After 13 rentals in 10 years, single mother by choice Alyssa Garrison finds her forever home

Jenny Morris 

For Toronto-based blogger Alyssa Garrison, home isn’t just a place to hang your hat and crash at the end of the day. It’s a palace for her treasures, a place where everything is a little bit magical, a physical manifestation of the inside of her brain. Garrison is the force behind Random Acts of Pastel (RAOP), a lifestyle brand that focuses on fashion, beauty, design and embracing every colour in the rainbow (especially pink).

Home is where the heart is for the pastel enthusiast. Unfortunately, she’s had to move 13 times in 10 years. Toronto’s challenging rental market, negligent landlords, a collapsing roof, nightmare neighbours, heartbreak and transitional roommates all played their part: “It was a mix of life stuff and apartment stuff going horribly wrong,” she says. That said, Garrison has never hesitated to sprinkle stardust wherever she goes — even on a rental with a leaking roof.

I caught up with Garrison to find out how she finally found her forever home (a stunning unicorn of a house dubbed “Heaven in High Park” on Instagram), her experience becoming a single mother by choice, and why she encourages other women to never wait for a partner to have a kid, buy a house, or do whatever it is they want in life.

First came the house, then came the baby

When Garrison turned 27, she decided it was the last year that she would wait for a partner to realize her dreams of becoming a young mom. Instead, she took matters into her own hands, and with the help of a sperm donor, a doctor and a supportive network of friends and family, she concieved on Mother’s Day and gave birth to Summer Honey Rose Garrison on January 25th, 2019.

But before that could happen, there was one piece she had to figure out: Finding a suitable rental in Toronto’s volatile market. “I had the idea and I was working towards it, but I felt like the apartment was a huge missing piece,” she says. Garrison suspected that condo living wasn’t for her, but decided to try it for a year to test-run the possibility of buying one. “I knew I couldn’t move forward having a baby at the sad condo. Finding the right apartment was a huge step towards being able to make this dream a reality.”

It turned out apartment 13 was the lucky number. She went to a viewing and wrote a long, personal letter, detailing to the landlord how much the home would mean to her. He let her know that it had just been rented but he would keep her in mind for future vacancies. Defeated, she closed her email and expected to never hear from him again. “This particular landlord messaged me the next day saying someone had just given their notice in another one of his buildings,” she said. This place was about the same price, but a lot bigger.

In the end, it was so perfect, her only concern was that there was too much space. “I was a bit scared to commit because it was quite a lot more rent than I’d been paying. I said to a friend, ‘I don’t even know what to do with all of these rooms, I don’t even have enough furniture, what am I going to do with this house, it’s too big for me as a single person.’ And they said to me, ‘If you make the space, the universe will fill it.’”

Building a nest egg

Despite dreaming of homeownership, Garrison is grateful to have the flexibility of a rental — for now. Her family is on the West Coast, and her friends are in Toronto. “I can’t really commit to where I want to buy,” she says. “I like the idea of buying, just for the stability of not having to ever leave. But I need to find a place where I never want to leave, first.”

That hasn’t stopped Garrison from saving — whether it’s to buy a place one day or create a nest egg so she can take an official maternity leave one day. “I used to be so, so terrible with money. I was super irresponsible and I just loved spending,” she says. In recent years, she’s turned saving money into a challenge. “Budgeting for myself, making goals — it’s kind of turned into weird, fun game for me,” she says. “Is this being an adult?”

Garrison also subscribes to the adage: “Look at all of your stuff that used to be your money. Look at all the money, that eats up your time.” Every time she’s about to buy something, she holds it in her hands (“Marie Kondo-styles”) and asks if it was worth the time it took to earn the money. “Is this where you want it to go to? Another candle?” she says, “I definitely do not need more candles.” Being the sole-income earner has been the biggest challenge for Garrison as a single parent. “I can’t take a break from work. It affects my whole family, and there’s no one else to support me in the meantime,” she says.

Not waiting for “Prince Charming”

Today, Garrison uses her platform to share her non-traditional pregnancy story and normalize single-parent families and alternate methods to conceive.

In many ways, I see a parallel to women (and men) delaying homeownership until they meet a partner. The reality is that more single women are buying real estate on their own than ever before. Despite this, there’s still a societal pressure to wait for a partner before taking that first step on the property ladder.

