West End twin-tower development revives question about Vancouver definition of social housing (Carlito Pablo, Georgia Straight, 21-Mar-2018)

1040-1080 barclay artists rendering March 2018b

1040-1080 Barclay Street in West End, artist’s rendering, March 2018

This story about two towers at 47 and 48 storeys proposed by Bosa Properties and Kingswood Properties could be considered along with previous material on CityHallWatch featuring analysis and essays on ‘Our Post-Truth Culture and Greenwash’ by Jon Petrie,  in which he focuses on “misinformation on a Vancouver ‘steam’ clock, a wind turbine, and carbon emissions.” The City of Vancouver is engaged in the same “post-truth” to language it uses to describe “affordable” housing and “social housing.” It is important to shine a light on this stuff.

Excerpts below. See full article here. https://www.straight.com/news/1047381/west-end-twin-tower-development-revives-question-about-vancouver-definition-social

Official information on the rezoning application plus link for public comments to City officials:  http://rezoning.vancouver.ca/applications/1040-1080_barclay/index.htm



Condo owners and social housing residents will live together in a massive development proposed in Vancouver’s West End.

The residential project involves two skyscrapers of 47 and 48 storeys connected by a podium bridge at the northwest corner of Barclay and Thurlow streets.

The high-density development will include 481 condo units and 162 social housing units.

A city staff recommendation has yet to be submitted to council regarding the rezoning application filed for the site at 1040-1080 Barclay Street.

Randy Helten, a city watchdog, is interested to see what city staff will say about the social housing component of the project.

I’d like to see a clear definition of social housing,” Helten told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview.

This is because the 162 units of social housing in the project may be mostly market rentals.

The City of Vancouver defines an entire residential development as social housing if 30 percent of the units will be lived in by people who earn below the Housing Income Limits (HILs) determined by the province.

According to B.C. Housing, HILs is the income needed to pay average rent in the private market.

Even if 70 percent of the units are rented at market rates, the entire development is considered social housing, based on the definition adopted by the city in 2014.

According to Helten, the city’s new definition of social housing is “arbitrary”. Continue reading

Too many looked the other way when it came to money laundering in B.C. – Commentary by Dermod Travis, IntegrityBC


Laundromat. Photo not selected by IntegrityBC.

Commentary dated 22-March-2018 from Dermod Travis, executive director of IntegrityBC.

Could a similar question be posed of money laundering at B.C. casinos to that of the philosophical thought experiment, “if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

The question might go like this: if money laundering happens and everyone looks the other way, was it really laundered?

Citing a till-then secret 2016 report by auditor MNP LLP, the Vancouver Sun’s Sam Cooper reported last fall that B.C.’s gaming policy and enforcement branch (GPEB) had “compiled a document which identified approximately $13.5 million in $20 bills being accepted at River Rock Casino in July 2015.”

The MNP report noted that: “Law enforcement intelligence has indicated (the funds) may be the direct proceeds of crime,” adding “casino staff are accepting these wads of cash even though there is “no known source of funds.” Continue reading

New anonymous tipline for reporting suspicious real estate practices in British Columbia (via RECBC)

pexels-photo.jpgThe Province of British Columbia made this announcement by news release (BC Govt news release tipline RECBC 15-Mar-2018) on March 15, 2018. Below are excerpts.

Most importantly:

Consumers and real estate agents will now have an anonymous way to report suspected
misconduct by real estate agents.

There are two ways to share a tip:
• By phone: 1 833 420-2400
• Online: https://www.recbc.ca/about/anonymous-tipline.html

The tipline gives members of the public and real estate professionals the opportunity to let the real estate council know about suspicious activities, while protecting their identities. The council’s trained investigators will review each tip and make sure that appropriate action is taken to ensure consumers are protected and professional standards are met. The new tipline is in addition to the real estate council’s existing complaints process. The council opens an investigation file on every complaint received.

From website: Trained staff are available to receive your tip, Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Review the Guide to Reporting before calling the toll-free tip hotline at 1.833.420.2400.


CityHallWatch comment: We tested the phone line and confirmed it is up an running today. This new tipline should be welcomed and utilized. At the same time, we consider it an indictment of the systemic and institutional failure over the past couple decades of political parties, and most elected officials at every level of government, and of the real estate industry organizations and individuals, for letting things get so bad. Why was such a tipline not in place twenty years ago? This is one clear case of government and industry and even the mainstream media looking the other way for far too long, and then only responding long after the underlying problems grew to enormous proportions.  We hope a collective lesson has been learned.

Also, this is not the end of the story. The public should collectively keep an eye on the RECBC performance as it handles tips. If you find their service to be unsatisfactory, you might want to let your MLA know about it.


Excerpt from RECBC website … Continue reading

B.C. undermines municipal tax base and affordability (Vancouver Sun, opinion, Elizabeth Murphy) – Provincial encroachment will cost owners and renters

BC Legislature building

B.C. Legislature

This opinion piece appeared recently in the Vancouver Sun but has been seriously unreported and little discussed.

The unintended consequences of the property-tax surcharge haven’t been thought through, says Elizabeth Murphy. In this article she looks at the consequences. 

