Feds to tighten mortgage rules for homes over $500K

The federal government is expected to tighten mortgage rules in an effort to cool the red-hot housing markets in Toronto and Vancouver, CTV News has learned.

The new regulations will increase the minimum down payment required to buy a home for more than $500,000, with portions beyond that amount requiring a 10 per cent down payment. The down payment on the first $500,000 will remain at five per cent.

For example, a home costing $700,000 would require a $45,000 down payment – a five per cent down payment on the first $500,000, added to a 10 per cent down payment on the remaining $200,000.

The regulations are expected to take effect in early 2016.

Buyers shopping for homes below the $500,000 mark will be unaffected by the new rules.

The announcement is expected from finance minister Bill Morneau sometime Friday morning. The government is expected to stress that the new rules are designed to foster equity and dissuade cash-strapped buyers who may be seduced by low interest rates.

The decision is based off research by the C.D. Howe Institute, an independent think tank.

The move is expected to take pressure off the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), which offers mortgage loan insurance for properties valued below $1 million.

Since the 2008 recession, the federal government has made it more challenging for Canadians to obtain CMHC-insured mortgages.

For homebuyers with a down payment of less than 20 per cent, the government decreased the maximum amount of time allowed to pay off a mortgage to 25 years from 40 years.

The move was intended to dissuade borrowers from making riskier purchases and instead encourage them to invest in less expensive homes.


Victoria Day Weekend

Victoria DayVictoria Day is a statutory holiday in Canada, and falls on the last Monday before May 25th.

Most people in Canada consider the Victoria Day weekend the real start of summer. It’s often still cold for the first weekend of summer, but chances are good that the weather will be nice enough to be outside, even if you need a spring jacket. Due to agreeable weather and longer days, gardening, camping, patio-lounging, fireworks and other outdoor entertainment are all popular choices over the Victoria Day weekend.

GardeningSo What’s the “May Two-Four”? Did you know this weekend has another name – one which has very little to do with celebrating royal birthdays? A “two-four” is slang for a case of 24 beers, and since the Victoria Day Weekend often ends up including the date May 24th, well, the “May Two-Four” is that weekend where you have an extra day to drink, or recover. However you want to look at it.

The May long weekend is also the start of the gardening season. In the hopes that the frost is really over, many people break out the gardening tools and gloves for Victoria Day and get dirty. If you’re one of them, check out our local nurseries for gardening workshops, or visit a nursery to get the plants you need (just don’t forget to check their hours, first!). Many Fireworksgrocery and department stores also have garden centres open for this weekend.

Victoria Day Fireworks are always something to look forward to. This year you can see fireworks at the Falls at 10 PM on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Fireworks will also be happening at the Virgil Stampede on Monday at 9:30 PM to wrap up a great weekend event!

How Much Will You Owe?

With the spring home buying season in full swing, aspiring and existing home owners would be wise to research the cost of breaking their mortgage. Depending on the type of mortgage you have, penalties might be zero, three months’ interest, or something known as the interest rate differential amount.  See this video that explains the process > > How much will you owe if you break your mortgage?

Carbon Monoxide Alarms Mandatory

CB ALARMOntario Regulation 194/14 is a regulation to require the installation of a carbon monoxide alarm adjacent to all sleeping areas if your home has a fuel burning appliance, a fireplace or an attached garage.

The testing and maintenance elements of the regulation came into force on October 15, 2014 while the installation and replacement requirements will have a phased implementation of 6 months (April 15, 2015) or 1 year (October 15, 2015) from the in-force date, depending on the building size.

As of April 15, 2015 you must install a carbon monoxide alarm adjacent to all sleeping areas if your home has a fuel burning appliance, a fireplace or an attached garage and contains no more than six suites of residential occupancy including single family homes.  Click here for more information.

