- 1. Vancouver walk-abouts
There are few occupations that allow people to walk around during the day soaking up what is going on in neighbourhoods. After all, most of us spend our day inside our offices. I’ve spent my fair share in them as well over the years so I know that feeling. I can however, think of two occupations that include a significant amount of walking about neighbourhoods as part of their job. One is a postal worker, although that may end soon with community boxes and they always seem to be half running so who knows what they are taking in? Then there is my occupation, a professional Realtor®. Of course I’m going on the assumption that other real estate agents do ‘walk-abouts’ as well in order to hand out flyers and meet prospective clients.
So here I go, this is my blog and my first entry into the blogosphere! If you haven’t guessed its about my ‘walk-abouts’ in and around Vancouver.
Ok before you run in the other direction … this is not a play by play on each step I take (3000 steps today folks! Aiming for 4000 tomorrow!) Nope, this is different … this blog is on my observations on what I see, hear and experience in your Vancouver neighbourhood. If you ask my partner Amy, she will tell you that it’s a bit like Cinéma vérité or Direct Cinema as it is known, only in blog form. I’m observing and recording things and events in which the subject and audience are unaware of the cameras presence (or in this blogs case, my presence). Now, one more disclaimer, no it’s not my own unique brand of neighbourhood watch disguised to get your business ‘yes I’m sure I saw a burglar trying to get into your home Mr. Jones. Perhaps you should think about moving soon?’. In a nut shell, think of my blog as Mr. Rogers’s neighbourhood meets the pied piper (yes your dogs and cats have been known to follow me). The only difference is that I leave the living room unlike Rogers and I don’t blow into a flute like Piper. The rest is pretty much the same when you combine the two together. You get the picture right?
Ok, so my blog will also have observations from a couple of important people to me. My grandmother-in-law who is a second generation Vancouverite since 1919, my-mother-in law whom I have come to think of as the counter balance to everything I say. Plus there’s my team who also walks about the city and there is my partner who is an artist, she will be contributing to this blog and believe me she can see the beauty in things that shouldn’t be seen as beautiful, like walls with multiple paint colours peeling off “Ian… when the light hits that wall just right, it is simply magnificent!” I’m sure she will present a whole new perspective from an artistic stand point on whatever topic we decide to discuss.
On my walk-abouts there are two subjects that I want to keep updating, well at least in picture form. One is your ‘Fur Children’. Vancouverites love their pets and they are in truth the highlight of my day so expect photos of your Feline and Fido friends. When I can, I will leave my card and a note to say I have taken their photo and for you to check it out on line. There’s the wild life as well. Recently I came across a squirrel with a white tail (picture skunk colours with a squirrel body). No I wasn’t dehydrated from a long walk. I did see the squirrel that looked like a skunk near East 19th and Lakewood Dr. However I will concede that it may have got its tail stuck in a can of white paint since there is a lot of ‘renos’ going on in that area. There was also the time when someone from my team was chased by a coyote in the Kits area and there are rumors of a flying parrot near west 2nd Ave and Trutch St., that will attempt to land on your head according to a lady who told us that it had escaped years earlier and now just flies around her neighbourhood. I’m not sure why but I can’t get my team to go back to that area so you will likely see me there next time! Essentially, I will report on all manner of species (not just human) that I meet on my walks.
If you read my biography on my web page you will see that I am clearly a techie person. I have well over a hundred websites that are a part of a vast Real Estate Network. This is my business but I promise that I won’t sell homes on my blog. You can go to my own real estate website IanBrett.realtor or the CaptainVancouver.com network to check out homes and get real estate advice instead of getting it here.
Well at least if I’m going to promote a home for sale on my blog I won’t do it in too obvious a way (after all I’m still a Realtor® and can’t very well miss opportunities!). If I do find something I want to say in that area, I promise to do something to soften the sell like take video doing something dramatic so that you won’t really care as much and it will still feel like entertainment to you. Plus I have to say you’re going to want to hear some of my team and my more intriguing observations that touch on real estate and shall we say the VIP life. There was the time when one of my team was walking through Point Grey when she swore she came across a famous actor or something (she wasn’t entirely sure)…there was a whole lot of commotion and security guards and the PR rep. questioned her for just being on that road at that particular time. Unfortunately since she can’t speak Chinese it all remains a huge mystery to her (she probably should have just asked the PR lady) Nevertheless she now can’t let it go and since she is prone to exaggeration, there is no doubt that the story will take on a life of its own and may well be recycled a year or two in this blog, although it may not be recognizable by then.
Now as for where I go in Vancouver, since I’m ‘CAPTAIN VANCOUVER’…yes I have registered the trademark so don’t be fooled by knock offs and please don’t call me Captain America…that’s a super hero and although I like to think of myself as a hero, at least I am to my kids, I don’t walk around in tight pants and a cape….just a fake Naval Captains outfit in bright blue so that no one will mistake me for a real Navy Captain–Vancouver is a major Port after all. Anyway my territory is pretty much all of Greater Vancouver. In fact my team has walked a couple of hundred kilometers between us last summer alone. So I’m sure you’ll see me at some point. Make sure you say hi! Restarting my walks in a week, so check back then for the next update!
- 2. The “Vancouver Special”
What’s so special about the #Vancouver Special? The Vancouver special is a bit like that relative that you all quietly say….” how did he end up in our Swedish family?” You have 50 cousins all with blond hair and names like Bjorn, Gustaf, and Helga and then there’s Cousin Jimmy, the only one with black hair, a weird sense of humor and well …the name Jimmy in a family full of Nordic names. He’s family and you know it, but he’s just a bit out of sync., from the rest of you, and that is how I would describe the Vancouver Special–– a bit out of sync. but very familiar.
This week I was walking down a beautiful street in Kerrisdale…the sun was shining…the cherry blossoms budding. Birds were singing harmonies almost in step with my stride as I enjoy the breathtaking architecture and sweet aromas of spring, and then ‘wham’ I’m hit with it. No, I do not mean the smell of the horse %#** wafting up the hill from Southlands.
Like a sudden kink in my back after walking up numerous stairs to get to post boxes (to hand out my market snapshots in case you are wondering) there it was…smack dab in the middle of rows of gorgeous heritage homes is the ubiquitous ‘Vancouver Special’. Almost as sudden as my instant displeasure at seeing the out of place home, I was hit for a brief moment with a sense of excitement and this is where the alluring part of my title comes into play. This Vancouver special was calling out to me…almost beckoning me. Telling me why I should give it a second look, why it is the preverbal diamond in the rough—giving me reason to consider why it is truly ‘special’ among this street of dreams.
