Friday, October 30, 2009

Agassiz’s Agricultural Area Plan - Part 2

Agassiz Farmland

On October 28th, I attended the first public meeting called to get input from the public on the District of Kent (Agassiz) Draft Agricultural Area Plan.  Arriving late, I found the Public Open House hosted in the Agricultural Hall attended mainly by the document creators, Mayor, Council, the farming community, a developer and a scattering of residents; in short, a nice group of concerned citizens and respected members of the community.

Since reading the Plan I have to admit I swing from admiration of the scope of the plan to fear that it is too focused on the farming community and lacking sufficient input by other non-farmer groups.  Back to the Public Open House, there eventually was a question period and I gave my two-cents worth with the suggestion that more stakeholders need to be involved as the policies outlined in this document will clearly affect the town site (even individual titles) and the revenues of the District of Kent.

Mayor Lorne Fisher informed me that they had been all along looking for such stakeholder involvement but usually it is only at time of printing do they get the interest of people like me. What to say.  It must be a frustrating experience to spend countless hours on this type of project only then to have "people like me" start in with the questions.  I have to admit I am, maybe like a lot of people, operating on autopilot most days (and in front of my laptop like those pilots in the news) somewhat oblivious to what is going on in the world.  I do feel his pain though, overall, this a remarkable plan why poke it in the eye? Then again, why have a Public Open House at all?

He also told he that there was going to be a 2 week period in which more input could be sought. I am not sure this is good enough but it is what it is. 

As the current District of Kent Council is dominated by people either living, working or associated with the farming community I believe it would be in the Council's best interests to have this document vetted through something other than the limited lens being offered.  How to do this?  Assemble a non-farmer stakeholder groups to work together and make suggestion with the assistance of hired planning resources.

If you think this is a good idea be sure to let Mayor Lorne Fisher and the planner Don Cameron know. Don can contacted  or by phone toll free at 1.888.535.5282. Mayor Lorne Fisher at the District Hall 604-796-2235.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Agassiz’s Agricultural Area Plan

Resting Cattle

To Clap Hands or Hold Your Nose – That is the Question

The District of Kent is in the process to creating a document that may affect your title if you live in Town of Agassiz or have a Rural zoning and certainly it will confer financial benefits to the farming community; some needed and others that should be questioned. My suggestion is that you read the document and make up your own mind. There is a 2 week period in which the District is looking for further input and so time is short – do it today if you can. If you have any thoughts or concerns either send them to the Mayor or to Donald Cameron .

The Agricultural Area Plan (AAP) is an important document that either will become a sub-plan, or get appended to, the next official community plan OCP (2010) and serves as a guide for development within the District of Kent. What can it affect? If a rezoning for a piece of land in the AAP area is being sought by an owner, the District will look to see how this conforms to the AAP and may discard the submission if it does not meet the requirements. It can also take away zoning, provide for the densification in some semi-rural settings, it can look to consolidate smaller parcels into larger ones. It asks that a covenant be placed on all residences in the Town of Agassiz conpelling residents to recognize farm odours as a normal way of life. What impact will such a covenant have on the marketability of our Agassiz properties? Would buyers think such a “red flag” convenant an unusual warning inhibiting sales and reducing prices?

Don't get me wrong, this type of planning is a needed and good thing it is just that the consequences of a plan like this have a habit of catching up to the residents only after it has been approved by Council. Now is the time to have a look at it and decide for yourself whether you like it or not.

Now for a bit of a game, try to find the "Agricultural Area Plan" on the District of Kent website. Go to and attempt to find the document in three clicks.
Tired of the “Website Frustration” game it is here Agricultural Area Plan.

Have a look, it is time to let your opinion be known whether it be clapping your hands or holding your nose.

Stephen Mullock is a Chilliwack real estate associate broker with 29 years of experience. He can be reached at Royal LePage Wheeler Cheam Realty, telephone 604-792-0077.

Copyright October 29, 2009 by Stephen Mullock.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Gaining Ground: Getting Ready for the Storm

Fall and Hopyard Mountain, Agassiz BC

Not every day has a blue sky but nearly everyday has something spectacular to express.  Look for it.  This attempt of mine sought to capture a small grouping of  fall trees mid field hunkered down against a threatening sky. I hope you can smell the maple leaves, feel the coming rain and rejoice for a moment in the dance of transformation. 

Click on the picture for a better look.

