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Love Bird Watching?

At the peak of the migration, you might see up to 1,000 turkey vultures and other raptors kettling (a term that birders use to describe a group of birds wheeling and circling in the air). The migrating birds visit our area from mid-September to late October around East Sooke Regional Park.

The southbound birds use the park as a staging area to rest and feed before they make a 29-kilometre crossing over the Juan de Fuca Strait on their way to Olympic National Park in Washington state.

The most common raptors you can expect to see are turkey vultures, bald eagles and red-tailed hawks. Other less common raptors that may be present include Cooper’s hawk, sharp-shinned hawk, peregrine falcon, American kestrel, merlin, northern harrier and osprey.

Beechey Head is an excellent place to observe raptors during their fall migration.

Reference: https://www.timescolonist.com/entertainment/explore-birds-of-prey-flock-to-east-sooke-1.23965105

 

The Arts - Art Gallery of Greater Victoria: Celebrating Art by First Nations Women

The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria is celebrating Matriarchs: Two-Spirited, Coast Salish artist from Shíshálh Nation, Margaret August brings together a selection of prints in celebration of the First Nations women that inspire her and will inspire you too!

The exhibition features work by Kelly Cannell, Francis Dick, Lou-ann Neel, Sage Paul, Susan Point, Marika Echachis Swan and Carrielynn Victor, as well as Margaret August. The Matriarchs: Prints by First Nations Women exhibition runs until November 24th.

For more information, go to https://aggv.ca/events/celebration-of-matriarchs-featuring-answer-drum-group/

 

Greater Victoria Neighbourhoods – Sooke

Sooke embodies the quintessential West Coast spirit and lifestyle – one of freedom, a certain wildness, and a celebration of nature’s bounty. The oceanside paradise has all the elements of good living: the enjoyment of sunsets, rocky shores, and beautiful homes; wonderful activities for all ages; tantalizing food; and the pursuit of art, knowledge and wonder.

This west island community has everything to thrill the outdoor enthusiast. Fans of walking, skateboarding, horseback riding, and cycling have their own special corridor - the Galloping Goose Regional Trail. This walkway winds through the countryside for 55 kilometres. A cool swim on a hot afternoon does not get any better than a plunge into Sooke River at Sooke Potholes Provincial Park. East Sooke Park provides walking trails along the rugged rocky edges of a turbulent ocean. Enjoy a gentle stroll along Whiffen Spit, a sandy appendage into the aqua blue.

For an art and culture infusion, the Marshall-Inman Gallery showcases stunning ceramic and wooden marvels. Master Carver Brett Borrie creates magic in precious metals at B & K Jewelry and Gifts. The South Shore Gallery is a venue for local artisans to display their talents in paintings, prints, ceramics, and glass.

Trip Advisor awarded The Sooke Region Museum with a 'Certificate of Excellence' due to rave reviews from customers around the globe. At Saltwest Naturals, you can watch how they distill salt from the ocean and sample their delicious products. The first 'meadery' in Western Canada, Tugwell Creek Honey Farm and Meadery staff wave a wand over their freshly made honey and turn it into ambrosial mead wine.

The humble little town on the island's edge has internationally celebrated restaurants such as
Sooke Harbour House, 'Diner's Choice Award' winner in 2018. On a smaller scale, Mom's Cafe is a popular local favourite. SEAPARC Recreation Centre in Sooke has programs in arts, recreation, sports, fitness and health. The many exceptional schools include John Muir Elementary School, Poirier Elementary School, Saseenos Elementary School, and Sooke Elementary School.

Once you get a taste of the Sooke lifestyle, resistance is futile!

 

BC’s Economy Will Not Improve According to Jock Finlayson - executive vice president and chief policy officer of the Business Council of BC

Residential home sales have fallen markedly in the last year or so. Recently, however, lower interest rates and earlier price declines have improved affordability, with home sales moving higher.

Some market watchers believe the housing down-cycle is over. But the Ministry of Finance estimates that residential sales in 2019 will hover near 46,000, down from almost 74,000 two years ago.
At the same time, housing starts, which have been strong so far this year, are poised to slump, in line with reduced demand from non-resident buyers and decisions by many B.C. developers to pull back from planned projects.