I knew what that ‘special’ meant…for in that instant the Vancouver Special once thought by me as the ugly duckling of Vancouver home architecture styles had redeemed itself entirely as I looked up from my feet only to realize that I wouldn’t have to climb a flight of stairs.
Its mailbox was at ground level and this is where my view of the Vancouver Special changed.
After handing out flyers to heritage homes some with 10 flights of stairs, the Vancouver Special took on new alluring appeal to me. I suddenly liked them! It’s that same feeling you get when you are not sure you like someone but then they do something to change your opinion of them and instantly you see them different.
We can all probably agree that name ‘Vancouver Special’ is a bit of an oxymoron when you look at its design aesthetic. It’s not special because it looks good. It’s got to be special for some other reason right? The Merriam-Webster dictionary describes the word special as “different from what is normal or usual.” Ok let’s take a look at what that ‘Special’ might be, starting first with the Vancouver Special Wiki page where you will see it described in terms of proliferation and mass production. This doesn’t exactly sound ‘special’ to me, rather more overwhelming if anything. The Vancouver Special is everywhere. In fact so much so that the city of Vancouver realizing that too many ‘specials’ were being made decided to implement a little family planning by making changes to the single family zoning regulations in the 80’s with the intent to stop additional Vancouver specials from being built but not before over 10,000 Specials propagated the Vancouver landscape between the period of 1965 to 1985—and that is just in Vancouver. Take a trip across the river and you will see that the ‘Special’, just like morning glory, sprung up in other parts of the Lower Mainland taking over entire streets, growing like a weed that you can’t quite control. I don’t think there are any statistics on the number of ‘specials’ outside of Vancouver but I would venture a guess that there are upwards of 30 thousand or more when you factor in Burnaby, Delta, Langley and other Lower Mainland suburbs.
I don’t think there is a family in Vancouver that hasn’t lived in a Vancouver Special at one point in their lives and if they haven’t, they most certainly have been in one. My wife grew up in one and when I immigrated to Canada, the first home we bought from the Strand family was a Vancouver Special (BTW…my parents still live in it)
When my wife and I have looked for homes ourselves she points them out, dismissing better looking homes as possible contenders for purchase…honey don’t you think that would be a great home to raise the kids—its spacious, functional, and reminds me of my childhood? I won’t tell you what I think of when she says that but then again, I grew up with monkey’s in my backyard before I moved to Canada so I really have no fair comparisons.
I see my wife’s affinity for the Vancouver special much like a friend of mine who grew up in Alberta. He lives here now but to hear him talk about Alberta, you would think it is like the Disneyland of Canada– the happiest place on earth. Despite frequent bouts of -40 degree weather and that it is in a state of perpetual deep freeze for 8 months out of the year. If you ask what he thinks of Vancouver by comparison whilst standing in 14 degree January weather, he politely says “Alberta is better.”
So like my friend, I allow my wife to live under the allusion that the Vancouver Special is a beautiful architectural marvel. She grew up in a Vancouver Special and all memories are wrapped up in it. The Vancouver Special is a cookie cutter home so she is virtually going back to her childhood every time she steps in one much less looks at one. The Vancouver Special is unique to the Vancouver landscape and is truly a part of the Vancouver Psyche now but not because of the shier volume of them, rather I think the ‘special’ is a reminder of a time when Vancouver was not the most expensive city in North America. The Vancouver Special symbolizes a time when everyone had a chance at making it here.
A view not lost on Artist Ken Lum who built a miniature version of the ‘special’ as a commentary on the city’s cost of living. Ken built a Vancouver Special scaled to its property value in 1973, then increased it by 8 fold. What you get is virtually a backyard playhouse.
My father-in-law actually built a Vancouver Special in 1970, it was his first home.
My Father in Law in front of his first ‘Vancouver Special’ home (circa 1971)
For a guy like my father-in-law who had come from a home that didn’t have much money, the Vancouver Special afforded him the chance to build on his dreams. In fact, he talked about his Vancouver Special as a source of pride, but not so much in how the house looked but in how he got the plans for next to nothing, that it was fast to build, spacious, affordable and its box like shape allowed for a degree of customization by him later on. In fact his second house was built in the ‘Salt Box’ style for many of the same reasons.
By and large it is not known as a pretty house, it’s a functional one that sheltered thousands of young families including new immigrants, like my family, who came to Vancouver during its building boom years. The Vancouver Special was easy to build fast and on demand. Some even went from empty lot to ‘finished home’ in just three weeks. It also maximized the use of space on the standard 10-metre lot so it was great for multi-generational families that needed more living space. The plans were easy to get and only cost $65 from the local planning office, making it a home that was inexpensive and very convenient. The Vancouver Special was in the 70’s what the condo is today to Vancouverites, an affordable entry level home for first time home owners.
You can’t build them anymore in Vancouver and it has long served it’s original purpose as a mass produced entry level home. It has though gotten its second wind of late, calling out to a new generation of Vancouverites to use it again by renovating it to give it an updated appearance.
Original Vancouver Special beside Remodeled Vancouver Special (Right)
Out with the stucco, metal framed balcony and aluminum window frames. In with timber beams, spot lighting, modern finishing and brightly coloured doors. What was once an affordable cookie-cutter home has now reoriented itself for the next generation to use it once again as an entry way into the housing market, and that my friends puts the ‘special’ in the Vancouver Special!
Check out the latest addition to the Captain Vancouver Real Estate Network offering sellers a VANCOUVER SPECIAL revision package:vancouverspecialsales.com
- 3. Vancouver – Hollywood North
Did you know #Vancouver was the first Hollywood! You’ve likely never heard of Filmmaker William Harbeck. He died on the Titanic at the age of 44 over 100 years ago and was in fact the official filmmaker on the Titanic. He also happens to have made the very first film of Vancouver, in 1907. Imagine filming the first movie in Hollywood, California. Well Harbeck did that for us here in ‘Hollywood North.’ Incidentally, the first film in Hollywood California wasn’t made until 1910 so technically Vancouver was the first Hollywood.