Gaining Ground and Getting Ready for the Storm

It is appropriate that the picture above shows the world once again in a seasonal decline hunkering down before a threatening sky because that was the tone of the message I received from the Gaining Ground Resilient Cities Conference held in Vancouver, BC this past week.  Climate change and the end-of-oil were the Big storm clouds as explained by scientist Dr. Bill Rees.  Pretty scary stuff but to cope a phrase, I found that "green shots" were also popping up in the most unexpected places. Places that were devasted like the Bronx in New York and North Charleston reinvented with love,caring and a hell of a lot of work. This post looks at how these planetary forces will, briefly, come to change our world the winter we are facing together and the promise of spring.

It is easy to disregard the slowly emerging facts that our world is in a transformative process and pretend that it does not exist. I'll admit that is where my head was until this conference.  Why do we discount these threats?  I am reminded of how you go about boiling a frog - that by placing the frog into pot of cold water and then slowly raising the temperature of the stove under the pot. That is what may be happening to us but instead of the heat of an appliance we are facing the slow increase of fuel costs and the amplifying volatility of weather.  Is this happening locally, Chilliwack broke numerous heat records this year plus we had the hottest day ever recorded on July 29, 2009 of 39.2 degrees celsius!  So, in short yes.

With respect to the end of oil, think back to 2008 and recall that the stock market meltdown was preceded by the costs of oil reaching new heights albeit somewhat speculative in nature.  There is a great book on the end of oil situation that I would recommended reading, it is "Why Your World Is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller" by Jeff Rubin, a fellow Canadian. If you remain unconvicted just go and gas up.

Al Gore's movie An Inconvenient Truth is readily available at most video stores and will give you the overview needed there.  That is where I want to leave this part of the discussion because it is more important to not get blinded into a sense of immobility by the immensity of these issues. We need to ak ourselves "what can we do" and "what can I do"?

Mount Cheam Brillant Sunrise

What can be done?

Do what you can and keep doing it.

Green Shoots

The conference was a great place to meet and chat with people and it gave me a sense of what the "do what you can" might include.  Talking with Karen C. I learned that several blocks in her East Vancouver neighbourhood had organized themselves to share resources and support each other.  We will not be able to solve these huge problems without each other.  I think the street level is a great place to start.  The best part though, was this,  Karen gave me a sense that people were enjoying each others company and that this was adding depth to their lives.  Why not get together with your neighbours?  Carpool.  Talk amongst yourselves, organize, we need to bring more people into the conversation.

A couple of ladies in Sardis did something they had not done for years this summer they dug and planted a garden.  By September they had more vegetables than they knew what to do with.  By the way, Marie, if you are reading this thanks again.  Again, a shared experience; their produce did not have to be trucked in on a carbon trail and how much fresher can it get than today's harvest?  So, think ahead to 2010 where can you plant a garden?

Look to resources in your own backyard and neighbourhood.

Vote with your wallet, support businesses that purchase local.  Ask your restaurant where their produce comes from and chose business that are buying from the local farmers. Did you know that every dollar that a local farmer earns can get multiplied in the local economy as much as 5 times?  If you know the farmer ask them where they make their purchases.  Think about what other products made locally could be purchased - good for the economy and avoids those nasty shipping carbon emissions. If we can build a diverse economy we can build a more resilient community one thar can face up to the challenges ahead.

Despite the heavy tone of the conference I am encouraged by the "budding" of green shoots I see and the resilience of everyday people,like you and me, they give me hope that regardless of the winter to come, a spring will follow.

Best quote I heard at the conference: "there is no elevator to sustainability you have to use the stairs".

Stephen Mullock is a Chilliwack real estate associate broker with 29 years of experience. He can be reached at Royal LePage Wheeler Cheam Realty, telephone 604-792-0077.

Copyright October 23, 2009 by Stephen Mullock.

Friday, October 16, 2009


You will likely soon read some celebratory nonsense about how the Chilliwack real estate market is 33% more active than it was in 2008. This will be a true statement, but then, October 2008 is not much of a benchmark. A year ago, the Chilliwack real estate market was a real stinker. Granted a 33% increase does sound good, but, the real story is quite the opposite, the Chilliwack real estate market seems to be an underachiever, especially, when it is compared with the real estate market in the Fraser Valley west of Chilliwack or Vancouver.

I know that the glass is half full and reasonable market conditions are at play, houses are selling, regularly, I was just hoping that, hey, the glass might become ¾’s full.

