Barry Klatt

403-271-0600
Barry Klatt
Office:403-271-0600
Fax:403-476-5236

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With all the Grow Ops being busted these days, I thought I should bring to your attention the ones that were not busted but instead moved.  In this case, how can you tell if a house was a former marijuana grow op if the police did not catch it first?  Here are some signs that you can look for. 
 
IDENTIFYING A FORMER GROW OP
 
Never assume the location is too bizarre or inconvenient to be a grow op. Police
have found grow operations in new housing developments, in large and small
homes, in basements and attics, in high-rise apartments and warehouses, and
in outbuildings. Marijuana grow operations have even been discovered in
vehicles like tractor-trailers, campers, motor homes and railroad cars.
 
In one Montreal raid, a grower used his own basement but tapped the
electricity from the adjacent garage of his neighbor. In another, police
discovered that every second new house on a street in a new subdivision
had been converted into grow ops — six houses in all. Police have noted an
increasing sophistication in illegal operations.
 
Grow ops often require extensive cleanup and repair. It is possible that these
repairs were never made and the real damage is hidden. Noticeable signs that
you may be dealing with a former grow op include:
 
• Mould in corners where the walls and ceilings meet.
• Signs of roof vents.
• Painted concrete floors in the basement, with circular marks of where
pots once were.
• Evidence of tampering with the electric meter (damaged or broken
seals) or the ground around it.
• Unusual or modified wiring on the exterior of the house.
• Brownish stains around the soffit that bleeds down along the siding.
• Concrete masonry patches, or alterations on the inside of the garage.
• Patterns of screw holes on the walls.
• Alteration of fire places.
• Denting on front doors (from police ramming the door).
 

It is our responsibility as both Listing and Buying Agents to do our due dilligence for our Clients to fully disclose any grow op activity in properties.  However, in some cases, we are not aware of this if the house has no record.  It is always BEST and advised that you request a full home inspection by a reputable and certified inspector.  By doing a thorough examination of the vents and electrical, the inspector may be able to spot a former grow op. 

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With the harmonized sales tax (HST) referendum now taking place in British Columbia, it occurred to me that the debate hasn’t really included newer voters, namely those between 18 and 25 who may already be in the work force or in college or university and planning to be in the work force when they graduate.
 
I’d imagine that a fair number of these voters expect to be in business one day soon, either working their way up the corporate ladder for small or medium-sized businesses, or using their entrepreneurial chutzpah to start new businesses themselves.
 
If those already in the work force with grey hair, jobs, pensions and mortgages have more or less made up their mind about the HST in B.C., I’d like to direct my comments today to this future generation of business owners, managers and employees.
 
Why should the HST matter to you and your generation?
 
First, if the HST referendum and the provincial sales tax (PST) is reinstated, the most significant thing your generation will lose is opportunity.
 
Your generation will lose the benefits to the province predicted by the independent HST panel chaired by former Alberta Finance Minister Jim Dinning. It forecasted that at least 24,400 new, better-paying jobs would be created in B.C. as a result of the HST, and that it would lead to a $2.5-billion larger economy and $1.5-billion more exports.
 
TheC.D. Howe Institute released a report on June 29 which was even more optimistic, noting a study by Jack Mintz of the University Of Calgary School Of Policy Studies that predicted more than 113,000 new jobs would be created in B.C. as a result of the HST that otherwise wouldn’t be created under the PST system.
 
So all of you will lose the potential benefits to the economy that two independent organizations have predicted as a result of moving away from the PST to the HST.
 
Second, Alberta, which has no sales tax, and Ontario, with the HST, will attract some of B.C.’s managerial and entrepreneurial talent who may well vote with their feet and leave B.C. because it will be more expensive to do business here than in Ontario or Alberta. Some of the people moving to Calgary or Toronto may be you.
 