Vancouverites have a bit of a love/hate relationship with movie making. We know its a big industry that we should all support, but when you see the street lined with white trucks and a person at the end with a safety vest ready to stop you…well you may just get annoyed a little bit. Last year, the Mayor of Vancouver had to release a statement for the Movie Deadpool because it closed down a major viaduct that went into the city for 10 days. A carefully worded reminder of how much money the film was bringing to Vancouver and that the main actor ‘Ryan Reynolds’ was a hometown boy – to try and curb complaints.
Movie ‘DeadPool’ with Ryan Reynolds on Vancouver Bridge
In any given day, if your going from one end of town to the other, you will be sure to come across a production set. There’s even a Wiki page dedicated to film locations in and around the Vancouver area.
Perhaps you consider yourself lucky if you are making a mint off of a production renting your house or facility, maybe not so lucky if you are the neighbour.
Movie Production Trucks line Shaughnessy area street in Vancouver
All Vancouverites have what I call movie-making moments…from friends’ that have been extras in movies to run-ins with movie stars and more. My wife has a collection of stories starting with one of her friends’, whose Dad made $500 dollars to turn off his lawnmower when “never ending story” was being filmed in White Rock in the early 80’s…and yes he did try turning it on again the next day…so did all their neighbours.
She personally dodged Dr. McDreamy when he had a meltdown in the parking lot of a bowling alley in the early 90’s and she was almost run over by an actors golf cart in VanDusen Gardens for the filming of ‘Good Boy!’ The one production movie moment that stands out for her was the Joel Schumacher movie ‘Cousins’ staring Ted Danson, Isabella Rossellini, Lloyd bridges and over 5 of her friends who played extras in the last 5 minutes of the movie. It was her own ‘jumping the shark’ moment for watching all movies thereafter…she said she couldn’t take any movie very serious nearly as much after that.
My wife’s ‘Jumping the Shark’ moment with the 1989 Movie ‘Cousins’
For myself I have a personal favorite movie-making moment that recently occurred when I was driving through Vancouver. I watch none other than one of my superhero colleagues ‘the Flash’ cross the street with his body guards (even Superheros need protection sometimes). Got a great Vancouver movie-making moment, post them to #VYRshoots.
Sighting of “The Flash” The Flash TV Series
Vancouver has been used as a filmmaking location for over a century, three years after Harbecks film of Vancouver, the The Cowpuncher’s Glove and The Ship’s Husband, were also both shot in Vancouver in 1910.
So why is Vancouver considered a great place to film a movie apart from the beautiful scenery. Well I have it on good authority that the ever present ‘cloud cover’ is better for filming, we have some mega studios, serious talent, our scenery is versatile..its close to L.A. studios and our lower dollar at this point doesn’t hurt either.
By now you might be wondering the topic of Harbecks first film? Well it was more like a silent documentary of Vancouver streets including Carrall, Powell, Cordova and Cambie, Robson and Davie. Harbeck set up a film camera on the front of a BC Electric Railway streetcar and started filming the city’s downtown streets where you can see horse-drawn wagons, ladies in ankle long skirts, and men in bowler hats. You can see that Vancouverites got bitten by the movie making bug with the Vancouver province reporting…
“many prominent citizens were suddenly stricken with kinetoscopitis yesterday” and reassured readers that “kinetoscopitis is not nearly as serious in its effects as spinal meningitis.” The article observed that “the way that prominent citizens suddenly discovered that they had business on the other side of the street and strolled across sort of unconcerned like, when they saw the kinetoscope coming was very amusing to those on the front of the car.”
Can’t find any reference to what exactly ‘kinetoscopitis’ was to Vancouverites back then but it would seem to be either a joke or a new medical term for something akin to ‘deer in headlights’ that didn’t exactly take off. Oh well, we can’t be first at everything!
All this talk about moving making in Vancouver neighbourhoods means that I really have to mention our independent neighbourhood movie theatres. Alas, most are now being taken over by developers for their property value or they have surrendered themselves to the digital era and to mega theatres. How people watch movies has changed and the small independent theatre fast becoming extinct but I have to say I love the art deco design that adorns most of the facades and despite being a real estate Ambassador I do like it when old neighbourhood theatres get repurposed while still keeping their character like Cloverdales ‘Clova Cinema’ which served as a frequent backdrop in the TV show ‘Smallville’ is now a Church. I’ve been in it, and I have to say they have preserved the authentic feel of the original theatre. Metro Vancouver has had its fair share of small independent theatres. Most are slowly closing their doors. Here are just a few…
75 years family owned & operated in Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighbourhood
The Stanley Theatre opened in 1930 in South Granville is now used by the Arts Club Theatre Company
Clova Cinema opened in 1947 and shut its doors in 2014. Its now home to Crossridge Church
- 4. Vancouver – Christmas Story
You’re expecting me to say that the world’s best Realtor® is none other than me – right! Well maybe, but for this article I’m going to pass the credit on to a real estate professional named ‘Jo’ – but just for December. The rest of the year I’m the Worlds Best Realtor®.
For my December post it seemed only appropriate that my blog should have a Christmas theme to it. After all, for those of us who celebrate the season, our houses are inexplicably linked to Christmas. It’s most often the place where we share our Christmas meal together with family and friends. While for others, we display lights and share the joy of the season by adorning our house with lights. I just love Christmas lights because in South Africa where I was born, it wasn’t really a tradition like it is here. We had Guy Fawkes day, but that was really about blowing up a house, not making it look attractive with lights. Anyway, I started a website for Lower Mainlanders called Christmashomes.ca
Ian Brett’s Captain Vancouver® Presents ChristmasHomes.ca
Christmas Homes lists all the homes in Greater Vancouver that have light displays. If there’s a competition, my favorites are in Brookswood, Langley where there seems to be a lot of Christmas cheer going on by way of flashy lights, music, and gigantic castles.
I’m going to be a Scrooge for a moment and ask you to put aside the Christmas cheer that December brings for just a brief moment. As a Realtor® writing in a Real Estate blog, I would be remise if I didn’t mention December tends to be the hardest month to sell a home. What’s the reason behind this? Well there’s the obvious reasons…if you live in a snowy place, not seeing the land under the house is one good reason. School is another…parents just don’t like to switch their kids out into a new school half way through the year. Then there’s the not so obvious which happens to be more on the physiological/emotional side of things that I think actually makes selling a home in December harder because of Christmas.
Vancouver Archives ‘Kerrisdale Home’
The problem with selling a home in December in my opinion is that homeowners are more likely emotionally detached from their homes the moment it was listed while Christmas is an emotional event that encompasses family and finances. If your Realtor® asked you to de-clutter, likely all the ‘personal’ photos are down and now you are forced to have one last celebration in a home that really doesn’t feel like home anymore.
