LV restaurant expands to third shop

With almost 20 years under their belts as the owners of Lynn Valley’s Mr. Sushi, the Park family has opened their third restaurant and hope to have many more in the future.

From feeding family to feeding hundreds

When the Park family took over Mr. Sushi in 2006 it was a far cry from what it is today: a thriving business in an ill-fated strip mall. 

“When we first purchased the business back in 2006 it had a very humble beginning,” said Edward Park, CEO of Mr. Sushi. “It was so small that no more than three people could work in the kitchen. Sales were low. My father’s thought was if we didn’t make a lot of money, at least he would be making good food to feed his wife and two boys. We didn’t have the hope or vision we currently have.”

Last month Park left his 20-year career in health care to spend 100 percent of his time on the family business, just in time for Mr. Sushi to open its third branch in the Mt. Pleasant neighbourhood of Vancouver. They have a prominent spot at 2nd and Main Street. 

Park credits his father Chris’s knowledge and his brother’s customer service for their early success in saving the falling business.  

“We began to make things more efficient and we knew we needed to get to know our customers. Thank god my brother has a really good memory and likes to take care of customers. He remembered names and orders so we could really take care of our customers. We started putting their rolls and their orders on the menu – our regular customers helped us create our menu,” said Park, at the time he was a university student helping out when he could. “Lynn Valley was different in 2006 so almost all our customers were regulars. We have had little kids who grew up eating Mr. Sushi and are now married and bringing their own kids.”

Edward Park

Years later, some items have come and gone from the official menu but the original Lynn Valley restaurant still has a secret menu known to long-time Lynn Valley locals. 

“We have the Fire Chief Combo – the fire chief and the leaders at the fire hall would come almost every lunch and order the same things,” said Park. “So staff who have been with Mr. Sushi for a long time know the Lynn Valley Boys Combo, Lynn Valley Girls Combo, Argyle Combo – things like that.” 

Another insight bit of customer care and business savvy was to give customers a bonus bite. It was a tradition for more than 10 years to offer customers a free yam cone. 

“We weren’t really thinking about marketing but we want to make sure our customers left satisfied. It’s led to something interesting. The most popular roll at Lynn Valley is not a California roll or a Dynamite roll like at most sushi restaurants – it’s the yam roll – people love our yam roll.” 

Steady growth

From the small space at Lynn Valley Mall the Park family began to trust the lessons they had learned and think about expansion. The right opportunity to buy into a new development in Lonsdale led to the debut of Mr. Sushi Lonsdale in 2016. 

“It was a big leap. We partnered with the Business Development Bank of Canada and we were able to open Mr. Sushi Londsdale and seven years later we opened Mr. Sushi Main Street [Vancouver].”

But in those intervening years, like all small businesses, Mr. Sushi took several blows during the pandemic. Park says his experience in health care – specifically risk management gave the family confidence.

“We had made a smart decision, the family only wanted to expand if we owned the property and us being able to pay a mortgage instead of rent saved us during the pandemic,” he said. “We knew we must find an opportunity in this risk [the pandemic]. We invested in our online marketing and digital presence. We found ways to pivot and redefine who we are.”

Those decisions are paying off. The Mr. Sushi brand has captured a balance of aspirational eats and a warm welcoming space. It was also at that time Chris was looking at other opportunities – quality real estate for a restaurant. 

“We have approached Main Street like Starbucks and McDonald’s,” said Park. “We want locations to be owned by Mr. Sushi – like Mcdonald’s but easily replicated and owner-managed like Starbucks.”

The Park family hopes to have many more Mr. Sushi locations with the lessons learned from opening Main Street. From design to construction to technology they think they have developed a copy-and-paste model that will have them with future locations. 

“We have invested heavily in automation at Main Street,” he said. “We want to offer the same high-quality food with consistency at high volumes.”

They have mechanized much of the sushi-making process that will ensure if you order a roll for a table of one it will be the same as a catering order for 400. They are the first sushi restaurant to bring this type of production process to BC, said Park. 

“I took a call last week for an order there is no way we could have done without Main Street. It feels like there are more opportunities. My dad is visionary – this is all his idea.”

The heart is always Lynn Valley

But despite the outward push and vision, Park says his dad’s – and the entire family’s – heart will always be in Lynn Valley. Park has been a part of the Lynn Valley Services Society serving their board for years.  Even their logo was born here at the Lynn Valley Library while working with a friend who Park met during his time in the Canadian Navy many years ago. 

“We regret that we don’t have eat-in at Lynn Valley anymore. It’s too small to make it a worthwhile business but it’s my father’s pride. We miss that personal touch.”

He expects the Polygon development slated for the mall will give them two to three more years at that location. 

“We haven’t lost focus that we are doing what we are doing because of the customers in Lynn Valley and the great staff that support us. We are not leaving Lynn Valley. We don’t know what the future will look like but we want to be here and to give back to the community.”

With the family’s heart going strong in Lynn Valley, Park also says it’s the place to get their best dish.

“The dynamite roll in Lynn Valley is the best. Our Main Street and Lonsdale Dynamite rolls are good, but there is something about Lynn Valley – I think it’s the best in the world.”  

Looking for more?

