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Robert Redford's Napa Valley retreat for sale

Robert Redford’s Napa Valley retreat for sale

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Robert Redford’s Napa Valley retreat for sale

Superstar actor, director and supporter of the arts, Robert Redford — certainly not one of Hollywood’s Ordinary People — recently celebrated his 82nd birthday and announced his retirement from acting.

In his final film, The Old Man & His Gun — co-starring Sissy Spacek and Casey Affleck — Redford plays a real-life career criminal and escape artist. It was released in September to rave reviews.

For decades, Redford’s permanent residence has been in Utah, home of his Sundance Institute. He and his artist wife, Sibylle Szaggars-Redford, also own a Napa Valley retreat where they enjoy hobbies and hosting family and friends. The Redfords have enjoyed the home for 14 years and have now decided to move back to the Bay Area and put their beloved Napa home on the market. It is priced at $7.5 million.

Redford is one of the few actors who started his career near the top in television, then breaking through to the top as a movie star as the wise-cracking cowboy in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. With every film he made, the awards grew larger and more important continuing to mushroom with the addition of directing and producing. Redford’s long list of money-making and critically acclaimed films rank with the best in Hollywood history: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Sting, The Electric Horseman, Ordinary People, Out of Africa, The Way We Were and A River Runs Through It.

Redford’s other passions, including working for ecological interests, was to help advance new artists in the film industry and creative arts. After filming Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Downhill Racer, he put all his proceeds from the two films into buying an entire ski area near Provost, Utah where he started the Sundance Institute. Using the name from the film, he formed related non-profit businesses under its umbrella such as the Sundance Film Festival, the Sundance cable channel, the Sundance catalogue and others as outlets for new filmmakers and artists.

In addition to receiving the highest film industry awards, top international awards and multiple honorary degrees, he has been recognized with the Kennedy Center Honors and the the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The charming Napa getaway, named Danza del Sol, lies perched on a knoll on 10 ultra-private acres surrounded by woods and vegetation with walking paths. The compound includes the main house, a 90-sq.-ft. artist studio/guest house and two large garages. The 5,200-sq.-ft. main house is modest by film mogul standards with three bedrooms, four bathrooms, a large great room, den, library-office, sunny white kitchen and formal dining room. Multiple wood-burning fireplaces exist throughout the home.

The quaint studio/guest house has a huge open space filled with light from a wall of French doors and a double garage door that rises high into the vaulted ceiling. One of the two garages houses a large workshop and exercise studio. Terraces by the pool, spa and outdoor dining areas offer calming views and are perfect for entertaining.

The Napa Valley estate of Robert Redford is now for sale. Priced at $7.5 million, the listing agent is Steven Mavromihalis of Pacific Union International, San Francisco.

toptenrealestatedeals.com/homes/weekly-ten-best-homedeals/ 2018/11-19-2018/1/


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Make sleep a priority this year

Make sleep a priority this year

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Make sleep a priority this year

Three simple solutions to achieve your sleep resolution for overall good health and beauty from sleep authority Dr. Harvey Karp.

While most people’s New Year’s resolutions tend to be about exercise and weight loss, Happiest Baby has found that many people yearn to become better sleepers. And they can learn from their babies.

Dr. Harvey Karp, sleep authority, best-selling author of Happiest Baby on the Block and the creator of Snoo, a baby bed that can boost sleep by one hour or more, offers these suggestions to achieve your ZZZZZ resolutions – and keep them all year ’round!

White noise

It’s not just for babies and it’s got to be the right kind kind of white noise. There are two types of white noise: low and high pitches. High-pitched noises — like beepers, alarms, and sirens — are great for getting a baby’s attention, but lower-pitched noises — like the rumble of a car, train, or plane — are more soothing and can lull you to sleep, says Karp.

Low pitched noises — like the sound of rain on the roof — that you play all night encourages sleep.

Prep yourself for sleep

Cool down your room and get yourself calmed and ready for sleep. Lower the lights, turn off the TV and your phone, sip some tea, or read a few pages in a book or a magazine — whatever relaxes you.


It’s not just for babies. Grown-ups will feel cozy and safe when surrounded by their best blanket or coverlet. It helps you feel secure and safe.

Beauty benefits

Getting your beauty sleep is real. Remember, your body recovers and repairs itself when you sleep, leading to a long list of benefits for your looks (and your brain). Too little sleep is likely to affect your appearance. Your skin is making collagen while you sleep; puffiness is settling and a good sleep will result in a glowing complexion.



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Engineered for stardom

Engineered for stardom

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Engineered for stardom

Canadian media personality — co-host of Entertainment Tonight Canada — Sangita Patel has been named a spokeswoman for Covergirl’s Simply Ageless Collection relaunch heading to stores this month.

