Defer your Property Taxes

The Land Tax Deferment Program allows qualifying British Columbia homeowners to defer the payment of annual municipal or rural property taxes on their home. The deferred taxes are paid by the province to the  taxing authority (municipality or provincial collector), on behalf of the homeowner. The deferred taxes must be repaid with interest and an administration fee to the province, either:

• before their home can be transferred to a new owner, other than to their surviving spouse, or

• upon their death, with repayment through their estate.
Homeowners aged 60 years and over may defer the payment of annual property taxes on their principal residence. The program is also available to homeowners of any age who are widowed spouses, or who meet the definition of a person with disabilities, in the “Disability Benefits Program Act.”

Check with your local Municipal Government for more information.
For forms to defer your property taxes go to:

Currently more than 12,000 households in British Columbia defer their property taxes.  In total there is about $173 million owing to the provincial government.  West Vancouver heads the list with 941 homeowners who deferred over $4 million last year, just over $4,000 each on average so as you can see, although it was started to help poor seniors not loose their homes, the rich have been quick to jump on the band wagon!
Lots of seniors who can well afford to pay their property taxes are realizing it is a good investment NOT to pay property taxes but to defer it against the increased value in their homes.The program has become more popular with the increase in the price of homes, property taxes and the aging population.  There was a 50% increase in applications last year.

The interest rate is set every six months, October and April at not greater than 2% below the rate at which the province borrows money.  There is a $60 set-up charge and an annual renewal fee of $10 on which no interest is charged, it just accrues.

So consider a property tax deferment as a way to stay in your home. It is the cheapest loan you can get!

The Green Tea House: The Harmon|Sill Residence and Studios

The Harmon | Sill residence and Studios (MLS Listing: V746957 – ) was designed by architect David Murray from Edmonton Alberta, and was completed in fall 2006. This property consists of a home and two separate studios. One for Gary Sill is a composer, pianist, and music producer, the second is for Carole Harmon – a photographer. His studio is located on the main floor of the main house and includes a sound studio and performance space,  Carole Harmon’s studio is located in a separate workshop building at the rear of the property. She also operates Harmon Gallery in Banff, Alberta.

For more pictures and the blue prints of the Green Tea House go to:

Design Concept

This property is located between Main and Fraser Streets at the head of Brewery Creek. The site was chosen for it’s central location and proximity to the vibrant Main Street corridor which is one of Eastside Vancouver’s most popular neighbourhoods with new shops and services opening almost weekly.

The house and photography studio are built on floating concrete slabs supported by deep drilled helical steel piles. The metaphor of a land-locked houseboat was used as the inspiration for the design. Both buildings are entered over raised cedar bridges which float above the landscaping. A rectangular concrete pond fronts the photography studio building.

The lot contains the last remaining mature trees in the neighbourhood including a Deodar cedar, Douglas fir, and red leaf hazelnut in the front yard and a hawthorn, tamarack and ancient apple tree in the back yard. The yard is being developed with native plants and ground cover. The roofs of the photography studio and the entrance over the main front door have been structurally prepared for green roof plantings which have not yet been actualized. The building concept and execution included, whenever practically possible, environmental considerations and the finishes and materials used were chosen to enhance the original design concept.

The Music Studio

The audio Studio is located in the main house adjacent to the living room. It has a 10′ ceiling and is a 24′ X 15′ room built within a 26′ X 17′ shell with the floor resting on rubber de-couplers. The 14″ space under the floor is heavily insulated as are the walls and ceiling. A 5″ open space separates the insulated structure from the exterior envelope. A 7′ opening accommodates two custom built metal and glass doors which open wide enough to allow the grand piano to roll in from the adjoining live room when absolute quiet is needed. The studio has it’s own electrical which is separated from the rest of the building and an air exchange unit that silently brings in fresh air.