It’s great to ski and sail in B.C., but you can’t eat great scenery and recreation. If your employer, or the new business you want to create, gets higher tax credits for its business inputs, only has to file one tax return and not two, and doesn’t have to pay sales tax on top of sales tax on top of sales tax, (which the BC PST requires businesses to do), it makes business sense to move your businesses, employees and future to Ontario, where even the premier admits his province will be the happy beneficiary of the HST failing in B.C.
 

Third, by promising to lower the HST to 11 per cent in 2012 and 10 per cent in 2014, the HST will be two percentage points lower than Ontario’s rate in three years. In fairness to former B.C. premier Bill Vander Zalm, if there’s anything he accomplished (besides unseating a sitting premier and opposition leader), it’s getting the tax lowered. And it’s not just lowered to 10 per cent on those things that were previously not taxed under the PST; by federal law, it’s lowered to that figure on all goods and services by 2014.

Fourth, you’ll lose in terms of income tax increases or social-service reductions. B.C. received $1.6-billion from the federal government for transition costs. There is no reason why a majority government in Ottawa is going to settle for not being repaid or otherwise settling on being paid something less.

If I were a taxpayer in Ontario or Saskatchewan whose taxes contributed to this payment to B.C., I’d be outraged if Ottawa waived or otherwise settled on this amount. It must be repaid and B.C. taxpayers will have to find the money to repay it if we return to the PST.
 
One of these taxpayers will be you. Another may be the business you want to start.
 
Fifth, you’ll risk losing expensive but important public services that government won’t be able to afford because the tax base will be too small by simply taxing income.
 

It’s a demographic time bomb, and it’s best illustrated by looking at the demographics of health care.

The Canadian Institute for Health Information stated that in 2007, the average annual expenditure on health care per person for people aged one to 64 was $1,996. The average expenditure for those over 65 was $10,318.
 
Add to that the fact that expensive surgical procedures are expected to keep boomers like me alive until well past 80; it’ll be my daughter’s generation that will end up paying far more for my generation’s health care costs than they could ever imagine. God knows what will be left for her and her kids unless new sources of revenue are found.
 
The tax base to pay the enormous health care and related social service costs of older British Columbians is shrinking as the baby boom generation stops working and enters retirement. When the tax base is smaller because there are fewer people payinger rates (with so many people retired and living off pensions or retirement income, which is taxed at lower rates), it will be left to a much smaller pool of younger people to make up the difference in income tax revenue to maintain our social services.
 
So unless income and other taxes are disproportionally higher for this smaller group of younger taxpayers in 20 or 30 years, or a new source of tax revenue is found, there’ll be less money available for the things my daughter’s generation might actually expect from government, such as health care and education for their children. Without a broad-based consumption tax on services, high corporate and income taxes won’t generate enough revenue for government to do the things we expect it to do.
 
It’s all well and good for the anti-HST naysayers with grey hair, pensions, jobs and mortgages to complain oh-so-loudly about the additional tax they’ll now have to pay on restaurant meals, dance lessons and haircuts, but without raising more money from the taxation of services, the income tax burden that your generation will pay 20 or 30 years from now will be absolutely unbearable.
 
Without taxing services, like the HST does, there will be little money left for your generation to fix the roads that need fixing, deal with global warming and remediate the environment, let alone provide your own kids with a good education and adequate health care.
 
I’ve explained to my daughter that she should see a vote for the HST as an “intergenerational insurance policy” that will protect her generation from the enormous financial demands of mine.
 
However, she sees it as “intergenerational middle finger” for those in their twenties not wanting to metaphorically pay buckets of their tax dollars to “change my generation’s diapers in the nursing home” in 30 years time at the expense of their own priorities for government.
 
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MEDIA RELEASE

Calgary’s own CIR REALTY has just been reported the number one leader in residential home sales in all of Calgary as well as the number one independent brokerage for sales for all of Canada in the new REAL Trends Report released this week.
 
With 4,317 transactions closed in 2010, locally owned and independent CIR REALTY beat out all other city brokerages.
 
Other competing Calgary brokerages that made the list of REAL Trends top 200 that followed close behind include Re/Max Central, Royal LePage Foothills, Re/Max House and Re/Max House Mountainview.
 
