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Writer-s-Bloc

What your car really costs

For many drivers, the number they see on the windshield is their biggest consideration when it comes to buying a new car. But the sticker price doesn’t tell the full story when it comes to how much your new vehicle will cost. Far from it, in fact.

To help you work out exactly how much your new car will set you back, we’ve put together a list of four factors to look out for the next time you’re on the hunt, alongside a few reasons why choosing a hybrid for your next car purchase might help save you in the long term. 

Overall Price

The price tag is important, but what you’re getting for it is what really counts. From future-proofing technology such as Bluetooth connectivity and rearview cameras to advanced safety features, it’s important to go beyond the bottom line to make sure that the car you are getting will be able to handle everything you might throw at it in the future. You may eventually find that by spending a few extra bucks now, you could save yourself a small fortune further down the road. 

Retained Value

The majority of Canadians will trade or sell their vehicle within nine years, and so it’s important to consider depreciation as part of the total cost of any purchase. Some vehicles, such as hybrids, are far better when it comes to retaining of their value. In fact, the Toyota Prius c was recently awarded Best Retained Value for a Sub-compact Car by Canadian Black Book, the definitive guide to car depreciation in the country.

Maintenance and Repair 

From oil changes to tire replacement, the cost of car maintenance and repair can add up to a lot of extra expense over a vehicle’s lifetime. However, drivers choosing hybrids can expect significantly lower maintenance costs than they might be used to. 

The very nature of hybrid vehicles means that they do not experience as much wear-and-tear as a traditional gasoline engine. For example, the electric motor means that the secondary gas-engine is put under much less stress; it also means that owners will be able to go twice as long between oil changes.

Fuel 

Given that the average Canadian spends more than 2.5% of their annual salary on gas, working out what you’re going to be paying at the pump can have a huge impact on the cost of a car over its lifetime. Of course, we can’t control the price of gas, but we can control how much of it our vehicles guzzle. 

While people traditionally associate hybrid vehicles with the eco-conscious, the truth is that many Canadians are turning to electric motors to save money as well as the environment. And with hybrid vehicles using almost 50% less gas than their non-hybrid alternatives, it’s easy to see why.   

Make sure you look beyond the bottom line before buying your next vehicle, because a few smart choices could save you thousands of dollars in the long run.



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Short-term rental furore

Short term rentals in Kelowna: blessing or curse?

by Mark Ameerali

One of the hot-button issues in the overheated Kelowna housing market is short-term rentals (STRs) being rented during peak tourist months.

Our city is increasing in popularity with total visitor count increasing from 1.2 million visitors in 2004, to over 1.9 million visitors in 2016.

Increasing tourism and business activity certainly benefit our local economy, but does this create further strain on the housing market and the rental market? 

If so, do the benefits outweigh the costs?

In this three-part series, I will address key areas influencing the discussion and argue that in each case, the net effect of STR in our city has been an overall strong positive influence on the city.

Are short-term rentals permanently removing housing stock off the market?

Kelowna is a unique STR market, much different than a big city.

Our STR activity occurs primarily between May long weekend and Labour Day.

Unlike in many major cities like Toronto and Vancouver with year-round STR demand, in Kelowna there is simply no STR demand for more than half the year.

The housing stock is not completely removed, but rather repurposed towards STR during the warmest months and converted back to long-term, multi-month rentals in September.

I would suggest the only reason STR hosts would go through the trouble of this high turn over activity is because it is financially worth the extra-effort when the total annual income is considered.

Knowing that STR is only financially viable in the warm months, who do the STR hosts rent to during the off-season?

The answer  is simple; they rent largely to students. It’s perfect match. The school year runs exactly the length of the off-season for STR and the rooms are all furnished.

The UBCO campus has been expanding rapidly since its inception in 2004. I

n the last 10 years, the student population has doubled from 4,164 in 2006 to 8,718 in 2016. There have simply not been enough housing units to meet this demand. Furthermore, most students want to live closer to the amenities in the city, so they seek housing options in town.

