Design & Development
December 14, 2018

One Good Podcast Deserves Each Other

We at Price Tags are having a great time with our new podcast, PriceTalks.  So we appreciate the opportunity to be invited to other podcasts that are exploring our city and its issues – like that time on Cambie Reports with Sandy James, Gord Price and the three Cambie Reporters.

When Adam and Matt Scalena asked Gord to appear on their Vancouver Real Estate News podcast, the answer was an immediate yes.  The results have just been posted:

Vancouver Price Tags with Gordon Price

Has 2018 been a good year for Vancouver? The time to take stock is now. Former City Councillor & Founder of the influential “Price Tags” website Gordon Price sits down with Adam & Matt to discuss the present, the past, and the future of Vancouver in one of the most wide-reaching conversations to date. Tune in to hear Gordon’s take on all things Vancouver, including his unique insider account of local politics, why building permits ought to take as long as they do, and his surprising predictions for the next neighborhoods set for redevelopment. Oh, yeah, and we also cover the coming apocalypse.  This is not to be missed!

 

One of the great features of their blog is the Episode Summary – a detailed encapsulation of the conversation.  Though it must take a lot of time to do, it’s a great way to get a sense of the content before tuning in, or to find a particular topic right away.  Great work, guys.

(As per the post below, Gordon guarantees that the Price is not always right.)  Click here for podcast.

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Bob Ransford posted this:

When the Canada Line was being planned more than 15 years ago, the public was shown ridership models that said 70 percent of the ridership would be in the portion of the corridor between Waterfront Station and Oakridge Station.

Reality today is crush loads during rush hour from Richmond Brighouse all the way to Waterfront with lines at many Vancouver stations where crush-filled trains can’t accept more riders and near full loads at all hours just within Richmond alone. They got it wrong.

Transit drives housing development. So much for empty condos. Empty condos don’t drive this kind of heavy ridership.

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Housing issues are a real concern for young people trying to work in Vancouver and attempting to find a place to live that does not eat up everything they earn. But there is the other side of the population cohort experiencing similar pressures, seniors who are retired and on fixed income with housing that because of the real estate market is often insecure and unstable.

Dan Fumano touches on this in his article on the Grey Tsunami and the challenges seniors have when being asked to leave rental accommodations they have lived in sometimes for decades. Duke of Data and Simon Fraser University Director of the City Program Andy Yan observes that renters in Vancouver that are seniors “are more likely than younger renters to face what Statistics Canada calls “core housing need.

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In planning for growth, there’s at least one generally agreed-on idea that most cities are trying out: Densifying along the major streets.  The arterials, boulevards and avenues, the wider ones, where the streetcars went, where transit does now.

Portland has a lot of them, radiating out from the river and downtown.  Here’s one of those streets – Division.  As you’d expect, it bisects the 19th-century suburbs:

 

Once it was a streetcar route, with a mix of bungalow housing and one-or two-storey commercial frontage – surprisingly narrow for a major corridor of activity.  It went into decline as Motordom prevailed, and became heavily auto-oriented.  Division, it was said, was where you went to get your car repaired.

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The first major motion has passed Vancouver City Council – unanimously!

 

A unanimous vote on an ideological issue is a significant indicator – and Jean Swanson’s motion on renter protection was the first big test for the new council.  The way amendments and process were so skillfully handled among the various parties and interests suggests effective communication and negotiation.  (How much of that, I wonder, was done by the Mayor’s office?)

I would not underestimate the emotional impact of the more than 50 delegations organized effectively by the year-old Vancouver Tenants Union who, hour after hour, over two days, told personal stories of their experiences and anxieties.  Regardless of where any individual councillor stands politically, the emotional effect is substantial.  It wears away intellectual resistance, leaving the need to respond in some way.

Jean Swanson called the amended motion mush.  But the Tenants Union, having achieved a recognition of legitimacy, recognized it as a victory, regardless of the fact that not much actual protection is afforded those subject to a determined renovictor.

In the end, the NPA aligned itself with a vote on an issue coming from the far left; the amendments they supported came from the parties of the near left.  The result is a solid wall of political support for intervention in the rental housing market – another indicator of how much this election has changed the status quo.

What will property and development interests do in the face of this? Watch Jon Stovell and Berkeley Tower.

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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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The number of homes under construction in the region hit an all-time high of 43,684 in August.

Eric Bond, CMHC economist and principal, market analysis:

“We have been building homes [in Metro Vancouver] at a pace that exceeds the rate of household formation for a number of years, but demand has been such that we haven’t seen inventories of unsold homes rise over that period,” he said.

“We are expecting those inventories to rise over the next two years. That has started in the last few months.

“We expect the average MLS [Multiple Listing Service] price to decline 7% in 2019, and then a further 4% in 2020,” he said.

Another indication that the ‘Housing Crisis as we have known it’ is changing.

More here in Business in Vancouver.

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I was back in Portland a few weeks ago for my annual transportation-and-land-use lecture.  With a few spare hours I took the opportunity to rediscover a part of PDX’s heritage that should be more widely known – especially relevant for Vancouver in our search for new, denser, acceptable urban development in established neighbourhoods.

I was in search of the small of apartment buildings of Frederick Bowman.

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