If you still want to live in your home but are being forced out for whatever reason. Well that makes moving all the worse around Christmas…in fact downright depressing! If you sold and are ready to move, then you are contending with boxes…and do you really want to pack more kids toys do you.
The truth is, moving is pretty much always the result of a change in a job, divorce, death, downsizing and so on. Realtors® call it the 4-D’s (debt, divorce, death, diapers). I think there is actually 7’D’s but that is for another blog.
There are heavy emotions with the reasons behind moving and its only emphasized when Christmas rolls around. My wife will tell you that the first Christmas after her Dad died was very hard because she remembered thinking the previous year when he was alive that he would not live to see the next Christmas. She envisioned an empty chair at the Dinner table the following year, only to see what she imagined realized the next Christmas. She said that suddenly all her good memories eating at that table in the front room seemed to vanish with the last image of her Dad carving the turkey. It was no surprise to us that her Mom put the house up on the market a few months later. Selling and moving can be the start of something new and wonderful but no matter how good the reason for moving, it’s almost always an emotional experience.
My best advice for the emotionally burdened December mover…get out town if you can, even if costs you more than you want to spend. This year we went to Harrison Hotsprings to celebrate Christmas for no reason other than a change of scenery and I must admit it was a nice alternative and something I would personally do if I were to ever move in the month of December. It will give you space to breath, think and regroup.
Speaking of extra spending. December also happens to be the month that puts people into debt (another one of the 4D’s). Sorry…but I did say that I was going to be a Scrooge for a bit! Even though statistically all Vancouverites are technically millionaires with our housing prices what they are. I think it’s fair to say that we can all relate to Clark Griswold expecting his Christmas bonus to cover his Christmas promises to his family, only to be let down. The bell to the front door of the Griswold house rings and there’s the Delivery guy who was supposed to deliver Clarks yearly Christmas bonus but instead ends up delivering to him a membership in the “Jelly of the Month Club”. BTW…the delivery guy is Vancouverite ‘Keith MacKechnie.’
Vancouverite Keith MacKechnie in the Classic Movie ‘Christmas Vacation’
Kind of reminds me of a job I had when I was young, before I was a Realtor®. Just before Christmas one year, my employer told me that my job title had changed. I thought, wow better that than to loose my job, like a sort of mixed blessing. A week later I was called into his office. “Ian…he said, I want to congratulate you on your new job. Nothings changed, there’s no raise… but you get a new title….Merry Christmas!” Then he gave me my old title back from the week before! Gees thanks! It was the ultimate in Bah Humbug!All this bah humbug about the 4D’s and selling homes at Christmas and my own Griswold Christmas story. Now I will turn from Scrooge to Saint. We’ve all heard it said before that Vancouver is ‘no-fun city’ and that Vancouverites are lonely and unfriendly. Well I bet there are few cities that offer free kisses under the mistletoe. If your an out-of-towner…feel free to just kiss anyone that happens to walk under the #VanKiss mistletoe.
#VanKiss Elves bring kisses to Vancouverites
Now I’m an eternal optimist if you haven’t guessed and I’m reminded that Mary and Joseph didn’t have a home to stay in and that our Christmas story was also about homelessness and how we all respond to those less fortunate. With all the myriad of problems that any homeowner could possibly experience during this time, whether emotional or financial, it pales by comparison to homelessness. There is a staggering 17,000 working poor and homeless people throughout the Lower Mainland and I’m happy to say that many of them will receive blankets and warm clothing this winter thanks to donations collected during the 21stannual REALTORS Care® Blanket Drive.
So how does selling a home in December during the Christmas season connect to ‘Jo’…the World’s best Realtor®? No, he or she didn’t hand out thousands of blankets at the Blanket Drive. ‘Jo’ happens to be St. Joseph the unofficial patron saint of real estate. No, that’s not a joke, it’s true. There’s actually an unofficial Saint for all of you out there that are having trouble selling your home (not likely in Vancouver) or for some reason need to purge your house from some kind of ghost of Christmas past. I’m sure it will work for that as well.
EcoJoe® St Joseph Statue
The tradition of burying a statue of St. Joseph has been around for hundreds of years but was revived in the 1980’s when Realtors® began burying thousands of small plastic St. Joseph statues on properties that they wanted to sell. Probably attributed to the downturn in the economy at the time (as they say no atheists in the fox hole). You’ll find a lot of homeowners who genuinely believe that burying a statue of St. Joseph face down in the yard of a home that is on the market, and praying to St. Joseph for help finding the right buyer for the property, will help make a house sell faster.
According to the EcoJoe® website (they sell environmentally sensitive St. Joseph statues that dissolve into the soil). There are different versions of the beginning of this legend. One of the most popular theories about the origin of this tradition attributed it to St. Teresa of Avila. The legend is that St. Teresa started the custom of burying a statue of St. Joseph in the land in her quest for a new convent for her nuns. As the order grew and the Church wanted her to open other chapters of her order she needed appropriate land that would be large enough to house the nunnery.
She prayed to St. Joseph to help her find land that would be large enough and cheap enough for the project and encouraged her nuns to bury medals of St. Joseph in the ground to consecrate it and show the devotion of the nuns to St. Joseph. Eventually she did find the right piece of land and felt that the nuns’ prayers and burying the medals of St. Joseph had led St. Joseph to help her find the land.
From that point forward it became a tradition for people that were looking for a new home or looking for a piece of land to bury consecrated medals of St. Joseph in the land and pray for help finding a new home when they wanted to buy a new house or a new piece of land. Over the centuries the custom changed and instead of burying medals of St. Joseph people began burying small statues of St. Joseph when they wanted to sell their home or their property.
Another version of the custom of burying a statue of St Joseph in order to help a house sell faster is attributed to Germany where home builders would often place a small statue of St. Joseph or St. Joseph medals that had been blessed in the foundations of new homes. The builders would pray for the new owners of the home and leave the statues and medals in the home to protect the new owners.
St. Joseph is the patron saint of the house so it’s only natural that burying a statue of him would help the house sell faster, because of his profession as a carpenter and his role in raising Jesus and providing a stable, happy home for Jesus in grow up in he is the perfect saint to pray to when you want to sell your home to a new family that is looking for a safe and happy place to live.