There are also other groups that are looking for shorter rental periods:

  • people moving to Kelowna with the intention to buy or build a home
  • people in town temporarily for work
  • and a variety of others in unique situations where a year-long lease is not desirable.

If there was no market for off-season rentals in Kelowna the STR market simply could not exist. If we lose the STR housing stock, we impair students, immigrants, builders and buyers by severely reducing their housing options.

On the housing/rental forums online, it is evident that there is a lot of rental pain in the market right now. Seniors and low-income families are being priced out, and good luck finding a place to live if you have a dog.

However, students, first-time residents looking to buy or build are a vulnerable sector in the rental housing market because they are seeking an a-typical housing arrangement.

The STR hosts are the best option for these groups.

Mark Amareli is a local wealth manager with Raintree Financial.



Just expensive pee?

Are vitamins just expensive pee?

By Dr. David Hatton

Ever heard that taking vitamin is like throwing money down the drain?

First, let's debunk this saying right now. Good quality vitamins do not create expensive pee.

Let's start with some back ground information.

When it comes to vitamins and minerals, there are two categories that each can be classified into:

  • water soluble
  • fat soluble.

Vitamin A, D, E, and K are all fat soluble and are able to be stored in the body to be utilized at a later point when they are needed.

The remaining vitamins, such as vitamin C, are water soluble and only stay in the body for a short period of time.

Once these vitamins are absorbed and utilized by the body, the vitamin waste products are filtered out of the blood and excreted in the urine.

So what happens when we take higher doses of vitamins?

For this purpose we will focus on vitamin C. Higher doses of vitamin C are often taken when people feel sick to help boost the immune. If the vitamin C taken is a poor quality supplement, only a small benefit will seen.

Poor supplement quality is a waste of money.

However, good quality vitamin C in the form of L-Ascorbic acid will be utilized by the body to scavenge free radicals, which are damaging if left in the body, and be converted to the oxidized form diketogulonic acid.

Once it has been used by the body and converted, the kidneys filter it out as it is no longer beneficial to the body.

Higher doses of vitamins doesn't just create expensive pee. The body is using the vitamins at a high and effect rate before eliminating the utilized form that is no longer useful.

The key is to make sure the supplements that you are using are the correct form and at the appropriate therapeutic dose. 

Many research articles are based around testing the urine content for vitamins after they have been consumed to determine the exact amount that is excreted in urine. In this way, it allows results to show how much the body is absorbing and utilizing.

However, when this form of testing is done, the different forms of vitamins are all clumped together such as seen in the example of vitamin C.

L-Ascorbic acid, dehydro-L-ascorbic acid and diketogulonic acid are all labelled as vitamin C, which is very misleading as different forms indicate different bio availability in the body.

To break this down from a long story to a short line, yes it is beneficial to be take a good quality vitamin supplement and it isn't just a recipe for expensive pee.

When looking at the rack of vitamins at the health food store, it is always important to know which will be most beneficial and which your body needs. This way you can avoid spending money on products your body will not absorb and ultimately creating expensive pee.

Your body, your health.

Dr. David Hatton is a naturopathic physician and co-founder of Helix Integrative Health in Kelowna. Check out www.helixintegrativehealth.ca for more information.



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Acupuncture for arthritis

Osteoarthritis is a chronic joint condition caused by a breakdown of cartilage and the bones beneath the cartilage.

This causes pain, stiffness, swelling, popping noises, and a loss of flexibility in the joint. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. About 10 per cent of Canadians have it.

There is no cure so treatment focuses on managing symptoms. Common recommendations include:

  • walking aids
  • wedged insoles
  • physiotherapy
  • transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS
  • cognitive behavioural therapy
  • pharmaceutical drugs
  • corticosteroid injections.

If mobility of the joint is severely impaired, a joint replacement may be recommended.

Acupuncture is a safe, effective, and cost-efficient treatment for managing osteoarthritis.

