort the snow has been piling up.

Spokesman Dan Markham says it's a sign the ski season is around the corner.

"We haven't quite gotten ready for the ski season, but people are calling to see how things are going. So people are getting excited and I guess we are not that far away from ski season," he said.
The slopes won't open until Nov. 10.

Environment Canada is forecasting snow in the Banff area at higher elevations for the next few days.

Photo: Sunshine Village Cam - September 20 @ 2:27pm


Cooler temperatures and pretty soon falling leaves serve as a reminder that the fall season is fast approaching. As the seasons change, so do our activities and home needs. Even though summer is not quite over yet, it’s a good time to do some seasonal maintenance to keep your home running smoothly. The weather can change quickly, especially if you live in a colder climate and you don’t want to be caught unprepared. A bit of attention now will save costly repairs and aggravation later.

Interior Maintenance

Check for drafts. Feel for drafts around the edges of windows and doors. A good tip is to use a lighted candle and if the flame flickers, there’s most likely a draft. If necessary, replace seals and repair caulking around window and door frames. Consider buying heavier or insulated drapery for especially drafty windows.

Have your furnace inspected. Hire an HVAC professional to test for leaks, check heating efficiency, and change the filter. They can also do a carbon monoxide check to ensure air safety. It’s also a good idea to stock up on extra air filters and change them every few months.

Winterize air conditioning. If your home has central air conditioning, (and you live in a climate where you won’t need it any longer,) it may be necessary to cover your outdoor unit for winter. If you use window air conditioning units, remove them or cover to prevent air leaks.

Programmable thermostat. Buy a programmable thermostat, if you don’t have one. If you already have one, check the temperature settings. Setting your thermostat to lower the temperature automatically at night and when you’re not home, can result in substantial cost savings.

Test home safety devices. Replace the batteries in all smoke detectors and carbon monoxide devices and test to make sure they’re working properly.

Clean humidifiers. Replace old filters and clean inside compartment. Vinegar is inexpensive and works well.

Exterior Maintenance

Do a roof check. You should be able to do at least a visual inspection of the roof from the ground. Grab some binoculars to get a closer look or if you’re able and can do so safely, climb on up for a better view. Look for missing, damaged, or loose shingles. If your roof is flat, you may need to remove leaves and debris.

Check the chimney and fireplace. If you have a wood fireplace and use it often, have your chimney cleaned and inspected by a professional.

Stock up on firewood. Order enough firewood for the season. If you gather your own firewood, make sure it’s dry and ready. It’s best to cover firewood and store away from the house for safety reasons.

Inspect siding. Check home exterior for cracks or holes. Repair them yourself or hire a professional.

Clean the gutters. Hire a service to clear your gutters or do it yourself. Remove leaves, nests, and debris from gutters and check for leaks.

Check water drainage. Rainwater downspouts need to be clear of obstructions and direct water away from foundations, walkways, and driveways. Add extensions to downspouts if necessary.

Reinforce windows and doors. Remove screens and install storm windows and doors if you use them. Check caulk and seals around all doors and windows.

Turn off faucets and store hoses. Drain garden hoses and disconnect from the outside spigots. Shut off exterior faucets, and if you have an older home, you may need to turn off the valve inside your home. Store hoses in a dry place so any residual water won’t freeze.

Service sprinklers and irrigation system. Depending on your climate, your irrigation system may need to be drained and checked. Have a professional perform any necessary repairs and mark sprinkler heads near snow removal areas.

Inspect trees. Check for damaged limbs that may break or that are too close to power lines or the roof.

Trim landscaping. Cut back bushes, shrubs, and flowers as recommended for your climate zone.

Bring in flowerpots. If you keep plants or flower in pots year-round, bring them inside. If you replace plants every year, empty, clean, dry pots and put away for next spring.

Plant bulbs. If you plant bulbs for spring, now’s the time to get them in the ground.

Leaf removal. Rake and remove leaves from the yard. Put into a compost pile if you have one. Alternatively, put into yard garbage bags and leave at the curb for community pick up. Check with your local city or town for requirements and pick up schedules.

