Information and happenings in and around Oakville, Burlington and Hamilton areas

6 Strategies to Save on Home Insurance Premiums

  •  Sunday, April 7, 2024
  •  Marion Goard

From extreme cold to wildfires and floods, the past few years have brought a historic number of devastating climate and weather events to Canada. In 2023 alone, unusually harsh weather and a string of natural disasters caused more than $3.1 billion in insured damages, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, making it the fourth most expensive weather year on record.

These events delivered a huge influx of home insurance claims, and analysts expect the increase in both catastrophes and claims to continue. Adding to the problem, construction labour and supply costs have risen, making it more expensive to repair affected homes. Consequently, homeowners' insurance rates have surged: In 2024, My Choice Financial reports that premiums are already up 7.66% since last year and are likely to climb further still.2,3   

In disaster-prone regions, the situation is even more challenging. According to Public Safety Canada, flooding is especially common now, accounting for roughly $2.9 billion a year in residential damages. Yet, a rising number of Canadian homes are located in areas so flood-prone that owners can't get affordable protection.4,2

For most homeowners, comprehensive home insurance coverage is crucial for financial security—but massive rate increases can turn a once-affordable home into a financial burden. They can also pose a serious challenge for sellers. Although homebuyers who are willing to risk inadequate coverage may be able to skip optional add-ons, such as flood protection, a standard home insurance policy is still required for most mortgages. In some hard-hit regions, we’re also seeing homes sit longer on the market or decline in value because climate risks are higher.5,6

But don’t panic! While these broader trends may be out of your control, there’s still plenty you can do to save. Here are our top six strategies to slash insurance premiums while maintaining the protection you need. 

      1.   INCREASE YOUR DEDUCTIBLE

The size of your deductible—which is the amount you pay before your insurance coverage kicks in on a claim—is a major factor in your insurance cost.

A low deductible, such as $500, comes with higher premiums, while a higher deductible, like $2,500 or even $5,000, costs less on a monthly basis. In some cases, you may be able to customize your insurance further by designating a different deductible for add-on coverage.

If you are confident that you have enough in savings to cover that initial outlay if needed, choosing a higher deductible can help you save significantly over the long term. According to Ratehub, raising your deductible from $500 to $5,000, for example, could save you an estimated 15% each year.7

      2.    BUNDLE MULTIPLE TYPES OF INSURANCE

Insurers want to get as much of your business as possible, so most offer significant discounts if you bundle your home and auto insurance, meaning that you package the two policies together. With some insurers, you can get even higher savings by bundling more than home and auto—RV, boat, jewelry, and life insurance are potential options to consider. 

According to Ratehub, insurers typically offer customers who bundle home and auto insurance up to 25% or more in savings on monthly premiums. This approach also has other advantages: It cuts down on your paperwork, and in some cases—like if a storm damages both your home and car—you may be able to pay just one deductible instead of two when you file a claim.

However, before you sign on the dotted line, remember strategy #1 and be sure to shop around. In some cases, bundling isn’t the cheaper option, and bundling deals vary between companies. It’s also critical to carefully check that the bundled coverage offers everything you need.

      3.    ASK ABOUT AVAILABLE DISCOUNTS

Did you know that being a non-smoker might qualify you for a home insurance discount?9 Some insurers offer some surprising incentives for policyholders who pose a statistically lower risk of filing a claim. In the case of non-smokers, that’s because of the decreased risk of a home fire.

Some carriers also offer discounts to first-time homebuyers, “mature” homeowners, or affiliated group members, such as college alumni or union workers. Sometimes, you can also save by upgrading your home's protective systems, paying off your mortgage, or paying your premiums for a full year upfront.

Since available discounts vary significantly between insurers, the best strategy is to simply ask a representative for the full list of available discounts so you can see what cost savings might be available to you.

      4.    AVOID MAKING SMALL CLAIMS

Worried that your premiums will rise significantly in the future? Try to avoid making a claim unless truly necessary. Many insurers offer discounted rates to policyholders who go a certain number of years without filing a claim, and filing multiple claims often results in big increases. If you file too many, you may even risk nonrenewal of your policy.10,11

Since the cost of even a small premium increase can add up significantly over time, if you have minor damage to your home—for example, if a few shingles blew off your roof in a windstorm—it may be a wiser long-term financial decision to pay out of pocket instead of filing a claim.

If the cost of the repair is less than your deductible, it never makes sense to file, and if it’s just slightly above your deductible, it’s also usually best to pay for the repairs yourself. Additionally, always be sure to review your policy before you make a claim. Even claims that are denied can count against you, so it’s not worth filing if the damage is clearly excluded from coverage.11 

If you find yourself in this situation, feel free to reach out for a list of reasonably-priced professionals who can help with home repairs.

      5.    BE STRATEGIC ABOUT HOME IMPROVEMENTS

Insurance premiums alone may not be the deciding factor for a home improvement project, but it’s important to know how renovations could impact your rates—for better or worse.

For example, some upgrades and repairs can reduce your premiums by making your home safer or less prone to certain types of damage. These include:10

  • Upgrading your electrical system
  • Updating your plumbing
  • Installing a monitored security system
  • Investing in a sewer backup valve and sump pump
  • Replacing the roof

On the other hand, some upgrades can raise premiums significantly, either because they increase the value of your home (and therefore the cost to replace it) or because they pose a hazard. These include:12

  • Installing a swimming pool or other water features
  • Building an extension or expanding your living space
  • Upgrading materials, like flooring or countertops
  • Adding a fireplace or wood stove

Whether or not your planned renovations are on either of these lists, it’s wise to inform your insurer about changes you make to your home—otherwise, you may risk gaps in coverage. And you’re always welcome to check with me before you begin any home improvement project to find out how it could impact the value and resale potential of your home.

BOTTOMLINE: Protect Your Investment Without Sacrificing Enjoyment of Your Home

Getting the coverage you need for financial security without overpaying can be a tricky balance, especially in today’s environment. But remember, while it’s important to find the best deal you can, home insurance isn’t an area to skimp on. 

For advice on your specific risks and the type of coverage you need, I recommend consulting with a knowledgeable insurance professional. I'm happy to connect you with a trusted adviser in my network. And if you’re considering a home renovation, feel free to reach out for a free consultation on how it might affect your property value.  

The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be financial, legal, insurance, or tax advice. Consult the appropriate professionals for advice regarding your individual needs.

Sources:

  1. Insurance Bureau of Canada -
    https://www.ibc.ca/news-insights/news/severe-weather-in-2023-caused-over-3-1-billion-in-insured-damage 
  2. MoneySense - https://www.moneysense.ca/spend/insurance/home-insurance/how-climate-change-affects-home-insurance/ 
  3. My Choice Financial - https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/home-insurance-rates-increase-7-66-in-canada-in-2024-876966380.html 
  4. Public Safety Canada -
    https://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/rsrcs/pblctns/2023-nrp-pnr/index-en.aspx 
  5. Nerdwallet Canada -
    https://www.nerdwallet.com/ca/mortgages/what-is-home-insurance 
  6. Waterloo Climate Institute - https://uwaterloo.ca/climate-institute/news/homes-sell-82-cent-less-after-catastrophic-floods 
  7. Ratehub.ca -
    https://www.ratehub.ca/blog/how-home-insurance-deductibles-work/ 
  8. Ratehub.ca -
    https://www.ratehub.ca/insurance/home-and-auto-bundle 
  9. LowestRates.ca - https://www.lowestrates.ca/resource-centre/home-insurance/12-home-insurance-discounts-can-help-you-save-money
  10. MoneySense -
    https://www.moneysense.ca/spend/insurance/how-to-get-lower-home-insurance/ 
  11. Rates.ca -
    https://rates.ca/guides/home-insurance/claims
  12. CREA -
    https://www.creacafe.ca/can-housing-upgrades-affect-insurance/ 


Grandparent Advice

  •  Wednesday, July 19, 2023
  •  Marion Goard

As the snowsuits start appearing in the stores (I wish I was joking), it’s a good time to plan ahead for grandparent’s day, which falls on the first Sunday after Labour Day. If you are lucky enough to still have your grandparents in your life, why not take them out for lunch, ask questions about their youth, and ask for advice on whatever you need help with.

Grandparents are not only a treasure trove of love and candy, they have experiences beyond our comprehension. Some grandparents have seen the introduction of electricity into their Toronto homes (1911). Others recall when televisions started being sold (1952). Maybe your own grandparents remember when minivans started to replace station wagons (1983, off the Chrysler assembly line in Windsor).

My maternal grandfather died before I was born so I didn't get to know him at all. Both of my mother’s parents must have been incredibly strong individuals. They brought four of their five children with them to Canada from Ukraine in 1927. My mom was the youngest of the kids and they had left their older daughter in Ukraine as she had already married and had a child. They came to Canada, like others, to give their family a better life and escape communism.

Now that I am a parent and grandparent myself, I can better understand how much of a risk and how difficult it must have been for them all to pick up and leave. It certainly makes me even more sympathetic to those trying to flee the current war in Ukraine this past year.

My dad's mother was born in Canada as was my father and his siblings. My grandmother married my grandfather when she was 15 and he was 30! I can't even imagine how that relationship developed and survived till my grandfather's passing at age 89. They were also of Ukrainian heritage and early homesteaders in Manitoba.

Both of my parent’s families lived their lives focused around the church, religion and the Ukrainian culture. My parents brought this to their own marriage as well. It was very much entrenched in their identity and we lived this in our family life. I still refer to myself as Ukrainian. 

What I carry forward from my grandparents are the ties to tradition (including the great food) and the importance of family.

Our grandmothers may have taught us how to lattice the top of an apple pie; our grandfathers may have shown us the difference between augur bits and drill bits. Most of us have tid-bits of advice our grandparents shared, advice that we still carry with us.

Some wise advice others have shared:

Do what you can when that’s all you can do. 

What you carry in your head, you don't carry on your back.

Don’t try to fix someone else.

If you ARE the right person, you will find the right person.

Too often, we don’t take the time to really talk with our grandparents. It’s just as important to have meaningful conversations with your grandparents, as it is to have open communication with your own parents and children. Enjoy and cherish them—and their knowledge—while you still can.


Knowing the Signs to Avoid Fraud - Beware of Elder Scams

  •  Monday, April 3, 2023
  •  Marion Goard

More and more these days, we are hearing stories of seniors being scammed out of their money in what authorities have labeled “elder scams”. Typically, this kind of fraud comes in the form of a phone call from someone pretending to be a grandchild or another family member. The caller may pretend to be calling from a local tax authority, law enforcement official or computer software service. The fraudsters are deliberately targeting seniors, but there are ways you can protect yourself and prevent the scammers from extorting money from you.

Grandparent scams

How it Starts

This kind of scam involves a phone call from someone pretending to be a grandchild or other family in distress or a desperate situation. The caller may start the call by asking “Do you know who this is?” tricking you into giving them a loved one’s name. Once the caller has identified themself fraudulently as a grandchild they will proceed to tell you they are in an unusual or dangerous situation and require funds to help them. They’ll ask for money for medical bills, bail or travel expenses, claiming they were in an accident or placed under arrest or need to get home. In some cases, the fraudster will put someone else on the phone to impersonate an authority figure such as a police officer, lawyer or other government official.

What they ask for

The scammers may ask you to withdraw money from your account and send it to an unknown account via wire transfer. They may even send a courier to pick up a cheque directly from your home.

How to protect yourself

Scammers will use emotional manipulation to tug at your heartstrings and really make you think you have a grandchild in distress. They are highly skilled at being evasive with details while simultaneously convincing you to send money without checking if what they are saying is true. Their goal is to make you panic into making a rushed decision. Some things you can do to protect yourself and your money:

  • Ask for a phone number you can call back, then call the known number for your grandchild to verify the situation.
  • Never give our your personal, banking or credit card information. When you are asked “Do you know who this is?” simply answer “no”.
  • Ask for details. Fraudsters will not have clear details about the situation and will likely stumble over their words when you ask questions.
  • Be wary when asked to buy a gift card. This is a preferred method of fraudulently getting funds and is untraceable. A government agency will never ask for a gift card as a form of payment.

Scammers are trained to use every method of manipulation to encourage you to send money. Their goal is to keep you on the phone, escalating the situation and your emotions so you feel pressured into helping. Do not try to engage in a conversation. The best course of action is to hang up and contact a family member to find out the truth.

Service-tech support scams

How it starts

This kind of scam involves the caller alerting you to an issue with your computer or internet service. The fraudster will tell you they are acting as a representative of a large software company. They’ll inform you they have “detected” security issues with your computer, or have “confirmed” your internet has been breached and all your passwords may have been compromised. The fraudsters can frequently “spoof” the phone number of a major corporation, so you call display will show the company name or a legitimate phone number from the software company.

What they ask for

These scammers want access to your computer. Using remote access, they can make it appear as if your computer is experiencing problems. Alternatively, scammers might initiate contact by displaying fake error messages or pop-ups on websites you are trying to visit. These fake errors are meant to entice you to call their fake “technical support hotline”, allowing them to access your computer and steal your private information. They use lots of technical terms to convince you that the problems with your computer are real. They may ask you to open some files or run a scan on your computer. The fraudsters will offer solutions to your problems and ask for a payment or a subscription to their service to prevent further issues. 

How to protect yourself

If the caller says they have detected a problem with your computer, hang up. Do not give out your credit card number. Do not call the number that pops up on your computer screen, since this is how the scammers will gain access to your computer. 

Fake prizes

How it starts

The fake prize scam usually starts with a phone call, email or pop-up on your computer telling you that you haven a significant prize. Also called a sweepstakes or lottery scam, these fraudsters  also use text messages to let you know you’ve won a big prize, with a link to follow in order to claim your prize. The scammers usually tell you they are calling from a well-known lottery, or a “national sweepstakes bureau” in order to gain your confidence that what they are saying is credible.

What they ask for

These scammers want your money and your credit card. In some cases, they will tell you in order to claim your prize, you have to pay a small administrative fee, or shipping costs, or taxes on the prize. They may ask that you go to your bank, get a bank draft or a cashier’s cheque and wait for their courier service to pick it up at your home. Fraudsters will use language to pressure you too make a rushed decision, to act fast before someone else claims the “prize”.

How to protect yourself

You never have to pay for a prize you’ve won. No credible lottery or sweepstakes will contact you with a demand for payment. If you are unsure, hang up, and call the real company and ask for clarification. Never call a number sent to you blindly in a text message, an email, or a pop-up.

For more information about recent scams and tips on how to protect yourself and your loved ones, visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre's website.


A Story About Pot Lids - and Self Preservation

  •  Wednesday, March 8, 2023
  •  Marion Goard

It's understandable that as adult children, we may not fully appreciate the sentimental value that our parents attach to certain possessions, yet it's so very important to recognize that these items may represent cherished memories, milestones, and accomplishments for our parents. As they age and face the inevitability of their own mortality, it's natural for them to reflect on their lives and the legacy they will leave behind.

By holding onto these items, our parents may feel that they are preserving a part of their own personal history, and passing down a piece of their story to future generations. As their children, it's important to be respectful and understanding of this emotional attachment, and to approach the process of downsizing or cleaning out their home with compassion and sensitivity.

When my parents were moving from their condo to a retirement home, although they had already downsized from a larger home, the upcoming move meant more sorting and purging of items.  I recall that my mom was very disappointed that I had no interest in taking some of her pot lids. Of all things - pot lids!  She told me they had belonged to her mother and that when she used them, or even looked at the lids, they were reminders of her mother. I felt no need at all to keep them to hold on to memories of my mom, or my grandmother.  To me, these items were old, bashed and served no purpose in my life. In my mind, they were junk and in fact, ended up being thrown away. 

Several years later, my dad was doing the same with things that meant a lot to him - all kinds of trinkets and other stuff he had collected over the years. Of these the one that stands out the most to me was a collection of lapel pins. All of these items had little meaning to me, but certainly were very meaningful to him.

I wish now that I had been more understanding and had realized what those conversations were really all about - or should have been about.

One way to approach this situation is to try to understand the meaning behind each item and have an open and honest conversation with our parents about why these possessions are important to them. By doing so, we can gain a deeper understanding of their personal history and values, and find ways to honour their legacy and memory that are meaningful to both them and us. It's important to remember that our parents' belongings may represent more than just physical objects, but rather a connection to their past, their identity, and their sense of purpose in life.

It's also important to recognize that our parents' attachment to certain possessions may not always be practical, but it is deeply emotional and tied to their memories and sense of self. As we grow older and face our own mortality, we may find ourselves valuing different things than we did in our younger years, and may come to cherish the sentimental connections we have to certain possessions.

When helping our parents downsize or move, approach the process with empathy and patience. Allow them the time they need to sort through their belongings and reminisce about their past. By encouraging them to share their stories and memories, we can not only help them to process the emotions tied to their possessions, but also gain a deeper understanding of their personal history and values.

In the end, it's not about the physical objects themselves, but rather the emotional connections and memories they represent. By honouring these connections and respecting our parents' attachment to their possessions, we can help them to feel valued and loved, and ensure that their legacy and memory are preserved for generations to come.


6 Easy Steps to Downsizing

  •  Thursday, February 16, 2023
  •  Marion Goard

Moving to a new home can be exhausting at any age. For boomers and seniors, moving can take more than just a physical toll, it can trigger emotions such as grief and sadness. Later-in-Life moves don’t have to come with stress and overwhelm. If you take the time to plan ahead, determine what is right for you and explore all your options, you will be well-equipped to take on a later-in-life move.

