Percentage of single-family homes in Metro Vancouver worth more than $1 million in 2016 widens from 28% to 43%: Andy Yan

BY JOANNE LEE-YOUNG

In his latest snapshot of housing unaffordability, researcher Andy Yan shows the percentage of Metro Vancouver homes valued over $1 million rose from 28 per cent to 43 per cent in 2016.

Marked in red are homes over $1 million for 2016 and 2015.

For the past five years, Yan’s so-called “million dollar line” looking at home values based on data from B.C. Assessment has been a visual way to capture the geographical divide in housing prices.

At first, the symbolic measure sat around Main Street between Vancouver’s west and east sides before drifting eastward beyond Fraser Street. Last year, for the first time, it fanned out as Yan accessed data to include rising prices for homes across Metro Vancouver.

For 2016, which is based on assessments at July 2015, Richmond, Burnaby, Vancouver, North Vancouver and West Vancouver all had over 60 per cent of homes worth 1 million or more — with West Vancouver at the highest with 97 per cent.

Said Yan: “I’m guessing this rise is probably not due to increases in local wages and incomes. I think it’s likely a convergence and combination of constrained supply for single family detached housing, low interest loans, property speculation, and global capital with a sprinkle of trying to secure adequate family-oriented housing for many households with children.”

There doesn’t seem to be an abating of this trend in close sight despite softening real estate prices for some parts and categories of Metro Vancouver in 2016.

B.C. Assessment has warned that single detached homes in Metro Vancouver will be assessed 30 to 50 per cent higher for 2017 taxes than in 2016. It said that these properties went up the most in Vancouver, Surrey, Richmond, Burnaby, the North Shore, Squamish and in the Tri-Cities from July 1, 2015 to July 1, 2016, which is the date on which yearly assessments for 2017 taxes are set.

Yan, who is director at Simon Fraser University’s City Program, also looked at the impact of transportation costs on housing affordability.

In the City of Vancouver the average cost of transportation over 25 years — assuming two per cent inflation per year and that nothing changes to improve the current situation — works out to be $298,459, according to Yan.

By comparison, if you live in the Township of Langley, the 25-year cost of transportation would be $563,755.

Across the Metro Vancouver region, if you add in amortized 25 year average annual transportation cost estimates, the percentage of homes with a cost of over $1 million rises significantly from 43 per cent to 92 per cent.

In areas such as Vancouver, the North Shore, Burnaby and Richmond, adding in such transportation costs increases the percentage of home values, but it’s in Coquitlam, New Westminster, Surrey, Delta, Port Coquitlam and the township and city of Langley where the contrast is most pronounced. In Coquitlam, the percentage of home valued over $1 million goes from 22.4 per cent to 97 per cent if you account for estimated amortized transportation costs. In the township of Langley, the percentage rises from 4.8 per cent to 90 per cent.

“This is only looking at the (straight) cost of transportation, not even the time,” said Yan.

He continued: “There is ‘phantom affordability’ too, if you will. This idea that you can drive (further from the city) until you qualify (to buy a home) doesn’t take into consideration that as home mortgages (cost less) transportation mortgages (in some areas) go up.”

Yan said this is precisely the direction seen in some U.S. cities, where the areas hardest hit by affordability woes have been the outskirts and suburbs rather than the city centres even when they have seen some of the highest home prices.

Arman Singh Dhatt pleads guilty to gun and drug charges in case linked to Surrey shootings

BY JENNIFER SALTMAN,

A young man who was arrested during the investigation into a series of drug-related shootings in Surrey has pleaded guilty to a number of gun and drug charges.

Arman Singh Dhatt, 19, appeared in provincial court in Surrey on Tuesday morning to enter the pleas. He will be sentenced at a later date.

Dhatt pleaded guilty to charges of trafficking in a controlled substance, possessing a prohibited or restricted firearm with ammunition, possessing a firearm with an altered serial number, possessing a firearm knowing its possession is unauthorized, possession for the purpose of trafficking and two breaches of an undertaking.

