“Units here are worth $1 million. We put our life savings into this. I’m very angry and upset. If I had known it was going to be a hospice, I wouldn’t buy it for half the price.”

Excerpts from Angry Asian UBC condo owners to protest ‘bad luck’ hospice‘, The Province, 12 Jan 2011
“Dozens of angry Asian residents of a posh, University of B.C., highrise building aim to stage a placard-waving protest rally to protest a 15-bed hospice being planned next door. “We cannot have dying people in our backyard,” said rally organizer Janet Fan, Wednesday “It’s a cultural taboo to us and we cannot be close to so many dying people. It’s like you open your door and step into a graveyard.”  Fan lives on the 17th floor at Promontory, at 2688 West Mall, near Thunderbird Stadium. …
Fan said 80 per cent of the residents of her 18-storey building are Asian and are strongly opposed. “Units here are worth $1 million,” she added. “We put our life savings into this.” She said residents are worried the hospice will have a negative impact on their property values. …
Qing Lin, who bought a Promontory apartment for $900,000 almost a year ago, said she and her seven year old daughter will have nightmares if the hospice goes ahead. “We believe that people dying outside will bring us bad luck,” she added. “I’m very angry and upset. If I had known it was going to be a hospice, I wouldn’t buy it for half the price.” …
Sharon Wu, chairwoman of the University Neighborhood Association said 60 residents came to a UNA board meeting Tuesday. “The UNA respects cultural beliefs,” she said. “UBC is planning to address the concerns of the residents. It’s a very emotional and sensitive issue.”

UPDATE: 13 Jan 2011 Global BC news clip on this issue archived at youtube by GreenhornRET, ‘Ghosts To Decrease Real Estate Values’:

UPDATE2: Image of Promontory owners with petitions:

54 responses to ““Units here are worth $1 million. We put our life savings into this. I’m very angry and upset. If I had known it was going to be a hospice, I wouldn’t buy it for half the price.”

  1. They should build a crematorium and graveyard right next door and put 444 as the hospice’s address.

  2. I am a Chinese myself. But I’ve never heard such a cultural believe in my life. These selfish people just don’t want to have sick or dying people close to them. All they care about is themselves!! Don’t believe them everyone!!!!

  3. I am not sure how this is related to the bubble or are people feel that because they own an expensive conodo they can tell land owners nearby how to use their property.

  4. wait until one is built next to your place and see how you react.

    • There was one built in my North Shore Neighbourhood, next to LGH… 100 metres from my house. I didn’t mind at all. If you live next to a hospital, you realize people die there every day.

    • 4SlicesofCheese

      A retirement home expanded and added in a Hospice near my parents house, that did not affect their price at all.

      Also agree with Angel.
      Ying and Yang reference? Come on.

  5. Well, people have to die somewhere. Where do the heartless residents of Promontory suggest these people get palliative care? Should we just dump them in the ocean and be done with? Where is the compassion? I should hope none of the residents ever need the services of a hospice, crematorium or cemetary. Death is a part of life. Deal with it.

  6. Should have bought in the Olympic Village.
    Then again, It’s pretty dead.

  7. It’s not like they are putting in Auschwitz next door.

    I don’t think Canadian values should be trampled on by a bunch of foreigners and their superstitions. These people are changing the landscape in an adverse manner.

  8. This not about superstitions. Its about greed, plain and simple. It just shows you how nervous some of these rich Asians are. They probably got their money by trampling all over their own people back home so don’t mind embarrassing their culture in the media.

  9. “The ghosts of the dead will invade and harass the living.”

    Doesn’t sound any worse than a typical WestSide ‘open house’, no?… 😉

    • Cheeky afterthought….

      [Globe&Mail] – China’s sovereign wealth fund sets up shop in Toronto

      “There are countries with comparable economic characteristics to Canada, but with a lot less friendly environment. In our dealings with the Canadian government, various parts of the government, with the business people, we feel that it’s a lot more congenial to our investments.” – CIC president Gao Xiqing

      http://tinyurl.com/47l5eve

  10. These superstitions do affect house prices, I’ve seen it in Chinese areas of Asia.

    Points to take away are:
    1) their values will go down as long as the marginal buyers are exclusively Chinese. That’s a huge assumption.
    2) it sets a dangerous precedent if superstitions govern land use. A dying person is being asked to keep away because someone thinks he brings them bad luck. That sounds like Charter territory to me. UBC of all places should be aware of that.
    3) This superstition is by no means universal amongst the Chinese community.
    4) The residents stupidly mixed home values with their belief system. That makes their motives suspect.

