My First Home-Our House Magazine

General Darick Battaglia 2 Aug

We all remember our firsts. Our first day of school, our first bicycle and our first love. It’s no different for our first home. And I remember mine like it was yesterday.
I bought my first home shortly after turning 19 in the late 1980s. It was a single-family home in the River Springs neighborhood of Port Coquitlam B.C. I paid $83,600. I took advantage of a government program at the time that let me use my RRSPs to come up with part of the down payment. I also needed two roommates to help make the mortgage payments, so it ended up feeling a bit like a frat house. Being a typical starter property for the time, all the homes on the quiet cul-de-sac were like little Hobbit houses, scrunched together.
But I sure was proud of my little home. I kept my yard in great shape; the driveway was always swept, and I filled the house with plants and hosted dinner parties.
Even as a teenager, I couldn’t wait to buy my first home. Not only did I want to impress my mother, but I figured home ownership would give me a sense of independence and accomplishment.
A year later, I decided to sell. Not because I’d grown tired of the home, but prices had skyrocketed in the area. I sold the home for $113,000. Not too bad for one year. I figured the property value had risen so quickly, I was never going to make that kind of money again. The house today is probably worth 10 times what I originally paid.
I’m often asked, when is a good time to buy? We know the last few years, especially here in B.C. and in Southern Ontario, home prices have really taken off. And in recent months a cooling off period appears to have set in. Watching the markets closely can make a prospective buyer question the right time to jump into the market.
I’d say it was the best time 10 years ago, it’s the best time now and it will be the best time in 10 years from now.
I believe everyone should make an investment in their first home as soon as they possibly can.
You have to pay for shelter anyway, and home ownership is the best form of forced savings.
So if you decide to take the plunge into home ownership this year for the first time, enjoy it. I can tell you first hand, it’s something you’ll never forget.

Courtesy of Gary Mauris – Dominion Lending Centres – President and CEO – Dominion Lending Centres in Port Coquitlam, BC.

5 Reasons why every realtor needs a mortgage broker at their open houses

General Darick Battaglia 23 Jul

Realtor Safety – While we do not have the safety issues that realtors experience south of the border, there have been incidents involving female realtors being assaulted or feeling uncomfortable being alone with strangers walking around the house.

Property Safety – Did you know that when a realtor is holding an open house they are liable for any losses or damage to the property? It’s pretty easy to have one person distract the agent upstairs while their partner runs off with the flat screen TV or the silverware. Another person in the property discourages theft and can make the realtor feel safer.

Snagging new clients – sometimes people show up at open houses without any preparation. They may like a home but they have no idea whether they could afford it. Enter the mortgage broker- by being on the premises you can quickly pre-approve these prospective buyers giving the realtor an opportunity for a quick sale and to double end the deal.

Third Party Feedback – sometimes visitors are reluctant to say anything negative about a property to a realtor but are more open with their financial partner. The realtor can benefit from both the mortgage broker’s opinion and anything that they hear from visitors.

Programs that can help sell a home – some municipalities offer subsidized down payments for first time home buyers, others offer tax incentives . If a prospective buyer comments on the worn carpeting or the lack of a garage, it’s a good time for the mortgage broker to mention Purchase Plus Improvements programs available. The realtor may be aware of the programs but unaware of the program rules. The realtor will be really happy to have a mortgage broker find a solution to one sales objection and help them sell the house.

Courtesy of David Cooke – AMP – DLC Clarity Mortgages in Calgary, AB.

0 SECRET “To-Do’s” After you file Consumer Proposal or Bankruptcy

General Darick Battaglia 13 Jul

Many people go through challenges in life that affect their finances. Divorce, job loss, health issues top the most common reasons. I commend you on getting your finances sorted out and back on track. The moment you FILE that consumer proposal or bankruptcy is the time to start rebuilding your credit history. YES, there are companies that can help with that. Too often I see people waiting YEARS to pay off their debt program before getting credit again, which sets you back two years.

Mortgage Lenders/Banks view Bankruptcy, Consumer Proposal and Debt Programs all the same…bad credit management.

When will it come off my Credit Bureau?

Consumer Proposal Programs:
Transunion and Equifax state that it will take three years for a consumer proposal to fall off your credit score after it has been completed. So if your proposal takes you four years to pay, then your score will be damaged for seven years in total. If you are able to pay off your proposal quicker than your credit rating after a consumer proposal will get better faster. The key is that it will stay on your credit bureau for three years from completion.

