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Calgary’s lake communities are great for more than just summer fun

While lakes are thought of as a source of summer-time recreation, they also offer plenty of recreational opportunities during the winter months. Just ask Auburn Bay resident Sonja Hayes-Powers. She, along with her husband and two children, moved to Auburn Bay two years ago.

“We moved here specifically to be in a lake community, because it gives you lots of things to do with your kids, both in winter and summer,” said Hayes-Powers. “For example, we’ll be going to the lake tonight with some friends to go sledding.”

After sledding, community residents can visit one of the fire pits dotting the lake. In fact, during the winter months, the Auburn Bay Residents Association organizes Campfire Fridays, where people gather around the fire pits and drink hot chocolate. “It gets a community feeling going,” said Hayes-Powers.

Contrary to what some may think, Hayes-Powers says the lake is not only for family-time recreation. “I use the lake when my kids are in school . . . I put some music on my headphones and do a good lap on the rink around the lake,” she said.

While Hayes-Powers admits Auburn Lake remains busier during the summer months, she says it’s also “nicely busy” during the winter, estimating her family uses it at least once a week during those months.

In fact, she says proximity to Auburn Lake allows her family to enjoy recreational activities year round within the community – they rarely have reason to leave. “Unless we go to Olympic Plaza, or if the weather is too warm to skate on the lake, we don’t have to seek out recreational opportunities elsewhere,” she said, a welcome change from her previous home in Copperfield, where the family frequently took trips to Bowness or Carburn Park to go skating.

“WE MOVED HERE SPECIFICALLY TO BE IN A LAKE COMMUNITY, BECAUSE IT GIVES YOU LOTS OF THINGS TO DO WITH YOUR KIDS, BOTH IN WINTER AND SUMMER.” – SONJA HAYES-POWERS, AUBURN BAY RESIDENT

In neighbouring lake community Mahogany, Mahogany Homeowners Association general manager Sally Lockhart counts four ice rinks, a learn-to-skate program and ice fishing among the many winter amenities the lake offers for community residents.

At 63 acres, Mahogany Lake is the city’s largest. And once the surrounding community is fully built out, Lockhart says it will be home to 30,000 people.

Currently, she says, 25 per cent of Mahogany’s population is under 18. “It’s a very family oriented and very young community. The lake gets a lot of use, even in the winter. There are kids out there skating all the time,” she said, noting it costs the community between $15,000 and $20,000 annually to maintain the ice.

Lockhart says there are more winter recreation possibilities on the horizon, including a potential speed-skating track, ice slides and cross-country ski paths. “The potential is huge to have the outdoors in your backyard year round,” she said. “It’s just a matter of putting the right partners in place to build on those opportunities.”

Among the partnerships Lockhart is seeking are stronger relationships between the City and individual homeowners’ associations to better service residents and make recreational dreams into realities.

Greg Macdonald of Sage Appraisals is a long-time lake-community resident, having lived in McKenzie Lake since 1999.

“We had young children, and we were thinking of taking them to the beach on summer holidays, but it turns out there are all these winter activities as well,” he said. “Lakes are four-season recreational facilities for families of the communities.”

Macdonald lists tobogganing, pleasure skating, hockey and ice fishing among the winter activities at McKenzie Lake.

“I go to the lake very frequently to play hockey,” he said, noting that many lakes have their own Zambonis, which makes for high-quality ice.

An avid fisher, Macdonald regularly takes his ice-fishing gear on to McKenzie Lake during the winter. “It’s pretty easy to do,” he said, adding residents only have to go 30 or 40 feet from the shore to fish.

Non-residents, on the other hand, must travel much farther to get their ice-fishing fix. “If I didn’t live in a lake community in Calgary, I would have to drive out of town to ice fish,” said Macdonald.

Macdonald says he pays $250 yearly in lake fees and receives “excellent value” for his money.

Start looking for that contractor NOW if you want your project done by summer’s end.

