Debt: take the pressure off

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There has been a common trend with clients and colleagues over recent months. Life here in the Lower Mainland is expensive. Demands on our finances are high. In fact, Vancouverites carry more non-home equity debt than any other Canadians. And for many that is held on lines of credit and high interest credit cards. 

So why am I telling you this? Many clients are turning to Strong Mortgages to help. And we want to make sure you also know we are here for you and for those you care about. Home equity can often be refinanced to pay down or pay off other debt and rebuild your financial strategy and alleviate the immense emotional stress. 

While this may not apply to you personally, based on statistics, it absolutely applies to at least one of your neighbours. And that is why I am always available to connect by phone or via email for a confidential and candid conversation about refinancing options.

Busy schedules and ignorance will not make it go away. Dealing with debt head on and as early as possible opens avenues of great potential to be in control and managing your debt the way you want to.

Tips to make debt consolidation a successful venture..

Irene Strong

Earth Day: Celebrating our pale blue dot

“The Earth is where we make our stand. …this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.” Carl Sagan

Carl Sagan’s words from the video above, a must listen in my opinion, are some of the most powerful ever said. Earth is the only home we’ve ever known and will be for our lifetime. We share this common ground, the only place known so far to harbour life and the only place where every human has been born.

If Strong Mortgages were to pick a charity of choice, it would be Earth Day. Earth is the home for all of us. The place we need to preserve and cherish. Strong Mortgages believes that homeownership creates a deeper connection to where we live and a greater likelihood that people will continue to make choices that are sustainable and positive to our communities. In CHMC’s recent Socio Economic Analysis: Housing Needs and Conditions, they note the known benefits of homeownership, ”…is related to positive societal outcomes, such as the benefits of living near schools and local amenities. In turn, households tend to invest time and effort in the development of their neighbourhood, which can translate into participating in local decision making.” That participation and engagement has the capacity to bring powerful environmentally conscious policies, programs and practices to where and how we live.

In 2018 “Own Your Piece of the Earth” was launched in coordination with Earth Day and this year Strong Mortgages is focused on sharing the work of the Earth Day Network to encourage you to join the movement for the Earth Challenge 2020, marking Earth Day’s 50th Anniversary and the initiative to be the most diverse global mobilization in defense of the environment in world history.

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Earth Day


On April 22, 1970, millions of people took to the streets to protest the negative impacts of 150 years of industrial development. In the U.S. and around the world, smog was becoming deadly and evidence was growing that pollution led to developmental delays in children. Biodiversity was in decline as a result of the heavy use of pesticides and other pollutants.The global ecological awareness was growing, and the US Congress and President Nixon responded quickly. In July of the same year, they created the Environmental Protection Agency, and robust environmental laws such as the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act, among many.

Earth Day is now a global event each year, and we believe that more than 1 billion people in 192 countries now take part in what is the largest civic-focused day of action in the world.

It is a day of political action and civic participation. People march, sign petitions, meet with their elected officials, plant trees, clean  up their towns and roads. Corporations and governments use it to make pledges and announce sustainability measures. Faith leaders, including Pope Francis, connect Earth Day with protecting God’s greatest creations, humans, biodiversity and the planet that we all live on.


The Earth Day Network host year-round projects, programs, and campaigns that support environmental conservation, environmental protection, climate activism and advocacy, and advancing the green economy.   

There is a focus on education work and developing green schools, global conservation and greening efforts and protecting clean air and water. Advocacy efforts focus on engaging local leaders and global citizens of all ages and from all walks of life with campaigns: to end plastic pollution, to protect our species, to act on climate and advance clean energy, and more.



 Earth Day Network is asking people to join the Protect our Species campaign. Their goals are to:

  • Educate and raise awareness about the accelerating rate of extinction of millions of species and the causes and consequences of this phenomenon.

  • Achieve major policy victories that protect broad groups of species as well as individual species and their habitats.

  • Build and activate a global movement that embraces nature and its values.

  • Encourage individual actions such as adopting plant based diet and stopping pesticide and herbicide use.

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Tips to help you go green, protect the earth, save money and make every day Earth Day. You make the difference!

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Earth Day 2020

To be the most diverse global mobilization in defense of the environment in world history. 50th Anniversary countdown.

The Language of Music: Just dance, dance, dance


Music is a language that influences our emotions, deepens our feelings and touches our senses to express our soul. In some cases, our bodies can’t help but react. 

