The True Cost of Living On the North Coast

Having met many more people who inhabit the North Coast, I am starting to get a better understanding of what the differences are between the North and South in terms of economics and lifestyle. Of course I remember the times from when I lived here as a kid, but having come back over thirty years later, I see and understand more complex issues than I have ever had before. Mainly in terms of economics, there are huge differences between the business world of the Lower Mainland/Fraser valley, and here, in Terrace, BC. Attitudes over taxes and how money is transferred between hands, the differences are subtle, and almost indistinguishable, but they are there.

Cash rules here on the North Coast. For starters, there are many hold-outs as far as businesses using merchant’s accounts and Bank Cards, than there are further south. If you want to see a movie here, you need to bring cash at the local Movie Theatre. Sure, there is an ATM, but it charges a service fee of three dollars to withdraw twenty bucks, on your credit card. Most services have Point-to-Point card machines, but they lean towards good old cash. Smaller businesses have cleaver ways to pass those Credit Cards fees back to you, making a cash transaction more favourable. However, the larger Big Box Chains have no issues with Credit Cards.

Taxes and fees are something many here dread. When there is no way out of paying those parasitic fees, life seems to go on, people here seem to deal with it. However, if the opportunity presents itself, then just cash moves from one hand to another, you can bet that taxes are avoided. These transactions seem more prevalent than from my old neighbourhood in the South. From my personal experience, Banks are very particular about Bank Fees and Service Charges, so I have found, the less bank activity, the better off you are. Then there are Property Taxes, which are some of the lowest rates I have seen in British Columbia, but with no doubt, you can get a good conversation going on that topic alone.

My conclusion on the economics between the North Coast and South Coast are that the further North you go, especially out of the Lower Mainland, the cost of living drops lower. The primary two factors are taxes, and property values that make this difference. Gasoline and Auto Insurance are huge, in the Lower mainland; these fees drop significantly once you move to the North Coast. And yes, there is loud approval of Northern communities to see user-pay by regions, so the North is not paying for the South’s infrastructure needs. And then the biggest difference, real estate. There could never be more contrast between these two regions than the cost of a home. The cost of a home is generally a quarter to three-quarters cheaper on the North Coast than buying in the Lower Mainland/Fraser Valley area.

A Shot of Terrace, Close Up

It was our day out, getting a coffee to go, then taking our beverages to a place to where we could sit and watch the small town go about its business. We first decided on parking over at the arena, but that was dashed as there was a hockey tournament going on. We decided on heading up the Kalum Bench, the look out park, where you can see town through permanently mounted binoculars. This is a great spot for taking photos. But the point was, getting out and enjoying the day, so this was our starting point.

The day was not to bad weather wise. It was overcast, but the clouds were high, and there was some wind, but not a constant breeze from the North. When it blow, you needed a hoodie over your head, but when it was calm it was nice. In this shot, taken with a 300mm zoom lens, is Terrace, BC. When using a telephoto lens, you get the “compressed” effect, and it turns a three dimensional landscape into a two dimensional one. You would be hard pressed into estimating the distance of the Skeena Mall (Very top of the photo) to the bottom row of houses. I guess two kilometres, or more.

This is our Saturday ritual now, or it seems. We take turns driving, usually starting out at noon, and depending on the weather, we either go window shopping, or do a hike on one of the many walking trails in the valley. Today was a window shopping kind of day, though we could have gone out for a hike. It was great just being together no matter what sort of adventure we embarked upon.

Anyway, the day ended with buying a couple of frozen pizzas at the food market in the old Skeena Mall, then going back to Suzette’s place to watch a movie from off the Internet. In all, an awesome day, all around. I was so late getting home, way past my curfew, I will pay getting all my Sunday stuff done on time. LOL

Added Some More Photos!

I spent the morning today cleaning up my Weblog. It needed it, and non too soon, I must say. I cleared about 1.5GB of old photo files that I felt have out-lived their time, and perhaps should be left in the archives, and presented another time and day. Plus, I fixed up my photo galleries–that in itself was a monumental task as well–gobbling up three-quarters my morning from that alone. And the rest of my time was spent doing cosmetic work, and basic editing in places where it needed it.