Whew. The holidays are done. The new year has rung in.

That’s when smart homeowners know it’s time to do these five things that’ll save time, money, and hassles all year long:

#1 Organize Your Seasonal Storage Space

Wrapping Paper Stored on Closet Ceiling| Storage Solutions
Image: Frank Farm / frankfarm.org

Packing away holiday decor presents a big opportunity. It’s the best time to sort, declutter, and reorganize that space where you store your seasonal stuff.

So before simply stuffing your holiday things back in there somewhere, take inventory, then sort, filter, donate, trash, and re-home as many of your things as possible.

It’ll help keep you more organized all year long, and make it easier to find all your holiday stuff next year.

#2 Deep-Clean the Kitchen

A gas stovetop with food crumbs, green teapot
Image: Jamie Bonilla

Purge your pantry and frisk your fridge, passing what you can on to local food banks. Scrub the walls and kick-boards, and even pull those appliances right out from the walls for a thorough vacuuming to prevent gunk (and stinks!) from accumulating.

#3 Plan Summertime Projects Now (Especially if You Need a Pro)

An outdoor space with patio furniture and a dog
Image: Photo by ADZA

 

1. If you’re DIYing, you’ll be ready to roll at the first hint of nice weather.

2. If you’re hiring a contractor or other professional, getting your bids and contracts in place now will save you from competing with the spring rush (wait too long, and you may not be able to book anyone!).

#4 Create a Schedule to Clean ALL Your Home’s Filters

Two home air filters

It’s not just your HVAC. The filters in your fridge, your vacuum cleaner, your dryer, your air filter, and other household items need to be changed or cleaned at least once a year to be effective, usually more often — especially your dehumidifier. Yucky mold grows easily there.

Check manufacturer instructions for all the filters in your home, and create a master schedule, then add them to your calendar app to remind you.

#5 Save Some Green at White Sales

A bed with white sheets and a white bedspread by window
Image: @hawkes_landing

Linens and towels go on sale in January. It’s a long-standing retail tradition that started back when linens only came in white (hence the name), and still has a solid rep as a money-saver — only in more colors today.

Cut your threadbare bath towels into rags and restock your supply, plus fill in any gaps in your bed linens you may have noticed if you had a house full of holiday guests.

CREB®Now connected with some of Calgary’s housing industry experts and leaders for their opinions on 2018. Here’s what they had to say. . .

Alan Tennant, CREB® CEO: “(Coming into 2018) there is lots of colour, but it is not vivid and bold, but rather nuanced and in gradual shades. The colours themselves represent the predictable hues of strength, vitality and prosperity, but none are striking or dominant. There is shading as our economic situation provincially starts to come into focus. Some of the blurriness will be caused by government regulation and market forces beyond our control.”

 

David P. Brown, CREB® 2017 president: “The housing market in 2017 has shown signs of a gradual recovery from 2016, and it will take time to trim the inventory of homes for sale moving into 2018. The price of oil continues to increase, which has led to more consumer confidence in the market, and the unemployment rate is dropping.”

 

 

Gary MacLean, RE/MAX Central Real Estate: “There is no reason to expect any pickup in the market in 2018, unless oil prices make a strong gain and can hold that gain over a long period of time. Price gains and sales are not only dependent on a stronger oil price, but on healthier full-time job creation and immigration, and on a declining inventory.”

 

 

Richard Cho, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. principal market analysis for Calgary: “While economic and demographic fundamentals are expected to strengthen, total housing starts are anticipated to moderate in 2018 due to elevated inventories, before making gains in 2019.”

 

 

Todd Hirsch, ATB Financial chief economist: “Home buyers will continue to gain confidence in Calgary’s economy and housing market in 2018, which should support prices in the resale market. However, there is still an enormous amount of supply, especially in condominiums, and the mortgage lending rules will tighten in January. Both of those factors will put some limits on price increases.”

