A second round with NSR on the small screen

After breaking Knowledge Network records, both North Shore Rescue and Silvapark Films are back with a new season of Search and Rescue: North Shore debuting May 28. The five-part docuseries takes place throughout the North Shore and Squamish highlighting the dedicated volunteers that are on duty 24/7/365.

Real impacts

Promising a look into the lives of Canada’s busiest search and rescue team, the second season of Search and Rescue: North Shore brings viewers along through the highs and lows facing local volunteers traversing through and over the mountains surrounding Lynn Valley. The first season released in 2020 was a massive success. It was an easy decision for all involved to invest the time and effort to offer a second season. 

Mike Danks

When Jenny Rustemeyer and Grant Baldwin approached North Shore Rescue to document the local volunteer group they weren’t the first. With offers for longer format movies to lengthy reality TV, NSR Team Leader Mike Danks said it was clear the Silvapark Films team had something others didn’t: a respect for patient care priority and a comprehensive understanding of all the obstacles they would face. 

“Our biggest concern was that it would not affect our response in any way,” said Danks, a LynnValley local, who was also recently appointed chief of the District of North Vancouver Fire Rescue Services. “They came and trained with us and showed us they had the skills to come along and not impact us in any sense. I think it’s important for people to understand how incredible it is that they captured the footage they did. We didn’t wait for them at all. We were moving as quickly as we possibly could and they were able to stay with us or get a head to capture that footage.”

The unforgiving terrain and weather, difficult for NSR, pulls no punches at the small crew filming their work. 

“We have rescues that last multiple days and they are trying to keep GoPros running and the batteries going in conditions where it was -20, -30°C. Our main focus is not to keep those cameras going. We are doing what we need to do and they are doing what they need to do to capture the footage.”

The first season proved that all that effort is well worth it. 

“We had an overwhelmingly positive response from everyone that saw it,” said Danks. “They really stressed the importance of lessons learned and seeing what happens behind the scenes and seeing the impact of these calls have on not only our mental wellbeing but the impact they have on our families as well. 

“When they talked about doing season two it was a no-brainer. We also had a large increase in community support and that also reflects on other teams in the province as well – which was huge.”

Apart from gratitude and surprise that the “professional-grade” service providers are volunteers, one of the most beneficial results has been an increase in donations. The program showcased many of the practical challenges for all of British Columbia volunteer search and rescue groups. The increase in donor funding inspired by the series had noticeable ripple effects throughout the province. 

“The impact it had on donations to – not just with us but groups around the province – we didn’t hesitate to jump into season two.”

For Baldwin – who also became a resource member for NSR after filming season one helping support rescues using drones – one of the most important impacts is showcasing the efforts of the group whose members each give an average of 600 hours a year to prepare and rescue those in need. It is a perspective the subjects (the people being rescued) are also supportive of and makes them willing to share the potentially worst day of their lives so publicly.

“It often surprises the subject that we are filming because they don’t realize they’re volunteers. A lot of people still don’t know that,” said Baldwin.

There are a lot of vulnerabilities and tragedies captured. In some cases the subjects have found great value in viewing the footage after the fact, said Baldwin. 

“They know they are lost or injured. They don’t understand what’s happening on the side of the rescue they don’t understand how the call comes to them. They don’t understand maybe why it took so long to get there or there are a lot of moving pieces and I think it’s helpful to see how it came together from the rescuers’ perspective.”

Season two

It was an interesting time to shadow NSR, said Baldwin. At the time of filming season two they were in the process of getting approvals for their night vision flying and coincidentally a wealth of photos and historical NSR records were found. 

“You’ll learn more about Mike Danks, who’s team leader, his dad and his role on the team. You’ll learn more about some of the tech stuff that’s coming out with the team and also what’s available to the public in terms of hiking technology,” said Baldwin. “There are some technical rescues involving base jumpers, paragliders, and some of them are pretty intense as well.”