Most of the offences stem from a search warrant that was executed at his home in Delta on April 10, however the trafficking charge and one breach are from March 25.

Police seized guns, heroin, crack cocaine, methamphetamine and Canadian cash during the search of Dhatt’s home.

Police said Dhatt and others came to their attention during their investigation into a large number of shootings that have taken place in Surrey since March.

The gunplay is related to a low-level drug turf war between two groups of dial-a-dopers. One group already has control of the drug trade in the Newton area, and another group is attempting a takeover.

The most recent shooting that police have confirmed is related to the dispute took place in September.

The Province

TELUS announces world’s fastest internet is coming to Vancouver

BY GILLIAN SHAW, VANCOUVER SUN

VANCOUVER — Telus announced today it is rolling out $1 billion in fibre optic infrastructure right across Vancouver, putting the city among the top connected cities in the world with the most advanced high speed Internet connectivity.

In making the announcement, Telus CEO Darren Entwistle said the fibre optic networks will transform “the way we live, the way we work, the way we socialize and the way we raise our families in a digital world and society.”

“Ours is an investment that will be felt for generations to come,” Entwistle told an audience that included BC Premier Christy Clark, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, BC’s technology minister Amrik Virk and other politicians.

While fibre optic is available in small areas and among some businesses and multifamily buildings, the Telus fibre optic build-out across Vancouver will cover the entire city, extending gigabit-enabled technology to residences, businesses, educational institutions, hospitals and other centres.

Entwistle said the investment “will future proof Vancouver’s digital demands for decades to come.”

Currently less than 10 per cent of North Americans have access to a fibre optic network. Entwistle cited the handful of American cities that have gigabit-enabled infrastructure, infrastructure he said has results in a 110 basis points improvement in GDP “and growing.

Vancouver currently is number 20 among top North American cities for technology and Entwistle predicted the fibre optic infrastructure boost will improve the city’s standing.

“With our Telus fibre investment, I believe Vancouver will soon be in the top 10 and thereafter, in the top five, such is the potential and competitive advantage our investment exudes for our city,” he said.

When the rollout, which is expected to take five or six years to complete, is started, Vancouver businesses and residences will be able to access Internet speeds of up to 150 megabits per second. Currently the fastest premium-priced speed offered by Telus for the home has download speeds of 100 mbps and upload speeds of 20 mbps.

While the improved capacity and speed will make a difference in homes, it will be most significant for businesses, hospitals and other community organizations and for the expansion of the Internet of Things, a world in which everything from ovens to advanced medical equipment can be connected to a network.

“I don’t have fibre optic to my home, I’m looking forward to it coming,” BC Premier Christy Clark told the crowd. However, she added, “for me that’s a small thing compared to the impact this is going to have for businesses all across the city.

“There are many big businesses in the city that already have good connectivity but many small businesses don’t,” she said.

Clark said the network infrastructure will also attract talent to the city.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said he is “thrilled to see this in real time happening in Vancouver, at such a pivotal time for our city.”

He said the fibre optic build-out “is going to be another big boost for Vancouver’s economy.”

“We’re on a roll and innovation is at the core of that success,” he said.

Sarbjit Bains sentenced to 18 years without parole eligibility for three slayings