Bankruptcy

A first bankruptcy for six years from the date of your discharge
A second bankruptcy for 15 years

TEN SECRET “To-Do’s” you must adhere too:
A mortgage is something most people will have for a very long time. The rules for mortgages have tightened up in the past few years. A LOT.
Once you have filed a debt program…you MUST adhere to these 10 rules.
Excuses don’t fly with Lenders.
You need to prove to THEM you are financially capable.
They owe you nothing.

1.If you go bankrupt or file a consumer proposal while you have a mortgage, the Lender will see this when they review for your renewal and could deny your renewal and you will need to prepare to look for another lender/bank or they charge super high renewal rates. If you are considering either option or are currently in a proposal, please contact me to review your options far in advance of your renewal.
2. No NSF charges on your bank accounts. Get yourself an overdraft to protect yourself.
3. No missed mortgage payments – EVER
4. No late payments on anything that reports to your Credit Bureau; credit cards, car loans, student loans or cell phone bills.
5. No collections for any reason. Pay that issue and sort it out later.
6. Double Bankruptcies or one Consumer Proposal and a Bankruptcy will make it difficult to get a mortgage. You can’t get around this anymore. It would be mortgage fraud. Lenders can look this up easily via the Bankruptcy Records Search.
7. If you have a Bankruptcy that has property included, it will be VERY difficult for you to get a mortgage without at least 25% down payment (for a purchase) or equity (refinance). On top, you will likely be in an Alternative mortgage for a very long time with higher rates and fees.
8. Get two tradelines. Credit Card, Car Loan or Line of Credit. You need to have two years of history and two of them with spending limits of at least $2,500.
9. Don’t spend to the limits. Only use a max 50% of available credit. Use a Mortgage Broker who specializes in Credit Repair; who can review your file with you on a semi-annual basis to keep you on track as mortgage rules change.
10. You need to look “squeaky clean” until your Bankruptcy or Consumer Proposal is removed from your credit bureau.

Courtesy of Kiki Berg, A.M.P – DLC Hilltop Financial based in Langley, BC.

Delivering Fashion-Our House Magazine

General Darick Battaglia 12 Jul

We all know food trucks are now a staple in the diet of any big city. They’ve revolutionized how many of us eat and they’ve put brick and mortar restaurants on notice. So, could the business model work for another favourite pastime: shopping?

Ashley Mitobe is the owner and operator of Fashiontruck Canada, one of the country’s first mobile boutique shopping trucks located in the Greater Toronto Area. A stylist by trade, she teamed up with her friend Emily in 2014 to create and eventually start up their fashion truck. The vehicle, a 2010 Budget delivery van nicknamed Eve, is 270-square feet of mobile fashion eye candy. It’s filled with the latest designs and biggest names in women’s fashion from Canada and around the world.

But, like any new idea, getting this mobile business up and running wasn’t without its challenges. Originally, the pair assumed the perfect place for their fashion truck would be the myriad music and food festivals in the Toronto area. But they quickly discovered that wasn’t the case. People who were coming out for music or food weren’t prepared to drop cash on clothes shopping. Meanwhile, the best parking spots in Toronto were either too expensive or simply not available.

“It was really hard to find a place to make a business like this work,” Mitobe told Our House Magazine.

By 2016, her business partner had split, and the fashion truck was struggling. That was until a client of Mitobe’s asked if she’d ever consider bringing the truck to her house to have of group of girls come over and drink wine and shop. That was the light-bulb moment Mitobe needed.

“This is where this business is going to succeed,” she said.

Since she changed focus, about 80 per cent of her business comes from private shopping parties. From April to November, Fashiontruck Canada is booked five-to-seven nights a week. And Mitobe is willing to accommodate an eager clientele by taking the truck around the region including bookings in Ottawa and Montreal. She doesn’t charge to show up, suggesting a charge could be a barrier for anyone thinking about trying something new – but she also gets very few cancellations.

Clients can book the truck to come to their home in three to four-hour blocks. Mitobe explained during a typical outing, the host will provide some food and drinks, while friends come and go from the truck to shop.

“It’s a real intimate space, so it’s great for groups of girlfriends to come in and laugh and have some fun,” she said, noting a mobile shopping option is perfect for busy moms who can’t find the time to shop. “If you’re a mom, you’re always looking for a night out or an excuse to take a break and go out and relax and laugh with your friends.”