If you follow these six simple steps to downsizing, you can map out your journey and your move. Whatever you decide about your later-in-life move, you can count on me to be beside you every step of the way.

1. Should I Stay or Should I Go?

There are some very important questions you need to answer before you make the choice to move.

  • Do I have problems going up or down the stairs?
  • Do I need held doing things such as dressing, walking, bathing?
  • Is my house just too big for me?
  • Can I financially carry the house expenses?
  • Is the house a safe environment for me?
  • Do I have family or friends nearby?
  • Do I truly enjoy my home?

You can get the full checklist here.

A useful exercise is taking the time to create a list of reasons to stay in your home and explore the benefits of going someplace else.

2. Know Your Options

The choices for where you can spend the next stage of your life are vast. Before you make any final decisions, consider the following:

  • Are you and your spouse ready for a new community?
  • Do you want to continue your vibrant and active lifestyle?
  • Are your adult children encouraging you to downsize or move?

If you are just starting to navigate the world of adult communities and senior living, it can be a confusing journey. There are so many different options to consider for your next stage of life, so choosing the right home for now and for your future is critical.

Some of the options you can explore:

  • Ageing in place
  • Downsizing to a smaller house or condo
  • Retirement Residences
  • Sell ‘n Stay™
  • Rental Suites

Remember, moving does not mean you're compromising your freedom or independence.

3. Involve Your Family in the Conversation

A family meeting is a wonderful way to share that you’ve made the the decision to move. Use this as an opportunity to bring your loved ones together to share your wishes and plans with your very important people.  Plan to have the conversation outside of the normal celebrations. Make it a special event on its own.

Some ways you can make this a positive experience for everyone:

  • Tell your family members the purpose of the meeting ahead of time.
  • Express your reasons for the move.
  • Ask for their input and support.
  • Invite them to participate in any upcoming tours.

Like you, they have strong emotional ties to the family home and should be made aware of your plans. It's essential that they understand what matters to you, but ultimately, this is your decision and you are making the right choice for you.

4. Get Your Home Ready for Sale

Before your home goes on the market, you should take some initial steps to get it ready.

There are certain ways to get your house in good shape and ready to sell. A coat of fresh paint goes a long way to update and brighten your home. Decluttering and clearing counters can make a kitchen appear larger. Pulling weeds or adding plants indoors can change curb appeal or make the home more inviting. You don't have to undertake major renovations to get your home ready for sale. Minor adjustments -indoors and out - can make your home appealing to buyers.

5. Decluttering

Downsizing inevitably requires you to sort through all your possessions, and decluttering is much more manageable if you tackle it bit-by-bit over time. You have a home full of memories and many of the items within its walls are attached to those memories.

If you are feeling overwhelmed about where to start, consider hiring a decluttering specialist. They can help you make decisions about what you want to and can keep and what to let go.

A good place to start is by making decisions about what to keep, what to pass on to family, what to sell and what to donate.

6. Claim Your Free Comprehensive Guide

Making the decision to downsize is not easy. It can be an overwhelming process, filled with fear and uncertainty. But it doesn't have to be that way.

As a Lifestyle 55+ Master and Senior Real Estate Specialist, I am here to offer my support and my services. I am pleased to offer you The Ultimate Senior’s Guide to Downsizing, a comprehensive document that helps you plan, map, and assess your future move. You can count on me to help you navigate the next stage of life without compromising your independence and all that is important to you.

Get the Ultimate Downsizing Guide here.


Great Opportunity to Purchase in a NEW 55+ Active Adult Lifestyle Community!

  •  Wednesday, November 2, 2022
  •  Marion Goard

River Crest Estates is a soon-to-be-built four storey 55+ Adult Active Lifestyle Community in Niagara Falls that will have 60 luxury condominiums units with sizes ranging from 740 sq. ft. to over 1800 sq. ft.

Listed exclusively with Marion for $659,900, Unit 109 is a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 2 full bathroom, ground floor unit with in-suite laundry and 2 separate terraces accessible from each of the bedrooms. 1 underground parking spot.

Every unit in the building features a chic and modern design with nine-foot-high ceilings, including large open hallways, and well-appointed common areas, two private bedrooms, walkout to balcony or terrace, full bath and closet, along with an open style living, dining and kitchen. Each unit has individually controlled heating & air conditioning systems, along with a Smart Sub-metering for all utilities. 

This property offers security and peace of mind that come from knowing others are close at hand and for someone who lives alone!

Standard Features:

  • Nine-foot (9 +/-) ceilings
  • Exceptionally spacious light-filled homes inspiring indoor/outdoor living

  • Graceful foyers and open living rooms

  • 36” Solid core entry door

  • 36” Masonite 800 series interior doors

  • Chef style kitchen with solid surface countertops 

  • All major appliances including stacked Washer/Dryer

  • Acrylic walk-in tub/shower units  

  • Quality Flooring throughout

The units and development are suitable for someone who would like to live there themselves with 2 bedrooms - or - through co-ownership where 2 people purchase the unit together, yet separately, have their own bedroom, bathroom and patio and share the other spaces in the unit. If purchased as a co-owner, should the need arise in the future one of the owners could sell their portion of the unit separately from the other owner.  At River Crest Estates care and/or support services will be available a-la-carte from Water View Estates, a sister property to be built in St. Catharines and overlooking the Welland Canal.

River Crest Estates may be of interest to an investor who could rent out the unit to either 1 or 2 parties. There's also an opportunity for a non-resident owner to have River Crest Estates lease out and manage the unit on the owners behalf. As well, someone could buy a 2 bedroom unit, occupy one bedroom and lease out the other.
And the best part - pets are permitted (with restrictions)!
Memberships are currently available which affords the Member various benefits.
Don't hesitate to reach out with any questions you have or for additional information. 

List Price:  $659,900

Bedrooms:  2

Bathrooms: 2

Size: 1174 sq. ft. (based on builder plans)

Parking: 1 Underground

Taxes: To be determined

Condo Fees: To be determined. Includes Building Insurance, Common Elements, Ground Maintenance/Landscaping, Parking, Property Management Fees, Snow Removal.

Other models also available.


Potential Changes to Burlington Riding Boundaries

  •  Wednesday, September 14, 2022
  •  Marion Goard

This information below has been provided by Karina Gould, Member of Parliament for Burlington. 

After every 10-year census, our Constitution requires that federal electoral ridings be reviewed, to take into account any population changes. 

This review is undertaken by independent provincial commissions. Here in Ontario, the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for Ontario published their proposal on August 19th, 2022.  

In relation to our community, the Commission’s report proposes to:  

- Remove sections of the Elizabeth Gardens neighbourhood to a new riding, Oakville Lakeshore; 

- Remove sections of the Tyandaga and Brant Hills neighbourhoods to a new riding, Burlington – Milton West;

- Add sections of the Headon Forest and Millcroft neighbourhoods, which are currently part of the Oakville – North Burlington federal electoral riding.  

As a community, we all want to be part of an electoral riding that is representative of who we are, and where we are. 

I am concerned about the subsuming of Tyandaga and Brant Hills into a Milton riding and Elizabeth Gardens into Oakville, as these neighbourhoods are served by schools, hospitals, and other services located in the City of Burlington. 

I encourage all residents to take a look at the proposed new boundaries put forward by the Commission. 

The Commission, in its initial proposal looks only at population, and not communities of interest, therefore when petitioning the Commission, it is important to explain why or why not a certain area should be a part of an electoral riding.   

Following the publishing of the new boundaries, the Commission will also accept written submissions from the public by mail and email until September 25th, 2022. There will then be both virtual and in-person hearings from September 26 – October 29th.  

In Halton, there will be a virtual hearing on September 28th, and an in-person hearing on October 12th. These require registration by September 25th in order to participate. I will be participating in both hearings.  

The Commission will then submit a report, consider objections from the public and the House of Commons, and prepare a final decision outlining the new boundaries for the province of Ontario.  

As these proposed changes will affect our community of Burlington, and neighbouring Oakville and Milton, it is important that residents be informed and have their say.  

You can view the proposed changes, complete and register your submissions, and learn more at redecoupage-redistribution-2022.ca.


Finding a New Home for Your Next Stage of Life

  •  Wednesday, September 7, 2022
  •  Marion Goard

For most of us, our housing needs are cyclical. A newly independent adult can find freedom and flexibility in even a tiny apartment. That same space, to a growing family, would feel stifling. For empty nesters, a large home with several unused bedrooms can become impractical to heat and clean. It’s no surprise that life transitions often trigger a home purchase. 

While your home-buying journey may not look like your neighbour’s or friend’s, broad trends can help you understand what to keep in mind as you house hunt. No one wants to regret their home purchase, and taking the time now to think about exactly what you need can save a lot of heartache later.

The Newly Married or Partnered Couple

The financial and legal commitment of both traditional and common-law marriage has provided a springboard to home-ownership for centuries. And while the average age of first marriage in Canada is around 30, the average age of first home purchase has shifted even later to 36. No matter your age, there are some key factors that you should consider when you are ready to enter into your first home purchase together.

Affordability is Key

There’s no doubt about it—with home prices that just keep climbing, many first-time buyers feel that the deck is stacked against them when it comes to home-ownership. But stepping onto the property ladder can be more doable than many realize, especially in today’s relatively low mortgage rate environment. 

While many buyers are holding out for their dream home, embracing the concept of a starter home can open a lot of doors. In fact, that’s a popular approach for first-time home-buyers to take. Fifty percent of first-time Canadian buyers report that they plan to eventually upgrade to a larger home. 

Chosen carefully, a starter home can be a great investment as well as a launch-pad for your life together. If you focus on buying a home you can afford now with strong potential for appreciation, you can build equity alongside your savings, positioning you to trade up in the future if your needs change.

Taking Advantage of Low Mortgage Rates

Canadian mortgage rates hit record lows in summer 2020, and while they are now rising, it is still an ideal time to purchase your first home together.  A lower interest rate can save you a bundle over the life of your loan, which can significantly increase the quality of home you can get for your money. 

But what if both halves of a couple don’t have good credit? You still have options. First, boosting a credit score can be easier than you think—simply paying your credit cards down below 35% of your limit can go a long way. But if that’s not enough to raise your score, you might consider taking out the mortgage in only the better-scoring partner’s name. The downside is that applying for a mortgage with only one income will reduce your qualification amount. And if you take that route, make sure you understand the legal and financial implications for both parties should the relationship end.

Commute and Lifestyle Considerations

Whether you’ve lived in a rental together for years or are sharing a home for the first time, you know that living together involves some compromises. There are certain home features that can make life easier in the future if you identify them now. The number of bathrooms, availability of closet space, and even things like kitchen layout can make a big difference in your day-to-day life and relationship. 

Your home’s location will also have a significant impact on your quality of life, so consider it carefully. What will commuting look like for each of you? And if you have different interests or hobbies—say, museums vs. hiking—you’ll need to find a community that meets both your needs. Need some help identifying the ideal location that fits within your budget? I can match you with some great neighbourhoods that offer the perfect mix of amenities and affordability.

 

The Growing Family 

Having kids changes things—fast. With a couple of rowdy preteens and maybe some pets in the mix, that 1,200 square foot home that felt palatial to two adults suddenly becomes a lot more cramped. Whether you’ve just had your first child or are getting to the point where your kids can’t comfortably share a bedroom any longer, there’s plenty to consider when you’re ready to size up to a home that will fit your growing family. 

The Importance of School Districts

For many parents, the desire to give their kids the best education—especially once they are in middle and high school— surpasses even their desire for more breathing room. In fact, homebuyers report that schools are one of their top concerns. Of course, homes in the best-rated districts tend to be more expensive and harder to nab. But when push comes to shove, many buyers with kids prefer to sacrifice a bit of space to find a home in their desired location.

When you’re moving to a new community, it can be tough to figure out what the local schools are actually like—and online ratings don't tell the whole story. That’s why talking to a local real estate agent can be a game-changer. I don’t just work in this community; I know it inside and out.

Lifestyle Considerations

For many families, living space is a key priority. Once you have teenagers who want space to hang out with their friends, a finished basement or a rec room can be a huge bonus (and can help you protect some quieter living space for yourself). 

A good layout can also make family life a lot easier. For example, an open plan is invaluable if you want to cook dinner while keeping an eye on your young kids playing in the living room. And if you think that you might expand your family further in the future, be sure that the home you purchase has enough bedrooms and bathrooms to accommodate that comfortably. 

Functionality

Try to think about how each room will fit into your day-to-day routines. Are you anticipating keeping the house stocked to feed hungry teenagers? A pantry might rise to the top of the list. Dreading the loads of laundry that come with both infants and older kids (especially if they play sports)? The task can be much more bearable in a well-designed laundry room. Imagine a typical day or week of chores in the house to identify which features will have the biggest impact.

Chances are, you won’t find every nice-to-have in one home, which is why identifying the must-haves can be such a boon to the decision-making process. I can help you assess your options and give you a sense of what is realistic within your budget.

The Empty Nesters 

When we talk about empty nesters, we usually think about downsizing. With kids out of the house, extra bedrooms and living space can quickly become more trouble than they’re worth. While the average buyer with young kids is most likely to trade up to a larger home, older buyers often sell the family home and move into a smaller, less expensive home. In fact, more than half of Canadian Baby Boomers consider the area where they live too expensive for retirement.

Maintenance and Livability

What factors are driving your decision to move? Identifying those early in the process can help you narrow down your search. For example, do you want to have space for a garden, or would you prefer to avoid dealing with lawn care altogether? What about home maintenance? In many cases, a newer home will require less maintenance than an older one and a smaller one will take less time to clean. It’s not surprising that condos are among the most popular types of homes for Baby Boomers given they require less upkeep than single-family homes.

Lifestyle Considerations

Many empty nesters have retired or are nearing retirement age. This could be your chance to finally pursue hobbies and passions that were just too hard to squeeze into a 9-5. If you’re ready to move, consider how you’d like to spend your days and seek out a home that will help make that dream a reality. For some, that might mean living near a golf course or a beach. For others, being able to walk downtown for a nice dinner out is the priority. And with more time to spend as you wish, proximity to a supportive community of friends and family is priceless. 

Ability to Age in Place

Let’s face it—we can’t escape ageing. If you’re looking for a home to retire in, accessibility should be top-of-mind. This may mean a single-story home or simply having adequate spaces on the first floor to rearrange as needed. While buying a home that you plan to renovate from the start is a viable option, being forced into renovations (because of the realities of ageing) a few years down the road could seriously dig into your nest egg. Location matters, too—if your family will be providing support, are they close by? Can you easily reach necessities like grocery stores and healthcare? While it’s tempting to put it out of our minds, a few careful considerations now can make staying in your home long-term much more feasible.

Finding the Right Home for Right Now

One thing is for sure—life never stands still. And your housing needs won’t, either. In fact, the average Canadian homeowner will own 4.5 to 5.5 houses over their lifetime.8 At each milestone, a careful assessment of your housing options will ensure that you are well-positioned to embrace all the changes to come.

Whatever stage you’re embarking on next, we’re here to help. Our insight into local neighbourhoods, prices, and housing stock will help you hone in on exactly where you want to live and what kind of home is right for you. We’ve worked with home buyers in every stage of life, so we know exactly what questions you need to ask. Buying a home—whether it’s your first or your fifth—is a big decision, but we’re here to support you every step of the way.


10 Pro Tips for a Smooth Home Move

  •  Tuesday, August 9, 2022
  •  Marion Goard

The process of buying a new home can be both exhilarating and exhausting. But the journey doesn’t stop when you close on your property. On the contrary, you still have quite a bit to do before you can begin the process of settling into your new place. 

Fortunately, you don’t have to do everything in a day. You don’t have to do it all alone, either. When you work with me to sell or purchase a home, you’ll have an ally by your side long after your transaction has closed. I’ll continue to be a resource, offering advice and referrals whenever you need them on packing, hiring movers and contractors, and acclimating to your new home and neighbourhood. 

When it comes to a life event as stressful as moving, it pays to have a professional by your side. Here are some of our favourite pro tips to share with clients as they prepare for an upcoming move. 

1. Watch out for moving scams.

Maybe you receive a flyer for a moving company in the mail. Perhaps you find a mover online. Either way, never assume that you’re getting accurate information. According to The Canadian Association of Movers, moving scams are on the rise — with seniors, in particular, being targeted.

How can you tell if a moving deal is too good to be true? Trust your instincts. If the price appears too low or you can’t pin down the mover’s physical business address, try someone else. The same goes for any moving company representative who dodges questions. Reputable movers should offer transparent pricing, conduct in-home estimates, and provide referrals and copies of their insurance documents upon request. For help finding trustworthy movers, reach out. I’d be happy to share our recommendations.  

2. Insure your belongings.

Your moving company promises to take care of your custom piano or your antique furniture. But don’t just take their word for it. Ask to see how much insurance they carry and talk about how the claims process works. That way, you’ll know what is (and isn’t) covered in case of loss or damage. If needed, consider paying extra to upgrade to full replacement value protection.

Of course, some items are priceless because they’re irreplaceable. You might want to move your more sensitive valuables (jewellery, documents, family heirlooms, etc.) in your own vehicle just to be safe. For added peace of mind, call your home insurance provider if you’re moving anything yourself. In many cases, your personal property will be covered while in transit for a limited period of time.  

