Affordability is, without question, the biggest issue facing Vancouver. The Walrus’ feature article by Kerry Gold, along with commentary by editor-in-chief Jonathan Kay, attempts to answer the question of the disconnect between housing prices and the people who live here. Both believe that the answer is simple: buyers from China are swallowing up our real estate—and politicians are ignoring it. The end result, they argue? A hollow, cultureless city devoid of millennials and families. …
What pundits get wrong is that they assume anybody with a Chinese name who is buying a home in Vancouver must not be from Canada. It is an outdated and tired assumption, especially in Vancouver, one of the most multicultural and diverse cities in the world. You can’t determine someone’s citizenship by their name—and you certainly can’t make informed public policy decisions based on it.
To say that political correctness is stifling a public debate on foreign investment in Vancouver is not only absurd, it’s false. There is no other issue more talked about, more reported on in print, on TV, on radio, or across social-media channels than the speculated impact of offshore money on Vancouver’s housing prices.
The state of Vancouver’s housing market today didn’t happen overnight. Vancouver is feeling the impact of decades of slashed federal co-op housing funding and the elimination of incentives for new rental apartments, leaving a dearth of housing available for people on low and modest incomes. Planning decisions in the 1990s that prioritized condo towers over townhomes and row houses have resulted in a lack of choice available to today’s buyers, leaving millennials and families feeling particularly pressured with a lack of options to put down roots in the city.
So what’s to be done?