You could take some comfort in the fact that house sales in the Chilliwack Real Estate Board area are continuing to follow a seasonal pattern that is again, if it wasn’t for those rebounding sales happening next door in the western section of the Fraser Valley. Chilliwack house sales of 61 for the first two weeks of October are less than those in the first two weeks of September when we had 70 sales. In the western Fraser Valley (FV-west) sales have more than rebounded they are 25% higher than a month earlier! Things there are accelerating. OMG! They are looking at the highest number of sales in the past 5 years. My estimation is that close to 1 in 4 houses are selling each month in the FV-wast as compared to the Chilliwack average of 1 in 7.

Chilliwack real estate sales should be higher and so the advantage remains with the buyers. They continue to be in a great position to snap up a smart bargain.

The Statistics – October 1-15, 2009

Buyer’s market

Number of Houses Sold first 15 days October 2009: 61

Number of Houses Sold first 15 days of September 2009: 70

Average Sale Price Previous Month- September: $345,000

Average List to Average Sale Price ratio: 97 percent

Average Number of Days on Market: 65 days

Houses available for sale October 15th: 866

If you would like to read an article on the broader resale housing outlook, I quite enjoyed the TD Economic Report of October 7, 2009.

Real estate markets move too fast to rely upon a once a month analysis, this mid-month report will give real estate buyers and sellers a more immediate and better understanding of the market and the knowledge they need to hold a competitive advantage.

The best advantage for a buyer or seller is the expertise and knowledge of a real estate agent who is active and works the neighbourhood you are interested in.  Hire them do not take advantage of them.  Okay, that sounded bitter.

Stephen Mullock is a Chilliwack real estate associate broker with 29 years of experience. He can be reached at Royal LePage Wheeler Cheam Realty, telephone 604-792-0077.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Chilliwack Eagle Landing Walmart Expansion


Eagle Landing - Oct. 2009

Just in case you missed this story the Chilliwack Progress reported that a massive 150,000 square foot Walmart is to be developed within the Eagle Land Retail Centre which is located on Squiala First Nation Land. Walmart has been rumoured to have been looking for a successful site for some time but large parcels have been hard to find due in part to the Agricultural Land Reserve constraints. The ALR regulations do not apply to First Nation Lands as they fall under federal and not provincial jurisdiction.

The Eagle Land Retail Centre accessible from the new Evans Road flyover (nearing completion) will consist of approximately 600,000 square feet of retail space in an unenclosed shopping centre. Cineplex Entertainment announced last week that they would be building an 8 theatre complex with a footprint of 31,000 square feet.

My View: First off I am pleased for the Squiala First Nation it looks to me that they have struck a fair bargain that will no doubt provide much needed funds and future employment opportunities for the band.

Speaking of employment, I wonder if an extension of the industrial capacity started just south along Yale Road West would have produced better paying industrial jobs. I can not imagine that retail businesses will be paying much more than minimum wages and be staffed with a lot of part time workers.  From a real estate point of view, I wonder if these jobs will provide enough income to purchase a home and pay the mortgage.

Chilliwack already has a Walmart at the Chilliwack Mall and 6 screens are available between the Paramount in downtown Chilliwack and the Cottonwood 4 in Sardis, so there is no real advantage here other than newer and bigger.  Competing businesses will be impacted and for some, on the edge of bankruptcy, this will be the push.

They have talked for years about redeveloping the downtown core of Chilliwack this will be a setback.  The marvellous boutique businesses found today in downtown Chilliwack are simply going to have become more marvellous.  They do provide a welcomed alternative to most products offered by Walmart but they will need to focus on how they can offset the price advantage of an aggressive multinational company.  It can be done and because a Walmart already exists in Chilliwack there maybe less work than a quick glance would suggest.

In short, this type of “drive to commercial sprawl” reflects the continued emphasis on large box store development to the determent of older commercial areas and better paying industrial opportunities.

That’s my take, what do you think?

Stephen Mullock is a Chilliwack real estate associate broker with 29 years of experience. He can be reached at Royal LePage Wheeler Cheam Realty, telephone 604-792-0077.

Copyright October 14, 2009 by Stephen Mullock.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Launch of New Children's Book - "Dude"

Emily Mullock Illustrator

In case some of you are wondering when the second book penned by Christopher Aslan and illustrated by, our daughter, Emily Mullock is due out you will be relieved to learn that the wait is over.  "Dude" portrays a young dude's emotional journey through everyday life... each pictures starts with a bit of a mystery, "what is Dude feeling?  It is a great way to talk about the social context of everyday life with the youngster in your life.