While Mitobe believes there are some advantages to being a mobile business, it’s not as easy as it may look. The truck operates off a generator that can occasionally give out, and she’s had to learn how to change her own oil. There was also the initial cost of tens of thousands of dollars to get the truck stocked and running.

Despite the grind, when the truck shows up at a doorstep, Mitobe said the women are prepared to shop and drop some serious money. To learn more about the fashion truck, go to fashiontruckcanada.com.

Courtesy of Jeremy Deutsch, Communications Advisor

GRIDIRON STAR TACKLES THE RENOVATION WORLD

General Darick Battaglia 8 Jun

The following is an excerpt from the July issue of Our House Magazine.

Chatting with Sebastian Clovis about home renovations, it’s impossible to miss his enthusiasm. He’s splitting a downtown Toronto single-family home into a duplex. It may not sound like the most stimulating project, but for Clovis this is his element. He quickly rattles off all the neat parts of the project, from separating the HVAC system to soundproofing a building that’s now in two.

“It’s a really exciting project,” he told Our House Magazine in a recent interview.

It’s probably a good thing Clovis is passionate about his work, because his time in front of the camera as an HGTV star has made him a target of fans who want his advice, whether it’s at the gym or the grocery store.

“I’m known for getting into conversations that are way too long,” he said. “I would say I’m one of the contractors who’s given out the most amount of renovation advice in the steam room in the gym.”

With all jokes aside, Clovis maintains he’s blessed for the opportunities he had since he made a turn to do television. And he has no problems dispensing valuable advice on the subject of renovations.

Patience is everything in a home

It’s easy to spot the imperfections as soon as you move into a new place. While Clovis points out people have a natural inclination to change and customize their home as soon as they move in, he sees it differently. He recommends people start by tackling the items suggested in a home inspection, like the roof, windows, and siding.

“Do the things that are going to protect your home in the long-term first,” he said.

Clovis believes those improvements will give you the opportunity to spend a little time in the home. That’s time to see how the flow works with your family, how the sunlight comes through the windows and to figure out how to make efficient changes.

He said a lot of people want an ultra-modern kitchen after watching TV shows and seeing them in magazines, but they may not be a fit for the character of your home.

“You don’t want to spend $60,000 on a kitchen and two years later you’re frustrated with yourself because you put the wrong kitchen in there,” he said.

While people always like to get their hands a little dirty around the home, when asked whether people should DIY, Clovis is cautious in his response. The man who hosted his own DIY show said he’s all for people building benches, chairs, and tables, but bigger projects that touch on the envelope of the building should be left to the pros.

“If you’re not a professional builder, you don’t have too much business messing with the structure of the home,” Clovis said.

While some projects may look easy on TV, the handyman believes even laying flooring should be left to professionals. If anything, it might save money in the long run. He noted with the ever increasing costs of materials, wasting material on a failed installation attempt will burn through a budget. If you’re going to splurge on beautiful floors or tiles, spend the money to get them installed properly, he said.

And if you’re thinking about a budget, Clovis said he follows the golden rule of a 20 per cent contingency above and beyond the quote. That contingency is critical because you don’t know what’s going to happen once the walls are opened up.

He also suggested a contingency is important to accommodate for evolving design plans, adding often by the time a project is half way through, people start thinking about changes. And when it comes to his clients, he sets up a payment schedule with benchmarks in place to make sure payment is made when a certain amount of work is complete.

“It’s great to know when payments are going to be due and what they’ll be,” he said. “It makes everyone more comfortable when you have that in place.”

Courtesy of Jeremy Deutsch, Lead Writer, Dominion Lending Centres

GRIDIRON STAR TACKLES THE RENOVATION WORLD

General Darick Battaglia 7 Jun

The following is an excerpt from the July issue of Our House Magazine.

Chatting with Sebastian Clovis about home renovations, it’s impossible to miss his enthusiasm. He’s splitting a downtown Toronto single-family home into a duplex. It may not sound like the most stimulating project, but for Clovis this is his element. He quickly rattles off all the neat parts of the project, from separating the HVAC system to soundproofing a building that’s now in two.

“It’s a really exciting project,” he told Our House Magazine in a recent interview.

It’s probably a good thing Clovis is passionate about his work, because his time in front of the camera as an HGTV star has made him a target of fans who want his advice, whether it’s at the gym or the grocery store.