  11. i live near 2 seniors homes in North Van, which I am sure is the last earthly residence for most of them. They are great neighbors. They make no noise, don’t drive cars, and their presence when they take their walks causes cars to slow down. All good in my books.

    These people are just nervous and are using the dead as an excuse. They know they have gambled. If they have put their life savings into something “that always goes up” then why should they worry?

  12. This reminds me of the “white” neighbourhoods in the 1960s and 70s in countless US cities who didn’t want ethnic minorities because it would drive down the cost of their homes.

  13. Simply good old NIMBYism, except this one is baseless in our culture. Maybe the strata should also pass a resolution that anyone who looks like they might die in a couple years has to move out. I expect there will be a public backlash over this, but UNA will compromise because they know who their market is.

  14. holy jesus h. this makes me angry. Chinese people really dont understand democracy do they? Superstisious corrput Communists.
    It makes me sick to hear about this and Im worried about the kind of further negative influence the Chinese will have on my home city/country. Hospice is a great step for us, a place where terminal people can die with dignity instead of in some busy Hospital. My Mom volunteers at one and I could not be more proud of her. Now we have all these johnny come latelys with thier primitive superstitions, red doors, number 8 or whatever… etc… its rediculous and scary to think that a country trying to get power on a world stage thinks like this.

    • Chinese people really dont understand democracy do they?

      Sure they do. They go to public hearings and make emotional appeals that have nothing to do with reality.

      Listened to politicians lately? Yeah, same diff.

  15. In actuality, Chinese investment strategies are predominantly determined by pragmatic realism not superstition and their record of dealing with corrupt officials at all levels of their polity is rather more impressive than ours… That said, this morning’s headlines do yield an amusing example of RealPolitik ‘Beijing Style’ (hint: the delectation is in the juxtaposition)…

    [ChinaDaily] – Beijing seeks assurance on assets in US

    “Regarding the security of China’s assets in the US, if the US side can offer a positive statement on that then of course we’d welcome that. It’s an issue we’re paying attention to,” Vice-Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai

    http://tinyurl.com/48glxye

    [ChinaDaily] – Gates visits nuclear command center

    General Jing Zhiyuan, commander of the PLA Second Artillery Force and member of China’s Central Military Commission, met with Gates whom he “briefed on China’s nuclear policy and strategy”, said a statement from the ministry’s foreign affairs office.

    http://tinyurl.com/4sqngdz

    Or, allegorically speaking (we are, after all, on the cusp of the Year Of The Rabbit)… 😉

    http://tinyurl.com/5rfz9y

  16. So, just where is an aging population supposed to go to die?
    Ideally, we should be working more to accommodate hospice groups that provide outreach. A few years ago, we brought my mom back to her own home with terminal brain cancer. She had a few good days then died, pain free, in her own bed.
    It would have never happened without the amazing support of Victoria Hospice Society.
    However, there will always be people with more complex needs than pain control and basic nursing who must be accommodated by a compassionate and caring society. And it doesn’t make sense to have them lying in expensive hospital beds.
    I have just one question for these people: where do they think they will go when their time comes? Obviously, not in their back yard.
    Time to embrace Canadian values beyond those of real estate, people.

  17. I agree with the comment this is really NIMBYism. There are all sorts of examples of this around, from Shaughnessey owners complaining about a townhouse complex to forcing a skytrain underground to save some trees.

    A relative of mine bought a condo in Asia with the number 4 in its unit number. When he tried to sell, everyone who thought about buying it wanted a discount because they said it was harder to sell due to it having a 4 in the unit number. This propagates for no fact-based reason but affects values nonetheless because people believe others believe in it. And so goes the circle. I can see how living next to a graveyard or a hospice will be used as an excuse to lower the price. But it’s no more than an excuse and in Vancouver it’s not a universal belief so even then the logic likely won’t stick.

    If the UNA now decides to move this hospice, they are basically saying that a group of people can discriminate against another group due to the latter’s age or health. I’m sorry UNA, but that’s exactly what it amounts to.

