5 Best Things To Do In Burnaby Willingdon Heights

5 best things to do in Burnaby Heights

A Day in Burnaby-Willingdon Heights

There’s more to the Lower Mainland than Vancouver, after all! If you’re ready for a break from the city bustle, retreat to the Heights…Burnaby-Willingdon Heights that is. With prime outdoor, retail, and restaurant destinations, you won’t regret your visit. In fact, you might decide you want to stay!

Throw a frisbee in Confederation Park

Confederation Park is a great place to start your day, with fantastic views of the North Shore and the downtown Vancouver skyline. The fields here are always alive with activity, including soccer games and family picnics. Check out the miniature train, too!

Shop The Heights

Ready for a little retail therapy? With over 350 shops, services, and restaurants, the Heights shopping district truly has something for everyone. Don’t miss everyone’s favourite neon sign, the Swinging Girl!

Grab lunch

Getting hungry? It’s probably time for lunch. Visit one of our top recommendations for restaurants in Burnaby-Willingdon Heights. Don’t fill up too much, though—your day’s not over yet!

Head up the mountain

Go east until you hit Simon Fraser University at the top of Burnaby Mountain. This stunning example of Arthur Erickson’s brutalist architecture might look familiar as the backdrop for many sci-fi TV shows (Battlestar Galactica, for one), but it’s a concrete marvel in its own right. BC is known for its natural beauty, but this campus is a tribute to the wonders of manmade elegance.

Catch the sunset at the Playground of the Gods

Leave SFU, and you’ll find yourself in Burnaby Mountain Park. From here, make your way to the Playground of the Gods, an art installation by Ainu woodcarver Toko Nuburi. That’s right—while this large wooden sculpture may resemble First Nations totem poles, they’re actually an example of indigenous art from Japan. If you time it right, the sunset viewed from here is spectacular.

Home Trends and Living in Burnaby: With Dekora Home Staging

Home staging with Dekora

Ron Sowden, long time home staging professional, sheds light on what challenges the industry has faced, how our behaviours are changing and shaping the way that we find comfort at home, as well as a great perspective on what it is like to live and do business in the Vancouver/ Burnaby Heights neighbourhood. 

We are so lucky to have been given a really unique perspective by Ron, learning about his business Dekora and taking a look through the inspiring work they have put up throughout 2020. We love working with Ron as he stages our beautiful listings. It is especially insightful to learn from somebody who sees the winds of change and adapts their business approach to it, particularly when sometimes we are riding these winds ourselves and not necessarily looking around to notice how far we have come and why. 

We asked Ron a series of questions about Dekora, home staging, industry trends and life in Burnaby, so let’s get right to it! 

Meet Ron Sowden.

Ron has been in the home staging world since it started in Canada, around 18 years now. His business Dekora Home Staging and Interior Design is right on the edges of the Burnaby/ Vancouver heights neighbourhoods at Bridgeway and Skeena Street. 

“Having worked here for decades, this North Burnaby neighbourhood has become somewhat of a second home for me,” Ron tells us.  

Dekora Home Staging and Interior Design.

Dekora has been in business since 2003 and is now one of the leading home staging businesses in Western Canada. 

“We introduced home staging to the Metro Vancouver market, our success led to the opening of a second branch in Calgary in 2008,” Ron notes. Today, Dekora’s main business remains home staging, but having developed strong eyes for detail and an understanding of what styles people gravitate towards, Dekora now offers interior design and furniture/ decor sales to both consumers (homeowners) and businesses (builders/ developers). 

