Business & Economy
September 29, 2020

Are Vancouver’s Talented Tech Employees Cheap Labour ?

It has been Duke of Data Andy Yan who has been reminding us forever that there is a radical disconnect between household income and the price of housing. People working in Metro Vancouver can’t afford to buy housing here.

In 2017 Mr. Yan summed it up this way:

It’s surprising to me that we have only  the 15th highest incomes in Metro Vancouver, even coming behind Toronto. What we learned today is in Vancouver you are living in paradise, but your wages are in purgatory.” 

The median household income Mr. Yan was referring to is $72,662. At that time he saw the major issue was how to reconnect local incomes to local housing, noting that needed policy enactment would be  different in each city.

Photographer and former editor of Price Tags  Ken Ohrn sends along this article by Natalie Obiko Pearson who writes that Amazon. com is expecting to triple its workforce in Vancouver. Why? Because software engineers here are “cheap, smart and plentiful”, like an overabundant agricultural crop.

A conversation with an Amazon vice president revealed that  a “weak loonie, lower wages and a steady flow of graduates make Canada an attractive place to expand for tech companies whose largest expense is labour”. 

 The salaries in Vancouver are substantially less than for similar jobs south of the border, as are office rents.

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The Canadian Urban Institute presents a free webinar on 
COVID Signpost 200 Days: How Should Our Cities Prepare for Winter?
Joining our guest host Catherine Craig-St-Louis of CUI and Rues Principales for our second series of COVID Signpost, 200 Days.

Presenters: Olivier Legault, Project Managerat Rues principales and Co-founder, Winterlab

Isla Tanaka, Wintercity Planner at the City of Edmonton;

Sheena Jardine-Olade, CoFounder of Night Lab;

 Rami Bebawi, CoFounder and Partner at KANVA.

Date: Thursday September 30, 2020

Time: 9:00 a.m. Pacific Time

You can register by clicking this link.

Images: DreamTime,CdnUrbanInstitute


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This is the way we like to think of Chinatown~a place to buy fresh groceries with wide sidewalks for stopping and looking in windows, and a place to go to bakeries or to restaurants for some of the best food in the city. But look a little closer.  Here on Pender Street the sidewalk is littered with cigarettes, newspapers and discarded clothing.

Even the Chinatown historic photo mural is defaced. Walk a little further and the area seems like a movie set of street maintenance abandonment.



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You would think that road safety would be top of mind for commercial vehicles on the road in British Columbia. In Canada a commercial vehicle is defined as a vehicle having a gross weight or registered gross weight of not more than 4,500 kilograms. In British Columbia a commercial vehicle is defined as taxis, ambulances, school buses and vehicles with more than two axles such as dump trucks and commercial transport trucks.

Last year at this time the Delta Police Department partnered with the Province’s Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement branch to conduct a three day enforcement campaign inspecting commercial vehicles. The results were shocking~as Ian Jacques with the Delta Optimist wrote , of “378  vehicles  targeted for full inspections, 160 were pulled off the road.”

Think of that~42 percent of the vehicles inspected were so unsafe they could not be legally driven. At that same inspection there was a stolen trailer with stolen plates, and several drivers that had not complied with previous orders to fix their vehicles.

Last week the Delta Police teamed up with Burnaby RCMP to inspect commercial trucks out at Deltaport for only one morning. In that one morning of 125 vehicles, 21 were flagged. Off the 21 trucks, seven were not road worthy and could not be driven for commercial purposes, and  14 were ticketed for violations. These are the vehicles that service the port, drive Metro Vancouver highways and enter the municipalities.

And earlier this year Burnaby RCMP  pulled over a 11,700 kilogram dump truck for a “routine” commercial vehicle inspection. It turned out the driver did not even have a license, but only a “L” license, which is given after a multiple choice exam as a learner’s permit.

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The Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation (CRRF) presents a two day free online conference hosted by the Rural Policy Learning Commons.

“Join us for two full days of FREE content and interactive discussions – you don’t want to miss this jam-packed program of rural researchers and thought leaders as they share rural-specific lessons and insights about the challenges and opportunities posed by the pandemic.

CRRF is delighted to offer this high-value virtual event for free. If you are planning to attend and able to do so, please consider becoming a member of CRRF or making a donation to help us continue supporting rural research and researchers across Canada.

Both days of the conference run from 8:00 a.m to 1:30 p.m. Pacific Time and are being hosted on Zoom by the Rural Policy Learning Commons. The Virtual Conference is being offered ‘a la carte’ style, so you can choose the sessions that are most interesting to you and work with your schedule by registering for each session separately.