“I used to feel like ‘Oh, wouldn’t you want to buy your first house with someone? It’s such a special experience.’ And I think a lot of people feel that way,” says Garrison. “You follow the steps: get married, buy a house, have children. But I think it’s a fun adventure to do on your own, too.”

It’s helped Garrison realize that no situation is necessarily perfect. If you wait to have a child with a partner, there’s always a chance the relationship will dissolve. You could wait to get a house with someone, and they back out or default on the mortgage. “I think my gamble is less traditional, but not necessarily a lot scarier,” she says.

Ultimately, Garrison believes in building the best life she possibly can, right now. If someone comes along to share in it with her, that’s great. “Why wait? Why not just go ahead and forge your life the way you want, as best as you can, and let someone else fit in down the line.”

Car Free day in Port Moody Aug 18th

PORT MOODY, BC – August 19: Car Free Day in Port Moody, British Columbia on August 19 2018. Photo by Derek Cain / City of Port Moody.

Port Moody Car-Free Day is set for August 18: great food, live music, activities for all ages.

PORT Moody’s third-annual Car-Free Day is happening on St. Johns Street, between Douglas and Moody streets, from 12 noon to 7pm on Sunday, August 18, 2019. This community celebration will include more than 130 booths presented by local businesses, artisans, and non-profit groups, plus great food and live music.

Car-Free Day is a community celebration featuring:

· live music, including Clavinova NightsKim Gray4 Quarter, and Trilojay, and children’s entertainer Music with Marnie ;

· great food, available from local restaurants and food trucks;

· Brewers Row Beer Garden (family-friendly) at Queens Street Plaza;

· family-friendly activities like rock climbing, mini golf, mini train, ninja obstacle course, and a bicycle skills zone;

· roving entertainers and mascots;

· more than 130 booths presented by local businesses and artisans; and

· electric vehicles on display.

St. Johns Street, between Douglas and Moody streets, will be closed to all vehicle traffic from 6am to 10pm on August 18, 2019. Commuters are strongly advised to take alternative routes. Visit the City’s website to view the Car-Free Day traffic management summary.

Members of the public are encouraged to leave their car at home, and walk, bike, or take public transit to the celebration. The City of Port Moody is operating a free event shuttle on August 18, 2019. Starting at 11:45am, the shuttle will loop from Knowle Street (in front of the Port Moody Recreation Complex, 300 Ioco Road) to Rocky Point Park (2800 Murray Street) approximately every 30 minutes. From Rocky Point Park, riders can walk over the Moody Street Overpass to St. Johns Street. The last loop of the day will leave Knowle Street at approximately 6:45pm and leave Rocky Point Park at approximately 7pm.

For buses operated by TransLink, check their Trip Planner for routes and schedules. If you are arriving via SkyTrain, exit the train at Moody Centre Station, then walk south on Williams Street and west on St. Johns Street. Limited vehicle parking will be available at Westcoast Express Park and Ride (65 Williams Street, pay parking).

Please visit for more information. Car-free days take place across the country and aim to inspire people to get out of their cars, interact with each other, and explore alternative modes of transportation.

Port Moody – City of the Arts – is home to over 34,000 residents. The vibrant waterfront city values its natural environment and heritage character, embraces sustainability and is committed to community engagement. Founded in 1913, Port Moody’s historical ties to railway and lumber industries have given way to arts and service based businesses. With over one-third of its land mass dedicated as parkland, Port Moody is a desirable place to live in B.C.’s Lower Mainland.


Home sales increase in July

Home buyer demand picked up across Metro Vancouver* last month, making July, a traditionally quieter month in real estate, the second highest selling month so far this year.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential home sales in the region totalled 2,557 in July 2019, a 23.5 per cent increase from the 2,070 sales recorded in July 2018, and a 23.1 per cent increase from the 2,077 homes sold in June 2019.

Last month’s sales were 7.8 per cent below the 10-year July sales average.

“While home sale activity remains below long-term averages, we saw an increase in sales in July compared to the less active spring we experienced,” Ashley Smith, REBGV president said. “Those looking to buy today continue to benefit from low interest rates, increased selection, and reduced prices compared to the heated market a few years ago.”