Celebrating Mom

imagesann jarvisThe official Mother’s Day holiday arose in the 1900s as a result of the efforts of Anna Jarvis, daughter of Ann Reeves Jarvis. Following her mother’s 1905 death, Anna Jarvis conceived of Mother’s Day as a way of honoring the sacrifices mothers made for their children. After gaining financial backing from a Philadelphia department store owner named John Wanamaker, in May 1908 she organized the first official Mother’s Day celebration at a Methodist church in Grafton, West Virginia. That same day also saw thousands of people attend a Mother’s Day event at one of Wanamaker’s retail stores in Philadelphia.

Following the success of her first Mother’s Day, Jarvis-who remained unmarried and childless her whole life-resolved to see her holiday added to the national calendar. Arguing that American holidays were biased toward male achievements, she started a massive letter writing campaign to newspapers and prominent politicians urging the adoption of a special day honoring motherhood. By 1912 many states, towns and churches had adopted Mother’s Day as an annual holiday, and Jarvis had established the Mother’s Day International Association to help promote her cause. Her persistence paid off in 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson signed a measure officially establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.

imagesHIY94PD0Anna Jarvis had originally conceived of Mother’s Day as a day of personal celebration between mothers and families. Her version of the day involved wearing a white carnation as a badge and visiting one’s mother or attending church services. But once Mother’s Day became a national holiday, it was not long before florists, card companies and other merchants capitalized on its popularity.

While Jarvis had initially worked with the floral industry to help raise Mother’s Day’s profile, by 1920 she had become disgusted with how the holiday had been commercialized. She outwardly denounced the transformation and urged people to stop buying Mother’s Day flowers, cards and candies. Jarvis eventually resorted to an open campaign against Mother’s Day profiteers, speaking out against confectioners, florists and even charities. She also launched countless lawsuits against groups that had used the name “Mother’s Day,” eventually spending most of her personal wealth in legal fees. By the time of her death in 1948 Jarvis had disowned the holiday altogether, and even actively lobbied the government to see it removed from the American calendar.

Remembrance Day 2014

rememberAs each year passes, it seems like we take more notice of our veterans and have more gratitude for those men and women who served in our wars of yesteryear and today.  As you remember, please continue to remember our veterans locally.  Your support of the Legion helps to off-set costs of medical equipment, home services and long-term care for ex-service men and women in our community, and assist them with Niagara Hospice and retirement homes.  Remembering always …not just November 11th.

The Poppy

Remembrance Day is symbolized by the artificial poppies that people wear and place at war memorials. The poppies may be worn or placed singly or as wreaths. The use of the poppy as a symbol of remembrance comes poppyfrom a poem written by John McCrae, a Canadian doctor serving in the military. The poem is called “In Flanders Fields” and describes the poppies growing in the Flemish graveyards where soldiers were buried.

Poppies grow well in soil that has been disturbed. They also grew in large numbers on battle fields. The red color of their petals reminded people of the blood lost by victims of and casualties in the conflict.

Other symbols of Remembrance Day are the war memorials, which are often near the geographical center of communities. These commemorate members of the community, who have died in military action. A particularly well-known memorial is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Ottawa, Ontario. The military parades held on November 11 are also symbolic of Remembrance Day.

If you would like to gain more insight into what Remembrance Day in Canada means, check out Veteran Affairs Canada  which will provide you with information on why we should remember, who and what we should remember, and how we should remember.

Remembrance Day – A National Holiday?

soldiersOur NDP Party is in the works of amending Bill C-597, which would amend the Holidays Act to make Remembrance Day a statutory day off like Christmas or Canada Day.  It passed a second reading in the House of Commons this past Wednesday by a margin of 258 to 2.

However, it would be up to the individual provinces where Nov. 11 is currently not a holiday — Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and Manitoba, representing slightly more than half the country’s working population — to change their individual labour codes.  Harris said he’s confident the measure will become law, particularly in light of the recent deaths of two Canadian soldiers — tragic attacks that remain fresh in the minds of Canada’s federal parliamentarians.

Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent was killed Oct. 20 in Quebec when he was hit by a car driven by a man with jihadist sympathies. Two days later, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was gunned down while standing guard at the National War Memorial.

The lingering memory of the attacks is expected to spill over into a collective show of mourning during Remembrance Day services across the country on Tuesday.

It is predicted that making Remembrance Day a national statutory holiday will result in more people attending remembrance services.  If the bill passes before the next election, scheduled for next October 2015, the bill will be in force for November 11, 2015.

(taken from the Globe and Mail, November 2015)

Halloween 2014

pumpkinsThe fall weather has been a pleasant surprise lately, but winter will soon be upon us!  Hope it will hold out for a great Halloween night for kids and adults alike.  Read on for some tips on carving your pumpkin like an expert and staying safe on Halloween night.


Pumpkin Carving

carvingCarving a pumpkin is easy, according to Tom Nardone of Extreme Pumpkins. Although many of the methods he uses apply to anyone, he gives a few suggestions, shortcuts and tricks on carving the perfect pumpkin.

Here are Tom’s Top 8 Pumpkin Carving Tips:

1. Choose the right pumpkin. I like them taller than they are wide because that is the shape of a face. I also like them big and ugly because that makes them look interesting.

carving22. Decapitation or Back Surgery?: You don’t have to take off the top, you can also take of the bottom or the back,. I cut off the bottom if I want the top to look untouched and I cut off the back if I want to use the entire front, top, and bottom for a design. Regardless, you do want to get in there and remove the seeds, if you don’t the squirrels will.

3. Cutting the Plug: Decapitating is the toughest thing to do, the top of the pumpkin is woody and tough. You need a strong blade. I use a drywall saw for this. They don’t cost much, about $6 and they are hard to match. If I didn’t have one, I’d use a filet knife and I’d be cautious. Cut the plug to be a cone-shape with a little jog in it, so that it comes out easily and fits back easily too.

carving34. Scoop the goop: I use my ice cream scoop. Not only that, but I’ve gotten my arm dirty enough times to have developed a way to stay fairly clean. Scrape around the sides, starting from the hole opening to the bottom. Then, after all of the walls are scraped, dump the pumpkin into the trash. Easy!

5. Draw the face: I use dry erase markers because if you don’t like your work, you can erase it! Also, after you are done, your pumpkin won’t end up with an accidental layer of guy-liner that screams “sloppy”.

6. I’m really lazy, so I use power tools to carve my pumpkins. Sure, a kit from the store will do the trick, but I want it done quickly. Mostly I use my jigsaw to remove chunks (like eyes and the mouth) and then a rotary tool to carve away the skin. For big areas I’m not afraid to break out an angle grinder. It removes the pumpkin skin and can even be used to shape the pumpkin.

carving47. Great Props Are Everywhere. I look for fun props everywhere, but my favorite places are the grocery store, home depot, and the craft store. I like to use twizzlers for dreadlocks, wood chips for teeth, taffy for tongues, home insulation for brains, all sorts of things. I’ve become the best pumpkin carver on the block by using some really cheap gags and you can too.

8. Preserving Your Pumpkin: Pumpkins rot. But yours doesn’t have to rot as quickly. When my pumpkin is done, I spray it with bathroom cleaner with bleach. This keeps the bugs, mold, and animals away.

Now to find the perfect place to show off your creation!  Enjoy!

