Sunday, August 30, 2009

Canada Line Into the Blue

"Successful cities are built around quick, easy and reliable transportation systems", this post looks at the new Canada Line from Vancouver to Richmond and YVR from a personal perspective.
Canada Line Station

The Canada Line almost never happened, but it opened this August 17th, and as I had a very, very, very small role, as have thousands of people, in its creation I wanted to have a ride on it.

In May 2003, I found myself a member of the "Rethink RAV Business Coalition" that was hoping to reverse a decision not to proceed with the RAV line (renamed Canada Line), a Light Rapid Transit option from Richmond the YVR Vancouver Airport to the Vancouver downtown core.  This was before Vancouver had been awarded the 2010 Olympics but was in the final group.  Our Federal government was hoping to sweeten Canada's bid by adding some federal funding for the new line.

I attended my one and only press scrum as a representative of the Real Estate Institute of British Columbia and part of this rethink business coalition.  Nervously, I made my way to the microphone. After a quick recap of the importance of transportation in Canada in a historical sense from waterways to railways to roads and airplanes (see quote above), it was time for my final argument, cleaner air.  The newspaper ran one of my ramblings "would not the skies be a little bluer if we had some sort of rapid transit here in Vancouver, in Richmond?"  Okay, it doesn't quite roll off the tongue but it was a sound bite that stuck, made it to print, and became part of my fifteen minutes of fame.

It seemed appropriate for me to get on the line at the corner of Granville Ave. and Hastings Street in Vancouver just below the offices of the Real Estate Institute of BC.  Above is a picture of the station from street grade.  I was hoping to find a bright and cheerful logo like the iconic London Underground emblem to help visitors find the station but no; the station pretty much blends into the background. 
One goes down a flight of stairs to face a bank of automatic ticketing machines ready to take your money.  There were no attendants in sight so I had to fiqure out by myself how many zones there are between where I was and YVR. I noticed on a map that the Canada line from downtown all the way to YVR is colour coded a shade of blue so I punched in fare for one zone. Wrong. On the other end (the YVR) some high tech anarchist had used a piece of  scrap cardboard and written "2 zones to Vancouver" and stuck it to the machine. Now signage like that would have helped me on friday; imagine thousands of "limited english" 2010 foreign visitors with this same problem.

Canada Line Train

The station was neat and tidy but the exteriors of some of the cars needed a wash.  Why go to all that trouble to impress the world and not clean the windows? As the ride proceeded stop to stop a good cross section of people arrived and departed;  young travellers toting backpacks heading to the airport, seniors, a bicyclist and people like me just out to explore. There is plenty to explore this line provides important stops near City Hall, the Vancouver General Hospital, Langara University and Oakridge to name a few.  There seems to be ample space for luggage and bikes, although I have heard bicycles are restricted two to a car.  There was a lot of squealing noises along certain sections of the line giving fellow passengers and me an uneasy confidence in the engineering.  My goodness, it sounded like a 40 year old rail service!  Out into the light at 49th Avenue over a bridge built for the Canada Line past the River Rock casino, and then there we were at the Airport all in a span of 26 minutes.  Departing the train to a completely covered skywalk your choice at the terminal is to turn right for international flights or left for domestic flights and arrivals.
YVR skywalk
YVR Vancouver

Blue Sky

All in all, I was pretty impressed and still think that the linkage between the Richmond, the YVR Airport and Vancouver a smart move. 

Looking upwards, yeah the skies did seem, just a bit, bluer.


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Stephen Mullock is a Chilliwack real estate associate broker with 29 years of experience. He can be reached at Royal LePage Wheeler Cheam Realty, telephone 604-792-0077.



Copyright August 30,2009 by Stephen Mullock.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Chilliwack Day Trip to Vancouver's South Side Tourist Sights


If you are going to live in the Chilliwack area get use to the fact that relatives and friends are going to descend upon you for visits. Why wouldn't they come? Rivers, lakes, oceans, mountains, golf courses, shopping and a convenient airport are just 30 minutes away in Abbotsford. They are going to come and visit frequently. My advice makes the most of it by planning a few day trips in advance. Now I have previously mentioned some local area spots but for a big city experience Vancouver is only 2 hours away and it is a fabulous city!