Patel has become a familiar face on Canada’s leading entertainment show, Entertainment Tonight Canada and is the host of HGTV’s Home to Win.

Fearless and inspiring to women of all ages, Sangita embodies what it’s like to be simply ageless and pursues her passions with an unapologetic approach to beauty at any age. She is the latest addition to a diverse line up of women leading the charge in breaking boundaries in beauty that includes 70-year-old model and dietician Maye Musk, international pop sensation Katy Perry, cookbook author and television personality Ayesha Curry and actress and producer Issa Rae.

As a trailblazing TV personality and entertainment journalist who balances her successful career with motherhood and a passion for health and fitness, Patel is thrilled her partnership with Covergirl comes in the same month as her milestone 40th birthday. The new Simply Ageless campaign, which features Patel alongside Musk, celebrates women of all ages with the message that women should be proud to share their age with the world, no matter the number.

“It’s the big 40 and I’m kicking it off by joining the Covergirl family! It is a dream-come-true opportunity to partner with a brand that has always celebrated all types of beauty and that continues to challenge the singular beauty standard,” Patel said. “True beauty is loving yourself, at any age.”

Sangita, who has lived her life in the spotlight for more than a decade, understands the importance of quality beauty products that go beyond the skin’s surface, which made the partnership with Covergirl a natural fit.

Patel is one of the most engaging media personalities in Canada today. Her love for math and science led her to study electrical engineering and earned her P.Eng. Then her career took a turn to live her true passion in television. Named one of HELLO! Canada magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People, she has also received the Reelworld Festival’s Traiblazer Award, and been named Anokhi magazine’s Television Personality of the Year. She also manages to find time to take on cameo roles in feature films including Arrival, and TV shows like Guillermo Del Toro’s The Strain.

Sangita, a proud mom to two little girls, also believes in a healthy lifestyle and uses her #FitnessTuesday to motivate thousands of her social media followers. Sangita loves to laugh and her mantra is: Smile and surround yourself with positive energy.



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6 ways to enjoy your backyard this winter

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6 ways to enjoy your backyard this winter

We may live in the Great White North, but far too many backyard-loving Canucks eagerly countdown to 30C days before enjoying their outdoor oasis. In actuality, there’s far more outdoor time to be had before the ice melts. It’s time to stop giving the winter months the cold shoulder. Even in Canada there is a way to make the most of your exterior living space in every season.

Pulling from the National Home Show’s list of experts in everything from decor aesthetics and technology to horticulture, here are six ways to use your backyard in any of the four seasons:

Light it up

On chilly nights, investing in a chic firepit or heat lamp can help extend your outdoor time. Footpath lights and twinkling patio sting lights add additional ambiance and just enough luminesce to keep things from getting too dark on shorter days, and in the summer will help with pesky mosquitoes. But remember less is more. Don’t feel the need to over illuminate, as too many lights may ruin the view of a perfect starlit night sky.

Bring the indoors, out

For those who love to lounge but are worried about the elements damaging furniture, making the investment into water resistant fabrics for couches, cushions and throws from retailers like Andrew Richard Designs will be what will be what keeps things homey and fuss-free. You can even find fabulous, low maintenance outdoor accessories such as rugs that will help tie everything together.

And, don’t forget that your living room isn’t the only space you can take outside. Mancaves, playrooms and even office spaces now offer outdoor weather-resistant materials that will withstand the elements. Fully heated and lit, these spaces can have all the comforts of their indoor counterparts with an added outdoor wow.

Do more than grill and chill

Your senses are heightened in the cold, so what better time to throw some savoury bites on your outdoor grill and get your guest’s mouths watering. Pizza ovens and smokers are often overlooked champions for outdoor entertaining, not to mention an outdoor rated sink, fridge, dishwasher and even a beer tap like those at TA Appliance. No more need to rush back indoors when entertaining.

Call the landscape experts

Even when the greenery of your backyard is covered in snow, it may still be time to call in the experts. Landscaping can be used for so much more than giving your grass a trim. Peter Bonanno of Curb Appeal says bringing in an outdoor expert in the off season can help better determine how to best define and split up a space. Without any clutter of pre-set furniture, you’ll get a better picture of how to maximize your square-footage and determine what you want to use your backyard for. Landscaping can help define exterior areas into separate “rooms” like the inside of your home, leading to a better utilized outdoor area.

Embrace the elements

Patio enclosures are a perfect way to take in all the elements you love and close yourself off from the undesirables: wind, rain and pesky insects. From sleek retractable glass walls to more traditional screened in porches, you’ll be covered no matter what Mother Nature has in store.

