Tuesday, July 26, 2016

New Topic: Affordability

(Cross posted from the previous topic)
Anonymous #1 said...According to Realtor.ca there are 279 detached houses for sale in the District and City of North Vancouver and only two are below 1.1 million? One is halfway up Indian Arm and is boat access only, and the other is for a million on a 4,500 sq ft infill lot on Lynn Valley Road. 
Oh and the median price of those listings is 1.79 million 
Anonymous #2 said...What's the discussion? We know what the prices are.
Anonymous #3 said...Since we are all anonymous here... I guess the big one is do we care enough about affordability to do something, or do prefer to just talk about it, and secretly enjoy parks and trails that aren't busy, low crime rates, educated wealthy neighbors, and none of the visible negatives associated with poverty which is more prevalent in other areas?
I never said it was going to be a nice topic.
Central to the whole discussion about housing has to be the seldom mentioned reality that there is a need for more than just detached single family homes and strata developments.

Decently priced rental accommodations need to be part of the mix, as does subsidized housing for those with low incomes - especially our growing senior population.

Even though the District has only about half the proportion of renters that is seen in the City, it's still something that can't be ignored.


Anonymous said...

Okay, I'll bite. What can we do about affordability? That's a loaded and very subjective question. In the interest of full disclosure, I design houses for a living. I don't work for developers but do work for homeowners to help them with renovations or new homes. I'd like to see all levels of government get serious about improving our public transportation infrastructure in a major way. Without that, discussions about density and reducing our dependence on cars is futile. Once we get public transit in gear, then I'd like to see increased density in the form of infill development. Replace single family residences with duplexes or homes with suites and coach houses. Subdivide 50 foot lots into two smaller lots. Allow zero lot line developments like townhouses. I don't see a need for towers anywhere but the major centres like Lonsdale, Marine Drive, etc. If a developer wants to replace rental stock with new development, he must replace it with an equal amount of rental stock with rent controlled rates for a set period. Only by promising rent control, will he be given density bonuses to be used for market housing (rental or for sale). However, I think Federal government needs to get back into the rental game and finance housing for those with modest incomes. If people that work in the local service industries can't afford to live here, our communities will become resort towns for the wealthy with little in the way of diversity. There is a lot that can be done if we all realize that we are no longer living in some idyllic village far removed from metro Vancouver. hell, we'd barely count as a suburb, we're that close to Vancouver centre. Anyways, that's enough from me for now. Have at it.

Anonymous said...

So, make the changes necessary to accomodate growth and slow down housing cost increases through increased supply. Not unreasonable, but to do that, the community would have to accept a significant change in the style of their neighborhoods over the medium term. That is not what voters currently want.

This is where I struggle, the need vs. want debate.

What do we need from our community? Jobs, roads, sewers, emergency services, health and educational spaces, a tax burden that is affordable to the vast majority of our households.

What do we want from our community? A sense of community, recreational space, aesthetic improvements and creature comforts, low taxes, housing choices including a variety of costs, etc etc. Frankly the list is lengthy and only limited by imagination and very importantly cost.

So is low cost housing a need? Or a very conditional want? (ie no towers, not at the cost of forested areas, not too close to industry, only on frequent transit network stops, only if it doesn't wreck a view, only if it doesn't increase local traffic, only if it has family size units, only if it has free parking so no spill over onto neighborhood parking, only if it for seniors only...)

A review of the last municipal election in the DNV clearly had the two lowest growth candidates, Lisa Muri and Doug Mackay-Dunn winning with 2,000 more votes than the development candidates Matt Bond and Roger Bassam.

SO do you follow the general will of the community or do you try to convinvce them why they are wrong?

Anonymous said...

We are in a time of transition caused by 2 major factors. Easy access to world travel and great wealth. On the one hand those of us that actually live here have the usual local concerns. On the other hand we live in a highly desirable location and people are prepared to pay handsomely to own property here. They may live here full time, part time or almost not at all. Their issues are not entirely the same as those of the local folk as they can outbid most of us to pluck the most desirable properties while the rest of us need/want the amenities noted by Anon 11:53.

Trying to craft the new reality is a huge challenge. What do we want our neighbourhood, city, province and country to look like? The Province has implemented the 15% tax on non-resident buyers. Will that matter to those that really want to be here and have the resources to own multiple properties? We live in the most temperate and beautiful part of the country. If we love it here so will everyone else.