3. Start packing when you start looking for a new home.

As soon as your house hunting begins in earnest, think about packing away things you won’t need for the next few months. These could include seasonal or holiday decor, clothing, and books. Tackling just one or two boxes a day will give you a head start.

If you're going to put your current home on the market, you'll want to de-clutter anyway. De-cluttering will make your home seem larger, and depersonalizing helps buyers envision their own items in the space. Consider selling, donating, or throwing out possessions you no longer need. The things you want to keep can be placed in storage until you officially start moving to a new place.

4. Pack to make unpacking easier.

Have you ever opened a packed box only to find that it’s filled with an assortment of items that don’t belong together? This isn’t efficient and will only make unpacking harder. A better way to pack is to bundle items from a single room in a labelled box. Labels can let movers know (and remind you) where to place each box, whether it’s fragile, and which side needs to be up. Some people like to assign colours to each room in their new home to make distributing colour-coded boxes a breeze. 

Feel free to unleash your inner organizer with this project. For example, you could create a spreadsheet and assign each box a number. As boxes are packed, simply fill in the spreadsheet with a list of contents. Anyone with access to the spreadsheet can log in and quickly find a desired item.

5. Think outside the box when transporting clothes.

Who wants to worry about boxing up clothes? If you plan on hiring professional movers, ask if you can leave clothing in your dressers. In many cases, they will use plastic to wrap the dresser so the drawers don’t fall out during transport. If keeping your clothes in your furniture makes it too heavy, the movers might be able to wrap and move drawers by themselves.

Another easy transport trick involves turning clean garbage bags into garment bags. Poke a hole in the bottom of a garbage bag, turn the bag upside down, slide it over five to seven garments on hangers, and lay the items flat in the back seat or trunk of your vehicle. The bags will help prevent wrinkling, and your clothes will be ready to hang up when you get to your new home.

6. Document prior to disassembling appliances and furnishings.

Few things are as confusing as looking at a plastic baggie filled with nuts, bolts, and screws from your disassembled dining room table or sorting through a box of electrical wires and cords to see which ones fit your TV. 

The best work-around to easier reassembly is to document the disassembly process. Take photos and videos or thorough notes as you go. Whether it’s your headboard or treadmill, be very precise. And just a tip: Construct your beds first when you get to your new home. After a long moving day, the very last thing you want is to be assembling beds into the wee hours of the morning. 

7. Prioritize unpacking kids’ rooms.

Children can become very stressed by a big move. To ease their transition, consider prioritizing unpacking their rooms as their “safe zones.” You aren’t obligated to unpack everything, certainly. However, set up your children’s rooms to be functional. That way, your kids can hang out in a private oasis away from the chaos while you’re running around and moving everything else.

Depending upon how old your youngsters are, you might want to give them decorating leeway, too. Even if it’s just letting them choose where furniture goes, it gives them a sense of buy-in. This can help ease the blues of leaving a former home they loved.

8. Be a thoughtful pet parent.

Many types of pets can’t handle the commotion of moving day. Knowing this, be considerate and seek ways to give your pets breaks from the action. You might ask a friend to pet-sit your pooch or keep your kitty in a quieter room, like a guest bathroom.

Be sure to check in on your pet frequently. Pets like to know that you’re around. Give them treats, food, and water throughout the day. When it’s time to transport your pet, do it calmly. At your new property, give your pet access to just a room or two at first. Pets typically prefer to acclimate themselves slowly to unfamiliar environments.

9. Plan for your move like you’re planning for an exciting vacation.

When you plan vacations, you probably look up local restaurants, shops, and recreational areas. Who says you can’t do the same thing when moving? Create a list of all the places you want to go and things you want to do around your newly purchased home. Having a to-explore list keeps everyone’s spirits high and gives you starting points to settle into the neighbourhood. 

And don’t feel that you have to cook that first night. Once the moving trucks are gone, you can always pop over to a local eatery or order SkipTheDishes for major convenience. The first meal in your new home should be a happy, welcoming treat. And if you’re relocating to my neck of the woods, I would love to introduce you to the hot spots in town and recommend local favourites.

10. Pack an “Open Me First!” box.

You won’t be able to unpack all your boxes in one day, but you shouldn’t go without your sheets, pillows, or toothbrush. Designate some boxes with “Open Me First!” labels. (Pro tip: Keep a tool kit front and centre for all that reassembling.) 

Along these lines, use luggage and duffel bags to transport everyone’s personal must-have items and enough clothing for a couple of days. That way, you won’t have to rummage through everything in the middle of your move looking for sneakers or snacks.

When packing your “Open Me First!” boxes, think about which items you’ll need in those first 24 hours. For example, toilet paper and hand soap are musts. A box cutter will make unpacking a lot easier, and paper towels and trash bags are sure to come in handy. Reach out for a complete, printable list of “Open Me First!” box essentials to keep on hand for your next move!

LET’S GET MOVING

Getting the phone call from your real estate agent that your bid was accepted is a thrilling moment. Make sure you keep the positivity flowing during the following weeks by mapping out a streamlined, efficient move. Feel free to get in touch with me today to help make your big move your best move.


Higher Rates and Short Supply: The State of Real Estate in 2022

  •  Monday, June 6, 2022
  •  Marion Goard

Canada's housing market hit a boiling point last year as homebuyers clambered for real estate in regions with significantly more demand than supply. But now that homeowners and buyers alike are feeling the pinch of rising interest rates and record inflation, the market appears to finally be simmering down.

That, in turn, could create a welcome opening for shoppers to be more selective with their searches. However, buyers hoping for a major downturn in prices may be left disappointed. Although home values in some segments are beginning to sag under the weight of higher borrowing costs, a persistent housing shortage is expected to keep prices high.

Read on for a closer look at some of the top factors impacting Canada's real estate market and how they could affect you. 

RISING MORTGAGE RATES ARE COOLING AN OVERHEATED MARKET

Over the past couple of years, home-buyers have faced record-high price appreciation and intense competition—in part due to historically low mortgage rates that were a result of the Bank of Canada’s efforts to keep the economy afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), in 2021, both the number of sales and average home price hit at an all-time high, with demand for new homes far exceeding supply. This trend continued through early 2022, despite widespread predictions that the Bank of Canada was gearing up to increase interest rates.

But now that the central bank has officially begun pushing its key interest rate back up from emergency levels, the housing market is responding, with the pace of home sales cooling in March, April and May. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) predicts that the housing market will continue to moderate in the coming year.

The feds plan to keep raising interest rates as necessary to fight inflation, which means target rates could rise by another 1 to 2% or more over the next year. That, in turn, will cause both fixed and variable mortgage rates to rise.

As Senior Deputy Governor Carolyn Rogers noted in May: “We need higher rates to moderate demand, including demand in the housing market. Housing price growth is unsustainably strong in Canada.”

What does it mean for you?

If you’re shopping for a new home, expect mortgage rates to keep rising into 2024. So, you’ll need to act fast if you want to get in at a lower rate. However, the cooling effect should make for a less competitive market. I can help you chart the best path.

If you’ve been thinking about selling, higher mortgage rates may shrink your pool of potential buyers, so don’t wait too long to list. And if you are up for a renewal, you should also act quickly or risk paying a higher rate. Contact me to discuss your options.

DEMAND AND PRICES ARE STARTING TO SOFTEN IN SOME SEGMENTS

Nationally, home prices soared a record 26.6% last year, an unsustainable rate of appreciation by any measure. But now that the Bank of Canada has put rock-bottom rates in the rear view window, sales have begun to slow.

Soon after the Bank of Canada began raising interest rates in early March, the real estate market responded. According to the CREA, in March, home sales fell by 5.4% on a month-over-month basis and the Aggregate Composite MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) ticked up just 1%, “a marked slowdown from the record 3.5% increase in February.” 

By April, home sales dropped by another 12.6% over the previous month as homeowners and buyers continued adjusting to higher rates.. “Following a record-breaking couple of years, housing markets in many parts of Canada have cooled off pretty sharply over the last two months, in line with a jump in interest rates and buyer fatigue,” said CREA Chair Jill Oudil. Meanwhile, prices are still rising in some markets, but are sagging in others, causing the HPI to dip in April for the first time since 2020.

As the Bank of Canada continues pushing up rates, more buyers may give up on their home-ownership dreams if they feel too squeezed by the combination of high rates and high prices. Still, many experts say a major downturn in prices is unlikely. That's in part due to the fact that there still aren't enough homes available to meet the demands of a growing population, says CREA CEO Michael Bourque. “The supply of new homes is not even close to keeping up with demographic changes and population growth.” As long as housing remains a scarce asset, prices will remain relatively elevated.

What does it mean for you?

If you’ve been waiting to buy a home, now may be the perfect time to jump in the market. There are deals to be found if you know where to look. But don’t wait too long, or higher mortgage rates will erode any cost savings. I can help you find the best opportunities in today’s market.

For homeowners, the outlook is still bright. Governmental interventions are being put in place to stabilize the market–not crash it. And demand for housing and a strong job market should help protect your investment. 

INVENTORY REMAINS TIGHT

According to the CMHC, housing starts trended higher in April after a small downturn in March. Overall, new homes are still being built at a faster clip today than in the past, but at a slower pace than we saw in 2021, noted CMHC Chief Economist Bob Dugan. Home-builders are facing a wide range of challenges, including persistent inflation, rising rates, and ongoing labour shortages.

Increased federal investment could help counteract at least some of those challenges. The federal government recently announced plans to help double the pace of housing construction over the next decade by funding significantly more new and affordable housing. It also announced additional relief measures, including a temporary ban on foreign investment, doubling first-time buyers' tax credit, and halting blind bidding wars.

In addition to fewer homes being built, new listings are also down, according to the CREA’s sales report. But a decrease in demand is offsetting the impact in some areas. “A little more than half of local markets were balanced markets…a little less than half were in seller's market territory.”

What does it mean for you?

While supply remains at historically low levels, even a modest bump in inventory can help take pressure off of buyers. If you’ve had trouble finding a home in the past, give me a call to discuss what we’re currently seeing in your target neighbourhood and price range.

If you’re a homeowner, it’s still a great time to sell and cash out those big equity gains. Contact me to find out how much your home is worth in today’s market.

I'M HERE TO GUIDE YOU

While national real estate trends can provide a “big picture” outlook, real estate is local. And as local market experts, we can guide you through the ins and outs of our market and the local issues that are likely to drive home values in your particular neighbourhood.

If you’re considering buying or selling a home, contact me now to schedule a free consultation. I can help you assess your options and make the most of this unique real estate landscape.


Retirement Homes versus Long Term Care (Nursing) Homes

  •  Tuesday, May 10, 2022
  •  Marion Goard

With more than 32 percent of Canada’s population over the age of 55 (as of September 2021), it’s reasonable to expect that many of us in that demographic will be looking for alternative living arrangements sometime in the next 10 to 15 years.

For anyone just starting to navigate the world of adult communities and senior living, it can be a confusing journey. There are so many options available, so choosing the right home for now and for your future is critical. Senior living and care options come in various forms, but the most distinction needs to be made between how retirement homes and nursing homes, also known as long term care (or LTC), are very different.

It is crucial to understand what services each type of home can provide, who they cater to and what costs are involved. It’s also important to understand the process of securing space in either of these options. There are pros and cons to each, but ultimately, your decision will be based on your needs today, consideration for your future care, your desired lifestyle and financial situation.

Not only will the costs vary, the environments will be different in each. There will be variances in the level of care, the activities, and the living spaces. Be prepared to do some research, or talk to someone who specializes in senior moves.

Retirement Homes

Retirement homes are typically private, offering a variety of services and living arrangements. Many have suites, similar to condominiums although generally much smaller, allowing residents to maintain a certain lifestyle and enjoy their independence. Retirement homes usually work best for anyone who wants to maintain or build an active social life with other individuals in the same age group. They vary widely on what they offer and you’ll have to ask some questions and explore the options and add-ons which you might want or need. You’ll want to examine the fees to determine exactly what is included (such as food) and what à la carte services can be purchased as you need them (such as laundry and light housekeeping).

Retirement homes have become their own wonderful communities over the years, offering self-contained units where your privacy is paramount. Retirement homes have a large list of amenities at your disposal: 

  • Some or all of your meals
  • Planned activities on-site, such as yoga, musical programs and social activities
  • Regular outings (think field trips!) to various entertainment venues and shopping venues/malls
  • On-site health care staff
  • Weekly clinics and appointment for personal care, mental health, and medical check ups, including dental

Some retirement homes have guidelines around how long you can stay there. As your needs change, or in the event of a health crisis, the home may not be equipped to give you all the care you need. If the home cannot provide you with the services you need, you may find yourself at a loss. Be proactive and have a plan in place for future care and be prepared for another move should the retirement home be unable to provide services due to a change in your circumstances.

Most retirement homes will allow a short stay so you can test the lifestyle to ensure it's a for a good fit for you. You can book a tour to view the living options and amenities. If an offer to come for lunch is made, take advantage of this. It will give you a chance to meet some people and test the food yourself. Ask for a floor plan of the living space and an activity calendar to take home with you. Having the floor plan will help you plan where your furniture and belongings could be placed, should you decide to move. The activity calendar will give you a better idea of what is offered and can be a good indicator of what daily life might be like. 

Questions To Ask A Retirement Home

  • What floor plans are available?
  • Are there other locations within this chain?
  • Are meals included? How many?
  • Can I see some meal menus? How often do the menus change?
  • How, when and where are meals served? What happens if I don' like the food choices at any meal?
  • Are there options for additional care? What are the fees? What services must I outsource?
  • What kind of social events happen? Is there a schedule I can see?
  • How often do prices increase?
  • What is the policy for changing suites within the community?
  • What utilities are included?
  • What are some costs I may need to budget for?
  • Are there laundry services?
  • Which appliances are included in the suites?
  • What are the move-in rules?
  • What housekeeping services are provided? How often?
  • How many staff members are on duty at any given time? Are there medical staff on site?
  • How many residents/units are in the community?
  • Are pets allowed? Are there any restrictions?
  • What is the current availability? How quickly will I need to make a decision when a suitable suite becomes available? Is a deposit required?
  • Do you maintain waiting lists?

Long Term Care (Nursing) Homes

Nursing homes, also called long term care homes, or LTCs, are designed for people who need more support in their day-to-day care. Nursing homes in Ontario are government controlled, with placements into homes and access to community services controlled by Home and Community Care Support Services (formerly LHIN, or Local Health Integrated Network). This system is needs-based, meaning people are moved to nursing homes when their medical status deems it necessary. Throughout Ontario, waiting lists are long, and while you can choose 3 to 5 preferred homes, there is no guarantee that you will get space in a home of your choice.

Unlike retirement homes, where rates will vary depending on amenities, living spaces and services, the pricing at nursing homes is consistent. Because the costs are set by the Ministry of Long-Term care, everyone pays the same price, regardless of financial situation. At the time of writing (2022) the basic monthly costs are $1891.31 for a basic room  (shared with up to 4 beds), $2280.04 for semi-private, and $2701.61 for private. There is a government subsidy for basic rooms only available to those who qualify. Residents usually pay for any medications or other services not covered by their private insurance plans or the provincial drug benefit program.

Tips for Touring LTCs

  • Visit the facility on different days and at various times.
  • Take note of staff morale, resident activities and interactions between staff and residents.
  • Talk to nursing staff about how long they’ve worked there.
  • Ask to meet with the administrators.
  • Ask about staff-to-resident ratios.
  • Read and review the resident care plan.
  • Search online for reviews of your preferred LTCs.
  • Make note of how meals are served.
  • Pay attention to the level of functioning of current residents.
  • Look for activity boards or ask to see a list.

Whatever type of senior living facility you choose, your post-retirement life can be comfortable, safe, and enjoyable. Understanding your needs, priorities, and preferences is key to choosing an option that is best suited to you. If you are looking for an active environment, want to be surrounded by people your age, and want the flexibility to come and go as you please, a retirement home may be the right choice for you. And while a nursing home space is driven by a qualification process, you can be assured you’ll have access to care when you need it.

As a Master Accredited Senior Agent, I can walk you through the process of choosing the adult community that is right for you. When the time comes to make a move I can assist with the sale of your current home as well as offer some guidance on how to determine what furnishings and other goods you’d like to keep for your new residence. My goal is to provide you with all the specialized information and professional guidance in the most patient and caring way possible. I’ll work with you to create a personalized plan, to give you peace of mind and help you make the best decision possible.

For further resources, visit my resource page for Burlington retirement homes. 


Avoiding the Crises of a Sudden Move

  •  Thursday, March 3, 2022
  •  Marion Goard

Are you prepared to take action should an ageing parent suddenly need to move from their home? Most people have never had a conversation with their parents about what they see as their long-term living plan. With some careful planning and consideration you can certainly avoid having to make the decision of where to move mom or dad while in crisis mode.  Here are two very different client stories.

 

SEO Shopping:

Dad had a bad fall and sadly, passed away a few days later. We knew Mom couldn’t stay alone in the house. She was frail, had some dementia. Dad had been taking care of her for years, failing to truly address Mom’s physical and mental state. His thinking was that he would outlive her, so alternative living arrangements didn’t need to be addressed. After Dad’s passing, decisions for and about Mom had to be made quickly. How would she manage? Where would she live? How would we handle things?