The live room is 25′ X 16′ with 12′ ceiling and opens on one side into the rest of the building. A lighting rail circles the ceiling with various heads and floods that are useful for home concerts. Both studio and living room are floored with recycled pine and heating is in-floor radiant. The studio is connected to the living room by double acoustic steel doors which allow the grand piano to be in either the studio or living room.  The details and a slide show of Gary Sill’s studio can be seen on his website: Gary Sill Music | Creative Music Performance, Composition and Recording Services

This is a light filled space with enough ‘liveliness’ to make it easy and inviting to play in.

kitchen and back yard

The Photography Studio

Carole Harmon’s photography studio is a 616 sq, ft., one story, free standing building located on the north side of the property. The building design is the same as the main house, with large windows overlooking a rectangular concrete pond which is structurally cantilevered to the building. Both are constructed on a floating concrete slab supported by deep drilled steel piles as is the main building. The building is presently configured with a large open studio on the east side of the building and a two piece bathroom and darkroom on the west side. The bathroom has been plumbed and prepared for a future shower. Three skylights have been framed into the ceiling of the main studio space. The studio roof has been built to accommodate a future green roof. It was intended that the shower, skylights and green roof would be completed together after the main construction as a Phase 2 project. To view the work produced in this studio please visit Carole’s personal website: Carole Harmon | Photographic Artist | Canadian Fine Art Photography and Harmon Gallery website: Harmon Photography – Fine Art Nature Photography in our Banff Gallery

photo studio

Description of house

The main house is two story with a cedar deck and hot tub on the second floor in the SW corner accessed from the family room. The open concept plan uses changing levels to define areas.

The living room and music studio are sunken one step from the entrance hallway and have reclaimed fir floors. Reclaimed fir is also used in the exposed fir ceilings of the entrance way and dining room. Fir was chosen as it is an indigenous wood and the actual flooring was reclaimed from a military gymnasium in Nanaimo.

The kitchen, mechanical room and powder room are raised and float above the entrance way by 2 steps. Beneath the raised kitchen is a large storage space.

The dining room is dropped by three steps. Aesthetically this provides separation for the practical areas of the main floor while still keeping the kitchen as the heart of the home. A panorama of windows overlook the rear yard from the kitchen and dining room. In a practical sense this design allows for the services under the kitchen floor as well as some low crawl space storage.

The stairway to the second floor is located centrally and is one of the architectural features of this home. The stairs themselves are of the same fir as the living room, studio and second story floors with open mesh powder-coated aluminum along the north side which is open to the kitchen. An enormous skylight over the stairwell floods the stairwell and interior of the house with light brightening the kitchen below and family room, master bedroom, and master bath on the second floor.

Link here for more pictures and the blue prints of the Green Tea House.

Green Tea House Flyer 1 Click to download PDF flyers

Christmas card

As I sat on the porch with my 95 year old mother, watching the Christmas star plummet to earth, she suddenly said, “I have waited 75 years for the fall of Capitalism”. Of course my Commie friends are not as complacent as they watch their nest eggs get scrambled. I am just glad I can always fall back on my ART.

And then I think of the black knight on the white house horse who has finally brought us hope. And that old depression ditty spins round and round my brain. “Oh they preach Socialism, but they practice Fascism; just to preserve Capitalism for the bosses.”

Wishing you Peace on Earth and a better world tomorrow.


and from my sweetie, Henri too, all the best in the new year.

I Thee Wed

I was married in 1962, and when I married I thought it was forever. I was pre-the baby boomers. I believed it was ok to be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen… well, not exactly. But I did believe that I would marry a man who would take care of me and bring in a good income. I would stay home with the babies and cook and clean my house.

We lasted 10 years, had 2 children and then we went our separate ways. About a year later I found Henri and we started to cohabit – but I was ruined for marriage. I didn’t believe anymore. I no longer believed in “forever and ever”.

Henri and I lived together for 17 years before we “tied the knot”. And that was only because we were living in Quebec and they would have taken our inheritance away as we had to prove that we were “as-good-ahs” married. Actually Frank, my son proposed, but that is another story.

The point of this ramble is that I went to a same-sex wedding and I had an epiphany. Marriage is relatively unimportant to me. “Been there, done that”.

But that was not true for Sam and Alijandro.

They were ecstatic. Their joy was contagious. Alejandros mother and brother flew up from Southern Mexico for the wedding and it was a dream come true. They could stand in the church. That edifice of sanctification of our mores and prove to the world that they were more than “as-good-ahs”. It also was a way to protect themselves from the vagaries of the state.

Here are a few photos.