It captures a very impactful period for Danks and his family. His father is fighting what will likely be a terminal diagnosis of cancer. 

“It captures a lot about my dad. He joined in the early 70s. He is the reason I joined the team,” said Danks. “Right now he is fighting a battle with cancer and will probably not survive much longer. He is in this and he has this legacy. It’s hard for me because I see his declining health as the series goes on.”

Baldwin and his team know much of the first season was shared with viewers of all ages. He advises pre-watching to make sure it’s suitable for everyone in your family. It was important to the film crew that they were accurate about the tragedy and personal risk volunteers face.

“There’s definitely some dramatic spectrum in this series, and it’s something you have to consider but we don’t shy away from that because we want to show what SAR goes through. We want to show how they deal with traumatic rescues as well. If we just dodged around that, then the conversation doesn’t happen about the mental health of the rescuers as well.”

Prioritizing health

The effects of such intense volunteer work have significant impacts on NSR members. The group has evolved over the years to understand and work to support each other.

“I think times have changed, in the 10-year period I have been I have been the team leader. There has been a shift in how first responders look out for each other –  to share it and not wear it,” said Danks. “NSR is exposed to a tremendous amount of trauma. I would almost argue that it is more than you see with police and fire because the calls we are going to are very, very significant. When you are in mountainous terrain the consequences are very high in those circumstances. 

“Now we recognize we need to be more strategic with our responses so we can reduce the number of people who are exposed to that [risk and that trauma]. Not many people are aware that through covid our call volume spiked and a lot of those calls we were going to were suicides. Those were people who were 16-30 years old. They were going up to the mountains and jumping off cliffs or jumping in rivers or they were finding an isolated spot and they were overdosing on drugs. Those are calls we are responding to and we have a whole diverse group of people who aren’t used to seeing that – like accountants. We take the time to talk about that in this series and telling that story helps us cope with that and hopefully it helps others talk about it.” 

When it comes to local viewers of the series who live, work and play in the mountains on the North Shore Danks hopes viewers gain an understanding of the wilderness that is accessible after a short hike from a downtown bus stop. 

“The goal is to increase everyone’s awareness of preparedness and to shed light on the North Shore mountains are not just what you see from the downtown core. When you get to the North side of those mountains they are more remote areas without cell coverage. The game changes very, very quickly and you need to know how to navigate mountain terrain and let someone know where you are going and when you will be back and be prepared for changing conditions. 

“You get to see little snippets of people going through those journeys and need help. It’s not to say that every rescue is preventable. That is not the case. No one goes out there planning to have a bad day,” said Danks. “It’s an opportunity to see the impact of some of the families that supported us that have lost a loved one. They have left a legacy that supports the North Shore community and you can see how that is paid back. 

“And to be honest. I am getting a bit older and my emotions run pretty high. You get to see something happen in this series that shows how someone’s life was lost and it was paid back to multiple younger adults who made some pretty big mistake but they were saved because of that legacy.”

Season two of Search and Rescue: North Shore debuts on Knowledge Network May 28th at 8 pm. It will also be available for online viewing.  

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.

Your One Stop for 2024

Our LynnValleyLife office has brought together experts to help you take care of your home and life. Whether you plan to downsize, renovate your home, make that will you have been putting off or want to see how you can maximise your home equity, our team and office mates are your One Stop Shop for 2024. Please feel free to pop in to say ‘Hi’ anytime.


For more than a decade LynnValleyLife has been creating community. Our events and community website have been offering free family fun to all of Lynn Valley since 2011 but how we do all that is by being the local realty experts. 

Our team of Jim Lanctot, Kelly Gardiner and Melanie Buchart focuses on client and industry relations. 

