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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Fence Me In

Fence Me In: Ideas for Defining Your Outdoor Space

Good fences make good neighbours – and the right fence can really make your yard. These steps can help you find a style that works for your space.

Step 1: Determine your needs
First, figure out the purpose of your fence. Do you want it to provide privacy? Beautify your yard? Keep kids or pets in? Comply with pool safety standards? Define your property lines? Add to the value of your home? Determining your needs can help you choose the right fence for you.
Step 2: Choose your style
- Private. A solid-board fence blocks an unattractive view completely, but it also cuts out light and breezes and can make you feel boxed in.
- Semi-private. This style, which can have subtle spacing, louvers or lattice to let in light, is friendly, comfortable, and makes your yard feel bigger.
- Open. Great if you want to enclose your property but don’t want to block it off visually.
Step 3: Select your material
Your options are limited only by your imagination and, of course, your budget.
Chain-link. Definitely the most cost-effective choice, but not necessarily the most aesthetically pleasing. It’s good for defining boundaries, keeping kids and pets in, and maintaining a sense of openness. If you’ve got a big yard and a small budget, this is the way to go.
Wood. Styles range from split rail and picket fences to board-on-board styles that look great on both sides and offer privacy, yet let in air and light. The downside to wood? It needs regular maintenance to look good over time.
PVC/vinyl. Vinyl fencing looks just like painted wood, but you’ll never need to paint it – all you have to do is clean it once a year.
Iron, aluminum or steel. Use it if you want an open, formal look. Aluminum, which looks like wrought iron but is less expensive, is the most budget-friendly choice. If cost isn’t an issue, custom ironwork is an excellent way to incorporate a fence or gate that’s completely unique.
Natural “fencing.” Hedges and shrubs reduce noise and dust better than a fence, are less expensive, and look lush and beautiful. You’ll just have to be patient while your “fence” grows in.
A great-looking fence adds tremendous value to your home – whether it’s resale value or your own enjoyment of it over the years. Think carefully about your needs and your personal style, then go ahead and build a fence you’ll love.
Be nice to your neighbours.
Talk to them before you do anything. Choose a design that looks good from both sides, and make sure you know exactly where your property lines are.
Think outside the box.
You may not need to surround your whole yard to get the privacy you want. Consider using a fence to screen in a sitting area or create an outdoor room.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Clash of cultures on the way?