There’s always something fun and exciting happening in Lynn Valley. Check out our Community Events Calendar or learn more about Local Activities, Mountain Biking or Hiking and Walking Trails.

Community institution gets a new look

There are more changes than just a fresh new look coming to Lynn Valley’s beloved breakfast spot – Tommy’s Cafe. New owners have plans to keep what makes patrons come back week after week while adding a more diverse menu and evening hours. Longtime manager Sara McDonnell is excited about the future.

The new and the same

There is a dramatic new bar as you enter Tommy’s Cafe. The dark new centrepiece bar, complete with keg taps, is balanced with a series of colourful murals circling the seating area. 

Perched on a stool, proudly looking at some of the updates, McDonnell is excited by the plans to come. 

“It’s a new year, new us!” she said. “This is a bit of an experiment but we want to be sustainable in this community. If we could be around for another 30 years – I would love it.”

She says the new owners recognize Tommy’s is what it is and that its fundamental relationship with its clients can’t change. 

“Lynn Valley needs a spot that is like a second home, somewhere the feels safe to hang out and spend time with friends,” says McDonnell. “We have been around a long time and don’t want to change what makes Tommy’s a favourite place but we wanted to take the success of brunch and create a similar energy for the evening.”

Starting mid to late February, there are plans to extend Tommy’s hours until 9 pm with the possibility of longer hours if customers want it.

“I think having more options to do things in the neighbourhood is a good thing,” said McDonnell. “I don’t want to head downtown after work, I want to hang out here in Lynn Valley.”

The new owners, Bhupinder Sing, Manish Gusain and Himanshu, are building on their success of a Robson Street restaurant.

Dinner hours and theme nights

There has been a good effort to learn about Lynn Valley and Tommy’s place within it. 

“I have a lot of hope, said McDonnell. “The brothers have listened and understood that Tommy’s is a unique beast and this is a unique town. We want to remember that it was this community that has made Tommy’s.”

Looking to creatively extend their hours with both an updated menu and entertainment options McDonnell is hoping to create an atmosphere where people gather to hang out and build community with familiar faces. 

“The changes aren’t just more food options,” she said. “I would like to have a few games, trivia nights, a small space for an acoustic set. I hope that live events will be a big thing. Lynn Valley needs space for more artists and musicians.”

The new owners are also doubling down on making its evolution family-friendly by offering a kids’ menu and a more inclusive menu to suit the full scope of dietary needs and desires. 

“We are playing with the idea of having an all-day breakfast – that is why people love Tommy’s,” she said. “We want customers to communicate with us. Are we going in a direction they want? Is the new menu working? We know Lynn Valley wants good food.”

McDonnell hopes they are offering Tommy’s a bright future but promises it will remain the place Lynn Valley loves.   

“We aren’t going to change the independent and creative vibe. We want it to be a cool, cozy,  fun place.”

Looking for more?

There’s always something fun and exciting happening in Lynn Valley. Check out our Community Events Calendar or learn more about Local Activities, Mountain Biking or Hiking and Walking Trails.

New option for dogs at Lynn Valley Centre

Lynn Valley’s Save-On Foods has gone to the dogs. Well, perhaps, it’s quite the opposite. The dogs are going to Save-On and everyone is a bit better off. The two new green dog houses at the outside entrance to the store are new PetParkers that make it easier and safer to bring your furry family members on errands.

Brazilian ingenuity

A new company has launched in Vancouver to support pet families. PetParker partners with stores, municipalities and services to provide pet safety stations free of charge to their customers.

Adi Kabazo

“This service has provided tens of thousands of safe stays in Brazil,” said Adi Kabazo of PetParker Canada. “We want to give pet owners more opportunities to include their dogs in their busy lives.” 

Last March when the company announced their launch in Canada – specifically Vancouver – it asked people to submit their location requests. 

“Lynn Valley was the number one location submitted,” said Kabazo. “I think it’s the active lifestyle that incorporates dogs that made people ask for PetParker”

There are now five locations in the Lower Mainland that have the PetParkers – two in North Vancouver. Presently they can be found at Lynn Valley Centre at the Save-On and at Northwood’s Stongs. 

More than just a box

The PetParker uses state-of-the-art technology that has been refined and improved in its five years in Brazil, said Kabazo.

“The pet safety station – PetParker – is designed for short-term stays of less than an hour,” he said. “There is quite a bit of engineering. It has a door with an electronic lock, a camera for owners to monitor their dog, and the temperature is monitored. There is an emergency remote release if needed. It basically has a full computer monitoring and communicating to take care of your pet companion.”

Users are asked to confirm their dog has its vaccinations and it is only available to pets older than six months that are housebroken.

“We find that accidents don’t happen in the PetParker because the dogs are there for only a short stay – the average is 20 minutes – and dogs typically don’t want to do their business in a small space, they prefer being ‘on the move.’

Designed with a raised floor, typical dirt and debris fall away, said Kabazo. And if a dog has a bad day – users can mark the station in need of cleaning. 

A welcomed amenity

The success of PetParker in the Southern Hemisphere is with businesses (or local governments) that realize pets are a significant part of people’s families.