This is the day trip to Vancouver's South Side tourist attractions I recently shared with my nephew Jesse and his girlfriend Monica. My goal was to cram quite a bit into the day as their vacation was a short one and Vancouver has a lot to offer. I also wanted to get them out to places they would not likely see without the use of a car. We headed down Highway No.1 around 10 a.m. (they are on holiday) and turned off on First Ave. in Vancouver and drove straight to Telus World of Science for a quick picture break of this wonderful landmark building and the False Creek inlet. If Jesse and Monica had been kids we would have spent 2 or 3 hours in the interactive science centre and Omnimax.


Just around the corner on 4th Ave. to the Granville Island Market was our next stop. A quick lunch and then an Aquabus tour of the inlet at the reasonable price of $7 round trip per adult. Scouring the Granville Island market can take hours but we kept our visit to a short 2 hours inlet tour included.

I have always have always been a sucker for space and planetariums and B.C.'s only space centre the H.R. MacMillian Space Centre is a beauty. It is also a great place to rest the feet while the cosmos swirls above you. In fact, I have known a few relatives to nod off in the comfort of the theatre. This day, however, we were there only for a quick picture of its magnificent Crab sculpture and the building itself. A passion of mine is architecture especially when it offers west coast sensitivity. Here the space centre roof is styled after the tightly woven First Nation cedar hats.

Our journey continued westward to the Kitsilano Beach rated as one of the sexiest beaches in North America by Forbes Travel it is also a terrific site to take pictures of the Vancouver downtown peninsula.

Our final destination was the Museum of Anthropology at UBC and in my estimation a "must see" attraction when in Vancouver. I would rate it number 2 right after Stanley Park and the Aquarium. The building designed by the renowned Canadian architect Arthur Erikson to reflect the post and beam long house construction of the coastal First Nation people. If you count you will see 6 major roof beams in the structure the same number in the neighbouring long houses.



The simple mantle shape of the MOA suggests the welcoming sign in the centre of the long house picture. Originally, the rocky beach in front of the museum and the long houses was to be a water feature reflecting the buildings and in a traditional beach positioning. Unfortunately, the sand embankment upon which the buildings are placed was deemed not to be safe enough for the additional weight. Too bad, it would have been quite the sight!

There are a number of notable cravings within the museum but none more significant than Bill Reid's masterpiece "The Raven and the First Men".



Towering totem poles from the Haida, Gitxsan, Nisga'a, Oweekeno and other First Nations are housed in the Great Hall. Here are a few pictures I took.





Returning back to Chilliwack at about 8 p.m. after a full but well paced day both Jesse and Monica were happy with their Vancouver south side adventure.

Community, amenities and culture are three components that should be considered when making a real estate purchase, unfortunately, they are often overlooked in favour of price. One goal of this blog is to illuminate the lifestyle of the British Columbian eastern Fraser Valley communities of Chilliwack, Agassiz/Kent, Harrison Hot Springs and Hope so that better decisions can be made.

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Stephen Mullock is a Chilliwack real estate associate broker with 29 years of experience. He can be reached at Royal LePage Wheeler Cheam Realty, telephone 604-792-0077.

Copyright August 21,2009 by Stephen Mullock.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Chilliwack Real Estate Market Summary

July 2009 and August 2009 Projection



July, saw a continued return to strength in the sale of properties within the Chilliwack real estate board area (east from the Vedder Canal to Boston Bar) when compared to the previous year. In total, 274 real estate transactions took place well up from the poor showing of 2008 where a meagre 193 sales occurred.

This is the third month in which 2009 sales have out performed the same month in 2008. The big real estate news story was the record sale numbers that the Real Estate Board of Vancouver posted in July as reported by the Vancouver Sun. I have wondered if that type of sales activity would have a spill over effect into sales in the Fraser Valley. Fraser Valley numbers in July as mentioned were better than those in 2008 but no where near the totals in 2006 and 2007 as demonstrated by the graph.

As of this date, August 14, 2009, the Chilliwack sale numbers are about 20% above those for August 1 - 14, 2008 but only half of the 2007 totals for the same time period in the Chilliwack market. There is a surge however taking place in the Fraser Valley board area (Abbotsford to Surrey) with sales 72% higher than 2008 and exceeding slightly 2007 and 2006 numbers. So, we are seeing a ripple effect taking shape emitting from Vancouver and spreading eastward through the Fraser Valley. I would expect that later this month Chilliwack will be seeing a lot of activity. My personal situation is that of working with a steadier stream of people and that well priced listings are getting regular showings at present time. Multiple offers on such properties are once again happening. Buyers should get looking now before the activity ripple hits the Chilliwack market.