Make a spa day, every day

Being outdoors shouldn’t be all about roughing it. Investing in your backyard is an investment in you. Not just a 1970s fad, hot tubs and jacuzzis have come a long way. From swim spas to saunas and so much more, you can find an option to pamper yourself that will fit in just about any backyard, and at every price point.

If you’re looking for even more inspiring home and garden ideas, and to see these backyard tips come to life, visit the National Home Show presented by ReMax and co-located with Canada Blooms from March 8 to 17 at The Enercare Centre in the Exhibition Place in Toronto.



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Hokkaido – Japan’s northern delight

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Hokkaido – Japan’s northern delight

Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan — Its early morning and the streets of Hokkaido’s capital are blanketed with a carpet of freshly-fallen snow. An icy wind sweeps down from the fortress of mountains guarding Sapporo and the sun slowly rises from behind the highest peak, fabled Mount Moiwa, into a cloudless, cobalt sky. The Yezo spruce trees in Odori Park bend under the weight of the snow — their branches appear to be bowing in appreciation of winter finally arriving.

From my hotel window, lovely Sapporo looks like a giant Christmas card.

While others may curse winter, it’s actually looked upon as a gift in Sapporo and the other fabulous ski regions of Hokkaido, Japan’s largest prefecture, which is quickly becoming a Bucket List destination for lovers of the sport.

That’s because this beautiful northern island outpost that’s dotted with lots of snow-capped volcanic mountains — six are active — offers skiers some of the best runs and resorts in the world. In fact, this land of fire and ice gets more snow — between 14m and 18m annually — then does competitors like Whistler (11.7m), Val d’Azure (7.82m), Aspen (4.3m) and St. Moritz (4.3m).

The one thing those other ski destinations don’t have, though, is Sapporo.

“You can’t spend all your time skiing. You need to eat, drink and have fun. And Sapporo has plenty of that,” Katsuko Kemanai, a local guide assures me as we set out to explore the city best known globally as the beer capital of Japan.

“All the major Japanese breweries have factories here — Kirin, Asahi, Suntory and of course Sapporo,” says Katsuko, who has been guiding visitors around her beloved city for the last 30 years.

“We even have a beer museum and it’s the most popular museum in our city. I wonder why?” asks the guide with a wry smile.

At the museum, where I get to sample some of the local brew, I learn that Sapporo’s ground water is the best in Japan and perfectly suited for making beer. Hokkaido is also where hops, the key ingredient in beer, flourish in the wild.

After a day of skiing at world-class resorts like Sapporo Teine, Sapporo Kokusai, Kiroro, Asari and Tomamu — all within a short drive of the city — skiers can dine on lots of traditional Japanese cuisine in Sapporo. Hokkaido, after all, is where the famed Raman noodle first appeared and the agricultural prefecture produces most of the country’s food supply.

No wonder Hokkaido is often called the “bread basket of Japan.”

Entertainment is never in short supply in Sapporo. And for those who are looking for some naughty nightlife, Susukino, in Sapporo’s Chuo-ku district, is the place for you. Susukino is said to rival Tokyo’s Kabukicho and Fukuoka’s Nakasu as Japan’s best red light district and, with over 1,600 bars, nightclubs and restaurants, there’s plenty to keep you up late.

“Susukino never sleeps,” says my elderly guide, who cautions me “to be careful because the prices in Susukino for food and drink is much higher than the rest of Sapporo.”

No one does winter better than Sapporo, the city that hosted the 1972 Winter Olympics and until recently was in the running for the 2026 Winter Games before withdrawing its bid.

The 1972 Olympics still ranks among the best ever held and are remembered at the city’s informative Olympic Museum, located at the foot of the Okurayama Ski Jump Stadium. From the ski run, you get incredible views of downtown Sapporo. There are lots of interactive displays at the Olympic museum and the kids just love this storehouse of history.

Sapporo’s annual Snow Festival in February attracts millions of people each year and during the Christmas season downtown parks are decked out in colourful light displays. A Christmas Market, as good as anything I’ve seen in Germany, dominates Odori Park and has a direct Olympic connection.

“Munich and Sapporo hosted the Olympic Games the same year,” says Katsuko, referring to Munich’s ill-fated 1972 Summer Games, which was marred by a terrorist attack that left 11 Israeli Olympic team members dead.

“Munich and Sapporo became sister cities after that and Munich officials helped set up our Christmas Market,”  the guide says.

From a population of just seven in 1857, Sapporo has grown to almost two million residents, making it Hokkaido’s biggest city and the fourth largest metropolis in Japan.

In 2019, Hokkaido will celebrate its 150th anniversary of statehood and Sapporo will be the epicentre for many of the events surrounding that celebration. Katsuko is quick to remind me, though, that Hokkaido is much older than 150 years.

“Our history dates back to the 10th century when the indigenous Ainu people arrived from Mongolia,” she says. “They were hunters and the area back then was called Yezo.”

