Mark Busse writes:

Does Vancouver drive away more creative people than it attracts? Affordability aside, what other factors influence this issue? In particular, what are the forces that draw people here? Where does the potential lie?

Read this first: part 1 on my bubbles, what bubbles do you live in?

Again, I don’t know how to answer this question but I have got lots of rambling “anecdotes” :-) (which may or may not be insightful; I’m pretty sure my “answers” aren’t the solution but it’s helpful I think to put them out there) about affordability and I don’t think you can set affordability aside:

  • Anecdotally, rent is unaffordable especially for families and it’s hard to find a rental. This was true in 1998 when I moved to Vancouver and it’s even more true now.
  • Anecdotally, those (primarily baby boomers and their kids who the baby boomers give inheritance money to) who have 20% down payments to buy now and especially those who bought in the 2000s and the 1990s are OK. Unfortunately this isn’t most people born after the baby boom. Fortunately for me I am one of those people (I made $20K off Nortel stock which I thought was a pittance :-) but it enabled me to enter the market in 1999.
  • Anecdotally, there has always been a lot of foreign money in the housing market in Vancouver (Chinese “dirty” money - if we cared so much about dirty Chinese money then I guess we’d actually enforce the money laundering laws and we’d stop buying iPhones and Android phones and computers which are made by exploiting Chinese workers and pay double the price for our phones and computers to re-establish the entire phone and computer supply chain in Canada and the USA), Russian (dirty ex-USSR money), South African (dirty apartheid money), Filipino (dirty Marcos money and other unlawfully earned Filipino oligarch money) and above all American and British).
  • Anecdotally since I have never been rich, I’ve never been aware of or been in competition with foreign money the two times (1999 and 2004) I’ve bought a condo in Vancouver.
  • Anecdotally, if you have a 20% down payment, your mortgage payment is cheaper than rent which is ridiculous.
  • Anecdotally, after living in Germany for 3.5 years where most people rent beautiful well constructed units and observing Paris, the zoning in the city of Vancouver is ridiculously low density. IMHO everything should be zoned 6 story mixed residential/light commercial.
  • Anecdotally, there are no three bedroom or even 2 bedroom affordable rental housing units in Vancouver (the few that exist are an exception that prove the rule)? Why because of market failure. The “market” in Vancouver, Toronto or indeed anywhere doesn’t and never will work for rental. The government has to step in like it successfully does in Germany and create viable rental stock with affordable rents.
  • Anecdotally, I blame my generation, the baby boomers :-) To be accurate, I’m at the end of the baby boom so I get most of the downsides and only a few of the “benefits”. But what I see in East Van but especially on the west side is baby boomers blocking 6 story or 3 story or multiple dwelling developments, baby boomers complaining about lack of parking on streets in new developments even though many people walk, bicycle, take transit and don’t need parking (baby boomers seem to have an obsession with parking and traffic jams, when I see traffic jams then I say bring on more rapid transit including the always affordable separated lane rapid bus systems that we in Canada refuse to put in because we always want to have trains and we love spending billions on them!), baby boomers not wanting any sort of density, and finally baby boomers not wanting any sort of transit other than buses. But to be fair, baby boomers were brought up in a culture of the single-family-car-single family-home-motordom-suburban-1950s-buses-are-for-other-people “ideal” which to me is what the boomers are trying in vain to preserve in the city of Vancouver! If we built affordable 900-1200 square foot 2-3 bedroom rental units in 6 stories buildings all over the city we’d have plenty of capacity for all families and couples and singletons methinks!
  • Anecdotally, I see baby boomers not caring about sustainable community enough to elect governments that will create affordable rental housing.
  • Anecdotally, I see many Vancouver companies for some strange reason paying people less than the $35K 1984 dollars I earned as a coop in 1984. Just doesn’t cut it in 2016.
  • Anecdotally :-) when you add up all of the above, it’s hard to get ahead in Vancouver whether you are a “creative” or not.
  • What are your “anecdotes” :-) ? (I still love Vancouver and living in Vancouver :-) but maybe I’m crazy!!!!)

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