As you can see in the announcement above there will be a book signing at "antisocial" a skateboard shop located at 2337 Main Street, Vancouver, BC on October 20, 2009 starting at 6:30 pm.  If you plan to come, please RSVP to  Emily will be there and I am sure she would be happy to see a few familiar faces.

The complete catalogue of Benjamin Brown Books can be found at including the first book illustrated by Emily Mullock also written by the talented Christopher Aslan called  "Wenda the Wacky Wiggler".

You can also check out Emily's "Blog of M"  with a simple click or Google "Emily Mullock" for more of her fine creations.

Emily is responsible for the caricature that I use on this blog - it looks just like me except that I have greyer hair. :-)

Now I realize that this posting has little to do with the intention of this site except in a loose cultural sense so please indulge me.

Stephen Mullock is a Chilliwack real estate associate broker with 29 years of experience. He can be reached at Royal LePage Wheeler Cheam Realty, telephone 604-792-0077.

Copyright October 11, 2009 by Stephen Mullock except graphic.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

New Web Address for Blog

Moon and Mount Cheam - Nov/2005

What's in a name?  Well when that name or web address is it is clearly one that is way too long.  Like they would say in the film "Mary Poppins" it is "something quite atrocious".  Input the address incorrectly, and, you find website purgatory; you're somewhere but not where you want to be.  Then, when you try to find your way out of website purgatory, there seems to be a million "Chilliwack" websites.  Yes, we have all been there.  It is also a mouthful to say let alone expect anyone to remember.

So this site has a new address, that is easier to recall, .  Area residents will recognize this word combination as a common description for the Upper Fraser Valley.  In fact, all the communities that I work in as a local real estate agent representative are parts of a regional district once known as the Fraser Cheam Regional District before it was amalgated to become today's Fraser Valley Regional District.  The old address of will work fine as well so you will not have to change your bookmark.

The masthead at the top of the page shows the connection between the Fraser River and Mount Cheam and they share a story to be written about in a later blog.  It is one of my favourites.

Blonde Joke - New Windows

Last year I replaced all the windows in my house with that expensive double-pane energy efficient kind.

Today, I got a call from the contractor who installed them. He was complaining that the work had been completed a whole year ago and I still hadn't paid for them.
Helloooo... just because I'm blonde doesn't mean that I am automatically stupid. So, I told him just what his fast talking sales guy had told me last year, that in ONE YEAR these windows would pay for themselves! Helloooo... it's been a year, I told him.

There was only silence at the other end of the line, so I finally just hung up. He never called back. I bet he felt like an idiot.

If you enjoyed reading this article, why not Subscribe to be notified of the next one?

Stephen Mullock is a Chilliwack real estate associate broker with 29 years of experience. He can be reached at Royal LePage Wheeler Cheam Realty, telephone 604-792-0077.

Copyright October 8, 2009 by Stephen Mullock except for the joke which was sent to me.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Between the Bridges: The Agassiz – Rosedale Bridge

My “Between the Bridges” part of the blog examines that area north of the Fraser River between the Mission Bridge and the Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge in the upper Fraser Valley of British Columbia. Previous “Between the Bridges” posts have looked at the Kilby Museum and the Harrison Mills area.

Agassiz - Rosedale Bridge looking north

The Agassiz – Rosedale Bridge was built in 1956 during the W.A.C. Bennett years replacing a ferry that had provided a crossing service for many years.

Fraser River View of Agassiz - Rosedale Bridge

It is hard to believe, but the merchants of Agassiz opposed the bridge proposal, largely championed by the Chilliwack Board of Trade as early as 1910, with the result that another 46 years would pass before its opening. What were the merchants of Agassiz thinking? That the local residents would drive across the bridge in search of better prices?  Or were they just resistant to change?

Anyways, I drive across it almost daily and think it is beautiful and the landscape as well. The Fraser River in a late evening light; the farms of Agassiz so green and pastoral; the Coastal Mountains; and of course Mount Cheam. I took a walk across the bridge a couple a weeks ago and snapped these pictures. I hope you like them and that they convey to you the beauty I see.

Gateway to Agassiz

Bicyclist Beware

Under the Bridge Canopy

Long shadows on Farmland

Fraser River

Sunset on Sandbars

Bridge Under Structure

Stephen Mullock is a Chilliwack real estate associate broker with 29 years of local real estate experience. He can be reached at Royal LePage Wheeler Cheam Realty, telephone 604-792-0077.

Copyright October 5, 2009 by Stephen Mullock.

