Thursday, December 26, 2013

Radon - Fact vs Fiction & the next scare inspectors want to cash in on.

The comments below are not to imply that I am an expert but an experienced REALTOR® that has seen over the years far too many home sales/purchases collapse because a so-called expert gave advice without things being put into perspective.

I am writing this blog to give a general heads up and suggest that you do not take what so called experts are saying as the gospel, especially when they have alot to gain financially. Do your own homework on what is worth worrying about and more importantly the money you may spend. Risk vs Cost vs Peace of (educated) Mind.

A quick summary:

For this blog my big issues is with what I am hearing from some inspectors that say radon testing should be part of a home inspection and charge an additional $100 to $300 for a short term 1 to 7 day test. Suggesting to do a short term test for radon is no different that saying lets test for oxygen or carbon dioxide. There is no doubt that Radon is there, but what you want to know is it a potential problem, which can only be done with a long term testing as per Health Canada, World Health Organization & National Cancer Institute that all comment that a short term test is not reliable enough. That a 3 to 12 months minimum is required, especially if one is going to use the information to renegotiate or even kill a home purchase over it. Here is a link to both the World Health Organization report and the Canadian Cancer Statistics 2013.

  1. I have highlighted and made notes in the Canadian Cancer Statistics 2013.  Note PDF pages 36, 43, 44, 55.
  2. In the World Health Organization Report. Note PDF pages 11, 12, 18, 22, 23, 24, 36, 38, 40, 43, 44, 93.

The purpose of this blog is to caution against using results gathered from some inspectors that charge you for short term test and implying a decision whether to buy a home or not can rest on that. A long term test appears to be the only true reliable way to test which I do encourage. The only way an inspector can make money is on short term tests not long term tests.

I have been a REALTOR® for many years and have seen the development of many (in my opinion) scare tactics to home buyers and sellers which has lead to hundreds and thousands of dollars in unnecessary costs. Most of these scare items seem to come under the environmental subject. One example, for many years is homeowners being duped or pressured into paying big bucks to remove vermiculite insulation that contains less than 2% asbestos found in an attic. Yet some environmental engineers, inspectors, and others will say you need to remove it at the cost of $6000 to $10,000 on average. If prodded they will admit that there is no health hazard if its left alone. Yes if you go up in the attic and stick your head down in it and breath deep then you may have opened yourself to a health hazard, but so is playing on a busy street or having 4 spoons of sugar in your coffee etc etc.

Now as a REALTOR® I'm hearing again with more frequency about a new scare tactic, in my opinion. But you won't hear much until those wanting to profit are organized, have their equipment and are ready to work. Whats the latest? Well its been around a long time but recently it is being pumped up again. It's Radon! Yup a radioactive gas that is formed naturally by the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water found in trace amounts around the world. It is found everywhere just like oxygen & carbon dioxide. I'm not against getting your home tested but it should be done over a long period of time (3 months minimum) as per Heath Canada and at a very reasonable cost. (I bought a long term test meter for $139, see note below).

There are many many more issues/scare tactics that come under the environmental theme and the one big common factor they all seem to have is, it normally costs consumers a ton of money to solve. But not radon if you're smart about things.

There is alot of conflicting info on Radon out there and in the US it appears the radon inspectors have really figured out a way to do a cash grab on home buyers and sellers which can falsely affect home deals base on these inaccurate short term testing results.

1 - Health Canada quote - “Health Canada recommends that the radon test performed in a home or public building be a long-term measurement. Health Canada does not recommend a test of duration less than 1 month, a minimum of 3 months is recommended and 12 months is optimum since radon concentrations vary over time.”

2 - Forensic-Applications quote - "A large portion of the general population is under the impression that the scientific community has concluded that exposure to indoor radon conclusively causes cancer, and that there is scientific consensus of this fact. Most people are not aware of the fact that there are actually no conclusive studies that have ever demonstrated that exposure to indoor radon, as commonly seen in the overwhelming vast majority of houses, increases the risk of cancer by any amount, and in fact, in the larger and better studies, what we see is that the risk of cancer actually goes down with increasing radon concentrations; to a critical elevated level (not seen in houses) wherein the risk then begins to rise. But those kinds of radon levels where risk increases is virtually never seen in houses."

3 - World Health Organization quote - “At least 40 case-control studies of indoor radon and lung cancer have now been conducted. Individually, most of these studies have not been large enough either to rule out an increased risk or to provide clear evidence that an increased risk existed.”
Here is link, see PDF page 23 -

Radon Map for Canada -

To solve my curiosity I have ordered online a "Safety Siren Pro Series3 Radon Gas Detector, HS79712 Canada version" for $139 (price within reason and recommended by Consumer Reports). There are many more products and prices available online.