The name Hokkaido first appeared in 1868 during the Meiji Era when this vast island frontier was made a prefecture. However, Hokkaido was not officially “united” with the rest of Japan until a high speed train tunnel was completed in 2016 at the southern gateway city of Hakodate, 310km south of Sapporo. The Seikan Tunnel, as it’s known, is 53.85km in length and 23.3 kilometres of this engineering marvel sits under the Tsugaru Strait seabed.

Relics from the Ainu people are scattered throughout Sapporo and some of the best evidence of their ancient culture can be found in concourse displays in Sapporo’s main rail station.

The best place to see all of Hokkaido’s remarkable history is at the Prefecture Museum, housed in the former Prefecture Government Office (parliament), a handsome red brick building from 1888 that dominates the entrance to Odori Park, where a version of Tokyo Tower stands.

The prefecture’s deep agricultural roots are best explored at the Clock Tower Museum (Tokeidai), the former drill hall of Sapporo’s original Agricultural College, which opened in 1878. The clock, made in Boston, was installed in 1881 and hasn’t missed a beat since. The building was moved to its present downtown location a few years ago and stands out from Sapporo’s steel and stone skyline.

Most of the high quality produce grown in Hokkaido ends up on tables in Tokyo, Osaka, Yokohama and Kyoto.

“The Sapporo ki onion is one of our most prized vegetables,”  the guide says. “The word ki means yellow in Japanese and the onion is very sweet.

Hokkaido also produces the world’s most famous cantaloupes, which sell for upwards of $2,000 each in Tokyo’s boutique food shops. I fork over 3,000 yen (about C$35) to enjoy the incredible taste and it’s money well spent.

“The melon farmers actually put little hats on their cantaloupes so they don’t get sunburn,” Katsuko tells me.

Skiers who like to shop will fall in love with Sapporo’s Tanukikoji Shopping Arcade, which dates back to the city’s pioneer days.

“The literal translation of this shopping arcade is Raccoon Dog Street,” says Katsuko.

The one-km-long arcade is a big tourist draw and features 200 shops, most of which sell Hokkaido souvenirs. Outside one shop stands two fierce looking stuffed brown bears and the guide tells me the beasts thrive in the forested mountains surrounding Sapporo.

“They still wander into the suburbs from time-to-time and cause problems,” said Katsuko.

The roofed arcade starts at Nishi-1-chome and ends at Nishi-7-chome, where the city’s famed Nijo fish market is located.

A small manmade canal sits across from the market and Katsuko tells me it was constructed to bring the daily catch from the Sea of Japan straight to the market. The canal, known locally as the Sosei River, is no longer used as a transport route but does divide Sapporo into east and west sectors.

Two of Japan’s most treasured symbols, the Japanese crane and the sea turtle, make their home in Hokkaido.

Both creatures are symbols of longevity and once you visit Sapporo, you hope to live long enough to visit all the fabulous places on Hokkaido.


The top ski areas in Sapporo are:

  • Sapporo Teine is 20km northwest of downtown Sapporo and is made up of two interconnected ski areas; Teine Olympia and Teine Highland. Teine Olympia is perfect for beginners and kids, whilst Teine Highland has some awesome steep tree skiing.
  • Sapporo Kokusai is 46km west of Sapporo and boasts a massive 18m of powder per season. While its in-bounds area gets a bit crowded, there is plenty of fresh snow to be found in its backcountry areas.
  • Kiroro is 43km west of Sapporo and is good for a day trip. Kiroro is a modern resort and it scores full marks thanks to its incredible powder.
  • Asari ski resort is near Otaru, also a good day trip from Sapporo. It has great deserted off-piste and backcountry areas. Asari is at low elevation so it’s good for really windy days when the other ski resorts are a bit nasty.
  • Tomamu is another modern Japanese ski resort that has good piste runs and some great off-piste riding. Tomamu is an 100-minute train ride from Sapporo but well worth the ride. Getting there: Fly to Tokyo with Air Canada and then fly to Sapporo with a regional carrier like Japan Airlines or ANA. You can also take the bullet train from Tokyo to Hokkaido.

Information: For more information on Hokkaido, Sapporo and Japan, go to ilovejapan.ca

Marc Atchison is a veteran journalist and a seasoned traveller with more than 20 years of travel writing experience. He is Editor-in-Chief and Senior Writer for TraveLife magazine (Canada) and travelife.ca


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Popping good fun!

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Popping good fun!

The enveloping aroma and satisfying crunch of popcorn is every snack-lovers dream. And this classic treat gets the chance to step into the spotlight on Jan. 19, National Popcorn Day.

Need some inspiration on how to celebrate with popcorn? Here are a few fun and easy ideas.