“As well as private homeowners, we work extensively with home builders and developers furnishing show homes, display suites and custom spec homes.” One such project, described in Dekora’s blog “A Year in Review: Looking Back at 2020,” involved staging the Heritage on West 16th Avenue transformation project. Dekora were a pivotal part of the process in which three heritage homes were transformed into 12 new townhomes and infill coach house units. This required a unique balance between historic architecture and contemporary tastes and needs, a balance that Dekora struck perfectly as seen in the image below. For the full article, click here

We asked Ron which were his favourite projects over the recent years. “Favorite projects? Well, they number in the thousands! Recent local ones to point out could be the presentation centre and show suites for Belford Properties Sun Towers at Metrotown, and the charming Smith + Norfolk townhomes in Burnaby.”  

The impact of COVID on homeowner needs and tastes.

Dramatic effects were felt across multiple industries, for Ron and Dekora, they saw behavioural patterns emerge as a direct result of changing needs which puts them in a unique position.

“Since COVID landed on us all, there was an initial drastic slowdown, but that was followed by a lot of activity in home sales, driven by changing needs of people now working from home and seeing opportunities to initiate change to their lifestyles and living accommodation,” Ron tells us. 

“We witnessed first hand the movement of populations from core-area condos to larger homes or townhomes away from downtown – like Burnaby for instance.” 

Where does home staging fit in the real estate industry?

With so many people now working remotely, Dekora are staging home offices and work spaces at every opportunity to show home buyers the live/work potential, particularly in condos.  

Statistics have for many years demonstrated that well-staged and presented homes sell faster and for more money, than non-staged homes. We work directly with Dekora as they showcase our beautiful listings – and with great results. Builders and developers also recognize the value and upside potential of an investment in staging. 

Ron argues the return on investment can be compelling, and it is easy to see why when looking through their portfolio.

“Our tagline is “Love at first sight,” and that is exactly what we aim to achieve for potential buyers.  We really focus on envisioning the target buyer for each home we stage, and styling an environment to appeal to them – and ideally a home that they can fall in love with.” 

Ron continued to tell us there is a nice range and variety of homes in the Heights – from lowrise to highrise condos, townhomes, beautiful heritage homes and lots of great new homes.  Something for everyone, which contributes to the rich, diverse community known across this area, and Burnaby as a whole.  

New trends in the ways in which we design our home spaces.

The months of COVID have impacted all of our lives, Ron notes that many more people are focussing more on their homes now, considering that they spend so much more time at home, and have had to integrate things like work, fitness, recreation into the home. 

More space has been at the top of many wish lists, and that has driven a lot of activity in the Burnaby real estate market.  Ron has also seen a really interesting increase in our focus and investment in comfort and style.

“When we spend so much more of our time at home, we value it more.”

Why is Burnaby such a great place to live and work?

Ron begins to circle back to comments made at the beginning. 

“There is a diverse variety of housing options, and that makes for an interesting, vibrant community.” 

“The Heights area exemplifies that diversity and Hastings Street is one the lower mainland’s great “high streets” with its wonderful mix of businesses, shops and restaurants.” 

Ron has seen a lot of change over the years with so much new development, but notes that the area has evolved along with the growth and continues to be vibrant and desirable. “In fact, Burnaby Heights was exactly the place that my close family friends  – a young newlywed couple – most wanted to make their home, and they just recently bought a charming older house across from Burnaby Heights Park on Trinity Street! A perfect example!” 

We’d like to thank Ron for introducing us to Dekora Home Staging, and shedding light on his perspective of human behaviour change and the charm of Burnaby. Be sure to check out Dekora’s website for inspiring images, or to learn more about their services. 

If you’ve been inspired to learn more about Burnaby real estate, the unique neighbourhoods in Burnaby, or the diverse community, reach out to us, we would gladly help you out. 

If you have a story you’d like to share about living or doing business in Burnaby, reach out to us!

Things To Do With Your Kids in Renfrew Collingwood

Kids in a park in Renfrew Collingwood

When you’ve been home with the kids for a while, you might find yourself running out of activities to keep them engaged and off their devices! Why not take advantage of some of the coolest local attractions in East Vancouver where your kids can find plenty of things to do and explore!

