Archives for August 2013

Celebrate Cultural Diversity at the 4th Annual Caribbean and South Asian Showcase in Newmarket

AsianFestival
The Ranji Singh Foundation’s 2013 Caribbean & South Asian Showcase is an intercultural exchange of music, dance, food and fashion that reflects the rich cultures of the Caribbean and of South Asia.
Enjoy the vibrant Island sounds of steel drums, calypso, reggae, and tassa drums from the Caribbean. Be mesmerized by the hi-energy Bollywood dances, songs and the fascinating classical Bharatnatyam dances of South Asia. Tantalize your taste buds with a gastronomic array of curries, rotis, chutneys and island foods. Features a KidZone and free giveaways.
This 4th annual event will be held on Sept. 7 from 12-6:00 p.m. at the Riverwalk Commons, 200 Doug Duncan Dr. in Newmarket. Admission is free and all are invited to enjoy the vibrant island sounds of steel drums, calypso, reggae, and tassa drums from the Caribbean. Guests will be mesmerized by the hi-energy Bollywood dances and songs and the fascinating classical Bharatnatyam dances of South Asia.
Foodies will love the gastronomic array of curries, rotis, chutneys and island foods. The event also features a KidZone and offers free giveaways.
For more information visit www.RanjiSinghFoundation.org.

 

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Thursday Nights at the Bandstand in Unionville Offers Free Summer Concerts Every Thursday Night

bandsThe fifth year of the free music series “Thursday Nights at the Bandstand” launched this past June at Unionville’s Millennium Bandstand at the corner of Main Street Unionville and Fred Varley Drive.
Organized by community-based Unionville Presents and funded by dedicated community sponsors, the series has attracted talented international and local performers to the outdoor Millennium Bandstand.
These free performances run Thursday evenings throughout June, July and August from 7:30 to 9 p.m.
From blues to jazz to funk to soul to vintage hits and classical guitar, award-winning musicians bring their unique sounds to life on the Millennium stage. Acts that have already graced the stage include the Blackboard Blues Band, the Community Soul Project, Burton Cummings, the Carpet Frogs, multiple Juno award winners Fathead, world music chart-topper and Juno nominee Johannes Linstead, Pretzel Logic, Markham’s popular King of Nothing, and Hotel California.
August starts with Markham’s North of 7 providing a mix of rock and R&B from the 60s and 70s on Aug. 2.
Well-known R&B recording artist Jeanine Mackie and her band perform on Aug. 9.
Markham’s popular The Tonedogs return to the stage with an appealing mix of Texas rock and blues and some vintage favourites on Aug. 16.
On Aug. 23, Fleetwood Mac classics come alive with Rikki Nix.
The 2013 series winds up on Aug. 29 with a return visit by the hugely popular Chicago tribute band Brass Transit.
For a full schedule of upcoming performances visit www.unionvillepresents.com.

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Attracting Bees and Butterflies to your Garden

Butterfly on pink flowerThe loss of millions of bees and butterflies in Ontario has many people concerned about these critical pollinators and the impact it’s having on our environment. Fortunately, we do our part to attract bees and butterflies by creating beautiful habitats in our own backyards. And in exchange for just a little work, you’ll have a more fruitful vegetable garden with a higher yield and better quality.
All animals need food, water and shelter and bees and butterflies are no exceptions. Unlike birds, insects can’t manage the deep water of birdbaths. If you already have a birdbath, just add a few stones so these smaller creatures can also have a drink. A small saucer of water is just as effective. Just make sure it’s kept clean and topped up.
Both bees and butterflies love colour, so indulge in the brightest most colourful plants for your garden. Native species are best and will produce exactly what these insects need. Your local garden centre can advise you on which plants to choose. Purple coneflower is a favourite of both species. Asters, sedums and sunflowers are also popular. Flowering herbs are also a wonderful choice. The added bonus is that these flower varieties will also attract beautiful hummingbirds.
Some butterflies prefer fruit to flowers, so you may wish to offer some overripe melon rinds and other bits of fruit. A plate of fruit in a sunny sheltered location will be very appreciated by these lovely creatures. You may wish to research what species of butterflies are common to your area to tailor your offerings more specifically.
Bee and butterfly “houses” are available at many garden centres and hardware stores. These small habitats will help these animals weather storms and hide from predators.
Of course, the largest killer of bees and butterflies is pesticides and even chemical fertilizers. Forego the chemicals to protect your visitors and use organic garden methods instead – it’s safer for you and your family, including your pets, too.
With these few easy steps, you will soon have a garden buzzing with life and vitality and full of colour.

