In April, Price Tags published a post on the UBC announcement regarding their desire to fund the remaining dollars — possibly up to $1 billion, depending on how you parse the extant project information floating in the ether (or who you know) — to bring the Millennium Line extension all the way to campus.
It remains our most-viewed post of 2018. It’s also our most-commented upon piece of all time. That’s 10,000+ posts over a dozen years.
So we decided to provide an update. Just one problem. Read on >>
Local First Nations are focussing on long-term economic independence via a series of big-money property developments in the Vancouver area.
First: Mike Howell reports in the Vancouver Courier that the Musqueam FN has reached a milestone on its UBC project. Its scale, look and feel give hints about the “big one” — Jericho.
The provincial government is about to give the 1,300-member band the green light to build a massive residential development on its land in the University Endowment Lands . . . The project includes four 18-storey highrises, several rows of townhouses and mid-rise apartment buildings, a community centre, a childcare facility, commercial space for a grocery store and restaurants, a public plaza, a large park and wetlands area. All of it will be spread over 21.4 acres of what is now forest along University Boulevard, bounded by Acadia Road, Toronto Road and Ortona Avenue.
Thanks to the Vancouver Courier, photo by Dan Toulgoet
The Musqueam FN has hired former ban CFO Stephen Lee and former CLC employee Doug Avis to head up the Musqueam Capital Corporation, which offloads land development and other business activities from the band council.
[Chief] Sparrow, [Operations Manager] Mearns, Lee and Avis made it clear the end goal of the projects is to create opportunities for Musqueam’s young people and inspire them to pursue higher learning and take advantage of what’s in front of them. Lee and Avis are not Musqueam members but say they hope one day to be replaced by band members.
“We’ll make money on the developments, there’s no doubt about it,” Mearns said. “But that’s not really where the big value will come from. It’s how we raise the entire community capacity as a result of these projects and develop people to not only get careers as carpenters, plumbers, planners, engineers, doctors, lawyers — whatever — but it’s also to have people go out and develop their own businesses and get their own contracts.”
The Courier article is a fascinating journey along a trail that is shameful at times and hopeful at others.
Second: the 21-acre (8.5 hectare) Heather Lands, involving three FN and the Canada Lands Company (CLC). The first open house will be tomorrow, Saturday Sept 24, 12:00 to 3 pm. Details HERE. City of Vancouver launch events are to be Oct 15 and 17.
Apparently, the Heather Lands are also known as “Fairmont Lands”. Who knew?
Hints as to the planning outcome from the FN-CLC point of view are in THIS 25-page document from CoV, Appendix “D. Joint Venture Guiding Planning Principles”. Presumably, many of these FN-CLC principles will also apply to the upcoming much bigger Jericho development. The principles, happily, include “…prioritize walking, cycling and transit…”, among many others. Cheesy car suburbs look unlikely.
The CoV document also lays out a big batch of overarching plans that will inform CoV’s Fairmont (Heather) Lands planning outcome. Among them: Land use, Density, Height, Public benefits, Transportation, Built form and character, Heritage, Sustainability, Development phasing.
Hopefully, the groups will meet somewhere in the middle of these various visions, which obviously differ in some areas e.g. affordability v.s. maximization of triple bottom line (page 18). To me, at this stage, there looks like plenty of common ground.
Density will, of course, be the big hot public topic. Via its proxy — building height. And let’s not forget the ever-popular vehicle storage (parking).
Thanks to MST-CLC Joint Venture and City of Vancouver
Thanks to Frances Bula for this in the Globe and Mail. Note the possibility that the development will retain an existing 1920-era heritage building. Note also the potential for City of Vancouver mandated affordable housing components, housing for FN members, and moderate to high density (as at nearby Cambie Street).
The Globe and Mail reports on the scheduled demise of a truly iconic house located in Vancouver’s university neighbourhood, the University Endowment Lands east of the University of British Columbia. The Friedman house was designed and built by Frederic Lasserre who was originally from Switzerland and a University of Toronto graduate. Lasserre worked in London for the famous TECTON architecture group and taught at McGill before becoming the first head of the new Department of Architecture at the University of British Columbia in 1946.