The Vancouver suburb of Renfrew-Collingwood is a large neighbourhood surrounded by nature. What used to be home to various kinds of wildlife —ducks, geese, cougars, beavers, bears—  is now a residential location for one of the most diverse communities in Vancouver.  But it’s also incredibly family-friendly, too: almost half of the population comprises families, 62% of whom have kids at home. That means that there’s plenty of stuff for you and your children to do right in your own backyard!

Thinking of taking the kids out to explore? We have some tips for you:

Walk on the wild side in Renfrew Ravine Park

Renfrew Ravine is the only park in Vancouver with a creek in a natural ravine. At six hectares (which is about 7-8 blocks), you can easily forget you’re in the middle of a residential area. Outside the city, sounds eventually fade away as you get closer to the creek, but be careful – the ravine can be steep! However, for a moment of peace and quiet among the trees, the long walk might just be well worth it.

Take a class at the Renfrew Park Community Centre

You can find the community centre at the south end of Renfrew Ravine Park. Founded in 1963 to offer a variety of programs and services for all ages, it is home to a fitness centre, an indoor swimming pool, sauna and whirlpool, and a game area, among other activities. Enroll your kids in arts and music classes or take advantage of the facilities to get some workouts in. There’s undoubtedly something for everyone in your family.

Let your dog roam free at Falaise Park

Falaise Park is an off-leash dog park just 20 minutes away from the community centre. Your family pet will definitely enjoy running around this massive grassy field, offering unobstructed views of the North Shore Mountains, Mount Seymour, Grouse Mountain, and Cypress Mountain. At the bottom of the park is a wetlands habitat garden that you can explore, too. Further down the hill are two baseball diamonds, but make sure your dog is leashed at this point – you wouldn’t want anyone accidentally joining the team! 

Grab your skates and head to Trout Lake

Trout Lake Rink is located at the Trout Lake Community Centre, which is around a 12-minute drive from Falaise Park. It is open from September to March for public skating programs and skate lessons for all ages and abilities. The rink opened in 2009 just in time for the Vancouver Winter Olympics, where it was used as a training space for 150 figure skaters from 35 countries. Who knows, maybe the ice will inspire your kid to be the next great winter Olympian! 

Experience the best of the neighbourhood at Collingwood Days

The Collingwood Days Festival, typically held in the spring, is an annual community event celebrating the diversity, history, and natural beauty of Renfrew-Collingwood. It highlights the contributions of various groups and members of the neighbourhood through music, dancing, and exhibits. It’s a great time to learn more about the community and meet your neighbours, too.

Five Day Trip Ideas Close To Burnaby

day trip ideas from Burnaby

Vacations are essential. They help us take time out of our busy lives, recharge our energy, and avoid burnout. But some of us have less free time than most, so we make do with short trips where we can escape just for a day or two. Burnaby is a fantastic location for day-trippers, as it is close to many sites that literally provide a breath of fresh air. 

Here are some tip top day trip destinations within an hour of Burnaby:

Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area

Burnaby Mountain is a low, forested elevation overlooking the upper arms of Burrard Inlet. Visitors can bask in the vastness of nature in this massive 576-hectare park.  You can hike or bike along the 28 trails, or just lay in the grass for a lazy holiday picnic with friends and family. Don’t forget your camera – the park offers breathtaking city, mountain, and water views, especially during the sunset. 

Deep Cove 

For those who want an escape from the fast-paced hustle and bustle of Vancouver, Deep Cove may just be the perfect destination. Around half an hour away from Burnaby, Deep Cove is a quaint, seaside town that offers good food, fun local events, and a variety of water activities. Come here during the summer for kayaking, paddle boarding, or swimming on the beach. Once you’re done with the water, you can come indoors to take in the boutiques and local art scene. A perfect combination of rural idyll and spectacular outdoor locations, Deep Cove is definitely a world away from the city. 