They know the neighbourhood, the market and have extensive broker relationships to help buy or sell your home. If you are looking for a custom home Jim has extensive relationships with builders and plenty of experience supporting homeowners through finding the right lot and understanding the process to build your dream home. Kelly’s practicality is a welcomed change during the negotiating process. He fights for the best deal focused on client needs and budget, helping keep emotions in check. Melanie brings her real-life experience as a busy parent and understands you are being pulled in a hundred different directions. She excels at supporting buyers – especially those purchasing for the first time. 

“This is a great time to understand what the market looks like,” said Lanctot. “Home assessments just came out and mortgages have changed a lot in the last few years. We can help you understand what your home is worth and help you understand how its value fits with your family’s 2024 goals.”


The new year is an excellent time to get a bigger picture of your equity. Dave “MortgageDave” Bruynestyeyn is part of our One Stop Shop to help you maximise your 2024. If your mortgage is up for renewal this year, the market is completely different than it was three or five years ago. MortgageDave’s broker expertise is a resource worth leveraging. 


“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.” 

MortgageDave meets flexibly – in the Lynn Valley office, virtually or at your home. Unlike a bank, his access to a variety of mortgage options tends to help MortgageDave ensure clients have more stability within variable products. 

“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.


Another key arm of LynnValley HQ takes care of you when you need it most. Anyone who has had to make a claim knows the importance of having a local broker. David Fiteni, of Fetini Financial and Central Agencies Insurance Ltd, and his team know Lynn Valley and its unique needs. Is there a creek in your yard? A garage full of mountain bikes worth more than your car? 

“It might be standard practice when looking at home insurance to ask about jewelry or art. 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. Our job is to learn about you, your life and your needs to make sure, should you need it, you have protection,” said Fiteni. “As an insurance broker, it’s my job to find the right product to fit you, not fit you into a product. Our time and quotes are offered at no cost to you.”

The new year is a time to connect with a broker to address any upgrades or security enhancements that may affect your coverage or lead to a discount. Getting a quote from a broker ahead of your renewal is a no-obligation way to ensure your coverage meets your needs. Fenteni is a full-service broker who also offers travel, marine, personal and commercial insurance.


A new year on the calendar is a chance to take a look at your affairs. Connecting with Kay Manabe of Senju Notary at LynnValleyLife’s Mountain Hwy offices to take of yourself and your loved ones’ futures. 

“I believe it is important for everyone, whether they have assets or not, to have a will and the other documents you need,” Manabe 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, a representation agreement, and an advanced directive (the latter two take care of your needs should you become incapacitated). Manabe says the process is easier when it’s done when everyone is healthy and happy. Decisions are easier made without the pressures of a crisis. 

~ Your Local One Stop Shop Team ~

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.

Who is our Good Neighbour 2023?

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! It is Good Neighbour season! For more than a decade we have been shining a light on those that make Lynn Valley the best place to live! We want to celebrate the community members who share their time and skills to make our neighbourhood better. We are once again looking for nominations for our Good Neighbour Award. 

Notable neighbours

Day-to-day we try to gather interesting and innovative stories about Lynn Valley but one thing that can be missed is the quietest of stories. The good that goes on in our neighborhood every day – often unnoticed beyond the person or the organization helped.  

We have people step up in times of tragedy, we have those that day in and day out give of their time, money, and energy. We have those that invest in our schools, our community groups, our churches. We have those that are staples on our streets who step up and help neighbours and friends whenever it’s needed. From helping refugees to outstanding coaches to people who are practically community institutions.

Community builders

The Good Neighbour Award has been going strong since 2012. We receive heartfelt nominations – some short, some long. Check out some previous winners and read their stories – we have an exceptional community! Last year we surprised Gillian Konst on stage at her own event – that was a blast. In the past, we recognized the great Bob McCormack. We were able to celebrate Matina Spiropoulos in 2019.  The year before, we had Linda Munro, a local who puts her hands in so many local groups. In the past, we have had Tim Green, a tireless supporter of the Lynn Valley Services Society and Molly Nye House. Dave and Wilna Parry are passionate advocates for refugees and immigrants. In 2015 we were proud to recognize Cath Bates Dimmock a volunteer with Argyle Secondary for more than 10 years! We have shared the astounding work of Lizz Lindsay and her charity Sharing Abundance that brings people together through food and programs that address food insecurity and social isolation. We love hearing about who makes a difference in your life and our community.