“I’m known for getting into conversations that are way too long,” he said. “I would say I’m one of the contractors who’s given out the most amount of renovation advice in the steam room in the gym.”

With all jokes aside, Clovis maintains he’s blessed for the opportunities he had since he made a turn to do television. And he has no problems dispensing valuable advice on the subject of renovations.

Patience is everything in a home

It’s easy to spot the imperfections as soon as you move into a new place. While Clovis points out people have a natural inclination to change and customize their home as soon as they move in, he sees it differently. He recommends people start by tackling the items suggested in a home inspection, like the roof, windows, and siding.

“Do the things that are going to protect your home in the long-term first,” he said.

Clovis believes those improvements will give you the opportunity to spend a little time in the home. That’s time to see how the flow works with your family, how the sunlight comes through the windows and to figure out how to make efficient changes.

He said a lot of people want an ultra-modern kitchen after watching TV shows and seeing them in magazines, but they may not be a fit for the character of your home.

“You don’t want to spend $60,000 on a kitchen and two years later you’re frustrated with yourself because you put the wrong kitchen in there,” he said.

While people always like to get their hands a little dirty around the home, when asked whether people should DIY, Clovis is cautious in his response. The man who hosted his own DIY show said he’s all for people building benches, chairs, and tables, but bigger projects that touch on the envelope of the building should be left to the pros.

“If you’re not a professional builder, you don’t have too much business messing with the structure of the home,” Clovis said.

While some projects may look easy on TV, the handyman believes even laying flooring should be left to professionals. If anything, it might save money in the long run. He noted with the ever increasing costs of materials, wasting material on a failed installation attempt will burn through a budget. If you’re going to splurge on beautiful floors or tiles, spend the money to get them installed properly, he said.

And if you’re thinking about a budget, Clovis said he follows the golden rule of a 20 per cent contingency above and beyond the quote. That contingency is critical because you don’t know what’s going to happen once the walls are opened up.

He also suggested a contingency is important to accommodate for evolving design plans, adding often by the time a project is half way through, people start thinking about changes. And when it comes to his clients, he sets up a payment schedule with benchmarks in place to make sure payment is made when a certain amount of work is complete.

“It’s great to know when payments are going to be due and what they’ll be,” he said. “It makes everyone more comfortable when you have that in place.”

Courtesy of Jeremy Deutsch, Lead Writer – Dominion Lending Centres

THE STATEMENT HOUSE

General Darick Battaglia 18 May

Iseela Ibrahimi wanted wow. The successful Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker had purchased numerous homes in the past, but she wanted her latest home in Caledon, Ont. to be something special.

Ibrahimi bought the brand new 4,500 square-foot home in 2014, but quickly had her heart set on a major renovation.
“I knew the end product from a typical builder would never make me happy,” she said. “I wanted to create something that, no matter what your style is, it would still have that statement and it would still have that wow factor.”

By 2016, she was ready to take her vision to the next level. While Ibrahimi had a keen eye for design, it wasn’t her expertise. So she partnered with Oakville designers Parkyn Design to turn her ideas into a reality. What followed was a stunning transformation. Instead of cookie-cutter, Ibrahimi got a completely custom high-end look. From the front foyer all the way to the bedrooms, Ibrahimi said she got the flow she wanted, calling it “transitional but classy at the same time.”

“They’ve nailed it for me,” she said of the work by the design team at Parkyn, adding they brought what was in her mind to life. She also added it was important the design was going to stand the test of time. The renovation took five months to finish, but Ibrahimi pointed out the complete transformation, including the furniture, wasn’t really done until the end of 2017.

Pictures of the redesigned home have found their way onto the popular design website Houzz and are getting a little bit of buzz. While Ibrahimi admits it may not have logically made sense to renovate a near brand-new home, she said it was a personal decision. And now having time to settle in, she couldn’t be more satisfied with her decision.
“The whole point of this was you can still create what you want to create as long as you’re OK with where you are.”

Courtesy of Jeremy Deutsch, DLC Lead Writer

HAVING YOUR CAKE AND EATING IT TOO – OUR HOUSE MAGAZINE

General Darick Battaglia 24 Apr

Looking for an escape from her daily job, one B.C.-based custom cake maker has found the perfect recipe for success.