By Jennifer Saltman, The Province

A Surrey man who choked three people to death has been sentenced to life in prison with no parole for 18 years.
Sarbjit Bains, 33, pleaded guilty in April to manslaughter in the death of 29-year-old Amritpal Saran, and two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of Jill Lyons, 45, and Karen Nabors, 48. They were killed in on Feb. 23, Aug. 9 and Aug. 25, 2013.
He was sentenced in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster on Wednesday morning.
According to an agreed statement of facts read at Bains’s sentencing hearing, on Feb. 23, 2013, Bains and his common-law partner Evelina Urbaniak called Saran to bring drugs to their Surrey apartment. That afternoon, the three drank and did cocaine together, something they had done before on a number of occasions.
Urbaniak went to bed in the evening, and the two men continued to drink and do drugs. Bains went to the bathroom at one point and when he returned he found Saran naked and about to get into bed with Urbaniak.
Bains put Saran in a choke hold and dragged him out of the room. He believed he used too much force and killed Saran.
Bains and Urbaniak put Saran’s body into a large plastic container, taped a second container over top and put him in Urbaniak’s car. They dumped Saran’s body on Colebrook Road and Bains set it on fire with gasoline.
Saran’s remains were found the next day by a woman and her grandson who were driving in the area.
Six months later Bains contacted Lyons and Nabors, who advertised online as escorts, two weeks apart. He arranged to meet them at their apartments, which were in the same building in New Westminster, intending to rob them.
He arrived at their apartments and tried to intimidate them. When they screamed, he put them in choke holds until they stopped, kicked them and then searched their apartments for valuables. He stole credit and debit cards, cash and cellphones before leaving.
Crown and defence made a joint submission at Bains’s sentencing hearing for life sentences with no chance of parole for 18 years for the two murders, and a 10-year prison sentence for the manslaughter charge. They asked that all sentences run concurrently.
According to court records, Justice Miriam Maisonville acceded to the joint submission.
In February, Urbaniak received a conditional sentence of two years less a day plus three years of probation for her role in disposing of Saran’s remains.

Vancouver candidates promise to track down Canadians flouting foreign-asset disclosure laws

BY DOUGLAS TODD, VANCOUVER SUN

VANCOUVER — Federal election candidates are promising to strictly enforce foreign-asset disclosure laws so every Canadian pays their share of taxes.
New Democratic Party candidate Jenny Kwan said this week that, even though many ethnic Chinese people are wary about disclosing their wealth to government officials, she strongly objects to tax evasion.
The Vancouver Kingsway hopeful is one of several candidates who have expressed views related to articles in The Vancouver Sun and elsewhere revealing thousands of mansion owners in Metro Vancouver, many of them Chinese, are not paying Canadian income taxes because they appear “extremely poor,” mainly because they’re failing to report offshore assets.
When the NDP held power in B.C. in the late 1990s, premier Glen Clark and finance minister Andrew Petter joined Chinese business leaders in opposing aspects of proposed federal Liberal legislation aimed at clamping down on immigrants who hid their foreign assets from Revenue Canada.
At the time Kwan, a member of the province’s NDP government, was reported as saying, “The Chinese are very private about their money. This law goes against our culture.” Her comments appeared in the book Millionaire Migrants, by UBC geographer David Ley, and were cited in a Saturday article in The Sun.
Kwan said this week her early quote was an accurate “observation” in light of fear expressed by Chinese realtors and others in the 1990s that the economy was suffering because immigrants were leaving Metro Vancouver to return to Hong Kong, possibly because of the proposed foreign-asset disclosure law.
Asked if she agreed with her NDP government’s 1990s opposition to the foreign-asset disclosure laws, Kwan said this week, “I was never asked that question. And my position then and now remains that Canadians, regardless of their origins, should be treated the same under all laws.”
As an NDP MLA, Kwan held a June forum on Metro Vancouver’s housing affordability crisis. This May in the B.C. legislature she called on Finance Minister Mike de Jong to collect more reliable data on the extent of foreign ownership of Metro Vancouver housing, which planners say contributes to the region’s astronomical prices.
Kwan’s Liberal rival in the Vancouver East riding, Edward Wong, said this week that “All Canadians must bide by the rule of law” regarding foreign-asset disclosure rules.
“As a trial lawyer, I believe when you come to Canada you must pay your fair share of taxes.”
Wong was not convinced that widespread failure to disclose foreign assets should be linked with ethnic Chinese residents in Metro Vancouver, many of whom arrived through the federal immigrant-investor program.
However, asked about demographic studies of Metro Vancouver by UBC geographer Dan Hiebert and others that show a strong correlation between expensive mansions, reports of “extreme poverty” and predominantly Chinese neighbourhoods, Wong wouldn’t comment further, saying “I haven’t undertaken those kinds of studies.”
Conservative Party candidates in B.C. have also recently promised to show no tolerance to Canadians who illegally evade taxes by not disclosing their offshore assets to tax officials.
“Our government has zero tolerance for tax evasion,” said a spokesman for B.C. Conservative MP (Delta-Richmond East) Kerry-Lynne Findlay, who is Canada’s minister of national revenue. Carter Mann said the federal government in 2014 brought in tough legislation to root out those not declaring offshore assets.
However, Murray Rankin, the NDP candidate for Victoria, said the Conservative government has not been aggressive enough in going after those who flout tax laws — in part because of “endless cuts” of Revenue Canada tax auditors who had the knowledge to track “complex international tax avoidance schemes.”
Green party leader Elizabeth May, the candidate for Saanich-Gulf Islands, also said in September that Revenue Canada should be mandated to use more forensic accounting to go after offshore accounts and dubious tax-haven loopholes.
For her part, Kwan agrees with an anti-tax cheat strategy proposed by that Vancouver immigration lawyer Richard Kurland proposed at her June forum on housing affordability.
Kurland told her one of the best ways for Revenue Canada to stop people with Canadian passports hiding their offshore assets is by more rigorously requiring that house buyers declare their permanent place of residence. That could help stop people from declaring they’re “non-residents” to avoid paying income taxes, while they declare themselves Canadian residents for property purchases.
Vancouver South Conservative MP Wai Young did not return the Sun’s phone calls or messages this week. Vancouver Kingsway Liberal candidate Steven Kou, an accountant who is vice-president of the Canada Chinese Investors and Entrepreneurs Association, also did not return calls. Neither did Alice Wong, the incumbent Conservative candidate for Richmond Centre, nor Kenny Chiu, the Conservative candidate for Steveston-Richmond East.

