Archive for August, 2011

Spruce Grove’s Jubilee Park

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

Something very special is being created on the east side of Spruce Grove.  You may not have heard about it because it’s not quite finished, and the City of Spruce Grove isn’t promoting it yet, but Jubilee Park in Spruce Grove is now open for public use and well worth a visit.

Spruce Grove's Jubilee Park | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamIf you are a citizen of Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, or Parkland County, you know that one of the things that makes Spruce Grove so memorable and family-friendly is the large number of neighborhood parks and playgrounds, sports parks and facilities (such as the Fuhr Sports Park west of the Tri-Leisure Centre and the Henry Singer ball park south of the railroad tracks), and the gem running right through the centre of town in the form of ParticiPark, that huge stand of trees and nature trails.  But all of these are about to look almost ordinary compared to what will be officially open to the public in 2012. 

Jubilee Park is a 60-acre parcel of land located at 510 Grove Drive, east of Spruce Village.  This land is being transformed into a wonderland of urban recreational and cultural opportunities.  The City of Spruce Grove website  says that the park “will offer the community the best passive and unstructured recreational opportunities in the city.  From paved walking and bike trails, to picnic areas, an open air performance area, sliding hill and playground, Jubilee Park will provide families with a multitude of outdoor pleasures.”

Features of the park, most of which are now in place, include

  • Picnic areas
  • Picnic shelter
  • Plaza
  • Open games area
  • Fire pit
  • Multi-purpose paved walking and biking trails
  • Play structure and “tot lot”
  • Disk golf
  • Recreational skating
  • Sliding and tobogganing hill
  • Multi-purpose building
  • Amphitheatre and open air performance area
  • Formal gardens
  • Wetlands
  • Natural woodlands
  • Paved parking

See the map of the proposed development. 

The City of Spruce Grove suggests several benefits of this park:

  • Community gathering place
  • Promotes social well-being and health
  • Family-oriented spaces
  • Connects to Heritage Grove trail system
  • Natural interpretive education opportunities
  • Preserves natural woodlands

Spruce Grove has not had a place for the community to gather in large numbers for special events, especially those focused on culture.  The sports fields at Spruce Grove Composite High School have been the venue for Canada Day celebrations for a few years, but without adequate amenities such as parking, seating and the like.  Imagine the uses of this incredible new facility.  Imagine a place for open air summer concerts and other performances, winter and summer games, community picnics and celebrations, festivals to rival those of neighboring communities, family play, get-togethers and reunions, wedding photos, block parties, and just hanging out and enjoying nature with your family and neighbors…. 

From a real estate perspective, this park is very good news for current and future residents of the nearby neighborhoods of Spruce Village and Grove Meadows.  Green space of any type tends to increase the desirability and perhaps value of properties located in the vicinity.  Expect only positive outcomes from this wonderful new facility!

Your comments and questions are always welcome!  Call me at 780-910-9669, email me at, or contact me here. 


Buying Green

Friday, August 19th, 2011

Do you have too much stuff?  In our consumer-oriented society, whether we live in the city of Spruce Grove, a smaller community like Stony Plain, or on an acreage or country estate in the County of Parkland, it’s easy to accumulate “stuff”.  We might not even notice just how much stuff we’ve accumulated until it’s time to sell our homes.  But what if we could train ourselves to be more mindful of everything we bring into our homes so that moving to a new house is not such a chore?

Buying Green | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry Twynam

An article in the Grove Examiner, published August 12, 2011, suggests some questions to ask ourselves before we commit to buying anything.  Paying attention to what we buy will save us money, save the environment, and maybe even do away with the need to move to a bigger house!  Thanks to Craig and Layla Baird, “The Green Couple”, for allowing their article to be posted here in its entirety.


Things to consider prior to your next consumer purchase

Craig and Layla Baird, The Green Couple

Every time you go out to buy something, what you buy has an impact on the environment.

That purchase has an impact by the waste it produces when it is manufactured, and the waste that is produced when you use it and when you are done with it.  In addition, the environmental impact of the production, transportation and consumption of the product has an effect on our planet.

This is why it is important to ask yourself the “Purchase Questions”.  These questions are:

1.     Does the cost of the item warrant the benefit we may receive from it?

This means that if the benefit is just an immediate gratification (such as a new pair of shoes that we really don’t need), then it is not worth the long-term cost.

2.     How much will this product be used after its initial ‘neatness’ wears off?

Buying one of those dancing electric animals is a perfect example of this.  It may seem neat now, but it will end up in the closet soon enough and likely long before you recoup the expense in enjoyment.

3.     Can it be recycled or given away later?

If it can, it makes buying it easier because someone else can get use out of it after we no longer use it.

4.     Where could this money be better spent?

If it could go to bills, mortgage, charity or anything else instead of the product, maybe it should be directed that way. 

5.     Why are we buying this product?

If the only reason is because we just saw it, then it is not a good buy.  Impulse buys are not something we want to do.  As well, if we buy it because we saw it on television, then perhaps again it is not a good buy.

Asking yourself those questions can not only save you money, but they can help you save the environment as well.

