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Neighbourhoods to Watch: Where to Live, Rent or Invest Next WILL A BRIDGE RUIN THE SUNSHINE COAST?

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HOW THE TECH BOOM W IL L SH A PE THE CIT Y // K A R AOK E W EEK EN D IN SE AT TL E // STR ATA WA RS HE AT U P

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How We Live Now Vancouverites are finding creative solutions to the housing crisis—like shacking up in a west side mansion with five strangers.

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VA N M AG . C O M

COVER PHOTO: JOHN SINAL , COVER ST YLING: NICOLE SJÖSTEDT; CIT Y OF RENTERS: ANDREW QUERNER; SNAPSHOT: EVA AN KHERA J; FUTURE OF CIT Y: CRISTIAN FOWLIE; REVIEWS: LUIS VALDIZON; WAFFLES: ARIANA GILLRIE; TRAVEL: THOMPSON SEAT TLE

A P R I L 2 0 1 7 // VO LU M E 5 0 // N U M B E R 3

FE ATURES

38

City of Renters Fifty-one percent of Vancouverites rent, so we’re diving into the who, the where and the how.

48

The Nightmare Next Door As housing costs rise and budgets stretch thin, tempers start to flare.

52

All Together Now A family of strangers finds a better way to make high-cost housing work.

38

City 26

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21 At Issue Would a bridge to the Sunshine Coast ruin everything?

Taste 32

31 The Dish We say “Yes, please!” to cheese at La Mezcaleria.

26 Snapshot Cosplayers come out in full force for Fan Expo.

32 Reviews A West Van French bistro that’s très bien.

28 Future of the City Gerri Sinclair hopes to get homegrown tech start-ups to go global.

34 Taste Test The hunt for the best Liège waff le in the city.

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36 Sips Splash out on this unique whisky.

Play 62

59 Personal Space Inside the envyinducing home of a stylist-turned-chef. 62 Hot Take A fresh take on florals and pastels, just in time for spring.

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64 Travel Diary Pizza, karaoke and cocktails fuel a whirlwind Seattle trip.

VA N M A G . C O M A P R I L 2 0 1 7

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IN THE HEART OF DOWNTOWN VANCOUVER

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ED NOTE

So This Is It

THE BUILDING WHERE I LIVE in the West End is a pretty good microcosm of both the neighbourhood and the city itself. James, my neighbour across the hall, has been living there for more than 35 years. (He’s also a chain-smoker, so I shudder to think of the state of his walls after nearly four decades of indoor smoking.) Mark and Kyle are upstairs, a couple who both work in the airline industry, and there are my next-door neighbours, Debbie and Steven—one an artist, the other a furniture maker. And there are the people whose names I don’t know, but whom I greet in the elevator: the family of four with two kids under five, the Aussie pair who bikes no matter the weather, the gay couple on the ground floor who organizes barbecues for the whole building each summer. Like many Vancouverites (over 50 percent of us, according to the most recent Canadian Rental Housing Index), I’ve been a renter for a long time. I’ve had my share of nightmare tales (including one itinerant landlord who showed up to “renovate” our bathroom one night with an axe in one hand and a joint in the other). But I’ve had plenty of sweet ones, too: the landlord who bought us a bread maker for Christmas; the neighbour who hangs out with my cat when I’m away. I’ve shaken off the generational stress that insists I should be owning my own place, and I’ve grown to appreciate both the freedom renting brings (my faucet breaks down, I call the Super; ditto a fridge on the fritz) and the choice it gives me: I can live by the Seawall in a 1,000-square-foot space in a heritage building, a spot that would be near-impossible for me to purchase. For our annual real estate issue,

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instead of continuing to panic about our stratospheric real estate prices and handwringing about the state of our market, we decided to focus on how Vancouverites live now: the ways that we’re making it work in a costly city. There are those who’ve turned previously unoccupied mansions on the west side into new experiments in collective living (page 52)—more than just roommates, these thirtysomethings are creating intentional communities (in pretty sweet digs). We’re also highlighting the best neighbourhoods in which to rent, both in the city and outside its limits (page 38); and, for those who want to sit on the landlord side of the equation, we’ve included the best spots to invest—and how to deal with any strata entanglements along the way (page 48). The common thread throughout this issue is that, whether we rent or buy, we’re all ultimately looking for a community that feels like our own—strata-conflict-free, home to a few summer barbecues, and equipped with a cat-sitting neighbour or two who might also bring over a slice of glutenfree lasagna once in a while. I know that some of these places still exist, even within the din of a city struck by real estate panic, because I’ve found one myself. Hopefully, you’ve found yours, too—and, if not, may these pages inspire you to keep searching, or to start building one where you stand.

Coming Up Next Issue Chef Exodus We take a hard look at how Vancouver’s rising rents are jeopardizing a new generation of up-and-coming restaurateurs: are we at risk of losing the most creative food minds to cheaper destinations?

Restaurant Awards It’s back! We engage in our 28th annual exercise of asking the best food minds in the province to taste their way through the city (and Victoria, Whistler and the Okanagan) and name today’s best restaurants in B.C. (A peek at last year’s awards party, below).

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Rather than being unsatisfied with a renting culture, can we embrace (and love) the way we live now?


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VA N M AG .C O M/C I T Y

City Connection Question Either a bridge, as our rendering imagines, or a road would open up the Sunshine Coast to real estate and business interest from the Lower Mainland. But not everyone agrees that’s a good thing.

PHOTO WITHOUT BRIDGE: KEVIN WELLS

AT ISSUE

Bridge to Paradise?

With a fixed link again on the table, the Sunshine Coast is split on whether easier access will benefit the remote oasis. BY

Amy O’Brian

FOR DECADES, the prospect of a fixed link to the Lower Mainland has floated around the Sunshine Coast, exciting proponents with the idea of spontaneous travel along open stretches of road. Property developers would welcome the real estate potential lying in the wooded outskirts of Gibsons—a possible bedroom community for first-time homebuyers shut out by the Lower Mainland’s stratospheric prices. Our bridge-loving premier has likely dreamed of adding another impressive span to her growing collection (see the Port Mann and George Massey bridge projects). And at least some users of the Langdale ferry have whiled away long waits by imagining a life with a simpler commute. j

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City

AT I S S U E

Squamish

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Port Mellon

Gambier Island

Anvil Island

Langdale

LEGEND

Proposed bridge connection Proposed road connection Current ferry crossing Existing Highway 99

Gibsons Lions Bay

Horseshoe Bay THE ROUTES

A bridge would put Horseshoe Bay within a 40-minute drive from Langdale on the Sunshine Coast, while the road option would connect Langdale to Highway 99 near Squamish, putting travel time to the Lower Mainland at about 90 minutes. Both options are being considered to replace the current 40-minute ferry crossing.

Michele Whiting, general manager of Gramma’s Pub in Gibsons, says she would consider leaving the Sunshine Coast if a bridge or road is built. A lifelong resident of the coast, she has no problem with the ferry that keeps her community relatively safe. Even though a bridge could potentially bring more business to her pub, “it’s a waste of taxpayer money,” she says. “I can’t see it ever happening. … No one’s going to hop on a fixed link to come to Gramma’s for a burger and a beer.” Yet highway improvements have made Squamish and Whistler an easy trip from Vancouver. Plenty of people now visit for a day—or even just a burger and a beer—and potential travellers to Gibsons could follow suit. The government’s feasibility study outlines two options for connecting the lower Sunshine Coast to the

West Vancouver

North Vancouver Vancouver

Sea-to-Sky Highway. One is a pair of suspension bridges, each about 1,500 metres long, that would span Howe Sound, meeting in the middle at Anvil Island. The estimated construction costs range between $2 billion and $2.5 billion, and travel time from Horseshoe Bay to Langdale would be about 40 minutes (the same as the current ferry crossing). The other option would connect Squamish to Langdale with a new road along the west coast of Howe Sound, making the trip from Horseshoe Bay to Langdale about 90 minutes. The price tag would be between $1.5 billion and $2 billion. “My bet would be on the bridge,” says Gary Fribance, president of the Third Crossing Society, which has been advocating for years for an eastwest road connection from Powell

MAP IMAGE: GOOGLE EARTH/2016 DIGITAL GLOBE

While a government study looking at the feasibility of fixedlink options to the Sunshine Coast is nudging these visions toward reality, there are plenty of coastal folk who think a bridge (or road along the west side of Howe Sound) will ruin their slice of paradise. It’s the ferry, they argue, that keeps the riffraff at bay and allows the place to maintain its quiet, idyllic feel. “A lot of people like that we’re slightly isolated. We have [a low] crime rate. People like these aspects of living here,” says Nicholas Simons, the NDP MLA for Powell River–Sunshine Coast. But the steady erosion of the ferry service has made life on the coast— particularly the northern coast— increasingly difficult. The cost of the ferries has risen steadily, he says, while service has decreased. (Fares for two adults and a car from Horseshoe Bay to Langdale have increased by nearly 30 percent since 2008.) “There are a lot of reasons to be frustrated and to be looking for alternatives. The more the government undermines our current [ferry] system, the more people will be looking for something else,” says Simons. According to the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, the Sunshine Coast Fixed Link Feasibility Study is a response to years of residents and businesses advocating for a bridge or road to replace the existing ferry service between the Lower Mainland and the Sunshine Coast. But Simons, a three-term MLA, says he doesn’t often hear from constituents who want a fixed link, despite their frustrations with the ferries. “When the government says there is growing demand, where is that coming from?” Simons asks, adding that his constituents are split on the issue.