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Backyard Composting – a Great Way to Save Money and the Planet

Unrecognizable person pouring kitchen waste into compost bin, close-up of handsWith Ontario’s growing trend toward municipal user fees for waste removal, it makes sense to think of ways to offset these costs, while also helping to protect our planet. Backyard composting is a great way to reduce your use of landfills while also making fantastic fertilizer for your garden. And it’s so easy.
Many municipalities offer inexpensive composters or you can pick up composting units in plastic or wood from your local hardware store. If you have the space, you can make your own – even a simple pile will work as long as you follow these simple and easy steps:
1. Locate your composter on loosened soil in an accessible, shady location. Remember that you’ll be adding material even throughout the winter.
2. Add your compost material in layers of greens and browns. Greens are kitchen scraps, such as vegetables, fruit, tea bags, coffee grounds and crushed eggshells, grass clippings and weeds. Browns are leaves, cut-up twigs, sawdust and shredded paper products.
3. Add water. Your compost should be damp, but not wet.
4. Occasionally, add some soil. This will add the microorganisms that will help break down the material and will deter insects.
5. Add air. Every month or so, turn the compost well.
For a backyard composter, avoid adding fish, meat, dairy products, fats or oils. These materials may attract pests. Keep pet waste or any painted wood out of your compost – you don’t want these in your garden.
If pests are a concern, planting mint or other aromatic plants around your composter will discourage critters. However, as long as you keep your compost layered, damp and turned, it should not smell and it won’t attract unwanted attention from wildlife.
In a few short months, your compost will be ready for your garden. Its nutrient-rich qualities will keep your plants healthy and happy and keep those user fees where they belong –  in your pocket.

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Walk This Way – What’s Your Neighbourhood’s Walkability Score?

Two business professionals on street
Being able to walk to work and run most of your errands on foot is a feature home buyers are demanding more and more these days as they move away from the expense and dependency of having a car in exchange for health, convenience, budget and environmental reasons.
Realtors now have a handy tool at the ready to help sell a neighbourhood’s amenity-friendly features. It’s called Walk Score and more than 20,000 real estate sites across Canada include a Walk Score on their listings. They’re becoming popular in the U.S. and Australia, too.
Walk Score is a number between zero and 100 that measures the walkability of any address. A Walk Score awards points based on the distance from a residential property to amenities such as grocery stores, restaurants, shops and schools.
Here’s how it works. If the closest amenity is within 0.4 kilometres, the maximum number of points is assigned. The number of points declines as the distance approaches 1.6 km, in which case no points are awarded.
Scores of 90 – 100 are described as a Walkers Paradise, one in which daily errands do not require a car. Scores of 70 – 89 are called Very Walkable, meaning most errands can be done on foot. Scores of 50 – 69 are deemed Somewhat Walkable with some amenities being within walking distance. Scores under 50 mean that the property is car dependent, where almost all errands will require use of a car.
In Ontario, for example, Toronto earned a score of 71, making it the second best in the country behind Vancouver at 78. Mississauga is fourth nationwide at 59, next is Ottawa at 54 and Hamilton earned eighth spot with a score of 51, in a tie with Edmonton.
For sellers, there’s value in a Walk Score because for every point a neighbourhood earns on its Walk Score, the higher its real estate value. And first time buyers should also keep an eye on their community’s Walk Score, because it will affect resale values as demand for walkability increases in the future.
In fact, the Ontario Real Estate Association revealed in a recent survey that 80 per cent of young people (ages 18-34) want to work close to where they live so being able to walk to work from home is a definite desired selling feature.
So when you’re looking to move to a new address, head to the walkscore.com website and find out your potential neighbourhood’s Walk Score. Better yet – ask us!

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Check Out the Financial Well Being of a Condo Corporation Before You Buy

constructionA Status Certificate is a prospective condo owner’s best glimpse into the financial health and well being of their potential new home. This report gives all the goods on the current fees that owners’ pay, any large fee increases that may be on the horizon, and any liens or arrears owed by particular owner(s). Financial statements are part of the Status Certificate, too, and will show the trends in expenditures and receipts of the past, and provide comparisons of a corporation’s actual and expected costs.
A Status Certificate is vital to helping buyers make a more informed decision. It includes all by-laws, budgets, reserve fund balances, insurance and details on any major work that needs to be done to the building. The Status Certificate is also supposed to detail any legal actions taken or pending against the condo corporation and whether the insurance provides enough coverage.
As well, recent changes now oblige management to report the number of units in the complex that management is aware of being leased or owner-occupied.
Before buying, make sure you and your lawyer review the condominium’s Status Certificate. That way you can factor in your current and future monthly condo fees and determine whether the board is doing its job properly.
A written request to the condo board’s management company, and a $100 fee, puts a Status Certificate – including the by-laws, budget, financial statements and insurance certificate – in anyone’s hands within 10 days, as is required by law. Also, the request for the certificate no longer has to be made in the purchaser’s name.
It’s also a good idea for a seller to order a Status Certificate before listing their condo, and to understand what’s in it (as well as their realtor) because it’s very likely that any incoming offers will be conditional upon a review of it. Doing so will also save you the 10 days waiting period that it would take for the prospective buyer to get one. Depending on how far the closing date is (more than 60 days), the vendor’s lawyer may order a new Status Certificate.

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