Fertilize lawn. Applying fall lawn fertilizer will help prevent winter damage and spring weeds. Ask a local garden center or check online to find out which type of fertilizer you need and when to apply it. If you have a lawn service, they should do this for you.

Put away seasonal furniture. Clean and store seasonal outdoor furniture. Remove and clean cushions. Wash and dry furniture and store in a dry place over winter.

Close the pool. If you have a pool and live in an area where temperatures dip, schedule a service to come and close it for the season or if you know how, buy the supplies and do it yourself.

Organize the shed. As your shed is filling up with summer items in storage it’s a good time to organize and clean out the shed. Move summer items to the back and winter stuff up front for better access. Also, remove any liquids that will freeze.

In the Garage

Service summer power equipment. Empty fuel and clean lawnmower and trimmer. Have lawnmower blades sharpened and oil changed. Have any necessary repairs done now, so that you’re ready come spring.

Store summer vehicles. If you have a motorcycle, summer car, ATV or other type seasonal vehicle, now’s a good time to have that serviced as well.

Get winter equipment ready. Service snow blower and make sure it is ready to go, especially if you live in an unpredictable climate.

Test the generator. If you have an emergency generator for power outages, give it a test, and make sure it’s in good working order.

Buy extra gasoline. Purchase extra gas to have on hand for use in your snow blower or generator, so you’re prepared for emergencies. Make sure you store gasoline in tanks away from fire sources and out of children’s reaches.

Clean the garage. Since you’re in the garage prepping for fall, you might as well purge, organize and clean it while you’re there!

As you’re enjoying the last bits of summer, make sure that your home is prepared for the coming fall season. Preventative maintenance now will save money on expensive emergency repairs and wasted energy costs. Properly maintaining your home also enhances its value and appeal and is less effort than managing a crisis later. When the chilly weather approaches you and your home will be ready.



Your summer household chores are all done and now it is time to go camping. The great outdoors, the campfires, the food you’d never eat in civilized society: it’s a wonderful experience. That said, things can get a little bit tricky when we are left to the mercy of Mother Nature. Here are 30 fantastic camping hacks you can use to make your camping experience as wonderful as possible!

 1. Use sage to repel mosquitoes.
Place some sage in your campfire and the smell is sure to ward off any pesky mosquitos.

2. Liquid soap + cotton balls = no ticks.
If you or one of your fellow campers is having trouble with a tick, place the soap-soaked cotton on the tick for 20 seconds. The tick will eventually stop chewing and will come away with the cotton ball. If the tick was attached for a lengthy amount of time you may want to consider keeping it in a container so that you can test it for Lyme disease later.

3. Use an acorn cap as a whistle if you get lost.
It’s remarkably easy to get lost whilst camping. Here’s a full tutorial on how you can transform an acorn into a whistle!

4. Corn chips for kindling!
Doritos are a great way to start a fire, just be careful!

5. Use the rest of the chips for nachos.
Nachos are easy to pack, light and simple to make. Plus they’re incredibly tasty.

6. Use compact, microfibre towels!
These towels are incredibly easy to store and dry within an hour of use.

7. Wrap duct-tape around your water bottle for emergencies.
You never know when you might need some.

8. Make lamps out of jars and solar disks.

9. Sangria!
Prepare before you go and put it in mason jars, ready to drink!
We know what’s really important.

10. One water bottle will hold eight eggs.
By keeping all your eggs in a bottle you save time and hassle. Plus, no need to carry extra bowls or a whisk!

11. Johnson’s Baby Creamy Oil is a surprisingly good mosquito repellent.
Keep the bugs and the bug repellent smell at bay.

12. DIY shower.
All you need is a watering can and a large jug.

13. Keep sandpaper handy to light matches.
Glueing some sandpaper to the lid of a tupperware box where you can also store matches is a foolproof plan.