 

 

Allan Klassen, Brookfield Residential senior vice-president of Calgary housing: “I feel the industry is slowly rebounding from a two-and-a-half-year recession. I guess the new home market in 2017 was as active as I expected. The only surprise to me was that the MLS® market was not flooded earlier in the year. However, I relate this again to the fact it took so much time for consumer confidence to come back into the market.”

 

Charron Ungar, Avi Urban president: “I see 2018 as a positive year with a high probability of stability, and a chance the market may grow later in the year. The general attitude is that the worst is behind us, and with indicators like employment and real estate values trending higher, my hope is that we move towards a more balanced market.”

 

 

Jay Westman, Jayman Built chair and CEO: “I see 2018 being defined by supply, demand and innovation. Supply and demand is a major factor when it comes to real estate, no matter what the market entails. (And) Jayman builds quality real estate in all of Calgary’s finest communities – it’s all about location, location, location.”

 

 

Guy Huntingford, BILD Calgary Region CEO: “Our economic committee looks at a number of issues in developing a future direction of the housing market. The consensus is that 2018 will be very similar to 2017, with only a few builders feeling bullish enough to predict a slight increase in sales. Consumers will enjoy a robust supply of homes to choose from, but prices will continue to be subject to market conditions and further regulations from all levels of government.”

 

Don Barrineau, Mattamy Homes Calgary region president: “We see little change coming. We are thinking a continuation of this gradual improvement – no explosive growth or decline, but a gradual warming trend.”

 

 

 

 

by Jamie Wiebe

New homeowners may have heard that winterization is important, but in the hubbub of your first year living in a home you own (finally!), it can be easy to overlook the need to prepare for the cold weather ahead. After all, it’s just not something renters deal with; prepping pipes for winter is often the landlord’s job.

Ideally, you should winterize your pipes in the fall, before winter seriously sets in. But if you’ve forgotten and all of a sudden you’re in the middle of a deep freeze, there’s still time to prevent disaster.

Here are some easy techniques to save your pipes from bursting:

#1 Turn On Your Faucets

If the temperatures have dropped into freezing and intend to stay there, turning on your faucets — both indoors and out — can keep water moving through your system and slow down the freezing process. There’s no need to waste gallons of water: Aim for about five drips per minute.

 

#2 Open Cabinet Doors

During cold weather, open any cabinet doors covering plumbing in the kitchen and bathroom. This allows the home’s warm air to better circulate, which can help prevent the exposed piping from freezing. While this won’t help much with pipes hidden in walls, ceilings, or under the home, it can keep water moving and limit the dangerous effects of freezing weather.

#3 Wrap Your Pipes

If your pipes are already on their merry way towards freezing, wrapping them with warm towels might do the trick. You can cover them with the towels first and then pour boiling water on top, or use already-wet towels — if your hands can stand the heat (use gloves for this). This should help loosen the ice inside and get your system running again.

#4 Pull Out Your Hairdryer

A hairdryer (or heat gun) can be a godsend when your pipes are freezing. If hot rags aren’t doing the trick, try blowing hot air directly on the pipes. Important note: You don’t want to use a blow torch or anything that produces direct flames, which can damage your pipes and turn a frozen pipe into an even worse disaster. You’re trying to melt the ice — not your pipes.

#5 Shut Off The Water if Pipes Are Frozen

Have your pipes already frozen? Turn off the water immediately. (Hopefully you know where the master shut-off is, but if not, now’s the time to find it!)

Make sure to close off any external water sources, like garden hose hookups. This will prevent more water from filling the system, adding more ice to the pile, and eventually bursting your pipes — the worst-case scenario. This also will help when the water thaws; the last thing you want after finally fixing your frozen pipes is for water to flood the system — and thus, your home.

 

We have used Deven’s services twice now to buy a home. He is honest, professional, and knows the real estate market well. Deven sold our previous home in just 2 days at the price we wanted. What more could you ask for?

-Brett & Paula Kapcsos

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