Need help finding homes for extra stuff?  See my blog article “Getting Rid of Stuff”

I’m happy to help with all your real estate needs.  Call me at 780-910-9669, email me at, or contact me here. 

Summertime Home Security Tips

Friday, August 12th, 2011

Yahoo, summer in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County and the Edmonton area!  We wait all year for this time to relax and have fun in the sun.

Summertime Home Security Tips


But there are some things you shouldn’t relax.  The weather may be pleasant and life is more casual, but home safety and security should still be a priority, whether you are leaving home for a well-deserved vacation or simply spending time in the backyard.  It’s a fact that more home break-ins occur during the summer, but there are things you can do to lessen the chance of becoming a target.


Think like a thief

  • How would you go about breaking in to your home?  Are your doors unlocked or windows unlatched?  Are there bushes to hide behind or trees to climb that would give easy access to upstairs windows?  Any large vents, a pet door or easily opened basement windows?
  • Think about your habits.  Do you regularly leave your garage door or windows open when you’re home and close them only when you leave?  Someone watching might clue in to the times when a break-in would be easy.  You may also have heard the recent news story from St. Albert of a ring of thieves targeting owners of motor homes.  When the vehicles were gone from the driveways, the thieves took this as a sign that the homeowners were away, leaving them free to loot and plunder.
  • Think also about the inside of your home.  How visible are your possessions from the street?  Hide the valuables most targeted by thieves (cash, jewelry, financial papers, electronics, sports gear and the like) in creative or hard to get at places (not the bedroom or office as these are the first places burglars look), or position them away from windows.  Close your curtains at night.  Don’t tempt thieves by dropping your car keys and wallet next to the front door or on the kitchen counter right beside an open window.

Lock it up

It might surprise people to learn that the most common point of entry by burglars is the front or back door of a home, so why make it easy by leaving a door unlocked?  Maybe you never forget to lock up when you leave home for the day or when you go on vacation, but what about when you are at home?  Can you see the front door when you are in your basement family room?  Can you hear someone at the door when you’re relaxing on your back patio?  The best protection is a good solid door (hardwood or metal-clad) armed with a good solid lock (sturdy keyed deadbolt) that you keep locked all the time.

Summertime Home Security Tips | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamCheck those keys

Do you know where your keys are?  People you’ve given them to?  “Hidden” outside your home?  Labeled with your name and address?  It might be time to change the locks if you can’t account for every key, and then change a few habits.  First, limit the number of keys you have.  If you find yourself needing more than two or three, you may want to consider a keyless entry for one of the entry points to your home.  (Tip: This works really well for houseguests or service people or anyone who needs temporary access to your home.  When the need for access is done, change the code.)  Secondly, do NOT “hide” a key outside your home!  Burglars generally aren’t too smart, but they know all the hiding spots.  Instead, give a key to a trusted neighbor or friend.  Third, get rid of any key chains that have your name and address on them.  If one of these gold-plated burglar invitations goes missing… well.

Stranger danger

Who says you have to open your door when someone rings the doorbell?  Consider installing a wide-angle peephole in your front door so you know who’s standing on your doormat without having to open the door.  Not a bad idea to have a peephole also in the door that opens into your attached garage.  A security chain on the front door is another good measure to prevent people you don’t know from barging in, or a screen door with a lock.

Window pains

Summer is the time to open all the windows wide and let in the sunshine and fresh air.  But those open windows might provide easier access to burglars too.  Here are a few things you can do to limit that access:

  • Make sure all windows are closed and locked when you are away.  Same rule as with doors when you are outside in the backyard.
  • Outfit ground-floor and basement windows with security grilles that need a key to open.  But just be sure that these security measures don’t compromise your ability to get out of your house should you need to escape!
  • To prevent sliding glass doors from being lifted out of their tracks, block the track with a bar or wooden dowel.  Patio doors should also be fitted with special locks top and bottom.
  • We’ve all seen the TV shows where someone breaks into a house by smashing the window located conveniently next to the (locked) doorknob, reaches inside and lets himself in.  Any windows like that in your home should be replaced with thick glass block or other burglar-proof glass, or thick Plexiglas.

Get lit

Burglars prefer to strike when no one is home.  That could mean during daylight hours when homeowners are away at work, but nothing says empty like a dark house and unlit yard at night.  One of the best security measures you can put in place is good interior and exterior lighting to lessen the appearance that your home is vacant, and increase visibility of vulnerable areas.  Inside your home, use timed switches on selected lights, TV and stereo to make it look like you are at home.  Look for timers that turn on and off at random times.  And don’t save these timers just for when you are away overnight or on vacation.  Remember that you want to avoid becoming predictable to would-be thieves.   Outside, aim for lighting immediately outside your home (front and back doors, and garage) and strategic lighting in the yard.  Pay attention to any pathways, recessed areas, or potential hiding spots, such as clusters of shrubs or free-standing structures, like a garden shed or gazebo.  Two types of lights to avoid for security purposes are solar-powered ones (too dim) and high-beam spotlights (too annoying to the neighbors).  Instead, opt for motion-detector lights which will save energy and the patience of your neighbors.