How to nominate your good neighbour

Who might our Good Neighbour be for 2023? Please send us a note telling us why you think your nominee makes Lynn Valley a better place to be. It doesn’t have to be long and fancy – just from the heart! Please send your suggestions to [email protected] before November 26, 2023. Lynn Valley’s Good Neighbour will receive a plaque, a restaurant gift certificate, and some well-deserved recognition!

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.

How to make your home unattractive (to criminals)

With increasing notifications from social media, it can feel like our neighbourhoods aren’t the idyllic places they were “back in my day.” The reality is: North Vancouver experiences 39% less crime than the national average and you can participate in one key pillar of that safety: Blockwatch. 

BC’s second biggest Blockwatch

North Vancouver remains an incredibly safe place to live, work and play and that is in part thanks to citizens taking responsibility to prevent crime. More than 11,000 people work with 800 Blockwatch captains and co-captains across the shore to reduce crime.

Breanna Caruth

“Blockwatch provides a means for a community to take responsibility for its own safety by reducing an opportunity for crime,” said Breanna Caruth, Blockwatch coordinator with  North Vancouver RCMP Community Policing.   “A successful Blockwatch neighbourhood presents itself as an unattractive target for criminals.”

Despite the vast network of homes and streets participating in Blockwatch, the program would like to continue to grow and strengthen.  

“It does not involve patrolling your neighbourhood or chasing burglars or intruding into the privacy of your neighbours,” said Caruth. “It requires you to be familiar enough with your neighbours that you notice something is not normal.”

How to get involved

The program needs captains or co-captains – particularly in Upper and Lower Lynn areas – to take on a leadership role within their neighbourhood block. Beyond the initial training, it requires a commitment of less than an hour a month.

“Each block has a captain and co-captain that sets up communication between neighbours and acts as a link between the Blockwatch and the North Van RCMP,” said Caruth.  “To be a Blockwatch captain or co-captain they must first submit a police information check – to be completed every five years – and then attend an information session at the North Van RCMP headquarters. The next step is to gather information about their block by canvassing door to door. Once the contact information is collected it is submitted as a participant list to our office. After that, they are responsible for sending out information from our office to their Blockwatch participants.” 

Participants receive information on crime prevention, how to be a good witness and guidance on when to call 911 versus non-emergency reporting. 

“As a [household] participant you are part of the email chain and are asked to be as concerned about your neighbourhood as you would about your own property,” she said. “Report suspicious captivity to the police and your neighbours, and to be aware of your surroundings as you go about your day-to-day life. 

Caruth says participants are guided to participate in Blockwatch from a foundation of respect.

“Participants are educated to look for suspicious activities but to be conscious of their preconceived notions, bias or discriminatory practices enter into their mind as they assess whether someone is suspicious or not,” she said. “Part of our code of conduct is to encourage all Blockwatch participants to engage in kindness and compassion to treat everyone equally regardless of race, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, disability, political beliefs or socioeconomic status.”

Tips to remember from Blockwatch

When to call 911:

  • When someone’s health, safety, well-being, or property is at risk 
  • A crime is in progress. 
  • There are suspicious acts that indicate a crime might be imminent. 

When to call the non-emergency (604-985-1311) or report a crime online

  • The crime has occurred in the past
  • A suspicious circumstance that may indicate an ongoing criminal act (but no immediate risk)

To learn more about or join Blockwatch visit its webpage or email [email protected].  

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.

