There are several ways to potentially lower your tax bill when you understand all of the deductions, credits, and strategies that are available to you.
✅ Increase Retirement Contributions
• Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) contributions are tax-deductible, so contribute before March 1, 2021, to write it off your 2020 taxes.
• Maximize tax savings by deferring your RRSP deduction if you anticipate moving up a tax bracket next year.
✅ Deduct Child Care Costs
• For families who paid someone to watch the kids while they worked.
• Deduct up to $8,000 per child under age seven, and $5,000 for kids aged seven to 16.
✅ Credits for Student Loan Interest
• Applies federally and provincially.
• To determine your credit amount, multiply the lowest tax rate by the loan interest amount.
• This interest credit can be applied on any return for the next five years, so claim it when it works best for you.
✅ Claiming Medical Expenses
• Eligible medical expenses include contact lenses, hearing aids, hospital care, travel costs for medical care, and many more.
• If you’re filing with your spouse, it could be better for the partner with the lower net income to claim the expenses.
✅ Home Office Deduction
• Designed for the self-employed, so salaried employees who worked remotely in 2020 should check the Canada Revenue Service’s website for details on what they
• Always double-check your claims to make sure everything is accurate and eligible.
Want more ways to save come tax time? Call me for a referral to a trusted tax professional!
We are looking for a blog writer to write about the Fraser Valley. The pay is $75 per blog post to do the following:
Write up to four blog posts per month that highlight a Fraser Valley park, neighborhood, shopping mall, event, restaurant, business, or recreation center. During COVID you could spotlight businesses that have an online presence or promotion.
Each post should be approximately 500 words and include:
1 – 3 original photos or posted with permission of the photographer/business owner. (Name the photo file with keywords and alt text before you upload it to the website.)
A link to the website of the business, government page, or wherever the reader can get more information.
Additional contact information in the footer for businesses including web address, business owner or PR contact info, physical address, phone number, email address, and social media profile links.
A link to the neighborhood page on the real estate website, if there is one.
Collaborate with the editor on a content schedule.
Keywords include the name of the business, park, or event, and the relevant city/neighborhood.
Fraser Valley should be mentioned at least once and twice when it flows naturally.
“Things to do” and “things to do in X” X=the city/neighborhood and/or “Fraser Valley”.
If relevant, include “real estate” or “land” or “property”.
Social Media Support
Facebook and Posts (6-8)
Three posts should be scheduled for the first three weeks after the blog is posted. Each post should include a unique blog take away plus “click here (or on the link or on the image below) for X, Y, Z). Make it interesting and compelling!
Schedule three more posts for the three months following publishing. All posts should be scheduled for different times of day and days of the week so we can hit different audiences and split test the best times for views and engagement.
If the topic is seasonal, add another two scheduled posts for the same time next year.
Instagram – 2 posts and 2 stories
Notify editor when Social Media posts go out.
– – – – – Interested?
Send your resume and links to one or two blog posts that you have written to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you don’t have any current blog posts write a 500-word blog post about an event or business in the Fraser Valley using the above criteria. If we post it, we will pay you $75.
JANUARY 2021 UPDATE: Fraser Valley real estate market full steam ahead in January; another record-setter for property sales*
SURREY, BC – In a month that is usually one of the quietest in real estate, Fraser Valley’s market continued at a breakneck pace, producing the strongest January sales on record as well as a modest uptick in new listings.
The Fraser Valley Real Estate Board processed a total of 1,718 sales of all property types on its Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in January 2021, an increase of 76 percent compared to January 2020 and 18 percent fewer than were processed in December 2020. Sales in January set a new, record high for the month; 72 percent above the 10-year average, and 28 percent higher than the previous record of 1,338 sales set in January 2016.
“Buyers are very motivated right now,” said Chris Shields, President of the Board, “Lending rates are the lowest they’ve ever been, your housing dollar goes further in the Fraser Valley and we’ve seen a societal shift in the last year in how people value their homes. People are asking us to find them more space.
