Merry Christmas from Hornby Island

This is my first Christmas on Hornby Island after past xmas1Christmases at Puerto Vallarta, Costa Rica, Phoenix Ottawa and Vancouver. This will be a very different Christmas. This morning the power went out for the third time since I came in June. By now I have acquired both candles and the skills to start a fire in the wood stove AND make cowboy coffee on the wood strove. The pot of hot water heated faster on the wood stove than the electrical stove.  The power came on at 8 am, just in time for the co-op radio program that I had been invited to guest DJ. The station only broadcasts to the island and only half of the island can get the transmission so that’s a possible an audience of about 500 would be listening if everyone was up at that hour of the morning.  All did not go well. I had a small set of Christmas music I had hoped to play for my new Hornby friends, but the technical elves were up to their old tricks. My new Iphone 7 had a different jack than the radio station and my back up plan of a USB stick could not be read by the machines. So I will be getting some training on the equipment next week.   I have been invited to host a once a month classical radio show.

Following the radio follies, I took my weekly trip to the recycling center to feed the deer this week’s organic material.   Lots of mandarin orange peels but they don’t seem to fancy them. I hit on another real find at the Free store.. an ottoman for me and my landlady’s cat. (see above)   She (the landlady) is in Mexico.

I came home and baked a huge apple crisp for the potluck dinner at New Horizons tomorrow.   I got the apples from the heritage orchard on Hornby which has been in existence for about a 100 years. The orchard has now become a community project. The apples taste better than the ones from the store.

I have to teach on-line for an hour tomorrow to a group of nine grade 7’s in Ontario. They are all English speaking but are wanting enhanced reading experience. Managing 9 kids online at the same time seemed like a bad idea to me but everyone seems to be on their best behaviour.   The book we are about to read is called Replica-Lyra which is about cloning. It was their choice not mine!. Very topical. The other student I have is a grade 2 child in an international school in Shanghai which means English immersion. She is on a 3 week snowboarding trip at the moment but we are still having classes.

Tomorrow night is a house concert at a Yoga retreat on the island. I have had very good things about the musicians and have not been to the yoga retreat.   Then Sunday is the life drawing session, followed by the Hornby Island Photo club. We have to bring 4 photos of Leading Lines.

Next week a new Hornby friend from Victoria is coming to stay for a few days. Although many people leave Hornby for Mexico in the winter, I haven’t made any plans to go south yet but if the power frequently goes out I might consider it. I think the Christmas period will be quieter and I hope to get back to doing some watercolours that I have been leaning by myself but started a few years ago at Emily Carr.

People often say that they have never been to busy since they retired, and I have to agree. Even here on Hornby it is common to be double booked. There are fitness classes, the bridge club, the community choir and many many volunteer opportunities that I have not yet explored. Everywhere I go I run into people I know or who know me after about 5 minutes of chatting with me. This is so much better than Vancouver or even Mexico. And walks, like everything, are within a 10 min drive of where I live.xmas 6

The downside has been trying to find housing over the winter. There are some strange rules and regulations from the Islands trusts about long/short term rentals that take a lot of the housing off the market in the winter. xmas 7Crazy making if you ask me. Not unlike the strata council in my condo in Vancouver that has banned rentals of less than 12 months. Thus my continued stay on Hornby!!!!. Fortunately the BC government has just released their housing task force report that recommends banning condo rental restrictions. I have been fighting with my strata council about this since May and I am glad to see the tide may be turning. So far they have fined me $ 500 for some short term rentals I did over the summer on AIRBNB.   It’s a crazy world. The summer rentals here start at $ 1000 a week. The other downside is that I haven’t had much time to update my blog.

I hope to see more visitors to Hornby next year. I have two futons for guests and 2 bathrooms so lots of space. It is however a 6 hour trip from Vancouver via 3 ferries. Still, it is a pretty scenic trip and well worth it. Save it until the summer to enjoy the beaches and kayaking.

My best wishes to all for a Merry Christmas and Happy 2019. Can’t believe it will be 2019!!!


Condo rental situation in Vancouver

BMO has published the most articulate and analytical analysis of the rental housing situation in Canada and it offers some market solutions which is mainly investment in REITS and some tax polices that encourage investment. Much of the data used in the report is from CMHC that provides some data for some areas.  Some data is from 2011 and other data is only for areas over 10,000.  So its’s not perfect.

Much of the current housing situation has been driven by demographics (as many things are) and the opening of the condominium market which have been built and occupied in lieu of rental properties.  I suspect that initially the thought was that condos could provide both ownership and rentals.  This has been the case with between 23-25% of condos in the rental market but this has been declining since 2015.  However since 2008, 25,272 rental condos have been added to the rental market in Vancouver according to CMHC data.    How many are short term rentals?  I could not find data.


Source CMHC

Why should retirees care about the rental market?  Because the rental market may impact  condo policies regarding rentals which becomes more important as retirees may be absent from their condos over the winter/summer.

The rental housing market creates a level of uncertainty for many people but especially retirees who both need and want stable housing.  Making a decision to buy a condo must be well researched to understand the limitations of both renting the condo and having it vacant if you can’t rent it out.  At the moment there is no way to know if a condo will be open to rentals without getting the information from the strata council before buying.  It would be helpful to have a database of condo properties that have flexible rental policies.   As time wears on and more seniors are in condos, hopefully they will sit on strata councils and be able to influence polices.  Another option is to buy into condos with a 55+ policy or where the ownership is primarily seniors.   Seniors might also consider staying in their own home and make adjustments as required if they plan to travel.  Property management companies are also partially at fault as they have not advised strata councils about the pros and cons of restricting rentals.

Once you have bought into a condo that changes their policy regarding rentals as mine has, you are trapped in a difficult situation that has financial implications.   If you can only rent your place out for a year and want to spend a month or two in the sun, you are forced to leave the place empty and loose income that could be generated from a short term rental.

CMHC has published a condo buyers guide.

Seniors need to do their research on housing options if they are planning on downsizing.

As of Dec 12 2018 the provincial government Housing Task Force has made the following recommendation:

Recommendation 9: Increase the availability of currently empty strata housing by eliminating a strata corporation’s ability to ban owners from renting their own strata units.



all things unretired

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