The photos I uploaded onto my Blog are from just a few weeks ago, on the last day of the 2017. Me and Suzette went out to Lakelse Lake and took a walk out on the ice. I put the slidewhow of it here in the post, but if you want to see in a lager format, look to the side menu, and find “North Coast Terrace British Columbia” under “The Photo Gallery,” and from there the photos should be about 900 x 600 pixels in size.

A huge problem I had was having to relearn how my Photo Gallery plug-ins worked…, again. I am kind of kicking myself becuase I had forgotten how most of the functions worked. Also, terminology, and the software’s semantics, used in some of the help files threw me off. I got through it, laughing a little, keeping it all in good humour.

The Winter Sunset that Brings Winter Back into Perspective

I just got home, about 4:00pm, and the Sun’s light was shinning everywhere at my apartment as the day was ending. Normally this would not be a huge event, but when you are living in an area where the days are a lot shorter, the light becomes important. From where I lived before, the difference of daylight compared to Thornhill is almost 45 minutes less a day during the winter Solstice. So you can see my enthusiasm.

This shot was taken from my bedroom window, as this is only one of two windows that I have that are facing South. But you are asking yourself why I would go and take effort to take this shot? Simple, the Skeena Valley gets very cloudy, especially during the winter months, so when you get a awesome stretch of clear weather, you get out as much as you can to enjoy it. Even though the Sun was low in the sky, everywhere was above freezing, even drying up the dampness outside in some parts.

The greatest attraction of having a wonderful winter day in the Skeena Valley are the mountains that tower at every side of this tiny valley. Seeing the snow covered peaks shine with sunlight is in itself an awesome sight. But when the mountain are bathed in the pink light of the setting Sun, the world changes, as you are surrounded in golden to purple shades of light at ground level. It is like being on a different world in a Science Fiction story. For a half an hour, your world becomes changed; something that a camera cannot capture as you need all your senses to experience it at once. This is what makes winter on the North Coast awesome, but do not tell the Southerners this.

How to Have Fun With Twitter On a Rainy Day

I read this line that someone Tweeted that goes like, “Everyone deserve happiness,” and then “The Key to success is to keep your eye on the goal.” Nice little notes that I think the author was trying to relay inspiration with motivation. But it made me laugh. I responded to the Tweet, saying, “What do you mean”?

The reply was beyond what I expected. The reply was, “Are you that stupid….#%$@.”

Well, am I? Of course, I knew what I was getting myself into. I promptly responded with, “I think you just like Tweeting garbage, and you have no idea what you are saying.”

Several hours went by, then “The world needs less people like you. Are you sure you can read? Only stupid people not understand. Get a life!” Then another Tweet followed, “If you can’t know happyness(sic), then stay off twitter.”

I replied, “OK, I’m not going to be Spelling Nazi, but I need to critique your messages of your 400,000 plus Tweets over the past three years. You say, “Everyone deserves happiness,” explain what you mean by “happiness”? Am I going too fast for you?”

“%$#-hole, I’m reporting you—I hope you go to jail.” I left out the rest of the text because its content was not public Blog friendly. Then, the tweets were promptly deleted.

Sadly, I was still curious as what “happiness,” meant, and why I deserved it. So, I will try and fill in the blanks for you.

In my mind, happiness means, either I am going to have the rest of my life off with no more work, or someone will hook an needle into my arm loaded with good old coffee goodness, and I go about my day with my heart beating at 1000 beats per minute. Or, it is pure psychological; my mind is hooked up to the Matrix, and I am living in an alternate universe as the leader of the world. Logic would say then, I am not happy because I am not hooked up to Matrix—or am I? Does “happiness” mean the same for everyone else? Does it mean this for you?