Spice it up: Dress your popcorn with a dash of chilli powder and some lime juice to spice things up.

Sweeten the deal: Melt some dark or milk chocolate and drizzle over warm, freshly popped popcorn to satisfy both those sweet and salty cravings.

Make it your own: Throw in some pretzel bits and your favourite movie theatre candy for a fun and personalized treat.

Popcorn is a convenient snack and a source of fibre that pops up in just minutes so you can spend more time celebrating and snacking with family. Make sure to have this 100 per cent whole grain and gluten-free snack on hand for those family movie nights and after-school fuel-ups.


Popcorn is a classic favourite that can be enjoyed in many different ways. This simple popcorn trail mix recipe is easy to make and packed with 100 per cent whole grains as a source of fibre for on-the-go snacking.


  • No-stick cooking spray
  • 1 bag (82 g) Orville Redenbacher simply salted microwave popcorn
  • 2 cups (240 g) granola
  • 1 cup (120 g) quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 1 cup (120 g) dried cranberries
  • ½ tsp (2.5 mL) ground cinnamon
  • ½ (60 g) cup sunflower kernels
  • ½ tsp (2.5 mL) honey
  • 1/3 cup (40 g) butter, melted


  • Preheat oven to 300F (14°C). Prepare popcorn according to package directions. Remove all un-popped kernels. Place popped corn in large bowl. Add granola, oats, dried cranberries and cinnamon; toss together. Set aside.
  • Spray a mixing spoon and a shallow baking pan with cooking spray.
  • Mix together sunflower kernels, honey and butter in small bowl. Pour over popcorn mixture and mix well with spoon. Spread mixture evenly in the pan.
  • Bake 30 minutes, stirring once halfway through time. Cool 20 minutes before breaking clumps apart with spoon. Store in tightly sealed container up to one week.


Bring back the old favourites for your next night in, enjoy some quality time together and make it a memorable one with these simple tips and tricks.

Prep your space: Before you start, do a little prep work to make the space fun and inviting. Change up your living area to make it feel cozy for the whole family. Try building a fort with bed sheets or putting up a tent indoors and make sure lots of blankets and pillows are on hand for ultimate comfort.

Poll your movie picks: Between different age groups and personal tastes, it can be hard finding a movie you can all agree on, so create a voting system where each family member states their choice and draw straws for the winner. Plan ahead so people can get excited about the final choice. Once you pick, get your kids to make up tickets for entry into the movie. Kids love crafts, and this is a perfect activity to keep them busy around dinnertime.

Keep snacking simple: You can spend more time with your family and less time in the kitchen with easy snacks. It’s no movie night without popcorn, and microwave popcorn is a wholesome, convenient snack that takes minutes to make.


Expressing your love doesn’t need to be reserved just for Valentine’s Day. Show you care with little touches that will let that special someone know you are thinking of them. Whether it’s your significant other, friend or family member, personal gestures like writing a note or warming up their car can let them know they are special to you.

If you are planning a night in, make movie night pop by subbing a bowl of popcorn for a special treat like these salted caramel popcorn bars. They are a delicious blend of sweet and salty, perfect for a night on the couch with your favourite person.



  • No-stick cooking spray
  • 1 bag (82 g) Orville Redenbacher simply salted microwave popcorn
  • 40 small pretzel twists, coarsely broken (1 cup broken pieces)
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) unsalted butter
  • 20 caramels unwrapped
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) water
  • 1/8 teaspoon (1/2 g) salt
  • 3 cups (360 g) miniature marshmallows
  • ¼ cup (30 g) peanut butter


  • Spray large bowl, rubber spatula and 13×9-inch (33×23-cm) baking dish with cooking spray. Prepare popcorn according to package directions. Remove all unpopped kernels and place popped corn in large bowl. Add pretzel pieces to bowl.
  • Melt butter over medium heat in medium saucepan; add caramels, water and salt. Heat 5 minutes or until caramels melt completely, stirring occasionally. Add marshmallows and peanut butter; heat 1 to 2 minutes more, stirring until blended.
  • Pour caramel mixture over popcorn mixture. Toss with rubber spatula to coat.
  • Press into baking dish; cool completely. Cut into 24 bars.


Prone to feel that urge of panging hunger coming home from work or school?

These wholesome popcorn bars are easy to make, can satisfy your cravings and are perfect for the whole family.