Working inside a prison can be one of the most stressful jobs out there. And when you spend hours in a bleak environment where no one really wants to be, you need to find an outlet, a way to balance out the negative.
For Cheryl Arsenault, that escape came in the form of a food everyone loves: cake.
The Chilliwack B.C. resident and Corrections Canada employee wanted to find a hobby to fill her time away from work. A friend suggested they try a cake decorating class. It turned out to be a recipe for business success. She started bringing her tasty creations to work, and very quickly began getting requests.
“I went from just taking a couple of classes to a business in a very short period of time,” Arsenault told Our House Magazine.
Mostly through word of mouth, the baker and her business Mad Batters, has kept her busy. From a Super Mario design featuring a bubble gum machine to a Star Wars Stormtrooper mask, the majority of Arsenault’s cakes are for birthdays and anniversaries, but weddings also keep her on her toes.
Though her side business was taking off, it did bring an unexpected problem. Arsenault quickly realized her dining room table was no place for her edible works of art. And she was also going to need some heavy duty equipment if she was going to go to take her creations to the next level. She originally used a spare room in her townhouse, but last year she bought a home. And besides making room for her parents, she needed a home that could accommodate a commercial baking space.
So Arsenault turned her garage into that space, spending a few thousand dollars for things like commercial sinks, tables and an oven. She now spends up to 20 hours a week during the busy season working from home, pointing out the convenience of doing so means she can make her own hours.
“It’s a good business, I really enjoy having it at home!”

Looking to create your own home based business?

Dominion Lending Centres can help! Cheryl Arsenault somewhat stumbled on a side career making custom cakes for special occasions. While Mad Batters keeps her busy, the home-based business owner does have some advice for the novice entrepreneur.
Whether it be cooking or crafting, she suggested you’ll need to have the space in your home, don’t try to start it in your living room. And be prepared to spend a little money, especially if you need equipment. And that’s where Dominion Lending Centres Leasing can help.
The leasing division can fund all types of home businesses and the supplies that are needed to get started.

As Jennifer Okkerse, director of operations for DLC’s leasing division, explained, a $5,000 lease over a four-year term would be about $150 a month. She noted DLC Leasing would help arrange payments with vendors, all while building credit for the business. And if you wanted to expand to a store front operation, you would now be established among lenders for a small business loan. For more information about DLC’s leasing options, visit dominionlending.ca or email credit@dominionlending.ca.

Courtesy of Jeremy Deutsch, Lead Writer – Dominion Lending Centres

THE TASTE OF HOME – OUR HOUSE MAGAZINE

General Darick Battaglia 8 Feb

Restaurateur and TV personality Vikram Vij on the joy of cooking—slowly—at home

The culinary landscape in North America is amply populated with chefs and personalities putting their spin on a style of cooking designed to get your attention. With the explosion of the foodie culture in recent years, cutting through the clutter would seem a near impossible task. But that’s exactly what a chef with humble beginnings from India has managed to do. Vikram Vij is one of Canada’s most celebrated chefs, ascending the culinary ladder by reaching into his Indian heritage. He opened Vij’s restaurant in Vancouver in 1994 to great acclaim and hasn’t looked back. He’s since opened three Indian restaurants and a fleet of food trucks and become an author and television personality, most notably taking a turn as a Dragon on CBC’s Dragons’ Den. Despite all the success and attention, Vij continues to focus on what he loves to do: cook. During an autumn tour of India, he took time out to speak to Our House magazine about food, fame and his future.

Our House: Where do you call home these days?
Vij: I live in Surrey, B.C., but as an Indian who came to Canada and who loves to travel and get culinary inspiration from around the world, I like to think I’m a global citizen!

I understand you’re in India, can you tell me a little about the purpose of the trip?
Every year I take a trip with some food fans, some of whom have been coming with me for years now, for a Vij’s Culinary Tour. We’ve visited India most often, but we’ve also been to places like Vietnam, Peru and South Africa. I love to experience not only different culinary cultures, but also to re-explore my own roots and to visit different parts of India to see what is being cooked – and how it’s being cooked – and to incorporate those methods into the food in my restaurants. That’s how I stay authentic, and it’s the best way to keep learning and to grow.

Describe how important cooking at home is, not just for yourself but for families and people in general?
I cannot say enough about eating together as a family, and having a home-cooked meal – and I’m a restaurateur! There are stats that show families who make time to eat together each night, who break bread together and talk, have fewer instances of crime, of drug addiction, and of broken homes. Now, that’s easy for me to say – working in the restaurant industry, we were hardly a “sit down for dinner at six o’clock” family. But we made a conscious effort to set aside breakfast time, and an evening each week when we knew we would all be together – and that means no cellphones at the table.