Burying a statue of St. Joseph is unofficial as far as the Catholic Church goes and is more leaning towards superstition. There are no stats on ‘Jo the Realtor®’ but even if he manages to help the emotionally burden mover ‘calmer’ (you know who you are) then Kudos to ‘Jo’ for being the Worlds Best Realtor®! Have a Merry Christmas Vancouver!
- 5. Vancouver Cycles – Sea to Sky
#Vancouver cycles from Sea to Sky. The GranFondo this year started in Stanley Park at sea level and cyclists rode 122 km all the way up to the village of Whistler an elevation of 1700 meters. Since we proudly sponsored a rider this year, Septembers blog is going to be about Whistler and what it is like to live there. Whistler is approximately a 2 hour drive north of Vancouver on the Sea to Sky Highway.
Enjoy the incredible ocean views as you drive, and by the way I have an island or two to sell you if you looking along the way. (VancouverIslands.ca) Now if you are one of those fast riders…I mean the Grand Fondo cyclists, apparently it only took some of them 3 hours and 15 minutes to get from Vancouver to Whistler…yes some of them actually drive their bikes as fast as a car It’s really quite exhausting to watch them pass my car!
Whatever your mode of transportation though, be it train, car or bike, the biggest pit stop after Horseshoe Bay is a place called Squamish, (Sḵwx̱wú7mesh) known as the Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada. Here you will be greeted by roadside attraction ‘Sam’ the Axe Man, a throwback to the 2010 Olympics. Sam has had a recent facelift in 2014 including a new hat so what you see in the photo below is a little different. Now from a Real Estate perspective, Squamish is definitely an attractive place for first time homebuyers looking to get into the market, but who maybe can’t afford the prices in Vancouver. You’ll likely commute, but the prices are comparable to Maple Ridge so it will be well worth it to move there for those wanting to break into the market.
“Sam” The Squamish Axe Man
Squamish has come into its own over the last couple of years.Its no longer thought of as the pit stop on the way to Whistler. Its become a destination city in its own right with the Squamish Valley music festival, the Sea to Sky Gondola and a lot of attractive activities for the outdoorsy type. Check out Explore Squamish and make sure that when your there…take a peak up at the peak of the Stawamus Chief Mountain. Look closely and you’ll no doubt see mountain climbers on the various edges of the mountain.Can you see all the hikers in the photo below? I’ve highlighted one but there is way more if you look closely!
Stawamus Chief Mountain in Squamish
On from Squamish heading north, you’ll travel 58 kilometres, or a little more than 40 minutes to get to Whistler where you will be met by another roadside attraction at the very entrance to the town, an Inukshuk which traditionally means “You on the right path”. You will definitely find that you are indeed on the right path when you spend any amount of time in Whistler Village and the surrounding area.
Entrance to Whistler Village
Whistler is considered a resort town and since the Winter Olympics of 2010, it has attracted international attention. From a Real Estate perspective, historically Whistler has attracted investors looking to invest and buy second homes. From 2008 to 2014 prices have gone down drastically and today it is half the value it was at it peak in 2008 – perhaps a good time to buy! Check out the HPI price to get a sense of the market over the past 10 years.
HPI Price – Whistler 2005-2015
If your planning on working in Whistler, and price is a concern, then you should look at the Whistler Housing Authority where you will be able to get the run down on affordable housing and ownership housing options for people who need to work and live there as opposed to real estate buyers looking to invest.
There is a trade off when you live in a place like Whistler. You are trading the noise, pollution, and busyness of the city for the quite solitude of the wilderness at the expense of convenience, amenities, and in the case of resort towns like Whistler, over two million visitors a year. It’s a lifestyle decision to live there but it seems worth it to me when you experience the beauty of the area plus the homes have a certain alpine look to them which I personally like.
Typical Whistler Home
I’ve mentioned before that my wife is in film and she usually likes to get some b-roll footage here and there when she can. So this time when we went to meet our cyclist in Whistler, she wanted to drive way up the mountain, as far as we could go, in order to take some shots of Whistler Village from the top. So we drove as far as our car would take us where there were a few chalets, row of town homes, a gondola station, plenty of tree and mountain tops as far as the eye can see.
There were also lots of people on the chair lifts riding to the top overhead to go hiking or mountain biking. My wife and our cyclist positioned themselves looking downward toward the village, underneath the chair lifts where there is a lot of low grass. Our rider held the tripod while my wife filmed (I sat in the car which was smart as you will soon find out). As my wife was blissfully filming away when she started to get waves, heckles, pointing and this strange sort of puzzled look that many of them were giving her as they passed overhead. She ignored it but it kept happening. One chair list rider after another …this is strange she thought…why do they looked so puzzled at me she asked. So she turned too looked to our cyclist to tell him….”don’t worry, just ignore them…. everyone wants to be a movie star” Only now our cyclist was suddenly a sprinter…sprinting with the tripod pointing in an awkward position sideways and backwards, while he ran in the opposite direction of my wife back to our car. Keep in mind he had just ridden 122 kilometers…then ask yourself what would make a person sprint after that!
My wife looked back up at the chair life…”are they trying to tell me something….I need my glasses….and I should take out my headsets too so I can hear exactly what they are saying,” my wife said to herself. That is when she realized that the people on the chair lift were not star struck or annoyed by the presence of her camera filming them…it was a family of three black bears eating right behind her. They were either shocked or trying to warn her.
My wife says there was a moment of sheer panic and physical freezing, that is until she scanned her eyes over to the right a bit where there was a young boy who was around 10 sitting on his bike (those bike people are a tough bunch) where he was standing even closer to the bears than my wife. He waited in an almost nonchalant manner, leaning his elbow down on the bike handles as if to say ‘hurry up’.The bears were eating close to the path, but after a minute or two they moved off the path and then he ever so casually drove his bike past them at what my wife describes as a leisurely pace. I could only image this boy texting his mom to say that he would be late because some bears were on the bike path. Not quite the same as what a kid in the city has to worry about.
When my clients have talked about moving to remote areas past Metro Vancouver such as coast and mountain areas that require ferry rides or long drives, I really want them to think about the lifestyle they would be buying.You can book a Whistler vacation with the same booking agent who booked the Royal Visit to Whistler at: homeholidays.com or go straight to looking for a home in Whistler at: Click here for Homes for Sale in Whistler then give me a call at: (604)Your Key or email me at: [email protected]
- 6. The Colour of Real Estate in Vancouver
The #colourofrealestate in #Vancouver.