  • No-stick cooking spray
  • 1 bag (82 g) Orville Redenbacher buttery flavour microwave popcorn
  • 2 cups (240 g) quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 1 cup (120 g) dried cranberries (or raisins)
  • 1 cup (120 g) dry roasted peanuts
  • 1 cup (120 g) firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup (250 mL) honey


  • Preheat oven to 300F (149C). Spray 13×9-inch (33×23-cm) baking pan with cooking spray; set aside.
  • Prepare popcorn according to package directions. Remove all un-popped kernels. Place popcorn in large bowl; top with oats, cranberries and peanuts.
  • Combine brown sugar and honey in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat for 6 minutes or until mixture comes to full boil and sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally.
  • Pour syrup over popcorn mixture and toss gently to coat evenly with syrup. Place mixture in pan.
  • Bake 20 minutes, stirring once midway through baking. Remove from oven; lightly press popcorn mixture evenly in pan. Cool on rack about two hours or until set. Cut in 24 bars. Store in tightly sealed container.

Find more convenient recipes online at orville.conagrafoods.ca



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THE INDUSTRY INSIDER: Affordability is a challenge

Affordability is a challenge: The prices of condos have been rising

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Affordability is a challenge: The prices of condos have been rising

The prices of condos, which used to offer homebuyers a more affordable choice, have been rising, reducing the advantage of this option.

Every fall, BILD invites experts on economics and housing to join us for breakfast and speak to our members about what the GTA housing market will look like in the coming year. This fall was no exception and I was heartened by much of what I heard about current and future trends from Patricia Arsenault of Altus Group and Dana Senagama of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). I also saw we have much left to do around housing supply and affordability in our region.

There’s no doubt we have a lot to look forward to in the GTA. Economic conditions are expected to be solid in the short term, with the employment growth rate projected to be 1.8 per cent in 2019, according to Arsenault, who is Altus Group’s executive vice president, data solutions. More GTA households than last year are planning renovations of over $5,000 in the next year, and the percentage of GTA households that currently rent but plan to buy a home in the next year has rebounded after softening last summer, according to Altus Group’s survey.

But these survey results only indicate what homeowners and potential new homebuyers intend to do, not what they are ultimately able to do, and Arsenault noted that households may take longer to save for that first home in the face of new mortgage hurdles and housing affordability challenges. The prices of condo apartments, which used to offer potential homebuyers a more affordable choice than single-family homes, have been rising, reducing the advantage of this option. In September, the benchmark price of new condo apartments was $789,643 and the benchmark price of new single-family homes at $1,119,533.

Despite rapid price gains in both ownership and rental markets, the supply response has been weak or inelastic, said Senagama, who is CMHC’s manager of market analysis. That means our housing supply is not rising in response to increased demand for housing and the corresponding increase in the prices of homes, as the law of supply and demand would lead us to expect. In fact, Senagama showed that Toronto is one of the markets in Canada that are not at the risk of overbuilding.

I was not surprised to hear this. BILD has consistently delivered the same message. We have said that we are not building enough housing to accommodate the 115,000 new residents who are arriving in our region every year. We should be building 50,000 homes every year, and last year we only built 38,000. A big reason for this supply shortfall is the lengthy development process that housing projects face in the GTA, slowed down by outdated regulation and red tape.

We should be updating zoning bylaws and official plans and streamlining the list of conditions for municipal approvals, so that we can build the housing our growing region needs. Only then will potential homebuyers be able to afford to make their dream of owning a home a reality.

David Wilkes is president and CEO of BILD.


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THE ENGINEERING INTERN: Five reasons to cheer highrise development

Five reasons to cheer highrise development — when it’s done right

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Five reasons to cheer highrise development — when it’s done right

Reduced traffic, better commutes, improved streetscapes and more positive impacts that might turn a NIMBY into a YIMBY.

I recently attended my first community information meeting about planning for future development in the downtown core of London, Ont. The meeting helped me understand the negative stigma that residents in lowrise communities often have against highrise development close to their homes.

At this meeting, many attendees spoke out against the concept of highrise development. This inspired me to discuss the topic with other Stantec team members, including one of our planners, Stephanie Bergman. She explained that, unfortunately, this is the reality at these sorts of public meetings. The “not in my backyard” (NIMBY) voices nearly always overpower the “yes in my backyard” (YIMBY) voices. The result is less highrise development.

If highrise developers match the façade of existing buildings in the area, and couple that with new and improved landscaping, it can really improve the streetscape.
If highrise developers match the façade of existing buildings in the area, and couple that with new and improved landscaping, it can really improve the streetscape.

So, what’s the solution? According to Bergman, we need more YIMBYs taking part in the processes that will shape communities and help promote some of the positive impacts of highrise development. If highrise development is done right, there can be many positive effects. Here are five benefits that just might shift you from NIMBY to YIMBY.

Highrise development gives young professionals the opportunity to live downtown: The housing market in London has boomed over the past few years, which makes it difficult for freshly graduated young professionals to find affordable living. I fall into this category. If I want to live close to work — something I value greatly — my only option is to rent. Single-family homes in this location are too expensive. For this reason, highrise condos have become the only available means for a single person to own property downtown and, in general, close to where they work.