Summertime Home Security Tips | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamMake some noise

Got a big dog with a booming bark that wakes up the neighborhood when someone comes to your door?  Excellent.  You’ve got a built-in crook deterrent.  If you’re not a dog person, there are still things you can do to persuade would-be burglars to give your home a pass.  Wireless battery-operated door and window alarms that emit an ear-splitting noise when the door or window is opened are cheap to buy, easy to install, and serve as both an alerting device to you and a deterrent to anyone trying to enter.  Outside your home, use gravel around the sides of the house for a good and cheap sneak-resistant security measure.

Outside security

  • Your house is locked but what about everything else on your property, such as garden shed, garage, vehicles?  Consider your unlocked car sitting in your driveway – with your garage door opener in plain view on the visor.  Battery-operated alarms can work on garden sheds and garages as well.
  • Take a look at the windows in your garage.  Is a passer-by able to see what’s in your garage?  More importantly, is that passer-by able to see what isn’t there, like a vehicle or two?  No vehicles in garage or driveway tells burglars the coast is clear.  Consider covering up or frosting garage windows to spoil the view.
  • What’s in your yard?  Expensive patio furniture that is easily carted away?  A barbecue that isn’t attached to a ground anchor?  Gardening tools and machinery not locked away in the garden shed?  Make sure all tools are painted or etched with identifying marks.
  • Instead of an easy to climb solid wood fence around your property, you may wish to install spiky chain-link fencing or a prickly hedge.  Check the vegetation on your property, especially immediately around your house.  Would it hinder or help a burglar case your house and then get in?
  • Help emergency responders to help you by making sure your house number is prominently displayed:  numbers at least 4 inches high and in an easy to see location.

Make friends with your neighbors

Especially strike up a relationship with that curmudgeon down the street who complains about everybody’s shortcomings or the nosy old lady next door who knows everybody’s business, because they will be the first ones to notice if something in the neighborhood is not as it should be.Summertime Home Security Tips | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry Twynam


Your house needs to look occupied.  This means no newspapers left to pile up on the front step, flyers sticking out of the mailbox, or a lawn left too long unmowed.  Ask a good friend or neighbor to look after these chores for you.  A few other tips:

  • Ask that same friend or neighbor to check inside your house as well (plants to water? fish to feed?), especially after a storm.  The last thing you want to come home to is a flooded basement, or the signs that someone unauthorized has been in.  Make sure to leave your cell phone number with your friend or neighbor so you can be reached in case of an emergency.
  • If you have a pet, consider hiring a house sitter.  Your pet will be happier and your home will look lived in.
  • Unplug electrical appliances that normally sit on standby to lessen fire risk.
  • Lights on timers.
  • Put your name, address, phone number, etc. on the inside of your luggage rather than on the tag hanging on the outside for the world to see.
  • Something new we never had to deal with before is social media.  Don’t advertise your absence by telling all your Facebook friends about your vacation plans.  Wait until you get back to share your news.  Likewise, don’t announce it through an answering machine, voicemail or an automated email response.  Only tell people you trust that you will be away.

Summertime Home Security Tips | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamAlarm system

Should you or shouldn’t you?  To be effective, an alarm system has to be well advertised and well used.  That means prominently displaying the warning signs that your home is armed with an alarm system, and educating all family members in the proper use of the system at all times.  Potential thieves are less likely to target a home with an alarm system.  If a break-in does occur, help will be on the way faster.   But there are disadvantages to consider too.  Alarm systems and the monitoring fees can be costly.  It can be inconvenient to arm and disarm the system numerous times a day, and false alarms can be bothersome.  Only you can decide if the potential protection and peace of mind are worth the hassle.

Comments or questions about this article or about real estate in general?  Call me at 780-910-9669, email me at, or contact me here


Summertime Home Security Tips

Top 10 Most Expensive Homes in the World

Friday, August 5th, 2011

Many of us living in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County, the Edmonton area, or elsewhere have a guilty secret.  We like to look at other people’s houses.  We may even fantasize about living there, especially if the home is particularly beautiful or spacious or luxurious. 

Top 10 Most Expensive Homes in the World | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamWhat would it be like to spend time in Donald Trump’s 80,000 square foot beachfront pad, worth about $125 million?  Or what about William Randolph Hearst’s mansion in Beverly Hills with its 29 bedrooms, 3 pools and a disco and theatre, worth an estimated $165 million?  Who do you suppose owns the world’s most expensive house, where is it, and how much cash would you need to buy it?   Read all about these fabulous dwellings in the article “Top 10 Most Expensive Homes in the World”  (found at and then take a look at the photos, courtesy of the Edmonton Journal.

Can you move into your own dream home without spending many millions of dollars?  The area around Edmonton has plenty of wonderful and affordable properties, whether you are looking for a house, duplex, condo, acreage, recreational property or bare land.  I’d love to help you find the perfect home.  Call me today at 780-910-9669, email me at, or contact me here.    

Barry Twynam, Realty Executives Leading
#1 14 McLeod Avenue, Spruce Grove, Alberta, T7X 3X3
Tel: 780-962-9696 Cell: 780-910-9669 Fax: 780-962-9699
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