Centennial Beach

Located within Boundary Bay Regional Park in Delta, BC, Centennial Beach is a popular summer destination because of its warm, shallow waters. Expect large crowds to gather at Centennial, walking on the sand, exploring for shells, or just taking in some outdoor exercise. Avid bird watchers should come around the spring or fall, as Boundary Bay, located right between Siberia and South America, is part of the Pacific Flyway

Cypress Mountain 

A local favourite ski resort located 30 minutes north of downtown Vancouver, Cypress Mountain is a great winter vacation spot for avid and newbie skiers alike. And for those who are not that interested in skiing, you can join other activities like snowboarding, snow tubing, and snowshoeing. Cypress has been around since the 70s and has been part of significant historical moments, including the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010. It hosted all of the freestyle skiing and snowboarding events.

 Golden Ears Provincial Park

Around an hour-long drive from Burnaby, Golden Ears is one of the largest parks in British Columbia, measuring over 62,000 hectares. Those who love the great outdoors can choose from its three campgrounds to settle in: Alouette, Gold Creek, and North Beach. Once you’ve set up camp, there are so many other activities you can choose to do, such as swimming, freshwater fishing, cycling, canoeing, hiking, horseback riding, and waterskiing, to name just a few. It’s a great place to enjoy nature and beyond – some say the open beach is a great place to watch meteor showers in early August!

Where to go to Brunch in Burnaby

Brunch in Burnaby

Burnaby is BC’s third-largest city, so it’s no surprise that it boasts of a massive and diverse community and is influenced by different cultures. You can easily see the influences in the wide variety of restaurants in the area, where something as specific as brunch can refer to a range of different dishes.

From the usual diner fare with a hot twist to a Eurasian spin on breakfast and more – here are our picks of great brunch places in Burnaby. 

The Gray Olive Cafeteria

Nothing compares to your mom’s home cooking. The three brothers behind Gray Olive on Hastings developed their menu with this nostalgia in mind, serving meals that reference their childhood but with a twist. Their take on chicken and waffles, for example, comes with a side of spicy Korean ketchup for a bit more bite. Heat is a constant in their menu, with items like red pepper relish and chimichurri often sprinkled in various dishes. The only downside is that G.O. has a small space that fills up quickly, so it’s best to come early or make a reservation.

Fraser Park Restaurant

With its modest exteriors and simple décor, it can be pretty easy to overlook Fraser Park Restaurant based on aesthetics alone. But that would be a mistake because their hearty all-day breakfast menu has been pleasing locals for nearly two decades. Serving a mix of German and Filipino-style breakfast dishes in huge portions, the resto will definitely satisfy many a hungry diner. House recommendations include the German Breakfast (with meats cured in-house), Schnitzel Burger, and homemade soups. 

Hart House Restaurant

Hart House, located at a three-acre estate on Deer Lake Avenue, is a breathtaking property with Tudor Revival architecture and a stunning lakeside view. With Executive Chef Mike Genest at the helm, the menu offers local, Mediterranean-inspired cuisine featuring seafood and local produce. For three decades, the combination of the relaxing ambience and delicious fare has attracted many visitors to take the long drive downtown and spend quality time with their loved ones. If you’re looking for an elevated weekend brunch experience, Hart House is for you.

Ambit Café 

Only about a year old, Ambit Café is a trendy spot that caters to a younger clientele. With a menu filled with sandwiches, wraps, and salad bowls, Ambit is perfect for the busy commuter who doesn’t have time to craft their own healthy meal. But for those who want to stay, their small, functional space aims to be a place to lounge with friends and maybe even meet new ones. Over the summer, they held a live painting night where interested guests can come in to showcase their inner artist, all while sipping a good cup of coffee.  