The market continues to be very active even with COVID-19. Two factors that I like to point out about the market are:
1_ Interest rates are very low, so if you have a secure job there’s never been a cheaper time to borrow money.
2_ There is not a lot of supply right now so you need to have a solid plan in place for both selling and buying your next home. Of course, this is where my experience can help.
I’m here to help you in any way I can during these tough times. If there is anything I can do to help you and your family, please do not hesitate to reach out.
Oh, by the way…if you know of someone who would appreciate the level of service I provide,
please call me with their name and contact information. I’ll be happy to follow up and take
great care of them in a way that is healthy and safe.
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If you live in the Fraser Valley you may think that you will have to travel for hours to Nahatlatch Canyon, Thompson, Coquihalla, or Green Canyon (Whistler / Pemberton) to go river rafting, but excellent rafting is closer than you think.
River rafting is available just an hour away from Vancouver on the Chilliwack River. You can have a variety of adventures on the river from heart-pumping rapids to a bit more of a scenery family-oriented ride.
River rafting is available year-round. We happened to see the good folks from Chilliwack River Rafting several weeks ago when we went fishing and snapped a few pics and this video.
Here’s a look at where the Canadian market stands right now, and what you’ll want to keep an eye on moving forward.
LOW HOUSING INVENTORY
At the end of last year, tight inventory created a great market for sellers. Even if the market begins to cool, 2021 may still bring favorable conditions for sellers and a competitive market for buyers(1)
BUYER DEMAND IS INCREASING
Many millennials and renters still have plans to buy a home in the next few years(2) With interest rates hovering at historic lows, homeownership could be more affordable for many during the first mortgage term, making this the perfect time for those with a steady income to buy.
MOVING TO THE COUNTRY
At the end of last year, close to a third of Canadians 3 wanted to leave the city and move to rural or suburban communities, especially as remote work becomes more common. But those who prefer city life may be able to scoop up a recently-vacated condo(4) for a lower price as some owners leave for the country.
WE NEED MORE SPACE
Homes with extra rooms and outdoor amenities like a pool, balcony, or patio are attractive to an increasing amount of buyers looking for more living space(3) as family and work needs shift.
SHOULD YOU CONSIDER A MOVE THIS YEAR?
ARE YOU FINANCIALLY SECURE?
If you have a steady stream of income and can secure a downpayment, now is a good time to enter the market, since low-interest rates will make your monthly mortgage payment more affordable. Otherwise, keep saving and revisit your search when finances are more stable.
DOES YOUR JOB ALLOW FOR EXTENDED REMOTE WORK?
Employees with a flexible work-from-home policy don’t necessarily need to live in the same place they work. This can lead to housing opportunities in areas you hadn’t previously considered.
HOW OFTEN DO YOU FIND YOURSELF NEEDING MORE SPACE?
Most families could benefit from an extra room or two, these days. Consider upgrading this year while market conditions are solid. If you’d rather renovate your current home, call me for a referral to a trusted contractor!
ARE YOU HAPPY WITH YOUR CURRENT LOCATION?
This is the perfect time to find a great deal in your dream location. For moves locally, I’m here to help you figure out your options! If you’re trying to change cities, still give me a call — I’m part of a vast network across Canada and the United States.
Oh, by the way…if you know of someone who would appreciate the level of service I provide, please call me with their name and contact information. I’ll be happy to follow up and take great care of them in a way that is healthy and safe.
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SOURCES: 1. Robert Hogue, “Monthly Housing Market Update,” RBC, October 2020 2. CIBC, “Millennials: Rent or own?” 3. RE/MAX CANADA, “Canadian Housing Market Outlook (Fall 2020)” 4. Matthew Halliday, “Canada’s big-city condo market most vulnerable to pandemic headwinds,” The Globe and Mail.
If you are planning on buying a home in the Fraser Valley you’ve come to the right place!
Whether you’re looking for help finding your perfect home at your perfect price, or you need professional support and friendly expertise to sell your home in an ever-changing market, I have a true passion for helping you make the best possible move.