Date: October 1 and October 2

Time: 8:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Pacific Time

Click here to find out further information and to register for the sessions you would like to attend.

Image: OxfordAmerican


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Sometimes change happens when you least expect it~as Natalie Obiko Pearson  and Divya Balji write in the Vancouver Sun Jimmy Pattison who built a multi-billion dollar  “empire from a single, loss-making Vancouver car dealership” acquired in 1961 has done the impossible.

Looking at how to invest and protect money in the post-Covid world, this billionaire is now focussing on the environment. As Mr. Pattison stated “We have got to focus on the environment, the environment, the environment. Anything that is negative, in my opinion, to do with the environment is going out of business sooner or later.”

To back that claim, Mr. Pattison took a hydrogen fuelled car around southwestern British Columbia on a weekend and declared that he was surprised at the experience.
“All I’ve driven is engines all my life and so when you get something that’s this smooth and fast and goes like a dart and quiet. Boy, I never drove anything nicer.”

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Mayor Robert Crowell (who is known by everyone there as Mayor Bob) passed away last week while serving his third term as Mayor of Carson City Nevada.  He was a lawyer who specialized in governmental relations, and a retired Navy captain. But he was also a Mayor that knew every member of Carson City’s staff by name, was very active in the community and single handedly steered his city to a remarkable change~he advocated and completely overhauled the town’s  main street, which was previously a commercial thoroughfare and a marked highway.


By stewarding a car centric downtown into a walkable, bikeable destination, Mayor Bob changed the culture and commerce of his community, and made the downtown a place residents flocked to and spend time in.

The state capital of Nevada is Carson City which has a population of 56,000 and is thirty miles south of Reno Nevada. Despite being a state capital, Carson City is a town that was  forgotten by development. There are  many Victorian era buildings in the downtown, a legacy of its 1858 settlement that serviced nearby ranchers.

Despite a downtown that contained a lot of important heritage buildings as well as the grounds for the state capitol, the  four lane highway barrelled through the main street, with  traffic proceeding at  speed requiring steel fencing to corral pedestrians along sidewalks. Even with the barriers, pedestrians were maimed and killed while trying to cross the street.

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I have just written a post about London England where businesses in the suburbs have returned to pre-Covid pandemic levels of expenditure but the central downtown part of London is still economically suffering. With only 25 percent of downtown workers returning to the central core, expenditures at stores have remained low, supported by the 330,000 people that live in the downtown. While driving and biking rates have returned to pre pandemic levels in the downtown, transit usage is down by 50 percen

Mario Toneguzzi with the The Retail Insider reports a similar situation with Canadian downtown retailers. More rurally located  retailers are reporting that 37 percent are returning to normal sales, while downtown urban areas are reporting that only  22 percent  of their businesses are.

Laura Jones, Executive Vice-President at CFIB, Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 110,000 members across every industry and region. “Consumer spending is the key to survival for all businesses… The first thing is a lot of office buildings have been emptied out. Some have a handful of workers going in but many are still not going back to their offices. So if you’re a coffee shop downtown on the corner that relies on the traffic from those office buildings, a typical weekday morning you’d be quite busy but now you’re empty or almost virtually empty.”

The absence of downtown workers coupled with no foreign tourists has been catastrophic for many downtown businesses especially in  Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa, and Calgary.  In these cities many businesses survive or are geared towards the tourist trade.

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The ambitious Business in Vancouver presentation of thirty ideas in thirty minutes was a pretty remarkable undertaking, with a discussion on  leadership, innovation, challenges and change.

The session was opened up by the  Honourable Janet Austin, lieutenant governor of B.C.. There are some interesting ideas in the presentations, and some concepts implemented in businesses that would normally have taken years. One firm immediately adopted a four day week for employees; another is refocusing on getting to “know”,  and understand their customers, seeing that personal relationship as being just as important as the economic one.

There’s also the futurist from Britain that just had to use a moving galaxies and comets background, an absolute faux pas  for any  internet meetings.

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Because of the Covid Pandemic the Globe and Mail is changing their annual women in business conference to a virtual one and that gives women across the country a chance to attend free. This inaugural event gives insights on how female participation can increase at the corporate level and also examines potential impacts of the pandemic on diversity, inclusion, progress and priorities.

 “Report on Business magazine presents the inaugural Women Lead Here event to drive the conversation on female executive leadership. The discussions will build on the findings of the magazine’s industry-first assessment of Canada’s largest public companies on gender diversity in executive positions.

The Women Lead Here list identifies the companies who are surpassing their peers on the metric of female representation in the top tiers of executive leadership.

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