A 2017 Comparative Literature Review conducted by John McDonald and Stephen Janz concluded that “current evidence supports the use of acupuncture as an alternative for traditional analgesics in patients with osteoarthritis.”

Acupuncture for knee osteoarthritis:

  • Performed better than placebos, muscle-strengthening exercise, tai chi, weight loss, standard care and aerobic exercise (in ranked order).
  • Was superior to standard care and muscle-strengthening exercises.
  • Significantly reduced pain intensity, improved functional mobility and quality of life.
  • Had a greater reduction in pain intensity when treatments continued for more than four weeks.

In general, acupuncture is thought to stimulate the nervous system and cause biochemical changes that promote homeostasis for physical and emotional well being.

In western medical terms, acupuncture works by:

  • Stimulating areas of the brain that are known to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress
  • Releasing endogenous endorphins and neurohormones which changes the processing of pain in the brain and spinal cord
  • Inhibiting pain through the regulation and release of endogenous opioids
  • Reducing inflammation by releasing vascular and immunomodulatory factors
  • Increasing local microcirculation which helps to reduce swelling and promote healing

From a Chinese medicine perspective, pain is due to poor circulation.

  • Is the digestive system too weak to nourish blood?
  • Was there trauma?
  • Are there other health factors contributing to joint problems?

Once we determine the cause of the poor circulation, we can suggest a treatment.

Sometimes herbal medicine is better, sometimes acupuncture, sometimes both, sometimes neither and a referral for other treatments is best.

It all depends on the underlying cause.

Because we think pain is from improper circulation, we suggest using heat instead of ice for chronic pain.

While ice may be good for inflammation, it also tenses muscles and decreases circulation. Heat relaxes muscles, promotes blood flow, and therefore reduces pain.

That's why we often recommend moxibustion for people suffering from osteoarthritis. Moxibustion is a type of heat therapy that involves burning mugwort and using it to warm specific parts of the body.

A systematic review and meta-analysis from the journal Clinical Rheumatology (July 2011, Volume 30, Issue 7, pp 937–945) suggests that moxibustion can be more effective than drugs for knee osteoarthritis, and that moxibustion can improve outcomes when it’s used in conjunction with conventional drug treatments.

I think that’s pretty impressive

When I was 16, I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis and patellofemoral syndrome of the right knee. I had torn the meniscus in my right knee while playing Capture The Flag.

An orthopedic surgeon implanted three meniscal arrows because the damage was so bad, but unfortunately my knee became septic and I was hospitalized with intravenous antibiotics for a month.

This caused the muscles in my right leg to atrophy and my kneecap to dislocate and grind against the femur.

The surgery helped my knee move properly again even though it became infected, and physiotherapy helped me regain muscle strength. Those procedures, however, did nothing to solve my pain.

After I did seven acupuncture treatments, the pain went away and I had no problems for seven years. It helped me so much that I decided to study acupuncture so I could help others in similar situations.

I continue to get acupuncture periodically when my symptoms flare.

As you can see, I think acupuncture is amazing for osteoarthritis, but don’t just take my word for it.

Research also shows that acupuncture is a great option to help you manage osteoarthritis symptoms. Living with this chronic condition doesn’t mean that you have to suffer with daily pain.

For a detailed summary of the evidence for acupuncture please see the report by John McDonald and Stephen Janz: The Acupuncture Evidence Project: A Comparative Literature Review (Revised Edition).

For additional research on acupuncture for osteoarthritis, please visit the British Acupuncture Council website.

Michael Côté is a Registered Practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine. He can be reached at the Okanagan Acupuncture Centre at 1625 Ellis St. in downtown Kelowna.



More Writer's Bloc articles

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About the Author

Welcome to Writer’s Bloc, an opinion column for guest writers to share their experiences and viewpoints with our readers.

Do you have something to say that is timely? of local interest? controversial? inspiring? foodie? entertaining? educational?

Drop a line. [email protected]

Opinions expressed in this column are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent those of Castanet. They are not news stories reported by our staff.



The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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