Once we got over the shock of dad’s death and realized we needed to move quickly, mom went to live temporarily with a daughter in another city, in a less than ideal environment for her.  After mom and dad’s house was sold the attention turned to finding suitable accommodations for Mom. Without a network of friends who already had parents who were living in retirement homes, we did what most people would do: we turned to Google. We searched the internet for retirement homes close to our parents' neighbourhood, hoping Mom would feel more comfortable living in a community she was familiar with. We took space available at one of the retirement homes we found online. We made the choice without investigating all the options available to us.

In hindsight, we should have anticipated that our parents would have to move eventually. We should have encouraged them to take the time to consider some alternative housing options and even look for a home that could care for someone with dementia. We ended up picking a place without really having the opportunity for any due diligence, and quite likely the home with the best SEO (search engine optimization) and not the place best suited for Mom’s lifestyle and needs.

We regret not seeking help from someone like Marion. Her vast experience in helping seniors move, and her extensive knowledge of all the options, could have saved us the headache and heartache of making a rushed and uninformed choice.

 

A Family Affair:

After Mom, who is very spry and alert, had a fall, Mom knew herself that it would be best for her to move sooner than later to another location where other people were around and where she could find the support she needed. While the fall didn’t impact her physically very much, she knew this was another warning sign for the future.

As a family, we spoke about what mom wanted. These conversations can often be daunting and we anticipated some apprehension on her part, but we let her drive the conversation. We discussed some options in finding her a new place to live, taking a proactive approach to what her needs might be in the next five to ten years. Mom was fully on board and made the final decision herself. We had the luxury of planning the timeline and Mom moved on her terms,

We hired Marion to sell her condo and help facilitate the transition to a retirement residence. Marion was able to help us with many other services such as finding trusted professionals to help mom prepare for downsizing. The process was seamless, making it much easier for all of us. We can all rest assured that Mom will be in the perfect spot for her and the transition was made with minimal stress.

 

Marion’s Philosophy:

Moving onto the next home requires a holistic approach, something I proudly do every day. We need to assess the big picture: where you are now, where you see yourself in the future, what you anticipate you’ll need and how you want to live your life. Forward thinking about how you want to spend your days will be helpful in determining the right living arrangement. It’s also important to consider how long you’ll be able to live in your next home and/or whether it’s just a stepping stone to when your needs change. This is a process that takes time, but making informed decisions while you have the time removes the stress of having to make choices under pressure or during a crisis.


Top 10 Agents in Burlington for 2020 Announced by Rate-My-Agent.com

Marion Goard of Keller Williams Edge Realty with 27 reviews and a “success ratio” of 100% has been named the third top agent in Burlington for 2020 by Rate-My-Agent.com. The review site analyzes all the ratings and reviews on the site to compile a list of the Top Real Estate Agents in Burlington.

“Unlike other agent ranking sites, agents can’t pay to have negative reviews removed or hidden and cannot pay to be included on the list of top-rated agents,” says Rate-My-Agent. The company won't disclose exactly how it verifies reviews “to protect the integrity of the process,” but it says “there have been many attempts by agents to game the system and rankings, which is why we keep our algorithms a closely held secret.”  This year the company has started penalizing agents caught cheating.  “It’s not fair to the agents who earn their reviews honestly, so we implemented a penalty system.”  Some agents have suggested that cheating should be reported to provincial regulators.

The rest of the top 10 agents for 2020 can be found on Rate-My-Agent.com.

The list is published annually based on that year’s verified reviews.

Rate-My-Agent.com is a rating and review website for real estate agents, mortgage brokers, and insurance agents.  It’s free for the general public and real estate professionals.  The company pledges 50% of profit to worthy causes.


Philanthropy is alive and well in Halton Schools

  •  Tuesday, October 27, 2020
  •  Marion Goard

The pandemic has been a challenge to everyone, but perhaps more so to students. Not only was their academic year abruptly truncated last year, but this year many are having to do their learning from a distance. The dynamics of the classroom has changed and curriculums have been adjusted from semesters to quadmesters - four blocks of learning concentrating on two subjects per quad. The teachers have faced the challenge, encouraging the students to persevere, challenging them to step out of their comfort zones and make learning intuitive and interesting. An essential part of the curriculum is the Youth Philanthropy Initiative (YPI) project where high school students have to identify, explore and research a social issue. Each year, YPI Canada grants hundreds of thousands of dollars to community-based charities and it’s the students who decide who to submit for consideration. Philanthropy and learning collide in this initiative. It’s a program that speaks to me because my experience with charities as a volunteer and a donor is an integral part of who I am. 

I’d like to share the efforts of five teachers at Aldershot School in Burlington who challenged their Grade 10 students to compete for a grant for their charity of choice. The teachers - Jennifer Riley who teaches French Immersion and Jaime Mitchell, Matthew Maguire, Ramiel Nassara and Kerry Sagar - who teach in the I-STEM Program (@ISTEM_HDSB on Twitter); an integrated program across four subjects (Science, English, Civics/Careers, Math), sometimes teach via Google Meet and sometimes face-to-face with the students in class. In September, armed with a $5000 grant from YPI, the teachers tasked the students to individually select a social issue impacting their community and a charity that addresses that issue. The students had to create a video pitch for their cause and charity, which was then viewed by their peers.

“I remain committed to my belief that we can ask students to engage in meaningful projects that change the world while also covering curriculum,” Mitchell posted on Twitter.

The video pitches were the result of the students’ deep research into the social issue they chose and an examination of the impact it has on the community. In their videos, the students outlined the social issue and highlighted how their chosen charity helps.

I invite you to watch the student-created videos. Not only is their understanding of social issues clear and their creativity inspiring, it is encouraging that young people are ready, willing and able to do something about it.

There were four runners-up and one finalist from the groups that were formed.

 

Runner up #1 The Burlington Food Bank

 

Runner up #2 Society of St. Vincent de Paul

 

Runner up #3 Halton Learning Foundation

 

Runner up #4 The Bruce Trail Conservancy

 

And the winner of the $5000 grant: Halton Women’s Place

Congratulations to all involved! This has been a great initiative and it's wonderful to see our students so engaged in the charitable sector of our community.  Well done! 


Is Now a Good Time to Buy or Sell Real Estate?

  •  Monday, July 6, 2020
  •  Marion goard

Traditionally, spring is one of the busiest times of the year for real estate. But the coronavirus outbreak—and subsequent stay-at-home orders—led many buyers and sellers to put their moving plans on hold. In April, sales volume fell to its lowest level since 1984, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association.1

However, while sales have fallen, prices have remained stable. Nationally, the average home price in April was down just 1.3% from the same month last year.1 And in many metropolitan areas including Hamilton-Burlington, prices have continued to rise. The Teranet–National Bank Composite House Price Index, which measures 11 major Canadian markets, showed home prices in April were up 5.3% from a year earlier.2 

Despite the stats, given safety concerns and the current economic climate, is it prudent to jump into the real estate market now?

Before you decide, it’s important to consider where the housing market is headed, how the real estate process has changed, and your own individual needs and circumstances.

WHAT’S AHEAD FOR THE HOUSING MARKET?

In response to the economic slowdown, the Bank of Canada has slashed interest rates.3 That’s good news for homebuyers who have struggled to afford a mortgage in the past. Lower mortgage rates can bring down monthly payments or increase a buyer’s purchasing power while making it easier to qualify for a loan.

And at a recent press conference, Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz told reporters that interest rates would likely remain low for the foreseeable future. He also noted that the country is on track to meet the central bank’s “best-case scenario for recovery” as outlined in April, and he didn’t predict damage to the economy would be as “dire” as some have speculated.4 

While many buyers are eager to take advantage of low mortgage rates, some wonder if recessionary pressures could drive down home prices, too. Economists at the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation predict that prices will decrease over the next 12 months.5 However, many real estate industry veterans expect supply and demand fundamentals to prevent a drastic drop in home values.6

There’s been a shortage of affordable homes on the market for years, and that inventory shortage has helped to prop up prices—even as sales have slowed. That’s because supply and demand have fallen at around the same pace.7 Of course, some market segments have fared better than others. For example, demand has softened for urban condos in some areas, which has caused prices to drop. Whereas, the supply of single-family homes in many neighbourhoods has dried up, leaving eager buyers to compete for listings.7 

There are certainly opportunities out in the marketplace for both buyers and sellers. But now more than ever, it’s crucial to have a professional real estate agent who understands your local market dynamics and can help you assess the best time to buy or list your home.

HOW HAS THE REAL ESTATE PROCESS CHANGED?

The safety of our clients and our team members is our top priority. That’s why we’ve developed a process for buyers and sellers that utilizes technology to minimize personal contact.  

For our listings, we’re holding online open houses, offering virtual viewings, and conducting walk-through video tours. We’re also using video chat to qualify interested buyers before we book in-person showings. This enables us to promote your property to a broad audience while limiting physical foot traffic to only serious buyers. 

Likewise, our buyer clients can view properties online and take virtual video tours to minimize the number of homes they step inside. Ready to visit a property in person? To decrease surface contact sellers are asked to turn on all the lights and open doors and cabinets before your scheduled showing. 

The majority of our “paperwork” is also digital. In fact, many of the legal and financial documents involved in buying and selling a home went online years ago. You can safely view and eSign contracts from your smartphone or computer. 

While these new ways of conducting business may seem strange at first, keep in mind, many out of town buyers and others have utilized virtual methods to buy and sell homes for years.

IS IT THE RIGHT TIME FOR ME TO MAKE A MOVE? 

The reality is, there’s no “one size fits all” answer as to whether it’s a good time to buy or sell a home because everyone’s circumstances are unique. But now that you know the state of the market and what you can expect as you shop for real estate, consider the following questions:

Why do you want or need to move?

It’s important to consider why you want to move and if your needs may shift over the next year. For example, if you need a larger home for your growing family, your space constraints aren’t likely to go away. In fact, they could be amplified as you spend more time at home.

However, if you’re planning a move to be closer to your office, consider whether your commute could change. Some companies are rethinking their office dynamics and may encourage their employees to work remotely on a permanent basis. 

How urgently do you need to complete your move? 

If you have a new baby on the way or want to be settled before schools open in the fall, we recommend that you begin aggressively searching as soon as possible. With fewer homes on the market, it’s taking longer than usual for clients to find and purchase a home.  

However, if your timeline is flexible, you may be well-positioned to score a deal. There may be some highly-incentivized sellers who are willing to negotiate on terms and price. Talk to us about setting up a search so we can keep an eye out for any bargains that pop up. Most importantly, get pre-qualified for a mortgage now so you’ll be ready to act quickly.

If you’re eager to sell this year, now is the time to begin prepping your home for the market. Prices could fluctuate, and experts predict a second wave of infections may necessitate another lockdown.8 If you wait, you might miss your window of opportunity. 

How has your particular market segment been impacted? 

Certain segments will weather this economic downturn better than others. It’s important to understand the market dynamics of your particular area, price point, and housing type. The truth is, broad macroeconomic projections rarely paint an accurate picture of the day-to-day market realities of a given neighbourhood.

How long do you plan to stay in your new home? 

During times of market uncertainty, your best bet is to buy a home you can envision yourself keeping for several years. Fortunately, with decreased competition and ultra-low mortgage rates, you’ll be well-positioned to score a great deal.

Is your income stable? 

If there’s a good chance you could lose your job, you may be better off waiting to buy a home. The exception would be if you’re planning to downsize. Moving to a less expensive home could allow you to tap into your home equity or cut down on your monthly expenses.

WHEN YOU’RE READY TO MOVE—I'M READY TO HELP

While uncertain market conditions may give pause to some buyers and sellers, they can actually present an opportunity for those who are willing, able, and motivated to make a move.  

Your average spring season would be flooded with real estate activity. Right now, motivated players are out in the market. That means that if you’re looking to buy, you’re in a better position to negotiate a great price. And today’s low mortgage rates could give a big boost to your purchasing power. In fact, if you’ve been priced out of the market before, this may be the perfect time to look.  

If you’re ready to sell, you’ll have fewer listings to compete against in your neighbourhood and price range. But you’ll want to act quickly—a second wave of coronavirus cases could be coming later this year. Ask yourself how you will feel if you have to face another lockdown in your current home.

Let’s schedule a free virtual consultation to discuss your individual needs and circumstances. We can help you assess your options and create a plan that makes you feel both comfortable and confident during these unprecedented times. 

The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be financial advice. Consult a financial professional for advice regarding your individual needs.

Sources:

  1. CTV News -
    https://www.ctvnews.ca/business/canadian-home-sales-fall-to-record-breaking-36-year-low-1.4940984
  2. House Price Index -
    https://housepriceindex.ca/2020/05/april2020/
  3. CBC -
    https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/bank-of-canada-interest-rate-1.5512098
  4. Financial Post -
    https://business.financialpost.com/pmn/business-pmn/bank-of-canada-governor-says-interest-rates-will-probably-stay-low
  5. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation -
    https://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/media-newsroom/speeches/2020/supporting-financial-stability-during-covid19-pandemic
  6. RE/MAX -
    https://blog.remax.ca/no-nosedive-ahead-for-canadian-real-estate-prices-re-max/
  7. Global News -
    https://globalnews.ca/news/6943727/coronavirus-housing-market-good-time-to-buy/
  8. CTV News -
    https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/the-second-wave-will-come-and-experts-say-canada-is-not-prepared-1.4948733

Keller Williams RED Day

  •  Saturday, May 9, 2020
  •  Marion Goard

Each year on the second Thursday in May, Keller Williams Realty associates celebrate RED Day. Standing for Renew, Energize and Donate, this observance defines who we are as a company and individuals and is a natural extension of our commitment to the highest level of professional customer service. Making a difference in the lives of others and bettering the communities that we serve lies at the heart of the Keller Williams culture. This year, this day of service is more important than ever!

With COVID-19 and social distancing in play this year the associates at our brokerages are not able to get together to work as a group as we have in the past, so we are going digital and all doing what we can individually to give back to our community. To that end, I am facilitating a community Food Drive in support of Food For Life and collecting non-perishable food items and toiletries.
Food For Life is an charitable organization, based in Burlington ON, that sources and distributes fresh, nutritious food to those in need through community partnerships. Their reach is far and wide. Food For Life distributes food, free of charge to over 100 community food programs in Halton and surrounding area. Prior to COVID-19, they were providing over 6,800 meals per day to people in need.

Many more people and families across Burlington are now finding themselves in need of food support, including those who have never needed to access a food bank before or simply need food delivery. There are a number of organizations rolling up their sleeves to address the increased need. I'm both fortunate and humbled to be in a position to help and RED Day is just what I needed to spur me to action. 

I'd love your support of my RED Day Food Drive and it's easy to contribute! You can drop off your donations in a collection box on the front porch at Unit 19, 1095 Skyview Dr. in Burlington, between 9:00 am - 8:00 pm, Monday May 11-Friday May 15.
If dropping off a donation is not doable for you I will be out doing porch pickups on RED Day - May 14. Just let me know if you'd like me to stop by your location. Call text or email mariongoard@kw.com / 905-330-5201. Place your donated items in a disposable bag on your front porch by 9 am, indicating they are for the RED Day Food Drive. I'll do be making my rounds to pick up items that day between 9:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.
Most needed items at Food For Life at this time:                      
- canned vegetables
- canned fruit
- canned protein (chicken/tuna)                                                      
- plant based protein (lentils/quinoa)
- hearty fruits (apples/oranges)
Sample of items always needed:
- canned soups/stews
- Stagg Chili
- peanut butter
- rice/pasta
- baby food
- juice/juice boxes
- coffee/tea
- diapers
- sanitary and feminine hygiene products
                                                         

#StayHome: How to Create Functional Spaces in Your Home During the Coronavirus Outbreak

  •  Monday, March 30, 2020
  •  unknown

Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), many of us are spending a lot more time at home. We’re all being called upon to avoid public spaces and practice social distancing to help slow the spread of this infectious disease. While it can be understandably challenging, there are ways we can modify our homes and lifestyles to make the best of this difficult situation.

Here are a few tips for creating comfortable and functional spaces within your home for work, school, and fitness. I also share some good ways to stay connected as a community, because we’re all in this together … and no one should face these trying times alone.

 

Begin with the Basics 

A basic home emergency preparedness kit is a great addition to any home, even under normal circumstances. It should include items like water, non-perishable food, a flashlight, first aid kit, and other essentials you would need should you temporarily lose access to food, water, or electricity. 

Fortunately, authorities don’t anticipate any serious interruptions to utilities or the food supply during this outbreak. However, if you haven't already, it may be a good time to start gathering your emergency basics in a designated location, so you’ll be prepared now-—and in the future—should your family ever need them.

Ready to start building an emergency kit for your home? Contact me for a free copy of my Home Emergency Preparation Checklist!

Working From Home 

Many employees are being asked to work remotely. If you’re transitioning to a home office for the first time, it’s important to create a designated space for work … so it doesn’t creep into your home life, and vice versa. If you live in a small condominium or apartment, this may feel impossible. But try to find a quiet corner where you can set up a desk and comfortable chair. The simple act of separating your home and work spaces can help you focus during work hours and “turn off” at the end of the day.

Of course, with schools and daycares now closed, if you have children who are home with you all day  separating your home and work life will be more difficult. Unless you have a partner who can serve as the primary caregiver, you will need to help manage the needs of your children while juggling work and virtual meetings. 