The photo above is of Fred Lasserre in front of the Lasserre Building at the University of British Columbia. This is where the Architecture, Planning and Fine Arts Schools are located at the University. The UBC Architecture school was definitely modernist, and influenced by other emerging architects such as Ned Pratt and Bob Berwick, forerunners of the “West Coast Style”.
The house was built in 1953 for Dr. Sydney Friedman and his wife Constance, two of the early members of the Faculty of Medicine at UBC. The garden of the house was planted by landscape architecture icon Cornelia Oberlander, in classic west coast style. Dr. Friedman recently spent nearly $300,0000 on restorations to a house that he dearly loved, which still has its original furnishings from the 1950’s as can be seen in the photos. I have visited it and it is truly a unique and extraordinary house and setting.
Dr. Friedman passed away last year at the age of 94. He and his wife created a trust to provide for students attending the University of British Columbia. Because of the house’s location in the University Endowment Lands, Dr. Friedman could not get a heritage designation for the house because it is not located in the City of Vancouver. The members of the trust have deemed that the house needs to be for sale and it is on the market in the four million dollar range. Bids close very soon, and we will be losing an important classic modernist house, garden and furnishings that anywhere else would be cherished as a very important architectural gem. It is hoped that someone that understands the significance of the house steps forward to purchase it. Years from now we will mourn that this modernist gem was not kept and instead becomes another residence destined for the landfill in the relentless quest for new, larger single family homes. This residence has a remarkable tie to to our own architectural and planning history.
On April 14, UBC’s Centre for Urban Economics and Real Estate (CUERE) and the Centre for Chinese Research (CCR) co-hosted a panel session – “Global Real Estate Investment: The Vancouver-China Nexus.”
Here are some notes I took (and for which I am responsible for their accuracy).
RICHARD KOSS from the International Monetary Fund, on “The Outlook for Global Capital Flows.”
Negative value for other assets and low interest rates has resulted in a turn of capital to real estate. The increase in home prices has been modest in most countries – but not in global cities (of which Vancouver is apparently one). There are signs of stress in cities that are dependent on commodity producers – like Perth, Australia.
House-price booms were previously a topic of benign neglect, but that era ended with the events of 2008. Yet we still don’t have the information we need, nor are there tools for moderating housing booms, though some modest efforts for affordability are being made at the local level.
DAVID LEY, geographer and a professor at the University of British Columbia, on “Global China. Capital outflows and overseas real estate.”
Canada has had the most lenient immigration program to attract capital and capitalists.
Initially immigrants came from Hong Kong and Taiwan. Now they come from China (PRC) – a highly unequal society – where they are desperate to get money out. (See also this article from the New York Times: Chinese Cash Floods U.S. Real Estate Market). The amount was $676 billion in 2015.
Vancouver has created a trans-national market to serve PRC investors. Vancouver real estate is a global asset.
From James Bligh:
… did you hear about Cornelia Oberlander’s award? I think it would be a shame not to share this considering what influence Cornelia has had on some of our country’s most profound places. She is quite frankly a national treasure and it’s wonderful to see her receive recognition. From archdaily: From UBC, which administers the award:
This award recognizes Cornelia as one of the world’s leading landscape architects who, over the past 60 years, has collaborated with internationally acclaimed architects on a wide range of projects around the world. She devoted her early professional years to designing landscapes for low-cost housing projects and playgrounds throughout Canada. She has also designed the iconic landscapes of the UBC Museum of Anthropology, Robson Square in Vancouver and Ottawa’s National Gallery.
From UBC School of Architecture + Landscape Architecture
Infrastructure provides the backbone of contemporary society; it’s everywhere. Networked infrastructures of water, food, energy and mobility continuously shape new landscapes and forms of urbanism. In the face of climate change, ongoing urbanisation, geopolitical conflict and environmental degradation, the planning, design and engineering of infrastructure is key in addressing notions of risk, adaptation, and resilience.