Chilliwack Single Family House Statistics


Number of Units Sold: 161


Average Sale Price: $345,000


Houses available for sale at the month's end: 930


Market: Buyers market approaching bottom end of a Balanced market


Chilliwack Townhouse and Apartment Statistics


Number of Units Sold: 92


Average Sale Price: $226,000


Houses available for sale at the month's end: 529


Market: Buyers market but also approaching a balanced market



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Stephen Mullock is a Chilliwack real estate associate broker with 29 years of experience. He can be reached at Royal LePage Wheeler Cheam Realty, telephone 604-792-0077.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Harrison Mills, British Columbia

Harrison River and Harrison Bridge Pictures



I promised a few more pictures of the very scenic Harrison Mills area in a previous posting. This area is situated in eastern Fraser Valley about 15 km from Agassiz and almost directly north across the Fraser River from Chilliwack BC. Too bad there isn't a bridge or ferry like there use to be over to Chilliwack - just wishing. Then again, the charm and serene feel of Harrison Mills is perhaps protected by the absence of such a service. Speaking of bridges, the Harrison Bridge is a small "swing" bridge crossing the Harrison River. I have included some of the photographs I took there. As you can see this is an area to get acquainted with you can even check out the local real estate as a place for permanent or seasonal living as Harrison Mills provides both. The easiest way to explore this area for current real estate offerings is just a click away Harrison Mills Real Estate.

Harrison River and Harrison Bridge, Harrison Mills, British Columbia









There are a number of "posts" at this blog site about the Harrison Mills area, I hope that you will take the time to have a look, better yet, take a drive and enjoy this area first hand.

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Stephen Mullock is a Chilliwack real estate associate broker with 29 years of experience. He can be reached at Royal LePage Wheeler Cheam Realty, telephone 604-792-0077.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Chilliwack's Hottest Day - Ever

July 29, 2009



The July 29th 2009 temperature of 38.2 C is the hottest temperature ever recorded in Chilliwack,BC at least ever since records were started in 1881!!

It was a week of scorching heat unlike anything I can recall.
Chilliwack’s tends to have a very temperate climate with mid July temperatures usually in the mid-twenties, not the high thirties. In general,most, housing has no need for air conditioning but after this past July perhaps the demand for cooled air is about to change. I had a chance to drop into Future Shop in Sardis during the heat wave last week, I was told that they were selling 150 air conditioners a day.

Here are some of the 7 heat records that were smashed last week! New records are in bold. Now the words “maximum minimum” sound like some sort of "double speak", but, what it meant to answer is the question, “how hot was it last night”?

You will notice that many of these records were not simply edged out by another slightly higher temperature they were smashed sometimes by more than 2 degrees Celsius (C).

As mentioned the July 29th 2009 temperature of 38.2 C (100.76 F)is the hottest temperature ever recorded in Chilliwack in 128 years!!

Previous peak temperatures experienced were 37.8 C , July 27th 1958 and 38.0 C July 11th 2007. I am happy to see that these peaks are all in the month of July suggesting a cooler August.

(DAY) Maximum Temperature July 2009
Average Daytime Temperature 25.4 C


30th----36.8 C----Previous Record 35.6 C (1965)
29th----38.2 C----Previous Record 35.6 C (1971)
28th----37.0 C----Previous Record 35.6 C (1958)
27th----34.8 C
26th----30.5 C
25th----31.1 C

(NIGHT) Maximum Minimum Temperature July 2009
Average Night Temperature 11.5 C

30th----21.6 C----Previous Record 17.8 C (1965)
29th----18.4 C----Previous Record 18.3 C (1965)
28th----19.0 C
27th----17.9 C
26th----19.0 C----Previous Record 16.7 C (1965)
25th----17.1 C----Previous Record 16.7 C (1913)


Thankfully, we back to comfortable temperatures that do not require the use of air conditioning but there are still a few weeks of potentially uncomfortable days ahead of us.

Thanks to Weather Observers Roger Pannett and my brother John Mullock for this information.

By the way if you have difficulty converting celsius into fahrenheit I know I do, click away.

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Stephen Mullock is a Chilliwack real estate associate broker with 29 years of local experience. Let him provide that knowledge to your transaction he can be reached at Royal LePage Wheeler Cheam Realty, telephone 604-792-0077.