You are encouraged to contact your MLA if concerned and be sure to include Minister of Finance Carole James and Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Selina Robinson. We have bolded some sections for emphasis.


B.C. undermines municipal tax base and affordability
By Elizabeth Murphy. Vancouver Sun, March 9, 2018.

Photo caption: Life is made less affordable for owners and renters by provincial encroachment into the municipal tax base.

The province recently introduced their budget, the first, full-year budget for the new NDP government. They claim it “puts people first, makes life more affordable for British Columbians.” Although there are many aspects to the budget that are a welcome shift from the previous administration, the proposed provincial infringement into the municipal property-tax base is particularly problematic.

There are a number of valid measures to curb foreign speculation and capital used to purchase real estate where provincial income taxes aren’t being paid. These concerns are now addressed in this budget through new and expanded taxes and enforcement that are long overdue. The devil is in the details of how this will be implemented, but not the focus here.

It’s the provincial increase in the school portion of the municipal property tax that works against the objective to make life more affordable for British Columbians. The main problem with property taxes is that they’re not related to a citizens’ ability to pay, such as a person who bought their home a long time ago and is on a fixed or low income.

The surtax is posed as a luxury tax, but the reality is that it includes many older character houses that are certainly not luxury properties, nor are most owners with million-dollar incomes. New houses may have owners who are more likely to have a larger income to support more taxes, but that doesn’t justify the province to encroach on the municipal tax base. Continue reading

Analysis of 132 unit, 100% market rental housing at 95 West Hastings. Holborn proposal for DTES: Public Hearing Tuesday March 13, 2018

Holborn, the developer behind the Trump Tower in Vancouver and the Little Mountain Housing site, is seeking approval of a rezoning to construct a 10-storey, all market rental housing building at 95 West Hastings Street.

Here we look at the rezoning that City Council is being asked to approve, and the public is asked to comment on — tonight. This proposal is enabled by City of Vancouver policies, but from the public interest perspective, how does this proposal measure up? Does it serve the needs of its host neighbourhood, the Downtown Eastside (DTES)? The public is able to write or speak to Council with comments.

The Public Hearing on Tuesday, March 13th will review this proposal after 6pm. 95 West Hastings is the third item on the agenda: http://council.vancouver.ca/20180313/phea20180313ag.htm

Full details on the rezoning are available on the City’s webpage.

David Paterson, is the City’s rezoning planner responsible for this project (david.paterson@vancouver.ca) and the applicant contact is Gair Williamson, Gair Williamson Architect Inc.

The proposal calls for commercial uses at grade, with market rental housing on floors 2 to 10. A full waiver of community amenity contributions (CACs) is also proposed. An interesting note about the floor area is that at 99,073 sq ft, it is just below the 100,000 sq ft threshold, which means there’s no public art contribution. Otherwise there would be $1.98 / sq. ft. public art contribution (or approx $2 million).

95 West Hastings Holborn proposed site, hearing 13-Mar-2018

The 10-storey, 105′ tall development proposal at 95 West Hastings does not include a single unit of social housing. In this respect, Vision Vancouver City Councillor Andrea Reimer had a significant role to play, specifically affecting this proposal, to the benefit of Holborn. Her last-minute amendments on March 15, 2014 changed the definition of “social housing” and added “secured market rental housing” to the DTES Local Area Plan. (See further below for more about her amendments.) Continue reading

Groups claim victory as Park Board defers proposed Kits Beach Bike Lane decision to ‘well after’ Oct 2018 civic election

CoV Park Board Kits Beach Park Bike Path - options discussed, 12-Mar-2018

Dotted orange lines indicate proposed bike paths. Park Board decision deferred until after the Oct 2018 civic election.

The following is a joint news release received from the Kitsilano Beach Coalition, Concerned Residents/WakeUpVancouver, and Kits Point Residents Association (KPRA).

Concerned Residents Hold Rally to Protest outside Vancouver Park Board Offices:

Vancouver, B.C., March 13th, 2018 – Residents from across Vancouver came together yesterday at a rally outside The Vancouver Park Board to protest proposed Bike Path in Kits Beach Park. 

Outside the Vancouver Park Board, concerned residents spoke out on the importance of safety, park encroachment, tree removal, financial waste, a very busy children’s playground and fair usage for all. 

Our city has more urgent priorities than wasting endless amounts of time, energy and money on an issue that was shut down by a court injunction four years ago. Continue reading

Statistics on construction activity (Vancouver) plus building permits, housing starts & sales (B.C.)

CoV issued building permits 2008-2016

As a handy reference and resource, here are links to the following as of 8-March-2018:

  • statistics on construction activity (City of Vancouver)
  • building permits, housing starts & sales (Province of British Columbia)

CITY OF VANCOUVER: Statistics on construction activity


The City publishes statistics on building permits and combined development-building permits issued. We track monthly totals, tear-to-date totals, comparative information for the previous year. The data is broken down by category of property involved. Within each category, the data is further broken down into new construction, additions, and alterations and repairs. [Monthly list at bottom.]


PROVINCE OF BRITISH COLUMBIA: Building Permits, Housing Starts & Sales

Building Permits

Note: latest data will be on the right when opened in Excel Continue reading