Pulling a bike off the shelf

This summer you could possibly check out a pair of wheels from the North Vancouver District Public Library. Inspired by Lynn Valley’s Duncan Wilcox and his passion to help others embrace active transportation, DNV councillor Jordan Back helped pass a unanimous motion at council Monday bringing a Bike Library one step closer to launching.

Getting ready to roll

The District has earmarked a potential budget of $60,000 to bring an e-trike, and e-cargo and e-utility bikes to NVDPL to help the public become educated and aware of the diversity of active transportation options. 

“Duncan is an e-bike enthusiast who saw financial barriers to families with this type of transportation,” said Back. “There isn’t an opportunity to try these types of bikes out. It’s not a huge investment and there are some other revenue streams and grants.”

This is a relatively new idea but there are bike libraries in the US and Europe.

“It has been done in other parts of the world, in Europe in other countries. There are a number of examples in states, it just hasn’t been done here,” he said.

“For Duncan, it was important it was done by a non-commercial place where everyone is welcome – that is barrier-free. Here the options would be a community centre or the library. The NVDPL is quick to try things and offer pilot projects. The pandemic was a good indication of how the library can pivot to serve people in a variety of ways.” 

Information sharing has led to the NDVPL and District considering a Bike Library for a two-year pilot project. 

Family transportation

Interest in cycling has boomed over the last few years. There are a number of bike shares in the Lower Mainland.   

“Lime Bikes serve a purpose,” said Back. “But they aren’t cargo bikes. Box cargo bikes and  long-tails, like I have, can be a second car replacement. They can carry kids and stuff but there is nowhere to go and try to see if this is a fit for your family. ”

It’s an active transportation shift Back and his family of four have embraced. 

“If I am not leaving the North Shore, I don’t even think about taking the car,” he said. “We head down to Lonsdale and we love Moodyville Park. We spend a lot of time there. With an e-bike, it’s not that hard.”

For his family, one of the biggest advantages to using a cargo bike is that they now have a journey, rather than being boxed in traffic. 

“We like to stop. If the kids see something we can stop and take a look, like the construction of the Argyle Field. It’s easy to stop, so we stop and take a look.” 

For those new to cargo bikes, local North Vancouver E-bike manufacturer Ohm has some examples of how longtail bikes can be configured.


The pilot project still has a number of matters to resolve. District staff are exploring issues around liability and insurance. The managing partner of Reckless Bikes, Lynn Valley’s Tony Sun, has been helpful with his experience in the rental market, said Back. 

E-bikes have opened up transportation and fitness to people, but the barrier of the unknown and the cost associated with e-bikes might prevent people from giving them a chance. Allowing citizens to experience the bikes might make them more comfortable investing in their own, said Back. 

“It’s a chance for more people to try them. It’s an easier way to get around than a lot of people think. Perhaps the older generation who haven’t ridden a bike in a while and it allows them to ride a bike.” 

Safety is at the top of Back’s mind – especially if people haven’t tried the larger cargo-style e-bikes.

“They will have the manufacturer’s limiter of 32km/h,” he said. “Perhaps there will be additional speed limiters on them. Certainly orientation, safety-training will be a part of checking these out with the addition of a waiver. There might be a video or something. You can’t sign these out and immediately hit the road.” 

For now, the matter lies with staff doing research and the NVDPL board but Back hopes people will be able to check out the e-bikes by late May or early June.

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 LynnValleyLife.com’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.

RNB expanding to meet demand

With one lease ending soon, the RNB Dance and Theatre Arts Society is planning on doubling its studio space in Lynn Valley. The community-based not-for-profit is hoping the community will lend a hand to help it grow.

Local arts booming

A plan is afoot for RNB Dance to take over the former Blue Shore space at The Valley Centre. 

Brianna Giles

“We have been looking for years,” said Brianna Giles, principal and artistic director of the RNB Dance and Theatre Arts Society. “We found lots of spaces in the industrial parts of North Vancouver but that wasn’t what we needed.”