The-price-of-murder-in-vancouver

Mike Howell, Vancouver Courier

It’s inevitable in his line of work.

Sooner rather than later, Sgt. Rob Faoro will receive a call-likely in the middle of the night-that someone has been murdered in the city.

The 16-year veteran homicide cop will respond with his team of eight investigators to determine how the person died, who was responsible and what motivated the violent death.

Sometimes, they will nab a suspect immediately. Other times, as in Sunday’s homicide at Seventh Avenue and Ash Street, the case may go cold for a while or never be solved. But as years go on the homicide beat, this year is shaping up to be one of the most successful for Faoro and the two other homicide teams that comprise the Vancouver Police Department.

Of the 13 homicides in 2011, police have successfully recommended charges in nine of the murders for a 69 per cent “solve rate,” according to Faoro, who said Monday he is optimistic about solving at least two of the remaining deaths. All nine cases with charges are before the courts.

“This is, right now, the best we’ve seen it in my 16 years,” said Faoro, noting the rate reached 75 per cent before Sunday’s killing of Axel Curtis, who is believed to have had ties to gangs. Last year’s solve rate was 56 per cent and 39 per cent in 2009.

Faoro, however, is realistic about this year’s rate holding at 69 per cent, knowing that a spate of gang violence or a random killing before the end of the year could knock the numbers back to previous levels. Though Sunday’s targeted shooting isn’t new ground for police, the reality of another homicide occurring this year was more likely in the 1990s when investigators dealt with 276 murders from 1990 to 1999.

Statistics for Vancouver reveal the number of murders has steadily decreased in the past decade, with the VPD recording an all-time low of 10 homicides in 2010.

The downward trend is evident across Canada, with police reporting 56 fewer homicides in 2010 than in 2009, according to a Statistics Canada report released last month. The report said the overall homicide rate was driven largely by fewer incidents in the western provinces, with the rate in B.C. falling to its lowest point since the mid-1960s.

Faoro pointed to police cracking down on gang violence and running sophisticated operations targeting high-profile gangsters as likely reasons for the decrease in homicides in the city. He’s also noticed a decline in the number of husband-wife, boyfriend-girlfriend homicides. “I remember in the ’90s, there were more of those,” Faoro said. “Now it’s rare that we have that type of violence anymore.”

