UK based Monocle Magazine produces a series of podcasts on a variety of topics ranging from entrepreneurs to geopolitical affairs. Of particular interest to PT readers is the Urbanist section which in this segment tackles the topic of hipsters. The first chapter features Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant neighbourhood, considered ground zero for creative millennials.
For what was meant to be a quick post to update Price Tags readers on my condition, “Entering the World of the Old” has had quite the circulation, including a Sun opinion piece, and not a little response.
One of the more intriguing comments just came in from architect David Simpson. Worth passing along:
It was interesting to me to read your comments regarding being invisible to the young.
I have been working with a couple of Aboriginal non-profit groups in Nanaimo and have seen how the Youths look up to the Elders in that culture. In most of the meetings there is an Elder present to provide cultural guidance and wisdom, and in some way I seem also to be accepted by the younger people in the groups as someone who has experience to offer in spite of the cultural difference.
It has made me think differently about the place for “seniors” such as ourselves. We have spent a lot of effort creating homes for seniors that are designed to accommodate “old folks”. Yet we don’t see ourselves as growing old because there is always someone older – so why should we be in an environment that reminds us of our age?
Here’s a video from VanCity Buzz that invites people to the new New Year’s Eve Vancouver celebrations in dear old Soggyville. It is a mosaic of people from all streams and corners of our diverse city, with socially-inclusive and welcoming messages. Really, a mini-portrait of our society. Look for Gordon Price to say a few words.
Irony? Well, the production company is called “Antisocial Media Solutions”. It looks to me like they’re anything but . . . .
The first half of 2015 has seen a net increase of less than 6,000 immigrants into B.C., compared with more than 18,000 in the same period last year.
This was the first time in more than 15 years, BC Stats said, that B.C. experienced a net loss of non-permanent residents.
If the current trend continues, immigration to B.C. will fall below the annual inflow that forms a key foundation of housing demand forecasts.
The dramatic decline began in the fourth quarter of 2014 when net immigration fell to negative 1,808 people – meaning that many more people left B.C. for other countries than arrived. This was the first net loss of immigrants to the province in more than a decade. …
The immigration collapse did not surprise Vancouver immigration lawyer Richard Kurland.
“It’s all about the temporary foreign workers (TFWs) leaving Canada,” said Kurland.
The Conservative government set April 1, 2015 as the deadline for the temporary low-skilled workers to leave the country after changing the rules in 2011. Formerly, TFWs had only to re-apply, but new rules require them to leave the country for at least four years before re-applying.
The exodus from B.C. has begun, Kurland said.
“There are also no new temporary workers coming in,” said Kurland, a partner with Kurland, Tobe.
Sooo … is this separate from the impact on housing affordability. Money, notably foreign capital, should logically be disconnected from immigration patterns of temporary workers, so will this change in the TFW program make it easier to see what’s happening in the housing market?
Markus Moos’s latest paper suggest Vancouver might be a ‘forever young’ type of city:
… Today, inner cities contain more amenities, public transit and housing options than in the past but there are also growing affordability concerns owing to rising prices. Especially young adults, sometimes dubbed Millennials, are making location decisions in a context of lower employment security, higher costs and continuing high-density re-development that now extends into suburban areas in some cases.
The analysis in this paper shows evidence of a youthification process that results in an increasing association of high-density living with the young adult lifecycle stage. The higher density areas remain young over time as new young adults move into neighbourhoods where there are already young people living, and they move out if their household size increases.
Youthified spaces have become characterised by small housing units that are not generally occupied by households with children. Additionally, some areas are exhibiting generational bifurcation as both older and younger adults live in some higher density areas.
Youthification is driven by a combination of lifestyle, demographic, macro-economic and housing market changes that require further investigation. The youthification process is not replacing, but occurring alongside, gentrification and points to young age as a delineator of high-density living becoming more important over time. However, immigration, measures of social class and household size still remain the most important explanatory variables of high-density living.
A recent article by Gretchen Reynolds in the New York Times highlighted a study by scientists at King’s College London and the University of Birmingham. The scientists performed physical and cognitive tests on more than 100 seniors who cycle regularly, and then again on inactive seniors. After looking at the volunteers’ endurance capacity, muscular mass and strength, pedaling power, metabolic health, balance, memory function, bone density and reflexes, the study determined that seniors that cycle don’t age like inactive seniors. Physiologically, they resemble much younger people.
Dark blue patches show an average annual population fall of 2 percent or more, the medium blue patches a fall of between 1 and 2 percent, and the lightest blue patches a fall of up to 1 percent. Areas in beige have experienced no statistically significant change, while the red areas show population growth.
Municipalities in deep red have experienced an average annual population rise of 2 percent or more, the medium red of between 1 and 2 percent, and the pale pink areas of up to 1 percent. …
Suburbanization intensifies in Eastern Europe
… many cities, including Prague, Bucharest, and the Polish cities of Poznań and Wrocław, are ringed with a deep red circle that shows a particularly high rise in average annual population of 2 percent or more … Eastern cities began to spread out in the new millennium because it was their first chance to do so in decades.
Still leaving the East
The dark blue coloring of the map’s Eastern section shows that the lean years for Eastern states are by no means over. Residents have continued to leave Albania, Bulgaria and Latvia in particular in search of jobs, while even relatively wealthy eastern Germany has been hollowed out almost everywhere except the Berlin region.