“One-third of Canadian homes have at least one dog,” said Kabazo. “I bet that Lynn Valley has a higher number. Businesses we partner with appreciate that people like to spend time with their dogs. This is an amenity – that is free – to make the welfare of our companions accessible. It’s available to anyone regardless of income.”

The business case is desirable for PetParker partners because patrons tend to take a bit more time and spend a bit more money if they know their dog is safe.

There is no reason to keep your dog in a potentially hot car knowing there is a safe, free alternative at a shop’s entrance, said Kabazo.

There are currently plans for 30 locations in the Lower Mainland. Kabazo has a goal to partner with municipalities to see this at locations like libraries and community centres as well. 

“It’s early days but this has proven to help pet owners and businesses,” he said. “It’s very promising. We offer pet owners peace of mind and we hope the community embraces it.”

Looking for more?

There’s always something fun and exciting happening in Lynn Valley. Check out our Community Events Calendar or learn more about Local Activities, Mountain Biking or Hiking and Walking Trails.

New company tackling jobs you don’t want to do

There is no shying away from hard work for these industrious Argyle Secondary students. Leveling up their resume, Rohaan Drar and Morgan Garstin, have started their own company. Now offering yard and labour services, the pair is employing 10 other students. Argyle Students Services is aiming to help Lynn Valley residents take care of their homes. 

Getting their hands dirty

A little hard work has inspired the two grade 11 students to become their own bosses.

“I got a job stocking shelves at Save-On and it didn’t take long for me to think that this isn’t for me,” said Drar. “I thought if we worked for ourselves, we might earn more money and learn something.”

With Drar’s interest in pursuing business in post-secondary school, Garstin’s interest in trades, and their shared experience doing labour tasks, a home service business was the idea that had the most potential.

“We realized that most kids have done this kind of work for their families or neighbours,” said Drar. “I was kind of inspired by the work I used to do with my dad. He runs A Star Homes. I used to sweep or clean up wood for him.”

It’s a partnership with A Star Homes that has allowed the young business to get off the ground. 

“Argyle Student Services is operating as an arm of A Star Homes,” said Drar. “Our clients are protected by insurance just like any other home service business.”

Growing buisness

Drar positions Argyle Student Services as ready to do many of the tasks homeowners don’t have the desire, time or energy to tackle themselves – from weeding to moving labour to just about anything.

“It takes persistence to knock on doors and keep knocking when you get nos,” he said. “Then one person thinks ‘Sure, I will give these kids a try’ – then they see we do great work – better than they thought we would. It’s an adrenaline rush having someone say yes. We never leave until a customer is completely satisfied. It’s been going well – we have gotten some good tips.”

And more importantly: word-of-mouth referrals. 

“In the summer we got more work than we could do with weeding and yardwork – so we began hiring our friends. We are professional. There are some services like pressure washing that require skill – we make sure they know what they are doing.”

The small business has invested in professional-grade equipment – like pressure washers and window washing equipment. 

“We want people to call us when they have a job they don’t want to do. Just about anything – and we can do it quickly because we have lots of guys wanting to work,” said Drar. “We are ready for leaf raking and are getting ready for winter and snow shovelling. You can book us now for the winter and we will have someone at your door with a shovel when it snows.”

The team hopes to line up contracts throughout Lynn Valley in advance so residents aren’t worrying about finding snow-clearing help, said Drar.

For more information call Rohaan Drar at (604) 779 – 8526 or visit the company’s website 

Looking for more?

There’s always something fun and exciting happening in Lynn Valley. Check out our Community Events Calendar or learn more about Local Activities, Mountain Biking or Hiking and Walking Trails.

Kicking open its doors soon

Kids and adults alike will soon be kicking up a storm in Lynn Valley. Debuting this September there is a new martial arts gym at Lynn Valley Village. Putting a twist on the typical gym, co-founder Denise Dehestani is excited to offer something she, as a parent, knows is desperately needed: a daily after-school program. 

Lynn Valley grown

Set to take over the former RnB Dance space in Lynn Valley Village, Lynn Valley Martial Arts is offering programs in Muay Thai kickboxing for all ages. Their schedule has classes for kids, teens, adults, and an after-school program. Combining her passions for kids and martial arts, Dehestani drew on her experience as chair of the Ross Road Elementary PAC to come up with a program she hopes will support working parents. Kids 5-12 can enroll in the after-school program for three, four or five days a week.

“I saw a need in Lynn Valley,” she said. “There are lots of requests at the school for after-school programs. There are different programs coming in on different days for different ages. There isn’t five-day-a-week consistency. [Children] will play or do a bit of homework and then we’ll have an hour of martial arts training wrapping up just in time for parents to pick them up. Right now we’re starting with offering pickup from Ross Road Elementary and Lynn Valley Elementary.”

Not inexperienced herself, with a black belt, Dehestani has partnered with brothers Blake and Dean Lirette who were born and raised in Lynn Valley. In the past, they have had a martial arts studio in West Vancouver and currently have one in Port Coquitlam. With more than 45 years of kickboxing teaching experience between them, they will be overseeing the programming. 

Muay Thai

Less common than karate or jiu-jitsu, Muay Thai – sometimes called Thai kickboxing – combines kicking and punching using fists, elbows, shins and knees. 