They say their vows


The family

The Happy Couple

European Chafer Beetles


European Chafer – A New Pest in The Lower Mainland

The European Chafer, Rhizotrogus majalis, is a serious pest of turf in eastern North America. In 2001 it was found in New Westminster, British Columbia, in lawns and boulevards. It is probable this pest has been in B.C. for a few years, and has now spread beyond New Westminster. In fact, while doing a bit of gardening in our yard we had a rain of beetles falling on our heads.


The adult beetle (Figure 1} is tan coloured and resembles a smallish June beetle. The larvae, or grubs (Figures 2,3}, have a C -shaped body and brown head. Mature chafer grubs are smaller than mature June beetle grubs. A microscope is required to confidently identify the grubs.

Adult European Chafer Figure 1: Adult European Chafer.
Chafer Grubs Figure 2: Mature European Chafer grubs


The European chafer completes its life cycle in one year. The adult chafer beetles swarm in conspicuous mating flights on warm evenings in late June and early July. The beetles fly to tall objects, usually trees or other vertical structures to mate. The adult females then locate nearby lawns to lay their eggs in. The females deposit up to 50 eggs each.

Eggs hatch in late July or early August and the larvae or grubs begin feeding on roots until the ground freezes. In colder climates, the larvae migrate down below the frost-line to overwinter.

From April to mid-May, the larvae migrate close to the soil surface and feed on turf roots. From mid-May to early June, the larvae stop feeding and pupate (undergo metamorphosis), and the adult beetles emerge two weeks later.


The grubs are the damaging stage. They feed on all types of grass and, if numerous and food is scarce, may move into vegetable plantings to feed on corn, potatoes and other crops. European chafer grubs prefer to feed on fibrous roots, and can damage ornamental and nursery plants by reducing their fibrous root system. Most of the damage is done by the the third (final} instar grubs in the fall and early spring, but damage can be masked by the abundant moisture at these times. Drier weather can quickly result in the appearance of brown, dying patches. Considerable damage to turf can occur in the fall and winter from animals, especially skunks, and birds digging up the grass to feed on the larger grubs (Figure 4).
The adult beetles feed at dusk on the leaves of deciduous trees but, even when numerous, seldom cause significant damage.

Chafer Grubs Figure 3: European Chafer grubs in turf
Chafer damage Figure 4: Boulevard damage caused by skunks digging out grubs.


In the Spring or Fall, turf that has been damaged by white grubs will lift away from the soil easily because the roots have been eaten and they no longer anchor the turf to the soil. Often, raccoons and skunks will pull back the turf in search of a meal of grubs. This secondary damage is usually more extensive than that caused by the grubs.

Turf that has been severely damaged by birds or other animals may also be brown, wilted or tufted in appearance. Grubs will often be visible when the turf is pulled back. Damage is most severe in the fall and the spring when the grubs are increasing in size rapidly and feeding near the surface.

To confirm the presence of European chafer grubs in your lawn this spring or fall, do the following:

European Chafer - Chafer Monitoring

  1. Use a garden shovel or spade to cut three sides of a 12-inch square.
  2. Grasp the open edges and peel back the turf like a carpet, towards the attached side.
  3. Look for the white, C-shaped grubs (larvae) or cocoons (pupae) in the soil, and just underneath the turf roots.
  4. Repeat Steps 1 to 3 in at least five different sections of lawn.
  5. If you count five or more white grubs per square foot, consider applying a (non-toxic) biological treatment in the summer.
  6. If you are unsure of what you have found, place a grub inside a jar or plastic bag, and take it down to your local specialty garden centre for identification.


Healthy, vigorous, well-irrigated turf can withstand low levels of grub feeding.

Biological Treatment

A 2005 study commissioned by the Western Canada Turfgrass Association, the Canadian Nursery Landscape Association, and several local municipalities, revealed that biological treatments could be very effective at controlling the European chafer population, when used in combination with healthy lawn care practices.

According to the study, the most effective biological control measure was the nematode (or roundworm) Heterorhabditis bacteriophora – a natively occurring species that has been used successfully in BC to control other pests. The H. bacteriophora nematode is a “cruiser” species that actively seeks out white grubs (such as the European chafer), and quickly destroys them from the inside-out.

Treatments are most effective if done in late July, after the European chafer eggs have hatched and when the young grubs are most vulnerable to nematode attack.

