On Exposing Yourself To Gastown & Ridiculing The New Housing ‘Data’


by Sean Orr | Wait! I thought we were the most livable city in the world? Race and real estate: how hot Chinese money is making Vancouver unliveable.

What matters isn’t that wealthy people are immigrating to Vancouver from China, or anywhere else, really. It’s that they continue to earn the vast bulk of their wealth outside of Canada and they use that wealth to invest in Vancouver real estate. As a result, housing prices have decoupled from the labour market, putting people who earn local wages at a major disadvantage. Research by Ley and other academics shows a clear link between global wealth migration and local affordability.

And yet the BC Liberals have the temerity to say only 3% of homes in BC bought by foreign nationals based on a 19 day window with only information from the property transfer tax form when we already know that real estate agents, corporate holdings, students, and babies are used to skirt this. The Chinese government (and Russia for that matter, as London knows all too well) imposes capital controls. Do you think they’re just going to declare their nationalities voluntarily if they can avoid it? I mean, how gullible can we be?

Singling out the ethnicity of buyers is unhelpful. If singling out the ethnicity of buyers is unhelpful, then singling out people for singling out the ethnicity of buyers is equally unhelpful.

In the same way that the Brexit vote has given voice to racists in the U.K., the incessant focus on Chinese buyers as villains in Vancouver’s affordability crisis is propagating prejudice and promoting distrust.

Unlike the Brexit vote, however, the migrants who are hedging their money in Vancouver real estate are millionaires, not Syrians fleeing a war-ravaged country. In other words, it’s about class not race.

And yet here’s Victor Wong blaming journalists for their one-dimensional coverage of Vancouver housing market. One dimensional? You’ve got Kathy Tomlinson‘s work on shadow flipping and a corrupt, self-regulating Board of Real Estate; Douglas Todd asking how much the real estate industry influences BC politicians; Sarah Berman tackling the sub-prime mortgage industry; Darryl Greer providing historical perspective; Tom Davidoff pointing towards tax policy and unrealistic zoning laws; Jessica Barrett targeting NIMBYs; David Ball offering such varied solutions as land trusts, density near transit, rental subsidies, non-market housing, and rent controls; The Mainlander tackling the changing definition of social housing; Ian Young calling out Quebec’s corrupt immigrant investor program; Allen Garr taking on Airbnbs and so on. Our crisis is not one-dimensional and neither is the response to it.

Oddly enough, dragging landlords who are capitalizing on the crisis into the streets hasn’t been one of them: Vancouver’s soul-crushing real-estate market is now forcing renters to compete in bidding wars. The next time this happens I encourage everyone to show up and make bids with no intention of honouring them, Tim DeChristopher style.

Vancity report: Renting no longer viable option for millennials in the Lower Mainland. There has to be a breaking point. Let’s make Saturday’s March for Housing Justice the biggest ever.

Unless, of course, Millennials really are garbage.

When you can’t own and you can’t rent, what do you do? Commute from Calgary.

And while marches and petitions are good, how does not one feel helpless when this is the kind of response you get from an elected official?

‘Welcome to Bowen Island — don’t forget to leave’ If only the Coast Salish adopted this same slogan 300 hundred years ago…

Conservatives Work In Playful Jab At Trudeau During Pride Parade. Playful jab? Co-opting marginalized people for partisan attack is playful? Turning the T which stands for Trans into Tory is playful? By ‘playful’ do you mean a smug and contemptuous lack of empathy and understanding in the name of political gain?

Related: White Pundits Matter.

While I do live at Water and Cambie in Gastown, I can assure you that this Scan of the Day was not about me:

Bonus: My favourite weirdo Andrew Volk made a commercial. For Crystal Light.

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