“Muay Thai is what we know. Myself and my daughter attended West Van Martial Arts – which is where we met Blake and Dean,” she said. “It’s a little different. There are studios on Lonsdale and in Lower Lonsdale that are more typical – like karate. 

“It’s great exercise. It’s great for defence – self-defence is a big component. It’s great for kids to have a bit of self-defence – adults too. Building confidence, discipline, structure, focus, coordination, flexibility, balance and community. I find that martial arts builds a really good community. In my experience in martial arts, you build friendships and socialize. Especially with the after-school program – you are getting your fitness, you are getting your discipline, you are learning a new skill and also building friendships.”

New opportunities

The new studio aims to be a welcoming space that encourages people of all ages to give it a try. 

“I feel that with martial arts, you are doing it individually in a group setting,” explained Dehestani. “In a dance class if you have a beginner and they are with advanced students doing an advanced dance you are really going to notice. The beginners are going to struggle in that routine. Whereas in a martial arts class, you’re learning your different punches and kicks and coaches split you off and work in small groups or individually. When there is partnering, people tend to pair off and work with their level. It’s a good environment for growth.”

Another program they are excited by is Lil’ Ninjas on Saturday mornings for three- to six-year-olds. There will be open mat time for adults with a membership so kids and parents can both get on the exercise at the same time. Lynn Valley Martial Arts will be primarily working on a membership model. They will be also offering drop-ins or trials of some kind to help people experience a class before committing to membership but details haven’t been finalized, said Dehestani. Start-up costs are relatively low: teens and children need a uniform and all athletes need gloves and wraps. 

The studio is planning to open its doors on September 5 but now is the time to secure after-school care. For more information visit

Looking for more?

There’s always something fun and exciting happening in Lynn Valley. Check out our Community Events Calendar or learn more about Local Activities, Mountain Biking or Hiking and Walking Trails.

Whimsy and wonder planned for new toy & book store

Tucked into the east side of Lynn Valley Centre an oasis is forming for local kids and parents. Forest Fairy Books and Toys will be opening its doors later this month aiming to foster whimsy, wonder and joy.  The store of mother-daughter team Avril and Hannah Whitney’s dreams wants to be a safe third space to help the community and children grow.

Family business

Avril Whitney

Avril Whitney

A new store run by a family, Forest Fairy Books and Toys is also rooted in family. It is the culmination of Avril Whitney’s childhood aspirations to follow in her mom’s footsteps.

“When I was little my mom was part owner of a store called Through the Looking Glass in Nelson BC, which has been there for over 40 years and is still there. I had the joy of being in a bookstore when I was young. Then later, I was able to run the toy store for our [Waldorf] school in Calgary. I was exposed to a lot of natural materials and really great imaginative play that supported the development of the imagination of a child.”

After moving to North Vancouver six years ago, Whitney was keeping an eye on commercial real estate with the hopes of one day opening a store. Little did she know that she would have a very special partner. 

“Last November I asked my daughter if she wanted to check out the [Lynn Valley] space, as we got into it we were both visualizing and dreaming about what it could be. I said ‘Wait a minute, are you doing this with me?’ It fits with what she wants to do with her career and both our desires to build community.” 


With Avril’s past experiences in childcare and as a parent, and Hannah’s goals as a doula to set families up for long-term success, they want Forest Fairy Books and Toys to be welcoming and child-centred. 

“We want a place where people can feel good and experientially come in and enjoy the store,” said Whitney. “It’s a small place, but we have made sure there is a place for the children to come in and be and a chair for someone to come in and read a book.”

Whitney has painted two walls with murals and carefully handcrafted wooden shelving. The time and energy invested in design has also been invested in the selection of products they carry.

“Both my daughter and I are kids at heart still,” she said. “We really appreciate imagination, wonder and beauty. That still resonates and it’s so joyful to see it resonate with children. 

“What I know from working with children myself: the more tactile, the more natural, helps children thrive in the play space of their imagination. You can hand a child a piece of coloured silk [cloth] and it can become something to wear, it can become water, it can become a child’s blanket – it can become anything you want. It’s an open-ended play. The idea is that beauty, nature, and wonder come naturally to children and all they need is an invitation.” 

It’s a lesson she thinks adults can learn too.

Hannah & Avril Whitney

“These toys remind us that we live in a very stimulating world with short attention spans, and it’s okay that you breathe for a minute and play,” said Whitney.

They will also carry a variety of curated books. Initially, it will focus on children and youth but the collection may expand. From first board books to learn-to-read to stunning picture book keepsakes, they hope families will find one they want to take home. 

“I imagine most of our clientele will be between zero and 12 years old,” said Whitney. “We are going to carry novels all the way up to YA. We want to be responsive to what people are wanting. We want to be inclusive and supportive of indigenous people. There is so much great stuff available.”

Forest Fairy Books and Toys is wrapping up its final approvals with the DNV. It hopes to open some day between Aug. 15-19th, depending on that process. You can find the small shop inside Lynn Valley Centre near the east entrance. It is tucked down the hall between Westlynn Bakery and Romance Jewellers. 

Looking for more?

There’s always something fun and exciting happening in Lynn Valley. Check out our Community Events Calendar or learn more about Local Activities, Mountain Biking or Hiking and Walking Trails.