Book your nematode treatment in the spring, by doing one of the following:

  • Inquire at a specialty garden centre about ordering nematodes and applying them to your lawn in late July. “Nemasys G” is one of a few brand names to look for. Stratas may inquire about bulk purchase rates from wholesalers/distributors of these products; OR

  • Find a lawn contractors in your area by searching in the phone directory under “Lawn Maintenance”. Receive one or more quotes for the application of H. bacteriophora nematodes to your lawn in July

What is the long term solution? 

In order to prevent European chafer damage in the long-term, many residents are now considering the use of alternative ground covers – particularly on sites that are sunny and well-draining, and prone to yearly infestations.

Groundcovers can be selected to be aesthetically pleasing year-round and to require minimal maintenance. They may also be incorporated with foot paths to increase their aesthetic value. Mulch or paving stones can also be considered in high traffic areas.

Trifolium repens (Dutch White Clover) is one example of a low-growing plant that will form a green, durable ground cover that is easy to maintain. It also produces tiny white or pale pink flowers that may attract bees and other beneficial insects to your yard.

Some of the options of a turf yard. White clover mixed with grass and wildflowers.




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Big Brother is Watching You!

They have come up with a new regulation that I will have to be accountable for. I am checking with the BC Civil Liberties Association, but at present I have no choice but to give the company more of your personal information. The new regulation is part of bill C-25. Check out the information below.

Big Brother is Watching You!

“New federal laws and regulations dealing with money laundering and anti-terrorist financing now in effect require real estate agents and brokers to collect and verify more personal information from buyers and sellers.

Real estate agents now must also track the source of funds received during the course of a real estate transaction, such as the deposit.

The new regulations are part of Bill C-25 passed in 2007 that requires a number of industries, including real estate, to do more to help stop money laundering and terrorist financing. The regulations are enforced by the federal agency known as the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, or FINTRAC.

“Real estate agents have had legal obligations under the federal government’s push to prevent criminal activity and terrorism since 2001, when Canada’s first comprehensive laws to combat money laundering and terrorist financing were introduced,” said Canadian Real Estate Association president Calvin Lindberg.

“In the first phase of compliance, real estate agents were required to report only suspicious transactions, or transactions involving more than $10,000 in cash,” he added. “Now, verified personal information must be kept of the buyer and seller for each and every real estate transaction in Canada. That personal information includes details such as occupation.”

Real estate agents are now required to ask for proof of the identity of all buyers or sellers involved in a Canadian real estate transaction — there were 559,325 MLS® transactions last year. If the client is a corporation, that information must include corporate documentation and the names of the corporation directors. Agents must also ascertain if a third party is involved in the transaction.

This also applies if a buyer or seller involved in a transaction is not represented by a real estate agent, but the other individual involved is represented. Those buying or selling privately will be asked by the agent representing the other party involved in the transaction to provide proof of identity as well, and that record must be kept by the real estate agent involved in the transaction.

Also under the new FINTRAC regulations, real estate agents dealing with clients they never meet must also verify personal information. The broker office involved can do this with a service agreement with an agent or “mandatary” (one given the mandate to act in the transaction) in the area where the client is located. That agent or mandatary must then meet the client,

verify the identification of the client, and

provide the information to the broker office

actually handling the real estate transaction.

“There are buyers, sellers or investors from other countries who rely on expertise here rather than visiting the property themselves,” the CREA president said. “They must now meet with an official agent of the Canadian broker, and provide proof of identity. This agreement will add to the business costs of the Canadian broker.”

In addition to verification of personal information, real estate agents must also complete a report on the receipt of all funds received during the real estate transaction, not just those of $10,000 or more.

In order to comply with these new federal regulations, real estate agents are required to keep this identification and receipt of funds information on file for five years and provide it to FINTRAC if requested. It is the individual broker office that will be responsible for the safe keeping of the information, and the brokerage that will have to respond to any FINTRAC information request.

The Ellis House in West Vancouver SOLD!


Jim is an artist and his home is amazing. Check out these pictures!

The home is called the Ellis Residence and is now on the Market. It was designed by Bob Lewis in the late 1950′s. This Meticulously maintained home showcases west coast living at its best. view

The Bright open plan with windows to the south allows spacious views of the entire harbour and the Vancouver inlet.