What advice would you give to someone who is afraid of or overwhelmed by the idea of learning how to cook?
I would say just try it. There are so many books out there that will teach you the basics, and if you get it wrong, so what? I don’t use recipes; I put in a few key ingredients that I want to use… then I add more, and then even more until I’m happy with what I’ve cooked. Baking is a science – so it’s hard to go freestyle with that… but cooking is love… and you should experiment and not be put off from trying.

What advice would you give to a young chef thinking about opening his or her own restaurant?
I would say it will be the hardest thing you will ever do. But it will also be the most rewarding. You need three things: the passion to follow your dream of opening a restaurant, an amazing team who will always have your back, and money – ideally lots of it!

Do you cook much at home, or leave it to your restaurants?
I love to cook at home and I love to be in my restaurants seeing other people enjoying their dinner with us. I don’t have my daughters at home to cook for anymore, so I can make what I want. But I like to take my time while I’m cooking. Being in the kitchen is my greatest pleasure, and it’s also my entertainment for the evening, and I don’t want to rush it.

You’ve cooked for celebrities and politicians. Is there someone or a group you haven’t cooked for that you would still like to?
There’s an expression: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” I’d like to teach people how to cook Indian food, and have it added to their repertoire of meals they cook for their family. I’d love to be an ambassador of Indian food in Canada, and I’d like to show as many Canadians as possible to not be daunted by Indian spices and recipes.

Describe your thoughts on the Canadian culinary scene. How do Canadians stack up against the rest of the world?
Canadian cuisine is incredible – and it’s getting better and better. We have the most amazing resources which create the best ingredients. We have fantastic meats and produce from our local farms, we’ve got really great wines, craft beers, gin and vodka, and on the east and west coasts, the seafood is second to none. When you’ve got those world-class resources, then you’re already on the international stage from a culinary perspective.

How does your typical day unfold?
There’s honestly no such thing as a typical day. They are all so different, and it depends on where I am. As much as possible, I get up early and go to yoga, then it’s either meetings and more meetings followed by service at one of the restaurants or, if I’m travelling, I’ll try and eat at someone else’s restaurant to see what they’re up to.

What do you make of the popularity of food shows and channels like the Food Network, and chefs as celebrities?
I think bringing cooking into the mainstream cannot be a bad thing, but I hate the term “celebrity chef,” because our main focus should always be the food, rather than fame. I’ve been involved in many TV shows myself and I’m grateful for the ability to bring an Indian presence there, and to highlight Indian cuisine to a wider audience.

You’ve written books, been on TV shows. Do you see yourself cooking and opening and running more restaurants for the years to come? What does the future hold?
The day I stop cooking is the day I give up on everything! Sure, I’d like to open more restaurants, but I also want to make sure the ones I have are the best they can possibly be and have the attention they deserve. I have two daughters, but I have three other children: Vij’s, Rangoli and My Shanti!

What is the one thing people might not know about you?
I’m known for working the room at my restaurants – but the reason I love to do that is because I originally wanted to be a Bollywood actor. I love to perform and to talk to people and I wanted to be a movie star, but my father said no son of his was going to be an actor, so I became a chef.

Courtesy of Jeremy Deutsch, Lead Writer, Dominion Lending Centres

LIVING THE SIMPLE LIFE – OUR HOUSE MAGAZINE

General Darick Battaglia 2 Feb

Every winter, athletic power couple Ashleigh McIvor and Jay Demerit manage to scale back their busy lives into a 340-square-foot cabin in the woods.