More people walking to work means less commuter traffic: I’ve spent my life driving everywhere I need to go in a car. Since I began renting an apartment close to work, I find myself walking rather than driving, not only to the office, but to most of the places I frequently visit. In the community information meeting, one issue that came up was increased traffic due to higher densities of people in a small area. While this makes sense in theory, the reality is if someone is looking for a place downtown, it most often means they work downtown as well. It also means that the downtown resident will likely prefer to avoid driving to work — taking transit, a bike, or walking instead — which would lower overall commuter traffic.

Many new highrise buildings utilize the ground level for commercial, retail, or some other active use.
Many new highrise buildings utilize the ground level for commercial, retail, or some other active use.

The creation of active ground floor uses: Most of the new highrise buildings I have seen developed over recent years utilize the ground level fronting city streets for commercial, retail, or some other active use. This opens new possibilities for retail shops and restaurants to open, where previously there was only a parking lot or old building that had been underutilized. This gives new life to areas that were once bare. If a new café wants to open along my walk to work, count me in!

Improved and updated streetscape: Another hot topic at the information meeting was the look of highrises near residential communities. In my experience, developers want their buildings to stand out in a good way. A lot of effort goes into the look of the building, particularly the first few floors, as these are the only floors people see when walking by. Matching the facade of existing buildings in the area, coupled with new and improved landscaping, makes areas that were once asphalt pads look renewed and become something enjoyable to see on your morning run.

More eyes on the street: Increasing the density of people in an area means more eyes on that area. This creates an artificial “neighbourhood watch,” where more people constantly interact and truly see one another. More people on the street creates an atmosphere of safety and provides informal surveillance of the urban environment. Bergman mentioned this point to me, and I find it very interesting, as it doesn’t seem like something people would think about when looking at a highrise development proposed in their area.

I’m hoping that readers can see what a highrise development done right can do for a community. There’s a value that comes with it. I’ve always seen development as progress, and progress for your city is a good thing. Let’s get more people saying YIMBY instead of NIMBY.

Derrick Rice is an engineering intern at Stantec‘s London, Ont. office.


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THE COUNCIL: Keeping the trades satisfied

Keeping the trades satisfied: Labour crunch leads to survey

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Keeping the trades satisfied: Labour crunch leads to survey

Labour crunch leads to survey to learn how to keep construction workers happy on the job.

Ontario construction is facing a labour crunch in the next 10 years with almost 90,000 trades workers set to retire during that time, according to BuildForce Canada.

Learning about that figure triggered a conversation that led RESCON to join forces with Job Talks, an organization with a strong track record in academia and in construction. Together with the Ontario Residential Council of Construction Associations, they have launched a survey to learn what satisfies trades professionals day-to-day as they build Ontario.

“We’re thinking about the future,” said Andrew Pariser, vice president of the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON). “We’ve seen labour shortages on and off in different trades for more than a decade. We must prepare for how this will affect all construction sectors including residential and infrastructure and how it will impact our ability to build in the future.

“Our goal is to better understand how we can retain current workers, recruit new workers, and build a labour force to match tomorrow’s needs. If we recruit the right people and provide them with the right opportunities, we can greatly improve all training and apprenticeship initiatives.”

The academically-based survey analysis will be carried out by Job Talks. Recent Job Talks projects include a national survey of workers in Red Seal trades and a complementary interview series on YouTube, as well as a national study that reveals new distinct segments of Canada’s working population.

“It takes at least 20 minutes and is open to any person who works on tools or owns a pair of safety boots in infrastructure and residential trades in Ontario,” said Jon Callegher of Job Talks. It has multiple choice and open-ended questions that “help us understand how construction workers really feel about their jobs and to gauge their happiness on the job.”

The results of the survey will inform a report on retention and job satisfaction of trades workers in construction. It is available here.

For more information, email dibe@rescon.com.

Richard Lyall is the president of RESCON.


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THE DESIGN CONSULTANT: Just because you can, doesn't mean you should

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should

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Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should

Take the time to evaluate your workplace, align it to the overall business plan and empower it to maximize your most critical asset: the employee.

We have seen a significant change in the nature of work. This has been highly influenced by advances in technology and increased need for mobility, generational and population shifts, diversity and inclusiveness. Cities and buildings are changing in parallel to work and work patterns. Land is becoming scarce and buildings more valuable. To stay competitive, organizations must leverage every opportunity – which includes people, place and technology.

As someone who has been practicing in the design field for over 25 years, one of my favourite pieces of advice is, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” While it applies to a multitude of experiences, such as the use of sound effects in PowerPoint, it also applies to trendy workplace decisions, such as the removal of all walls, un-assigning workstations and the provision of beer kegs in work lounges.