Summertime…’For Sale’ signs go up, families move in and out of neighbourhoods, and its a time when homeowners do their outdoor renos like exterior painting.
I have a client with an elderly relative who I’ve gotten to know over the years. She maintains her Vancouver property in immaculate shape. Her house looks great for its age and she has maintained it well over the years. A while back she called me up and said…“Ian…I have new neighbours!” Ok I thought that’s nice but we all have new neighbours from time to time. Especially since she has lived in the same home in Vancouver for over 40 years, no doubt she’s seen her fair number of homes changing hands. I could sense there was an issue so I thought I would head it off and say “why don’t you go over and talk to them” when she interrupted and said…”they’ve painted their house bright purple like that funny looking bear they use to have on tv…(she meant Barney) and orange”…followed by “can they do this” and then “will it affect the value of my home?”
At first I thought…well maybe the home is just a shade of lavender with cream coloured trim and it’s not nearly so bad as she is describing it, or maybe its just some sort of strange undercoating like when they have paint that is treated with a chemical that paints on bright colour so you can see where you are painting but dries white. Sensing the stress I thought I would drop by and see what she was talking about. There it was. Her new neighbours even bought matching plastic chairs and planted coordinating flowers.
Bright Purple and Bright Orange, this was the colour choice of her new neighbours. I want to highlight the word ‘choice’ because that is pretty much at the core of how local municipalities see the colour of Real Estate. All municipalities in the Greater Vancouver area allow homeowners to paint their house any colour they want. If the property is not being maintained that is another issue, but esthetic choices…well that is subjective as far as municipalities are concerned. The good news is that the colour of your neighbours home does not affect the value of your home. For the homeowner, well they are more likely to have a problem selling their home if they have an unusual colour scheme, but being their neighbour shouldn’t affect the value of your home. Unusual colour schemes can affect buyers who are not able to visually look past it and you may have to be a bit flexible with your selling price to compensate for a new paint job.
A neutral colour scheme really is best for resell. If your really into colour I always suggest limited any ‘bright’ colours to doors and trim. Rest assured to any neighbours living beside the home equivalent of a Mondrian painting, unusual colour schemes are more typically found on older homes that have wood siding and siding needs to be painting for upkeep so chances are you’ll see a new colour combination at some point in the future. Just cross your fingers that your neighbours get some advice before their second go around with colour.
The choice in exterior home colour is not entirely a subjective one, its also ties into the style and age of the home. To me, this is where colour gets interesting because really old homes, as in ‘heritage homes’ often have dynamic colour combinations that look wonderful, while you could apply the same colour combination on a newer home and it can look pretty bad. In Vancouver we have a lot of heritage homes and many of them are painted in multiple bright colours…colours that add to their charm. If you happen to have a registered heritage home in Vancouver then you are eligible to obtain a ‘True Colours Grant” where you can receive a $1, 000 cash grant and complementary paint to restore the exterior paint colours of your heritage building. As you can see by True Colours Paint Swatch there are some pretty dynamic colours.
Fred Welsh House, 144 West 10th, Vancouver
When I walk around Vancouver, it seems that the older the homes the more you can get away with when it comes to ‘wild colours’. I use to live in Ontario in a small town between Hamilton and St. Catherines called Grimsby. It’s not a town that is known for too much but it has an interesting history that relates to some of their heritage homes called “Painted Ladies”, a term first used in San Francisco to describe Victorian and Edwardian homes and buildings painted in three or more colours that embellish or enhance their architectural details. Just a side note for Vancouverties…the Painted ladies of Grimsby sell in the 300 thousand dollar range.
Painted Ladies in Grimsby – Now
Grimsby Beach Painted Lady – Then
These particular homes were built around 1870 as summer cottages for pilgrims making their yearly summer trip to what is called a Chatauqua. There are still Chatauquas today, mostly in the USA, and they are now more about education and philosophical pursuit than religion. The painted ladies of Grimsby were actually built with bits and pieces of wood including wood taken from old boats and they had a lot of fret work on them which is punctuated by colour as you can see in the photos. Perhaps these pilgrims painted their homes in these bright colours to reflect how they felt–excited, happy, hopeful about the religious revival spirit of the Chatauqua community. As time went on the religious aspect of the meeting place became more known as a beach destination for summer fun. Interesting, the same friend in this story used to go to Grimsby Beach as a teenager in the 1920’s and she remembers the painted ladies well. Today, these homes are still there only now they are nestled among newer homes. Its not a beach destination like it used to be and I really only came across the homes when I went on a bike ride with my kids one day. Believe me the sight of seeing those homes after driving my bike through neighbourhoods filled with newer homes was quite a rare find, it soon became our bike trip destination.
A couple of weeks after my first phone call from my friend she called me again to tell me that her garbage bins were mysteriously making their way back into her garage…she suspected her new neighbours. The neighbours with the purple and orange house. I asked her ‘why do you think they painted their house such an unsual colour? Her answer, they’re happy, friendly people and I think they just like to express that with their home. So I guess you never really know…in this case it was less about colour expression and more about expressing the way they felt.
If you feel inspired in anyway to buy a heritage home in Vancouver. The best place to start your search for available heritage homes on the market is at
- 7. Moving to Vancouver – Flowers
You don’t have to leave your heritage flowers behind when you move. This month I spent a lot of time in East Van and I added another website to the Your Key Series on the Captain Vancouver Real Estate Network for East Van called Vancouverites luv east van (YourKeyToEastVan.com). How does this bring me to my next posting on Flowers in the family? Well East Van is right near Burnaby which makes me think about my wife’s grandmother because she has lived there for over 50 years. I visit her frequently and in the spring her Hydrangeas start to bud. Then again pretty much all of the other cities in the lower mainland neighbour Burnaby so maybe I’m making a leap here. Either way when I think spring in Vancouver I think hydrangea-grandma-Burnaby and the closer I am to seeing Burnaby combined with spring..I think Grandma Marion! It doesn’t matter in what order or if it make sense to you..just go with it. It’s one of those memory association things we all get.
Balkan Street Home where the original hydrangea was located.