If both parents are working from home, try alternating shifts, so you each have a designated time to work and to parent. If that’s not an option, experts recommend creating a schedule for your children, so they know when you’re available to play, and when you need to work1. A red stop sign on the door can help remind them when you shouldn’t be disturbed. And for young children, blocking off a specific time each day for them to nap or have independent screen time can give you a window to schedule conference calls or work uninterrupted.

Homeschooling Your Children

Parents with school-aged children may be taking on a new challenge: homeschooling. Similar to a home office, designating a space for learning activities can help your child transition between play and school. If you’re working from home, the homeschooling area would ideally be located near your workspace, so you can offer assistance and answer questions, as needed. 

If possible, dedicate a desk or table where your child’s work can be spread out—and left out when they break for meals and snacks. Position supplies and materials nearby so they are independently accessible, and place a trash can and recycling bin within reach for easy cleanup. A washable, plastic tablecloth can help transition an academic space into an arts and crafts area. 

If the weather is nice, try studying outside! A porch swing is a perfect spot for reading, and when the weather is suitable gardening in the backyard is a great addition to any science curriculum.  

In addition to creating an academic learning environment, find age-appropriate opportunities for your children to help with household chores and meal preparation. Homeschooling advocates emphasize the importance of developing life skills alongside academic ones2. And with more meals and activities taking place at home, there will be ample opportunity for every family member to pitch in and help.

Staying Fit 

With gyms closed and team sports canceled, it can be tempting to sit on the sofa and binge Netflix. However, maintaining the physical health and mental wellness of you and your family is crucial right now. Implementing a regular exercise routine at home can help with both.

If you live in a community where you can safely exercise outdoors while maintaining the recommended distance between you and other residents, try to get out as much as possible. If the weather is nice, go for family walks, jogs, or bike rides.

Can’t get outside? Fortunately, you don’t need a home gym or fancy exercise equipment to stay fit. Look for a suitable space in your home, garage, or basement where you can comfortably move—you’ll probably need at least a 6’ x 6’ area for each person. Many cardio and strength training exercises require little (or no) equipment, including jumping jacks, lunges, and pushups.

And if you prefer a guided workout, search for free exercise videos on YouTube—there are even options specifically geared towards kids—or try one of the many fitness apps available.

Socializing From a Distance 

Even though we’re all being called upon to practice “social distancing” right now, there are still ways to stay safely connected to our communities and our extended families. Picking up the phone is a great place to start. Make an effort to reach out to neighbors and loved ones who live alone and may be feeling particularly isolated right now. 

And while parties and playdates are prohibited, modern technology offers countless ways to organize networked gatherings with family and friends. Try using group video conferencing tools like Google Hangouts and Zoom to facilitate a virtual happy hour or book club. Host a Netflix Party to watch (and chat about) movies with friends. Or plan a virtual game night and challenge your pals to a round of Psych or Yahtzee.

There are safe ways to connect offline, too. Rediscover the lost art of letter writing. Drop off groceries on an elderly neighbor’s porch. Or organize a neighborhood “chalk walk,” where children use sidewalk chalk to decorate their driveways and then head out for a stroll to view their friends’ artwork. 

Of course, there’s one group of people who you can still socialize with freely—those who reside in your home. Family dinners are back, siblings are reconnecting, and many of us have been given the gift of time, with commutes, activities, and obligations eliminated. In fact, some families are finding that this crisis has brought them closer than ever.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE

Even with all of the tools and technology available to keep us connected, many of us are still feeling stressed, scared, and isolated. However, you can rest assured that you are not alone. I'm not only here to help you buy and sell real estate. I want to be a resource to my clients and community through good times and bad. If you and your family are in need of assistance, please reach out and let me know how I can help.

Sources:

  1. CNBC -
    https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/16/how-to-work-from-home-with-your-kids-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak.html
  2. com -
    https://www.thehomeschoolmom.com/benefits-of-homeschooling-2/

November fun in Burlington

Burlington has a steady line up of family fun events this November.  Across the city, holiday lights and swag are bringing joy to residents and visitors!

The Well Event & Holiday Marketplace

Sunday, November 18 from 8:30 a.m.  - 4:30 p.m. 

For $5 this exclusive Holiday Marketplace takes over the Oakville Conference & Banquet Centre.  This holiday market has 40 hand picked artisans and exclusive vendors, geared specifically to women! From jewellery, fashion items, gourmet ingredients and every thing in between, you won’t want to miss this holiday shopping market!  Get together for your November girls day at The Well Holiday Marketplace!  Visit thewellevent.ca for more information.

The Burlington Performing Arts Centre

The Burlington PAC is loaded with world-renowned performances all throughout November.  Whether you love theatre, comedy, live music or children's performances, the centre may just have something for you. Plan your visit to this state-of-the-art facility located steps from the shore in downtown Burlington! Visit burlingtonpac.ca for event listings and ticket information.  

Downtown Burlington

It’s holiday season in Burlington and there’s no better place to shop, dine and stroll!  Walk to the peak of the Joseph Brant Pier along the shores of Lake Ontario followed by lunch at many fantastic downtown dining venues! Sip on a cup of exotic joe from several top tier coffee shops near the lakefront.  Hold hands along the beach boardwalk and browse the boutique shops for holiday exclusives.  

Royal Botanical Gardens RBG Fest of Ales 

December 6 and 7, 6 - 10 p.m. 

The holiday season will begin to flow December 6 at the RBG! The celebration of Ontario`s independent craft breweries continues with the 4th annual Fest-of-Ales inside the botanical garden venue. Spanning over two nights, patrons can try some of the best beer around Burlington! Entrance to the event includes your own mug, six five-ounce samples and access to the brewing experts. Enjoy DJ sounds and craft beer at this Fest of Ales.

Visit www.tourismburlington.com/virtual-tours/ for all sorts of festive family fun this November in Burlington!

If you want to learn more about Burlington and Hamilton and the wonderful properties available in these communities, contact me anytime! Email me at mariongoard@kw.com or call 905-335-8808. I'd be happy to help you on your real estate journey!


October fun in Hamilton

Hamilton is loaded with events throughout October.  The lead up to Halloween is filled with family fun all around the city.  Grab tickets to a “whole new universe” or the Royal Botanical Gardens this October in Hamilton.  

Marvel Universe Live 

October 18 - 21,  FirstOntario Centre

Marvel fans won’t want to miss this new family entertainment experience. Vast 3D video projection mapping, motorcycle stunts, fight schemes and pyrotechnics ignite all sorts of energy into the crowd at this live action event!  Become a part of multiple performances over three days at FirstOntario Centre, downtown Hamilton.  Watch lowly villains square off against heroes: Thor, Hulk, Black Panther, Iron Man and more! More information can be found at www.coreentertainment.ca

The Great Pumpkin Trail

October 25 - 26, Royal Botanical Gardens

Tour Hendrie Park and take in hundreds of beautifully carved Jack-O-Lanterns dotted along the South Bridle Trail within the Royal Botanical Gardens.  Face painting, pumpkin themes, activities and games await patrons at this ticketed event.

Downtown Hamilton Ghost Walk 

October 25

“Strangest stories in the Haunted City” winds patrons through the core of Hamilton with tales surrounding places and events in steel town history!  Hamilton Place Theatre, Pigott Building and other secret ghost locations spook those who dare take the stroll.  Visit www.ghostwalks.com or call 855-8GHOSTS.

October fun at Westfield Heritage Village

Don’t miss Pumpkin Sunday, October 21 at Westfield Heritage Village.  It’s fun for everyone with this pumpkin-themed Sunday featuring demos, crafts and activities. Bring the whole family to Autumn Sundays every week in the village 12:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.  Get spooked at Haunted Halloween happening October 26 and 27 and explore the grounds by lantern and find out what’s really going on under the moonlight at this Rockton thriller from6:30- 9:30 p.m. Visit www.westfieldheritage.ca.


Exciting events in Burlington this October

The City of Burlington has plenty in store for residents in the lead up to Halloween and other exciting October events! 

Tony Danza: Standards & Stories

October 19, Burlington Performing Arts Centre

This Taxi and Who’s The Boss legend brings his timeless persona to the stage in downtown Burlington.  Joined by a four-piece band experience, Tony performs some of Broadway’s biggest numbers in the main theatre at Burlington PAC.

Capturing Pablo Escobar: An Evening with Javier Peña and Steve Murphy

October 26, Burlington Performing Arts Centre

Learn more about the DEA special agents behind the infamous capture of drug lord, Pablo Escobar.  The real cops behind the hit NETFLIX series ‘Narcos’ tell their story live in Burlington this fall!  This dazzling multimedia presentation and Q&A with the lead investigators will rivet patrons at the Burlington PAC October 26, 8 p.m. - 10 p.m.

Toddler Days - Halloween 

October 25, Ireland House Museum 

Toddlers four and under are encouraged to drop by dressed in costume October 25 from 10:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. for all sorts of Halloween fun!  $5 per child, adults are FREE, at this pre-registration event in Burlington.  Call the Ireland House Museum at 905-332-9888

Sticky Banding Demonstrations

Residents in Burlington may have come across growing Cankerworm populations.  This native leaf-eating caterpillar, damages a widespread range of trees but prefers Oak trees especially.  Find out ways to keep your curb appeal safe from this pesky garden pest.  Learn to create a “Sticky Band” around your shade trees and keep Burlington’s streets healthy.  Visit https://www.burlington.ca/en/index.asp for times and dates!

Ottawa Senators vs. Vegas Golden Knights - Rogers Hometown Hockey 

October 27-28, 426 Brant Street

Ron MacLean and Tara Slone set up at 426 Brant Street in downtown Burlington for Rogers Hometown Hockey!  Enjoy two days of live entertainment and activities. Bring the family down to watch the Senators take on last season’s Stanley Cup runner-up, the Vegas Golden Knights at the outdoor viewing party on October 28 at 7:30 p.m.! 

Burlington is once again loaded with a host of events helping families celebrate all through harvest season, October!


Explore Doors Open Burlington this September

Doors Open Burlington isn’t your typical small town “Doors Open” event. Although a blooming city, there are more than a handful of heritage homes and possibly an old jail. Doors Open Burlington highlights heritage sites, noteworthy builds, and interesting homes. Visit www.doburlington.com to plan your day on September 29.

Featured Sites

A host of special activities at more than ten sites will take place across the city. Visit venues such as Halton Mosque, East Plains United Church and the Holy Sepulchre Catholic Cemetery to make it a spiritual Saturday in #BurlON!

The Art Gallery of Burlington, Nickel Brook Brewing and Ireland House Museum are popular stops for craft beer lovers and artists this September!

The Skyway Wastewater Treatment Plant at 1125 Lakeshore Road is perhaps Burlington’s most in depth Doors Open experience. This massive facility is able to process 56 Olympic size pools of water everyday into Hamilton Harbour. This tour is 12+ recommended and pre-registration is required. Visit www.doburlington.com for more on the Skyway Wastewater Treatment Plant

Sponsors and Partners

Doors Open Burlington would not be possible without Hamilton/Burlington Society of Architects, Arts & Culture Council of Burlington, The City of Burlington, Culture Days and many more sponsors and partners. To become part of this Halton Region, Doors Open Ontario Heritage Trust event or to volunteer visit www.doburlington.com

Doors Open is a great way to spend the day in the community. Learn about intriguing practices behind city run facilities, museums, galleries, and holy centres dotted around this historic lakefront community.

Contact me anytime to find out how I can help you on your real estate journey! Email me at mariongoard@kw.com or call 905-335-8808.


Burlington Events in August

Burlington is sizzling this summer with all sorts of free and exciting events that will keep folks of all ages entertained. Whether you’re looking to dance, twist, or shout, downtown Burlington is without a doubt hosting some great events!

Jazz on the Plaza, The Burlington Performing Arts Centre
August 11 and 12, 4 p.m. - 8 p.m.

Don’t miss two-time JUNO-nominated musician Shirantha Beddage, a baritone saxophonist, composer and educator from Toronto. The Mike Downes Quartet caps off this FREE jazz event in downtown Burlington. There is nothing like original live jazz performances under a clear summer sky. Prepare to dance the night away at Jazz on the Plaza this August in Burlington!

The Rotary Club of Burlington Ribfest, Spencer Smith Park
August 31 - September 3

Burlington is home to the nation’s largest Ribfest! Canada’s Largest Ribfest, hosted by the Rotary Club of Burlington, lights up Spencer Smith Park from August 31 - Sept 3, Labour Day! This is the perfect end of summer event for locals and Halton regional residents. Let the kids forget about school for one last afternoon and you don’t even have to cook! It’s a win/win at Canada’s Largest Ribfest since 1996. For more information surrounding Ribfest visit http://www.canadaslargestribfest.com/

Gimli #489 Golden Rescue 5K Run/Walk Spencer Smith Park
August 18

This first time event is a run for rescued retrievers and dogs in need. The event takes place at Spencer Smith Park at 8 a.m., Saturday, August 18 in downtown Burlington. Dogs can join their owners and make friends at this great fundraiser for pets! Contact Kelly Arnott (905-512-2488) for more information.

Children’s Festival Spencer, Smith Park
August 19

The City of Burlington Children’s Festival is a top 100 event in Ontario and another great reason to live in the city! The downtown park turns into everything a kid could ever want. Games, activities, magic, face-painting, live performances and so much more! Be a kid again at this late summer festival at none other than Spencer Smith Park.

Open House - Taoist Tai Chi, 3390 South Service Rd.
September 6

Try something new this September! A free demonstration of Taoist Tai Chi will happen Thursday, September 6 at 3390 South Service Road in Burlington. Learn more about Tai Chi by interacting with instructors and find out how to join a beginners class. Contact the Burlington Branch - FLK Taoist Tai Chi at 905-634-4990 for more information.

Burlington is a top tier location without a doubt. A fantastic shopping scene, a beach, assorted types of real estate and restaurants plus, all sorts of huge free festivals!

Contact me anytime to find out how I can help you on your real estate journey! Email me at mariongoard@kw.com or call 905-335-8808.


Burlington’s Beautiful Neighbourhoods

The City of Burlington is constantly rated as one of the top Canadian cities to live in, according to many media outlets, including MoneySense Magazine. Finding the perfect neighbourhood isn’t too difficult for those wanting to move to this Halton Region hotspot. The following areas are some great communities to consider. 

Elizabeth Gardens

Elizabeth Gardens is the city’s most easterly neighbourhood and borders alongside Oakville. Lakeside and Lakeview properties give home buyers a taste of lakeside life. There are six different schools and many styles of homes for young professionals and families to call home. Getting away from work life with a late night stroll or bike ride along the shoreline is another added benefit to living in Elizabeth Gardens. Situated along Lakeshore Boulevard and minutes from the 403 makes a commuter’s lifestyle very convenient.  

Aldershot

The city's largest neighbourhood and the most mature neighbourhood is receiving a facelift along Plains Road and a lot of future revitalization will be coming to the area.  The GO Station at the entrance to the neighbourhood gives Aldershot tremendous appeal for professionals that need to get in and out of the city.  Just east of Hamilton, Aldershot boasts six schools and is well equipped for recreation. Lasalle Park has everything from lawn bowling, baseball diamonds and sports fields to a splash pad, marina and lakefront trails. This sensational neighbourhood is also home to the Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) which gives people of all ages a place to visit on rainy days. RBG runs many programs and camps throughout the year. Aldershot is the perfect westside Burlington neighbourhood for home shoppers!


Roseland

One of Burlington’s top tier neighbourhoods, Roseland is in the heart of downtown on the shoreline of Lake Ontario. This beautiful, historic community is also home to six schools with the median home average retailing for $1.4 million for detached homes to $600,000 for attached homes according to www.burlingtonneighbourhoods.com. 

Burlington has a wide range of options available for home buyers in today’s market. A little bit of research and a casual stroll around the city will make anybody fall in love with their neighbourhood of choice. Whether it’s the newly renovated boardwalk and pier, the fabulous downtown, or the abundance of recreation and conservation there are lots of things to love about Burlington!

Want to know more about the Burlington area and the exciting listings that are currently available? Contact me by email at mariongoard@kw.com or call 905-335-8808.


See the RBC Canadian Open in Oakville

Living in Halton Region has lots of perks…and one of them is being able to see high profile professional golfers tee off at the RBC Canadian Open! Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville will play host to the PGA tour Canadian National Men’s Open for the 30th time.  The Club Link course at Glen Abbey was designed by seven-time runner-up and golf legend Jack Nicklaus.  This year’s tournament runs from Monday, July 23 - Sunday, July 29.

Pro-Ams

This year the RBC Canadian Open will host two professional-amateur tournaments.  The Canada Day Pro-Am will tee off July 23rd at 12 p.m. and will consist of Canadian golfers and celebrities!  The RBC Championship Pro-Am will be held on July 25 with 52 teams competing.  These shot-gun start tournaments will tee off from the first and 10th hole giving fans an up close and personal perspective at some of their favourite players and celebrities! Proceeds from the Pro-Am benefit the Golf Canada Foundation and help support the developmental pathway to Team Canada and the Young Pro Program.

Championship Rounds 

The field has yet to be determined for the Canadian Open but the first two rounds are a shotgun start from both the first and 10th hole.  Once the cutline is determined after the first two rounds, rounds three and four will be scheduled according to individual scores.  The Sports Network, The Golf Channel, Global Television and CBS will all broadcast the event. Watching the golfers on the sidelines is exciting and is a great opportunity to stroll Glen Abbey’s beautiful grounds!