14. S’moreos.
Take an oreo, twist it open, add chocolate and marshmallows.  Voila! A S'moreo.

15. Grits repel ants.
Just sprinkle grits wherever you see ants.

16. Deodorant can be used to combat itchiness from mosquito bites.

17. Wrap your meat in cabbage to stop it from burning.
The moistness in the cabbage creates the perfect barrier.

18. Foam noodles will stop any injuries.
For any fellow clumsy people, you know how possible it is to smack your head and cause serious injury. Placing a foam noodle on the awning strut narrows down at least one accident waiting to happen.

19. Carry some essentials in a small tin with you at all times.
You never know what you’ll need and when.

20. Take toothpaste dots instead of a whole tube.
Place small drops on a sheet of wax paper. Let the drops dry out over 3 days, add a little baking soda and put them in a resealable bag.

21. Use a stick to secure your tent.
By placing a stick in the main centre line you ensure the pressure is even throughout, which will stop the grommets being pulled out.

22. Vacuum seal your food before you leave.

23. Popcorn on the campfire.
Jiffy Pop is great popcorn that you can place on the stove at home can also be popped over a campfire..

24. Keep your toiletries handy on a clip string. 

25. Compact, unbreakable cups!
Get them while you can with the summer seasonals!

26. Tic-Tac boxes are great for storing ingredients like spices and salt/pepper.

With these tips and tricks, you can work DIY magic into nearly every aspect of camping, and make your next camping trip a comfortable, easy blast. Good luck!

Featured photo credit: rmalouf via


Story and Photos by Andrew Penner

I’m standing, trigger finger on the shutter, on the reedy shore of an idyllic Rocky Mountain lake. A layer of milk-white mist hovers over the water and conceals a loon making its haunting call. Moments later the bird slices through the fog and lands like a perfect pontoon plane on the glassy water. The sublime scene is playing out on little-known Herbert Lake just north of Lake Louise on the Icefields Parkway; one of many awesome lakeside locations where nature photographers can capture a card-full of postcard-worthy images.

Lakes and mountains go together like cake and ice cream. Beer and nachos. Wine and cheese. The perfect pairing is responsible for millions of visitors — record numbers are predicted this year thanks, mainly, to our dipping dollar — flocking to Alberta and British Columbia for a little sightseeing … and whatever else comes with that.

For many people, myself included, what comes with that is a penchant for pictures. That is, creating beautiful and dramatic (hopefully) imagery that does some justice to that winning combination of water and rock. Throw some rich colours into the mix — deep forest greens and otherworldly baby-blues, for example — and you’ve got the makings for eye-popping images. A loon? A moose? A beaver? Indeed, complete your masterpiece with a prized wildlife subject and, cha ching, that’s why shutterbugs get up at 5 a.m.

If the goal is capturing the beauty of our mountain lakes, there are a multitude of choices. And they come in all shapes and sizes. Here are my top 10 choices to get your iconic “cake and ice cream” shot.

Moraine Lake: Clamber up the rock pile at the east end of Moraine Lake for sunrise and you are in for a breathtaking spectacle. As the Valley of the Ten Peaks is washed with morning light, the ice-scoured mountains reflected in the baby-blue lake, you’ll see why this scene, depicted on the back of our $20 bill for years, is considered sacred and sublime.

Lake Louise:  True, you won’t be alone on the tidy shore of Lake Louise as you jockey for position at sunrise. However, the early start is always rewarded. An image of this lake is, for many millions of visitors, the ultimate “Canadian” keepsake.

Waterton Lake:  I’ve always thought that the regal position of the historic Prince of Wales Hotel on the exposed bluff high above Waterton Lake is as impressive and iconic as it gets. In fall, when the colours explode around the lake, it’s a jaw-dropping sight. And an awesome picture.

Vermilion Lakes: Getting great landscape images doesn’t get much easier! The entire stretch of lakeside road, which runs below and parallel the Trans Canada Highway just minutes from downtown Banff, affords numerous photo ops of Mount Rundle, the Fairholme Range, and more.