Markets are changing all the time, and right now (July 2020) we’re seeing increased activity in the market compared to the early Spring despite all that is going on in the world, and some of the doom and gloom forecasts that came out earlier this for the Canadian real estate market.
To give you an example of a home that I helped sell recently see the property described below. It sold firm for $1,150,000.
18018 67A AVENUE
Surrey, British Columbia V3S7H7
MLS® Number: R2475132
Quality built home by Foxridge. The main floor features ten-foot high ceilings, with a twelve-foot high ceiling in the living room. Open concept floor plan. Beautiful white kitchen with shaker cabinets, quartz countertops, s/s appliances, gas stove, pantry for extra storage. Gorgeous engineered hardwood throughout the main floor. Master bedroom features a vaulted ceiling and TWO walk-in closets. 2nd bedroom also has a walk-in closet. LEGAL SUITE in the basement. Large bachelor suite with living room, full kitchen, and separate laundry. Basement has one additional bedroom outside of the suite. Loads of extra storage space. High ceilings in the garage with potential for additional storage/shelving. Sunny, south-facing backyard – bring your gardening ideas! Lovely quiet neighborhood close to schools and transit.
If you think it might be time to sell your home, give me a call for a free marketing action plan.
We are noticing a lot of discussion on Social Media about ordering dinner in for Christmas. Is this something you are considering? The comments we are seeing include how difficult it is going to be to get together this holiday, but we can still support local business.
If you are considering a catered meal for Christmas, here are some Fraser Valley catering companies to consider:*
Jan’s on the Beach Restaurant and Catering
At Jan’s you can call in at 604 531-5444 or order takeout. Jan’s takeout menu can be found here: Takeout Menu
From Jan’s website: At Jan’s “We’re ‘Seafood and more’ with a great selection of dishes, all made in house from scratch. Many of our dishes are Gluten Free, including our Calamari, Fish and Chips, and others as well!”
For catering see: https://jansonthebeach.ca/catering/ or email email@example.com Jan’s on the Beach offers a full catering service.
Laura’s is one of Mike’s favorite coffee shops and they cater. Plus, they have a great website!
According to Mike, they have a “friendly owner and staff. It’s a great community hub,” and he says, they have “really good food and amazing baked goods. Find out more here: Laura’s Coffee Corner
Coast and Country Caterers have been in business since 1997. They have an exclusive Christmas menu too. One of their menus includes roast turkey, gravy and cranberry sauce, honey glazed ham, vegetarian lasagna, honey glazed carrots and beans, mashed potatoes, salads, buns, assorted desserts, and coffee and tea. There are five different menus to choose from. See Coast and Country Caterers
Sheila’s Craft Kitchen
At Sheila’s Craft Kitchen you can order a Holiday dinner to-go, or as they put it a “Chrismas Feast” and gift baskets and gift cards. See the photo to the right to see what’s available on the dinner menu. Visit their website here Sheila’s Craft Kitchen
Caterings Visions says, “We are in a festive mood.” To see what Catering Visions has to offer for a catered Christmas dinner, see the photo and click here: Catering Visions
Hillcrest Bakery and Deli
At the time of writing this article, Hillcrest Bakery and Deli is sold out of Christmas Dinners! Oh well, we’ll have to make a note for next year and get our order in early. To see what you missed click here: Hillcrest Bakery and Deli
*Orders need to be placed by a certain date at some of the locations listed above, so don’t wait. Order today!
Thanks to Deborah Janz and Shannon Perkins Dyck for the Fraser Valley catering company suggestions.
Main Photo by Jed Owen on Unsplash
This conversation with Rod Clapton, President of the British Columbia Federation of Drift Fishers (BCFDF) and Mike Wilson – BCFDF member and Publisher of Fraser Valley Lifestyle was recorded podcast style by Fuelradio.com. In this episode, we discuss the future of fishing on the Fraser River, particularly for families and drift fishers. You can listen here:
Conversation (paraphrased) with Rod Clapton and Mike Wilson:
Rod Clapton started fishing as a child with his dad. Throughout his teen years, he continued fishing on the Fraser River near the Pattullo Bridge that connects Surrey, BC with New Westminster, BC. Fishing has always been and remains a passion for Rod.
