Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Happy Halloween!

While enjoying "trick or treating" keep in mind some safety tips to help make your experience a great one.

Walk Safely

  • Cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks.
  • Look left, right and left again when crossing and keep looking as you cross. 
  • Put electronic devices down and keep heads up and walk, don’t run, across the street.
  • Teach children to make eye contact with drivers before crossing in front of them.
  • Always walk on sidewalks or paths. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to
    the left as possible.  Children should walk on direct routes with the fewest street crossings.
  • Watch for cars that are turning or backing up. Teach children to never dart out into the street or cross between parked cars.

Trick or Treat With an Adult

  • Children under the age of 12 should not be alone at night without adult supervision. If kids are mature enough to be out without supervision, they should stick to familiar areas that are well lit and trick-or-treat in groups.

Keep Costumes Both Creative and Safe

  • Decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape or stickers and, if possible, choose light colors.
  • Choose face paint and makeup whenever possible instead of masks, which can obstruct a child’s vision.
  • Have kids carry glow sticks or flashlights to help them see and be seen by drivers. 
  • When selecting a costume, make sure it is the right size to prevent trips and falls. 

Drive Extra Safely on Halloween

  • Slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods. Children are excited on Halloween and may move in unpredictable ways.
  • Take extra time to look for kids at intersections, on medians and on curbs.
  • Enter and exit driveways and alleys slowly and carefully.
  • Eliminate any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.
  • Drive slowly, anticipate heavy pedestrian traffic and turn your headlights on earlier in the day to spot children from greater distances.
  • Popular trick-or-treating hours are 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. so be especially alert for kids during those hours.
- See more at:

Monday, 13 October 2014

Give your garden a good tune-up

Give the garden a good haircut - Start with the messiest looking plants: perennials and annuals with dry, blackened stems and leaves, and perennials that are overgrown. If you feel overwhelmed by the prospect of tackling a big garden cleanup, deal with one plant at a time to make the job more manageable. Deadhead any annuals in the garden, remove any discoloured or dry leaves. If the plants are beyond repair, pull them up and discard them. You can fill any empty spaces with fall blooming mums or ornamental kale.
Feed your plants - Repeat bloomers such as certain daylilies, echinacea, and catmint will appreciate a long drink of water laced with water-soluble fertilizer. Continue feeding annuals such as geraniums, salvia, snapdragons, marigolds, rudbeckia hirta, sunflowers and zinnias, which will continue to bloom well into the autumn.

Plant cool season edibles - If you are short of garden space, sow the baby salad greens in containers and grow them in a sunny spot on your deck, patio or balcony. Frilly green and red leaf lettuce looks pretty on its own, or use the plants as fillers in containers with flowers.
Water - Do not assume that rain will water your planters. Mature planters have large leaves that act as umbrellas redirecting the water to the ground around the container. To check if a container needs water, push your finger deeply into the soil, if the soil feels dry, the plant needs water. Water trees and shrubs deeply in the fall if there is not adequate rainfall. They will need this water to survive the long winter drought.
Replace stressed out annuals - Hot dry weather, summer holiday time away from home and undersized containers each put a strain on planter gardens. If your containers look sad, they may be beyond redemption. Do yourself a favour and tip them in the compost pile and treat yourself to a few new planters: a virtual rainbow of chrysanthemums, asters, purple fountain grass and ornamental kale & cabbage are ready for fall planting from your local garden centre.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Could targeted land transfer taxes cool Canada's hottest markets?

Ontario’s real estate association has launched an ad campaign to explain why they believe land transfer taxes hurt the economy. But in a hot housing market, could the tax be used to cool particular regions? There are still a wide range of things that could be done, including raising minimum down payments. 

A number of provinces and cities in Canada already have land transfer taxes, which are paid by real estate buyers. The land transfer tax is progressive in that it varies with the value of the property (0.5 per cent on the first $55,000, 1 per cent from $55,000 to $400,000 and 2 per cent over that). The Ontario Real Estate Association says that it amounts to about $4,000 for an average home.

The C.D. Howe Institute found that the land transfer tax slowed down the lower-priced portion of the market more than the higher end (presumably because people at the lower end of the market are more sensitive to the added cost of the tax) and it notes that “over the longer term, there are concerns that a land transfer tax would reduce mobility of people, which would have a negative unintended consequence on job markets and economic growth.”