But even with fewer homicides, the VPD continues to wrack up huge overtime bills in murder investigations. As of Oct. 19, homicide units spent $833,000 on overtime and that number could reach more than $1 million as investigators continue to search for suspects in four killings. Faoro revealed the overtime costs to the Vancouver Police Board last month to give board members a sense of how quickly the tab can add up for a homicide investigation. “Sounds like a lot of money but that was a relatively great deal,” said Faoro, who averaged out the cost of investigating the first 11 homicides of the year to $75,000 each in overtime; the tab doesn’t include the regular work hours of investigators, which can be a complicated calculation when factoring officers’ pay grids.

Despite the “great deal,” Faoro is worried the department’s $2.8 million criminal investigation fund used to cover overtime is quickly being drained. The fund is also relied upon by the department’s robbery/assault teams, the drug squad and sex crimes unit to investigate major crimes, including kidnappings.

So far, it hasn’t reached the point where the VPD’s executive has had to shuffle its operating budget or go to council begging for more money to increase the criminal investigation fund. And, Faoro said, he wanted to be clear that homicide investigations haven’t been curtailed because of budget constraints. “We don’t say no because it costs a lot of money,” he said. “But at the end of the day, we may have to say no because we can’t go find more money if there isn’t any more there. But, for the victims’ families, they’ve got to understand that for now we do spend the money.”

The police department’s cheapest overtime tab for a murder investigation this year was related to the death of 47-year-old Neil Andrew Barnett.

He became the city’s third homicide victim of the year when on the night of March 30 he was allegedly involved in an altercation in the 400-block of Carrall Street and fatally stabbed.

Police were led almost immediately to a suspect, keeping the overtime costs to $10,643. Jullian Reddock, 25, was charged with manslaughter.

Depending on the homicide case, overtime costs can increase for the investigators themselves and for forensic teams called out for several hours, days or weeks. So-called canvas teams can be required to knock on doors and search for evidence. Undercover work can play a part, as can wiretaps and DNA analysis. Police will also monitor murder suspects if they are granted bail.

The most expensive overtime tab to date involved the slaying of 36-year-old Jessica Eguia-Cornejo, who was found dead June 10 in her apartment in the 7400-block of Fraser Street.

It took police two months before announcing Aug. 8 that Anthony Blake Cruz of Richmond was arrested and charged with second-degree murder. Overtime costs, which included a forensic team spending five days at the victim’s apartment, totalled $173,343.

What continues to keep overtime costs mounting are the ongoing probes into Sunday’s gang-related homicide and the killings of Milad Nournia, Harpreet “Happy” Sandhu and Melanie O’Neill, whose body was discovered July 26 in her apartment on West 13th Avenue. The investigation into her death has reached $70,000 in overtime in October and continues to climb.

Nournia was the city’s first homicide victim of the year, having been gunned down Feb. 17 in the 1000-block of Hornby Street in what police said was a targeted shooting. Nournia, 26, was carrying a loaded handgun when he was shot.

The overtime tab, as of Oct. 19: $163,472.

Sandhu was killed July 25 after a gunman fired several shots into the 21-year-old’s back and left him lying in the 6900-block of Whithorn in Champlain Heights. The overtime tab, as of Oct. 19: $101,987.

Sandhu’s uncle, Lak Chahal, pleaded Nov. 4 at a press conference for the killer to turn himself in to police. Police say Sandhu was not involved in gang activity.

“This is a total senseless killing and the whole family is totally devastated,” Chahal said at the intersection where Sandhu was shot. “Happy was a good kid. I just want to make it clear that this has nothing to do with drugs or gangs.”

Often, the gang-related slayings, such as the Nournia and Curtis hits, are the most difficult to solve because of the code of silence among gangsters. It’s why the VPD has focused on targeting gangsters before the gunfire erupts.

Over the past couple of years, the VPD has led several investigations that resulted in the arrest of some of the city’s most notorious alleged gangsters, including Manny Buttar and Bobby Gill.

