Every dog has its day

Extensive system of dog parks makes Calgary a great place to be a canine

If someone told you that Calgary has more than 1,600 football fields worth of space dedicated to man’s best friend, you might not believe them. But it’s true – according to Todd Reichardt, manager of parks for the City of Calgary’s centre city division, almost 20 per cent of Calgary’s land inventory is allocated to off-leash dog parks.

“We have a real affinity for dog parks here in the city,” said Reichardt. “We have over 150 off-leash sites. Compared with other [North American] cities of similar size, no one else even comes close.”

That staggering statistic speaks volumes about communities around Calgary and their love for green spaces. City officials don’t merely sprinkle off-leash areas around on a
whim – they’re created once community demand reaches a certain level.

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How to have a successful yard or garage sale

A bit of preparation, and business savvy, can make a world of difference

Summer is rapidly approaching, and odds are you’ve still got some stuff lying around from spring cleaning that you’re not sure what to do with.

Gently used power tools, heirloom furniture, old DVDs and electronics, and all manner of items collecting dust in your basement are ripe for selling to neighbours, friends and passersby – why not have a garage sale?

These time-tested, often impromptu, community get-togethers are the perfect opportunity to score old treasures, get to know your neighbours or even make a bit of cash. Not only that, but with the ever-increasing focus on eco-friendliness and conscientious consumerism, garage sales are an excellent way to keep forgotten possessions out of the landfill.

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Pop the question: Joshua Ferguson

Joshua Ferguson (right in photo) has over a decade of experience working as plumber. He owns and operates a successful plumbing business, Lumberjack Plumbing, with his partner Jordan Newman. CREB®Now caught up with Ferguson to ask him a few key questions about plumbing and how consumers can cut consumption.

CREB®Now:  Most people don’t think about plumbing until something goes wrong. But it’s a pretty critical trade, isn’t it?

Ferguson: It’s important because everyone uses it. If you like flushing your toilet, keeping your drinking water safe and showering on the regular – it’s something everyone needs, right? You don’t realize how important it is and how much you need it until you don’t have it anymore.

CREB®Now:  HOW CAN homeowners reduce consumption?

Ferguson: If your home is already built, you can opt to change certain fixtures – your toilets, your showerheads to low-flow variants. Being mindful of your consumption and being efficient, like ensuring you do full loads of laundry and dishes, helps too. For newer homes there’s more options. A greywater recycling system definitely helps. If you’re building a new, more modern home, it’s possible to install a grass-like roof with a grate which reclaims all sorts of moisture into a cistern in the basement, and that gets used for your toilet instead of using water from the main or your well. That’s a closed-loop system that takes you closer to net zero. It’s also possible to install what’s called solar evacuated tubing too. It looks like a solar panel but it’s actually a giant tube that’s full of glycol and water. That mixture gets heated by the sun and it pumps into your heating system or a dual-purpose water tank. That also reduces gas consumption by up to 80 per cent.

There are a wide variety of plumbing specializations so you’ll want to make sure that the company you hire has experience in that area.

CREB®Now:  What should consumers consider when choosing fixtures for their home?

Ferguson: When people are out shopping for their homes, it’s usually fashion over function; with plumbing it’s the other way around. You might find a nice-looking and well-made faucet from companies like Delta, Brizo, Kohler or Moen. You don’t need to spend insane amounts of money on high-end fashion plumbing. You might find that it’s easy to find replacement parts for less expensive fixtures, but you won’t be able to find those parts for high-end fixtures. Look for something that has longevity and reliability over anything else.

CREB®Now:  What should people consider when hiring a plumber?

Ferguson: You want to make sure that you’re dealing with someone who does the job right and doesn’t cut corners. The best plumbing isn’t cheap, while the cheapest plumbing sure isn’t the best. It’s important to strike a balance based on your budget. Also, specialization is key. There are a wide variety of plumbing specializations so you’ll want to make sure that the company you hire has experience in that area. Be sure to check out websites and social media profiles to see if the company has a good reputation and solid client referrals. Pictures of past projects can tell you a lot about the company’s expertise as well.

 

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Pop the Question: Don Barrineau

With the current state of the economy in Alberta, it’s no surprise the real estate market is facing challenges. There’s a growing emphasis amongst consumers on getting more for less. Don Barrineau, president of Mattamy Homes’ Calgary division, believes Mattamy Homes is on the leading edge of improving efficiency and ecological sensibility in the Calgary market.

CREB®Now: Tell us a bit about Mattamy Homes.

Barrineau: Mattamy Homes is the largest privately owned builder and developer in North America. We’re a Canadian company based out of Toronto, which is where the company started. Peter Gilgan, our CEO, founded us in 1978. We’ve grown into a significant business with a commanding market share.

CREB®Now: You picked a challenging time to expand to Calgary?

Barrineau: We got here in 2007/08 and started setting up the division. We then had our first home closings in 2009. I was in Edmonton at the time doing organic start-up for that division, and then came down here in 2014. By then the market was doing great.

CREB®Now:  And now we’re in a bit of a tough spot again?

Barrineau: But we’re doing really well! Our model revolves around what we call ‘masterplan communities’, which involve three to four thousand home communities. That allows us to offer a lot of home for the money.

CREB®Now:  What about Mattamy’s approach creates extra value?

Barrineau: We build contiguously up and down the street, in a pre-planned fashion – almost treating it like a manufacturing process. And so when people move in they’re excited because there isn’t construction happening around them for the first few years. The whole is process is much more efficient because it’s all done in-house. Design, supply, development, building – it’s all run under one roof. It also keeps costs under control and leads to better community appeal, allowing for better green belts and streetscapes as opposed to just a pile of lots.

CREB®Now: Mattamy develops entire neighborhoods; how do you prevent them from all looking the same?

Barrineau: That’s one of the things we pride ourselves on. Mattamy projects have more street appeal because elevations are wider and shallower, which gives our designers more options, from materials all the way to color palettes.

CREB®Now:  What is an important trend we’re seeing in real estate right now?

Barrineau: Sustainability. We’ve just hired a new vice president of sustainability to help us become leaders in that field.
We’ve already begun exploring that idea with our Net Zero homes – homes that put as much energy back into the grid as they consume. We finished and closed five of those last year. We always try to be cutting edge, and so we have some exciting things coming in that regard.

 

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