RNB has noticed an interesting trend over the last few years. And it all began with a major provincial infrastructure project.

“We got a lot of intakes when the highway construction at the Iron Workers [Memorail] Bridge began,” she said. “Families could no longer get to studios in Deep Cove or Lonsdale easily. Families are so busy sitting in traffic for an hour and a half just wasn’t feasible.”

The studio’s strong reputation for quality family programs had already led to an expansion at Lynn Valley Village (a lease which wraps up this year) but despite the added space, its less-than-ideal layout made it imperfect for growing demand.

“There are two posts in those studios that limit our class sizes.”

The society never stopped looking and exploring other options. 

“We have gotten feedback from our families that they love how central our studio spaces are. We know families are looking for dance. With all the condos being built in Lynn Valley we are seeing more inquiries than ever for three- to five-year-olds.”

For more than two years RNB has been working behind the scenes to develop its expansion plan around the new space. 

“The size is a dream come true!” said Giles. “We will be able to add two additional larger studios, similar to our Mountain Hwy studios for classes of 20 kids. We got in first to see the space right away and knew it would work. [Now] with the bank removed, it is a blank slate. We have to put in a few walls for change rooms and the dance floors.”

With the hope to open in September of 2023 the RNB Dance and Theatre is kicking off a fundraising campaign

Affordable family options

Unlike most dance studios, RNB is a not-for-profit society.

“We are unique,” said Giles. “It means we can keep our fees lower and more accessible, it also means we can access some provincial funding, but all that money goes back into the studio. There is no owner taking a profit. Everyone who dances with us is a member. Everyone who is working or volunteering with us is doing it for the kids.”

It is a choice that has given more students access to dance than would otherwise be possible, but it does create some challenges.

“We can’t use dance fees to cover renovations,” she explained. “We are having our biggest-ever fundraising drive.”

The society is aiming to raise $450,000 – and provide charitable tax receipts – to cover the expansion. 

“Every little bit helps. We are hoping with the expansion that we can probably double the number of dancers.”

The society plans to display all donor names on a plaque in the new studio lobby with a range of donation tiers: Bronze Donors – $25 – $5000, Silver Donors – $5001 – $10,000, Gold Donors – $10,001 – $25,000, and with Platinum Donors – any donation over $25,000 – also being given naming opportunities of the new spaces.  

Fiscal responsibility

The society’s long-term plan aims to build on the successful partnerships it already has. 

“We get asked all the time by people wanting to rent our space – there is a need for community studio spaces,” said Giles.

The society already shares its space with Lamondance a performance dance company which uses the RNB space mornings and early afternoons when most RNB dancers are in school.

“It’s an excellent partnership – they invite RNB dancers to participate in their performances.”

For the last 10 years, RNB has also been supporting the North Vancouver School District’s Peak Performance Program that allows high school students to balance elite-level dance training with their high school education, said Giles. 

The little studio that could

RNB began more than three decades ago at the – then – Hendry Ave YMCA in 1989 – where Giles was one of the first students. In 1993 it was able to negotiate with the District of North Vancouver for a former church space on Mountain Highway which has become its main studio ever since.   

“Mountain Hwy will remain our home base for as long as the District will have us. We are known best for being welcoming to families and we don’t want that to change,’ said Giles.

With recreational programming that starts dancers moving as young as two years old, RNB has helped guide dancers into international competitions and professional companies. 

“For me, it’s amazing to see the growth and change,” said Giles who first came through the doors of RNB as a child and has gone on to dance all over the world, returning to teach in Lynn Valley. “I am now seeing my students from 10 – 15 years ago, bringing in their own kids. It’s cool to see that full circle – that RNB has been so important to them.”

But it’s also Lynn Valley’s growth that is motivating the society to plan for the future. 

“There are so many new families moving to Lynn Valley – they want to dance and I want people to know that we are unique. Donations to the studio go back into the community offering more spaces for students.”

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.