I can’t recall a time when “Can’t Stop this Feeling!” by Justin Timberlake has played and my kids and I haven’t broken into a dance party in our home or car. Justin’s words, “I got this feelin’ inside my bones. It goes electric, wavy when I turn it on…I can’t stop the feelin’. So just dance, dance, dance.” We can’t help but move with the music and sing along – so that’s what we do. 

That’s also what I did on Feb 15 when Justin was in town for his Man of the Woods tour. It was a very last-minute decision fueled by my best friend who just arrived back in the city. An hour before showtime we purchased our tickets.

I love concerts. I have been to JT before – long before in 2007. What I remembered most was at one point it was just him on stage. This solo person wearing these white shoes dancing and singing. Almost floating across the stage were these little white shoes in a mesmerizing display of art. A stadium crowd captivated and glued to this one person – all in awe.  

As a mom of two and running my business now, I have to admit I’m out of touch with most things happening in the world around me. So as much as I like JT, I really haven’t been keeping up on him or his artistic launches. Honestly, Can’t Stop this Feelin’ is a hit in our home because of the repeat, almost daily Netflix viewing of Trolls. From my past experience, his endless talent that has been so openly applauded on SNL, the tonight show and huge music successes from his Trolls involvement, I didn't need to know his new album. I knew he wouldn’t disappoint.  

Think Bring on Down to Wrappinville - SNL…

…and Dick in a Box - SNL

…and #hashtag.

JT is an entertainer! Maybe one of the best of this era. 

The show didn’t disappoint. Without reiterating what is better said by professional media, this review by Stuart Derdeyn captures a true vibe of the show Justin performed.  It was a spectacular stage design, visual effects and choreographed to perfection. However, I have to say there were moments of flat, dull and rather boring segments. Old songs I wasn’t sure if he really wanted to sing – the heart didn’t seem to be there, and new songs that my heart didn’t feel like it was right for him.  I could have been off that night, but when I read this review from Chris Morgan from Toronto’s March 2018 performance, I don’t feel so out of touch.  

There are some really new edgy songs that have come out from his new album including:

Say Something ft. Chris Stapleton 

and Filthy, which I recommend watching the video. It brings the digital undertones of this song to life in a concept interweaving technology with performing arts. 

But, man, I’m stumped with Supplies. What is that?!

At the show, it was awful – I recall saying to myself, "what the h-e-double hockey stick is this?" (I may have used more descriptive or explicit words at the time). Having seen the video now, I can firmly confirm, I don’t like it.  I don’t expect to like everything JT puts out, but this seems so far off the mark – regardless of whatever point he is trying to make.

It was bad enough, I started to read the comments, which gave me a few good laughs. I share with you some of my favorites:

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And my personal favorite…

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BUT, I have to catch myself.  Justin has to take risks or be willing to share all pieces of himself if he wants to continue to evolve and push himself forward. Every successful person has to.  Not all things we produce will be perfection or win the hearts of everyone. I appreciate Justin for his willingness to put whatever he feels is part of who he is out for all to see.  I believe he would have never included ‘Supplies’ if it wasn’t something he didn’t believe in. 

His talent and artistic nature show in all the work he produces, one of his newest being his book, “Hindsight: & All the Things I Can’t See in Front of Me”. A collaboration of storytelling and personal portfolio. This release along with his Man of the Woods tour speaks to where he is today and how it is so deeply connected to his roots, a proud boy of Memphis who could harmonize. 

I leave you with a partial video clip of “Mirrors” sang at Rogers Arena on Feb 15. In Derdeyn’s review, he eloquently states, “Timberlake’s fans are extremely devoted and get the distinction for being the most in tune and on the beat crowd in a singalong in all of pop music. Mirrors was like freaking choir practice.” Derdeyn was speaking about the Feb 14th date – seems as Justin can make any crowd a choir when they sing along with him. He is a master of one of the most beautiful languages of the world – music.

Possible: Mortgage access denied

Possible: Mortgage access denied

IMPORTANT: This could be your face if you were planning to buy or refinance in a couple of weeks. Impending mortgage rules are expected to be announced next month and they will impact 80% of the residential real estate market.  

In July 2017, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) released draft changes to Guideline B-20 for public consultation. The B-20 Guideline establishes OSFI's expectations for prudent residential mortgage underwriting and is applicable to all federally regulated financial institutions. Public concerns could be addressed up to August 17, 2017.