When police announced the results of Project Torrent in February 2010, Insp. Brad Desmarais of the VPD’s gangs and drugs section said police had “crippled” the Buttar and Gill organization.

Fourteen people were charged with 125 offences, including a woman who allegedly tried to hire members of the group to kill her ex-husband. The total cost of Project Torrent was $2.3 million.

Deputy Chief Warren Lemcke, who oversees the VPD’s investigations division, acknowledged that Project Torrent and similar projects such as Rebellion ($1.6 million) and Rescue ($785,000) were expensive but crucial to public safety.

Lemcke believes the decrease in homicides in the city over the past two years is related to the VPD’s work on stemming gang crime and that of integrated gang squads cracking down on gangsters in the Lower Mainland. “Gangsters are shooting gangsters, but what if somebody’s in the background?” he said during Faoro’s presentation to the police board.

“If we can prevent these shootings from happening in this city, we keep everybody safe. So it’s important to do these proactive investigations because these moron gangsters don’t care where they do their crime.”

Sunday’s homicide occurred at 9:30 a.m. at a busy intersection, a couple of blocks from the VPD’s Cambie Street station. Bullets reportedly hit an optical store on the boulevard where Curtis was shot to death.

But is the VPD’s work pushing gangsters out to the suburbs?

Though television news reports might give the impression that gangland slayings in the suburbs are a regular occurrence, the most recent statistics from the RCMP-led Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) say otherwise.

To date, IHIT has investigated 26 murders compared to 38 in 2010 and 56 in 2009. IHIT is the largest homicide unit in Canada and responsible for 26 RCMP detachments and both the New Westminster and Abbotsford municipal police departments.

The unit’s jurisdiction extends from Pemberton to Boston Bar and the Sunshine Coast to the Coquihalla Highway, covering an area of about 2.5 million people.

Sgt. Jennifer Pound, the media relations officer for IHIT, said combatting gang violence that results in homicides is a focus in detachments and departments across the country. “It’s a policing priority, no matter where you are,” Pound said. “It’s not just in the city but police departments everywhere are looking at gang-related issues and organized crime.”

Even so, Pound said she couldn’t speculate exactly why homicides have decreased in Vancouver, in B.C. and across the country, although Edmonton’s gang problem has seen more than 40 murders this year.

Despite the downward trend in homicides, Pound said IHIT could always use more money and officers for the unit, which was created in 2003. “At the end of the day, it’s not about the money-it’s about the families that you’re working with,” she said. “But it’s tough to balance that. You have these obligations to solve this, but yeah it costs and money does come into play.”

Robert Gordon, the director of Simon Fraser University’s criminology department, said the $833,000 in overtime costs for the VPD’s homicide investigations suggests to him the department needs more officers.

“If they’re having to pour that amount of extra money into investigations, it means that police officers working on these cases are working long hours,” Gordon said.

But, Gordon added, it’s difficult to put a price on capturing a killer for the sake of the victim’s family. As well, spending millions of dollars on special projects that target known gangsters is understood when gunplay in the streets puts innocent bystanders at risk, he added.

“Where a community has that kind of activity taking place, obviously robust police action is more than warranted,” said Gordon, referring to the 14 gang-related homicides that occurred in late 2007 and throughout 2008 in Vancouver.

One of the most costly homicide investigations to date for the VPD was finding the killer of 18-year-old Poonam Randhawa, who was shot dead Jan. 26, 1999 in an alley near Granville and West 47th Avenue.

It took 12 years for investigators to find suspect Ninderjit Singh, who was arrested Aug. 19 in San Jacinto, Calif. Police said Singh attempted to conceal his identity by gaining weight, growing a beard and wearing a turban.

The cost of the investigation just over the past two years totalled $550,000, said Faoro, who wouldn’t speculate on the total cost of the 12-year probe. But it is a case, Faoro said, that demonstrates how determined investigators are to bring some peace to a family, no matter what the cost. “There are certain cases that every investigator has that are dear to you-that you can’t leave the [homicide] section until you solve those,” he said. “I have a couple and I deal with the parents on a regular basis. I have one person who phones me weekly, and it kills me. My family knows about it. My friends know about it, my team knows about it.”