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River to Highway 99, north of Squamish. While it’s “overwhelmingly wonderful” to live in Powell River, at the northern end of the Sunshine Coast, says Fribance, he notes the region is in the midst of an “economic nightmare.” Schools are closing and young people are unable to find work. Jack Barr, a director of Sunshine Coast Tourism and president of the Powell River Chamber of Commerce, believes a fixed link would benefit the economies of Gibsons, Sechelt, Pender Harbour and Powell River. Currently, the trek from Powell River to the Lower Mainland is an onerous one, requiring two ferry crossings and hours of driving. A reliable road or bridge could ease the commute considerably by putting Gibsons within an easy drive from downtown Vancouver. “The link is a game-changer for the coast,” Barr says. Geoff Gornall, a 29-year-old entrepreneur new to the Sunshine Coast, speaks diplomatically about the link proposal. He and his two equally youthful business partners recently opened the Sunshine Coast’s newest microbrewery, Gibsons Tapworks. They chose the coast, in part, because of its affordability and because they all wanted to buy property, which they have now been able to do. “Generally speaking, we moved for the lifestyle,” he says. “For what you can afford in Vancouver—a onebedroom condo—here, you can own a house.” But as much as a bridge or road would simplify the logistics of moving hops from Chilliwack to the brewery, Gornall can understand why so many people are opposed to the idea. “I wouldn’t put us firmly in either camp,” he says.

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LOCAL C U LT U R E

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Suzanne Senger moved to the Sunshine Coast 15 years ago and ran for mayor of Gibsons in 2014. She now works for a non-profit organization, which requires her to take the ferry to Vancouver once or twice a week. It’s a way of working that she says has become increasingly common for people on the

When the government says there is growing demand, where is that coming from?”

RE AD

Solitude Michael Harris (a former Vancouver senior editor) won the prestigious Governor General’s Award for 2014’s The End of Absence, a non-fiction work about being a part of the last generation to remember life before the Internet. He mines similar terrain here, exploring how one can be truly alone when technology follows us everywhere. Available April 4

— N IC HOL A S

S I MON S , N DP M L A F OR P OW E L L R I V E R - S U N S H I N E C OA S T

coast. But there are also the hard-core commuters—of which there are about 1,000—who make the trip every day to jobs on the other side. Senger believes few of them want a bridge. “I haven’t heard any of them say they would rather drive. They can work on the ferry, relax, sleep,” she says. “I think we need better ferry service. We don’t need a bridge.” Of course, nothing has been decided —and won’t be for some time. Even once an option has been chosen, there will be further studies, consultations, negotiations. Jordan Sturdy, the Liberal MLA for West Vancouver–Sea-to-Sky, says the work that’s been done has “just scratched the surface.” Regional First Nations must be consulted. Infrastructure implications for the Sunshine Coast, as well as the North Shore, must be examined. It will be at least a decade before a fixed link to the Sunshine Coast would be complete, Sturdy says, but he feels it’s time to start putting ideas to paper and studying them thoroughly. “It’s time, in my mind, to have an informed conversation,” he says. “This is a very big-picture, long-term discussion of the project.”

GO

World Ski and Snowboard Festival Now in its 22nd year, this annual event draws thousands of mountain enthusiasts to Whistler for a self-described “end-of-season party,” including its titular sports, live music, comedy, and a 72-hour filmmaking competition. View the complete schedule at wssf.com. Whistler Village, April 7 to 16

LISTEN

Said the Whale Perseverance has paid off for this local pop-rock band. Beginning in 2007 as an “exploratory songwriting experiment” between two highschool friends, Said the Whale won the 2011 Juno Award for Breakthrough Group, and their two previous albums charted in the Top 20. New album As Long as Your Eyes Are Wide is celebrated at this homecoming concert. Vogue Theatre, April 29

SAID THE WHALE: TABY CHENG

City


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City

SNAPSHOT

Fan City

Back for its fifth year, Fan Expo Vancouver (“Everyone is a fan of something,” claims the website) brings together an estimated 25,000 admirers of everything from Star Trek to Skyrim to celebrate the joy of going all in. by

Jenni Baynham Evaan Kheraj

photos by

1 1. This speed-dating company from Utah is on to something smart: hooking up potential lovers at comic-book conventions. “It’s a chance for Fan Expo attendees to find connections, be they romantic or just friendly,” explains Devan (left) pictured with Paige. “You already know they have something major in common with you, and it’s a safe space to explore that.” 2. “I’ve been to over 27 comic-book conventions this year,” says Archie Comics artist and writer Dan Parent. “This one isn’t as big as, say, the events in Toronto or Florida, but I’ve seen some familiar faces among the artists showcased here.” 3. “Pokémon was our childhood,” says Kayla (right), who made her costume in one night (Vaporeon, in case you were wondering). “We actually consider ourselves more anime fans than comic fans,” explains Kyle (left), dressed as Flareon, “but there are some really good people in this room, so we’ve come for the last three years in a row.”

4. Not everyone came to Fan Expo in full costume, but among those who did, Star Wars was by far the most popular theme of choice (exhibit A: stormtrooper). Off-camera, a Jedi and Darth Vader have a full-blown lightsaber fight as R2-D2 scoots by. 5. Hillary, Hannah and Mollie spent between 20 hours (Lilo and Stitch, middle) to one month (Black Butler, left) on their costumes. Mollie’s effort at Vi from League of Legends (right) took 90 hours, but it was “totally worth it.”

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6. Ryan seems to be one of the few people in attendance genuinely interested in old-school comic books. “It’s about the covers for me,” he says. “My wife doesn’t love it—space is always a problem for anyone that has a collectible notion in their brain!” 7. Alana is a hairdresser by week and an aspiring professional cosplayer by weekend. This costume—Latios, the blue dragon from Pokémon—was put together in just two days, but

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some of her more exuberant outfits have been compiled over months, with each one costing about $300. 8. “I went to NYC for a comic-book convention when I was 18,” says Las Vegas-based comic-book artist Jae Lee, who has illustrated notable heroes like Superman and Batman. “I was lucky enough to be given a chance by Marvel and it kind of went from there.”

6

9. Milan used to come to these things by himself, but this year he brought along his own little Pokémon hunter, nine-year-old daughter Cordelia. “It’s cool to be able to share this with her now that she’s old enough.” 10. The rain didn’t stop Pikachu from enjoying the seawall. Rumour has it he was spotted later cruising around town on a Mobi.

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City

FUTURE OF THE CIT Y

Scaling Up Vancouver’s Tech Scene

Will Vancouver ever have the clout of tech centres like Seattle or San Francisco? Gerri Sinclair hopes so. After founding technology company NCompass Labs— and selling it to Microsoft for $55 million in 2001—the founding executive director of the Centre for Digital Media and former video game coder now oversees the province’s $100-million BC Tech Fund as managing director of Vancouver’s Kensington Capital Partners. Her aim? Get homegrown start-ups to go global. by

Petti Fong

illustration by

Cristian Fowlie

Q:

You’ve seen many tech hubs both within Canada and outside. There’s talk of Hollywood North, but Silicon Valley North is not the reality here. Why is that?