Halloween Safety

…from our Fire Department


  • costumePlan costumes that are bright and reflective. Make sure shoes fit well and costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglemnent or contact with flame.
  • Consider adding reflective tape or striping to costumes and trick or treat bags for greater visibility.
  • Secure  emergency identification (name, address, phone number) discreetly within Halloween attire.
  • Because a mask can limit or block eyesight, consider non-toxic makeup or a decorative hat as a safe alternative.
  • Plan ahead to use only battery powered lanterns or chemical lightsticks in place of candles in decorations and costumes.
  • This is also a great time to buy fresh batteries for your home smoke alarm.
  • Teach children their home phone number and how to call 9-1-1 if they have an emergency or become lost. Remind them that 9-1-1 can be dialed free from any phone.
  • Review with your children the principle of “Stop-Drop-Roll” should their clothes catch fire.
  • Take extra time to eliminate tripping hazards on your porch and walkway. Check around your property for flower pots, low tree limbs, support wires or garden hoses that may prove hazardous to young children rushing from house to house.


  • ghost-lightsA good meal prior to parties and trick-or-treating will discourage youngsters from filling up on Halloween treats.
  • Consider safety when decorating.  Do not overload electrical outlets with holiday lighting or special effects, and do not block exterior doors.  To light up your path or sidewalk, why not take some empty plastic bottles, paint on a face and throw in a glow stick?  Safe and easy!
  • While children can help with the fun of designing a Jack O’ Lantern, leave the carving to adults.
  • Always keep Jack O’Lanterns and hot electrical lamps away from drapes, decorations, flammable materials or areas where children or pets will be standing or walking.
  • Plan and review with your children the route and behaviour which is acceptable to you.
  • Do not permit children to bicycle, roller blade or skateboard.
  • Agree on a specific time when revelers must return home.
  • Confine, segregate or otherwise prepare the household pets for an evening of frightful sights and sounds.  Be sure that all dogs and cats are wearing collars and proper identification tags.
  • Remind all household drivers to remain cautious and drive slowly throughout the community.
  • Adult party-goers should establish and reward a designated driver.

Labour Day Weekend 2014

Here it is… Labour Day weekend!  It’s the last weekend of the summer and time to prepare for the fall season and getting the kids back to school!  What a beautiful summer this has been!  Hope it’s been an awesome summer for all of you, with some vacation time and lots of outdoor activity!  As we enter into Labour Day, I hope you’ll enjoy your plans, whatever they may be – enjoying the cottage, finishing up on team sports or preparing for back to school days!


Back To School!

back-to-schoolNo matter what age, all kids can use a gentle check-in from their parents about any anxieties they may be feeling about heading back to school. So as Sandra Mendlowitz, a psychologist in the anxiety program at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, says, “You want the child starting the year off in a confident manner.”

The hallmark of anxiety is avoidance of the thing that is scaring us; for kids, that means they simply won’t want to go to school. The most common way this manifest itself physically is a stomach ache, Dr. Mendlowitz sas. It’s not fake, either; it’s a real physiological response. “It starts the night before or the morning of as the stressor approaches. And if the child doesn’t go to school, the stomach ache goes away.”

For younger children, to ease your kids’ fears, experts suggest mapping out the routine, even walking the route to school a few times. Some teachers will have had open doors this week, but even if you missed that chance, visiting the school back-to-school-2grounds can still be soothing.  If you’ve been the primary caregiver or seem to be more attached with your four-year-old , it may be clear that she is going to melt down as you try to peel her off you. It may be a good idea to send your spouse or an older sibling to walk to school with the child. And Dr. Mendlowitz says kids are never too young to learn simple deep-breathing techniques to calm themselves down.

Maybe you thought you were in the clear once your kids made it out of kindergarten alive? Transitions to a new school – especially giant high schools for Grade 9 – can be tough for other reasons, including fears around failure, bullying and hazing.  The anxiety of being at the bottom of the food chain can be paralyzing, Dr. Mendlowitz says. It’s not uncommon to speak to teens who have not visited their lockers for six months because they have forgotten the combination she says. “They say, ‘I don’t know who to ask.’ They’re afraid to look stupid.”