Making a mortgage work for you, not the banks

Returning to his roots Dave Bruynesteyn is back in Lynn Valley offering mortgage clients options to meet their financial and life goals. Slotting in the final piece of the puzzle in Lynn Valley’s one-stop shop, MortgageDave now shares offices with’s real estate services, David Fiteni’s insurance offerings and Kay Manabe of Senju Notary to cover all the bases for Lynn Valley residents.

Meet MortgageDave


Walking the streets of Lynn Valley as a child and teen, Dave Bruynesteyn loved this place. Starting his early career in finance, it’s where he bought his first home. With a life that has taken him to different parts of BC, he is excited to be back where it all began.

“Lynn Valley is a part of me,” he said. “I love that I can go grab a coffee and I am seeing friends, past clients – current clients. I was walking by Safeway last week and ran into a client and we caught up on life and I did a mortgage review right there.” 

MortgageDave’s foundational philosophy is that if you support a community, it will support you. He was a past co-chair of Lynn Valley Days, he was a founder of the Christmas Tree Parade, he has worked with the Lynn Valley Community Association and even lent his time to educate students at Argyle Secondary in financial literacy. 

As an independent mortgage broker for more than 18 years, MortgageDave, is ready to be back in Lynn Valley.

“I am excited to be working here – around these people,” he said. “Everyone is so busy, if we have real estate working alongside mortgage, alongside insurance and a notary, we have just made it easier for people. It’s not just about convenience, it’s about working with good people, ready to collaborate and take care of each other’s clients. I love the energy.”

Mortgage broker 101

It has been a volatile time in the financial sector. Lending rates and inflation have climbed, and savings rates have remained stagnant. For those entering the real estate market or looking to renew in the coming months, it’s time to talk to a mortgage broker – not a bank, says Bruynesteyn.

photos by Myshsale

“A mortgage broker is an independent party that helps people arrange residential financing,” he said. “I love it because I don’t work for a bank – I work for the client. It is at no cost to the client. We are paid by the lender, so the only goal is to get the best deal for the client 

“You get all of my expertise and at no cost – it’s a no-brainer.” 

From his work in traditional Canadian banks – and as a past customer himself – MortgageDave says he has learned how not to treat clients. Appalled by bonus structures that encourage bank employees to offer higher rates, when he changed track in 2006 to be an independent mortgage broker he vowed to do things differently. 

With two big factors working in his favour, convenience and access to more lenders, he is confident he is able to provide not only better service but also better products. 

“A bank has its one product and I deal with 40 different lenders. I talk to the client and figure out what they want today, but also what they want in five years, in 10 years because we have to set them up properly to reach their goals,” MortgageDave said. “I also just make it easy. I work around the client’s schedule – if you want to talk at 8 am or you want to talk at 8 pm on a Tuesday night – we do that. 

“I am always looking for what is easiest for the client. I can meet you in Lynn Valley or at my office in Lion’s Bay or Lower Lonsdale. I can also come to your home. If you are really busy we can do an application with [a digital docu sign] and a quick zoom meeting. A bank will want you in their office at 2:30 on a Tuesday afternoon – you don’t have time for that.”

In Canada, mortgage brokers are compensated by the lenders based on the mortgage amount, not the rate. The commission varies little and doesn’t link bonus structures to rates (as helped contribute to the subprime mortgage crisis in the United States in the late 2000s). For brokers like MortgageDave, a happy and informed client is what matters. And closing clients with the best deal leads to returning clients and referrals. 

“I am proud of the five-star rating I have on Google – I earned that, and if I didn’t have five stars you bet I would be learning to make sure it didn’t happen again.”

Today’s rates, triggers and reversals

The mortgage market of early 2023 has changed substantially from a year ago. For the first time, some homeowners are hearing terms like ‘trigger rate’ and seeing payments double. 

“The mortgage market now is uncertain – and the market hates uncertainty,” said MortgageDave explaining that we used to be in a “North American market,” following about six months behind the US, but there has been a shift to a global market. 

“While the conflict in Ukraine is devastating for its people, subtler impacts are far-reaching. If the war ends, it would settle the bond market and stabilize the fixed rate mortgage market.”

He credits the Bank of Canada with some aggressive action that has stabilized inflation, but the consequence has been high rates.  

“I don’t see prime going up, barring any worldwide events,I think we have seen the plateau,” said Bruynesteyn. “We may see a reduction by the end of the year but I don’t really expect it until early 2024.”

Context is important. Rates today aren’t devastatingly high, they are just not as extreme as we have seen recently, he said. 

“We went so historically low. Rates aren’t insane. We just went so low we were spoiled rotten. I have always suggested a variable rate because they have been better over time but when rates were sub-two percent, I put many clients into a fixed rate.”

The fluctuations have influenced how some clients are choosing their mortgages. 

“Typically clients get a five-year term. Right now I am putting a lot of clients into two-year terms because we don’t know where we are going. Two years ties into the US election which typically sees a reduction in rates.” 

The changes to variable rates have been difficult for some homeowners.

“It is tough on some of my clients on variable rates, some of my clients on variable rates saw payments almost double,” he said, adding he doesn’t like trigger rate products. Whenever possible, MortgageDave chooses to put clients with lenders that ensure payments rise with interest rates going up, rather than being hit with a significant trigger rate.