The provincial government predicts that housing starts will drop by more than one-fifth in 2020.
The deteriorating global economy is another major worry. Slower growth in major external markets, including the U.S., China and Germany, is already beginning to pinch B.C.’s exports.
Through July, the value of provincial exports was down by three per cent from 2018 levels. The forest industry has suffered the biggest blow, with wood product exports sagging by around 20 per cent. There is little chance of a meaningful export recovery in 2020.

The rolling economic crisis in the forest sector is another significant negative in B.C.’s economic picture. Mills are closing and jobs are being lost across the province. Forestry provides one-third of B.C.’s merchandise exports.

Dwindling residential investment will detract from aggregate economic growth. It will also work against the policy objective of enhanced affordability, which – among other things – requires an increased supply of new housing units.

Reference: https://www.vicnews.com/opinion/column-and-now-the-bad-news-about-b-c-s-economy

 

New Downtown Development Up for Community to Decide

The city’s official community plan allows for 8-story buildings. However, Chard Development wants to build two new buildings — one 13 storeys and the other 6 storeys — and retain an existing five-storey medical professional building on Yates.

The project features a central courtyard, daycare spaces, hidden utility lines, pedestrian and transit improvements, and underground parking. Of the 217 residential units, 104 will be sold at below-market value.

Councillors raised concerns about the project’s height and lack of rental units, and they’ve decided to move it into a public hearing.

“Is this perfect? No. Is it really great? Yes,” Councillor Marianne Alto said. “And I certainly think it’s great enough to move on to a public hearing.”

“At that point, I would look forward to hearing what people think about applications like this.”
What do you think? Would you like to see this 13-story building become a reality on Yates?

To learn more about this, read the Times Colonist story HERE

 

National Housing Debate & Housing Platforms

The National Housing Debate took place in Ottawa on Sunday, and Canadians got one final chance to hear representatives from the five major political parties outline their stance on issues related to housing and home affordability before the October 21st election.

It’s no secret that the party representatives have wildly different approaches to tackling housing issues, and that was made even clearer during the debate.

Here is a succinct look at each party’s housing platforms:

Conservative Party of Canada
The Tories would loosen stress test stringency and eliminate it for renewals to prevent banks from gouging borrowers with uncompetitive rates. They would also allow first-time buyers 30-year amortizations to lower their monthly payments. Finally, they would set aside surplus federal lands for housing developments to help with supply constraints and deeply investigate money laundering.
Liberal Party of Canada

The First-Time Home Buyer Incentive was introduced and became operational early September. If re-elected, the Liberals would expand it to allow buyers in Toronto, Vancouver and Victoria to qualify for up to $769,000 instead of $505,000 like the rest of the country. The program allows the government to share in equity gains—and losses. Additionally, the Liberals have also promised a 1% speculation tax on non-residents and non-Canadians.

NDP
The NDP has a list of over 30 promises to make housing more affordable. One of them is developing 500,000 affordable units over 10 years, $5 billion of which will be spent within the first 1.5 years of the party’s rule. To build co-ops, social and non-profit housing, the NDP has promised “fast-start funds” to ensure construction commences as soon as possible rather than years down the line. The federal GST/HST will be waived on affordable housing construction to stimulate development, and it will re-introduce 30-year amortizations to lower monthly payments.

The boldest move is the 15% foreign buyer tax it would impose on non-residents and non-Canadians who own housing anywhere in the country.

The NDP has also said it will double the Home Buyers Tax Credit to $1,500, and facilitate co-housing through funding from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

Green Party
The Greens have proposed legislating housing as a fundamental human right, and they seek to change CMHC’s mandate and have it focus on developing affordable non-market housing and co-ops.
The Green Party sees co-living as a cornerstone solution to Canada’s growing housing crisis. It will also create a Canada Co-Op Housing Strategy to encourage co-op living and eliminate grants for first-time purchasers. The Greens will fund non-profit housing organizations for seniors, low-income families and special-needs individuals. Restoring tax incentives for rental housing construction and conceiving of a new tax credit for gifted lands, the Green Party believes, will spur plentiful affordable housing.

They also proposed building 25,000 new housing units and renovating 15,000 more every year for a decade. Housing co-investment will see an increase of $750m for new builds, and the same amount of money will be added into the Canada Housing Benefit to help 125,000 households with rent.

People’s Party of Canada
Maxime Bernier’s supports the notion that lowering immigration means there will be less demand for housing, which would theoretically close the chasm between supply and demand.