The BCFDF started 25 years ago. At that time there really wasn’t a unified voice for river anglers or an association for drift fishers. Drift fishing is a method of angling separate from stationary bar fishing or fly fishing. It is practiced in rivers where anglers prowl the river searching, as opposed to waiting, for fish to come to them. It is much more active than stationary river fishing. The idea is to let the current carry your bait or lure through the river using a float or small weights for bouncing on the bottom. It is a highly skilled fishery technique requiring years of experience to master.
Rod has been president of the BCFDF for 25 years. He says, “we’ve attempted to represent an aspect of the fishery, but our membership certainly includes anglers from all other methods. Our mandate is “Protection of Fish Stocks & Preservation of Angler opportunity now & for future generations.
The BCFDF formed because the other fishing organizations at the time mostly served a narrow, more exclusive group of fishermen and were not inclusive of other types of fishers. There needed to be a more inclusive group.
It is clear that fish stocks continue to decline, especially in the last 10 to 15 years. As part of the drive for resolution, Rod and other federation partners have tried to form “alliance groups” to further forward stewardship options on our rivers. This is an ongoing challenge.
There is a bit of a pecking order in the minds of “decision-makers” and some groups are being excluded from fishing the Fraser River. While the sport fishery contributes $1.1 billion per year to the BC economy and employs over 9000 people it is one of the groups on the lower end of the pecking order and is being excluded from fishing on the Fraser.
Rod is a supporter of the heritage value and the social value of family fishing. “It’s priceless! It’s a wonderful experience to teach your kids and grandkids in nature.”
Rod acknowledges that First Nations people have constitutional priority. The ongoing concern is that the heritage of family fisheries are not being considered and not being granted. This is the biggest challenge for the group that he represents.
Over the last two years, family fishing has been denied on the Fraser River. Rod feels like this is a dereliction of responsibility by our fisheries managers. He believes that fishermen are capable of responsibly fishing selectively and targeting stocks that are healthy, leaving the stocks alone that are of concern.
Rod says the best bonding time he has had with his son is spending the day fishing. It’s a simple and inexpensive pastime.
Mike Wilson of Fraser Valley Lifestyle, also on our call, agrees. He adds that pretty much every time he goes fishing with his son they have a great conversation and have good quality time together. It’s not just about catching a fish. (Many days they don’t catch any!) It’s also about existing and spending time in the beautiful environment and the excitement of fishing. Mike says he’s been blessed to be a part of that. “We have to have access to the rivers to enjoy these great moments with our families and friends.”
Rod says it’s imperative that we work with our first nations brothers on these initiatives. He has consulted with First Nation bands, particularly on the Fraser River, recognizing that our goal of preserving the fishery for our children and grandchildren is mirrored by their goals. With the political and public sensitivity to the rights of First Nations peoples, it’s a delicate challenge to raise awareness and allowances for all of the different fishing sectors who would like to fish throughout the province.
“We’ve tried negotiating with the government and we have made headway with local First Nations people,” Rod explains, “Our biggest issue is with the government. The reality is we’re not getting very far with them.” He thinks the government has failed to manage fish species for all Canadians. The BCFDF has retained legal counsel and says someday the issue of protecting the Public Fishery may make it to the Supreme Court. It may be one of the few avenues left to him and those who share his passion to ensure that their children can take their children fishing.
Today there are many great organizations in addition to the BCFDF throughout the province that are involved in conserving the fishery. If we work together, we can support the great Canadian heritage of family fishing.
Put these notes after the sign-off and you could include Mike’s gratitude for Rod leading the charge at BCFDF for 25 years.