Mayor Walton says that the service providers are already commuting to the N. Shore in droves because they can't afford to live here. As the properties are bought up we will be morphing into an exclusive wealthy community with the service providers commuting in and out.

I fear that the horse has already left the barn. On a global scale we are too small to stem the tide of wealth washing up on our shores. Some subsidized housing and higher density will not stop those that have wealth wanting to live near the mountains and ocean in a politically safe place with plenty of food in the market. They will be willing to pay a premium to do so.

Bottom line - prepare for major change. The type of neighbourhood and community life that we have enjoyed 1950 - 2000 is on the second going of going, going, gone. Yes, we can have pockets of status quo but overall we will be living in higher density, longer lineups, more traffic, packed transit, growing pressure on parks, forests, hospitals, schools, higher water consumption and production of sewage. All those things that big cities wrestle with are coming to a neighbourhood near you.

It won't happen overnight but it is happening.

Adam Smith said...

I heard from my Grandfather that there was a time when people got their bags full with less money. But those days are now only dreams, we have lost our affordability.

Anonymous said...

Affordability is subjective. Go back to when the North Shore could only be accessed by ferry and there were still people who couldn't afford to live here.

Barry Rueger said...

Affordability is not "subjective."

For much of the last century a family with one parent working full time could own a home,a new car every few years, and expect that their children would go to University.

And could even expect to retire at 65 with a pension that would allow a reasonable lifestyle.

Now two parents working full-time - if they can find full-time jobs - probably have a less than even chance of being able to own a home.

Assuming they can also afford day-care while Mom works. Assuming they can also afford large RRSP contributions because Canada Pension has been allowed to shrink to poverty level payments. Assuming they can also afford large RESP contributions because they live in the province with the highest tuition, and the lowest student aid, and the largest after graduation debt load.

So no, affordability is not "subjective." The reality is that owning a home is far. far out of reach for people who could have done so fifty years ago.

And that's not because of foreign in vestment, it's because of several decades of governments working to drive down wages and cut back on essential supports like pensions and education.

Anonymous said...

4 years ago I bought US dollars at par. My house was worth $1,200,000.

Today it will cost me $1.34 to buy $1 US. My house is worth $1,800,000.

My house value has increased 33% in Canadian dollars.

It has not increased in US dollars or Chinese Yuan at all.

My house has not increased in value on a world scale. It has only increased to Canadians.

Canadian and North Shore real estate is now a world commodity.

The world doesn't care if that market upsets Canadians.

And that is not subjective, it is reality.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Barry said:
"So no, affordability is not "subjective." The reality is that owning a home is far. far out of reach for people who could have done so fifty years ago."

Now that's not wrong except that just as we see today, not ALL people could own a home then, but some or many could.

My parents rented a house in East Vancouver for 10 years while I was a child.
When the landlord decided to sell in 1960, she offered it first to the best renters she had ever had. My parents borrowed from an extended family for down payment, and took on a huge debt at 2 something percent. The price of the house was $12,500.

The average wage of a family then, was $275 per month. I remember one day, my father coming home and flinging cash about the living room saying he had made "23 DOLLARS TODAY!' . It was cause for celebration.

But you know, Vancouver didn't provide him with employment enough to be unemployment free. He didn't whine and complain it was 'unaffordable' to live close to town. No, he took jobs in Prince Rupert and Kamloops. He lived in dive motels and payed his way without complaint

It's so much easier to mouth 'unaffordable' when you can't afford to live on the waterfront in West Vancouver, than make the changes necessary to live a decent life.
I know I know, you aren't talking about people who are trying to live in West Van waterfront locations. But it is the same. What you can't afford, you can't afford. What you can afford, you can.

Anyone want to buy a 4 bedroom home in a place where there is employment, 2 beautiful lakes in town, a small ski hill and golf course in town and, say it again, employment?
Lots of schools.

No, you say. I don't have a million bucks, I love my Starbucks and I feel sooo good cycling to work when it doesn't rain. I belive I SHOULD be able to live my Vancouver life but I don't want to know that this house you describe is for sale at $99,000 TODAY. (no typo) cyz whining is so much easier.

I don't want to know, because I would have to change. I would have to adapt. ( By the way, just g@@gle >> Mackenzie BC real estate and see if this is a fantasy.

Anonymous said...

