Lindi Ortega (March 16)
Canadian Country Music Award winner, she has worked with musicians like K.D. Lang and Carrie Underwood before. Her raw vocal power and roots rhythm is not to miss.
Northern Lights Folk Club (March 24)
Featuring singer, songwriter and guitarist Roy Forbes.
Anneke’s Antique Sale (March 30 – 31)
More than 130 collections of antiques and old glories from vintage jewellery to furniture are for sale.
Adding an eye catching and stunning rug in your living room can automatically elevate your home. Check out some of the design trends for floor rugs this year.
Homeowners in Edmonton began receiving their 2018 property assessment notices in the mail at the beginning of the year.
By now, everyone should have received one and have a clear idea of the assessed value of their property. This is important because this value determines the property taxes that must be paid.
Property assessments in Edmonton were fairly stable this year, with an average increase of less than one per cent compared to last year.
The one exception was single-family detached homes in neighbourhoods along the river valley like Windsor Park, Quesnell Heights, Glenora and Oliver.
You can look up different property assessments on the City of Edmonton’s website to compare different 2018 property assessments.
In order to assess the value of the property, a number of key factors such as location, size, land surface, age and condition of the building are taken into consideration.
A large increase in property assessments does not always translate into a corresponding increase in property taxes, however. It also takes into account changes relative to your community.
Property taxes in Edmonton make up about half of all revenue that the City receives. It helps fund essential services like police, fire fighting and emergency rescue. They also support community programs, recreation centres, public libraries, parks and much more.
Property taxes bills arrive in May and must be paid by June 30.
They can be paid in multiple ways; in person, online banking, credit card or cheque. You can set up a Property Tax Monthly Payment Plan to avoid paying them all at once.
Assessments can be appealed up through a customer review period until March 12, 2018. A complaint can be made online or in person about property assessment, but you cannot appeal your property tax bill.
From smart watches to smart kettles, technology is entering homes at the speed of light.
One of the biggest home technology trends for 2018 is that devices now provide many uses — just one function won’t cut it anymore.
A new voice activated mirror recently came out that changes the lighting, tells you the weather and plays music as you get ready. There’s a door alert system that not only provides lighting but also extends the home’s wifi.
Part of it is an issue of space and availability of outlets — why buy an item that only does one thing when the same sized device does many functions?
Home security is a key example of how technology in the home is taking off.
Many of the security systems on offer are fully integrated and often include functions that are not typically associated with home safety like lighting and doorbell ring tones.
Almost all the systems now include an option to lock and unlock doors and keep an eye on the situation remotely via wifi.
Technology is not always cheap but when used right can help you save money in the long run.
For example, monitoring devices can help curb energy use because it gives you real-time data. Smart thermostats and lighting systems, which are programmable, can also help save money by only using energy when you need it.
Simple safety improvements like smart thermostats, smart fire detectors and smart carbon monoxide detectors are a bonus when selling a home too.
A survey by Smart Home Marketplace recently found that 70 per cent of homebuyers want these kinds of features in a home and so a few inexpensive touches can really make it stand out to buyers.
Silver Skate Festival (Feb. 9 – 19)
Nearly three decades of sports celebrations, this festival is rooted in Dutch tradition and love of winter.
Proteus Saxophone Quarter (Feb. 17)
Redefining the tradition of saxophone in this vibrant and vivacious concert.
Indian-inspired meals (Feb. 22)
Who needs to order in when you can learn to make your own delicious meals.
Intersect (Feb. 23 – 24)
Dynamic ballet performance, bringing together two very different pieces.
Swing n’ skate (until Feb. 25)
Local bands bring the swinging, the swaying and the jazz to this free event every Sunday.
The holidays may be over but stock your bar with these chic and beautifully designed champagne glasses you can bring out to celebrate those memorable moments with loved ones.
After a busy month of holiday planning and party-going, what better way to bring in the New Year that to relax with a spa treatment. No need to look far, everything you need for top notch pampering is right at home.
With just a few steps, you’ll have real relaxation at your fingertips with a home-based spa:
1. Creating an atmosphere
Part of the luxurious vibe of a spa is how it engages all five of your senses. Dim the lights (avoid harsh fluorescent lights) and light some scented candles. Play some low, soothing music without lyrics. Pour yourself a drink – wine, water with fresh cucumber or tea are all good choices.
Having the right towel – fluffy, soft and big – makes all the difference (and you can reuse it or keep it as a guest towel set!). If you are going to splurge, this is the item you should focus on. Choose a high grams-per-square metre count for a luxurious feel and always tumble dry to keep the softness.
3. Home-based products
Many of the hair treatments, facial masks and moisturizers can be made from all natural ingredients that you already have in your kitchen, such as:
• Olive oil and brown sugar face scrub
• Lime mint foot soak
• Oatmeal, cinnamon and rosemary face mask
• Coconut oil and avocado hair conditional
• Cool camomile teabags for eye mask
4. Spa-like shower
Use a high pressure shower hose setting to exfoliate your back. Alternate between warm, cool, cold, warm temperature in that order to get the blood flowing and improve circulation.
