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:

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

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

City releases stats on Empty Homes Tax declarations: 8,481 unoccupied/under-utilized residential properties

City HallToday the City of Vancouver issued a news release on homeowner declarations for the Empty Homes Tax, after extending the initial deadline an extra month to March 5, 2018. Note that the numbers are subject to revision after auditing. Tax bills will be issued in mid-March, for payment by April 16.

More information:

Some of the information released:

Declaration statistics for 2017

  • 183,911 property status declarations submitted [the City says this is 98.85% of the total, which we calculate as 186,050 properties]
  • 177,562 occupied residential properties (declared principal residence and declared tenanted)
  • 8,481 unoccupied/under-utilized residential properties (declared vacant, declared exempt and undeclared/deemed vacant). Note that this includes 2,132 undeclared residential properties. [CHW: This means that 4.6% of the total fit into this category. If declarations are honest, how does this compare to other major cities in Canada?]

The City says this first year of implementation of the tax provides an important baseline to compare with future results and understand how the tax is influencing the behaviours of property owners.


Note on “unoccupied/under-utilized residential properties”: These were declared or deemed to be unoccupied/under-utilized for more than 180 days in 2017. It includes properties that were declared vacant, plus properties that claimed one of the various exemptions to the tax. (Exemptions include renovation, redevelopment, title transferred during the year, or owner residing in a hospital, long term or supportive care facility.) Continue reading

Proposed plan for Cambie Corridor Phase 3: Information sessions March 8-14

Info direct from City of Vancouver.

Proposed plan for Cambie Corridor Phase 3 to be presented at information sessions

Information sessions will be held at 5750 Cambie Street on these dates (all sessions will provide the same information):
* Thursday, March 8,2018, 4-8 pm
* Friday, March 9, 2018, 10 am-1 pm
* Saturday, March 10, 2018, 12-4 pm
* Monday, March 12, 2018, 4-8 pm
* Tuesday, March 13, 2018, 10 am-1 pm
* Wednesday, March 14, 2018, 4-8 pm

The proposed plan and a feedback form will also be available online starting March 8 at .

Phase 3 of the Cambie Corridor Plan is nearing completion. The proposed plan, which will tie the area together with more diverse housing options, increased job space, better connections for all modes of travel and improved public amenities, will be shared with the public through a series of information sessions and will be online starting this week. Continue reading

Definition of “affordable” today: Housing costing less than 30% of before-tax household income (Jak King cites CMHC)

GWAC homes image Grandview Feb 2018This is a very useful comment and definition of “affordable housing by Jak King, civic historian and blogger. The key points could be printed on a card with updated figures as a memory aid for politicians, media, city staff, election candidates, activists and so on…


“Affordable Housing”

In my discussion of the Grant Street project, I noted that the proposed rents for the units to be built will not add to the affordable stock in Grandview. I have been asked to justify that statement.

The widely recognized standard of “affordable housing” is defined as housing costing less than 30% of before-tax household income. This definition is used by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). Some lending institutions use 32% of income for housing costs as the affordability threshold used to approve mortgages. My comments about affordability always use the CMHC definition.

The latest statistics I have for incomes in Vancouver shows the median annual family income to be $72,600. The average individual annual income is $38,449 (I cannot find the individual median which will be lower than the average, so I will use the average.)


– an affordable monthly rent for a median Vancouver family is 30% of $72,600 = $1,815 per month;

– an affordable monthly rent for an average Vancouver single is 30% of $38,449 = $962 per month

Two singles sharing a one bedroom apartment can barely afford $1,800 a month, while a median Vancouver family cannot afford a two-bedroom at $2,300 (which would be close to 40% of their gross income) without sacrificing food or healthcare or other essentials.

So, whenever I carp about affordability, this is what I am talking about