We are not competing with the past, we are competing with each other. When 69% of the households with children have a second income earner, it makes life less 'affordable' for the other 31% because we are in a state of competition. When over 50% of the public have financial help from a wealth transfer from an older generation, it makes life a lot better for the 50% and a little harder for the other 50% because we are competing. I am not suggesting a zero sum game, but simply put when any one group finds an advantage, it makes it harder for others to compete. The difference between adults now and adults then can been seen when comparing seniors now to seniors then. Back in the day, seniors were reliant on family help and multi-generational housing to live into their seventies, now they are sitting on billions of dollars in capital (30 Trillion North America wide), they live deep into their 80's, and their children are relying on them.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:19. Yes, we are competing with each other... in the world. The real estate situation is not local. It is global. Those with help from their parents are darn lucky - no question. However, they are competing too with those from other countries who have extreme wealth and would like to live here. We cannot be parochial anymore as it isn't realistic.

Anonymous said...

I was more or less responding to the rose coloured view of the past, where only one bread-winner could have families living quite well.

"The real estate situation is not local. It is global" Real estate is both local and global, supply is determined locally, both through development/density and how many local owners are willing to sell, 93% of north Vancouver does not sell in a given year so that is a significant control on supply. Also, foreign investors are employing buy and hold strategies so the units they are buying will not flip again for several, possibly ten years, so that is another eventual control on supply. Global interests largely affect demand with certain tipping points in pricing enticing more supply to come online, but INMHO, even if prices doubled in the region due to demand the vast majority would still not release supply, because they don't want to leave the region for the cash-in.

Anonymous said...

The original post said that 279 house are for sale in the City and District... out of about 30,000 detached houses? Even at the ridiculous prices you can see that locals are not giving out the supply.

Anonymous said...

And those that are sold are often being torn down and replaced with bigger single family homes and put back on the market. Sadly, these homes are poorly designed and poorly built but priced at a premium. Out of reach for most local buyers. I'd rather see better use of this land - subdivide and provide a smaller detached house on each lot as well as a suite and possibly a coach house. Where there was one home, now there is the potential for 3 units on each lot housing more people at varying price points. Do enough of this sort of development and we'd have plenty of housing options for people who want to live here.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Anon 3:50. Yes, all markets are determined by supply and demand. The earlier concern that was raised is that much of the supply is beyond the means of much of the local citizenry.

The demand side is being skewed by world buyers with very deep pockets. I was referring to the current state of affairs as the good old days are a memory.

Anonymous said...

One faction on City Council seems to want the City to become like the Downtown Eastside so housing prices will be lower but we would have a slum.
The majority faction thinks that increasing the supply will solve the problem but the demand will always be greater then any increase in supply.
Mountains and Oceans restrict the buildable land. That can't change.

Anonymous said...

Who on City council wants the City to become like the Downtown Eastside so housing prices will be lower but we would have a slum"?! I've never seen anyone at city hall suggest such a thing. Let's not reduce this discussion to unfounded hyperbole. We need supply to help offset demand. We need better use of available land and can no longer afford single family homes occupying large lots. Suites and coach houses will go a long way to mitigate demand while offering the homeowner with income to help pay the huge mortgage.

Anonymous said...

It is sad to see our beautiful lives here on the North Shore divided into wealthy via not-wealthy. It did not happen overnight. It started with the election of a pro-development Council in the DNV cerca 2004 with Richard Walton, the most questionable local politician in the country not being investigated by a police service, and his municipal stooges like James Ridge, Brian Bydwell, James Gordon and David Stuart. But they did not compare to the mafiaso in the CNV. Except maybe for DNV Councillor Matt Bond who laments in the Vancouver Sun that his family cannot afford a home in the DNV, apparently ignorant that his wife gave an interview to the Globe and Mail in March 2009 in which she worried about her mortgage payments. Our provincial MP is a drunkard who is hazard on the road. A beautiful place to live indeed, just do no lift up the veil...one might find that a councilor's recent;y born child as the mayor's eyes.

Anonymous said...

What a slag fest. The author doesn't have the character to tie James Ridges' shoes.

Anonymous said...

It's just drunken blogging again by some sewer rat. On a totally unrelated matter, did you know that "Hazen" means "A method of back or under-lighting and object or piece of furniture in one's home or office in a way which creates a pleasing mood and aesthetic". Yep. Totally unrelated. Usage: "I'm going to Hazen the $h!t out of that credenza".

The growth rate over the next two census' was ~0.44%/yr... that is one of the lowest growth rates in the Province, Pro-Development? Keep trying.

Anonymous said...