 “If you don’t change your payment as the rates go up you are paying more and more interest. I don’t like those products as they are not best for my clients. Payments should go up with interest rates. People don’t want to manage their mortgage – that’s my job.

“When you get a mortgage with me, you are going to hear from me on the anniversary, and every time  the Bank of Canada reviews their prime rate – eight times a year – you get my newsletter discussing what this means. As you get closer to maturity I will communicate with you nine months out, six months out and four months out – because you have a life and don’t need to be worrying about your mortgage – that is my job. Dump that stress on me – it’s my job to get it done.”

One of the biggest trends MortgageDave sees is families leveraging equity to help adult children get into real estate. 

“The cost of living in Lynn Valley is high. I am seeing parents wanting to help their children stay in the city. There are more people looking at reverse mortgages to start the wealth transfer now rather than later.”

What to do now

With the typical mortgage locked in for five years, mortgages coming up for renewal in the next year are maturing in a completely different atmosphere from when they were signed.

“A lot of people are feeling the pressure of variable rate mortgages as rates have climbed,” he said. “The beautiful thing about a variable rate is that you can get out of it at any time for three months’ interest. It’s not a big penalty – so recently I have been helping clients get into the stability of a two year so they know what their payments are and they added in some debt they have had to take on.  Re-amortizing the mortgage is another option. Everyone’s situation is unique but there is a lot we can do.”

To ensure the best financial position, homeowners should begin the process earlier rather than later, said MortgageDave.

“One year out, bring the mortgage renewal up on your radar. Six months out, get in touch with a mortgage broker, we can hold rates for four months,” said MortgageDave. “So I can start watching the rates and hold one if a good rate comes up. If, in two weeks, a different bank offers a better deal, we grab that and hold – you don’t have to worry about rates.” 

MortgageDave says it’s simple: it’s a conversation with a broker and it’s free.

Looking for more?

There’s always something fun and exciting happening in Lynn Valley. Check out our Community Events Calendar or learn more about Local Activities, Mountain Biking or Hiking and Walking Trails.

Adapting local homes to aging

Aging is never easy. Fraught with loss and challenges, a new local business hopes to ease the burdens on the elderly and their families with a plan to age in place and adapt homes to make them functional for later life. Tom and Melody Grant bring their expertise as an occupational therapist and a designer to Living by Design.

Lived experience

Living on the Sunshine Coast at the time, Tom Grant was not surprised when he and his siblings decided he should take the lead on helping his elderly parents downsize and transition to long-term care. With his experience as an occupational therapist it was the logical choice. What he didn’t expect was having to move back to the UK for a year, the massive mental and emotional labour, and the seemingly endless details of the task. 

Melody and Tom Grant

“At the time I had a big realization: ‘Why do we, and everyone else, leave these things so late – until it’s a big panic?’ It’s such upheaval in everyone’s lives to downsize,” said the Lynn Valley-based occupational therapist. 

He was dealing with the double whammy of downsizing his mother to a smaller home and settling his father into a long-term care facility to support his dementia. He knew he wanted to use his expertise to help others. 

“I am really on a mission to shift people’s approaches to aging. To think more proactively rather than reactively – like I did in my life,” said Grant. “We want to make the process a bit smoother so we can help a few families avoid having to rush in a crisis.”

It was also the experience with his family that brought his wife Melody on board to create Living By Design.

“When my mom got her new place my wife made it suitable for my mom with all its furnishings,” he said. “It doesn’t need to look institutional. I think you need the collaboration of both expertise or you will get something that is institutional or it could be very pretty but doesn’t take into account the progression of age, or a disability. If we could work as a team, we could help instead of calling in separate experts who aren’t on the same page.”  

Today, Tom offers traditional occupational services, as well as, their aging-in-place planning with Melody through their company Living By Design

Make a plan

If Grant has one piece of advice it’s: plan – and if needed, move early.

“Ideally people will have their home for life or downsize early enough and make that their home for life. Depending on their finances, as long as it’s accessible, there is no reason why some can’t stay at home as long as possible,” he said.

The biggest error families make is underestimating the amount of mental and physical effort to move, and how that mental drain continues for months or years as someone tries to establish themselves in a new community. 

“In my experience working in home care, if someone has to move their home when they are already starting to struggle with mobility and particularly if they are struggling with cognition – if they move environments – move home or into a new area so they can be close to family, it’s very discombobulating and can lead to massive functional decline.

“A new area, a new home they might not have the cognitive ability to take on this new environment. It takes a lot of cognitive ability to get to know your new environment and – not driving anymore – transportation can lead to feeling isolated,” said Grant. “Getting lost, struggling with timetables, it becomes a burden for adult children. Potentially, the older adult feels guilty that they need to be supported so much but they need the help. It becomes very demanding on everyone. If people stay in their homes and help can come in, they are more likely to function.”

Age with grace

The solution is fairly simple but not necessarily easy. 

“What I see happening, downsizing and aging is a bit of a taboo topic,” said Grant. “Have a good plan in place around 65 that you are going to stick to and be accountable to your family members.”

That is a broad strokes plan sharing the elder’s wishes and setting goals. 