Ray Stader, Co-Owner and Manager of IT and Finance at CIR REALTY attribute the brokerage’s commitment to technological innovation, 24 hour REALTOR® support and an unsurpassed professional development program to this accomplishment.
 
"CIR REALTY has positioned itself as a high-tech, high-touch company that prides itself on developing highly educated REALTORS® and giving them the support they need to do their business from wherever it is they are located. Client’s appreciate the efficiency in which our REALTORS® are able to move through the different stages in the estate transaction process, giving them ease of mind and a great experience."
 
Stader was fortunate to attend the REAL Trends Conference in Denver last month and is thrilled that as an industry leader, REAL Trends continues to provide the most trusted and accurate residential brokerage research in the business.
 
"The information that REAL Trends is able to provide regarding the residential real estate industry across North America is crucial to the continual growth and improvement of CIR REALTY and other brokerages," Stader says.
 
CIR REALTY has over 700 REALTORS®, staff and management spread over four Calgary offices and 11 satellite offices outside of the City. The brokerage has been family owned and operated since 1983.
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Christine Dobby, Financial Post, May 18, 2011

It may be trickier to ask for extra pickles, but you may soon be able to avoid the judgmental look of a cashier as you supersize your order of fries.

McDonald’s Europe has announced plans to replace some of its cashiers with touch-screen terminals and cash-free payment, a move that will likely play well with consumers looking for options that offer convenience and a sense of control.

Research shows people who use self-service options — already available in many retail outlets in Canada including grocery stores, Canadian Tire and Home Depot — believe it takes less time than waiting for a cashier.

“And at the end of the day, perception is reality,” said Brent Barr, an instructor at the Ted Rogers School of Retail Management at Ryerson University in Toronto.

What’s more, Mr. Barr said, most young people no longer consider paying in cash and the move to payment by swipe card is a reality.

“More and more our society has moved away from the physical cash and moved into the plastic world,” he said. “This is one next step in making it easy for that person to do what they’d like to do.”

Steve Easterbrook, president of McDonald’s Europe, told the Financial Times this week the global fast food giant plans to introduce the self-service ordering at its 7,000 European restaurants. Around the world, retailers will be watching McDonald’s to see how this latest experiment works out, Mr. Barr said.

“They were one of the first in the fast food world and as a result they’ve always been perceived to be an innovator in the market place,” he said, adding that other outlets will be considering whether to try it as well.

The model may work well at McDonald’s given the consistency of its menu and the fact customers generally know what to expect and what they would like to order, he said.

Kaan Yigit, president of Toronto-based technology consultancy Solutions Research Group, agreed the self-serve model, which he said is fundamentally driven by economics and cost-savings, may work well at McDonald’s.

“They [self-serve systems] are best-suited to environments where transactions are simple and predictable. They are more difficult to implement in settings where there are many customizable options or when the product or service is not uniform,” he said.

Parry Sadorsky, associate professor of economics at the Schulich School of Business at York University, said he believes we will soon order food from touch screens in Canada, but cautioned the move could have negative implications for employment.

“All you need is one big chain to do this,” he said, noting that it would likely be tested in major U.S. markets before arriving north of the border.

“It’s good for corporate profits, but not very good for the overall labour force, because you’re going to take out many of the entry-level and low-skill jobs,” Mr. Sadorsky said, adding that it is often those types of jobs that make up the majority of new jobs created each month.

Plus, many young people rely on employment at places such as McDonald’s to get their first work experience, he said.

However, McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada Ltd. is not about to follow its European counterpart’s lead — yet.

“We have no plans currently to implement a similar ordering system,” said the company’s national media relations manager Louis Payette.

“We’re constantly looking at ways to enhance the customer experience when it comes to speed and service and convenience,” Mr. Payette said, adding, “Our customers seem pretty pleased with the fast and friendly service they’re getting.”

What’s more, he said, the company is in “growth mode” with regard to its work force, pointing to the almost 5,000 employees McDonald’s Canada hired on April 19 as part of a National Hiring Day event.

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