Link to website. There is lots of information about all of the details and all of their efforts. They are affiliated with a Fraser River Sports Fishing Alliance. BCFDF was influential in getting that organization up and running. See https://fraseralliance.com/contact/
It costs just $20 a year to join the BCFDF and gives you a voice. Rod says, “Individually we are ignored collectively we are heard.” See https://www.bcfdf.com/
Events like funerals and weddings have been really impacted by COVID-19 and the restrictions on gathering. We did an article in the late spring on weddings and how they were being impacted by COVID-19, and so we thought we would do a follow up by talking to a few wedding officiants to get their side of the ongoing story.
Donelda decided to became a wedding officiant when she started to think about what she might do during retirement. She is a school counselor and would like to do something different than counseling once she retires.
A Backyard Wedding
A wedding that she performed recently was in a backyard. To plan the wedding they met at a Starbucks with masks on. There were 10 people in the backyard for the wedding and Donelda noticed that before and after the ceremony people were standing apart from one another and in their own little bubbles. The couple would have done a much larger wedding if it weren’t’ for COVID. The couple’s parents watched on Facebook because they couldn’t attend. She made the print on the vows very large so that the couple could read them from a distance.
By comparison, Donelda‘s first wedding prior to COVID was at Canada Place with about 800 people. She says it was beautiful but very long. She added that it was a very different preparation for that wedding compared to the most recent one that she did.
Donelda has really enjoyed some of the backyard weddings that she has done. She told us about one couple that had been living together for 15 years and wanted to get married. She asked them what brought them to this now? The fellow said that he really loves his partner and he just wants to honor her. He said that to me, this is the best way that I can do that. Donelda noted that this couple had never been to a wedding and neither had many of the people in their community. Donelda added, when they did the wedding in their backyard it was a really beautiful occasion and very touching.
Donelda finds that most couples are doing video and Facebook so that other people can tune in. Couples have to choose who is going to attend their ceremony due to restrictions and that is a very hard decision to make. With smaller events, couples are considering how to still make it nice and have people who are watching on video see the scope of the event. This is a challenge because some people have friends and family who aren’t techy.
Donelda says with weddings today there are some trade-offs. Like anything, there are some gifts in it and some challenges. A smaller event on video can be a little bit more intimate, but fewer people get to share in the celebration. She mentioned that people are adapting. It can still be meaningful and something that people enjoy. That shouldn’t stop them from getting married. It’s just not going to look the same as it would have pre-COVID.
Donelda says, one of the touching things about doing this job is you get to bless someone‘s intention to honor and love someone. Donelda believes it’s a privilege to do what she does and wants to root for people who decide to get married.
Kristen is the owner of Vancouverofficiant.com which is a team of individuals who love connecting with people and walking along beside them to their wedding day. Typically, if people have found her website they can take a look at the team, their photos bios, and testimonials, and then choose to meet with the officiant and decide if it’s a good fit. Kristen says she handles all of the bookings so she is right in the middle of all the goodness that is going on.
Kristen became a wedding officiant after her husband told her that he thought she’d be good at it. He knows that Kristen has had a diverse background working as a nurse, teaching, living in different countries and that she loves serving and listening to people and hearing their stories.
She says being a wedding officiant isn’t about being a dynamic speaker. It’s about going on the journey with a couple. It’s highly relational so you have to love people. She says don’t get into this field if you’re not people-focused.
Dreams and Farytales
As far as COVID-19 is concerned she observed that starting in March, April, and May couples realized that their weddings weren’t going to look like they wanted them to look before the virus hit. Thoughts and dreams of a fairytale wedding were being lost. She says March, April, and May were the rescheduling months. The vast majority decided at that time to reschedule to a date in the summer or into 2021. Rescheduling and changing wedding dates causes chaos. Couples don’t know if they can get their venue again, so they often have to come up with a whole different plan.
A Wedding Therapist
Kristen mentioned that in June, July, and August people began to realize that we are in this for a long time. These months are typically high volume wedding months. It was a difficult time for couples to decide, should they go ahead with their wedding? Kristen said she felt like a therapist at times. Her coaching and educational background came in handy. How do you think about planning a wedding with everything going on in the world? It’s one of the most important events in your life. For some the decision was really clear because relatives couldn’t come from overseas, so they postponed. But for others, it was a decision to have an intimate ceremony, or take the risk of putting their lives on hold for a year.