“At 70-75, you might have the cognitive capacity to do it but not the physical capacity to do it yourself. The brain power to do all the packing or getting to know a new area is underestimated. It has to happen before your abilities decline and the burden shifts to adult children.”

This also empowers the elder, rather than forcing decisions on them – another stress for the family, he said.  

“My mission is to get people to start talking about this. The conversations are getting delayed.  Be honest, be transparent and commit to the plan of aging. Acknowledge there is a functional decline with aging without any particular health condition.”

Connecting the dots

With the experience of working within and out of Coastal Health, Grant understands the pressures and limitations of the public system. He hopes Living By Design helps families move forward with living and aging. Too often, after a brief evaluation from a Coastal Health OT patients are left with more questions than answers. 

“When people leave it to a crisis: like they are in hospital after they have fallen and broken their hip, suddenly they need an accessible home. People spend a lot of time in rehab only to find their home is not appropriate for them,” said Grant. “OTs with Coastal Health are stretched too thin. They will say you need an accessible bathroom but they don’t have time to tell you what that means and how you can get it. We are trying to fill the gaps in what the public system can offer. They can’t go into this much detail, they will do a basic assessment, but I will do a much more detailed assessment and treatment.”

Whether it’s a crisis, a disability or managing the general decline of aging, if a home needs renovation, that is Melody’s specialty. Her skills help make the functional changes homey and aesthetically pleasing. 

“Often people get recommendations but there is no one to help with the next step of implementing them,” he said. “It might be adding some grab bars but it might be renovating their whole bathroom and they are left to their own devices to figure it out. 

“You can’t rush a lot of these things – it takes time finding contractors, supplies. Ideally, it should be done ahead of time step-by-step.” 

If adult children are out of town, or if that process is simply too taxing, Living By Design can help homeowners through the process. 

“One thing I think might be very helpful is project management,” said Grant. “If you need changes but you might not have the knowledge or the energy to call and make those changes. Melody can help organize reliable trades, keep them on track and make them accountable. The burden often falls on the children who might not even live in the area. If your spouse previously looked after these responsibilities and they have recently passed, it can be intimidating to talk to a contractor and makes them vulnerable to being taken advantage of.”

The first steps to aging in place are simple conversations and assessments, said Grant. He evaluates over 300 potential hazards in the home and can also establish a cognitive baseline to monitor mental changes. 

“If someone thinks ‘We are slowing down and we want to make some changes,’ we can do a joint assessment and look at the space planning and we can work together.” 

Living By Design is based in Lynn Valley and works throughout the North Shore and Sunshine Coast.  

Looking for more?

There’s always something fun and exciting happening in Lynn Valley. Check out our Community Events Calendar or learn more about Local Activities, Mountain Biking or Hiking and Walking Trails.

Ready and willing to help

There is a new option for notary services in our neighbourhood and we are so proud to welcome Kay Manabe Senju Notary as a new officemate. Manabe is expanding her business to serve Lynn Valley with her typical knowledge and warmth.

Help where it is needed

With the departure of Lynn Valley’s previous notary, Manabe knew she wanted to help. Building on her Lonsdale practice, the new office in Lynn Valley will continue to offer her notary services including wills, real estate, and general affidavits and declarations.

“I want to serve people with compassion,” she said. “As I became a single mom, I was using the legal system and I know how hard it is. I knew I wanted to help people. As a notary, I can be patient and compassionate.”

Knowing that sometimes notary services are needed during some particularly stressful and trying times, Manabe will also visit clients in their homes, care homes or hospitals. 

“I need to see my clients to make sure they are being taken care of and have the capacity for these decisions, that can be done with Zoom or in-person where they are if they can’t come to my office,” she said. “A lot of seniors can’t leave their homes – I can. I don’t mind. I want to help and I have worked with the social workers at Lions Gate Hospital.”

Protecting yourself, caring for others

Manabe shared that only 50 percent of British Columbians have wills.

“I believe it is important for everyone, whether they have assets or not, to have a will and the other documents you need,” she said. “It’s a way of taking care of the people left behind. The fees and process to take care of a death without a will can be overwhelming in a tough time.”

In addition to a will, she recommends a power of attorney, and a representation agreement, and an advanced directive (the latter two take care of your needs should you become incapacitated). 

“No one likes the idea of creating a will at the best of times but it is easier when you are happy and healthy,” she said. “The process can simply start with some forms to fill out which helps me understand your needs. From there we can sit together and go through it. People don’t like to talk about death, don’t worry I will do the talking and guide you through.”

Choosing your legal professional

Notary publics can be a choice for transactional legal matters that are non-contentious such as personal planning, real estate, declarations and affidavits, travel documents for minors and many more.

“On the matters we specialize in, we have the same training as lawyers,” she said. “Like lawyers, there are high-priced notaries and low-price notaries. It all depends. It is important you find a notary you are comfortable with and who is transparent about their fees.”

She adds that when choosing any professional service, it is important to check that the notary is in good standing with the Society of Notaries Public of BC. This will ensure the notary is covered by insurance and has the education needed to perform their duties. 

“This is an important relationship. You need to trust your notary and feel comfortable asking questions,” said Manabe. “I want to take the time so you are not rushing decisions. 