Companies need to prepare for up to six generations in the workplace

A career military man and veteran of the Korean War, Richard Waterson toed the line and respected his superiors throughout his work life. The Edmonton senior, now a community volunteer, says he's troubled that both values appear to be in decline.
"Today, the younger generation seems to want everything without doing anything," says Waterson, who at 80 says he's discouraged by how frequently he encounters self-interest, disdain and disengagement among those his junior. "When I was growing up, you respected [your elders] thoroughly."
If the immortal lyrics of Aretha Franklin seem applicable now, just wait.
In the coming decades, labour analysts predict there could be as many as six generations working alongside each other - a situation they say could plague organizations that aren't prepared for the inevitable clash in values, work ethic and, indeed, respect.
"You're going to see lots of conflict between different levels of employees. But what it will really be is conflict between generations," says Linda Duxbury, a professor at the Sprott School of Business at Carleton University in Ottawa.
When Ofelia Isabel entered the corporate world, she says, she looked at her organization's senior employees with the utmost deference. The Toronto woman says she's not sure she'll command the same knee-jerk respect from young hires when it's her turn on top.
"I see it as an opportunity," says the member of the Canadian leadership team at Towers Watson, a global human-resources consultancy. "The respect will still be there, but it won't be automatic just because of having a title. It will have to be earned."
Divides are already being seen already these days between baby boomers, members of "Gen X" and those belonging to "Gen Y."
"It's amazing the number of times I'll have conversations with boomers, and some Gen Xers, who will just roll their eyes and say: 'Gen Y's work ethic is completely different. We're doomed,'" says Isabel. "They raised them, and yet they now struggle with what they created."
She suggests that to thrive in the new multi-generational culture, workplaces are going to have to start focusing less on seniority and hierarchy and instead place more emphasis on acquiring skills and relationship-building.
What are the perceived differences between baby boomers, Gen Xers and Gen Yers?
. Born between 1947 and 1964, baby boomers are often described these days as prioritizing benefits and a good pension. They're also, experts say, likely to question the work ethic of younger generations.
. Gen Xers, those born between 1964 and 1974, are generally believed to be bottom-line driven, but, at the same time, they're focused on work-life balance. They're said not to be looking for friends at the office and they expect good pay for their talent.
. Their successors from Gen Y -born between 1975 and 1990 - are known for their optimism, need for positive reinforcement and love of a team atmosphere, Duxbury says. But they don't respect workplace hierarchies as much as previous generations. They want flexible hours, challenging work and more vacation time.
Mike Cuma, an expert on human-resources and labour relations, says companies should already be considering ways in which these differences will affect them.
Near the top of that list are relationships.
Managing multiple generations simultaneously is going to be a challenge, he predicts.
"I can see younger people banding together in the workplace and the senior folks banding together into another group," says Cuma, a partner at Legacy Bowes Group in Winnipeg. "It's not good for teamwork, it's not good for getting things done and it's not good for the organization."
Among the other issues he highlights are situational dynamics (the eldest generation supervising the youngest or middle-aged workers supervising those much older than themselves); resistance to change (whether in office culture, technology or policy); scheduling considerations (more flexible shifts, allowances for extended leave and more sick days); and the potential for a polarized workforce.
Carleton's Duxbury, a pioneer in the field of organizational health, says she believes that, in the future, organizational structure will come to rely less on the traditional model of climbing the corporate ladder.
"Diversity will be so omnipresent that we won't categorize people by their age so much as ability," says Duxbury. "The older generations, however, will be more likely to be in the leadership roles, setting work culture and expectations."
Over the next 25 years, the number of Canadians over 65 will more than double, to 10.4 million. By 2051, analysts project there will be only 2.5 people aged 20 to 64 for every senior in Canada, compared to 4.7 in 2009.
In other words, the phenomenon of older people prolonging their time in the labour force - whether by choice or obligation - isn't likely to limit the entry of younger workers into the job market at that time.
But not everyone is convinced that delayed retirement, and the resulting changes in employee demographics, will turn organizations upside down. A number of leading experts in the field, in fact, predict it could be a good thing - provided companies are adaptable.
"Each time you introduce a new social segment into the workplace, management has to step back and ask themselves: "Is the way we've always done things still useful and necessary? Can we do things differently to accommodate the changing workforce?'" says Sandra Robinson, professor of organizational behaviour at the University of British Columbia's Sauder School of Business. "Asking such questions not only leads to smarter management practice, but also usually introduces flexibility that all employees - regardless of age - can gain from."
More people expect to keep working after age 65. Is the workplace ready for the revolution? A special series.
Monday: Will employers want workers in their 70s and 80s. They may have extra health care needs and declining abilities.
Tuesday: Researchers are working on innovations that help older employees bounce back from falls - a leading cause of injury.
Wednesday: As aging drivers take over rush hour, industry is eyeing everything from bigger fonts on street signs to car seats with heart monitors.
TODAY: Labour analysts predict there could be as many as six generations working alongside each other and organizations must prepare for a clash in values and work ethics.

By Misty Harris, Postmedia News


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Breaking your mortgage: ‘It’s either worth it or it’s not’

Fixed-rate mortgages are at historic lows but if you are locked in to a contract with your bank, those benefits may be yet elusive. First you have to do the math to see if breaking your contract is worth the penalties you may face.

“There is no grey area,” says Cindy David, a certified financial planner at Dupuis Langen Financial Management Ltd. in Vancouver. “It’s either worth it or it’s not.”

The big five banks are offering four and five year mortgages at just 2.99%.

“We’re even seeing 10-year fixed rate mortgages at 3.99%,” says Ms. David. “Think about that:  Interest and principal at 3.99% for 10 years. From a financial planning perspective if any client approached me and said ‘Should I look into breaking my mortgage?’ My answer would be yes.”

Step one comes down to meeting with your financial institution and doing the math to determine whether or not the cost of breaking your mortgage is worth the anticipated savings from the lower rates. The fact is the penalty for breaking a mortgage can be thousands of dollars and in many cases, the cost and the future savings cancel each other out, in which case you may be wise to wait until your mortgage is up for renewal.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Le marché de printemps est maintenant.
Appelez-nous pour une évaluation du marché libre de votre maison.

The spring market is here.
Call us for a free market evaluation of your home. 

Paul & Diane Laflamme
Royal LePage Village
Check out page 23 in this week's Your Local Journal Newspaper!

We service clients in Saint-Lazare/Hudson/Rigaud/Vaudreuil-Dorion + West Island & Montreal 

Monday, March 19, 2012




There are no tricks, just pure logic, so good luck and don't give up.