Lake O’Hara:  A little more work is required to get to Lake O’Hara, but the effort will pay off in spades … and many, many pictures. Reserve a seat on the shuttle and you’ll be transported into mountain-and-lake heaven. The hike up to the Opabin Plateau, where the larches burn bright in fall, is a must.

Peyto Lake: This roadside stop on the Icefields Parkway is tour bus staple … so bring some patience. The spectacular view from the platform — and the subsequent images — is mandatory for any serious landscape photographer who wants to capture the creme de la creme.

Emerald Lake: One of the crown jewels of Yoho National Park, Emerald Lake (if you’re looking for a splurge, a stay at Emerald Lake Lodge will not disappoint), might be the ultimate lake for a paddle … or a picture. Hemmed in on all sides by towering peaks, this pristine lake is always worth the 20-minute side trip off the Trans Canada Highway near Field.

Pyramid Lake: Just a few minutes from the Jasper townsite, Pyramid Lake — and the beautiful sight of Pyramid Mountain reflected on the smooth surface — is a shutterbug’s dream. Like to shoot the critters? Pyramid Lake Road serves up frequent wildlife sightings.

Herbert Lake: While 50, or more, people might be gathered along the shore of Lake Louise for sunrise, chances are only a handful, if that, will be at Herbert Lake. This little-known lake just minutes from Lake Louise on the Icefields Parkway serves up stunning morning reflections of Mount Temple and surrounding peaks. Next time take the road less travelled.

Maligne Lake/Spirit Island: The legendary image of Spirit Island — made famous when the shot was plastered on the wall of New York’s Grand Central Station for a Kodak ad — is vintage Canadiana. Unfortunately, if you take the 90-minute boat ride, you only get 15 minutes to photograph the “cake.” Use your time wisely!

Andrew Penner is a freelance writer and photographer based in Calgary.
You can find him at


Turn your home into the belle of the block with these dozen exterior fixes—best done while the temperatures are warm

Remember all those outdoor fixup projects you put off last winter, waiting for the warm summer months? Well, summer's here and it's time to think about getting some repairs in while the temperatures are still agreeable. Keeping your home in tip-top shape not only adds to its curb appeal but it saves you money as you ward off more expensive fixes down the road.

But look at it this way: Spend a couple of weekends outside, basking in the beautiful weather, and make sure your home looks fantastic while you can still enjoy its charms. Soon enough, it will be time to pack it up and head inside.

Let the Sunshine In

One of the simplest but most satisfying fixups you can do is to make your windows sparkle and shine, letting in clear summer light.

Fix Up the Front Door

Your front entry is your home's ambassador, signaling to guests if you are friend or foe. If yours is more "War is hell" than "Good to see you, ally," perhaps you need to spruce things up a bit to make it more welcoming.

Get Rid of Rotted Wood

Sometimes a simple spruce up isn't enough, when damage to the wood on your house's exterior is too far gone and rot has set in. Don't worry—using the right tools and materials, you can make rot disappear, and fend off more damage.

Repair the Roof

Get the roof in shape and the gutters functioning before both have to battle rain and snow.

Polish Up Paths and Patios

Don't let another winter wreak havok on your hardscaping. Bring your walkways and entertaining areas into tip-top shape while you can still enjoy them.
Spruce Up Your Exterior
Make your home stand out by brightening up its drab exterior.

Renew Porches and Decks

Fix the decking on your outdoor spaces so they're safer and more inviting for summer and fall entertaining.

Get Fencing in Order

A sagging fence gate or a leaning mailbox can make your house look unloved and unlived-in.

Clean Up the Landscape

Even if you get the house all fixed up, a scraggly yard can ruin the whole effect. Get out the garden gloves and the wheelbarrow, and tidy up that unkempt landscape.

Manicure Your Lawn

It's never too late to go for the greenest turf in the neighborhood.

Get the Sprinklers Working Properly

Summer droughts can get the best of your landscape, no matter how diligent you are with planting and pruning. Make sure your prize-worthy lawn and garden get the water they need in the most efficient way, by feeding them through sprinklers and irrigation.