Once I have used it on my home it will be free to borrow and use to any of my clients.

Again the purpose of this blog is to caution against using results gathered from some inspectors that charge you for short term test (which is the only way for them to make money as long term testing is not feasible for them) and implying a decision whether to buy a home or not can rest on that. A long term test appears to be the only true reliable way to test which I do encourage.


Dean Birks

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Northern Gateway Pipeline Approved with conditions!

Northern Gateway Reinforces Commitment to Building A Safer, Better Pipeline

December 19, 2013
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Dec. 19, 2013) - Northern Gateway Pipelines, L.P. announced today that the Joint Review Panel (the Panel) recommended that the federal government approve the project, subject to 209 required conditions. The Panel stated: "Based on a scientific and precautionary approach to this complex review, the Panel found that the project, if built and operated in compliance with the conditions set out in its report, would be in the public interest."

Friday, December 13, 2013

Prince George Airport (YXS) hopes fuel, logistics park attract cargo

So the airport is working to bring the infrastructure to Prince George.
In addition to opening the third largest commercial runway in Canada a few years ago, adjacent to the airport sits a global logistics park that has 3,000 acres to develop.
- See more at:

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Prince George - It's about Time

A new video promoting some of the great features of living, working and playing in Prince George. Notably Time to do the things you want.

Here is the link to watch it:

Friday, August 23, 2013

Good rentals in Prince George BC harder to find.

Rental update:
With the past year see bigger increases in rental rates the demand for good rentals (homes with suites, duplex, triplex and 4plex) is there, but hard to find. Prince George rental market for the past 4 years has seen a very low inventory of good rentals. Good rentals in my opinion is location, income & condition of property.
The next 4 years in Prince George is looking very good and over all price will increase as demand continues to grow.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Pat Bell MLS Top 10

Hi All

I want to thank all of you who have sent me your best wishes over the past week, the response has been overwhelming. As I have settled in to the reality that this will be my last term I have redoubled my efforts on a few key files. Hopefully I will be able to advance them and complete some of the unfinished business. I hate leaving things undone!

This past week was out budget for 2013-2014. Mike de Jong did a great job putting together what I have been calling a “Responsible” budget. Given our commitment to balancing the budget many tough decisions had to be made and priorities set. This, of course means some will be disappointed but when you pull all of the elements of the budget together I think we have a package that people will recognize as being the right budget for the right time.

With the balanced budget we become one of just two Provinces in Canada (the other being Saskatchewan) with a balanced budget. Even once mighty Alberta is facing a $4 billion deficit and Ontario is looking at a $10 billion deficit. Keep in mind that our budget is $44 billion so deficits of the size being faced in Alberta and Ontario are very hard to overcome.

This week’s Top 10 is the Backgrounder provided by the Ministry of Finance. Not my usual format but good information.

The next 3 weeks we have a variety of legislation that we will be dealing with in the Legislature so I’ll only be in PG on Friday, Saturday and Sundays.

Have a great week!


  1.  Economic Outlook

In 2012, key economic indications such as employment, retail sales and exports show that B.C.’s economy continues to slowly but steadily grow.
The government forecasts the economy to grow by 1.6 per cent in 2013, 2.2 per cent in 2014 and 2.5 per cent in 2015.
Major risks to the economic outlook include renewed weakness or a return to the recession in the U.S., the ongoing European sovereign debt crisis which threatens the stability of global financing markets, slower than anticipated Asian demand for B.C. exports, exchange rate volatility and further weakening of the U.S. dollar disrupting global financing and commodity markets.

  1.  Revenue Outlook

Total government revenue is forecast at $44.4 billion in 2013 -14, $45 billion in 2014 -15 and $46.4 billion in 2015-16. Revenue is expected to average three per cent annual growth
over the next three years.

  1.  Expense Outlook

Total expense over the three-year plan is forecast at $44 billion in 2013 -14, $44.6 billion in 2014 -15 and $45.6 billion in 2015 -16 — an annual average increase of 1.5 per cent over
the next three years. This rate of growth will allow government to increase program spending by $2 billion over the three-year fiscal plan.

  1.  Healthcare

Budget 2013 confirms government’s ongoing commitment to protect health care.
Ministry of Health budget will increase $2.4 billion over three years. Total health spending by function will reach $17.4 billion, or more than 42 per cent of all government expenses
by 2015 -16.

  1.  K-12 Education

Block funding to School Districts continues to increase to $4.7 billion annually through 2015 -16.
A major component of Budget 2013 is the significant change to the current Children’s Education Fund. Government is building on the current fund by partnering with families and providing payments earlier through the new B.C. Training and Education Savings Grant.
Under the new program, when a B.C. resident child turns six years old, he/she will be eligible for a one-time grant of $1,200 to be deposited into the child’s Registered Education Savings Plan.
Budget 2013 also provides $1 million to expand the School Fruit and Vegetable
Nutritional Program to include milk.