A Silver Lining
Kristen has observed that a lot of couples do see a silver lining. It can be magical to only have 50 guests or less. Also, it’s more affordable because large weddings can cost a lot of money.
A Dream Come True
One story that Kristen finds really touching is that of a couple where one participant was from the United States and one was from Canada. They were able to get married in the Peace Arch Park neutral zone. The couple was in their 60s and they fell in love a few years ago and wanted to be together. Once the paperwork was final the groom broke down and wept with joy. Kristen says she’ll never forget it. She felt privileged to share that moment with them. Their dream came true in a very difficult time.
Currently, we’re still permitted to have weddings. Kristen says she’s not there to regulate the COVID-19 guidelines. As a citizen, she wants to do what is mandated. Kristen says one of the minor challenges for her early during the pandemic is that she is a hugger and there is none of that going on.
Kristen is also trying to be positive and to see the silver lining. She says we’re still seeing couples getting married and she loves that. Kristen said she saw a surge of couples deciding to have a ceremony in recent months.
Gordon is a Marriage Commissioner which is a government appointment. Marriage Commissioner’s positions were designed to give couples a lower cost, strictly non-religious ceremony.
Peace Arch Park
Gordon did a wedding at Peace Arch Park at the beginning of the shutdown on March 21, 2020. The bride was from the US and the groom was from Canada. Each couple only had four or five friends and family in attendance. Gord says it was a beautiful day and a little bit odd because there was no traffic at the usually extremely busy border crossing.
Gordon observed that there was a flurry of ceremonies into May until the park was eventually closed due to its popularity not meshing with COVID restrictions.
Quite a few ceremonies were canceled early on in the pandemic and Gord says overall the number of ceremonies he has been performing from April through July was down about 40%. A lot of the couples that canceled shifted into next year which could make next year very interesting for him.
Gordon has noticed that quite a few couples are deciding to go ahead with their ceremony, and then in the future when circumstances allow they’ll do a larger reception.
Through August and September Gord found that he was actually busier than he was in past years. He speculates that it might be that people are becoming a little more relaxed or worried about a second wave and trying to squeeze in their ceremony in case there is another shut down. He says no one knows, and it is impossible to predict what is going to happen.
Gordon is finding that a lot more couples are getting married on short notice. He recently did a wedding where he was contacted on Tuesday and the wedding was performed on Saturday.
As far as technology is concerned Gordon has noticed that there are a lot of cell phone photos and videos being taken. One of the cool uses of technology is that friends and family from all over the world are able to watch.
Gordon has only been asked to wear a mask during the ceremony twice out of about 100 ceremonies that he has done during COVID-19. During one of his ceremonies, everyone even wore masks during the photo session.
For Gordon, October is looking like it might be as busy as it was last year.
Stay tuned for more!
We recorded our interviews with Donelda and Kristen and will be posting them here podcast and videocast style soon.
For a lot of people, Thanksgiving is a time to gather with friends and family, but like most special celebrations and gatherings this year, it might have to look a little different than in the past. By now, maybe you have become used to connecting with family and friends online. With BC officials encouraging residents to consider celebrating Thanksgiving virtually this year because of COVID-19 we were wondering what your plans are?
Earlier this week on September 29, 2020, there were 69 patients in the hospital and 20 of those were in critical care. The number of active cases declined to 1268 and recoveries increased to 7485. There are 3337 people who are under active public healthcare monitoring after being exposed to COVID-19.
There was one more death as a result of COVID-19 in the Fraser Health Region increasing the number of deaths to 234.
BC’s top doctor Bonnie Henry, is quoted as saying “rather than traveling to see friends are hosting a large family dinner, make it small this year and plan to connect virtually instead.”
Is that something you will do again this upcoming holiday?
Please comment on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/fraservalleylife