Category Archives: Opinions

Illegal Chickens

One of the reasons Sharon and I are leaving Calgary is due to the inability to grow our own food.

When we had purchased our first house together, we put a lot of effort choosing one that would allow us to grow a certain amount of our own food. After moving in we began the redesign of the backyard. The landscaping focused on two objectives: high intensity gardening, and a parking pad. The parking pad was a necessity due to living on a cul-de-sac, but we always had our eye on putting a driveway out front of the north facing house.

The reason we wanted move the cars eventually, was to turn the space into a paddoc for goats. We didn’t know much about goats, but they seemed like a good animal to keep us in milk and that would not eat us out of house and home. When we finished the driveway, I began looking into two things: what is the right animal for an urban setting, and what is the legality of those animals?

Goats

Not the right animal. Chickens or rabbits would be a better choice (but given we have a pet rabbit…)

Legality

It’s not.

Calgary is a place where the Government really likes to govern. It’s really a city of busybody neighbours, backed by a busybody government. Everyone is so concerned about the resale value of their home, that they ignore the living value of their home.

The City of Calgary has banned any animal of an agricultural nature. This has come to include miniature goats and pot belly pigs (two obviously “pet” breeds). They explicitly mention rabbits and chickens in the by-law.

This wasn’t the first time I was annoyed with the City, but that settled it, it was time to leave and find somewhere where people will let you live your life as you see fit.

CLUCK

Well after we had decided to leave Calgary for Nova Scotia, we first heard of Canadian Liberated Urban Chicken Klub (CLUCK).

CLUCK wants changes to the city bylaw to allow people to keep six hens or fewer on their property.
CLUCK

I wish CLUCK all the best and am glad that someone is fighting the city on this matter. The only thing that bugs me is that they have to come up with silly reasons why they should be allowed chickens. At the end of the day, if my neighbor wants to keep an obnoxious dog, I leave it be, if I want to keep a chicken or two… remember the bit about busy body neighbors?

Glad to hear CLUCK is making headway

Found a Place

We have found a place! We are now subletting a little one bedroom apartment for six months. This is good news, we were starting to think that I may have to call up the job and tell them I couldn’t do it. As it stands, we are still pressing forward. The rent is even a reasonable rate.

While we were looking, I came across this video on a landlord’s website

A couple of days ago, I was asking why is rent so high, and why won’t people lease for less than a year. Well, I was looking for reasons, and have found both. This video explains why rent is so high, and (Sharon believes) the Nova Scotia Tenancy Act explains why a landlord won’t rent for less than a year. We can thank government for both problems.

If a landlord signs a lease for less than a year, it will be considered month-to-month. With that, the government has ensured that any landlord would be insane to accept a tenancy contract for less than a year. If it isn’t for a year, the landlord only needs to receive one months notice, but if he can hold out for a year, it goes to 3 months.

I think it is a combination of the high taxes and the tenancy act. Between the two of them, a land lord can get in trouble without a one-year lease, and there isn’t enough competition to get a lone landlord to break rank. Because the taxes are so high, landlords don’t build new buildings often, and therefore there aren’t enough to compete heavily. Basically the high taxes keeps supply low.

I would like to thank the Nova Scotia Government for increasing rent and making it extraordinarily difficult to immigrate to Nova Scotia.

Renting in Halifax

So, I have a 6 month contract lined up in Halifax. I won’t mention where until I finish all the paper work but I will say that I start July 5. This is going to make our transition to Nova Scotia a whole lot easier as now we will have an income while we search for the perfect property. This reduces a bit of the stresses around that.

Unfortunately, it causes a whole lot of different ones.

Rent is Expensive

It’s been a long time since either Sharon, or I, have rented. We have both owned our own homes for at least 5 years. I must say that rent rates caught us a little off guard. One thing I found particularly interesting is that Calgary is actually cheaper than Halifax.

Rental rates in Calgary and Halifax are equivalent, as best I can tell (actually Halifax looks a little more expensive), but wages are signifigantly lower (also income tax is higher). This means that my cost of living stays the same, but my income goes down. Relatively speaking, this means that it is more expensive for me to rent in Halifax than it is for me to rent in Calgary.

It actually works out to almost cheaper not to take the job and just move to the country and rent there.

Is there really such a shortage of housing, in Halifax, that landlords can ask that much more?

One Year Leases

We have contacted about a half-dozen places about renting their properties, and all of them have refused to even discuss anything shorter than a one year lease. In one year I plan on having finished 6 months of work fixing up the inside of my new home, and having started on the outside. After asking around a little bit, things aren’t any different in Calgary.