A:

Q: What’s being done at the government level to help? A: Our lax immigration policy is great. The other thing is that Vancouver has a welcoming ethnicity to it and we need more people around the world to know that. That’s a very powerful incentive. If you’re from eastern Europe, you can

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GERRI SINCL AIR: CARLO RICCI

There’s a gap in that growth capital—the problem is not starting businesses, it’s the speed in which these enterprises scale. If you grow incrementally, the competition will leave you in the dust. Canada and Vancouver have a poor record in scaling— we have a poor record of getting to $100 million. Ottawa’s Shopify is the darling. In Vancouver, we’ve got Vision Critical. We’ve got Hootsuite. We need more.


find a community here. If you’re from Asia, we have all kinds of different Asian groups who have already established themselves. Folks feel very at home here in Vancouver. Q: How does the city need to change so technology and capital can meet and create a thriving sector? A: I’m leaving tomorrow for Barcelona and people there, like here, are connected to the geography. Barcelona is in a beautiful location right on the Balearic Sea. There’s the vibe of the people and the energy of the town. Vancouver doesn’t have the same kind of pulse. The architecture here, from my perspective, is pretty bland. It would be great for Vancouver to develop its own authentic character outside of its geographic beauty (to attract more talent and investors). Q: Why is the province putting this money into technology now? A: The BC Tech Fund is basically trying to grow the technology ecosystem in the province. It’s working to develop the very best companies from small to large, which creates jobs and provides products and services that can open up new markets and have huge social and economic impacts. The B.C. government decided to put their emphasis

Hometown Heroes These companies have beaten the odds to put Vancouver on the map. Slack This fast-growing workplace messaging app— valued at $3.8 billion (U.S.) in 2016—is headquartered in San Francisco, but CEO Stewart Butterfield maintains close personal and professional ties to Vancouver (he helped jump-start the city’s tech scene when he founded Flickr here back in 2004, eventually selling the

Coders are going to be the artists of the 21st century.” on Series A funding. For companies, Series A means they’re raising capital to scale, they already have a product in market with actual customers, and between $1 million and $3 million in revenue. From that perspective, that’s the area that research is showing is the most difficult to grow. Q: You got into technology 30 years ago because your son wanted a Commodore VIC-20 and you wanted him to code, so you began coding with him. Why did you choose that path? A: He wanted to play games and I wanted him to learn how a game is made. I’m still passionate about this one idea. All of us need to know about code and programming. As the world becomes more and more digital, computer code controls more and more of our behaviour. I was very aware back then that coders are going to be the new artists of the 21st century. They’re the magicians and the shapers of all experiences that we will have.

company to Yahoo!). Slack’s Vancouver outpost is a 22,000-square-foot Yaletown office with space for 120 workers. Hootsuite Founded in 2008, this social media management platform now has more than 15 million users worldwide, but the company is an important local anchor with its Mount Pleasant headquarters spanning multiple buildings and employing nearly 1,000 people. Vision Critical This cloud-based software company specializing

S TA R T- U P S TA R S

in market research has some big-name clients such as Cathay Pacific, Yahoo! and UBC. But while Vision Critical boasts a global workforce of 700, its headquarters sit at the foot of Granville Street near Waterfront Station.

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VA N M Avodka G . C O M Acom PRIL 2017

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PLEASE DRINK RESPONSIBLY. RUSSIAN STANDARD® VODKA. PRODUCT OF RUSSIA. 100% GRAIN. 40% ALC/VOL. ©2017 IMPORTED BY ROUST CANADA.


featur ing

F R O Z E N B L O O D O R A N G E M A R G A R I TA tequila, triple sec, blood orange, lime, orange salt.


U N B I A S E D R E V I E WS / WA F F L I N G A R O U N D / S I N G L E B A R R E L WO N D E R S

VA N M AG .C O M/ TA S T E

PHOTOGRAPH BY CLINTON HUSSE Y. FOOD ST YLING BY L AWREN MONET TA .

Taste

THE DISH

BOWLED OVER

depending on what part of the Spanish-speaking world you’re visiting, fundido can mean bankrupt, spoiled or just really tired. Here in Vancouver it means melted, and when La Mezcaleria pairs it with queso in a primordiallooking volcanic bowl (a molcajete) you have an over-the-top dish that frankly spoils with its richness, morally bankrupts those on a diet and, depending on how many times you dive back into the bowl, can leave your biceps feeling really tired. The allure lies in the simplicity: melted mozzarella, some herbs. We gravitate to the queso fundido con salsa verde ($21) version for the sad reason that the bitterness of the tomatillos and serrano peppers allows us to continue eating even when we’re full. 68 East Cordova St., lamezcaleria.ca

VA N M A G . C O M A P R I L 2 0 1 7

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Taste

REVIEWS

IS CAFÉ ÇA VA BIEN?

There’s a case to be made that our best French restaurant is in West Van. by

Anya Levykh Luis Valdizon

PHotoGraPHs by

THE SOUND OF casual French conversation is the first thing to hit the ear when you walk through the door of Café Ça Va in Ambleside. It’s not just the customers, it’s the staff, led by the hospitable and effervescent Brigitte Rayé. Rayé is one-third of the new team that has turned Ça Va into what could possibly be the best French restaurant in town right now. The owner—Amin Sabounchi— approached her ex-husband, chef Alain Rayé, after the latter’s long-running restaurant, La Regalade, closed in 2015 and now the trio—Brigitte, Alain and Amin—operate the space in what seems like a platonic version of Jules et Jim. The room is fussy, but in an appropriately Gallic way: ornate crystal chandeliers, marble-top tables and Louis XIV-style chairs, all surrounded by fancy blue Christian Lacroix wallpaper. But, in vast part thanks to Brigitte’s welcoming manner and the savoir faire of the servers, the overall vibe is cozy and comfortable. The rotating lists of hits from Nina Simone and Etta James that are gently piped throughout the room ain’t bad, either. A goodly portion of the guests seems to be former Regalade habitués who have migrated over, despite the fact that only a couple of their favourite menu items made the journey. Yes, the beef bourguignon is still available, and it’s very nice, but this menu is a lot lighter and much more contemporary than what the old guard are used to. Think less sauce and more inventive seasonings.

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VA N M A G . C O M A P R I L 2 0 1 7

Roast duck with duxelles

Classic soufflé

Brigitte Rayé

Pâté en croûte Sardines


AMUSE-BOUCHE

Chef Alain Rayé

A goodly portion of the guests seems to be former Regalade habitués.

Whole roast duck is cooked with lavender and cumin, and then served two ways. The duxelles (finely chopped mushrooms reduced to paste) in the first iteration are heavenly, with Chef Rayé’s son Kevin producing knife work on the mushrooms with almost frightening precision. Sardines are served in a ceramic “opened can” and lightly dressed with oil. They sit over a bed of eggplant caviar that is slightly bland but still a nice textural accompaniment to the fish. The pâté en croûte is enormous, wrapped in a beautiful, silky piece of puff pastry and served with a trio of pickles, which become a hit at the table for their silky-soft texture and remnant of sweetness. The winner of the night, however, was the soufflé, made with Chartreuse. Rayé whips his egg whites only three-quarters of the way, and then lets the oven do the rest. Lined in sugar and butter, the resulting sweet, fluff y, gravitydefying “puff of air” is inhaled with indecent speed. Don’t be intimidated by all the French; everyone speaks English as well, and the wine list has some good rewards for those who opt to go by the glass (and punishes those who want a bottle of prestige Champagne). It’s a selection that, along with the food, is worth the short trek over a bridge.

THE DEETS

Café Ça Va

1860 Marine Dr., West Vancouver 604-925-2503, cafecava.com The Order: The whole roast duck is divine, as is the classic souff lé. Wine prices are generally reasonable.

Federal Store 2601 Quebec St. federalstore.ca

The first take? Mount Pleasant’s Federal Store, with its $3.75 boxes of Annie’s bunny pasta, its $1 pencils and its ironic selling of Fun Dip, is peak Vancouver 2017: a gathering place for people paying way too much for a “curated” collection of commonplace goods while complaining about how expensive the city is. But take a breath. Realize that everyone is actually talking about happy things and reading books to their kids. Above all, let them make you a simple ham and cheese sandwich ($5.50/half) on bread they baked that morning with thick-cut aged white cheddar and a generous layering of hand-cut ham resting on a thick spread of butter. Pair it with a house-made blondie ($3.75) with a hard caramel shell drizzled on top and your only gripe will be “Why isn’t this near my home?”—Neal McLennan

The Holy Crab 1588 Robson St. theholycrab.co.id

The Holy Crab’s specialty is the classic dump-a-bucket-on-thetable-and-have-at-’er seafood boil, so making a mess is intended to be part of the fun. (This is made pretty clear when they bring out bibs for everybody to wear.) But a pungent, sloppy “spicy Cajun sauce” that covers 80 percent of the menu items takes the get-messy mantra too far…and, worse, overpowers the seafood (some imported, some Ocean wise) itself. There are some bright spots on the crustaceanforward menu—it’s hard to go wrong with giant king crab legs, though they’re a splurge at market prices—and kids will love the serving style, but we likely won’t be scuttling back any time soon.—Stacey McLachlan

VA N M A G . C O M A P R I L 2 0 1 7

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HONOUR ABLE MENTION

Café Medina The texture of Medina’s waff le perplexed our judges (“Is it deep-fried?”), but was enjoyable nonetheless. It also earned major points for being the fluff iest of the bunch. “It’s gooey in the centre and crispy on the outside,” said Derksen. 780 Richards St., medinacafe.com

Taste

T H E TA S T E T E S T

A LIÈGE OF THEIR OWN

We can drown ’em in syrup or weigh ’em down with poached eggs and hollandaise, but a waffle dish is only as good as its base—and these five Liège-style waffles, made from brioche dough and sweetened with a generous dose of pearl sugar, are out to prove just how good the Belgian pastry can be (with or without the toppings). by