Many organizations are scrambling to create workplaces to attract and retain new generations. The workplace is a significant contributor to employee attraction and retention, productivity and loyalty. These are crucial to an organization’s success.

While competition for talent is driving CEOs and real estate leaders to redesign, relocate and reinvent, it should be a collective goal to view the workplace as an extension of compensation – and just as practical. Rather than focusing on trendy solutions that may be short-lived, take the time to evaluate the workplace, align it to the overall business plan and empower it to maximize your most critical asset: the employee.

This can be accomplished in several ways. First, by leveraging the workplace to drive employee engagement, spaces help define the culture. There are clear benefits to having a strong unified culture and the workplace is an example of visually persistent culture. Ultimately, the workplace is a constant reminder of our values, brand and identity.

While there are many influences on corporate culture, two main drivers at present are the millennial generation and technology.

Millennials are driving the workplace changes. They have high expectations and desire a strong corporate image. Tech companies made the entrepreneurial, incubating culture of their workplaces desirable and have spread trends such as “scrum style” work areas, meditation rooms, ping pong areas and lounges like wildfire throughout offices worldwide.

This demand for cool workplaces has increased greatly in the last decade — but what constitutes cool is not so easily defined. It is decidedly dependent on the vision of the company and requires careful analysis of the brand.

Collaborative work environments are at the core of the modern office. Organizations that are collaborative are also more innovative. Brainstorming brings forward the best ideas and strengthens interpersonal relationships between employees, which makes organizations stronger and more robust. Collaboration between departments provides for more transparency and often results in a more efficient use of resources. While digital collaboration is critical, nothing beats face-to-face collaboration fostered by a wide variety of work settings.

Beyond meeting rooms, employees benefit from lounges, coffee bars, decompression areas and places that foster physical activity. Essentially, learning and sharing occurs best when it can be nurtured in different ways: visual, aural, verbal, physical, logical, social and solitary. Good workspace design accommodates all seven.

A great workplace provides a combination of spaces that foster productivity and accommodates both focused work and collaborative work. Modern work environments should not default to monotonous seas of hoteling, benching or touchdown workstations to maximize capacity and save real estate dollars. Careful thought and planning should go into developing future goals and aspirations.

Aligning the business objectives to the workplace plan to drive innovation, productivity and employee health and happiness should be the first exercise in any workplace redesign. By balancing a variety of space types and projecting the appropriate image with visual cues, workplace design becomes an active part in making an organization successful. When designing for productivity, we must evaluate activity-based work settings, public/private zoning, territoriality, mobility and the continuum of work habits.

Cushman & Wakefield’s Experience per Square Foot (XSF) survey measures employees’ current work experience in their office space and identifies the biggest levers for optimizing the employee experience. XSF analysis consistently has found that ensuring minimal distractions in the workplace is the top driver of employees’ ability to focus on their work. Other common drivers include availability and access to data and information, privacy, and having the types of space needed for various tasks.

Three of these four top levers point to the need to approach densification efforts with a focus on employees’ day-to-day effectiveness and not just on cost savings. This requires a variety of space types throughout the office to support individual and group work.

It is important to note that people are territorial by nature. Objects, spaces, relationships and behavioural roles are areas in which people claim ownership. Territory can help to create social belonging and establish a sense of psychological and physical comfort. How does this affect life at the office and the creation of workspaces? The key to a successful and respectful workplace is balance.

While specific success KPIs may vary, facilities managers, designers, architects and real estate professionals are keenly aware of how environments affect occupants. There is increased scrutiny to determine and measure how the workplace can affect productivity, health, sociability, efficiency and responsiveness to change. At Cushman and Wakefield, we have entitled this balanced approach the The Holistic Workplace.

Each of these categories offers a distinct way of setting goals and measuring successes. It is an established process that allows us to ask the right questions and predict the outcomes.

For example, when designing for productivity, we must evaluate activity-based work settings, public/private zoning, territoriality, mobility and the continuum of work habits. In establishing a healthy workplace, a thorough analysis of individual and group needs must be performed while integrating sustainable, ergonomic, biophilic and wellness-focused initiatives. A social workplace must promote learning and collaboration while making spaces inspirational and aspirational. Efficient workspaces are streamlined and optimized to align to business objectives, occupancy scenarios and utilization strategies. Responsive workspace design recognizes that organizations are living and constantly changing so the work environment should be able to adapt to suit new needs. By future proofing — a.k.a. designing with an eye on the future — as much as possible, we can provide flexibility, save valuable dollars and provide a great workplace that serves as a catalyst for organizational and business success.

Samantha Sannella is managing director, strategic consulting for Cushman and Wakefield.


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