Business & Economy
February 6, 2019

Women in Workplaces: We’re Not There Yet

Carla Guererra, founder and CEO of Purpose Driven Development, Planning and Strategy, and member of the Urban Land Institute (ULI), drops a startling statistic in a new blog post on the ULI website:

In a global survey of 279 companies in 2010, McKinsey found that those companies with the greatest proportion of women in their executive committees earned a return on equity of 47% higher than those without female members.

It’s a simple message — more women equals more money.

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Today, Minister of Tourism, Arts & Culture Lisa Beare announced an RFP for corporate naming rights for BC Place, the 54,500-seat stadium right next to the smaller, 12-years-newer, Rogers Arena.

Boasting the largest retractable roof in the world, BC Place is one of the many legacies of Expo ’86, and is operated by B.C. Pavilion Corporation, the Crown corporation responsible for the BC Pavilion, in that seminal year of, well, showcasing BC.

In addition to operating BC Place Stadium and the Vancouver Convention Centre, PavCo has also administered the ground lease and development of the land west of the stadium (now known as Parq Vancouver, a Paragon Gaming hotel-casino-spa-fitness concept).

But for the past decade, ever since Roofgate — sorry, Deflategate was taken — and the 2014 completion of the roof reno, BC Place has largely flown under the radar as a major, name-brand venue for a generation of youth looking for something to do.

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Maybe this won’t become a thermal coal port

Port Metro Vancouver has cancelled the permit for a project that would have resulted in more thermal coal shipments, these from Fraser Surrey Docks.  The only reason currently available is that the permit’s 83 conditions have not been met — specifically one requiring substantial start of construction by November 30, 2018.

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Placemaking is also about people that interact with place and others in their neighbourhoods. A classic example is the extraordinary Davis Family who maintain the heritage houses in the 100 block of West Tenth Avenue in Vancouver. There’s always a family member sweeping the sidewalk, or tending to a hedge, comforting in a time of residential anonymity.

Newspaper delivery people also are placemakers, connecting to every door in a community. For any one that delivered newspapers as a kid, you know that it can be a trial, whether you dealt with the snow in Saskatoon or the pouring rain in Sechelt. But who would have imagined the honesty and ingenuity of Ivan, who delivers the Saanich News. This kid sent a note to each of his customers when he missed a day delivering the paper that deserves a special mention. His note reads:

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As reported in the Zero Hedge, the tightening of money in China is impacting North American real estate, with the Wall Street Journal estimating that more than 1 billion dollars of property has been dumped in the United States as Beijing moves investors into debt-reduction regulations.

In the third quarter of 2018 “Chinese investors dumped $1.05 billion worth of prime US real estate in the third quarter while purchasing only $231 million of property, according to data firm Real Capital Analytics. This marks the second consecutive quarter where investors were net sellers of US commercial real estate, and the first time investors sold more US property than they bought since the 2008 crash.”

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While New York City real estate experts have suggested that anywhere between 10 and 20 percent of Manhattan’s retail space is vacant, that figure in itself may not be an indicator of good retail health of an area. A successful retail area may be more about the uses.

The writer Derek Thompson in the New York Times had a real estate broker walk 18 prime retail blocks. Out of 246 storefronts, only 13 had for rent signs in vacant storefronts, suggesting a vacancy rate in the manageable  5 percent range. But there is a change of use in retail. Food and drink categories have been the main businesses leasing retail spaces in New York City in the last three years, with what is termed as “fast casual” eateries multiplying  over 100 percent in ten years.

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It’s been obvious that the constant increase in Vancouver real estate pricing did not appear to be a locally driven construct.  Global Televison  and Sam Cooper’s team have referenced a confidential report from Police that studied 1,200 luxury residence purchases in Metro Vancouver in 2016. The study  found that while only ten per cent of the purchasers had criminal records, 95 per cent of those transactions were “believed by police intelligence to be linked to Chinese crime networks.” This means that  home purchases could have laundered one billion dollars of black/gray cash in 2016.

The house purchases examined were in the 3 million to 35 million dollar range. The study did not include housing between 1 and 3 million dollars or condo flipping due to a lack of resources to scrutinize over 20,000 transactions. Researchers felt that significant suspicious activity would be found in these purchases as well.

Evidence is appearing that the funding for these real estate  purchases is from the street proceeds of selling fentanyl, and laundering that cash. One unidentified expert stated “You know that Netflix show Ozark, about laundering drug cartel money? I always think that if those characters came up to Vancouver, they could launder all their cash in just one day.”

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South of the Fraser in Delta things are progressing just like you’d expect in a place pretty rooted in trucking related business, highways, and advocating for the multi-billion dollar oversized ten lane Massey Bridge.

At the first meeting of the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation the new Mayor of Delta George Harvie (who was Delta’s city manager until May 2018) wanted to get the bridge going again, despite the fact that under the previous Mayors’ Council every other Metro Mayor had rejected it. New chair of the Mayors’ Council, Jonathan Cote reminded the Mayor of Delta that having or not having a bridge was not in the Mayors’ Council’s jurisdiction.

That Delta mayor just has to wait for the findings of the Province’s consultant who has reviewed the bridge and alternatives, and the report which will be presented to the Mayors’ Council some time soon in advance of being released to the public.

Meanwhile the City of Delta received happier news that the B.C. Lottery Corporation gave final approval to the “Cascades Casino Delta” which will be located on the site of the old Delta Town and Country Inn on the Delta side of the Massey tunnel. Delta Council has fast tracked approval of this 70 million dollar facility with 61,000 square feet and an associated 800 stall parking lot. The casino will  be located on property owned by Shato Holdings, Ron Toigo of White Spot fame. Mr. Toigo is also the developer of Tsawwassen Springs, a luxury home golf course community in Tsawwassen where the current mayor of Delta resides.

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None of this for Surrey, thank you.


Let’s call Mayor McCallum’s proposal to scrap the LRT L-line for SkyTrain down the Fraser Highway for what it is: an express train to Langley.

No wonder the new mayor of Langley is heartily in support.  No wonder the Surrey Board of Trade isn’t.  The benefits will largely accrue to the businesses, real-estate developers and commuters up and down the 200th-Street corridor, east of the Surrey border.  Meanwhile, Guildford and Newton will have to settle for its B-line.

As Ken Ohrn mentioned below, transportation and land use go together – arguably, the latter being more the point than the former. We rarely travel just for the purpose or pleasure of moving; it’s to get to a place to do something.  The more places where you can stop along the way, the more economic development is likely to occur, the more passengers generated.  And that was Surrey’s rationale for LRT along 104th and King George.

LRT is more about local access; SkyTrain is more about regional access.  We need both, but clearly the priority for a growing municipality like Surrey was to shape that growth to be more transit-oriented, to be denser, to have more destinations.  That’s not going to be as likely when a Langley-anchored SkyTrain passes through a large park, ALR flood plain, and lower-density suburban development like Clayton/Cloverdale.  Indeed, the only true regional centres will be at King George and Langley City itself.

Surrey’s hopes to have job-supportive mixed-use development at Guildford and Newton will be frustrated and delayed – and Surrey will have to pay more to do that.

The most likely reason why McCallum went for SkyTrain is the populist sentiment he detected (and felt) that LRT was second-class; Surrey deserved SkyTrain, damn it, since Vancouver got it.  Ironically, it’s Vancouver that will again benefit if the locally oriented LRT is scrapped.  SkyTrain will deliver and concentrate more jobs in the regional core, while Surrey remains the bedroom suburb it has been the building of the first Port Mann Bridge.

Thanks, Doug!

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