Take Measures Before it Gets Cold

As much as we love that summer heat, it won't last forever. If you live in a cold-weather climate, now is the time to prep for below-freezing winter days.



Calgary's luxury real estate market rebounds, Sotheby's report says
Sales of $1M to $2M homes in Calgary up 9% so far this year

There are signs of a recovery in Calgary's higher-end real estate market, with almost 10 per cent more homes worth $1 million to $2 million changing hands so far this year, according to Sotheby's International Realty.

After plummeting about 40 per cent from 2014 to 2015, Calgary's luxury real estate market is warming up even as the energy sector downturn continues, the company's mid-year Top Tier Real Estate Report says.

"Overall, a surplus of supply and rising rental vacancies solidified the city's position as a buyers' market for top-tier real estate in the first half of 2016," the report says.

Sotheby's says Calgary Real Estate Board (CREB) figures show that sellers have been dropping their prices, sending the benchmark price down by 3.95 per cent in May.

Even so, a total of 318 properties sold for more than $1 million in the first six months of 2016, compared to 221 in the second half of 2015.

The $1-million to $2-million category accounted for 289 of those sales. In the $2-million to $4-million range, 29 properties were sold. No homes sold for more than $4 million, Sotheby's said.

Homes are also spending less time on the market. In the second half of 2015, properties in the $1-million to $2-million range took an average of 68 days to sell. So far this year, they're selling in an average of 52 days.

The downturn has hit the condominium market hardest, resulting in negligible sales over $1 million in the first half of 2016.

The average price for detached homes in Upper Mount Royal, Elbow Park, Altadore and Aspen Woods in May 2016 were $1,203,000, $1,531,333, $1,105,412 and $1,149,059 respectively.

"Further price adjustments are anticipated for the real estate market in the fall as increasingly motivated sellers further amend price expectations," the report said.

"This makes the summer a critical period for home sellers in Calgary's luxury real estate market."


TORONTO, July 13, 2016 – Canada’s residential real estate market continued to show strong appreciation in the second quarter of 2016, posting the highest national year-over-year gain seen in five years, according to the Royal LePage House Price Survey[1] and Market Survey Forecast released today.  Amid continued world economic uncertainty, the historically low interest rate environment that has fueled Canada’s real estate market growth in recent years – most notably in Greater Vancouver and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) – is expected to continue longer than anticipated.  This extended period of low-cost borrowing will in turn further delay the cyclical cooling of Canada’s hottest real estate markets, originally forecasted for the second half of 2016.

The Royal LePage National House Price Composite, compiled from proprietary property data in 53 of the nation’s largest real estate markets, shows that the price[2]of a home in Canada increased 9.2 per cent year-over-year to $520,223 in the second quarter of 2016.  During the same period, the price of a two-storey home rose 10.7 per cent year-over-year to $619,671, the price of a bungalow increased 7.9 per cent to $437,121, and the price of a condominium increased 4.2 per cent to $348,189.  Looking ahead to the remainder of 2016, Royal LePage forecasts that the aggregate price of a home in Canada will increase 12.4 per cent when compared to year end 2015.

“Our forecasting models, which pointed to a slowing housing market as the year progressed, included a modest increase in the cost of borrowing,” said Phil Soper, president and chief executive officer, Royal LePage. “Economic and social disruptions have rocked the world once again, introducing new risks and making it very likely that the Bank of Canada will leave interest rates as-is for now. Few industries are as rate sensitive as real estate. We don’t  see even a mild correction for either the Toronto or pistol-hot Vancouver markets in 2016.”

“Our call for 12.4 per cent national price appreciation in the final quarter of this calendar year as compared to the final quarter of last year, is a landmark in Canada.  I believe it is the highest value put forward by any serious forecasting agency since the turn of the century,” added Soper.

On June 23, 2016, Britons voted to leave the European Union, surprising financial markets worldwide.  The British currency plummeted and the value of equities around the world swung wildly. Adding to economic uncertainty is an uncharted road ahead for decoupling the U.K. from the E.U., a process which some have predicted could take two years. This added dimension of uncertainty will encourage central bankers in Canada and abroad to keep rates lower for longer.