Bernier intends to address housing indirectly: a 15% income tax for Canadians earning between $15,001 and $100,000, and 25% on anything larger, will free monies that could go towards housing. The PPC has also proposed abolishing the capital gains tax.

 

Foreign-Buyers Tax Now Mainstream in Canada

When Canadians last went to the polls in 2015 you would have had to scour the country to find someone willing to talk about a surtax on foreign nationals buying real estate.

Now, such taxes are just considered the right thing to do. And B.C. has shown the way.
Ignited by the public’s anger over the housing affordability crisis, the B.C. Liberals surprised everyone in 2016 by going against their own free-market ideology by quickly imposing a 15-per-cent tax on foreign purchasers of housing in Metro Vancouver.

Reactions were immediate. Property developers and their lobbyists, plus some activists and a handful of academics, claimed a foreign-buyers tax was xenophobic and even racist.

However, the foreign-buyers tax took some fuel out of Vancouver’s stratospheric housing prices and had some impact on housing prices in Victoria. And after the B.C. NDP narrowly won office in 2017, it hiked the surtax to 20 per cent and expanded it to Victoria and other cities.

Now there is talk of imposing taxes or even outright bans on a Federal level. What will happen next?

 

Greater Victoria Neighbourhoods – Esquimalt

Located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island and surrounded by a marine environment, many homes in Esquimalt boast panoramic ocean views of the Juan de Fuca and the Olympic mountains. The area is encompassed by the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Esquimalt Harbour, and the Gorge inlet.

Esquimalt is steeped in history. The native inhabitants called this “Es-whoy-malth” which means “the place of shoaling waters”. Esquimalt Harbour became the west coast base for the British Royal Navy in 1837. Today, Canada’s Pacific Naval Fleet calls CFB Esquimalt home as do over 4000 military service personnel and 2000 civilians who work onboard ships or at the base.

Over the last decade, the township of Esquimalt put a great deal of planning, money and love into developing their community. Today, families thrive here amongst over 30 parks, a sports centre, a state-of-the-art recreation center and library, and a wide variety of restaurants and shopping amenities.

I recommend exploring Saxe Point Park, MacAulay Point Park and the West Bay Marina (https://www.westbay.bc.ca/Marina.aspx). You will love walking or jogging along the shoreline walkways in Esquimalt.

Esquimalt embodies the live, work, & play lifestyle.

 

Should You be Worried About the “Big One”?

Victoria is in a seismically active zone, and Vancouver Island experienced two large historic earthquakes: A Magnitude 7.0 in 1918 and Magnitude 7.3 in 1946. The 1946 earthquake was the most damaging in western Canada and caused minor damage in Victoria which was 200 km from the epicentre.

Geologists have pointed out the potential for another large earthquake originating from the Cascadia subduction zone west of Vancouver Island sometime between now and 500 years; less than the blink of an eye in geological time, but lifetimes for us.

If you’re concerned about earthquakes, liquefaction, amplification hazards or slope instability, check out the area you’re interested in purchasing your home with this map produced by the Ministry of Energy and Mines in 2000.
LINK http://cmscontent.nrs.gov.bc.ca/geoscience/PublicationCatalogue/GeoscienceMap/BCGS_GM2000-01.pdf

Realize, however, that this map is for regional purposes only, such as land use and emergency response planning, and should not be used for site-specific evaluations. In Greater Victoria, developers hire site-specific geotechnical evaluations prior to new construction or for upgrading buildings and other facilities. There are also many resources for you to review to secure and earthquake-proof your new home.
LINK https://www.victoria.ca/EN/main/residents/public-safety/emergency-preparedness/earthquake-readiness.html

 

The Arts - Pacific Opera Victoria

It’s been nearly fifty years since all three operas of Il Trittico (The Triptych) by Puccini have been produced and performed in Canada. If you love opera, you must see this truly emotional and beautiful masterpiece!

The three operas include:

Il tabarro (The Cloak) sees infidelity and suspicion brutally end a marriage in this dark thriller.

Suor Angelica (Sister Angelica) features a nun struggling with anguish and guilt in this lyrical tragedy.

Gianni Schicchi showcases the greed and unscrupulous behaviour leads to a family’s comeuppance as they fight over an inheritance.

Read more on the Pacific Opera Victoria website: https://pacificopera.ca