Kaitlyn Gendemann Ariana Gillrie

PHoto anD stylinG by

Scandilicious The judges liked the crisp, caramelized exterior of this “heavy” waff le, but they all agreed that it could have used a little more sweetness throughout: “It doesn’t taste like there’s much sugar in the actual batter,” said one judge, who would have preferred a more flavourful dough. 25 Victoria Dr., scandilicious.com


BEST IN SHOW

Just Waffles Just Waffles’ traditional Liège was denser than its competitors’, but better balanced overall. “The flavour is great and the sweetness was nice all the way through,” noted Deas-Dawlish. Its “decent crisp” and “consistent texture” further contributed to this mom-and-pop shop’s big win. 3531 E Hastings St., 604-518-9041

Nero Belgian Waffle Bar Nero’s mini Liège waff le “definitely needs a topping,” said one taste tester. The batter also suffered from an overabundance of fat, which resulted in it being our judges’ least favourite. Multiple locations, nerowafflebar.com

Pâtisserie Lebeau “This one reminds me of a glazed doughnut,” said Straczek, who liked the “simplicity” of this grab-and-go-style waff le. Our other judges agreed, praising its sugary coating and “nice texture.” 1728 W 2nd Ave., grababetterwaffle.com

Meet the Judges

Max Straczek is the concept chef at farmto-table eateries Fable Kitchen and Fable Diner. He likes his waff les big, crispy and topped with vanilla whip.

Mike Deas-Dawlish helped bring Aburi restaurants Miku and Minami to their feet and is now the owner of Beatty Street’s Jam Cafe, where he serves up a mean all-day breakfast.

Jenn Derksen is a logistics coordinator (and our Twitter contest winner!). She usually enjoys a classic bacon-and-eggs breakfast, but she’s not the type to turn down a free waff le, either.


Taste

SIPS

by

Neal McLennan

TA S T I N G N O T E S SPIRITS

A BOTTLE OF ONE’S OWN THE CONCEPT of a truly “unique” bottle of whisky is a relatively new phenomenon. For the first few centuries of making scotch, the height of luxury was having a master blender select a number of malt whiskies and blend them into a perfectly balanced final product. Then, in the middle of the 20th century, a few distillers started to market some of those malts as worthy of recognition in their own right due to their unique character, and thus the singlemalt boom was born. But there are now so many single malts that the element of uniqueness is waning. Enter the single barrel: the idea (popularized with bourbon) is that the whisky in your bottle will be drawn from one single cask, and, given storage and climate idiosyncrasies, it will be the same only as the small number of other ones drawn from that exact barrel. A few small producers have toyed with the idea on a niche scale, but it’s the heavyweight malt the Balvenie that’s really embraced the idea. Their 25-year-old expression yields just 250 hand-numbered bottles of whisky per cask (their more affordable 12-year-old ekes out about 300 per)—so you’ll be in pretty rare company. The tasting notes? Oak, butterscotch and dry toffee…but that’s just the cask we tried. Yours could be entirely different, which is the whole point.

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VA N M A G . C O M A P R I L 2 0 1 7

BRE WING

Cask Strength Even before whisky makers were using barrels, ale makers were using them to ferment beer, and Vancouver’s Adam Chatburn is carrying on the cask tradition with his Real Cask brewery. His casks may be steel, but it’s what goes on inside them that creates magic—namely, a natural fermentation in the manner in which it used to be done. Right. Proper. Ale. Find Real Cask’s beers at the East Village’s Callister Brewing Company. (callisterbrewing.com).

The Bottle The Balvenie Single Barrel 12, $129 (the 25 checks in at $1,100).


How We Live Now

RENTING

City of Renters With all the chatter about housing prices and mortgage rates and property taxes, you might just forget that this is, at its heart, a city of renters. More than half of Vancouverites rent, and in certain neighbourhoods, that figure is even higher: 79 percent of West End residents do it; in Strathcona, it’s 84 percent. This is not necessarily a bad thing. In world-class cities like Paris and New York, renting is an accepted part of life, not a stop-gap to endure before finally landing a mortgage to call your own. The low-commitment lifestyle offers freedom from pricey homeowner chores and the chance to uproot on a whim. But renters in Vancouver face a unique challenge: even if you’re happy with giving up the home-ownership dream, actually finding somewhere to live is becoming as difficult as saving up a down payment. The city’s vacancy rate is at a historic low of 0.8 percent (in comparison, NYC's is a luxurious 4.3 percent). But Vancouverites are resourceful, always figuring out a way to make it work. Some of you are migrating to the suburbs; some are contemplating the interest-free homebuyers loan; others are shacking up with strangers in west side mansions (see page 52). For our annual real estate issue, we’re taking a cue from you, ignoring the predictions and speculation about the market bubble, and digging in to how we actually live now. We’re navigating landlord-tenant relationships, scouting out the best neighbourhoods for your next apartment and keeping one eye on this Airbnb situation. Consider this your ultimate guide to this moment in time: a snapshot of the realities of renting.

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VA N M A G . C O M A P R I L 2 0 1 7

Say Anything

A young renter, a seasoned renter and a landlord tell all. as tolD to Carly Whetter, Gabrielle Lakusta

and Rita Javorski

Portraits by Andrew Querner

THE MILLENNIAL “I’ve lived in places with very lousy building conditions, and I’ve just been grateful that I’m not the one who has to deal with fi xing those things. I kept my rent at $500 or so for the first five years that I lived here by living in really terrible places. I had a roommate who would just chuck all her cigarette butts in the hedge outside, and she lived there for about four years. When we moved out, they kept our deposit because the landlady found what must have been, at that point, thousands of cigarette butts in this hedge. And she was a landscaper, so I can’t imagine how much it hurt her. I got into the habit, too, so I


What's Next? Chloë Lai has been renting for just a few years. "We're here until they kick us out."

BY THE NUMBERS

The fine print: Results are based on an online study commissioned in VanMag, conducted by Insights West from January 9 to January 12, 2017, among 421 adult residents of Metro Vancouver who rent. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age and gender. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 4.9 percentage points.

What percentage of your income do you spend on rent?

33% 45% spend

21–41% According to the CMHC, spending 30% of of income your income or less on rent is ideal. That's on rent something possible for 51% of renters aged 35 and up—but not for millennials.

8%

14%

spend > 41% spend < 20% not sure

VA N M A G . C O M A P R I L 2 0 1 7

39


How We Live Now

RENTING

wasn’t exactly innocent. We deserved to have that taken from us. Now that I know a little bit more about how much it costs to own a house, I don’t really envy the homeowners; honestly, I have really loved most of my roommates, but I don’t think they were good tenants. I’m staying in my current place because it’s got a great location, the rent is good and we have so much space for downtown. The West End is the best. We’re here until they kick us out. Because we’ve been here so long, we take care of things. We have a crack coming through the ceiling and mold on the walls that we bleach once a month. The windows drip; there is a really adorable mouse somewhere. We call him Jerry, and Jerry is our pet.”—Chloë Lai, 30, West End

My first apartment was in Kitsilano and it was $90 a month."

— l e s l i e javor s k i , l ong - t i m e r e n t e r

BY THE NUMBERS

How long have you lived in your current residence?

// 33% 5 years or longer // 23% 3–4 years // 20% 1–2 years // 24% Less than 1 year

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VA N M A G . C O M A P R I L 2 0 1 7

Who’s renting?