“Some have suggested that Britain’s exit from the E.U. will drive more foreign money into the relative safety of Canada’s real estate markets,” said Soper.  “We anticipate the impact, if any, will be seen in the commercial property sector and not in housing markets. Beyond Europe, our research does point to increasing Vancouver and Toronto region foreign buyer[3] activity in residential markets this quarter. Canada remains a favoured nation for the world’s real estate investors.”

According to a survey[4] of Royal LePage real estate advisors working within these regions, 71 and 74 per cent said that year-over-year home purchases by international buyers have increased in the second quarter in the GTA and Greater Vancouver, respectively. Still, 35 and 37 per cent of respondents believe that foreign ownership accounts for less than 10 per cent of the GTA and Greater Vancouver housing markets, respectively.

“At Royal LePage, we see residential real estate as a long-term investment supporting family life. A home is ill-suited as a buy-and-flip investment.  People that engage in this kind of activity are inevitably burned when a market slows and the time it takes to sell the property increases substantially. We applaud the efforts of all levels of government to better understand Canada’s housing market, through a coordinated effort to gather and analyze real estate data. Still, we remain convinced that heavy-handed use of tax policy in an effort to artificially influence asset values in an open-market economy like ours is fraught with peril, particularly in a cyclical industry like housing,” concluded Soper.

Provincial and City Summaries & Trends

Since the 2014 collapse of oil prices and the subsequent drop in the value of the Canadian dollar, the nation’s economy has been dominated by growth in British Columbia, Ontario, Manitoba and Quebec – the four provinces most tied to the finished goods and services export sector, and by extension, to the health of the U.S. economy. The negative impact of the downturn in the resource sector, in contrast, remains concentrated in Alberta, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador.  Across the country, provincial economic trends can be seen influencing residential real estate market performance in most cities.

British Columbia’s economy has outperformed the balance of the country for two years running and is expected to continue doing so into 2017. This economic strength is echoed in the province’s housing market.  In the second quarter, Greater Vancouver posted an aggregate year-over-year home price increase of 24.6 per cent to a median price of $1,098,599.  During the same period, the city of Vancouver posted a year-over-year gain of 27.5 per cent to $1,330,531, while surrounding areas such as West Vancouver and Richmond posted even higher increases of 29.7 per cent and 28.3 per cent to median prices of $3,093,776 and $972,443, respectively.

Manitoba has been cited as one of the provinces that will outpace the national economy in 2016 and 2017[5]. This is attributed mainly to its strength in a diverse set of industries such as agriculture, health sciences, transportation, manufacturing and business services, rounding off the edges of some of the would-be effects of the commodities downturn.  In Winnipeg, the aggregate price of a home increased by a moderate 2.0 per cent in the second quarter to a median price of $285,358, with the detached two-storey home category posting the highest year-over-year price gain of 3.7 per cent to $314,589.

Ontario is expected to be one of the fastest growing provinces in 2016, with employment growth running at twice the national average so far this year. Very strong U.S. employment growth in June should once again stimulate Ontario’s export sector, after a tepid performance in the second quarter, as more American businesses look to Canada for affordable goods and services.  The GTA, the province’s largest market, saw notable year-over-year home price appreciation of 10.2 per cent to a median price of $656,365, while home price appreciation in the city of Toronto remained in-line with recent quarters, rising 8.4 per cent to $680,096.  Surrounding suburbs such as Richmond Hill, Whitby and Oshawa continued to outpace home price appreciation in the core, posting year-over-year aggregate home price gains of 21.3 per cent, 17.1 per cent and 16.7 per cent, to $992,632, $547,304 and $409,452, respectively.  Meanwhile, in the nation’s capital home prices remained steady in the second quarter, with the aggregate price of a home in Ottawa increasing 2.3 per cent to a median price of $401,288.