The Fall 2015 Lecture Series examines these topics of infrastructure from a wide range of vantage points, cutting across multiple disciplinary boundaries and geographic scales. Each speaker brings to light new practices, design strategies and research models as we continue our journey into the Anthropocene.
All lectures will take place at UBC Robson Square, 800 Robson Street
6:30 pm lecture start; 7:00 pm start for the Garden Design Lecture.
Friday, November 6
Annual Garden Design Lecture Louisa Jones
Lecture supported by the BC Society of Landscape Architects, Golden Spruce Nurseries, Houston Landscapes, SLS / Light Resource, and Stone Event Imports.
Monday, November 16
Paul Sangha Lecture Piet Oudolf
Reception following the lecture sponsored by the Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Vancouver.
Transit provides the framework for future development. It has the power to create entire communities and shape the region. And this unaffordable city needs it more than ever.
Developers already know that, which is why Intergulf Development Group vice-president Shaadi Faris will be keeping a close eye on the transit plebiscite results. Better transit won’t just offer better regional access, but it will add fire to the already hot market.
“All development sites are based around transit – as a city, that is our issue,” says Mr. Faris. “We are surrounded by water and mountains, and we can’t expand that way, so we have to work around transit. Transit drives development here. It’s our biggest concern.”
Which immediately raises the question: What happens if the referendum fails?
(1) Should projects that require transit be put on hold? I’m thinking, in particular, of Jericho and development on UBC lands. Or …
(2) Should such projects have to front-end the costs of transit?
The article goes on:
Mr. Shaadi has got his eye on the Broadway corridor to the University of British Columbia, whose future will also depend on rapid transit. …
He doesn’t see a No vote standing in the way of the new corridor. The plebiscite will only help answer the question of who will pay for better transit. Regardless of the outcome, adjustments will have to be made. There are an estimated million-plus people expected to move to Metro Vancouver by 2041. …
Another analyst suggested a tax levy on transit-oriented developments.
“It’s clear that transit could be paying for itself in some manner such as it does in other cities around the world,” said the analyst, who preferred to remain nameless. “Transit infrastructure is one of the few government investments which actually makes money. If you build a new hospital or courthouse or some other civic improvement, it’s a net cost. But a new transit line generates significant real estate profits.
“Here, the general public pays and private development benefits.”
The second article, in the National Post, makes it clear that not all the capital required for major projects needs to be raised at once. Just enough to pay the debt servicing or participation costs in a public-private partnershop (P3):
Brian Kelcey: Ottawa’s new transit fund — a weapon of mass construction
For cities, the big news in the 2015 federal budget was the announcement of a national transit fund, which starts at $250 million in 2017 and scales up to $1 billion per year in 2019 (and) could finance the biggest surge in Canadian infrastructure construction since gas tax transfers began in the last decade. …
Push aside all of the usual left-right bickering over P3s for a moment, because the change in policy matters even if P3s aren’t used after all. What matters here is cash flow. As notes in the budget make clear, the real policy shift is financial, not ideological. The Conservative goal here is to fund projects “over the useful life of the asset.”
By promising long-term project financing rather than up-front funding, Ottawa could commit to its $7 billion-plus share of $23 billion in transit projects in 2017. By 2019/2020, they could scale up to back up to $90 billion worth of transit construction — if provinces and cities can keep up with their own share.
Structured this way, Ottawa’s transit plan is a financial weapon of mass construction. Federal officials will be equipped to simultaneously announce long-term financing commitments to multiple projects in multiple cities (and, not incidentally, multiple ridings). …
Unlike other governments, most Canadian cities have specific debt limits. These limits are usually calculated by measuring debt service costs against a city’s property tax or “own-source” revenues. Historically unstable federal transfers aren’t counted toward that limit — so the new model would push some cities to a debt wall faster than expected, and outright exclude others with large debt burdens.
This is a fixable problem. New federal or provincial agencies could carry a share of transit debts instead. Debt limit rules could be amended to include guaranteed transfers from senior governments. But either way, these complicated details must be resolved well in advance — ideally in partnership, rather than through another surprise footnote in another budget — if this new model is ever going to meet its hidden potential.
There’s more to read in both articles. Check them out – and discuss below.