Is there really such a shortage of housing, in Halifax, that landlords can afford to be that fussy?

Where are we going to live?

H1N1 Hoax

Well, apparently I’ve been left out of the loop.

We are witnesssing a gigantic misallocation of resources in terms of public health. Governments and public health services are wasting huge amounts of money in investing in pandemic diseases whose evidence base is weak.

http://www.coe.int/t/dc/files/events/2010_h1n1/default_en.asp

Basically, around January, a bunch of EU Parliments decided that something was wrong with this. That people were supposed to be dropping like flies. The world was ending, the sky was falling… oh wait.

Sharon and I had wondered about this through the whole episode. We kept waiting for news of deaths in our region, but noticed that media sources would quote hundreds sick with “flu like symptoms”, and a “mounting death-toll”, but had only heard of 2 deaths, and even they were in cases of compromised immune systems.

I used to work in a nursing home, something you learn there is that people die from the flu every year. It’s just the way it is. In the end, this did not appear to be anything more than the 2009’s seasonal flu, with a lot more media attention.

The only question we really had left was why all the media attention, who was going to gain from this, and what were they going to gain? That’s irked me from the start. As a case study its fascinating, I speak with people who are still scared, but to this day do not know what they are scared of.

The real pandemic was the fear, scared people are angry people, and angry people are dangerous people.

Being led by others, with unknown motives, is not the way.

Housing Prices in Canada

Recently the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation changed some of the rules for getting mortgages. They have raised the minimum down-payment requirements for mortgages they will insure (the down-payment must be 10% instead of 5%). One of my Sharon’s managers was really bummed over this. He has been saving to buy a house for a while now, and suddenly he doesn’t have enough money to make a down-payment on a house. What I explained to him was that this may not be a bad thing for him.

Assuming that people have saved up a particular amount of money for a down payment on a home the changing of the down payment requirements will not make houses unaffordable to these people, but instead force the price of the houses to come down. This favours buyers instead of sellers.

Most people consider the cost of the home and attempt to determine the amount of down-payment they need to come up with to purchase that home.

T Total cost of the house
D Down-payment individual can afford to place
d down-payment as a percentage of total, as required by government

In this case, assuming you wish to purchase a home for $300,000 it is necessary to come up with a certain amount of money.

$latex T: $300,000$
$latex d: 5%$
$latex D=T*d$
$latex D=$300,000*5%$
$latex D=$15,000$

So, an individual that has worked really hard to save $15,000 to put down on their first home purchase can afford the home with a 5% down-payment requirement. Once the government changes the requirements down-payment from 5% to 10%, the initial deposit requirements go up.

$latex T: $300,000$
$latex d: 10%$
$latex D=T*d$
$latex D=$300,000*10%$
$latex D=$30,000$

Suddenly, that person that has spent the last couple of years saving, can no longer afford the house they were so close to having and were likely very excited about. I can see why people were getting angry and desperate to purchase (trying to beat the incoming changes). Unfortunately, these buyers are looking at it from the perspective of the sellers. They need to be looking at it from the perspective of the aggregate buyers.

What nobody is considering, is that either the buyer can come up with more money, or the seller can accept less. Assuming individuals have saved a certain amount of money (in this example $15,000) and the requirements have changed, nobody can afford to pay more for the properties. Therefore, if the houses are to sell, the seller must accept less money.

To this point we have assumed the buyer has the down-payment dictated by the cost of the house, however we can look at the flip side of this statement and say that the seller has the total sale price of the house dictated by Effectively the total amount to be spent on the house is dictated by the amount of down payment that can be generated.

Just as the down-payment can be considered a function of the price, the price can be considered a function of the down-payment.

$latex D=T*d$

$latex T=frac{D}{d}$

$latex D: $15,000$
$latex d: 5% and 10%$
$latex T=frac{D}{d}$

$latex T=frac{$15,000}{5%}$

$latex T=$300,000$

$latex T=frac{D}{d}$

$latex T=frac{$15,000}{10%}$

$latex T=$150,000$

When looked at in this light, it is the seller, rather than the buyer, that loses out. The house that was worth $300,000, is not only worth $150,000. In fact, this is especially good for the buyer as it means a more affordable, and shorter term on their mortgage.

Naturally, these are not all of the variables involved and the likely end result of the will neither be an immediate collapse of prices, nor a complete proportional drop. Several other factors will come in to play (some buyers will just come up with more money, some sellers will just not sell), and buyers and sellers will find a middle ground. The primary point is that things are not usually so simple as they initially appear.