Special Events

All through the week, there’s something different happening.  On top of all the professional golf, all sorts of wonderful entertainment lay between the links.  Back again this year will be ‘The Rink’ for the Canada Day Pro-Am. The 7th hole will be outfitted with hockey boards and a Zamboni.  Additional bleachers and viewing decks allow ticket holders a rare, fun and exciting glimpse of the par three hole.  Don’t miss Red and White Day, July 27 when everyone is encouraged to wear red and white and Canadian Flags will be handed out at the front gate.  Canadian Armed Forces Day, presented by Commissionaires, will be held July 26 giving current and former members of Canada’s Armed Forces free access for the day with upgraded venues when they pre-register.  Foodies will not want to miss all the Food Trucks present all week!  

Watch some golf, spot your favourite pro golfer and shop the spectator village; it’s all happening at the RBC Canadian Open this month in Oakville.


Be a Tourist in Burlington

The city of Burlington lays at the foothills of the Niagara Escarpment and is surrounded by conservation areas, vineyards and Lake Ontario. Credit Valley, Halton and Hamilton Conservation Authorities all have sites near Burlington. Bronte Creek Provincial Park and the Bruce Trail also provide residents with fun and picturesque nature areas to further explore around Burlington.

Hop on the Bruce Trail at Limehouse Conservation Area in Halton Hills. This area (with admission paid by donation) is great for bird watching and walking the dog. Open daily, from sunrise to sunset, come see the historic structures at Limehouse Conservation Area, 12169 Fifth Line, Limehouse, Ont.

Visit “Scotch Block Winery” on 10th Sideroad just outside Milton and view the escarpment as never before and even enjoy a wine tasting. Pop into the farm in the heart of Halton and try free samples and maybe find dad’s Father’s Day gift! Visit http://scotchblockwinery.com/ for this Milton vineyard’s full wine list.

Kelso Conservation Area, immediately north of Burlington, has changed over from a nordic to summer playground. Camp, boat, rock climb, mountain bike and more at one of the most breathtaking vantage points of the escarpment there is. Visit Halton Parks online for information about all of their parks as well as upcoming events at http://www.conservationhalton.ca/parks.

Sitting between Oakville and Burlington, Bronte Creek Provincial Park is another year-round venue for outdoor enthusiasts to take up their hobby. This provincial conservation site has a 50m deep ravine, disc golf course, children’s farm, heritage Spruce Lane Farm House (c. 1899) with loads of interactive programs and of course, not to be forgotten is the huge outdoor pool. Sign up now for Ghost Walks happening at the park this August. Visit https://www.ontarioparks.com/park/brontecreek for more on Bronte Creek Provincial Park.

Burlington is surrounded by the beautiful escarpment and conservation sites, beaches and parks — discover it this summer!

Want to know more about the Burlington area and the exciting listings that are currently available? Contact me at mariongoard@kw.com or 905-330-5201!


Outdoor adventure in Burlington for new residents

According to MoneySense Magazine Burlington is consistently a top-ranked mid-sized city in Canada, and part of the reason why is because of Burlington’s easy access to nature and its proximity to outdoor adventure! For newcomers to Burlington, you’ll find great outdoor destinations a short drive away – mainly, Bronte Creek Provincial Park, the Lake Ontario coastline, Burlington Beach and the Niagara Escarpment. Here are a few more spots and neighbourhoods to explore:

Elizabeth Gardens is an incredible neighbourhood bordering Lake Ontario. Burloak Waterfront Park is home to a splash pad for kids and great pier. Elizabeth Gardens is also minutes from Bronte Creek Provincial Park for even more nature-centric outings and family events. Many great franchise eateries and amenities can be found in one of Burlington’s most affordable areas, with plenty of options in housing!

The neighbouring community of Pinedale is great for young professionals who need to commute to Toronto or Hamilton – it’s within walking distance of Appleby GO station! After work, Pinedale locals have access to the many nature trails and forested areas all through the community. Take a bike path across Burlington after you’ve settled into your digs and really get to know the city. Also since it borders Oakville, Pinedale residents get some extra perks!

Alton Village is a tight-knit community in the city’s north east. Norton Community Park and the Alton Branch of the Burlington Public Library offer neighbours excellent grounds to bond. Cosy up by the library fireplace and share a conversation or gather in a driveway movie-night at the neighbour’s, all summer long in Alton Village!

Burlington has so many excursions – the best way to choose your favourite is to get out and explore the city you now call home!


Burlington is the perfect place to spend Mother’s Day this year

Burlington locals have plenty of opportunities to make mom feel celebrated this Mother’s Day. Enjoy many different kinds of outings with mom in Burlington, whether you take her lakefront, on the golf course, to a restaurant or out in the conservation. Showing your mom how much you love her shouldn’t be hard this May 13 in Burlington.

Bring mom out to buy a new grill at the Burlington BBQ Show May 12 and 13 at Central Arena. If she is in need of more than just a grill, general and landscape contractors will be onsite booking folks in for this spring and summer festival! Tour vendors and taste samples at this culinary festival for foodies and homeowners on Mother’s Day in Burlington.

Don’t miss the annual Mother’s Day Champagne Tea at Ireland House Museum in Burlington. This traditional tea party is usually booked well in advance, however, if Mom loves her tea perhaps you’ll be in luck this year. Three settings and traditional refreshments will delight mom after strolling this stunning heritage grounds located at 2168 Guelph Line.

If your mom has a green thumb, be sure to visit the annual plant sale May 12  

at St. Christopher’s Church. Support the Burlington Horticultural Society and Open Doors at St. Christopher's while grabbing mom a gift for Mother’s Day!

Pop into the Student Art Exchange happening throughout May in Burlington at the Art Gallery of Burlington. Find all sorts of nifty gifts in the gift shop and tour this exclusive art exhibition in the heart of Halton!  

Book a reservation downtown Burlington at a restaurant, walk the pier after morning breakfast or share a coffee after lunch along the shores of Burlington Beach this May with mom. Perhaps you’ll book her a tee time at Tyandaga Golf Course or tour the Royal Botanical Gardens this May 13—Mother’s Day, in Burlington!


Cozy up with a library book this winter in Burlington

There is no better way to get cozy in the winter season than with a good book from the local library. The City of Burlington has seven public library branches dotted around the city. They offer more then just books too, with special events, arts and culture, community programs and many uplifting activities to help people from all walks of life. Visit the Burlington Public Library online and find something just for you at: https://www.bpl.on.ca/

If you've read a great book lately, get involved at the Burlington Public Library and recommend the next community read! One Book One Burlington brings people together through the power of one really great Canadian book. Planning for next year is currently underway and locals are encouraged to get involved. Suggest the title you think all of #BurlON should read in 2018! Eligible books may be fiction or non-fiction, written by a Canadian author, and published in the past three to five years.
Learn to sew, take in a movie, make music and gather around for family story time with the Burlington Public Library this January. View their online events calendar and find specific events catered to adults, youth, seniors, family, children and community. The library has a vast collection of books, music and movies as well as a plenty of digital archives. Burlington can't possibly be boring this winter with all this to offer.
Be sure to stop in at one of the seven branches of the Burlington Public Library this January!
Central Library: 2331 New St.
Aldershot: 550 Plains Rd. East
Alton: 3040 Tim Dobbie Dr.
Brant Hills: 2255 Brant St.
Kilbride: 6611 Panton St.
New Appleby: 676 Appleby Line
Tansley Woods: 1996 Itabashi Way

Festive fun abounds this month in Hamilton!

The City of Hamilton is bustling with great holiday events this December!

Visits with Santa at RBG – December 13, 20
Don't miss your chance to visit with the big guy in red at one of Royal Botanical Gardens' most popular holiday events! Guests will receive a round-trip fare on The RBG Express through magical Hendrie Park strewn with festive lights. See website for tickets and details. Visit www.rbg.ca/holidaytraditions.

Winter Lights at the Rock – December 14-17, 21-23, 27-30
Let the light be your guide as the Rock Garden awakens the spirit of winter! Explore how multicultural traditions and activities that make us quintessentially Canadian are rooted in natural phenomena that change the seasons. Immerse yourself in a story of celebrations and adaptations.

'Twas the Night Before Christmas – December 15, 22
Enjoy Westfield Heritage Village by candlelight and feel the warmth of the season through music, food samples, fireworks and a visit from Father Christmas. Christmas shopping is available at the Gift Shop and the restaurant will offer light meals and refreshments.

Puddicombe Estate's Polar Express – December 17
Step into the magic of Christmas by taking part in this two-hour holiday special. Let 'Little Pudd' & Friends take you on a magical tour of the estate, visit the Pullman car and write letters to Santa. Other highlights include hot chocolate and cookies, a children's craft, adult food and wine pairings, live music and visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Event will run rain, snow or shine. Visit www.puddicombefarms.com.

The Big Sing! - December 15 from 7-9 p.m.
Make your way to Ancaster Old Town Hall for a festive evening! Enjoy a concert and carol sing-along with the Kaleidoscope Singers, presented by Fieldcote Memorial Park & Museum. Guests can also look forward to hot apple cider, treats and Christmas Tree Awards. Cost is $10 per person or $20 per family.


Happening in Burlington this month!

The winter season is just around the corner! Don't let the frosty weather get you down this month – get out there and take advantage of these exciting events, coming soon to Burlington!

The Nutcracker – December 9
Fifty-five of Russia's brightest ballet stars return to Burlington to perform this perennial favourite of generations of children, and children-at-heart. The Nutcracker, a treasured holiday adventure, follows a little girl's journey through a fantasy world of fairies, princes, toy soldiers, and an army of mice. The entire family will love this magical experience filled with spectacular sets and beautiful costumes. Show will take place at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre at 2 p.m.

Christmas Activities at Springridge Farm – December 9-10
This is your opportunity to mix and mingle with Santa Claus himself! Activities include painting a glass ornament and decorating a freshly baked gingerbread cookie ($5 per activity). You can also shop for a variety of gourmet food, Christmas treats, festive decorations and giftware. Visit www.springridgefarm.com for more info.

Victorian Christmas at Bronte Creek – December 27- 31 and January 1-7
A special holiday treat awaits you and your family! Take a step back in time to the year 1900 to visit a Victorian homestead during the Christmas season. Spruce Lane Farm at Bronte Creek Provincial Park will be trimmed and decorated in all its seasonal splendor. Visit www.ontarioparks.com/park/brontecreek/events for more info.

Lakeside Festival of Lights – Until January 8
There's still plenty of time to take in the twinkling splendor of one of Burlington's most anticipated annual events! The Festival of Lights, happening at Spencer Smith Park, is celebrating its 22nd year in 2017. Bundle up and bring the whole family to check out over 60 festive displays.

Christmas with the Salvation Army – December 17
Join The Salvation Army for a free concert at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre, celebrating 50 years of ministry in the City of Burlington. Featuring some of your favourite Christmas carols and songs, there will also be special performances by The North York Temple Band, The London Citadel Timbrel Brigade and Pianist Beverley Yates. Show starts at 6 p.m.


Get outside and enjoy the season

Take a Sunday drive up through Dundas into Flamborough for an absolutely breathtaking view of the Escarpment in all its colourful glory.

The Waterfront and Cootes Paradise Sanctuary connecting trails offer a stunning array of ornamental trees and shrubs as well as a stunning rock garden, cafes, lookouts and annual events. Learn about the wetlands, enjoy a tea and take a few selfies along this stunning waterfront trail overseen by the Royal Botanical Gardens. Discover so much along the Hamilton harbourfront while taking in the lakeside breeze this fall.

Albion and Felker's Falls Conservation Areas are local hot spots to take in the changing of the season. You can visit each individually or walk the 10km trail between the two waterfalls. Albion Falls features a 19-metre cascading waterfall that is lovely to photograph but be sure to abide by city by-laws and stay away from areas that are off limits for safety reasons. Tucked off Ackland Street in Stoney Creek is the access point to Felker's Falls CA. The best way to reach this 22-metre waterfall is b y way of the Peter Street Trail overlooking the Felker ravine. Get inspired by the land farmed by the Felker family for 140 years!

Visit www.brucetrail.org/ for an extensive array of trails that can be found dotted around the city. The great waterfall loop is less than 4km with an optional 1.1km side loop for all your fall viewing pleasure. Hold hands, breathe in the fresh air and take a few selfies as you enjoy some of the city's most lovely spots.


Pay your respects this month in Hamilton

Remembrance Day is fast approaching and here in Hamilton, there are many ways to pay tribute to those who gave their lives for our country and honour those who continue to serve in the armed forces.

On November 8 at 7 p.m., head to Murray Ferguson Room at the Ancaster Public Library for "A Canadian Story: Letters from Homefront and the Trenches". This fascinating talk, presented by the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, will focus on the letters exchanged between a father and son during WWI. Speaker Mike Street will lead the talk.

The Hamilton Military Museum will honour the commitment of the many men and women who work every day toward the goal of peace during the" We Remember" event, taking place November 10 – 12 from 12 – 4 p.m. Guests are invited to make a poppy for the remembrance board at the Museum. Admission is free. Visit www.hamilton.ca/militarymuseum for more information.

On Saturday, November 11, the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra presents Hamilton Remembers: Saluting Hamilton's Veterans. In this powerful musical evening, the community comes together to acknowledge Remembrance Day and Hamilton's history. The show will take place at FirstOntario Centre at 7:30 p.m. with a pre-concert talk beginning at 6:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online at www.hpo.org.

On Saturday, November 11, Remembrance Day Services will be held at:

  • Veterans' Place at Gore Park: 10:45 a.m.
  • Old Town Hall, 310 Wilson Street East, Ancaster: 10:30 a.m.
  • Royal Canadian Legion, Beverly Branch 500, Lynden: 10:30 a.m.
  • Dundas Cenotaph, Dundas Community Centre: 10:30 a.m.
  • Stoney Creek Cenotaph, King Street and Highway 8: 10:30 a.m.
  • Royal Canadian Legion Waterdown Branch 55: 10:45 a.m.
  • Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, 9280 Airport Road Mount Hope: 10:30 a.m. (Arrive early for seating). Museum aircraft will perform a fly past for the service.

Also on Saturday, November 11, a Remembrance Day Parade will take place in downtown Hamilton beginning at 10:45 a.m. at the John Weir Foote V.C. Armoury on James Street North. All are welcome to honour Hamilton's veterans and service men and women before attending a Remembrance Day service at the cenotaph in Veterans' Place at Gore Park. For more information about this event, call 905-546-4646.


Halloween fun in Burlington

There's plenty of harvest themed fun in store this month for Burlington residents of all ages! Here's a look at some of the events coming soon to the area.

Mountsberg's annual Halloween event will take place once again on weekends throughout October. Spooktacular Halloween will feature creatures of the night presentations with live birds of prey, live snake presentations, a haunted barn, Pumpkin Hay play area, face painting and more! Come dressed in your costume and enjoy lots of fun activities for kids. Spooktacular Halloween will be open October 14-15, 21-22 and 28-29. For more information please call 905-854-2276 or visit www.convervationhalton.ca.

The fall season wouldn't be complete without a visit to Springridge Farm in Milton for their Harvest Festival! Expect an old-fashioned good time as you celebrate the harvest season with wagon rides, a five-acre corn trail, pumpkin picking, the Spooky Boo Barn, Spider Web Climber, Farm Yard Pipe Slides, puppet shows and more! Cost is $12 per person (ages 2-92). Visit www.springridgefarm.com for directions.

Go camping close to home at Bronte Creek's Halloween-themed camping extravaganza, to be held October 14 and 21! Campers are encouraged to decorate their site for a chance to win great prizes, dress up in costumes and go trick-or-treating around the campgrounds. Then go on a spooky guided evening hike where you will learn about bats, owls and coyotes!

On October 15, get into the spirit of the season and run your heart out for local kids programs during the Rotary Turkey Trot ! This popular annual event held at beautiful Bronte Creek offers 5 and 10K runs, plus a 5K Walk/Nordic Pole Walk. Supporting the Start2Finish reading and running program for kids, this Turkey Trot will kick off at 10 a.m. (registration is from 8:30-9:30 a.m.) Visit www.rotaryturkeytrot.ca for more details.

Ireland House Museum will offer the perfect opportunity for your little ones to wear their costume twice! On October 26, come dressed and ready to enjoy a variety of Halloween themed fun, from making Frankenworms to racing spiders! Cost is $5 and registration is required.

On October 28, celebrate Halloween with neighbours, family and friends in downtown Burlington during Treats In Our Streets! All are welcomed by businesses to trick-or-treat in costume throughout downtown, collecting goodies and having fun! Stops are highlighted on maps provided, featuring businesses and activities along the way. Visit http://burlingtondowntown.ca.


What's happening this month in Burlington?

Welcome to the harvest season! It seems that almost overnight the leaves changed colour and the temperature dropped, ushering us into autumn and all the fun that comes with it! There are a variety of exciting events happening in the City of Burlington and this month, it's all about enjoying nature, being entertained and giving back!

Fall Into Nature Hikes – October 7-9 and 14-15
Immerse yourself in the beauty of the fall season at all seven of Conservation Halton's main parks: Crawford Lake, Rattlesnake Point, Hilton Falls, Kelso, Mountsberg, Mount Nemo and Robert Edmondson! Activities include chairlift rides to the top of the Escarpment, wagon rides through the park, educational and interactive programs, children's activities and much more! Visit http://www.conservationhalton.ca/fallintonature for more info.