Cozmos Cafe + Bistro

Cozmos, a Burnaby mainstay for almost 20 years, serves a mix of popular breakfast items and Greek dishes.  Their many regulars, which come in often and treat the staff like family, rave about the great customer service and, of course, the delicious food. Cozmos wants to make everyone feel at home – they say even if you’re not hungry, you’re welcome too! They serve a wide variety of wine, cocktails, beers, and other drinks that can help take the edge off after a long day.  

We love hearing your feedback! If you have a list of great places to go or you know of a business owner who has a fascinating story to share, we’d love to hear your suggestions.

5 Reasons to Invest in Burnaby Real Estate

Why invest in burnaby real estate

If you are looking for a great place to live, learn, work, and play, set your sights on Burnaby. 

As the third-largest city in British Columbia, Burnaby has developed into a thriving urban centre. The once-rural town evolved into a diverse, multicultural hub with a large chunk of its population originating from Africa, China, India, Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia.

Its cultural, economic, and social diversity is a significant reason why people flock to buy real estate in the city. Burnaby is the perfect place for people of all genders, ages, occupations, and interests. Whether you’re single, starting a family, or an empty-nester, investing in Burnaby real estate would be an excellent move.

Hailed as the “Best Run City” by Maclean’s Magazine in 2009, Burnaby remains a fantastic place to live in. If you are looking to invest in real estate property, you may seriously consider this sustainable and vibrant community.

Here are other reasons why:  

Robust Economy and Quality of Life 

Burnaby is a great place to live in because of its low crime rate, outstanding health care system, and good quality of life.

While Information Technology (IT) is its primary economic driver, commercial firms, industrial corporations, and oil refineries also contribute to the local economy. Film production studios have also set up shop in the city.

The cost of living in Burnaby is also relatively low compared to Vancouver. 

Excellent Educational System

Burnaby also presents fantastic learning opportunities. It has 41 elementary and eight secondary schools that offer a comprehensive educational program from kindergarten to Grade 12. These programs include both English and French immersion and over 200 locally and provincially developed educational programs and services.

Burnaby is also home to two major post-secondary educational institutions — Simon Fraser University (SFU) and The British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT). A lot of international students also come over to pursue academic and experiential courses in Burnaby.

Amazing Commuting Networks 

Getting around Burnaby is comfortable with its remarkable commuting networks and transportation services. Its commitment to public transportation innovation was recognized by being a recipient of the Intelligent Transportation Systems Project Award in 2011.

Located in the geographical centre of Greater Vancouver, it only takes 25 minutes to drive into downtown Vancouver. Skytrain stations are strategically spread across the city to make it easier for residents and guests to commute within Burnaby or cross to Coquitlam, downtown Vancouver, New Westminster, Richmond, or Surrey.

Numerous Shopping and Recreational Facilities 

Investing in Burnaby real estate property is made even more appealing with all retail and recreational facilities around. Its multicultural demography makes it a perfect place for experiencing global cuisine, as evidenced by various cafes and restaurants in the city.

Shoppers will undoubtedly revel in Burnaby’s shopping malls, including British Columbia’s largest mall (and Canada’s second-largest) – the Metropolis at Metrotown. Art, cultural, and sports centres are also scattered around the area, such as the Burnaby Art Gallery, Burnaby Village Museum, Kensington Complex, National Nikkei Cultural Centre, and Shadbolt Centre, to name a few.

Those aged 55 and above can also take advantage of the four senior centres in Burnaby.

Loads of Greenspace and Parks 

With 25% of the land designated as parks and open spaces, Burnaby is a haven for nature enthusiasts. Outdoor activities abound, such as boating, biking, golf, and other health and fitness activities. Picnics and concerts in the park can also be enjoyed, especially during summer.

Popular outdoor areas are Deer Park Lake, Burnaby’s Farmer’s Market, Burnaby Mountain Golf Course, Metro Skate Park, and Swanguard Stadium. For young families, Burnaby offers the best of both worlds, with outdoor activities and world-class metropolitan amenities in abundance. 

Reach out to us at HofVan real estate group to learn more about Burnaby!