// 21% live with a spouse // 13% live with other relatives

30%

i live alone

THE LONG-TIME RENTER “I moved to Vancouver in 1974 when I was 17. My first apartment was in Kitsilano and it was $90 a month. When I moved here, the vacancy rate was even worse than it is now, but it always seems to bounce back. I was never in a position to buy, but I do feel that the city used to be more renter-friendly. Renting never used to be associated with the young or poor. The Kerrisdale and South Granville areas used to be considered good areas to rent in, and they had plenty of rental buildings. Most of those were torn down in the 1980s and now those areas are considered prestigious areas to own. I now live in a North Burnaby character home that’s been broken into suites. It’s the nicest place I’ve lived, but it’s still very clearly a rental. I’ve been there for seven years now, so I pay well below market value—just $1,200; the couple who lives in the suite next to mine pays $1,600 a month. If the landlord ever decided to sell the house, I’d have to leave the city; there is no way I could afford to continue to rent in the Lower Mainland in this climate. Being at the mercy of someone else’s decisions is by far the hardest part of being a renter.”—Leslie Javorski, 60, Burnaby

17%

o live with roommates

19%

i live with a spouse and kids


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How We Live Now

RENTING

THE BEST ’HOODS FOR EVERYTHING by Jennifer Van Evra

BEST FOR COMMUTING

Commercial Drive With (mostly) speedy service, anywhere on the SkyTrain line is a good spot for commuters, but Commercial Drive has many added perks. Transit riders are downtown in minutes or can head west in a hurry on the 99 B-Line, drivers can hit Highway 1 to the North Shore or the suburbs, cyclists can spin down two major bike routes and walkers can stroll right into downtown. BEST FOR RENTING

Cambie Corridor, Crosstown

I think that the media portrays landlords as greedy and chiselling every last dollar out of the property. Yes, there are a lot of bad actors who get into their property and don’t do any maintenance, but that’s a small percentage. Most people want to offer a good service. It’s been getting more difficult because of laws that are in favour of the tenants. A lot of buildings—mostly three-storey walk-ups—are falling apart because landlords are just not getting enough rent to fi x things.”—Tony Haughian, age 56, owns one three-storey walk-up and 16 triplex houses throughout the city

BY THE NUMBERS

Average Monthly Rent for a One-Bedroom in Vancouver *According to the Canadian Rental Housing Index

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VA N M A G . C O M A P R I L 2 0 1 7

Average Kitsilano Downtown Strathcona

$1,089 $1,204 $1,400 $611

BEST FOR INVESTING

East Hastings Corridor Burnaby’s massive City of Lougheed development is a top investment spot, but in Vancouver, the East Hastings corridor from Strathcona to Boundary provides a promising option. It’s one of the region’s busiest transportation corridors, and city hall has given it the green light for densification as downtown marches east. BEST FOR PE ACE AND QUIE T

Southlands or River District With sprawling estates, horse stables and a riverfront locale, the Southlands area feels a world away from the city bustle. But if your budget is short a zero or two, the fast-rising River District in southeast Vancouver offers pretty parks, water views and little through traff ic.

Average Rent for One-Bedroom Apartment in Other Cities

$1,662 // Toronto

$3,590 // San Fran

*According to the CMHC

$668 // Montreal

COMMERCIAL: DENNIS S. HURD; CAMBIE: ORAN VIRIYINCY; EAST HASTINGS: WAFERBOARD; SOUTHL ANDS: STEPHEN REES

THE LANDLORD “I’ve been doing this for 27 years. I should do credit checks, but I go on gut instinct. I’ve never been to the Residential Tenancy Branch, so my system is working. If you have problems with a tenant, you sit down and talk about it. The craziest thing I’ve had to deal with is what people have flushed down the toilet. You find the weirdest things in toilets: crab legs, toys, all kinds of weird stuff. People think they can flush anything down the toilet, but it doesn’t work that way. Sometimes I have to break the toilet to figure out what’s in there, so you end up smashing the toilet and finding all these goodies.

In an impossibly tight rental market, “anywhere you can find” is the best advice for would-be renters, but with thousands of new units hitting the market, the best bets may be along the Cambie corridor from 2nd Avenue to Marine Drive and the Crosstown area by BC Place.


Before you take the plunge into unknown watersâ&#x20AC;ŚTALK TO US. We are the experts when it comes to renting and managing residential properties.

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RENTING

Get Outta Town

If you’re ready to give up big-city renting for a home in the ’burbs, we’ve got a few suggestions for where to settle down. as told to

Jennifer Van Evra

IF YOU LOVE MAIN STREE T, TRY…

IF YOU LOVE SHAUGHNESSY, TRY…

“It’s got a mix of some of the oldest homes in the Lower Mainland, and they’ve got cool microbreweries and restaurants coming in. The shops are getting better, too, and there's a good arts community. It’s almost like a little mini-Vancouver.”—Corey Martin, realtor, Ruth and David Group

“You can get big properties out there, and the waterfront is gorgeous. There are fabulous mansions up on the bluffs, and great amenities, too. You’re farther out of town, but I know tons of people who have gone that route and have been very happy with it.”—Rod MacKay, realtor, Maude, MacKay and Co.

IF YOU LOVE K ITS, TRY…

IF YOU LOVE KERRISDALE , TRY…

“There are lots of parks and outdoor trails. It has attracted people looking for a healthy lifestyle; some developments have catered to that with big health clubs. It isn’t inexpensive compared to other communities that far east, but compared to Kits, it’s affordable.”—Darcy McLeod, realtor, Re/Max Lifestyles Realty

“Retirees are moving farther away from the centre, and lots of them are going out to Chilliwack. But seniors are really attracted to North Vancouver and even Squamish. They’re still active and like to be outdoors, and the North Shore offers lots of outdoor activities, but it’s a quieter lifestyle.”—D.M.

New Westminster

Port Moody

BY THE NUMBERS

White Rock

North Vancouver or Squamish

This spring, Metro Vancouver plans to implement regulations and bylaws for short-term rentals—including Airbnb. “The goal of the city’s initative is to make sure that we don’t lose long-term rental stock to the short-term rental market,” says city councillor Geoff Meggs. The city’s proposed plan is to limit short-term rentals to primary residences only. “Unlike a regular bed and breakfast, you won’t have to be present, but it will have to be your principal residence.”—Rita Javorski

PRO TIP

HOW TO WIN AT RENTING “Watch out for fixed-term tenancies with vacate clauses,” says Andrew Sakamoto, executive director of the Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre (TRAC). These can be used to avoid the rent controls in the Residential Tenancy Act, allowing for an “out with the old and in with the new” approach that increases tenant turnover so the landlord can frequently raise the rent. Although fixed-term tenancies may offer a sense of security, TRAC recommends finding an agreement that shifts from a fixed-term to a monthto-month contract if you’re looking for something more long-term. —Carly Whetter

$

Renters Say…

// 57% “I would move out of my current dwelling if I could.” // 82% “I have a great relationship with my current landlord.” // 50% “Home ownership is definitely a goal for me at this point.” // 35% “I prefer renting to home ownership.” (50% for those aged 55 and over.)

44

UP IN THE AIR

VA N M A G . C O M A P R I L 2 0 1 7

Given the current housing prices in Metro Van, I have no choice but to rent.” — 88% of r e n t e rs

33%

// of millenials plan on

using the government's new homebuyers’ interest-free loan to buy

NEW WEST: PROVINCE OF BC; WHITE ROCK: GOTOVAN; PORT MOODY: JÉRÔME DECQ; SQUAMISH: K YLE PEARCE

How We Live Now


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RENTING

i False Creek

The Next Big Thing

With major developments on both sides of False Creek, the demolition of the Georgia Viaduct and the new hospital slated for False Creek Flats, some of central Vancouver’s last undeveloped sites are in for big change.

Ready to trade that lease for a mortgage? You'd be wise to stake your claim in these up-andcoming neighbourhoods. Jennifer Van Evra

by

Cambie Corridor l

i City of Lougheed

It’s been in the works for a decade, but with thousands of new units hitting the market and more land assemblies in progress, this stretch is literally growing up—way up.

Two dozen condo towers, some as tall as 65 storeys, are in the works for this Burnaby hub—as well as 12 million square feet of retail and commercial space, and a pedestrianonly “spine.”

Ladner k

Grandview-Woodland j

People priced out of Richmond’s sky-high real estate market are heading to this community-minded seaside spot, and the proposed replacement of the George Massey Tunnel means smoother sailing for commuters.

A controversial community plan means big changes are coming to this east side area, which will see taller buildings, denser housing, expanded social services and more.

East Hastings Corridor j

River District j

The city has earmarked the stretch of East Hastings from downtown to Nanaimo and beyond for densification, and Hastings-Sunrise has already become a hipster hot spot.

With more than 7,000 homes and half a million square feet of retail and office space, this riverfront community, developed by Wesgroup, will have more residents than Yaletown.

With input from realtors Rod MacKay of Maude, MacKay and Co., Corey Martin of the Ruth and David Group and Darcy McLeod with Re/Max Lifestyles Realty.

IS IT A GOOD IDEA TO BUY A PLACE? Financial advisor Graham Bodel of Chalten Advisors gives it to us straight. by Gabrielle Lakusta

46

VA N M A G . C O M A P R I L 2 0 1 7

Q: Is buying a house in Vancouver a good investment? A: Bubble or not, it’s always a good investment to buy a place to live. Having a mortgage is putting money back in your own pocket instead of paying someone else’s mortgage. Q: Are there any financial benefits to renting? A: If someone is going to stretch themselves so much for a down payment and high mortgage payments, it might be

better to use that money for something different. Depending on your budget, it’s either buying a house or saving. Q: How should renters save for the future? A: It’s best to save a minimum of 10 percent of your gross income toward a tax-free savings account earlier in life, when you’re in a lower tax bracket. Then when you’re in a more mature stage of your career you can contribute to your TFSA and RRSP: if you do more than one, there’s a better cushion for the future.