So the story of the family hydrangea goes like this. My father-in-law bought this for his grandmother Jesse (Grandma Marion’s Mother) when he was 10 years old. They lived on Balkan Street in Vancouver. In 1969 my father-in-law’s mother moved to a new house in Burnaby where she remains today. According to my wife this hydrangea has been the backdrop, centerpiece and side piece of every family photo possible, for example, here is my wife’s aunt from Holland posing beside the table with the same ‘dried’ hydrangea. Now I know what you are looking at and thinking! Not one to deflate your day, those aren’t fake flowers– I assure you! They are real, genuine, and the same flowers from the family Hydrangea. Although they may not look real-they are! I have to say one thing being Captain Vancouver and all..I sure like the nautical theme on Auntie Mini’s shirt and at this moment I’m glad Auntie Mini lives an entire ocean away.
Auntie Mini posing with the hydrangea
Anyway the plant lived in the same spot for 25 years facing west and then was uprooted and moved on the same property to its current spot facing south. I’m assuming that the move is due to Hydrangeas being more of a shade plant-who knows, but the family photos have moved right along with the plant.
Back to the Hydrangea.this posting is about heirloom flowers (ok your still looking at that photo aren’t’ you..come on stick with me here). Great-grandma Jessie has long since passed (as a side note she lived in Burnaby until 108 years of age) and her grandson who gave it to her has passed on as well, but the Hydrangea that was given as a gift from a 10 year old boy to his grandmother is still with us. So my wife is going to attempt to take a cutting of the Hydrangea that grew in Burnaby that was a cutting from the first plant on Balkan street and replant it in Langley at my parents’ house where we know it will live for at least another 20 years under the care of my parents who have the green thumbs in our family.
My wife is documenting the clipping here and next year we will transfer it from the container to the ground. In truth the family Hydrangea looks like it has seen it’s last years, it used to be much fuller when we look at the old photos and compare it to how it currently looks so we hope this will work. Our intention is to save it before it just stops blooming. The longer term goal is to eventually take some clippings from the Langley plant and give to the great-great- grandchildren who we know in time will move about the Lower Mainland and maybe even out of the province– as a way to always stay connected in some way. In case you are even more amateur at gardening than us, “heirloom” is defined by age in this case that might be any plant that originated before 1951 before Hybridization became popular or for some the definition is met if the plant is open-pollinated and was grown in an earlier era. Our family Hydrangea was given around 1950 which puts our plant at 65 years. We asked around.checked out the UBC botanical garden forum, hopefully bought the right stuff and have the right info. and now we are ready to go! Check back in to this blog for updates!
March 2015 – Langley
***UPDATE: June 2016
Well Grandmas Hydrangea was transplanted from the pot to its new plot at my Mom’s house in Langley where it is being loving cared for. We weren’t sure it would bloom so fast but it did! Here’s hoping it will bloom for many more years!
- 8. Vancouver – Wet Coast
#Vancouver ‘the Wet Coast.’ The joke goes like this…a tourist arrives in Vancouver on a rainy day. He gets up the next morning and it’s still raining. In fact, it’s still raining three days later. He goes out to supper and sees a young kid. Out of despair, he asks, “Hey kid, does it ever stop raining around here?” The kid says, “How do I know? I’m only six.”
Well the rain has finally come after a long dry summer that actually lead to water restrictions. Summer certainly went out with a bang in 2015. We got more rain in four days than the whole summer and to sum it up a bunch of trees came down knocking out power for days for vast areas in Metro Vancouver. Ah, it seems like only yesterday I was eating a well-deserved ice cream cone at Tickleberry’s in Okanagan Falls complaining about the 35 degree heat (I deserved it only because it was hot and for no other reason).
Growing up in a hot climate I try to comfort myself by calling Vancouver rain ‘liquid sunshine’, while my Father-in-law used to say “Vancouver is like a rain forest…warmer with lots of rain…if the climate wasn’t so mild we would move.” Vancouver gets lots of rain which we joke about all the time calling the west coast ‘the wet coast’ and so on. Delusional perhaps. I personally love the rain. Its fresh and gives us clean streets and green green grass.
Speaking of rain, last year my wife was walking down Robson Street in Vancouver, as you know Robson Street is a busy downtown street and known as the fashion district of Vancouver. Perhaps it was too crowded but she picked up on the conversation in front of her and relayed it to me later that night. It was clear to my wife from the conversation that one seemed to be a local Vancouverite, while the other a visitor. “You have to move your umbrella to the other side when walking past people, then back and forth as people walk by,” said the Vancouverite. “It must not be angled to avoid getting in someone’s eyes, and you need to move it up and down.” Like Mary Poppins, asked the visitor? “Yes,” said the Vancouverite. “It can be a challenge but it is proper umbrella etiquette for Vancouver!”The Vancouverite proceeded to show the visitor a well-choreographed umbrella dance that oddly managed to keep them both covered while being ever so mindful not to poke someone’s eye out or dislodge them from their path.The visitor looked a bit shocked like she was being scolded for not knowing this before…so did my wife, a 3rd generation Vancouverite herself, who has practically been genetically predisposed to tolerate vast amounts of rain.
Vancouverite early 1900’s / Vancouver Archives
Perhaps it’s because she grew up in the burbs where the sidewalks are not so crowded that she has never heard about umbrella etiquette. Her ‘wet coast’ experience didn’t include umbrellas but rather wet socks from walking to school and being squeezed off the sidewalk by her brother and his best friend. They forced her to walk in the puddles all the way to school or face walking alone. She opted to be included (peer pressure can be nasty) over dry socks. You can image that since Vancouver gets 161 rainy days per year she spent the majority of the school year sitting in class with soaking wet socks.
Since overhearing the umbrella etiquette conversation on Robson St. my wife has become more than a little cognizant of umbrella etiquette especially since our umbrellas are oversized and bare our corporate logo. She started saying…”I’m a big believer in brand awareness but we don’t want our logo embedded in someone’s eye.”
Hard to believe that I had forgotten that conversation, but I had, until the big storm of 2015 hit. That is when the umbrella etiquette reminder came out of the closet along with the rain gear and winter coats. Pack the car kids! We’re going to the PNE on the stormiest of the year! August 29, 2015! That’s when BC got more rain in four days than the whole summer! Personally it felt more like a huge wind storm than a rain storm but again maybe that’s because I’m just use to lots of rain.Take a look at the screen shot below of those few days. It shows the rain accumulation starting at the end of the month.