1. In a street there are five houses, painted five different colours.

2. In each house lives a person of different nationality

3. These five homeowners each drink a different kind of beverage, smoke
different brand of cigar and keep a different pet.



1. The Brit lives in a red house.

2. The Swede keeps dogs as pets.

3. The Dane drinks tea.

4. The Green house is next to, and on the left of the White house.

5. The owner of the Green house drinks coffee.

6. The person who smokes Pall Mall rears birds.

7. The owner of the Yellow house smokes Dunhill.

8. The man living in the centre house drinks milk.

9. The Norwegian lives in the first house.

10. The man who smokes Blends lives next to the one who keeps cats.

11. The man who keeps horses lives next to the man who smokes Dunhill.

12. The man who smokes Blue Master drinks beer.

13. The German smokes Prince.

14. The Norwegian lives next to the blue house.

15. The man who smokes Blends has a neighbour who drinks water.

Can you figure it out? I did. It took me just over half an hour - but I did it! 
If you would like the answer, just email me at 
Have fun! 

Nicholas Hoare bookseller shuts Montreal, Ottawa stores

MONTREAL - Nicholas Hoare, owner of the Canadian independent bookstore chain of the same name, has confirmed he is shutting down his Montreal and Ottawa stores because of the threat of big rent increases and rising competition from Chapters-Indigo, e-books and the Internet.
“The first store to go will be Ottawa, and the second will be Montreal, but after that that’s it, we are keeping the warehouse, we will be keeping Toronto,” Hoare said in an interview.
A meeting was held at the Westmount store on Greene Ave., Thursday evening. According to Hoare, the consensus among him and his staff was to close both branches after learning the National Capital Commission (NCC) would increase their rent by 72 per cent. Hoare was already paying $7,000 a month in rent
However, he said the next step will be to expand the Toronto store, “souping it up out of all recognition, hoping by the end of the day to have a flagship shop in Toronto.”

The company’s warehouse in Montreal’s west end will also continue to operate, supplying not only the Toronto location, but libraries, universities and other institutions across Canada.
The lease to their Ottawa store runs out April 30, while the lease for the Montreal locations ends July 31; both locations are under the jurisdiction of the same landlord.
Hoare said he is dissatisfied more with the way the National Capital Commission handled the affair than the actual rent increase – he said they issued the statement a week before Christmas, sending him “pounds of paperwork,” but never called to explain the reasons behind the increase.
Hoare was not born to bookselling, he was born to banking. A native of England, the family’s business – the highly regarded Hoare Bank on Fleet St. – has been serving Britain’s upper crust since 1630. He once proudly told Gazette reporter Sheila McGovern that Jane Austen was a client at one time.
In his youth, he lived in Suffolk, in a home with a large library and a walled garden, and initially the garden held sway. He went on to study horticulture. But then he was summoned to join the family banking business “and I fled,” he told McGovern.
He arrived in Canada during Expo 67, and noticed there was a gap in book wholesaling he could fill. So he started his own business at 27, and soon became Canada’s largest independent wholesaler, supplying libraries and other institutions.
Then, in the early 1980s, the Quebec government passed new laws requiring all wholesalers serving institutions to also be retailers serving the public. So he opened his first store, originally known as Avenue Books, in a sub-basement on Greene.
The store changed its name to Nicholas Hoare several years later when it moved to larger premises next door, its current location. In 1987, he opened a store in the basement of Ogilvy’s department store. That store closed in 2006. In 1992, he moved into Toronto, opening what he calls his flagship store in a beautiful building on Front St., near the O’Keefe Centre (now the Sony Centre). Then two years ago, he opened his Ottawa outlet on Sussex Dr., near the National Art Gallery.
Both the Ottawa and Montreal stores were designed entirely by Hoare and one of his store managers, David McDerby.
Now, all the furnishing and decor of the closing branches will be shipped to one of Hoare’s homes in Nova Scotia.
The NCC said the rise in rent came as a response to bringing up the rates of its Sussex Dr., properties to market rate.
“The thing about the NCC, which was the straw that broke the camel’s back, is that they have a bureaucracy within a bureaucracy, the likes of which I’ve never seen,” Hoare said.
In another blow to bookstores, Book Warehouses, one of the Vancouver region’s surviving independents, announced on Friday that it is closing four of its eight stores as leases expire.

Montreal warehouse remains open

Postmedia News/The Gazette

Friday, March 16, 2012

Maple syrup: Learning the new language

Maple syrup: Learning the new language