  1.  Arts and Sports

Budget 2013 continues funding for the Sport and Arts Legacy Fund with an allocation of $60 million to continue the program first introduced in Budget 2010.
To ensure B.C.’s young people are better prepared for the creative economy, Budget 2013 allocates $18 million over three years under B.C. Creative Futures.

  1.  Supports for Individuals, Families and Community Safety

Budget 2013 provides an additional $292 million over the next three years to support families and vulnerable individuals.
• $76 million over the next three years to improve access to quality early learning and child care services and supports.
• $13 million in support of the Single Room Occupancy hotel renewal initiative.
• An additional $5 million for government’s responsible gambling strategy to fund enhanced treatment, counselling and prevention services to address problem gambling.
• Budget 2013 provides an additional $52 million over the next three years for increased RCMP policing costs, including hiring officers to combat organized crime and gang activity.

  1.  Support for B.C.’s Agriculture Sector

Budget 2013 provides an additional $4 million over three years to support the
Agricultural Land Commission for increased oversight of the Agriculture Land Reserve. Budget 2013 provides $20 million over three years for a carbon tax relief grant to help
offset carbon tax costs for commercial greenhouse vegetable and flower growers.

  1.  Tax Measures

Budget 2013 provides an additional $327 million in tax measures for 2013 -14 to help achieve the balanced budget and protect important services for taxpayers.
• $50 million from the temporary, two-year increase in the personal income tax rate for income over $150,000, effective January 1, 2014.
• $205 million from increasing the general corporate income tax rate to 11 per cent from 10 per cent, effective April 1, 2013.
• $17 million from increasing taxes on tobacco by $2 a carton, effective October 1, 2013.
• $32 million from phasing out the school property tax credits for light industry (class five) effective for the 2013 tax year.
• $23 million from increasing medical services plan premiums by about four per cent (while protecting premium assistance recipients), effective January 1, 2014.

  1.  Capital Spending

Taxpayer-supported capital spending on schools, hospitals and other infrastructure across the province over the next three years is expected to total $10.4 billion. This includes $1.5 billion to maintain, replace, renovate or expand K-12 facilities; $1.9 billion for capital spending by post-secondary institutions across B.C.; $2.3 billion on health-sector infrastructure; and $3.6 billion for transportation investments.

  1.  Debt

The total provincial debt is forecast to be $62.7 billion in 2013 -14, $66.5 billion in 2014 -15 and $69.4 billion in 2015-16. Taxpayer-supported debt is forecast to be $42.6 billion in 2013 -14, $44.5 billion in 2014 -15 and $46.1 billion in 2015 -16.
By eliminating the deficit and starting to reduce the government’s need to borrow, Budget 2013 forecasts British Columbia’s taxpayer-supported debt-to-GDP ratio will peak at 18.3 per cent in 2014 -15, and decline to 18.1 per cent in 2015 -16. Taxpayer-supported interest costs continue to remain low, averaging 4.3 cents per dollar of revenue over the three-year fiscal plan.

  1.  Budget Outlook

Budget 2013 projects surpluses of $197 million in 2013 -14, $211 million in 2014 -15 and $460 million in 2015 -16.
The fiscal plan includes contingencies of $225 million each year over the three year plan. The fiscal plan includes forecast allowances of $200 million in 2013 -14, $225 million in 2014 -15, and $325 million in 2015 -16 to help guard against revenue volatility.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A great app for signing documents online!

FYI - I just came across a free awesome add-on for Gmail - Google Crome. Its called "HelloSign" here is the link for more info 


Thursday, January 31, 2013

BC Housing Forecast - First Quarter of 2013

Thought you may be interested in this. BCREA's houseing forecast for Q1 2013.

BC_Housing_Forecast_-_1st_quarter_2013_-_Prince_George_Real_Estate_Dean_Birks.pdf Download this file


Monday, January 28, 2013

Site C Enters New Phase

I have reposted this courtesy of Opinion 250.

Site C Enters New Phase

By 250 News

Monday, January 28, 2013 01:39 PM



Image of proposed dam and reservoir, courtesy BC Hydro

Prince George, B.C.- B.C. Hydro has filed its Environmental Impact Statement and mitigation plans for the $8 billion dollar Site C dam project.


The  5 volume EIS notes there are some potential effects that cannot be mitigated “some of which may be considered significant” says BC Hydro. Those significant impacts include : “effects on some distinct groups of fish, some ecological features and rare plants, habitat for certain migratory birds and the use of culturally important places by certain First Nations for traditional purposes.”