The home has three bedrooms and two fireplaces.Master Bedroom

Master bedroom. Note the closets hidden in the walls.  The two other bedrooms follow, one is used as an office.

second bedroom


There are five skylights and cedar paneling throughout.


Family room

The family room is yet another office.

Approach up the Country cobblestone drive to the house nestled among gardens and cedars.

the home

Spend your summers bar-b-queing on your two patios.



The Patio seen from two angles.

Outside of studio

Jim has a great studio over the two car garage.



First open house June 8th from 2-4 PM. Check out more details on the internet The MLS number is V738356

By The Skin Of Our Teeth

turning in my tax form

Every year we are called upon to do our taxes. And every year we are doing them at the last minute. This year was no exception. But there is a ritual that we join with others of our ilk. Those who also only get them done by the skin of our teeth.

Here we are joining the parade of last minute entrants between 11 and 11:59 pm turning in our tax forms. We got to the site at about 11:15 so we had time to meet the Posties outside the post office. Every year these same people stand with a truck ready to take only tax forms down to Surrey for processing.

Here I am with Postie Friendly turning in my tax form while Postie Pete stamps the date on my envelope so I don’t get a penalty.

Me and Postie Friendly

Should I Panic Yet?

Ok, we are in big doodoo. The dollar ain’t a dollar any more and the housing market in BC is on hold and even though we did not have the sub-prime mortgages the situation in the states is effecting our level of panic.

So what should you do?

First of all, stop freaking out. The answer is the same as it ever was. Buy when it is right for you. You cannot put it off until prices are better because when prices are better other things change. Interest rates may be higher, the state of the dollar is less stable, who knows what will change.

The most important thing is that you do not get yourself into a situation that if the interest rates go up you cannot pay your mortgage. The best way to fight this is to put a minimum of 20-25% down – more if you can. You will be able to get the lowest mortgages with this kind of down payment and will not have to pay a premium on the mortgage.

The second thing is to not buy a property that stretches your finances over your comfort zone. Say the mortgage person says you can get a mortgage for $400,000 but with taxes and maintenance you will have to fork out close to $3,500 per/month. If this will be hard for you and will involve your partner working when you wanted to have a baby, consider a less expensive alternative. Then if mortgage rates go up you will still have a bit of leeway before you would have to move the baby into the hall closet and rent the extra room to a home stay student to make ends meet.

The last consideration is time. Buy because you want to live in a place that is your own. Where you collect the benefits of the rent and no one will kick you out if you paint your bedroom black or listen to Abba at 3 am. Do not buy to make a fast buck by putting in laminate flooring, painting the walls red and selling for $50,000 more in three months.

Buy because the place you are living is no longer suited to your needs and it is time to find a better place for your new situation whether it is because you are having a baby or your kids have all moved out and you are tired of keeping up a 5 bedroom house for just the two of you.  If you are buying for investment, plan on doing the work yourself or keeping the property long enough so that inflation gives you your profit. And buy a place that you can rent out and still cover your bills if when you are ready to sell the market is low.

And, don’t panic. Our entire economic system is not going to crash and your little piece of heaven is still out there.

Quote from my mom: “I’ve been waiting 75 years for the fall of Capitalism.”

The Night I Met Groucho

Beverly Hills HotelThe time I met Groucho I was at the Beverly Hills Hotel with my mother who was there for an AGM of the League of Women Voters. I sat through the meeting as one woman after another got up and described the good work they were doing. Political actions all over the world – helping orphans, resisting racism, job programs, homes for battered women, blankets for the homeless, Korean war orphans, etc. My mother was a homebody and not the kind of person who was an organizer or usually went to this kind of event. I was mesmerized. I wanted to be just like them.

Then the meeting was over and we poured from the room. It was crowded in the hall as we exited. I looked up and there he was! I was about 13 and had always loved Groucho. As he walked by us he put his hands in his armpits and flapped his arms like a chicken saying cluck, cluck, cluck, cluck, cluck… I was outraged. Here was this asshole ridiculing our good work because we were women. As if women did nothing but stand around and gossip.

This became one of the significant moments in my life (before I came out as a women’s libber) when I became aware of male chauvinism. I have never felt the same about Groucho and have never enjoyed his cruel sense of humour since.

“I don’t care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members.”