Halton Forest Festival Public Day – October 14
Taking place in conjunction with Conservation Halton's Fall into Nature event, Halton Forest Festival Public Day will allow visitors to experience a variety of fun activities and presentations while gaining knowledge to help enjoy and conserve local forests. Forest Festival will take place at Rattlesnake Point from 10 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Aldershot Farm Market – October 14
Enjoy a stroll to White Oaks Plaza where you can shop a variety of local farm and handcraft vendors. There will also be live music to enjoy. Visit www.aldershotbia.com for more info.

Liv On – October 18
This inspirational show is a collaborative project by multiple Grammy Award-winner Olivia Newton-John, SOCAN Award-winner Amy Sky and Grammy Nominee Beth Nielsen Chapman. Let the music uplift you! The show will take place at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre. Visit http://www.burlingtonpac.ca for tickets.

2nd Annual Ride to Provide – October 20
Food for Life and Burlington Food Bank will be hosting a fun indoor cycling event suitable for all levels at World Tour Indoor Cycling, where riders will take part in a thrilling, two-hour indoor ride relay. Top cycling instructors will lead participants through the ride on a large, indoor screen. There will also be live music, refreshments and prizes! All proceeds from this event will go towards fighting hunger in the community. Visit http://www.worldtourindoorcycling.com.


Ontario's next step toward a waste-free province

Did you know that, on average, every Ontarian produces more than 850 kilograms of waste every year? For the past 10 years, residents have only recycled about 25% of their waste, meaning that over eight million tonnes of waste is being sent to landfill each year.

In an effort to improve these numbers, the government announced details about Ontario's Strategy for a Waste-Free Ontario: Building the Circular Economy this past spring. This new initiative outlines the province's plan to fight climate change by reducing landfilled materials that could otherwise be reused, recycled, composted and reintegrated into the economy. The Waste-Free Ontario Act will make it mandatory to separate food and other organics from the waste stream with municipalities told to implement programs by the end of 2018. This means that families will need to start being more diligent about recycling and composting in their homes in the very near future.

The good news? Composting is easy! You can find a composting unit in plastic or wood at your local hardware store, or you can make your own. Check online for step-by-step instructions.

Here are some tips for ensuring that you have success with backyard composting:

1. Place your composter in a dry, shady accessible location (remember, you can use it during summer and winter).

2. Add your compost material in alternating layers of greens and browns. Greens are kitchen scraps, such as vegetables, fruit, tea bags, coffee grounds and crushed eggshells. Browns are leaves, grass clippings, cut-up twigs, sawdust and shredded paper products.

3. Occasionally you may need to add water. Your compost should be damp, but not soaking wet.

4. Add a layer of soil every so often. This will introduce micro-organisms that will help break down the material and deter insects.

5. Add air. Every month or so, turn the compost well. Some composters are even mounted on frames that allow for easy turning.

For a backyard composter, avoid any fish, meat, dairy products, fats or oils. These materials may attract pests. If your area has a green bin system, these materials are still fine for pickup. After a few months, your compost will be ready for your garden. Its nutrient-rich qualities will keep your plants healthy and happy while reducing your household waste.

Happy composting!


Coming this month to Burlington

September is quite possibly one of the most pleasant months of the whole year! Everyone is relaxed and well rested after an enjoyable summer, the days are still sunny and warm while evening are cool and comfortable and there are tons of fun community events on the agenda! Here's a look at what's coming up this month in Burlington:

If you can't actually be in the tropics, The Burlington Caribbean Connection's Caribbean Night is the next best thing! Taking place on September 9 at The Holiday Inn on South Service Road, Caribbean Night will feature delicious, authentic food, lively music, a silent auction and cash bar. All proceeds will benefit the Scholarship Fund. Tickets are $40, which includes dinner. Call 905-332-4570.

The 17th Annual Parkinson SuperWalk will take place on September 10 at the Burlington Senior's Centre. There will be 2k and 5k routes through Central Park that you can walk, run or ride your bikes, followed by treats and refreshments and lots of great prizes to be won. Participants can register online at www.parkinsonsuperwalk.ca.

For everything home-related, make your way to Mainway Arenas on September 15-17 for the Burlington Lifestyle Fall Home Show. Check out new products and services, talk to the experts and enjoy a visit by the Canadian Raptor Conservancy and their birds of prey!

On September 16, head to Bronte Creek Provincial Park at 10 a.m. to walk for someone you love at the Halton Region Kidney Walk! Become part of Canada's largest community event dedicated to raising funds for kidney research and programs that help support Canadians living with kidney disease. For more information, visit www.kidneywalk.ca.

On September 17, the 37th annual Burlington Terry Fox Run For Cancer Research will take place. Registration begins at 8 a.m. with 5k and 10k runners hitting the road at 9 a.m. Once again, due to construction, the start/finish line will be at the west end of Spencer Smith Park by the Terry Fox Monument. For more information on Terry Fox and the upcoming run - including how to register as a participant — visit www.terryfoxrun.org.


August fun for the whole family in Hamilton

It's been a wonderful summer so far in the Hamilton area, with some amazing community events and fabulous weather enjoyed by all. The fun isn't over yet! August brings with it some exciting events that you won't want to miss.

Wednesdays at Whitehern – Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy the beautiful, historic garden setting and all-you-can-drink tea or lemonade for $1 while listening to live music every week from 12 – 2 p.m.

Films at Fieldcote – August 11
Enjoy Disney's Moana under the stars! Bring a lawn chair or blanket. Parking is available within close proximity of Fieldcote, including the area behind Ryerson United Church. This is a free event. Movie will begin around 9 p.m.

Teddy Bear Picnic – August 13
Visit beautiful Whitehern Historic House & Garden from noon – 2 p.m. and don't forget your favourite stuffed friend! Enjoy old-fashioned games, a teddy bear parade and more! This free event is suitable for kids aged 3 – 7. Visit www.hamilton.ca/museums for more information.

Greek Fest – August 18-20
Opa! Celebrate all things Greek at Inch Park, just off Brucedale Avenue, on the Hamilton mountain. Presented by the Greek-Canadian Community of Hamilton, this three-day festival will feature authentic Greek cuisine, a Kids Zone, live music, entertainment, dancing and much more! Admission is free. Visit www.hamiltongreekfest.com for more information.

2017 Cactus Festival – August 17-20
Join in the fun as the 2017 Dundas Cactus Festival returns this month to picturesque Downtown Dundas for its 42nd year! Highlights include the Cactus Festival Parade on August 17 at 6:45 p.m., a street sale, Family Fun Zone, midway, delicious food, arts and crafts vendors, live music and more! Visit www.dundascactusfestival.ca.

Toronto Argonauts vs. Hamilton Tiger-Cats – September 4
Catch all the action as the Ticats take on the Toronto Argonauts in the Labour Day Classic at Tim Hortons Stadium. Visit www.ticats.ca/schedule for tickets.


It's a jam-packed month of fun and entertainment in Burlington!

The summer months bring plenty of fantastic events to the city, with something for people of all ages and interests. Mark your calendars for some of these upcoming events and enjoy all the City of Burlington has to offer this month!

Concerts in the Park: July & August
Bring your lawn chair or a comfy blanket and head to the Central Park Bandshell for free concerts every Sunday and Wednesday evening from 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. 

Healthy Parks, Healthy People Day – July 21
Bring the whole family down to Bronte Creek Provincial Park where visitors will enjoy free day use admission into the park and a variety of programs for no charge. The goal is to learn about and celebrate the link between healthy parks and healthy people. Note that pool admission fees still apply.

Burlington Food Truck Festival – July 22-23
Foodies from across Halton will want to be at Spencer Smith Park for this massive, tasty event! This inaugural festival will feature over 30 food trucks, live music and eating competitions, which will all take place inside a fully licensed event site. Admission is free. The festival will be on Friday and Saturday from 12 – 9 p.m. Visit http://www.canadianfoodtruckfestivals.com/burlington/.

Hairspray – July 27
The Burlington Student Theatre presents the story of dance-loving teen, Tracy Turnblad as she vies for a spot on "The Corny Collins Show" …and wins! Watch as she becomes an overnight sensation. Tickets are $15 in advance. Visit http://www.burlingtonpac.ca.


How will you celebrate Canada Day in Hamilton?

It's been an exciting month filled with plenty of Canada 150 events across the city. The fun continues on July 1st as we celebrate Canada Day!

The Ottawa Street BIA will be hosting a Canada Day celebration at the East Kiwanis Place Parkette located at 236 Ottawa Street. Dress up in red and white, shop the sales, take part in a variety of kid-friendly activities and grab a piece of free birthday cake! It all happens on June 30 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

If you have a penchant for all things nautical, don't miss the Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta at Pier 8! The majestic Tall Ships are returning to Hamilton after a hugely successful visit in the summer of 2013. This is truly a photo-worthy opportunity as 11 incredible tall ships sail into Hamilton's beautiful waterfront. The 2017 Tall Ships Regatta will be happening on June 30 – July 2. For more information about these impressive ships, visit http://www.rdv2017.com/en/.

The Hamilton Museum of Steam and Technology will welcome families for its Canada 150 Celebration Weekend, July 1 – 2. Enjoy a variety of boats and visit with the builders and operators as they cruise around the pond. Catch a ride on a miniature train and check out moving Meccano models and working model engines. This free event will run from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

The Canada Day Military Tattoo will return to Dundurn Castle on July 1! Come and enjoy this one-of-a-kind military musical celebration and experience a tradition that celebrates 25 years in Dundurn Park! Bring the whole family to watch as the Regimental Band of the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry Band and the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Pipes and Drums perform in front of Dundurn Castle. Visit www.hamilton.ca/dundurn for more information.

The City of Hamilton's 'Celebrate Canada 150' will happen on July 1st at Bayfront and Pier 4 Parks. Highlights include performances by Canadian artists Jully Black, Steve Strongman and Sarah Slean, food trucks, family fun and a spectacular fireworks display set to an orchestral arrangement performed live by Maestro Boris Brott and the National Academy Orchestra of Canada. This free event begins at 3 p.m.


Celebrate Dad, right here in Burlington!

No matter what your dad enjoys, there are lots of ways to spoil him this Father's Day!

Toolman: Scour the local papers, bounce around the internet and find Dad that most essential tool he's been coveting for his workshop! Burlington has multiple hardware outfits to help dad out this year.

Boater: Does your Dad love boating? This is the year to book him a private charter offered by Andrew's Charter in Oakville. Book your Dad a cruise to the Great Ontario Salmon Derby, tour the Toronto Islands or surprise Dad with a Toronto Airshow charter! You can find Andrew's Charter online at andrewscharter.ca.

Foodie: If Dad loves to dine out, make your way downtown. This waterfront location with its many food and drink establishments is the perfect destination for Father's Day festivities. Paradiso, Maracaz Cantinerie, Spencer's, Papa Guiseppe's, Son of a Peach and Downtown Bistro & Grill are just a few of the many options. Just grabbing a coffee? Downtown Burlington features some excellent houses.Tamp Coffee Co. and Lakeshore Coffee House offer organic and free trade coffee.

Trendy: If Dad loves his duds, perhaps a downtown window shopping excursion is in order. Visit Scrivener's Men's Apparel, Strauss or Gerry Lush Clothiers before making your decision on what to get for Dad. Mapleview Shopping Centre has even more menswear. Bring Dad in and see what catches his eye!

Golfer: If Dad's a golfer, the city is crawling with courses. Book a tee time at Tyandaga, Indian Wells or Burlington Springs Golf Club and spend some quality time with Dad on the links.


The Sound of Music Festival celebrates Canada 150!

A beautiful lakefront view, the warm summer breeze, spending time with family and friends, exciting live performances on multiple stages…yes, that's right! The Sound of Music Festival is back for another year!

The eight-day schedule will begin on June 10 with a one day ticketed event, featuring performances by The Offspring, Live, Marianas Trench, Smashmouth, Spin Doctors and others. Enjoy a full week of free concerts taking place June 11-18, as Moist, The Trews, Harrison Kennedy, IllScarlett, Kobo Town, USS and many others take the stage.

The festival will celebrate Canada's 150th birthday on June 11 with a full line-up of Canadian performers, an Aboriginal Dance Ceremony and a Citizenship and Affirmation Ceremony on the TD Stage at 2 p.m.

With numerous stages, a Downtown Streetfest, craft market, food vendors, carnival and a children's village, the Sound of Music is fun for the whole family. The TD Stage is the largest and will feature headlining acts while a number of smaller stages will welcome local talent and a variety of musical acts and dance performances.

Taking place on Saturday, June 17, the Grande Festival Parade is one of the weekend's most anticipated events. With marching bands from across Canada and the U.S., the Festival's official mascot "Maestro", and dazzling floats and performers, the parade will begin at Central Park and travel along Caroline Street to Pearl Street then head west on James Street before turning north on Brant Street and ending at Central High School.

Highlights of the Sound of Music Downtown Streetfest include sidewalk sales, licensed patios,'Games on the Street' and numerous dining options. Streetfest stages will be set up at Ontario, Elgin, Pine and Maria Streets. Don't miss the Burlington Concert Band performing on Sunday, June 18 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Brant and Caroline.

For the little ones, the Kids Naturally Village will be set up in the gazebo area of Spencer Smith Park. This child-friendly area is a popular spot at the Festival offering fun activities and family-based entertainment the kids will love.

See you there!


What's happening this month in Hamilton?

No matter where your interests lie, there is something fun happening in Hamilton this month! Take a look at just a few of the events taking place around the city:

Sew Hungry 2017 – May 5
Sew Hungry is Ottawa Street's national award-winning restaurant and food truck rally and it's one local event that you don't want to miss! The festival runs from 11 a.m. - 8 p.m. This year promises to be bigger and better than ever with two beer gardens and live music all day. Visit http://sewhungry.com.

Stars on Ice - May 6
Don't miss four-time World Champion Kurt Browning, 2014 Olympic Silver Medalist Patrick Chan, and two-time Olympic Silver Medalist Elvis Stojko in the 2017 Investors Group Stars on Ice Tour presented by Lindt! Visit www.starsonice.ca.

Wednesday Wigglers - Ladybugs and Caterpillars – May 10
The Hamilton Children's Museum is the place to be every Wednesday for kids under 4! Enjoy songs, activities, story-time, sensory play and a craft with a different theme each week. Program runs from 10 - 11 a.m. and 2 - 3 p.m.

2017 Play On! The Street Hockey Tournament – May 13-14
Mohawk College will host the Hamilton portion of the world's largest annual hockey tournament. Play On! includes separate divisions for both genders, all skill levels, and all ages and attracts teams from all over the world. Visit https://www.playon.ca for information.

HPO Live: Intimate and Immersive – May 17
Music Director Gemma New introduces audiences to an interactive orchestral experience with HPO Live: Intimate and Immersive. This concert blends emotive music with a stimulating visual and light display for a truly unique experience. Show starts at 7:30 p.m. Visit www.hpo.org.

22nd Annual Dundas Rotary Lobster and Ribfest – May 27
Nothing says summer is on the way like a delicious BBQ meal! The Dundas Rotary Clubs will host this tasty annual event at the Harry Howell Arena near Clappison's Corners. There will be live music, dancing, live and silent auctions. Visit www.dundasrotarylobsterandribfest.wordpress.com for tickets.

Christie Antique & Vintage Show – May 27
Shop more than 10 acres of antiques and vintage items at this popular bi-annual event held at Christie Lake Conservation Area! Shop furniture, stoneware, Native artifacts, folk art, rugs, jewelry, sports memorabilia, textiles, cut glass and more. Visit https://christieshow.ca.


Celebrate Earth Day in Hamilton and Burlington

Hamilton and Burlington residents can celebrate the 21st Annual Tree Planting Festival at Churchill Park on April 22 in celebration of Earth Day. Tour the grounds, shop the vendors and exhibitors and grab some lunch at this global celebration!

There will be an official welcome by the Mayor of Hamilton at 10:30 a.m. and planting will get underway at 11:00 a.m. Bring your neighbours, family and friends – there are 1,000 trees to be planted!

The Earth Day Tree Planting Festival is a great way to help kids understand how one person, planting one tree can make a difference. Get all the latest updates on vendors and exhibitors as they're announced by following @EarthDayHB on Twitter or by liking their Facebook page.

Did you know Earth Day Canada is running The Staples Superpower your School Contest? Learn more about how your school can win $25,000 worth of goods from the office retailer for your schools part in protecting the earth by visiting www.earthday.ca.

Connect with the community and the Earth this spring at the Tree Planting Festival!


Get Back to Nature This Month at Burlington's Parks

From the shoreline of Lake Ontario to the escarpment north of the city, there are so many beautiful destinations in Burlington that are perfect for enjoying the spring season! 

Burlington residents will want to visit Kerncliff Park's Ian Reid Side Trail. Named in honour of Mr. Reid's and his 50+ year contribution to the Iroquoia Bruce Trail Club, the park is located at the site of the old Nelson Quarry and ascends into the Bruce Trail. It's a truly beautiful spot for novice to intermediate hikers to explore and discover. 

Early spring is a great time to head to the Waterfront Trail all along the waterfront in Burlington. Stroll towards the Skyway Bridge and take in the gorgeous views! Take your shoes off and curl your toes in the sand after a taxing afternoon as you walk the shoreline back towards downtown Burlington.