TO ANON Thursday, August 04, 2016 8:30:00 pm

When you have a faction on CNV Council who fanatically oppose all redevelopment and development as they fear any rent increases, the only result of their success is the creation of a cheaper slum. It is a good thing they are only a minority of Council and fail in their attempt and were not joined by Bill and Dorthy Bell who would have driven them further left.

Anonymous said...

Pro-development does not necessarily mean an increase in population. It means greater acceptance for development proposals and rezoning (read up-zoning) of land. It is through the up-zoning and attendant land speculation, completely independent of population growth and erection of buildings, that generates the cash that makes it way into stakeholder's pockets.

On the unrelated topic, I understood Hazen is the best English translation of the Hebrew word pronounced Hazan, an official of a Jewish synagogue, an official considered by their experience in certain matters such as studies in Dachau, Germany, an expert of sorts, including in court, on the subject of anti-Semitism and the use of the swastika and the phrase trail-Nazi.

Anonymous said...

If you mean the population to refer to the message above, I'm making no point on population but residences if you have a three story apt in Lower Lonsdale and you buy it and improve you can charge an increased rent. Or let it deteriorate to the rents the for those who don't mind living in a slum to save a few bucks a month.

Of course, one does not pay millions to not make money and the redevelopment is part of the natural process that only a Marxian command economy can stop and this may keep rents low (impending the economic rights of property owners) but stops all improvements so renters may pay the same but get less every year as it deteriorates into a slum.

Anonymous said...

The country, our Canada, is EMPTY!!!!

Time to SPRAWL and stop whining about affordability in this burgh.

Check out MLS R2074016. I dare ya.

Anonymous said...

Sprawl is expensive and unsustainable.

Anonymous said...

Sprawl right up the mountains and into the ocean? right!

Anonymous said...

Sprawl is fine as long as the jobs precede the sprawl. Our problem is we are ever increasing the footprint of our residential base while the jobs remain concentrated in the city center causing more people to commute longer and longer distances.

Anonymous said...

The carbon footprint of a tall residential building per square foot is exponentially higher than a townhouse or single family home. Consider the kinetic energy expended in the base of the tower to hold up the building. Consider the energy required to power the building even if every resident is away for a week. Consider how much energy is expended when one person gets on the elevator in the AM on the 20th floor and takes the elevator to the basement, gets in a car, waits for two 1-ton electric gates to open, drives to work, then does the reverse thing in the PM. Now compare that to walking out the front door of a townhouse, getting into the car and driving away. That elevator ride alone would power two single family homes all day. One of the biggest lies every told to society is that population dense communities living in tall buildings are more environmentally friendly than single family homes.

Anonymous said...

And midlevel density such as townhouses, row houses, infill housing and carriage houses go a long way to reduce sprawl while utilizing a more compact form, saving us from having to resort to sprawl or high rises. Paris is a good example of compact, dense, low rise development.

Anonymous said...

"Consider the kinetic energy expended in the base of the tower to hold up the building." Wow. Science is tough. Energy is expended to lift things up to the higher height, but keeping it there doesn't take energy, the physical properties of the reinforced concrete holds it up quite nicely. Elevators have been counter weighted since the 18th century so you are only using enough energy to overcome friction and the weight of the cargo, on the way down, smartly designed elevators can recapture much of that wasted energy. Likewise car park gates have a screw spring that stores energy while it is being extended (down) and uses that energy to assist raising it, only very little energy is wasted.

It is true that measuring the two, apples to apples is tricky, but there is no question, having 1,400 sqft apartment is way more efficient than having a 1,400 sqft house WITH SIMILAR FEATURES. The energy loss alone from each household having its own inefficient roof is enough to win the day for a tower, but also consider the economies of scale for the heat plant, water heating, air circulation, electrical infrastructure, etc so many services offered in both a house and tower are more efficient when shared.

Having said all that, I have no desire to live in or around a tower because I find them aesthetically challenging. I like a quiet neighborhood where I see trees not towers, but I don't use crap science to bolster a weak position, I am willing to say I just don't like them.

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:59 I encourage you to send Michelle Nieken back to her corner in the downtown east side before Sara Dubinksy takes it.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I don't know who those people are or how they are relevant to this discussion. my google search only produced a film industry person and a bccla lawyer, but no discussion about north Vancouver.

Anonymous said...