My family and I decided to take the PNE (Pacific Northwest Exhibition) up on their offer of free entrance into the fair mainly because the weather forecast called for a few hours of sunshine before the storm was predicted to make its grand entrance to Metro Vancouver. Ok it was mostly my idea…never one to turn down something free (I’ll pass the savings on to you). So we packed the car with our coats and umbrellas and off we went. Two oversized golf-like umbrellas and four people. Already the numbers didn’t line up and one of us was considerably taller than the rest. To make matters worse, it would appear that there are a lot of other fiscally aware Vancouverites out there and they all seemed to converge on the PNE at just the same moment that the gates were open for free which coincidentally was around the time the storm hit! I’m not sure if the looks we got from people were out of jealousy that we actually had umbrellas or if we were contributing to what New Yorkers call umbrella rage. I wanted to remind them of what Robert Louis Stevenson wrote in ‘The Philosophy of Umbrellas,’ “Umbrellas, like faces, acquire a certain sympathy with the individual who carries them.” We opted to take the umbrellas down rather than dodge, duck, and twirl our umbrellas around hundreds of PNE pedestrians. There would be no sympathy for the umbrella owner, just wet hair.
I admit I hadn’t a clue about umbrella etiquette and from what I did know it all seemed too much to orchestrate the thing around people, during a storm, while balancing PNE food – believe me it can’t be done! According to the ‘experts’…whom shall remain deliberately nameless, umbrellas expand our personal space and the room we take up on the sidewalk. Apparently most of umbrella etiquette revolves around this. For Vancouverites though who live with a lot of rain, I believe that umbrella etiquette is only half of the issue we face. There’s the cars that drive through water splashing pedestrians, and there are puddle pushers (those are the people who force you to walk through puddles so they can remain dry and comfortable) awning hogs…typically a two side by side set-up, most often they act unassuming and and deep in conversation, but we really know what they are doing, there’s the eye poker who is usually found in sidewalk sheds, and the worst offender…‘the umbrella dripper!’ An individual who will blatantly cart their umbrella around with them instead of using an umbrella stand lest it be stolen, while they drip water off the tips of the umbrella onto the floor so that some poor unsuspecting real estate agent (me) will have a slip and fall behind them!
A more thoughtful ‘umbrella-user’ following etiquette!
I could go on and on but instead of going through a list of umbrella rules, I’ve decided to take the lead on this one and create some pictorial infographics designed to help Vancouverites with umbrella etiquette and rain rage….which is coming soon so stay tuned and return here in a couple of weeks!
When we load up the pictorials you are free to copy, paste, distribute as you wish!
- 9. Vancouver – Going to the dogs
#Vancouver is going to the dogs! If there’s one common feature to all neighbourhoods it has to be the family pet. Unfortunately there is one other common feature that I see a lot of when I’m out and about in different Vancouver neighbourhoods – missing pet posters. I have often wondered just how effective these posters on utility poles really are. Often hand written by kids and put up months ago, it’s hard to tell if the pet was found or if the poster was just left there by some mom not wanting to dare take it down. I doubt many people bother to look at them anymore.
I’ve had my own experience with a lost cat called Smokey.
Smokey wasn’t one to stay home for long and it seemed that his trips out were longer and longer, sometimes he wouldn’t even come home at night. This stressed our kids out but we took a degree of solace in knowing that we would eventually hear the pet door flap as he came home, then we would feel a bit more relieved. What we didn’t know about Smokey was that Smokey didn’t really consider us her primary family anymore, even though we bought him, fed him, and paid for his vet bills…this didn’t seem to matter to Smokey much. How did we find out how Smokey felt about us? Well for one thing Smokey would go on walks with us. He loved this and we got a laugh out of how it looked to have a cat follow us with our dog on walks. I would add that these were long walks.On one particular walk with Smokey during a lovely summer evening we passed by a number of other families in the neighbourhood and one by one each of them would call out to Smokey.
“Smokey” the Neighbourhood Cat
“Hi Smokey…yelled a lady from her veranda. We even passed an entire family and overheard the child say “mom there’s our cat with those people”, but the kicker for us was when we passed by what appeared to be a rather creepy looking fellow with his head down and his hoodie pulled over, he mumbled “Hey Smokey”, as he passed by us. This was the moment we realized our cat wasn’t’ our cat but was instead the ‘neighbourhood cat.’ One day we got a call from a neighbour that had accidently hit Smokey. He told us that Smokey was in the process of dying that that he would wait with Smokey, till we got there. Smokey died in my arms at the local vet, but it felt good to know that the neighbourhood cared for our cat, as much as we did.
Me and my first dog, ‘Pal’
Pets have been a part of my life since I was able to walk and I must admit on the most rainy and lonely days when I’m walking about in a Vancouver neighbourhood, I can always count on a cat to come up to me to say hi or a dog to bark, and or try to get my attention with a stick. I repay the hello with a pat to the head provided that I don’t get scratched back or bitten, and often take a photo of the animal for my photo blog on Vancouver neighbourhood pets. I took a poll for the name (well just my kids and wife) and we decided on “Vancouver Fur Children”. If you haven’t figured out what it means….well its basically children with fur. The photo blog is on its way. We hope that it will not only be a collection of great Vancouver neighbourhood pets but also a great resource for missing pets.
Till then you can see some of the photos my crew and I have taken at #vanfurchildren
Vancouver is a pet city fur-sure (really no pun intended I promise).We just had Pet-a-palooza in Yaletown, billed as the Westcoast’s largest pet festival and Vancouver’s first cat cafe is coming to town in the fall of 2015 called the Catfe. Plus I’ve seen more and more services for dog owners poping up around town, offering alternatives to Kenneling, dog sitting, walking and pampering for pooches. Check out Dog Taxi
There is actually a study that says that 60 percent of Vancouverites own a pet, yet finding pet friendly condos can still be a challenge, although that’s changing. Some of the exceptions to that is Polygon’s Avedon Tower in Vancouver’s South Granville which has a dog walking area that circles the complex, and Burrard Gateway by Reliance has pet amenities including a dog washing area while the “Beasley” in Yaletown has a “woof top” patio for the dogs in residence there.
The ‘Beasley’ – Woof Top Patio
Captain Vancouvers Condo website ‘CONDO JUNGLE’ usually has a number of condos listed that are pet friendly. Condo Jungle is a great website if you are searching for a pet friendly building because it lists condos for sale by building. All you need to dig a bit (just like digging for a bone).
Without question, ‘Vancouverites’ love their pets. You can see the evidence of that everywhere and I don’t mean the kind of evidence on the ground. So if you see a cool neighbourhood pet – take a photo! Let us know where you took the photo and post it to hashtag #vanfurchildren