FALSE CREEK: SUPERHERB; CAMBIE: WAFERBOARD; LOUGHEED: ALFRED SHUM; L ADNER: GORD M C KENNA; EAST HASTINGS: WAFERBOARD; RIVER DISTRICT: POLYGON HOMES

How We Live Now


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How We Live Now

S T R ATA WA R S

e r a m t h NigNext Door The

W

and ondo costs rise c s a t u B . w e n cils are are nothing is on. Now coun t a Strata struggles e h e th , k n ri up. udgets sh wsuits are piling la e maintenance b th d n a g n ri a rs are fl cracking, tempe ra

hen Courtney Tuckwood and his wife first bought their three-bedroom Surrey condo in 1999, they loved the location, the spacious layout and the reasonable price. Sure, they wouldn’t have their own detached property, but they wouldn’t have to shovel snow or mow the lawn, either. Then the building was deemed a leaky condo. But it wasn’t the pricey remediation that turned their lives upside down: it was a mother and son who lived down the hall. Triggered by a dispute with the strata council over minor bylaw infractions, Rose and Jordy Jordison launched an all-out war on their neighbours—stomping on the floors at all hours of the day and night, jumping out and screaming at people as they passed by their door or hiding in the parkade, berating residents as they followed them into the elevator. Tuckwood and his wife became prime targets because he was on the strata council. “There were times where they’d open the door and throw things at people,” says Tuckwood, who adds that people on the street below their apartment were repeatedly spat on. “My wife had water thrown on her a couple times. Finally, she started walking around with a little video recorder. You had to be careful walking by the door. It was just so unbearable.”

Van Ev

BY Jennifer ong BY Terry W ILLUS TR AT ION

The strata council’s demands and fines—which eventually amounted to more than $29,000—went ignored; visits from the police had little effect. Eventually, the case went to court, and the mother and son were forced to sell, but the fight took eight years and the legal bill skyrocketed to more than $300,000. “It took forever,” remembers Tuckwood. “There needed to be mechanisms in place sooner to deal with people like that. We weren’t the only ones who had this problem. We were just the ones who said, ‘You know what? Enough’s enough.’” While the Jordison case may be extreme, hellish strata experiences are far from unusual, with battles erupting over everything from budgets to barking dogs. And with management companies overworked, underfunded and unresponsive, it’s easy to see how issues can fester and tempers can spiral out of control. As executive director of the Condominium Homeowners Association of BC (CHOA), Tony Gioventu has seen it all. He’s seen situations where owners have thrown chairs and got into fisticuffs, scratched each other’s cars and slashed tires, and even smeared dog feces on entrance doors. He’s seen bullies take over strata councils, then favour their allies and crack down on those who cross them. In at least one case, a

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How We Live Now

S T R ATA WA R S

strata president was skimming funds to pay for his own renovations. He’s seen countless strata meetings where the police had to be called—and even some where police were called in advance, just in case. In a well-publicized recent case in Coquitlam, an elderly man was dragged down a flight of stairs after reportedly refusing to leave an annual general meeting where a fight had erupted; in another, a strata president was shot at with a flare gun; in yet another, a man launched a BC Human Rights Tribunal case over strata meetings being conducted in Mandarin. According to CHOA, British Columbia is home to more than 32,000 strata corporations, and together they represent a staggering one million units—with 25,000 to 30,000 more being added each year. With so many Vancouverites priced out of the detached market, or deciding to cash in and downsize, that growth will likely accelerate—and skyrocketing condo values make the financial stakes higher than ever. The problems, says Gioventu, almost always come down to what those in the business call “the five Ps.” “People, pets, pools, parking and prostitution,” he says with a laugh. “It’s either noise, or it’s smoking, or it’s pets not behaving, or it’s security issues relating to illegal activities, or people parking where they shouldn’t be.” But the biggest battles are almost always over money—more specifically, a lack of it. Because housing costs are at record highs, strata councils are under constant pressure to keep monthly fees low, but that can mean essential maintenance gets skipped or owners get broadsided by unexpected levies. Combine that with inexperience, messy financial reporting or a lack of communication, and it’s a powder keg waiting to ignite. “There may have been some unkind words between two neighbours, but they’ve managed to live in reasonable harmony for 10 years. But suddenly everybody’s got to pay a $50,000 levy, and all bets are off,” says Gioventu. “When people are hard-pressed economically, the barriers come down very quickly. That’s a real challenge.” At the same time, professional property managers are massively overloaded as strata corporations struggle to keep costs down, and management companies jockey for position in a competitive market. In B.C., as little as $25 a month per unit goes to management on average—and that has to cover financial administration, recordkeeping, meetings, correspondence, maintenance plans, inspections, contractor bids and more. “To put it in perspective, if you’re a manager in Coal Harbour and you have six high-rise buildings, and those buildings have a net asset value of $500 million, how could one person possibly manage them?” says Gioventu,

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We joke that strata law is family law for groups. It gets to a divorce-like intensity.” — ph i l

d oug a n , s t r ata l aw y e r

who believes that B.C. could use 300 to 400 more managers. “The management contracts aren’t sufficient to support the necessary work.” By the time Access Law Group strata lawyer Phil Dougan hears from a management company, strata council or resident, things have usually gone completely off the rails. Currently, his firm has three to four lawyers who work on strata law, and they have 1,000 clients on the go—so many that they can barely keep up. Dougan says that, of the 32,000 strata corporations in the province, thousands have ongoing substantial problems; others are “ticking time bombs” because of a lack of management or incompetent management, or they’re just one sale away from huge headaches. “It’s a community ownership business. So it might be lovely while old Mrs. Smith lives in No. 4; then she sells and some biker from the Hells Angels moves in, and all of a sudden you’ve got a disrupted community.” Because the disputes hit people where they live and can involve large sums of money, they’re especially upsetting; Dougan’s had clients with nervous breakdowns. “We joke that strata law is family law for groups,” he says. “It gets to a divorce-like intensity.” The common denominator in most cases, he says, is that people don’t understand what they’re buying, or they don’t believe they need to play by the rules. In one of Dougan’s most infamous cases, Port Coquitlam owner Cheng-Fu Bea reportedly refused to park only in his designated spot and sued the strata. The judge dismissed the case, so Bea went ahead and filed another. And another. And another. “We ended up in court 55 times, and I was in front of 48 different judges. The strata spent over $300,000 to defend a perfectly valid bylaw,” says Dougan, who represented the strata corporation in the Bea case and also fought the Jordison case involving the combative mother and son. “The judges either burst out laughing or they looked at me incredulously, saying ‘I can’t quite believe what you’re telling me.’” After eight years, Bea was finally found in contempt of court and his condo ordered sold; after court costs, they received just $12,000 for a $167,000 condo. But now a new dispute resolution process aims to keep costs down and keep claims out of the courts. In the past, strata-related battles were fought through a Supreme


Court application or through arbitration, which was prohibitively expensive for residents and councils alike—roughly $25,000 to $100,000 or more—and took years to wind their way through the court system. In contrast, the Civil Resolution Tribunal, which was first launched last year, offers dispute resolution—and, when necessary, binding decisions that are enforceable by the courts—for roughly $200, and decisions are usually rendered within 90 days. It’s open to owners, renters and strata councils, and is entirely online; and unlike the court route, strata councils don’t need owners to vote in order to launch an action. “They describe it as a sort of TurboTax process, where you put in details about your concerns, and then it tells you whether or not you have a problem,” says Dougan, whose experience of the process so far has been positive. Most cases are resolved through mediation, but so far the written tribunal decisions include a woman whose strata council wrongly assigned a disabled parking stall to an individual owner, a man concerned about his strata’s lack of action on a failing foundation and a council frustrated with an owner whose heavy tobacco and marijuana smoking was disrupting the neighbours. (In each case, the complainant won.) “It’s early days, but I’m cautiously optimistic, because so much of this is misunderstanding and misplaced expectations—‘I thought you were my landlord’ or ‘I thought I could do whatever I liked in my strata.’” Dougan would also like to see mandatory courses for strata council members—they’re required in Ontario—as well as courses for prospective buyers so everyone knows their rights and obligations. Mandatory individual insurance and meeting attendance, he adds, would also help prevent hellish strata experiences. “Those are some of the fundamental reasons we have these problems,” says Dougan, who also emphasizes that some level of disagreement is inevitable. “I have a hard enough time getting along with my wife, never mind 100 complete strangers.” Courtney Tuckwood agrees. He and his wife still live in the same condo, and he’s still on the strata council. For the most part, life has returned to normal; still, there will always be owners who come in and make waves. “Just like when you drive down the road, there’s always going to be one or two who think they know better,” he sighs. What owners need to understand, he says, is that they aren’t the kings of their own castles; rather, they co-own those castles with everyone else. “What you do inside your own suite, to a point, is your business; but you share the roof, you share hallways. It’s community living,” says Tuckwood. “And if you can’t get along with others, then maybe a condo is not for you.”

