A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘vancouver

[URBAN NOTE] “Toronto Housing Market May Need Vancouver-Style Cooling, RBC Says”

Doug Alexander and Katia Dmitrieva write for Bloomberg about the statement by the Royal Bank of Canada’s chief executive officer that Toronto’s housing market needs to be slowed down like Vancouver’s

Toronto may require measures to cool its red-hot housing market similar to moves taken in Vancouver if interest rates don’t increase, said Royal Bank of Canada Chief Executive Officer David McKay.

The head of Canada’s largest lender said Toronto housing is “running hot” and is fueled by a “concerning mix of drivers” that include lack of supply, continued low rates, rising foreign money and speculative activity. Similar circumstances in Vancouver prompted British Columbia’s government last year to impose a 15 percent tax on foreign buyers.

“In the absence of being able to use higher rates to reduce that, I do think we’re going to at some point have to consider similar measures to slow down the housing price growth,” McKay said Friday in a telephone interview.

The comments from the bank CEO come as frustration grows over the unaffordability of properties in Canada’s biggest city. The average home price in Toronto jumped 22 percent in January from the previous year, the fifth straight month of gains topping 20 percent. Listings have dropped off, down by half from last year, squeezing prices further.

The CEOs of Canada’s other big banks last year called on the government to increase housing regulation amid skyrocketing prices in Vancouver and Toronto. National Bank of Canada CEO Louis Vachon said that minimum downpayments should return to 10 percent from 5 percent, while Bank of Nova Scotia head Brian Porter suggested his company was pulling back on mortgage lending due to concern about high home prices in those two cities.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 25, 2017 at 7:15 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Wake up, Toronto, to your housing crisis”

Gary Mason wrote Thursday from Victoria for The Globe and Mail about the Toronto affordable housing crisis, contrasting the belated responses of Toronto and Ontario unfavourably to those of his province of residence.

Of all the political U-turns B.C. Premier Christy Clark has undertaken in power, perhaps none was as jarring and unexpected as the one she performed on housing.

For most of 2015, and at least half of the following year, the Premier refused to do anything about rapidly escalating house prices in Metro Vancouver. She maintained that bringing in measures to cool the market might hurt the equity in people’s homes. She denied foreign investors had much to do with the fierce escalation in costs, relying on the faulty, self-serving data from a real-estate industry that wanted the sticker-shock insanity to continue.

And there was also the not-insignificant fact that the B.C. treasury was getting fattened on the provincial tax that exists on home sales – easy money that can become like crack to a government.

But then Ms. Clark and her cabinet came to an uncomfortable realization: The growing public outrage over the fact that the middle-class dreams of owning a home were evaporating by the day for many and might cost the government re-election. So the Premier did what she vowed she wouldn’t and brought in a 15-per-cent foreign buyer’s tax that did precisely what it was intended to – put the brakes on the absurd, and immoral, goings-on in the real estate industry.

Unfortunately, by the time she did, it was too late for thousands.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 24, 2017 at 9:30 pm

[LINK] “B.C. supports feasibility study of high-speed rail line from Portland to Vancouver”

The Globe and Mail‘s Dominika Lirette reports on the support of the British Columbian government for funding a study looking into the feasibility of a high-speed rail route connecting Vancouver with Oregon’s Portland.

British Columbia’s Transportation Minister says the province supports Washington State’s decision to study the feasibility of a high-speed rail line from Portland to Vancouver.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has allotted $1-million (U.S.) from his 2017-19 state budget to examine the costs and benefits of building a system to carry travellers 400 kilometres an hour with stops in Seattle and Bellingham. A report is due in December.

Transportation Minister Todd Stone said it’s “far too premature” to talk about a potential financial commitment to a high-speed rail line, but he said the province is interested in the idea.

“The Premier sent a letter to Governor Inslee recently, extending provincial support for the state of Washington’s decision to actually do some due diligence, some analysis on this proposed high-speed rail link, and we certainly support them doing that,” Mr. Stone said.

He noted that that an agreement signed last year between British Columbia and Washington State, known as the Cascadia Innovation Corridor, highlights transportation as a key priority.

The study will examine the design and cost of a high-speed rail system, the potential demand and whether it would be economically viable. A budget document outlining the study says the high-speed rail system, if built, could connect with east-west routes in the state, as well as a similar system, in California.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 16, 2017 at 9:00 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Canadian families moving to escape urban housing prices”

MacLean’s carries Alexandra Posadzki’s Canadian Press article looking at how high housing prices are driving Canadians out of major cities for markets with lower prices.

Julien Simon and his wife were living happily in their condo in the Vancouver suburb of Burnaby when life intervened last year in the form of a baby on the way.

The couple — he’s an Internet marketer, she’s an environmental engineer — couldn’t see themselves living in a shoebox crammed full of baby stuff, so they pulled up stakes, put their condo up for sale and moved about four hours away to Kamloops, B.C., where they bought a four-bedroom house for nearly the same price.

“In Vancouver, this house would be in the $2 million range,” says Simon, who works from home while his wife now works for the government as a flood safety engineer.