Hidden Valley Park is another great spot for families as the temperature rises, with its splash pad and playground. It is also home to the Burlington Model Railway Club. Hidden Valley Park offers dense nature trails and wetlands abundant with wildlife so don't forget your camera! Twist and wind your way around Hidden Valley before ascending into Hendrie Valley and The Royal Botanical Gardens.

Lowville Park at 6207 Lowville Park Road north on Guelph Line is a scenic green space for Burlington residents who are craving an outdoor adventure. This park features a beautiful suspension iron bridge, stone room schoolhouse and playground.

Sioux Lookout Park is a compact park off Lakeshore Road that offers a small circuit and shoreline viewing. The pea gravel beach, benches and one-of-a-kind views provide a relaxing setting for enjoying the spring weather. 

Visit the City of Burlington online for details about the many other parks dotted around the city at www.burlington.ca. 


Keep the kids busy this March Break in Hamilton and area!

March break is here and Spring is just around the corner, though you wouldn't know it by the snowy weather we're having! Still, this is the perfect opportunity for families to join in on some community fun. Here are some great activities taking place in the Hamilton area.

March Break: Work and Play: March 11-19
Let your kids take a break from school the old fashioned way at Whitehern Historic House and Garden! Activities include scrubbing on a washboard, rolling dough, mending and shopping and outdoor games like egg and spoon or badminton, weather permitting. Bring some change for a treat! Open 12 - 4 p.m. All ages are welcome. Emotional

Creative Me March Break – March 11-18
Bring the family to Fieldcote Memorial Park & Museum for a fun day of exploration. Children and adults are welcome to create a paper quilt to take home and display as personal art. Open 1 – 5 p.m. Regular admission rates apply. 

March Break Madness – March 11-19
A visit to the Children's Museum this March Break will fascinate the budding dramatic artist, aspiring engineer and thoughtful environmentalist. Visit the galleries to discover the uses of the "mountain" and the Hamilton Harbour in building the City of Hamilton. Open 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Monday – Saturday and Sundays from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Regular admission rates apply. 

Whoosh! Zoom! Swish & Whir – March 13-18
This fun-filled week at the Hamilton Museum of Steam and Technology will feature various interactive activities, workshops, presentations and displays, sure to dazzle and delight scientists, engineers and artists of all ages. Activities run from 12 – 4 p.m. Regular admission rates apply. 

March Break Mania – March 13 – 19
A variety of week-long camps will be offered for kids of all ages at the Art Gallery of Hamilton. Campers will learn about landscapes, portraits, personal expression and storytelling in a variety of media and styles. Some of Canada's most well-known artists will start the adventure in the Gallery, and each young artist's talents will lead the way. Visit www.artgalleryofhamilton.com to register.


Maple Season Has Arrived in Halton!

Get ready for a fun and exciting March Break during maple syrup season in Oakville and Burlington!

Bronte Creek Provincial Park will once again host a spectacular Maple Syrup Festival, complete with costumed demonstrators, outdoor fun and yummy maple treats. Be sure to stop by Spruce Lane Farmhouse and feel the spirit of the 1890's! Bronte Creek features miles of scenic trails, fire pits, a Kids Playbarn and the Pancake House and Maple Gift Shop. The maple syrup festivities are open to the public from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Burlington residents may want to journey out to 1049 Kirkwall Road in Rockton this maple season. Westfield Heritage Village will host its popular Maple Syrup Festival March 12, 15, 16, 24 and 25. Visit www.westfieldheritage.ca and pick a day to tour over 35 buildings! Highlights of the festival include pancakes with fresh maple syrup, a gift shop, free wagon rides and more! Open from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. 

Make a short trip north into Halton Hills, just outside of Oakville and Burlington, to Terra Cotta Conservation Area for its Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival! Held this year from March 4 until April 2, the festival features wagon rides, demonstrations, pancakes, special activities and real maple syrup! Open from 9:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. 

There's nothing like the fun of maple syrup season — it's the perfect way to enjoy March Break in Halton!


There's no shortage of family fun in Burlington this March Break!

Are you looking for a fun activity to keep your kids entertained this March Break? You're in luck. Burlington has a wide variety of family-friendly activities, day camps and events to keep everyone busy and amused. Here's a preview of a couple of the exciting events happening this March Break.

The Turn of the (20th) Century March Break Camp will be hosted by Ireland House Museum March 13-17. Inspired by innovations from 1890-1910, this March Break Camp will take a look at creations that impacted the daily life of people living during this era, including the Ireland family. Each day will include themed activities and crafts. Camp is offered to children 5-12, cost is $175/week. 

The City of Burlington is offering a wide variety of camps at local community centres for children aged 4 to 14 years old. Each day offers something new and exciting – sign up for one or two days, or register for the whole week! Daily themes include: Amazing Adventure Playland, Bowling, Laser Tag, Swimming and The Movies. At Haber Recreation Centre, kids aged 9 to 14 years can sign up for the March Tripper Blast, a full day program just for youth. Visit https://www.burlington.ca to sign up for city run March Break programs.


Celebrate Valentine's Day in Burlington

Feeling amorous this month? There are plenty of options in Burlington for Valentine's Day fun! This highly sought after city along the shores of Lake Ontario has plenty of romantic spots built right into it!

Lake Ontario is home to Spencer Smith Park, the ideal spot to start or finish your evening on February 14! Enjoy a lakeside stroll, walk along the trail or curl up on a bench and watch the waves crash in at Spencer Smith Park. Got skates? Hold hands and glide around the skating rink 10 a.m. - 10 p.m. at this downtown favourite outdoor ice surface.

You can begin your Valentine's Day celebration early on February 11, at Crawford Lake Conservation Area on the outskirts of Milton. An Evening Adult Snowshoe Hike, taking place from 7 – p.m., takes trekkers on a guided, illuminated journey in the starry night before some warm refreshments and a bonfire at the tour's end. Visit www.conservationhalton.ca to purchase tickets.

Downtown Burlington has a fantastic array of shopping, restaurants and cafes. Whether you're looking for a table to enjoy a romantic meal or searching for that special gift, downtown Burlington is the spot to find it. Check out Spencer's at the Waterfront, Pepperwood Bistro Brewery and Catering, Di Mario's Trattoria or Saigon On Brant. Perhaps you want to start your evening date with a drink? The Martini House offers VQA wines, craft beers and romantic cocktails to kick your night off right.

This Valentine's Day, enjoy your city - Burlington!


The winter's tastiest event is back in Burlington!

If you've been eagerly anticipating the Taste of Burlington since last summer, the wait is over! The 2017 Taste of Burlington winter edition will hit the streets of Burlington from February 20 until March 12, featuring many of the city's most popular dining establishments.

A Taste of Burlington encourages residents to dine in local restaurants and enjoy new culinary experiences. Since its inception in the summer of 2008, the program has grown and more than doubled in size. The decision has been made in 2017 to discontinue the summer edition of Taste of Burlington, so this will be your only chance to enjoy prix-fixe dining at participating venues!

There is a restaurant suitable to meet every taste and budget with menu items including vegetarian, vegan and gluten free! This year's featured restaurants include Alloro at the Holiday Inn, Barra Fion Tapas & Barrel, Beaver and Bulldog, Boon Burger, Burro Tacos, Canyon Creek, Celli's Osteria, Dickens Pub, Downtown Bistro, Fraticellis, Ivy Bar & Kitchen, Jackson's Landing, Jakes Grill & Oyster House, Lowville Bistro, Martini House, MAX Resto Lounge, Naroma Pizza, Papa Giuseppe's, Paradiso, Pepperwood Bistro, Pintoh Cuisine, Purple Heather Pub, Queen's Head Pub, Rayhoon Persian Eatery, RBG Greenhouse Café, SB Prime, Siam Dish, Stone House Restaurant, Table 34 Resto-Bar, Water Street Cooker, Wendel Clarks and West Plains Bistro.

Three-course lunch and dinner prix-fixe options will be offered with prices ranging from $15 to $20 for lunch and $30, $35 and $40 for dinner. The three-course meals allow diners to try a bit of everything with a choice of appetizer, entrée and dessert, without skimping on the high quality food and excellent service that each restaurant is known for!

Bon Appétit!


Celebrating Burlington's Rich Heritage Feb 4!

The Burlington Heritage Fair will take place on February 4 at Central Library, kicking off an entire month of Heritage-themed fun. The theme for 2017 will celebrate Canada's 150th birthday and the history of sports in Burlington.

Bring the whole family from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. and take part in a free day of seminars, interactive displays, children's activities and exhibits by local heritage organizations.

The opening ceremony will feature a performance by Burlington Supreme Cheerleaders, an announcement from the Town Crier and a message from Mayor Rick Goldring, beginning at 10 a.m.

Seminars schedule:

• 10:30 a.m. Kim Watson, Museums of Burlington Curator - Burlington's Sport Legacy

• 11:30 a.m. Dr. Frank Hayden, Burlington Sports Hall of Fame Inductee - Pioneer of the Special Olympics Movement

• 1 p.m. Dr. Jay Young, Archives of Ontario Outreach Director - Family Ties – Ontario turns 150

• 2 p.m. Ed Keenleyside, Burlington Cenotaph Research Group - Sacrifices Remembered - WWI & WWII


Family Day fun is coming soon to Burlington!

For those who are planning to enjoy the mid-winter holiday close to home, you're in luck! There are lots of options for indoor and outdoor fun, right here in Burlington!

Family Day, taking place this year on February 20, offers the perfect opportunity to take advantage of city skating and swimming programs. Outdoor skating on Rotary Centennial Pond at Spencer Smith Park downtown is always a good time, or try out family shinny hockey from 1 - 3 p.m. at the Appleby Ice Centre. Children aged 8 and up can participate in the Sticks and Pucks program that will run from 10-11 a.m. at Appleby. Across town at Angela Coughlin and Aldershot Community Centres, Family Day swims are a great way to enjoy the holiday. Have a splashing good time at Aldershot from 10 - 11 a.m. or visit Angela Coughlin from noon - 2 p.m. for a special 'FUN' swim!

Hiking the grounds of the Royal Botanical Gardens is one way to kickstart your Family Day fun in Halton. This local sanctuary also offers reptile, frog and plant events on a weekly basis, programs for kids, a gift shop and much more!

This Family Day will quickly become a beautiful family memory for outdoor lovers who choose to visit Mountsberg Conservation Area in Campbellville. The 'Tales by a Winter's Fire' event will feature a crackling fire, roasted hot dogs, stories and sleigh rides! It's all happening February 18 - 20 at Mountsberg!

Just a little further east, Crawford Lake Conservation Area will host its 'Snowflakes and Snowsnakes' event - and it's more than just a marshmallow roast! Visitors of all ages can discover something new watching a traditional Iroquoian winter game of Snowsnake! Afterwards, guests can snowshoe the beautiful grounds, build crafts and visit the longhouse.

For more Family Day ideas, visit Tourism Burlington's 150 Things to Discover in Burlington (#BurlON) to commemorate Canada's 150th Birthday in 2017 at www.tourismburlington.com. Visit the City website at www.burlington.ca for a complete list of scheduled events and things to do.


There's lots going on at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre this month!

Don't let the frosty weather, shorter days and falling snow get you down this month. Take a look at the events coming soon to the Burlington Performing Arts Centre and get your tickets today!


Brotherhood: The Hip Hopera – January 19 - 21
This high energy, one-man show uses original music and physical theatre to tell the parodied story of two brothers living the hip-hop life. Taking the audience from the 1970s all the way into the future, this fast-forwarding/rewinding, show is written entirely in rhyme and cleverly crafted song lyrics.


Aga-BOOM – January 22
Audience members will be amazed as these three former stars of Cirque du Soleil’s Alegria juggle, stilt-walk and pratfall their way through paper pandemonium! Kids 5 and up will love this afternoon of outrageous zaniness.


Dean Martin and Ella Fitzgerald Tribute – January 29
You are cordially invited to attend this tribute by the Toronto All-Star Big Band. Step back to an era when ‘swing’ reigned supreme.  Experience an evening of great swing music and assist The Burlington Knights of Columbus with their charitable works. One of the most exciting bands around, The Toronto All-Star Big Band revives the spirit style and sound of that golden age of the big bands!


There's plenty of fun happening this month in Burlington

As always, November is shaping up to be a busy month. With craft shows, live entertainment, holiday excitement and more, it's sure to be a fun month for the whole family!

34th Annual Holiday House Tour of Distinctive Homes - November 11 - 13
Tickets are now on sale for the Junior League of Hamilton-Burlington's most popular annual event! The Holiday House Tour is a self-guided journey of some of the area's most lovely homes, each one professionally decorated by a team of talented designers, decorators and retailers for the holiday season. Find inspiration for your own home and get into the holiday spirit while helping to raise funds to support the Junior League Mission and community programs. Buy tickets online at www.holidayhousetour.ca.

The Legendary Downchild Blues Band – November 18
Get your tickets! Coming soon to the Burlington Performing Arts Centre, The Legendary Downchild Blues Band is best known as the inspiration for Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi's hit film The Blues Brothers. The will make their highly anticipated return to Burlington for one thrilling performance – don't miss it! Call the box office at 905-681-6000.

The Auxiliary of RBG Christmas Show and Sale - November 19 - 21
You will find fresh evergreen designs, boxwood wreaths, topiary boxwood trees, seasonal table designs, unique seasonal silk designs for your home décor and much more. The Christmas Show will feature many local artisans, one-of-a-kind gifts, holiday decor and fine foods. Visit www.rbg.ca for more information.

Rotary Burlington Music Festival: 2016 Grand Festival Concert – November 19
Aimed at cultivating the musical talent of local youth, the Rotary Burlington Music Festival will run during November, culminating in the wonderful Grand Festival Concert on November 19 at 7 p.m at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre. Visit http://www.rotarymusicfest.org for tickets.

Roaring '20s PA Day Camp - November 25
Campers can dress up in their best 1920's attire and enjoy baking a lemon cake, participating in a jazz club dance-off and solving a mystery! Camp runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Cost is $35/camper. Call 905-332-9888.

Harbourtown Sound Christmas Show – November 26
Join Harbourtown Sound at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre! The region's This premier men's a cappella chorus will perform two shows entitled 'A Gift of Song'. Shows will take place at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. and tickets are $30.

Santa Claus Parade - December 4
Bundle up the whole family and find your perfect spot along the parade route! Burlington's 51st annual Santa Claus Parade will feature bands, colourful floats, mascots and the big guy in red himself! The parade starts at 2 p.m. at the corner of Prospect Street and Guelph Line and travels south along Guelph Line to New Street, west along New Street to where it turns into James Street and continues along James Street to Brant Street. Find out more at www.burlington.ca/parade.


Enjoy one of Burlington's fabulous outdoor patio's

Burlington boasts an array of great patio options, some with gorgeous lakefront vistas and some nestled in quaint alcoves. With summer here at last, there’s nothing better than drinking and eating al fresco! Whatever your taste, there’s a patio to match – here are a few to choose from:

A mainstay for Burlington’s nightlife lovers, the Rude Native, (370 Brant St., www.rudenative.com) is one of a few area restaurants that features an amazing rooftop patio. Check online for live music nights.

Another perennial favourite for professional minglers is Emma’s Back Porch (2084 Old Lakeshore Rd., www.emmasbackporch.ca). With this local mainstay celebrating its 20th year, Emma’s patio, perched on the edge of Lake Ontario, is a rite of passage and a must-do every summer.

The gleaming new Shoeless Joe’s (1250 Brant St., www.shoelessjoesburlington.com) is the hot ticket in town, not only for the dozens of high-def televisions scattered throughout the restaurant or the barely dressed servers, but because it boasts a heated patio that is beyond compare. It’s the newest place to see and be seen.

The patio at Tin Cup (1831 Walkers Line, www.tincupsportsgrill.ca/burlington) may not overlook the shoreline but it’s a great spot to hang out nonetheless, especially for the apres-golf crowd.

Paradiso’s patio (2041 Pine St., burlington.paradisorestaurant.com) has a relaxing downtown atmosphere.

If you’re looking for a pub experience, try the Queen’s Head (400 Brant St., www.thequeenshead.ca). With one of the biggest patios in downtown Burlington, the Queen’s Head hosts live music every weekend.

The Dickens (423 Elizabeth St., www.thedickens.ca) boasts a great patio with a lively atmosphere every night into the wee hours, and The Poacher (436 Pearl St., www.thepoacher.ca) is another popular downtown pub with a patio.

If you love a well-made martini as much as you love a nice patio, head to The Martini House (437 Elizabeth St., www.martinihouse.ca) and peruse the martini menu as you enjoy the outdoors.

For an always lively and fun crowd, the patio at Joe Dog’s Gasbar Grill (531 Brant St., www.joedogs.com) never disappoints!

The patio at The Alex (480 Brant St., www.thealexrestaurant.com) overlooks the heart of Brant Street, making it great for people watching, while the Beaver & Bulldog (2020 Lakeshore Rd., www.beaverandbulldog.com) has a spectacular view of Lake Ontario.

While at Spencer’s at the Waterfront ( 1340 Lakeshore Rd., www.spencers.ca) you may even feel like you’re on a cruise ship with the patio seating offering a different vantage point of Lake Ontario.

Although not on the lake and the outdoor patio has limited seating, another of my personal favorites is the Carriage House (2101 Old Lakeshore Rd., www.thecarriagehouse.ca). Service is great, menu varied and food is delicious.

I really do hope you have a chance to experience at least one of these great venues over the next couple of months and be sure to let me know which is your favourite!

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