Connect with us

National

Win a house: Alberta homeowners trying to sell properties with essay contest

Published

6 minute read

EDMONTON — Albertans struggling to enter the real-estate market have at least two chances to win a home this year.

A house south of Calgary and a historic bed and breakfast near the United States border, both valued at about $1.7 million, are up for grabs.

All one needs to do is pay an entry fee and submit an essay.

Owners of the two properties are among many in the province affected by a slumping real-estate market. Homes are listed for months without a single offer.  

Alla Wagner, who has limited mobility after a fall, put her 5,000-square-foot (464-square-metre) house in Millarville, a hamlet in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies, up for sale last year so she could downsize to a smaller bungalow.

Her house was appraised at $3 million three years ago, she says. She first listed it at $1.9 million.

“The market is so low that I wasn’t even getting a single offer,” Wagner says. “It was very painful to watch.”

Instead of giving up, the 58-year-old decided to “think outside of the box.”

Wagner came up with a contest late last year called “Write a Letter, Win a House.” It asks people to explain how owning the home could change their lives. She set an entry fee at $25 and hoped to receive 65,000 entries to cover her investment in the house.

Entries poured in until late January, when Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis began investigating the contest.

“Along with the interest, there were also many people that weren’t fans of the competition and they were trying to find faults with it,” Wagner says.

Heather Holmen with the commission says it determined its gaming rules don’t apply to such a contest. The agency only has oversight on eligible licensed gaming activities.

Wagner says the investigation and managing the contest have affected her work and her health, but she wouldn’t do things differently. 

“I have been reading incredible, incredible messages from people and letters of support.”

Wagner will pick the top 500 essays by July 5 and a panel of independent judges will choose a winner. If she doesn’t reach her monetary goal by then, she plans to return all entry fees.

A couple in Cardston, southwest of Lethbridge, decided to do the same thing when they heard Wagner’s story.

Marsha and Ivan Negrych had tried to sell their bed and breakfast so they can retire and continue raising two grandsons with special needs.

Cobblestone Manor was listed for more than a year without any strong offers.

“Chasing after two little boys and working a large restaurant, a bed and breakfast, and the large grounds is just too much,” Marsha Negrych says.

The 71-year-old says her health is deteriorating and her doctor has told her to stop working.

The contest for the 7,000-square-foot (650-square-metre) property, which is designated as an Alberta Historic Resource, started May 1 and runs until Oct. 31. The couple set the entry fee at $100.

The manor started as a log home built in 1889 by the first Mormon pioneers to settle in southern Alberta. In 1913, a Belgian carpenter built an addition with river rocks, rare hardwood and stained glass from Italy.

Negrych says she hopes whoever ends up with the property will preserve its history.

Ann-Marie Lurie, an economist with the Alberta Real Estate Association, says demand in the province’s housing market has been weak over the last few years, particularly for higher-priced homes.

It’s partly due to lower oil prices, higher unemployment rates and concerns over Alberta’s slumping economy, she says.

“We’ve also had interest rate increases and a new stress test that came in 2018,” Lurie says. “The combined impact of all of those things together has been weighing on our housing market.”

The Calgary area has been the hardest hit, she adds, since many high-paying oil sector jobs were based there.

In the Edmonton area, where the market is also saturated, one real-estate agent put a person in an orange T. Rex costume in photos of a home that had been listed for months.

Erin Hettle told media in December that did increase interest for the four-bedroom split level.

Five months later, however, the house is still on the market.

Daniela Germano, The Canadian Press

Storytelling is in our DNA. We provide credible, compelling multimedia storytelling and services in English and French to help captivate your digital, broadcast and print audiences. As Canada’s national news agency for 100 years, we give Canadians an unbiased news source, driven by truth, accuracy and timeliness.

Follow Author

International

No national security issue in Chinese takeover of Canadian lithium company: Liberals

Published on

OTTAWA — The pending takeover of a Canadian lithium mining company by a Chinese state-owned company raises no national security concerns, federal Liberals argued Thursday.

Liberal MP Andy Fillmore, parliamentary secretary to Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne, told a House of Commons committee that the Industry Department reviewed last fall the proposed takeover of Neo Lithium Corp. by China’s Zijin Mining Group Ltd.

That review concluded that Neo Lithium is “really not a Canadian company,” he told the industry committee, describing it as an Argentine company with directors in the United Kingdom and only three Canadian employees “on paper.”

He said the only reason Neo Lithium “had any Canadian toehold whatsoever,” was to get on the Toronto Stock Exchange in a bid to raise money for what Fillmore called an “increasingly dubious appearing” mine development project in Argentina.

Moreover, he said that project involves lithium carbonate, not the lithium hydroxide used to manufacture batteries that are critical for electric vehicles.

For those reasons, Fillmore said a formal national security review of the takeover was deemed unnecessary.

“These are the things they found, right? That in fact it’s not a relevant lithium to Canada’s national security interests and it’s not really a Canadian company.”

However, Conservative MP Ed Fast, who had called for the emergency committee meeting to find out why no formal security review was done, said it’s “just false” to say Neo Lithium is not a Canadian company.

And he noted that the company’s own website touts the mine as “the pre-eminent lithium brine asset in the world” to meet surging global demand for electric vehicle batteries.

“It goes without saying but bears restating that critical minerals such as lithium are a strategic asset, not only for Canada but for the world, and will play a critical role in driving our future prosperity and in meeting our environmental objectives,” Fast said.

While the mine in question is in Argentina, Fast argued that it is incumbent on Canada and other “free-trading, rules-following allies” to ensure the global critical minerals industry is not monopolized by one country, especially one whose interests “are sometimes hostile toward ours.”

China currently dominates the world’s supply of lithium and batteries.

Conservative MP Tracy Gray further argued that lithium carbonate can be converted into lithium hydroxide for use in batteries.

But Fillmore countered that the conversion process involves additional costs and “significant environmental implications,” which is why lithium hydroxide is preferred.

“I could probably make a passable hat using my socks but I’d much rather wear a hat,” he said.

Thursday’s meeting was called to consider a motion by Fast, calling for the committee to hold six meetings to explore the Neo Lithium takeover and whether a formal national security review should have been conducted.

In the end, committee members unanimously agreed to a Bloc Quebecois compromise to hold two meetings on the subject next week. The steering subcommittee, which is also to meet next week to set the committee’s agenda for the coming months, could decide to schedule more meetings on Neo Lithium.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2022.

Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press

Continue Reading

Justice

CP NewsAlert: Man charged after four bodies found in Manitoba near border

Published on

WINNIPEG — A Florida man has been charged with human smuggling after the bodies of four people, including a baby and a teen, were found in Manitoba near the United States border.

The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota says Steve Shand, who is 47, appeared in court earlier today.

The bodies were found yesterday in Manitoba near the border community of Emerson.

Mounties say it’s believed they died from exposure while trying to cross the border into the U.S. from Canada.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office says the dead were a family of four Indian nationals who were separated from others in a group crossing the border.

More coming …

The Canadian Press


Continue Reading

Trending

X