Friday, October 2, 2009

September 2009 Chilliwack Real Estate Townhouse/Apartment Market Review

Sales of Townhouses and Apartments

Stephen Mullock Analysis
Chilliwack and District Real Estate Market

Units Sold each Month 2006 - 2009

Number of Chilliwack Townhouses/Apartments Sold: 66

Number of Chilliwack Units Sold Previous Month: 67

Average Sale Price of Townhouses and Apartments: $219,000

Average Sale Price Previous Month: $211,000

Average List to Average Sale Price ratio: 97 percent

Townhouses/Apartments available for sale at the month's end: 489

Market: Buyers market


Sales of strata townhouses and apartments were similar to the month before and pretty respectable when compared to 2006, 2007and 2008.

Prices on an over month basis seem to have edged upward but there is a fair amount of variation in any month on a longer term prices look relatively flat.  If you are wondering what your property is worth I would suggest contacting a local real estate professional or me.

This market remains in buyer market territory with only 13% of available listings selling in the given month.
The real estate market between Abbotsford and Surrey is stronger and remains in balanced market territory. Western Fraser Valley sales in September 2009 were the highest in the 2006-2009 periods. 

Prices in the western Fraser Valley have edged upward to $282,000 which when compared to the Chilliwack average of $211,000 is a larger spread than what would normally be the case suggesting a price advantage should be given to Chilliwack.
Sellers: There remains a lot of competition for buyers in the market; sellers should be prepared to be flexible in negotiations.
Buyers:This Buyer market favours your purchase with an ample supply of properties to chose from, good mortgage rates and some flexibility on price.
The analysis above is based on my interpretation of information provided by the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board and does not take into account private sales. The term "Chilliwack" is used here quite loosely to refer to an area serviced by the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board which includes communities such as Chilliwack, Agassiz, Harrison Hot Springs, Hope, Yale and Boston Bar.

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Stephen Mullock is a Chilliwack real estate associate broker with 29 years of experience. He can be reached at Royal LePage Wheeler Cheam Realty, telephone 604-792-0077.

Copyright October 2, 2009 by Stephen Mullock.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Chilliwack Real Estate September 2009 House Sale Report

September 2009 - Chilliwack House Sale Report

Number of Chilliwack Houses Sold in September 2009 : 124
Number of Chilliwack Houses Sold Previous Month, August 2009 :136

Average Chilliwack Sale Price- September 2009 : $345,000
Average Chilliwack Sale Price - August 2009 : $357,000

Average List to Average Sale Price ratio : 97 percent

Average Number of Days on Market : 72 days

Chilliwack Houses available for sale October 1, 2009 :851

Market: Buyer’s market

Graph: Chilliwack's Seasonal House Sale Activity


With recent sale surges in Vancouver and the western Fraser Valley I had hopes that Chilliwack market would soon be a benefactor of good times from a “ripple” effect as sales activity generally flow easterly through the Fraser Valley. This has not happened and I am wondering why? The Abbotsford to Surrey area continues to post the best sales numbers in 4 years with increases of over 25%. There prices are edging upward. In contrast the sale of houses in Chilliwack while much improved over the results in 2008 is more or less in keeping of what I would expect for this time of year but performing poorer when compared to the sale numbers of 2006 and 2007. It could be that the Chilliwack market is being negatively affected by a number of factors: (1) higher fuel costs, (2) prices, are they too high, and (3) news stories that portray Chilliwack in a negative light due to criminal activity. Any ideas let me know - this is weird.

On another issue, Sellers should not be dismayed by the downward change in the September average sales price if anything the August sales average price of $357,000 was higher than it should have been and without a couple of higher priced sales in August would have been much lower. It should be noted that the average in July was also about $345,000 indicating to me that prices are holding firm if anything through this period.
Sellers: Now, would be a good time to review your pricing strategy as you will be competing for fewer buyers in coming months.

Buyers: The Buyer market conditions continue to favour your involvement there is plenty of inventory and attractive mortgage rates.

The analysis above is based on my interpretation of information provided by the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board and does not take into account private sales.  The term "Chilliwack" is used here quite loosely to refer to an area serviced by the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board which includes communities such as Chilliwack, Agassiz, Harrison Hot Springs, Hope, Yale and Boston Bar.

If you enjoyed reading this article, why not Subscribe to be notified of the next one?
Stephen Mullock is a Chilliwack real estate associate broker with 29 years of experience. He can be reached at Royal LePage Wheeler Cheam Realty, telephone 604-792-0077.

Copyright October 1, 2009 by Stephen Mullock.