You would think that an Olympic gold medal and a successful pro soccer career would come with an opulent lifestyle, even after retirement from competition. But Canadian freestyle skier Ashleigh MacIvor and former Vancouver Whitecaps captain Jay DeMerit, however, today spend their winters in more austere surroundings.
The couple, along with their two-year-old son, Oakes, shack up in a 340-square-foot cabin nestled in the Coast Mountains near Pemberton, B.C., during the winter months. As MacIvor explains to Our House magazine, the idea of major downsizing was both natural and experimental.
“We are so programmed to want so much more than what we need,” she explains. “I’ve always been happiest in the woods or the mountains, with no sign of the built environment, no technology or electronics, just some great company and—typically—my mountain bike.”
She notes that her husband thrives in the high-energy, highly social environment of a big city, but can appreciate both lifestyles. The couple also have an apartment in Vancouver’s Chinatown and a condo in Whistler that is normally rented out. MacIvor says she was interested to see how Jay would adapt to cabin living.
“I think it’s so easy to get bogged down by all of the noise in modern-day society,” she says. “We don’t even take the time standing in line for coffee to reflect on anything going on in our lives, or to dream up ideas for the future. Instead, we get straight to work on our phones. When you get out of the city, you seem to have more time in each day.”
MacIvor, who grew up in nearby Whistler, describes the cabin as the “fort of all forts.” As a teenager and in her early twenties, she spent a lot of time mountain biking in the Pemberton area and always loved riding two trails in particular: Creampuff and Meatgrinder. In the fall of 2008, glancing over to those bike trails from a nearby barn, she fell in love with what would eventually be her neighbours’ house. Shortly thereafter, MacIvor heard that these residents were selling the adjacent 10-acre parcel. She worked out a deal with them and bought the land in 2008.
The 2010 Olympic medalist decided to build the cabin in 2009 because she was having so much trouble finding a place to live in Whistler—landlords were kicking tenants out to renovate and rent for top dollar during the Olympics. Her dad helped with the framing and some friends pitched in with the rest. They used a lot of recycled building materials from renovation projects in Whistler, and then built a huge deck with a fire pit and added a hot tub.


The former Olympian does have some advice for anyone thinking about doing something similar. She notes that the family takes advantage of storage space, including a shipping container in Pemberton and a storage room attached to their Whistler condo that they can access even when it’s rented.
“I don’t think we would have been able to permanently make the move to 340 square feet, and get rid of all the stuff we think we need to live the city life, or even the Whistler life,” MacIvor says.
While the cabin in the woods may be small, it isn’t without a few luxuries, MacIvor points out. It has a full-sized washer and dryer, in-floor heating in the bathroom, granite countertops and, of course, the hot tub. Still, the family has noticed a difference scaling back their lifestyle during their time there.
“We used to eat out all the time. Like, three meals a day, often. When you live in a cabin in the woods, or even just in a small town, you exhaust your dine-out options pretty quickly and inevitably learn to love cooking at home. And let’s face it, there is probably a lot of extra fat and sugar going into most restaurant dishes,” MacIvor says. “We both felt so much healthier after a few weeks of home-cooked meals and yummy juices/smoothies. And eating out is expensive—albeit less so when you’re a sober, pregnant or breastfeeding woman. It was a good lesson in just how little we could spend, given the chance to remove ourselves from the city life. It’s funny though, when it comes to essentialism, the way I see it, we should all spend less so we can work less.”

Life after Competition

The retired life is anything but for athletes Ashleigh MacIvor and Jay Demerit. Since leaving the pitch in 2014, Demerit has launched a handcrafted stereo manufacturer called the Portmanteau Stereo Co., while also creating a curriculum and running a soccer-focused yet all-encompassing youth development program called Captains Camps. Meanwhile, MacIvor will be in front of the camera joining CBC’s coverage of the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and as an analyst for the World Cup Skicross season.
And she’s got some pretty big predictions for the ski team this year. “We have the best skicross team in the world,” she says. “I have no doubt that we will bring more medals home in 2018. Unfortunately one of our best hopes, reigning Olympic champion Marielle Thompson, just blew her knee. One of the amazing things about Canada Skicross is just how deep the talent pool is. Every one of our athletes has the ability to win an Olympic medal.”
MacIvor is also still fascinated by the Games and the attention they hold every four years. The four-year interval is part of what draws spectators in, she believes. Viewers instinctively understand that these athletes are competing under the highest-pressure conditions they will ever face, and that their chance to prove themselves is fleeting in their sporting careers, let alone their entire lifespans.
With all of the support that goes into sports programming for each nation focused on increasing the chances of winning more Olympic medals, every taxpaying spectator feels like they have played a role in getting these athletes to the big show, she adds.
“Beyond that, I think that we all recognize the positive impact success on that level will have on our nation’s youth as they watch it all unfold,” she says. There are so many valuable life lessons that can be learned through sport. It’s the greatest metaphor for real life survival and strategies for success and fulfillment.”

Courtesy of Jeremy Deutsch, Lead Writer – Dominion Lending Centres