If you make a habit of at-home spas, consider making some renovations to your bathroom – like a bigger bathtub, heated towel rack or different lighting – to improve the experience even more.
Swing n’ Skate (Jan. 7 – Feb. 25)
Skate around to the sounds of jazz and swing music. Skates are free on a first come, first served basis.
Calvin Vollrath (Jan. 11)
Music performance from the renowned fiddler.
Motorcycle show (Jan. 12-14)
Bikes, stunts and ladies’ night – what’s not to like?
Onegin (Jan. 17 – 28)
Indie rock band musical, new to Edmonton’s stages.
Ice on Whyte (Jan. 25 – Feb. 4)
Annual festival on the boardwalk, packed with the best outdoor winter activities like ice carving.
With vacation days, visiting family and countless engagements with friends over this month, don’t let the pressure ruin the fun.
Be very clear on when guests are leaving and arriving. If they are taking a flight, how will the airport run be coordinated? If it’s a dinner party, are children invited? Communication can go a long way to solving issues before they arrive. If in doubt, call to check-in.
Do not be shy about asking guests to contribute to the menu. Christmas dinner can easily be made into a potluck and ask closer friends to bring sides, desserts or drinks. Don’t forget to check about any allergies or dietary restrictions before meal planning.
If you are having several guests with children over, consider hiring a babysitter for the evening to keep the children entertained. The children will enjoy the evening more and parents will appreciate the break!
If your guests are arriving by car, make sure there is enough parking space. If necessary, move your car down the road so they can have easier access. Have a place to drop shoes and jackets near the entrance so there is no scramble at the doorstep. If it’s chilly out, a freshly made pot of tea or eggnog will be welcomed.
Think about the things you need when you stay at a hotel and use that as guidelines for preparing the room for your guest – put out clean towels, a water bottle and make sure the room is not cluttered. And it’s always a good idea to have a spare toothbrush lying around, just in case someone forgets one.
Asking for help
Most guests are eager to help wherever they can but don’t know what to do. Let them help you. Guide them towards what they can do to give a hand – can they dry dishes or lay the table? Including guests in the preparation can often make everyone feel more at ease.
At the end of the day, don’t lose sight of what is important – enjoying the time with your guests. The house doesn’t have to spotless, the meal doesn’t have to be perfect and the activities don’t have to be seamless. Do the best you can and then sit back, relax and enjoy.
Zoominescence (Dec. 1 – 31)
A month long festival of lights, held at the zoo.
Celebrate the Season (Dec. 7 – 23)
Free event of music and colourful lights, held in front of Alberta’s Legislature Building during the evenings.
Choir! Choir! Choir! (Dec. 11)
International singing phenomenon that showcases the best of collaboration and choir.
A Christmas Peril Food Bank Benefit (Dec. 15)
Trio of locally based experimental musicians. All proceeds go to Edmonton’s Food Bank and, for those who donate non-perishable goods, entry is free.
Glow-in-the-dark Axe Throwing (Dec. 23 – Jan. 7)
Not your typical holiday activity but one-of-a-kind fun for the whole family.
Shumka’s Nutcracker (Dec. 29 – 30)
A new twist on a holiday classic, this local production features both ballet and folk dance.
Salute to Vienna (Dec. 30)
Highly romantic and spirited, the beauty of this ballet waltz will bring you to the heart of Europe.
Qualifying for a mortgage has never been a breeze and it’s about to get much harder.
In mid-October, the federal government announced changes to mortgage qualification rules and a more stringent “stress test” for uninsured mortgages for those with a 20 per cent or higher down payment.
The biggest impact these changes will have is on purchasing power and housing affordability. Rate Hub, a rate comparison website, looked at two different financial scenarios to compared what a family could afford to buy before and after the new rules.
Before the changes, a buyer could borrow roughly the equivalent of seven times their yearly income. With the new rules, that has been reduced to slightly more than five times their yearly income.
In practice, the new rules means that homebuyers have had their buying power slashed by about 20 per cent.
The latest stress test comes after several other rule changes this year in the real estate market that have been met with equal criticism. Earlier this fall, borrowers with less than 20 per cent down payments were affected and, now, the focus has turned to those with 20 per cent or more down payment.
The idea, regulators explain, is to help protect banks and ensure that everyone – no matter how much money they’ve initially put down – have to undergo a stress test before borrowing.
Banks are competitive and, to drive business, do not want to offer below-market rates and mortgages if other banks are doing so. By making it a federal regulation, it means that all banks have to be on board – levelling the playing field and reducing risks from uninsured mortgages all around.
For homebuyers, however, it means that some properties are now out of financial reach which brings up all sorts of issues of housing affordability because people will no longer qualify to borrow as much money as previously.
