Was the affordable housing rally a tipping point?


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It has a broad and evident appeal:



It has a hashtag – #donthave1million – and leadership:


Eveline Xia, organizer of last Sunday’s rally


It has a demand:



It has media coverage:



It has a storyline: #donthave1million rally draws hundreds to downtown Vancouver

Xia said she’s glad to see politicians recently discussing affordability solutions openly, which she believes is a response to public pressure.

“The horse is out of the barn now. The provincial and municipal governments are on defence and that’s a good thing,” Xia said. “They realize that there’s no more running with the status quo.”


But is it enough?


  1. This “rally” came on the heels of the BC Seniors’ Advocate’s report on the alarming housing situation for many seniors… Good organizing would ensure that folks work in concert, in common cause… Hope that will happen.

  2. Hmm.

    Number of single family dwellings in the Greater Vancouver area: 949,565.
    Average sale price of a single family dwelling in April 2015: $1,406,426.
    Implied value of all single family dwellings: $1,335,492,904,690. ($1.34 trillion).
    Number of people per single family dwelling: 2.6.
    Number of people whose assets decrease if property value is reduced by new taxation to increase affordability: 2,468,869.
    Number of votes at affordable housing rally: 400

    1. Do you seriously think a speculation tax is going to reduce prices? If so I have a really nice bridge for sale.

      Under the circumstances the best any affordable housing advocate can hope for is a slowdown in the rate of increase.

      Your calculations look nothing like the numbers from the 2011 census. According to Statistics Canada there were 301,140 households in single detached housing in Metro Vancouver.

      1. Taxing SF homes might make sense for non-residents. Short term speculation taxes or higher land transfer taxes make sense too as much tax abuse is happening with flipping homes. 1% per $1M makes sense to me and will cool market somewhat but generate much income that could be used for homelessness or transit !

        Only more supply will reduce cost or slow increase pace.

        Densification along certain major roads that are throughroads yet are single family houses all the way makes sense, say Cordova or Hastings going east from downtown to Burnaby. With a subway below Hastings you woudl revitalize not only E-Van but you could build 50,000+ new housing units in 4-7 story configurations, a mix of subsidized, market rent or luxury condos. Ditto on Granville going south or 41st Ave going east-west. 3 more subways, upzone these 3-4 streets 2 blocks deep in either direction and you have 100,000+ new dwellings with RAPID transit that are affordable.

    2. I mistakenly grabbed the “total private dwellings” number instead of the single family dwelling number (http://www.city-data.com/canada/Greater-Vancouver.html). But even when you reduce the number of single family dwellings to 350k, you’ll see that the picture is the same: almost a million people live in them, and almost half a trillion dollars in supposed real estate value. That’s what the affordability movement is up against.

    3. there’s clearly something wrong with your math. I think common sense would tell us the number of home-owners in Metro Vancouver would not add up to 2.4 million people.

      1. Isn’t this the (indirect) point of a 2% land transfer tax ?

        plus income taxes payable on gain (if declared) ?

        Thus: linking income tax filings to properties is critical as it is often undeclared, or deemed a personal residence.

        Politicians need to recognize the new gold, residential real estate in urban areas, in their taxation approaches, not just services, consumption and incomes, as many affluent real estate owners do not pay any, or little, income taxes here because they either do not work or derive incomes from abroad, yet consume vast healthcare and education services for their elderly parents or kids.

    1. Yeah saw that. Weak article. lets just drive out all the seniors, fixed income people, renters and move to the suburbs. Also she talks like Vancouver was never affordable and the same issues existed 30 40 years ago for her and her family. Newsflash, 40 years ago outside of the Westside, Vancouver proper wasn’t really a very sought after place to be, people were happy with suburbia and avoided the city. The West End was low income with issues of prostitution, the Eastside was solidly working class/immigrant and borderline rough, Mount Pleasant had prostitutes, Kits was a hippie area, Fairview Slopes was a hippie ghetto before it was razed, and South Van was middle/working class.

      1. That’s a pretty accurate description of Vancouver in the 70s. And it points out an uncomfortable truth: Vancouver was affordable in part because it “wasn’t really a very sought after place to be.” Expo, the development of Coal Harbour, Yaletown, the Expo lands, Skytrain, bike lanes, Robson Square Rogers Arena, the CanadaLine and lots of other things have all made it more “sought after” over the last 40 years — by everyone, not just investors — and the pressure from all sides has totally transformed the market.

        1. For sure, I was just referring to her claim that its always been like this (Un-Affordable) which is BS.

          1. When I moved here first in the late 80’s .. almost 30 years ago it was expensive and the exact “housing bubble” BS headlines as today .. Vancouver’s prices are not all that high on a world scale, especially given its scenic beauty and location close to mountains and ocean. Increases will continue unabated, especially SF homes as land is limited.

        2. So what we might do is either stop making Vancouver so attractive, or make other places attractive as well.

          But really, this is not unique to Vancouver. Forty years ago most cities had emptied out as the fashion was to not live in them. (Unless you were a groovy funky artist type of course.) Now people want to live in cities. Every city is finding that people are moving to them now.

          1. That’s an interesting point and it’s especially interesting when you find a city that people aren’t wanting to move to. Like Detroit. It takes 5 minutes at night in Detroit to understand why. Not safe, nowhere to walk, big unemployment, racial tension, uncertain real estate values, crumbling infrastructure. Vancouver is practically the “anti-Detroit”.

      2. Ah, the good old days, before immigration took off and high interest rates.

        ALL worldwide cities have gone through urban renewals over the last 40+ years and are ALL far FAR more expensive today: London, Singapore, Vienna, Munich, Paris, New York, SF, LA, Toronto, Calgary .. some more some a bit less ..

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