“If I can’t help you, I will use my network – that is Senju means – a thousand hands. I will refer you to professionals: lawyers, accountants, mortgage brokers that I trust.”

Senju Notary can be found at the LynnValleyLife offices at 3171 Mountain Hwy on Tuesdays and Friday or contacted by phone: 604-818-7710.

Looking for more?

There’s always something fun and exciting happening in Lynn Valley. Check out our Community Events Calendar or learn more about Local Activities, Mountain Biking or Hiking and Walking Trails.

Taking care of your two wheels

First there is confusion, then anger and then a deep sense of loss. To bike riders of all kinds, theft is more than losing a possession – it’s like losing your best friend. In this neighbourhood there is sometimes more value in bikes in a garage than cars in the driveway. We talked to the local experts on keeping your bike safe, insured and ready to ride down the mountains. 

You can never be too safe

The North Vancouver RCMP report bike thefts remain pretty constant year over year with a slight increase in 2020. Only about 10 % of bikes are recovered. 

“People move here to ride,” said Rick Loader, owner of Lynn Valley Bikes. “When your bike is stolen it feels like a violation. It’s their second-best friend, treated better than a spouse sometimes.” 

During peak season, his shop deals with customers almost once a week coming in to replace a stolen bike.

“It varies at times throughout the year,” he said. “It averages out to two or three times a month.”

But there are some people who aren’t completely broken up about it, he said. 

“A mountain bike only lasts about five years of the hard riding we have here,” said Loader. “There is the rare occasion that insurance comes in at a good time. For those without insurance, it stings them a lot harder.”

Protecting your bike on paper

Empathy abounds from Central Agencies insurance broker David Fiteni, who has had his own bike stolen from a Lynn Valley condo building. 

“Often people find out too late that their insurance has a bike limit – much less than the cost of the bikes we see here in Lynn Valley,” said Fiteni. “Protecting your bike isn’t like ICBC coverage where a car of a certain make and age has a set insurance value. You need to go to your insurance broker to have coverage for the replacement cost of the bike plus all the hundreds of dollars of upgrades if you aren’t riding stock.”

It pays to seek out local experience when choosing your broker. 

“It might be standard practice when looking at home insurance to ask about jewelry or art,” he said. “Here in Lynn Valley, I always ask ‘Do you have any bikes?’ I have never had someone who didn’t want to have their bike fully covered.”

Fiteni says the best way to insure your bike is to sit down with a broker you trust.

 “If you deal with a particular institution, they offer you what they have. We will look at eight-12 different options to see how they can best cover your bike,” he said. “We don’t fit them into a product, we find the best product to fit them – every case is different.”

There are changes coming into the insurance industry but not all coverage is equal and there are key questions to think about. 

“People are spending a lot on bikes because they have value to the rider,” he said. “One underwriter might allow you to have a $7000 bike in your contents insurance, but another may charge you $300 a year for that.” 

Fiteni suggests starting your bike insurance conversation by covering these areas:

  • Mysterious disappearance  – is the bike covered if it is not at home? Or if it’s on your vehicle? 
  • Will a bike claim impact “claims-free” discounts? A bike’s inherent mobility puts it at increased risk.
  • Does the policy have a maximum for bike claims?
  • Are there requirements for securing bikes for them to be covered at home? On the road? 
  • Is there a different deductible for bikes vs. a different kind of claim?

Protecting your bike in practice

Both Loader and Fiteni along with the RCMP recommend registering your bike with Garage 529. The free service is used by police and citizen groups to get stolen bikes back in the hands of their owners. 

“Don’t store your bike in a condo bike room or a plywood storage locker,” said Loader. “They are tucked out of the way, they don’t get visited very often. It’s too easy for thieves to get access and spend some time getting all the bikes they want.”

A sentiment echoed by Fiteni.

“A builder puts in the cheapest materials it can, and most stratas don’t reinforce security hardware until ‘17’ bikes are stolen.” 

For home, Loader recommends keeping bikes in earshot and locked up. On the road, he brings multiple locks.

“There are four locks that live in my van – one that is a 6-foot, 35-lb chain,” he said. “Another is a motion-sensitive alarm. If the bikes are on the rack, I back it in where I can keep an eye on it and at very least be outside and hear it.”

The thought of spending hundreds of dollars on locks may seem excessive but when looking at the numbers, $350 in locks is just a five percent investment in protecting a $7000 bike. Some experts recommend 10 percent of the value in security. When out with your bike Loader also reminds riders to check what you are attaching the lock to. 

“There are poles all over the Vancouver-area that aren’t secured in place, a simple tug will lift out the pole. I have even seen a guy on another’s shoulders unscrewing the sign at the top so they can lift a bike up and over,” said Loader. “Parking meters are a little better.”

Loader’s last tip: “Don’t flaunt your bike. Get it inside and your door closed. Don’t sit there in your garage with the door up working on your bike all afternoon with four other bikes hanging up.”

As the value of bikes rises, the protection policies are improving, said Fiteni. But when it comes to talking about e-bikes they are their own unique circumstances you need to discuss with your broker

Looking for more?

There’s always something fun and exciting happening in Lynn Valley. Check out our Community Events Calendar or learn more about Local Activities, Mountain Biking or Hiking and Walking Trails.