Some of the mitigation measures proposed are:


· Creating new wildlife habitat
· Supporting habitat enhancement projects in the region, including working with Aboriginal groups to identify potential sites for relocation of medicinal plants
· Providing upstream fish passage through a trap and haul facility
· Establishing an agricultural compensation fund to address the loss of agricultural land and enhance agriculture productivity in the region
· Relocating portions of Highway 29 that would be affected by the creation of the reservoir
· Upgrading roads to accommodate traffic from project construction activities
· Building new boat launches and recreation sites
· Funding community services where appropriate
· Funding skills training initiatives to increase the skilled workforce required for the project
· Building 40 new permanent housing units to be used by the project during construction, and provided to the community for affordable housing.



While noting the impacts, BC Hydro says the project should proceed because it is in the public’s interest to provide long term, sustainable, clean energy.


If approved, Site C would provide 1,100 megawatts (MW) of capacity, and produce about 5,100 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity each year — enough energy to power the equivalent of about 450,000 homes each year in the province.


The public comment period on the EIS will start February 3rd,  with written comments to be received no later than April 4th.


All comments received will be posted on the Agency's online public registry and on the EAO website.

Written comments can be sent to either of the following:

Linda Jones, Panel Manager
Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency
22nd Floor, 160 Elgin Street
Ottawa ON K1A 0H3

Brian Murphy, Executive Project Director
B.C. Environmental Assessment Office
PO Box 9426 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria BC V8W 9V1
Fax: 250-356-7477
On line form


A series of public information  open houses has been set with one scheduled for Prince George on the 28th of February at the Ramada Hotel.  Representatives of both agencies will be available to answer questions on the environmental assessment process and how the public can participate.  BC Hydro, will also attend the sessions to answer technical questions about the EIS. The public will have an opportunity to submit written comments on the EIS at the sessions.


All of the public information sessions will take place from 4 pm to 8 pm at the following locations:




February 19th

Fort St. John, BC

North Peace Cultural Centre

February 20, 2013

Hudson’s Hope

Hudson’s Hope Community Hall

February 21


Pomeroy Inn & Suites

February 26

Peace River

Sawridge Inn and Conf. Centre

February 27

Dawson Creek

Best Western Dawson Creek

February 28

Prince George

Ramada Inn

A home is only a home if it’s safe - A great foundation we strongly support

 Shelter Foundation logo

A home is only a home if it’s safe. That’s why Royal LePage started its own charity which helps to create safer homes and safer communities.

The Royal LePage Shelter Foundation is Canada’s largest public foundation dedicated exclusively to funding women’s shelters and violence prevention and education programs.

Many Royal LePage agents donate a portion of their commission to the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation when they sell or purchase a home for you. Special events, such as gala dinners and golf tournaments, are also organized by Royal LePage offices to raise funds and awareness.

This much-needed funding is helping to provide a safe place for women and children to rebuild their lives after violence. Shelters use our support to provide job training initiatives, renovate and build new shelters, and cover the cost of crisis counselling and therapy for more than 30,000 women and children each year. The Royal LePage Shelter Foundation also supports programs focused on stopping the cycle of violence by educating young people on healthy relationships. As Royal LePage covers all the administrative costs of the Shelter Foundation, 100% of funds raised goes toward our cause.

"Helping You Is What We Do™ is not just a tagline, it is our corporate philosophy and it translates into a collective commitment to giving back to the community,” says Phil Soper, President and Chief Executive of Royal LePage.

Why we help

Royal LePage real estate agents help Canadians find their dream home. And for those who don’t have a safe and peaceful home, Royal LePage agents are also there, lending a helping hand in neighbourhoods where we live and work.

Research tells us the following:

  • 51% of women in Canada have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16.
  • 360,000 children are exposed to domestic violence each year.
  • Every six days in Canada, a woman is murdered by her current or former partner.

“The issue of violence against women and their children in Canada is significant,” says Shanan Spencer-Brown, Executive Director of the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation. “We are proud to work with over 200 women's shelters and local and national partners to save lives.”

To learn more about the Shelter Foundation and to make a donation to help put abuse out of commission, visit To read brave stories of hope by women and children survivors of family violence, visit

"I have gained a lot from the staff at the shelter, such as self worth, and learning how to let go of a lot of the guilt I have carried for such a long time. For once in my life, I feel empowered, and I cannot ever express what that is worth to me. I felt safe here physically as well as emotionally, knowing that while I'm behind these walls, I will not be harmed."
- A resident at Discovery House, Calgary, Alberta


Royal LePage Shelter Foundation Charitable Registration No: 88253 1304 RR0001

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Prince George Transit

Its been awhile since I looked at Prince George Transit online. It is still a very good information site and one to share with visitors & new citizens of Prince George. (Not sure if it is smartphone friendly site or not).

Here is the link -