Added Faoro: “That Randhawa one was dear to everybody here. She was an innocent young woman.”

The Randhawa family released a statement after the arrest, saying “we are forever grateful to the Vancouver Police Department for never giving up on us over the past 12 years.”

 

Stephen Harper pledges higher RRSP withdrawal limit for 1st time homebuyers

Stephen Harper says a Conservative government would raise the amount that first-time homebuyers can draw out of their RRSPs to buy a house — from $25,000 to $35,000 — if elected.

At a campaign stop in Vancouver, Harper said a Conservative government would increase the upper limit of what’s known as the Home Buyer’s Plan. Under current rules, a would-be homebuyer can withdraw up to $25,000 from his or her RRSP without paying a penalty, as long as the money will be used to help pay for a first home.

The homebuyer must also pay back the funds within 15 years, and doesn’t get the benefit of the tax credit while replenishing the money.

Under the new Conservative proposal, that limit would be increased to $35,000.

“For most Canadians, the family home is their biggest asset and their most significant investment in their future financial security. It’s also the centre of their lives,” Harper said.

Since the plan started in 1992, more than 2.8 million Canadians have used the plan to help pay for a first home, the Canadian Real Estate Association, which represents realtors across the country, said in a release following the policy pledge.

The plan would cost the government $30 million a year in lost tax revenue starting in the 2017-18 fiscal year, Harper said.

Foreign buyer scrutiny

Harper also promised to take a closer look at how foreign money may be influencing the housing market in Toronto and Vancouver, two cities that have seen outsized gains in home prices for several years now.

“We need to ensure we have the necessary information to assess the situation and take action,” an announcement on the website for the Conservative Party of Canada said.

“We’re announcing that our government will commit to collecting data on foreign buyer activity in Canada’s housing market. We will take action in co-ordination with provinces, as necessary, to ensure foreign investment in Canada’s housing sector increases the availability and affordability of homes for Canadians.”

Campaign material provided by the Conservatives to The Canadian Press pointed to rules in other countries that force foreign investors to only purchase homes under construction, or to limit home ownership for foreign nationals to just the time that they live in the country.

About 15 per cent of the condos in Vancouver are empty year-round by some estimates, with the owners sitting on the properties hoping to make a profit as the prices of homes rise. Other estimates, including one calculation by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, puts the number at 2.4 per cent of the condo market.

There is also speculation that investors are driving up the cost of housing in Vancouver, raising concerns of a housing bubble in Canada’s hot housing market.

CBC News

Police hunting for two Indo-Canadian men in connection with sexual assault on Burrard Street Bridge

Police are looking for two men who are believed to be responsible for the overnight sexual assault of a woman on the Burrard Street Bridge.

Around 2:45 a.m.,  on Jan 11, 2015 a 23-year-old Vancouver woman was walking south on the east side of the Burrard Street Bridge when she heard two men calling her from the west side. Continue reading “Police hunting for two Indo-Canadian men in connection with sexual assault on Burrard Street Bridge”

Home sales, prices were up last month in Vancouver: report

Richard Dettman

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Metro Vancouver home sales were strong in October, with an industry group saying 14.9 per cent more properties were sold than the same month a year earlier.

The total of 3,057 was 4.6 per cent higher than the previous month.

Figures from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver show a hot market for detached houses. Even though they’re generally much more expensive that apartment-style condos, the two categories were almost tied last month as houses outsold apartments by just three units.

REBGV president Ray Harris says it’s “largely a function of supply and demand” because there are fewer houses than condos.

The group’s adjusted “benchmark” price for all properties was up six per cent to $637,000.

There was a drop of 14.7 per cent in new listings compared to September which posted a 33 per cent increase from August.

Continue reading “Home sales, prices were up last month in Vancouver: report”