My point: everyone has their own definition of happiness. And do not get me started on “Goal,” because Hockey keeps popping up. I remember in my Post Education years, an English instructor lectured to me that the world lacks critical thinking, so looking at the world through this lens changes us the most. When we critically think at what we read, then we can analyze what it is that is been said, and then form an unbiased opinion. If the Writer is not willing explain what, he or she, has written, then it is meaningless and has no value to the reader.

A Quick Turnaround On the Weather To Say the Least

Just like that, the temperature climbed from minus ten Celsius to a blustery zero degree, almost sending a shock to my system, in less than twenty-four hours. Last night we had ice pellets falling from the sky, along with a misty rain, causing some icy sections on the roads, and enough to coast the windows on my car. Driving around was not a problem with the black ice on the roads, my snow-tires were more than enough. As promised, the sky was almost clear, with about a quart cloud cover. In all, this is looking like a great day, as the sunlight pours through my bedroom window.

When I woke this morning, I saw the sunlight hitting the North mountains, casting a brilliant pink colour on their snow covered peaks. My vantage point does allow me to capture great photos, for that means a trip down the road–still a little cool for that. Nonetheless, a great feeling, even with the wind howling out. Yes, did I mention the wind?

Here in “Lower” Thornhill, it is also know as, “The Wind Tunnel” as wind seems unobstructed from the North, and like a wind tunnel, the wind just screams through the flats. Else where, usually are calm, with just the hint of a breeze. But usually those places are much cooler as they tend to be in the shade more often during the day.

So, super nice day. Hopefully I will spend some time in it today. I would love to get more photos of the mountains, but we will see. The days are still short, as we are still a while from saying that we are in the middle of winter yet.

Now Comes Warmer Weather; Me Gets the Snow-Shove Ready

The rumour is, some snow is on the way. Right now, we are in the tail end of an arctic outflow weather pattern that has plunged us back into the deep-freeze, but not as bad as before. Hopefully, by tomorrow, we should start to see it warm up a bit, maybe taking us to just above the freezing mark. We can hope. But sadly, the weather prognosticators say some snow is in the forecast as well, as the next weather system is part of the Pineapple Express that will hit the coast.

Hard to say as what I should do. Get the show shovel ready, or the umbrella. Either way, there is a change coming in the weather pattern, and it could be nasty.

As you can see, I brought Mr Egghead back. It has been nearly six months since I last used him here on the Blog, so I thought it was time to bring him back. Actually, I totally redid him in 3D Blender, becuase most of the files I had before were missing from my last hard drive crash back in November, 2017. He has arms now, and I redid his armature for a more streamlined pose when animating him. I still have a more work to do, but I had some time to kill this afternoon, so I worked on Mr Egghead.

What Keeps You Up All Night On the Lily-Pad

For the last four days, sleeping has been a bit of a challenge. Mostly, I wake up in the middle of the night, usually around 3:00am, then drift off around 4:00am, then an hour and a half later, it is time to get up for the work day. This is stress induced from mostly from my work, as inventory is this week, and partly from the weather, as it is freezing out, and very dry. So, add these all up, and sleeping becomes impossible.

I envy the Sleeping Mermaid I bought a few weeks ago, she sleeps through anything. She does not care about anything, as she sleeps on her lily-pad, so peaceful and happy. To sleep like that, I can only dream about it, well maybe not dream, but I envy her nonetheless.

Anyway, hopefully after Friday, it was all change, and my life will go back to normal, and I can sleep again without any stress. Most of my paperwork is finished, and to my knowledge, most of the outstanding issues are corrected at my work. And for the record, almost all of these corrections are what I inherited when I took on this job.

The best part of the week was when I had dinner out with Suzette. We went out yesterday for dinner, and of course, I took her out, but we went in her car. Nonetheless, it was awesome to spend an evening with her, not worrying about anything else in the world, including the dishes. We did Chinese, stuffing ourselves full, and believe it or not, I was still full the next morning. Must be the weather.

Maybe I need my own lily-pad to sleep on…

It is All About Fairness – No Freeloaders!