The film industry person is, or has, been beholden either by employment contract or consulting contract to Bosa Inc. owner of North Shore Studios on Brooksbank. Bosa is also developer and proponent supporting the massive billion dollar redevelopment of Lynn Valley. The film industry person is married to a North Shore Councilor who has never recused himself from Council decisions in favour of Bosa Inc in Lynn Valley as required under the Community Charter Section 100. The advice from the Province of BC regarding conflict of interest such as when a spouse is employed by a developer, even if through a subsidiary of the developer is: When in doubt it is advised that councilor err on the side of caution and declare any real or perceived conflict of interest. The husband is well aware of the perception of conflict of interest which is why he always refers to his wive's occupation as "working in the film industry" and never as "an associate of Bosa Inc, a development and land & property management company." The BCLA lawyer does indeed have an office at a street corner in the downtown east side (you can look it up), corner of Cambie and Pender I believe, and from that office represents the interests of at least one North Vancouver municipality. Once one lifts up the veil its all about North Vancouver hoockie-koo.

Anonymous said...

Ah, you're talking to yourself again, replying to the Voices in your head?

Anonymous said...

Does the film industry person work for BOSA or does she merely work at a facility owned by BOSA? They are not the same thing. Also, if the former, she isn't working for BOSA the developer, she's working for BOSA the property owner. Where's the conflict?

Anonymous said...

When in doubt it is advised that councilor err on the side of caution and declare any real or PERCEIVED conflict of interest.

Anonymous said...

And if there's no doubt by anyone but you?
Seems to me that if there were actually a conflict of interest, this would have come out and been resolved. Just because you see a conflict doesn't mean one exists. Now, what have you got to gain by casting aspersions?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps an honest municipal government

Anonymous said...

I fully support anti-corruption measures including a fairly unforgiving stance on conflict of interest rules, but according to the Thompson definition "a conflict of interest is a set of circumstances that creates a risk that professional judgment or actions regarding a primary interest will be unduly influenced by a secondary interest."

Do you genuinely believe that a councillor is unduly influenced because their spouse works for a business that leases land from another business that has a division in the development industry that may benefit financially from zoning decisions made by said councilor? I doubt very much that said Councillor feels that his wife's employment may be placed in jeopardy if he does not support redevelopment, and I doubt very much that his support of redevelopment (which was certainly a part of his campaign) would result in enticements for his wife in any reasonable way.

Perceiving of a remote possibility of conflict of interest, is not the test for conflict, you must establish that a reasonable person would see a reasonable risk of bias or influence by a secondary influence and that that secondary influence is not a factor shared in common with a large portion of the community. The areas where our current councils are potentially conflicted are more obvious. Robin Hicks' daughter is a DNV firefighter, he shouldn't vote on fire contract negotiations, but he should still be able to vote on general fire and rescue services. Matt Bond works for the Ministry of Transportation, he shouldn't vote on advocacy matters directed at the MOT, but he should still be able to influence general transportation issues. Lisa Muri's husband works for Seaspan, she should stay away from advocacy issues for or against Seaspan, but having a general support for waterfront industries is ok. Jim Hansen should not vote on anything relating to clients for his personal injury law firm, but he should still be able to vote on matters where someone was injured, or where safety improvements are being considered.

All politicians are going to have conflicts, they are part of the community, but the courts and the RCMP have been very cautious about punishing except where the conflict was overt.

I am glad that you have an eye on this issue, but I think you are trying to use a weak perception of bias to hamstring a politician you don't agree with even though the issue being considered was very much a part of their election campaign.

Anonymous said...

The recent BC Court of Appeal decision in Schlenker v Tomlinson has significantly broadened the scope of conflict-of-interest legislation. Certain municipalities such as the City of Pitt Meadows has enacted sweeping policy in response. Regrettably North Shore municipalities have failed to create even the most rudimentary of policy. As a result, in the event of any perceived conflict of interest, the matter must be escalated to the court system under the Community Charter. What I would recommend is that the North Shore municipalities create policy, float it through the UBCM, the Ministry of Community and the Supreme Court for vetting as well as create a local arbitration process. In that way members of council have a distinct policy to follow and stakeholders have a local process in which to escalate concerns. Just my two cents.

Anonymous said...

If you are referring to the 2015 changes in Pitt Meadows, the policy specifically relates to standing as a director on volounteer boards that may have business before the council. I am curious how you think this will affect the concern you have raised about Bosa?

Anonymous said...

The concern is not about Bosa. I am recommending that both the CNV and DNV have explicit conflict of interest polices, just as they have anti-bullying policy. I would not want to see a good councilor tripped up over the lack of governance policies.

Anonymous said...

Good Councillors don't need governance policies to keep them on the straight and narrow. It's the self interested ones that need it.

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