Population growth in the Northwest, meanwhile, is far from even. While large sections of Northern Scandinavia’s inland are losing people, there’s still modest growth on the Arctic coasts. And while the Scottish Highlands contain some the least peopled lands in all of Europe, Scotland’s Northeast shows remarkable population gains, a likely result of the North Sea oil industry concentrated in Aberdeen.
On the other side of Europe, the map reveals Turkey as a country undergoing intense demographic ferment. As people leave its countryside and move to its major cities and coasts, the country is transformed into a vivid mosaic that arguably shows more intense rises and falls than any other on the map.
Spain bucks the trend
Spain’s trends look a little different from those of Europe as a whole. It’s actually in the country’s Northwest where the population has dropped most sharply, notably in the provinces of Galicia and León, which have long been known to produce many of Spain’s migrants.
But other previously impoverished regions, such as Southwestern Murcia, have grown, a trend continuing along the Mediterranean coast where population levels have risen sharply. One reason for this is that the coasts are magnets for retiring or downsizing northwestern Europeans who move here on the hunt for daily sunshine and low prices.
Many keep driving for longer than they should — and that can be seen in data on fatal crashes:
Drivers are way more likely to be involved in fatal crashes past the age of 75. And for those 85-plus, the data is even worse than it is for teens.
This is mostly because in the event of a crash, older drivers are more likely to die from injuries than younger ones. But it’s partly because older drivers have deteriorating vision and reaction time, which leads to more crashes overall.
This doesn’t mean we should blame senior citizens for wanting to drive — it’s an overlooked cost of a system that gives them no choice. …
Once seniors stop driving, those who remain in suburban homes are marooned in an environment designed to be traversed by car. The most obvious problem, says Stephen Golant, a gerontologist at the University of Florida, is access to goods and services.
But seniors who are isolated also have worse health outcomes and lower life expectancies, even after adjusting for preexisting health conditions and other factors. This may be because they’re less likely to get health advice and monitoring from family and friends and also because they miss the emotional benefits of regular human contact. …
In surveys, more than 90 percent of senior citizens say they want to stay in their current homes as long as possible. Right now, if they want to avoid isolation, they’re often forced to give that up. …
… for those who live in sprawling suburbs not designed to be serviced by public transit, trying to use paratransit can be difficult — if not impossible. …
New solutions to senior transportation
The good news is that some communities and organizations are experimenting with new approaches.
Some are attempts to change development patterns in areas where seniors live. …
Other experts are optimistic that new technologies can help fill in the gap. “I think the Uber model is increasingly going to be important,” says Golant. “All kinds of products and services will increasingly be at the fingertips of all people, including seniors.”
He suggests that cities might start subsidizing Uber or Lyft rides for people who qualify for paratransit, as a more efficient way of allocating transit money. As an alternative, Stafford envisions nonprofit ride-sharing apps specifically tailored to seniors — and perhaps delivery of groceries and other goods as well.
More than anything else, self-driving cars could revolutionize seniors’ transportation options. Widespread self-driving technology is still years away, but Google has programmed cars that can safely navigate a heavily mapped area in Northern California.
Some experts are skeptical that they’ll ever be functional in real-world driving conditions across the country. But if they do, they could provide an easy means of getting around for people who can no longer drive — allowing millions of seniors to remain in their homes without becoming isolated.
It’s almost conventional wisdom: young people are leaving (or not coming to) Vancouver because they can’t afford to live here; appropriate housing is unavailable, especially for families; there are no jobs or at least jobs that pay well enough; opportunity is elsewhere; fill in blank with appropriate reason.
Is that true?
Hard to know what will happen, but at least we know what has happened. Here are some data, put together by a PT researcher. Read the notes carefully; it’s more complicated than it looks.
20-24 AGE GROUP IN SELECTED CITIES
2001 to 2011 (US cities 2000 to 2010)
25-29 AGE GROUP IN SELECTED CITIES
2001 to 2011 (US cities 2000 to 2010)
The first columns are the absolute change over 10 years. Everywhere except San Francisco added people in both those age groups over the decade. The percent change is as a percent of the 2000 or 2001 number – so, for instance, we added 13.5% 25-29 year olds, while the total population increased by 10.6%.
However, in the rest of the Metro Vancouver area, while the entire population rose by 18.6% that age cohort only increased by 8.1%. Vancouver was more attractive to move to than the rest of the region if you were aged 25-29 – although there were still three times more people in that age group added in the rest of the region than in the city because Vancouver can only accommodate a small proportion of the region’s growth overall.
The next column looks at the number aged 20-24 (and 25-29) compared to the number 10 years younger, 10 years earlier. It gets to the net growth over the number already in the city (if they all stayed in one place. Obviously they don’t – some left, but even more arrived). You’ll see that there’s a big increase in all the cities in all the age groups. Cities are where you move when you’re young.
But you’ll see the story for the rest of the CMA is very different from the City of Vancouver. It’s way more attractive – and proportionally it’s between Seattle and Portland and almost identical to Denver. San Francisco is easily the biggest number, and proportion. It looks as if that was even more true a decade earlier, which is why the number of 25-29 year olds are slightly lower in 2010 than in 2000. Seattle adds more 20-24 year olds (# and %) – in part that might be the University of Washington having an impact.
It’s a complicated story. But is the sky falling and all the young people leaving Vancouver? Not so you’d notice – at least, not in the city. It might be true in White Rock or West Vancouver, of course.