Experts say that the new measure will hit the real estate market like a sledgehammer by driving down prices. Others believe it is a good change and will equalize the market over time.
The changes come into effect on January 1, 2018.
Bustling winds, rainy days, and stormy nights are now solidly upon us with few hints left of warmer times left.
Do not despair, with the shift of seasons comes a chance for change for both you and your home. Take the right steps for you and your family to be happy and well.
• Spring-cleaning is an old adage but don’t wait till next year.
• Now is the time to vacuum, dust and sweep up dust bunnies and cobwebs.
• Thoroughly check for moisture spots and moulds—certain strains, like black mould, can be deadly.
• Consider purchasing an air filter for improved quality.
• A lack of sunshine and light during the winter can cause SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Proper lighting and vitamin D supplements can help mitigate the symptoms, however.
• Sunlight lamps produce a glow similar to the sun and, in addition to helping with the winter blues, can feel more calm and natural that harsh light.
• Consider switching to LED lights to lower electricity costs.
• Tri-coloured bulb – with each flick of a switch, the bulb casts a different tone and it’s a great way to control the lighting without buying multiple lamps.
• Air fresheners, though pleasant smelling, often contain harmful chemicals that can cause lung disease and aggravate allergies. Switch to natural, biological fresheners.
• If you don’t recognize the long list of ingredients on your cleaning products, consider switching to something more natural. Eco-friendly choices are good for you, your home and the environment.
• What’s in your laundry detergent and soap? Some chemicals can dry skin and damage clothes. Biological keeps you just as clean without the harshness.
• Even more important than health consciousness, basic safety measures can be life-saving. Do not skimp or skip on this front.
• Check that your fire alarm works and you have a fire extinguisher close at hand and easy to locate in an emergency.
• Make sure there are carbon monoxide detectors working and placed around your home, especially in bedrooms.
• Have an earthquake preparedness kit at hand and an evacuation plan ready – know with certainty where you will seek shelter if the earth starts shaking.
Floor lamps are essential not only for its function but also for creating a statement or design element in your living room. Here are just some stylish floor lamps to decorate your home.
The Bank of Canada hiked interest rates twice this summer and the increases come at a time when many Canadians are struggling to pay off debt.
First, in July, the bank announced a raise from 0.5 to 0.75 per cent and then, at the beginning of September, hiked rates again to a full one percentage point. A report by TransUnion last year estimated that if interest rates were raised by one percentage point, 700,000 Canadian households would face serious financial ramifications.
Those most affected by the interest increases are those paying back debt — such as Canadians with mortgages. According to Scott Hannah, the president and CEO of the Credit Counselling Society of British Columbia, new homeowners who have just taken out a large mortgage are the most vulnerable to the changes.
His recommendation is to try to pay off debts as quickly as possible to avoid future interest hikes or, in the case where that is not possible, to try to switch to a fixed-rate mortgage to mitigate against economic ups-and-downs.
After the latest hike, the Forum Poll found that a third of Canadians fear the proposed change will negatively impact their finances — especially those in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario.
The bank’s announcement has been met with vehement criticism, especially as the Canadian dollar continued to slip, and some experts say the bank may well pause the interest rate hikes for now. Others, however, are adamant that the rises will continue and that it is up to individual Canadians to do the best they can to safeguard their finances.
The Bank of Canada is expected to finalize its plans in the coming weeks but, even if the most recent spike is held off, that will not necessarily mean an end to raising rates for the year, experts say.
The relationship between the quality of a school district and real estate prices in the neighbourhood is a bit of a “chicken-and-the-egg” question.
The highest-ranking school districts tend to have higher house prices than less sought-after districts. At the same time, more affluent homeowners often live in more popular school districts. It’s not always clear which is the motivating factor: do school districts influence house prices or vice versa?
Regardless of which came first, at the end of the day, the fact remains: schools that have higher rankings are, on average, in neighbourhoods with higher real estate values. According to a survey by the Ontario real estate brokerage TheRedPin, homeowners pay a premium of between 20 to 36 per cent for living in proximity to the best schools in Toronto.
91 per cent of prospective homebuyers said that school rankings were important in their search, according to a survey by Realtor.com®, and 60 per cent of buyers said they would pay above their budget to live in their desired school catchment.
Why are schools so influential?
In large part, it comes down to the age-old search for better education and opportunities for the next generation. Parents will sacrifice a lot to improve their offspring’s future and a higher-ranking school is part of that.
It’s also a matter of convenience. Once you have your heart set on a school, it’s a huge time-saver to live a bus ride or walk away. The same Realtor.com® survey found that more than half of buyers are willing to give up other comforts – such are more room or proximity to shopping centres – in exchange for living in the right school catchment.
All this, as a total, means there is a huge demand for family homes in certain areas because of school rankings. Even for homeowners without children, a good school is typically seen as a sign of a strong, stable community — a good thing for house prices for everyone who lives nearby.