Governance & Politics
May 10, 2019

Surprise! Money Laundering DID impact Real Estate Market

While there has been lots of finger pointing about how real estate prices in Vancouver could be so celestial that local people could not afford to purchase here, a panel has estimated that $5 billion dollars in “dirty money” went through the housing market last year.

Overall in the Province it is estimated that real estate prices increased by five percent due to this tinkering, but remember that will be more in some places (like in Metro Vancouver) than others. And surprise! As reported by Global News most of these questionable transactions  examined took place in Vancouver.

The report just  released  discusses B.C. Lawyers and B.C. Realtors  being part of the challenge. While there are rules in places for lawyers there is no need for external reporting of large amount transactions and no oversight of monies in a lawyer’s trust account.

The report also asked that only verifiable funds be used for purchasing real estate and that only verifiable funds be allowed in all transactions. It also recommended that mandatory courses be required for all real estate industry people to understand what money laundering is and how to deal with it.

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Seattle’s Crosscut columnist Knute Berger thinks it might be – in this piece: Is Seattle freeing itself from the automobile age?

In South Lake Union, you see folks zipping along on monowheels, hoverboards and electric bikes and scooters. These electronic gadgets seem less intrusive and more versatile than, say, a Segway, and some can be carried by hand or in a backpack.

Other innovations are in the works. Boeing is testing a pilot-less “autonomous” air taxi — a kind of flying Uber. Is the era of the flying car, as envisioned on The Jetsons, finally at hand? In Snohomish County, Amazon is testing a small delivery bot, named Scout, that can bring Amazon Prime customers their order. It looks like a robotic cooler on six wheels. It could someday be more efficient than fleets of street-clogging delivery cars and trucks.

The quest for car-free city living is speeding up, not slowing down. Seattle was reshaped and improved by a technology that arrived as a circus toy. Don’t be too quick to dismiss the driverless novelties that might be flying overhead or rolling along the sidewalk to deliver goodies in your neighborhood.

Of course, ‘careful what you wish for.’

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While the focus on cycling infrastructure is, as it should be, on expanding the network (#ungapthemap) or on the latest controversy, continual progress is being made on existing routes, typically in conjunction with new development – like here:

This small stretch of the Central Valley Greenway is adjacent to 339 East 1st Avenue on the False Creek Flats, where there is a proposal for a four-building complex, including a small hotel.

There’s another project near completion at the east end of this stretch on the Emily Carr campus, to provide cyclists and greenway users (more electric scooters noticeable now) with a necessary fuel: coffee.

And at the west end: beer.

So Mount Pleasant: bikes, beer, art and industry.

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Michael Alexander sends highlights from the recent Urbanarium discussion, provocatively titled “The Single-Family Zone Is Dead. What Next?”


Planner/developer Michael Mortensen gave every audience member a T4 tax receipt with their “income” shown – in proportion to income levels in Metro B.C.

He had the audience stand and, as he read off each income from low to high, those people sat down. At $200,000, the remaining few left standing represented the fewer than eight percent of Vancouverites who could qualify for a single-family home purchase, if they spent 40% of their gross household income on shelter.

If your gross income is $85,000 a year, you can afford a home costing $647,619. A typical Vancouver single family house costs $1.3 million. Double your income, and you’re still priced out.

Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart, member and past Chair of Metro Vancouver’s Regional Planning Committee, worrisomely noted that while the metro region has an urban containment boundary, “many new councillors haven’t bought in” to the concept. He said that councillors in neighbouring Port Moody recently disapproved a 400-unit townhouse project next to a transit station. 

(Port Moody isn’t alone. The District of West Vancouver voted down, 5-2, affordable housing and a senior daycare centre on city-owned land, and essentially gave the planning decision back to the land’s neighbours.)

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Fifty-two years ago today Expo 67 opened on two man-made islands in Montreal. The 20th century was about World’s Fairs, and this fair with the theme “Man and His World” attracted fifty million visits in its six month run. At the time Canada’s population was only 20 million people.

Several notable buildings were constructed including Buckminster Fuller and Shoji Sadao’s geodesic dome for the United States pavilion, and Moshe Safdie’s iconic “Habitat” as an example of prefabricated concrete dwelling construction.

Visitors had “passports” and obtained stamps at various pavilions. In many ways this event put Canada on the international map. The legacies of the Fair were classic 20th century achievements that included transportation infrastructure:  Montreal’s Decarie autoroute was built, as well as the Hippolyte-Lafontaine bridge and tunnel.

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Did you miss this story?

Mike Howell in the Courier seems to be the only one* who extensively covered the data dump from the City’s 2018 Panel Survey: an annual look at transport share and distance by Vancouver residents.  This is the sixth one, and it helps track progress towards our 2040 goals.

How we doing?

Amazingly well, actually. As Mike details:

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This year’s annual Warren Gill Lecture series will be presented by Mary Rowe who will speak on Canada’s Enduring Two Solitudes: Can we bridge the urban-rural divide?

Modern political movements increasingly pit city dwellers against rural residents, and downtowners against suburbanites, suggesting our differences are irreconcilable. Can we construct a new narrative that binds us together, and new approaches to governance and public decision-making that recognize the particularities of place?

Mary Rowe’s current roles include empowering Canada’s largest cities to be economically vibrant, socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable as senior advisor to Evergreen and Future Cities Canada and as co-executive lead for the National Urban Project .


Thursday, May 16

7 – 9 pm

Djavad Mowafaghian Cinema, Goldcorp Centre for the Arts
149 West Hastings Street, Vancouver

This is a free event, but as seating is limited, reservations are required. Reserve your ticket on Eventbrite.

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TransLink is hosting regional conversations on Transport 2050, the latest version of its strategic plan.  Last week at a packed Robson Square theatre, it began with “The Future of Mobility” – lots of thought nuggets from TL’s strategic planner, Andrew McCurran and a panel of those in what we used to call alternative transport (not any longer) – ride-hailing, car-sharing, bike-sharing, electric mobility, and scooters!


Here are a few tasty items:

Say good-bye to the ‘bike lane’;  hail the ‘mobility lane.’  Since it’s illegal for electric scooters to use the sidewalk (yeah, right) and it’s obvious already that electrification is leading to new kinds of vehicles faster than self-powered two-wheelers, they will all use the bike lanes or demand their own right-of-way.  Expect conflict.

(By the way, in cities with both bike- and scooter-share, the latter outperforms the former.)

Will there be space available on a reconfigured road as the number of traditional vehicles (you know, cars) diminishes?  Assuming, of course, that the number of cars really does drop.  Data from the use of Uber and Lyft in American cities indicates just the opposite: more cars and more congestion.

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