And let’s not forget, they are also in perhaps the toughest stage of human development. It’s an adolescent’s job to reject his parents. But he, too, may beg to stay home one day, paralyzed by anxiety. You can help them best by not pointing out this disconnect.

back-to-school-3“Listening is the most important skill for these older kids. You may think you know exactly what is bothering them, but you might be way off base.’ And once the lines of communication are open, resist the urge to share your own anxieties about high school. This is not the time to talk about drugs, sex or online porn.

Rule # 1. Don’t let them skip school. Parents have to be firm. Consider going to school the best way to conquer their fears. “Every day you do it, it becomes easier.” Routine is critical for children of all ages. In this case, experts say, the goal is to make what was once scary totally boring.

You know your children and what can work for them. For her kids, books and role-playing are big – when the boys faced some recurring fears around monsters, she dug out books that used humour to dispel the fears, such as Go Away Big Green Monster. Art therapy was less successful. When one parent got out paper and asked them to ‘draw their anger’ they looked at her like she was daft.

Also, don’t forget that your face is the ultimate mirror. Listen to your child’s concerns, of course, but don’t be all weepy and sad yourself. Be pleased and excited for your child.  Others suggest telling your own stories about school jitters – complete, of course, with a happy ending.

Needing help? How can you figure out whether your child’s anxiety is within the normal range or if you should see a professional? Dr. Mendlowitz says it’s handy to know the definition of a disorder as a constellation of symptoms that interfere with a child’s ability to function.  The most common type of anxiety disorder is generalized anxiety disorder, in which children are often described as “worrywarts.” One lesser-known disorder, separation anxiety disorder, can affect teenagers who can’t shed the fierce reluctance to leave a parent that is common among toddlers. It’s the only anxiety disorder exclusive to childhood and the prevalence rate is about 4 per cent for school-aged children and 1.3 per cent of teens, Dr. Mendlowitz says. Ten per cent of North American kids experience some form of clinical anxiety. “That’s a large group,” Dr. Mendlowitz says. “Larger than any other medical problem, but it’s often overlooked.”

Excerpt from the Globe and Mail by Tralee Pearce, 2012


Crime Stoppers

A ‘shout out’ to Crime Stoppers for their commitment to improve the quality of life in the Niagara Region. There are unique policing challenges in Niagara with urban and rural development, a large influx of tourists, our proximity to the States and the effect of the nation’s busiest borders as well as a major summer cottage population in varying communities and a waterfront shoreline that surrounds the Niagara Region on 3 sides.  Crime Stoppers helps to provide a greater awareness in the community that there is a crime problem, a willingness by the community to fight back against crime if it is given the opportunity and motivation. and improved relationships between police, media, and the community.
Crime Stoppers is definitely here to stay. It has been accepted by police as a valid and effective investigative tool and the public, through its overwhelming response, appears to have accepted it as a more palatable alternative to traditional methods of giving information.

Thank you for the many Crime Stoppers volunteers and leaders in our community!  For more information, or to volunteer, click  Crime Stoppers.

P.S. It was a great experience to be one of the main sponsors at the Niagara Falls Crime Stoppers’ Convention in June this year.  Here are a couple of pictures from the day’s events.

Ernie Sibbett, Board Member, Carolyn Robertson & Me

Ernie Sibbett, Board Member, Carolyn Robertson & Me

Sponsored a Sightseeing Tour Bus

Sponsored a Sightseeing Tour Bus

Hot Water on Demand

Imagine a touch screen pad next to your tub.  Enter a desired temperature and the tun fills with water at exactly that temperature.  Imagine never running out of hot water again.  Welcome to hot water on demand energy saving water heaters.

How It Works

A hot water on demand system heats water as you need it using gas or electricity.  When you turn on a hot water tap:

  1. Cold water flows into the system triggering the flow sensor.
  2. Powerful burners ignite and heat the water as it flows through the heat exchanger.
  3. Water comes out at the required temperature.  There is no tank or reservoir of water to heat up.  For this reason, a hot water on demand system is commonly called a “tankless water heater”.   [Read more…]