Most years I take my students on a tour around City Hall, with a focus on showing off various aspects of how City Hall is working (or not) upon the landscape around it. This year, of course, I can’t do that with my classes! So I’m moving the tour on-line, where anybody can come along if they like. Also I’m making the slides linked below available as a PDF document, in case anyone wants to download them and bring them along to walk the route.
TLDR: I attempt to articulate a Human Rights YIMBYism, rooted in supporting (and sometimes balancing) a set of key human rights and freedoms (housing, movement, association, property) within the city. While both push back against NIMBYism, broad Human Rights YIMBYism offers a different, and I argue more successful and ethical guide to action and coalition building than narrower Property YIMBYism.
(Joint with Jens von Bergmann and cross-posted at MountainMath)
The “real estate has swallowed Vancouver’s economy” zombie is back, with wild claims by a City Councillor that
“If you look at the long-form census data going back to 1986 every 5 years, […] we went from selling logs to selling real estate […], major shift from resource extraction to real estate property development and construction as the primary driver in the local economy.”
Here we want to try and put the zombie out of our misery (again!), but also use this moment to ask some interesting questions about Vancouver history and what we can get from the long-form census. Mostly what we get from the census, of course, is what people list as their jobs. We can use this to ask a series of questions, including:
Just how many people work in the real estate industry in Vancouver? Is it growing?
What about finance? Are we turning into a “Global City”?
Have these activities truly replaced selling logs (or other extractive industries) as the basis for Vancouver’s economy in terms of jobs?
How about manufacturing? Didn’t we used to make things?
What about retail? Or health care and social services? Are we mostly relegated to being a regional commerce and service centre for BC?
What about the “creative class”? Is it growing? And what even is that?
(joint with Jens von Bergmann and cross-posted on mountainmath)
How did early planners envision Vancouver’s future growth? Fortunately for us, they left a prediction in dot-density map form! Here we compare their prediction to a dot-density map from today. Let’s check out how our dot destiny unfolded!
(Joint with Jens von Bergmann and cross-posted at Mountainmath)
TLDR: Combining our two major sources of data on the “foreignness” of property owners suggests at least half of those owning property in high demand parts of BC but living outside of Canada are Canadian citizens or permanent residents.
I started this blog back in January of 2016, which makes five years ago this month. So obviously it’s time for an anniversary post!
Last week, the BC Government dropped a press release linking to 2019’s data from the NDP’s Speculation & Vacancy Tax (SVT), leaving us with two years of data (!) and including a brief analysis of what happened to properties taxed in 2018! Maybe you didn’t notice? It was a busy week. I’ve been looking through the data and comparing across releases, and here are my big takeaways so far:
- Overall, tax liability remains very rare (< 1%), and seems to be getting more so
- The 2019 Technical Report revises some of the 2018 taxpaying figures, generally downward
- The SVT may have added some rental in 2019, but probably not as much as claimed
- Best guess: probably because we never had much “toxic demand” to begin with…
- There’s some hint the SVT might have promoted divorce a bit & probably also migration
- Some errors and lapses in SVT reporting make interpreting the data harder than it should be!
Joint with Jens von Bergmann and cross-posted at mountainmath
Empty Homes Taxes are back in the news!
In a very short time period, we’ve got Vancouver raising its Empty Homes Tax rate from 1% to 3%, based in part on a report from CMHC about a sharp rise in condos on the rental market, we’ve got Toronto eyeing its own Empty Homes Tax, and now reports suggest that even Ottawa is considering getting in on the game.
What will happen when the Pandemic ends?
Will pre-Pandemic patterns, like people moving to Vancouver, go back to normal? Or will small towns, far-flung suburbs, and rural areas see a boost at the expense of cities, reflecting perhaps a new aversion to density and/or embrace of the rise in telecommuting acceptability? (we’ve seen such speculation in certain corners of City Hall).
Or indeed, might we see the opposite? Will people flock to cities like Vancouver as we return to mobility (including newly amped up immigration along with outreach to Hong Kong) and enjoyment of all the urban pleasures we’ve given up during the pandemic?