I cannot stay silent any longer on this subject because I am sick and tired of listening to business people complain about how they are unduly singled out with higher taxes and other parasitic encumbrances to their bottom-line, and that they should be given tax breaks. In traditional fashion, you have the Right-wing saying that all businesses must be taxed in order to stay competitive, while on the Left-wing side, they say businesses must pay more in taxes because they make the lion’s share of the profits. Oh Boo-Hoo. I am tired of everyone from property owners to business people saying that everyone else except them should shoulder the taxes burden. I just heard a small business owner say that all taxes should be dumped on the consumer and property owners while they focus on enjoying their profits and employing more works. Oh-no, I say pooh to that, everyone pays their share—period, especially those who make huge profits in my city!

Ok, we have this issue of gentrification, and it is prevalent in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. Gentrification is where you have a depressed area, become affluent and prosperous as a higher class of the socioeconomic population moves in as their boundary spreads outwards. When you have an area where everyone wants to live, that area goes through a cycle of inflation as property prices and costs rise. So too for businesses, as they enjoy rise in the boon of consumers. Nothing is free, as all must pay to enjoy the benefits of this. It boils down to choice. People move to the cities, like Vancouver, because they want to enjoy its weather climate, and the bounty of employment. Businesses do this along the same lines of reasoning too. But sooner or later, inflation creeps in, and so too do taxes. Remember, you have a choice to stay or leave—simple.

The majority of Canadian’s taxes are paid through taxing their income. This concept of paying taxes on the amount of money you make, goes back to the Second World War in Canada, and is one that many have no choice in the matter. You earn a pay cheque, you employer is obligated, in most cases, to collect that money on behalf of the Government. But the bulk of Income Tax goes to both the Federal and Provincial Governments, leaving the Municipalities left to eke out their sources of revue in other ways. So municipalities share the proceeds on mostly businesses and property taxes that they tax directly. I am probably over simplifying the tax laws here, as there are hundreds of different forms of taxation in Canada, but this is a thumbnail sketch of where and who gets what. So as a community grows, in its population and services, so too does its operational costs and development.

The idea of fairness is simple: all of us, who choose to work and live in an area that is going through gentrification, must pay their fair share, no matter who you are. If you are a home owner, then yes, you pay your taxes. As businesses who want to set up in this area as well, they must pay their fair share in taxes too, as they enjoy the prosperity and volume of consumers moving through their doors. Usually it’s the business owner who argues that the market economy should run the world; then let it be so, as the market place becomes over saturated, and the population shifts, then businesses should make a choice. If they have to raise their prices for their wares, then so be it, but to stay competitive by paying less in taxes is not fair—then you need to adjust your profits.

Bottom line, everyone pays their fair share in taxes. No one should be exempt, or reduced, from their fair share in taxes within the population. If you come here to make a profit, then you come here to pay your taxes to enjoy all the benefits that come with living here.

Let There Be Warmth

Now that we are back to “normal,” as in were I live is back above the freezing mark, and it is liquid water instead of that solid type you have to shovel, falling from the sky. Life is good once again. It appears that the deep-freeze we were in is now gone. We sat in the midst of an arctic out flow weather system for over two weeks, which gave us well below freezing temperature, and in some cases we went as low as minus twenty for a bit, but all it good again as the weather patterns seem to be back to normal again.

The weather changed around Thursday, so this is “day number two” with our day-time highs above the freezing. It is a nice change, but during our cold spell, the days were filled with sunshine and clear nights, so I will miss that. But equally so, I do not have to warm up the car for ten minutes any more. Now we are getting rain with lots of overcast sky, highs of five to seven Celsius. At least we do not have shovel it.

The weather prognosticators say we might be back into what appears to be more arctic weather come next Tuesday, as the freezing weather system creeps back in, but so far their numbers jump around a lot from day to day. The bright side, the next weather system will not be a cold as the last arctic front was. I am, for now, happy that double digit lows are not in the forecast. Being that climate change has presented us with extreme weather, anything is possible, and it would not surprise me, if we end up getting a cyclone or two before March rolls around. Either way, this is my first North Coast winter in over twenty years, and I am dealing with it nicely.