While more detailed profiles will emerge in subsequent releases, the 2016 census data released Wednesday found that there were more than 14 million occupied private dwellings in Canada, a 5.6 per cent increase over the five-year period that ended in 2011. That growth rate, however, was significantly lower than the 7.1 per cent rate recorded five years ago.

Thanks in large part to a commensurate spike in population that was the largest in Canada, Nunavut reported the fastest dwellings growth at 13.4 per cent, followed by Alberta (9.9 per cent), Yukon (7.8 per cent) and British Columbia (6.6 per cent).

Written by Randy McDonald

February 13, 2017 at 10:00 pm

[URBAN NOTE] On how Trump Tower in Vancouver may be an issue for the Trump Administration

I have to admit to not being amused, as described by the National Post in the article “An early test of Trump’s ethics pledge: The glittering tower in Vancouver about to open its doors” written for the Washington Post by Drew Harwell, Alan Freeman and Jenny Peng, that Trump Tower in Vancouver is set to open and in so doing open up space for a whole slew of problems for the Trump Administration. I would prefer Canada not get involved at all in the political issues of our southern neighbour.

As President Trump settles into his first week in the White House, the first paying guests will begin checking in tonight into the lavish suites of the Trump International Hotel & Tower Vancouver, a glass skyscraper developed by the son of one of Malaysia’s wealthiest business executives.

The tower, the first foreign business launch of the Trump brand during the new presidency, is an early test of Trump’s controversial decision to retain ownership of his businesses while promising to combat ethical conflicts by removing himself from the management. It also shows how Trump properties around the world are likely to become focal points for protest or other forms of expressions aimed at the U.S. president and his policies.

Trump and his family do not own the Vancouver project, but the president has a stake in its continued success. The developers have paid Trump’s company for the use of his name while they also pay fees for his company to manage the hotel, according to federal financial disclosures filed by Trump.

Developers say that the hotel, where workers pulled the covers off its imposing “Trump” lettering the day before Friday’s inauguration, has seen an “overwhelming amount of reservations.” Deep-pocketed buyers have also scooped up condos. Buyers include an American tech billionaire who paid $7.6 million for three luxury flats.

To many locals, the building is something of a political symbol. Some, including Vancouver’s mayor, have protested the name that appears in lights above the skyline. Eggs were thrown at a Trump hotel window during the Women’s March there on Saturday that filed past the property.

Trump’s association with overseas hotels was cited in a lawsuit brought this week by ethics experts, who argued that permits or other benefits granted to Trump-branded properties could violate a constitutional ban on foreign government payments to the U.S. president.</blockquote

Written by Randy McDonald

January 27, 2017 at 11:00 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Speculation likely still driving up house prices in B.C., Toronto, Hamilton, CMHC says”

And so, as CBC reports, the housing boom in Canada’s cities goes on.

Three months after issuing its first red warning on the state of the country’s housing market, CMHC said Thursday that strong evidence of “problematic” conditions nationally have continued for a second consecutive quarter.

The federal agency said in its latest quarterly market analysis that those conditions persisted due to overvaluation and price acceleration.

CMHC said its assessment largely accounts for market conditions in Vancouver and Toronto, where strong price growth has been spreading to other areas.

“Price acceleration in Vancouver, Victoria, Toronto and Hamilton indicates that home price growth may be driven by speculation as it is outpacing what economic fundamentals like migration, employment and income can support,” said Bob Dugan, the agency’s chief economist.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 27, 2017 at 10:00 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Vancouver, Toronto take different approaches to policing pot shops”

The Globe and Mail‘s hosts Mike Hager’s report contrasting the willingness of Vancouver pot shops to report crime to the unwillingness of Toronto’s, tracing this to the considerably more permissive police policies in Vancouver.

David Malmo-Levine has had numerous run-ins with Vancouver police in more than two decades fighting for the legalization of marijuana, the most intense being the time he says he was dragged by handcuffs while attempting to block a raid of a downtown cannabis seed store in the mid-1990s.

So, he said he was pleasantly surprised in May, 2015, when police returned several thousand dollars worth of bongs and cannabis products that had been stolen by a man who smashed a stolen minivan through the storefront of his illegal East Vancouver dispensary.

“It was the best they had ever treated me in my entire life of pot activism – in fact, they returned the pot and all the edibles, the hashish and everything [that was stolen],” said Mr. Malmo-Levine, who spent time in prison after losing a Supreme Court of Canada case stemming from being charged for running an underground cannabis vapour lounge more than 20 years ago.

[. . .]

Vancouver’s approach to regulating – not raiding – its 95 dispensaries stands in stark contrast to Toronto, Canada’s other largest market for these illegal stores, where police and politicians say an ongoing crackdown has become more urgent as these pot shops have become a magnet for violent thieves.

Earlier this week, Toronto police announced there had been 13 armed robberies of dispensaries in the past eight months – six of which were not reported by employees or owners of the businesses. Investigators said they believe additional robberies have gone unreported and that employees and operators of some of the targeted dispensaries have refused to answer questions or to hand over surveillance footage.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 26, 2017 at 8:00 pm