Strength in exports to the U.S. is expected to continue to support provincial growth in the remainder of the year in Quebec. Last month Fitch Ratings revised its outlook for the province from “negative” to “stable”, citing Quebec’s diverse economy as a key strength.  An increase in full-time jobs and renewed stability and confidence in Quebec’s economy is being reflected in the province’s residential housing sector, particularly in the Montreal region.  In the second quarter, the aggregate price of a home in the Greater Montreal Area increased by a healthy 3.5 per cent year-over-year to $344,620, while the aggregate price of a home in Montreal Centre rose 4.9 per cent to a median price of $416,953. This is indicative of a transition in the region, which is currently seeing a trend toward a seller’s market in the two-storey home segment, and a balanced market for other property types.

The Conference Board of Canada has projected that Alberta’s economy will dip 2.0 per cent this year as a result of the sharp pullback in drilling and capital investment in the energy sector, along with the impact of the Fort McMurray fires. Despite economic setbacks, residential real estate prices in the region have not seen the depreciation many onlookers had expected.  In the second quarter, the aggregate price of a home in Calgary decreased 1.8 per cent year-over-year to $454,790, while the aggregate home price in Edmonton dipped 1.2 per cent to $377,337.

Like Alberta, Saskatchewan is being hit by weakness in the energy sector, with more than 9,000 residents having dropped out of the workforce altogether. As a result, home prices in the province’s major centres have posted slight declines.  According to the Royal LePage National House Price Composite, the aggregate price of a home in Saskatoon slipped 0.2 per cent year-over-year to $370,125, while the aggregate home price in Regina decreased slightly, falling 1.7 per cent to $323,612.

Atlantic Canada saw mixed results in the second quarter, with Fredericton posting the highest year-over-year aggregate home price appreciation at 3.8 per cent to $235,425, with Moncton close behind, rising 3.0 per cent to $193,154.  Despite a rosier economic prognosis than its Atlantic neighbours, Halifax home prices remained flat year-over-year in the second quarter at $298,753. St. John’s was the only Atlantic city in the Composite to report an aggregate price decline, with the price of a home decreasing 1.5 per cent year-over-year to $336,131 amid a regional economic downturn brought on by the fall in oil prices. Meanwhile, powered by agriculture and tourism, Prince Edward Island’s economy is expected to grow slightly quicker than the national average according to most forecasters, although the residential real estate market has remained relatively flat, with the aggregate home price in Charlottetown rising 0.7 per cent year-over-year to $223,087 in the second quarter.

“Canada is not one homogeneous housing market, but rather a mosaic of many different real estate stories,” stated Soper. “While low interest rates remain the primary driver of Canada’s sustained real estate market expansion, home price trends are increasingly influenced by local factors, from the lift provided by wealthy immigrants to the drag felt by the depressed energy sector,” explained Soper. “The two regions that have provided pleasant surprises have been the oil-impacted regions where home values have been remarkably resilient.  And in Quebec, where the broad-based recovery story continues, with Montreal homes experiencing healthy price increases for another consecutive quarter.”

“Southern Ontario continues to see substantial year-over-year home price appreciation, with robust sales activity and price growth in both Toronto proper and in the region’s other urban centres, with no immediate sign of slowing down,” said Soper. “It is completely fair to describe the price increases we have experienced in the Toronto market as healthy; Vancouver is a different story altogether.  Canada’s most expensive market is distancing itself from the rest of the country at such a rapid rate that housing affordability has become a major public policy issue.”

“The quest for affordability in Vancouver seems to be influencing consumer housing type choices,” continued Soper.  “Alongside skyrocketing prices of single-family homes, we have seen an uptick in the rate of price appreciation for condominiums over 1,000 square feet, when compared to smaller units in this market.  This may indicate that families being priced out of the single-family detached home market in Vancouver are looking upwards to condominiums. In the GTA, this trend has not yet taken hold, suggesting that buyers are still predominantly moving ‘out’ to surrounding regions, versus ‘up’, in search of relatively affordable housing options,” concluded  Soper.