HOW TO AVOID STRATA HELL BEFORE YOU BUY: n

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Familiarize yourself with your rights and obligations. Read all strata minutes and bylaws, and examine the financials. Check the Civil Resolution Tribunal website to see if any complaints have been lodged. Talk to at least one member of the strata council; ask if there are any conflicts or major expenditures coming up. Look for things that will annoy you. Is the suite located above a clanging parkade gate? Look at how well maintained the common areas are—it can be a sign of how well (or poorly) the building is managed.

WHEN YOU’RE THERE: n

n

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Follow the bylaws, even those you don’t agree with. Get to know your neighbours. Fostering community helps prevent strata clashes. Raise concerns when they arise; don’t let them fester.

Consider joining the strata council or building committees.

WHEN THINGS GO SOUTH: n

n

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Try talking with the source of the problem. That neighbour who does CrossFit at 5 a.m. may not know he’s keeping you awake. If necessary, raise your concerns with the strata council and/or management, and keep a log of events.

If the conflict doesn’t get resolved, lodge a complaint with the Civil Resolution Tribunal. If all else fails, move.

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All Togeth “Collective living” is a community-minded workaround to the affordability crisis, and one being embraced by a growing faction of thirtysomethings. Want to live in a west side mansion? You could pay $8 million—or you could share it (and your life) with one of Vancouver’s modernday communes.

Andrew Findlay John Sinal STyLING by Nicole Sjöstedt by

PHOTO by

The residents of Inspiral Community Mansion (a 7,500-squarefoot, six-bedroom Spanishstyle home in Vancouver) aren't just roommates— their "collective living" ethos encourages the sharing of meals and life events, neighbourhood engagement and "making the world a better place." From left to right: Pulxaneeks, Erik Paulsson, Lizzy Shipman, Scott East, Hazel Bell-Koski and Dana Mowat.

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er Now

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I

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The Lounge housing collective provides a community for residents and neighbours alike, with open invites to holiday dinners (top left), pizza parties (top right) and “Loungefest” (bottom), an anniversary celebration.

serious impact: Muranetz secured a lease with two of her Hen House roomies in August 2014 to start a collective of their own. They recruited two others who were part of the Vancouver Collective Houses Network group on Facebook, and together they moved into a three-level 1920s character house with gabled windows on a leafy East Van corner lot. They dubbed their new collective the Lounge, joining what Muranetz estimates to be more than 50 collective houses in Vancouver. Like most collectives, the Lounge developed what Muranetz calls an ethos—something closer to a mission statement than house rules. It defines the spirit and intention of the house, setting collectives far apart from the college flophouses that stagger from one weekend party to another. Muranetz and her housemates call theirs “the Lounge manifesto” and articulate it clearly on their Facebook page so prospective new roomies know what’s expected and what to expect if they unpack their bags at the house. (It reads: “to create an equally involved, respectful and considerate collective, foster interpersonal growth and self-development, nourish each other through daily meals, support a culture of giving and sharing, and as we grow, our roots should spread to the larger community in Vancouver.”) Step through the Lounge’s front door and you’ll see decor dominated by musical instruments, plants, books and artwork; one room, dedicated to music and movies, is kitted out with a drum set and projector. Dinner is an important time at the Lounge, an occasion for sharing healthy, home-cooked food and for connecting with

DINNER: THE LOUNGE; PIZZA: FILL FREEMAN; BACK YARD: DANI RA ATH

magine daily communal dinners with four or five roommates, weekly house meetings and frequent jam sessions in the shared music space. If it sounds to you like a throwback to your penny-pinching college days, you wouldn’t be alone. But the collective living movement in Vancouver, led largely by twenty- and thirtysomethings searching for a deeper sense of community and a workaround for the city's housing affordability crisis, is 1960s- and ’70s-era hippie idealism reimagined for the sharing economy set, and this new generation of cohabitators is hoping to take the stigma out of the traditionally bohemian lifestyle. “Our society is very individualistic, so people often ask me if I’m part of a cult or commune,” says 26-yearold Jen Muranetz, a video journalist who works for Simon Fraser University and has been living in collective housing for almost three years. “For some people, it’s about affordability, but for me it’s just as much about lifestyle and community.” On the surface, the difference between simply having roommates and living collectively appears ambiguous, but dig deeper and the differences become clear. Roommates, often united by convenience more than anything else, might share little more than a morning greeting on the doorstep on the way to school or work. Conversely, a collective household appeals to professionals, cultural creatives, students and those looking to live intentionally with others around commonly held values, shared meals and social occasions, as well as reaching out to the broader collective-living community through special workshops and events. In essence, it’s about redefining family, Muranetz explains. When she moved into her first collective, the Hen House, three years ago, Muranetz quickly discovered the benefits of living with like-minded people in a large city home with a yard, but without the crushing monthly rent that would place such homes beyond the reach of most folks in her demographic. This first experience was cut short by a renoviction, but those few months made a


housemates over conversation. Out back, the garden has already been planted with tomatoes, kale, garlic, carrots and other veggies, which Muranetz says they often share with neighbours. Occasionally, the Lounge will open its front door for a workshop; one housemate, a nutritionist, recently gave a class on fermenting. Given some of the misperceptions about collective living—that it’s a euphemism for some sort of flaky commune— Muranetz believes they were lucky to quickly find a “family-focused” landlord who trusted that this group of prospective tenants wasn’t searching for a party house. “I think collective living appeals to millennials in particular because they tend to be more open to a sharing economy and lifestyle,” Muranetz says. “But it’s not exclusively a millennial movement.” Each collective is unique; the housemates define its intention. After his marriage unravelled, Tito Ohep, a 44-year-old engineer and father of two, was struggling emotionally. He discovered collective living and helped create a house known as Cosmic Corner before landing at the Kusala Co-op, an all-vegan collective near Queen Elizabeth Park. He says it’s changed his perspective on Vancouver. “My kids love it. I’m paying $790 per month and I get a room in a large house, a big kitchen, a yard and a music room,” says Ohep. “Sure, there are a thousand little conflicts that come up, but they’re small.” Erik Paulsson, an independent documentary filmmaker, is another Vancouverite who has had the collective lifestyle reshape his definition of family. He belongs to Inspiral Community Mansion, located in a sprawling 7,500-square-foot, six-bedroom Spanish-style mansion on a one-acre Southwest Marine Drive property valued at more than $7 million. Also 44, he’s on the older end of the collective living demographic spectrum. Like the Lounge, Inspiral is shaped around an idealistic ethos, which its members define as living from “a place of compassion and with a goal to make the world a better place.” In practice, that means nurturing a tight-knit community—so recluses need not apply. Paulsson says if you’re highly protective of your personal space and favour quiet dinners rather than lively conversation, then perhaps collective living is not for you. And the key to collective living harmony, according to Paulsson, is open dialogue and weekly meetings to prevent conflicts and problems before they occur, whether it’s the necessary minutia of housework or defining the acceptable volume of tunes in the music room. But even as the popularity of collective housing grows in Vancouver, many of its adherents are living in jurisdictional limbo, thanks to a dusty City of Vancouver regulation known as bylaw 3575, which prohibits more than five non-blood relatives from living under one roof, even if a mansion, like the one Paulsson inhabits, could comfortably accommodate more. (The bylaw was allegedly designed to combat brothels.) That means some collective houses are either forced to lie to landlords or

simply not realize the potential of a house. “This is a really archaic bylaw and we’re hoping to have it changed,” Paulsson says. “Our house is 7,500 square feet and that’s huge for five people.” What started organically, partly as a solution to high housing costs and partly as an antidote to urban alienation, is getting more organized. Last fall, Paulsson co-founded the Collective Housing Society, hoping to provide a unified voice for collective living devotees and lobby the city for regulatory change. City hall is starting to pay attention. Vancouver councillor Melissa De Genova was elected for the NPA in 2014 with affordable housing as a central pillar of her campaign. But she admits she was unfamiliar with the relevant section of bylaw 3575 until it was brought to her attention by Muranetz at the Re:Address conference last October, which drew housing affordability experts from around the world to the city. De Genova is now urging city staff to re-examine the bylaw. “I believe we need to think outside the box. This bylaw is too prescriptive,” De Genova says. “Collective living is not for everyone, but why are we limiting people and forcing them to go underground?” However, her Vision Vancouver counterpart, councillor Geoff Meggs, says it might be a moot point, given that the city has not received any complaints about violations and is not actively enforcing the restriction. “A change would require a complex set of revisions to various fire and other bylaws, so staff have elected to tackle bigger, more urgent issues,” Meggs says. But that’s not good enough for Muranetz and Paulsson. Like most bylaws, enforcement is complaintdriven, and that leaves many people in collective living scenarios feeling illegitimate and vulnerable. So as she advocates for regulatory change, Muranetz is also tackling the issue from a journalist’s perspective. In February, she premiered a 10-minute documentary about collective living called Better Together, enabled by a $10,000 grant through Telus’s Storyhive program. The short film takes viewers inside several collective houses, letting them eavesdrop on dinner-table conversation at the Inspiral Community Mansion and witness the final days of Sacred Heart House, a collective whose residents were also evicted for renovations. “Collective living is so normal in my social circles, but outside them, a lot of people are unfamiliar with it,” Muranetz says. “I’m hoping the documentary will educate people on collective housing and help make this way of living more widely understood and accepted.” It likely won’t be that big a leap for Vancouverites, watching from shoebox-sized apartments, to change their perspective on the communal lifestyle—one peek into this magical, alternative world where social lives are vibrant and backyards are attainable without a $2-million mortgage, and collective living looks a lot like living the dream.