Main question that everyone is asking now: “what is happening with the market?”

As an example, we would like to provide you a couple of detached houses, townhouses, apartments/condos sold in May 2019. Please compare the initial price and sold price with how many days on market, to understand the market trends.

These graphs show the sales trends in Vancouver areas. Most areas still show dominant buyer’s market – North Vancouver – 29%, Vancouver East – 37% and West – 29%, Richmond – 25%, etc. Meaning that about every 5th listing gets sold (or out of 100 listings – 20-25-30 gets sold). However please NOTE that there are three areas based on these statistics that are already in balanced market – Port Moody – 41%, Surrey – 44% and Langley- 48% where up to half listed properties are sold. Source: Zoocasa, Vancouver Courier.

Full article Link:


Mortgage Advisor

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Cell 778-245-8918


227 – 5589 Byrne Road Burnaby, BC V5J 3J1

Featuring one of the mortgage products which allows to reduce monthly payment amount.


The professional

Living in a market with high real estate prices and want manageable monthly payments.

The first time homebuyer

Wants more monthly cash flow to help pay off other high-interest debt.

The seasonal or shift worker

Has cyclical or seasonal work and wants lower payments that fits irregular cash flow.

The investor

Owns multiple rentals and wants to keep mortgage expenses low.

The planner

Has goals to improve wealth and can put the extra monthly cash flow towards investing opportunities.

The enthusiast

Looking for lower monthly payments to save for home renovations and improve property value.

The product blends interest only and conventional mortgage allowing considerably less monthly payment amount than standard mortgages. Here are the demand criteria:

  • Interest only or a combination of interest only and conventional mortgage products
  • 30 years amortization for either portion of the product
  • Option to choose between highly competitive variable or fixed rates for both portions
  • Eligibility to pay lumpsum annual privilege payments
  • Convert from interest-only to conventional mortgage at any time
  • 20% Downpayment



Please don’t hesitate to contact Katie Shenyk to see if this program is a good fit for you. The payment calculation is based on comparable interest rates basis prime 3,95%. The qualification for the program is based on full underwriting.


Speculation and Vacancy Tax

The speculation and vacancy tax is a key measure in tackling the housing crisis in major urban centres in British Columbia, where home prices and rents have skyrocketed out of reach for many British Columbians.

The provincial government is taking action because people who live and work in B.C. deserve an affordable place to call home.

The speculation and vacancy tax is a part of government’s 30-Point Plan to make housing more affordable for people in our province.

This new annual tax is designed to:

  • Target foreign and domestic speculators who own residences in B.C. but don’t pay taxes here
  • Turn empty homes into good housing for people
  • Raise revenue that will directly support affordable housing

All owners of residential property in the designated taxable regions of B.C. must complete an annual declaration. Over 99% of British Columbians are estimated to be exempt from the tax.

How to Exempt Yourself

To claim your exemption, you must register your property by March 31, 2019 – and it’s easy to do, either by phone or online. The information you’ll need to register your property declaration will be mailed by mid-February to all owners of residential property within the taxable regions.

Contact us if you’re expecting a declaration letter from us and haven’t received one by late February.

Please note that if your property has more than one owner, even if the other owner is your spouse, a separate declaration must be made for each owner.

How the Tax Will Be Charged If You’re Not Exempt

The speculation and vacancy tax rate varies depending on the owner’s tax residency and whether the owner is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada, or a member of a satellite family.By levying the highest tax rate on foreign owners and satellite families (those who earn a majority of income outside the province and pay little to no income tax in B.C.), the speculation and vacancy tax is a way to make sure these property owners are paying their fair share in taxes.

The speculation and vacancy tax applies based on ownership as of December 31 each year.

Note: The speculation and vacancy tax is distinct from the empty homes tax in the City of Vancouver.

Read our answers to questions on the speculation and vacancy tax and learn about how to declare, the taxable regions and the available exemptions.

Subscribe to receive updates as new information about the speculation and vacancy tax becomes available.


Speculation and Vacancy Tax


New Development coming soon: 3-4 BDR TOWNHOUSES on Hudson St in North Coquitlam

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