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presents

NIGHT OF WONDERS GALA to benefit

Over 225 local leaders and influential members of the Vancouver business community came together on March 30, 2017 for a Night of Wonders; raising funds to grant wishes for many deserving children. The Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada is the largest all Canadian wish granting charity dedicated to granting wishes to children between the ages of 3 and 17 who are diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. We are experiencing unprecedented increases of wish referrals and requests. Now more than ever, we are seeking donors and corporate sponsors. Visit www.childrenswish.ca or call 1.800.267.9474 for more information.

THANK YOU TO OUR GENEROUS SPONSORS:

Dr Rod & Kate Rassekh

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R A I LTOW N R E F U G E / S PR I N G ’ S F R E S H PI C K S / S E AT T L E S TO P OV E R

VA N M AG .C O M/S T Y L E

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PERSONAL SPACE

URBAN OASIS

One stylish Vancouverite designs a peaceful-meetsplayful corner of the city. by

Julia Dilworth Tracey Ayton

PHOTOGRAPHS by

WHEN KATE HORSMAN first laid eyes on her Railtown condo, it didn’t scream “West Coast retreat” as much as “Italian prince’s seaside villa.” Instead of doors, stone-like Roman arches divided rooms, a grand fountain held court on the patio, and the walls were awash with Tuscanyellow paint. Horsman, a stylist turned private j

Puppy Love For the most part, Kate Horsman’s malamuteGerman shepherd cross, Mary Jane, has stopped chewing books, furniture and shoes—unless she’s angry. “She gets very upset when I leave home,” laughs Horsman. “Message received.”

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Play

P E R S O N A L S PAC E

chef and holistic nutritionist, fell in love with the princely palace anyway (the panoramic windows, 1,000-square-foot deck and Burrard Inlet view had something to do with it) and promptly turned everything white—“It was like I snowed on the house,” she says. The patriating continued with decor additions like beachy bleached driftwood rescued from Tofino, shell lighting, dream catchers and surfboards, but also a hit of ’80s nostalgia: the E.T. doll on her bookcase is just foreshadowing for the life-sized replica in her bedroom. “He’s just a symbol of hope and innocence and pure love—I think he’s adorable,” she laughs. “The ’80s were just a little bit more magic; I guess I want to hold on to that.”

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Beachy Keen Colour-wash paintings by Canadian artist Patricia Larsen hang above a piano (opposite, top left) that was a gift from Horsman’s mom. Above the custom Union Wood Co. dining table, a capiz shell pendant “makes a beautiful sound” when breezes come through the open patio doors. Let’s Improvise A wire-frame antique bookcase turned on its belly serves as the living room coffee table (above)—“I’ve been asked if it was a crab trap”— while hides, animal skulls and Tofino driftwood round out her beach-meets-desert aesthetic infused throughout. Peek-a-boo An Italian-style arched bookcase houses a crammed collection of reads and knickknacks (left). The coolest part? Push a lever and the structure springs open to reveal secret storage for more books and what Horsman’s husband calls “the zombie apocalypse survival kit.”

Find more photos of Kate Horsman’s personal space online at vanmag.com/style

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Play

T H E H O T TA K E

IN BLOOM

This spring, the outlook is pretty: pastels and florals have us cheering for April showers.

by

Amanda Ross

a David Yurman incorporates his signature cable design into the tiny bands on this Mustique tassel necklace in 18-karat yellow gold with pink opal, citrine and pink tourmaline. $6,500, davidyurman.com

k Dew and Poesy, Indigo’s first foray into body care, launches in scents like wild bluebell and jasmine, from all-natural, paraben-free and made-in-Canada ingredients. From $10, indigo.ca

a These limited-edition silk pocket

squares—a collab between shoe impresario John Fluevog and local designers Cursor and Thread—add fresh and spring-forward style to any suit. $48, fluevog.com

d The new Heaven’s Hue face highlighter in Kitten by Stila creates a gossamerlight touch thanks to ultra-fine lightdiffusing particles that help skin look soft and naturally aglow. $42, beautyboutique.ca

k Meet April’s intermittent weather head-on in this pretty pale-pink cotton/ polyester-blend trench coat from Winners—light enough to work on its own or with layers underneath. $300, winners.ca

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m These days,

everything Gucci designer Alessandro Michele touches turns to gold—or in this case, florals. We love these embroidered blooms on classic Jordaan bit loafers. $825, nordstrom.com


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O N E DAY I N S E AT T L E

COCKTAILS & KARAOKE

Our editors head south of the border for the ultimate Seattle Saturday.

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Capitol Hill This is the chic spot to snag environmentally conscious pieces with style: think stacking rings made from recycled metals, reclaimed-wood apothecary cabinets and racerback dresses made from recycled water bottles (magic!).

Oddfellows Café and Bar

Capitol Hill While it serves up killer breakfasts—cheesy scrambled eggs over a soft homemade biscuit is the stuff dreams are made of—it’s just as excellent at pouring a mean pre-dinner cocktail. Go for the namesake Oddfellow, a perfect boozy blend of bourbon, citrus and bitters.

DE TOUR

Everyday Music

9 P.M.

NUBE

HAPPY HOUR

5:30 P.M.

South Lake Union The natural choice for brunch: though the buzzy space favours local and organic for dishes like housecured pork loin hash, there’s also a special breakfast bar for piling your vegan pancakes with fresh fruit and (if you’re cheating) whipped cream.

SHOP

4 P.M.

Portage Bay Cafe

2 P.M.

BRUNCH

Capitol Hill Post-cocktail, make bad (but really good!) decisions for your record collection across the street at Everyday Music, open late for the buzzed crowd and stocked with an incredible mix of rare and vintage vinyl, paired with new artists and re-releases of back catalogues (including every Depeche Mode album).

NIGHT OUT

Seattle’s Best Karaoke

Belltown Yes, it’s located on the ground floor of a weird office building, but the appeal is in the venue’s very American BYOB policy: buy a banquet licence, hit the corner store to stock up on ice-cold bevs, then keep the George Michael jams coming all night long in your (now wellstocked) private room.

THOMPSON SEAT TLE: NIC LEHOUX; ODDFELLOWS: DOROTHEE BRAND; EVERYDAY MUSIC: DULUOZ CATS

The view from the new Thompson Seattle Hotel’s rooftop patio overlooking Elliott Bay.

Stacey McLachlan and Anicka Quin

10:30 A.M.

by

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THROW B AC K

For Vancouver magazine’s 50th year, we’re taking a look back through the archives and sharing a few classic covers each month. Just like the city, we’ve changed a lot over the past few decades.

April 1977 A beginner’s guide to having babies, with recommendations for classes like “Childbirth with Confidence.” Other highlights include a review of Bimini’s (“the meat market of Kitsilano”) and a profile of Bus Griffiths, a local logger and comic-strip artist.

April 1985 Darby Mills graces the this ’85 cover—she’s the lead singer of the Headpins, whose first album was listed by Playboy as “Not Hot.” The article also notes that she has webbed feet.

April 2007 Ten years later, and not much has changed in the real estate game, it seems—though the prices have gone up (and up, and up), our outrage has remained the same. Our 2007 issue complained about the possibility of paying a third of a million dollars (practically a bargain, today) for a one-bedroom apartment and applauded architect Oscar Flechas for creatively outfitting his 650-square-foot condo to fit a family of five. But along with our lament of the extinction of the single-family home was an extensive brunch-spot review, including Locus, the “Best Place to Hide Last Night’s Mistake.”

April 1987 “Few people are as appealing yet gently disquieting as twins,” proclaims one story in this issue. In other news, Lillian Vander Zalm— wife to then-premier Bill—reportedly loves “ceremonies, children, smiling and music.”

#vanmagturns50 For more vintage VanMag all year long, follow us on Instagram at @vanmag_com

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Vancouver magazine, April 2017  

Engaging articles, reviews and stories all about Vancouver. Vancouver Magazine informs, guides and entertains people who engage with the cit...

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