  18. I am Chinese. I feel ashame these million-dollar-condo owners are actually part of us.

    They are animals.

  19. City planners are ethically bound to ignore property value considerations as long as a project meets all other requirements. If a hospice is allowed there, tough luck to these condo owners.

    Besides, it won’t really reduce the value anyway. The fact that she bought near the top of a bubble will certainly reduce the value, but not the hospice.

  20. jesse said: “This propagates for no fact-based reason but affects values nonetheless because people believe others believe in it. And so goes the circle.”


    The same effect expands the bubble, doesn’t it?
    Only, in the bubble case, the beliefs are ‘Runningoutofland’, ‘China’, ‘BPOEarth’, ‘Olympics’, etc., and the effects on pricing are ‘virtuous’. For no good reason, prices rise.
    In the Promontory case, we hear the converse: for no good reason, prices should be half of what they are. The effects could be ‘vicious’.

    The Promontory/hospice issue is, of course, very specific, and won’t effect the general RE market.
    But there is something about the story that adds weight to the theory that local pricing is a house of cards.
    If a property can be thought to be worth half the price based on the discovery of a neighbourhood hospice, imagine how pricing could change based on other discoveries.
    For instance, imagine the effect on many holders when they ‘discover’ that their belief that ‘prices always go up’ is false.

    When the bubble pops and prices crash, we fully expect there to be the same indignation we see expressed by the Promontory owners expressed by many Vancouver speculative owners. “Outrageous! How can ‘you’ (?) ‘let’ prices drop? I demand a recount!”
    (As any regular reader here knows, we believe that there is a depth of speculation in this market that goes far beyond the cowboy flippers).

    • To take my #4 in the unit number example, if tenants are harder to find because they themselves are superstitious, then yes the superstition has a definite effect on values. How long can a superstition like this one be propagated? I would suggest to you it can be eons. It’s a microcosm of why certain neighbourhoods are priced differently from others. The same structure in New West sells for multiples in Van West. In some alternate dimension New West became more desirable, attracting wealthy residents who beget wealthy residents, things would be reversed. These differences have been around forever and are self-propagating.

      The myths that have a good chance of dying on the vine are the ones that have no relation to cash flows, like:
      – The Olympics will boost incomes because it will highlight the city and attract the best and the brightest. If this doesn’t materialize prices drop.
      – Rich Asian immigrants will keep coming forever and keep prices high (ignoring they make a small % of total house purchases). If Asians stop being “rich” prices drop until they, and everyone else, can buy again.
      – There is no more land to build therefore my particular condo will go up in value. If some brain-child genius discovers you can REDEVELOP already-developed land and produce a near infinite supply of condos, prices fall. Hoocoodanode.
      – et cetera

  21. Pssst, VREAA… a prior comment is stuck in the ‘moderation machinery’.

  22. Hey! Maybe we can trade the controversial homeless shelter under the Granville Bridge for the hospice!

  23. Can someone more knowledgable clarify something? Didn’t UBC build these things to address the unmanageable costs of housing near campus?

    If I address the cultural thing with my first thought, I’m going to regret it later. Suffice to say, someday these people will need hospice. That would be amusing to observe.

    Personally, I find cemeteries to be the most peaceful places in the world. If I would get a cheaper price to live next to one, boy howdy, that’s a bonus.

    • The powers that be at UBC were simply seduced by the bubble. Sure, they may pay lip service to ‘community’ and ‘affordable housing’ but, in essence, they have made a cash grab, and are little different from the developers elsewhere in Vancouver who are doing it more obviously for profit.

      Anybody see how the forests and ‘endowment lands’ south of 16th and Wesbrook Mall are being systematically gutted by condo block after condo block? As an aside, that is land that has been ‘discovered’ in that it’s not land that most Vancouverites ever thought could be developed.

    • As far as we know, housing sold on UBC lands has essentially been in synch with Vancouver market price.
      Faculty, and others attached to UBC, were at times offered special rates of ‘10% off market-price’, or some such deals, but, 10% off an asset that is 2-3 times overvalued is simply a slightly sweeter form of poison.

  24. If you’d like to support the St. John’s Hospice proposal and oppose the 200 signature petition, tell UB/UNA what you think:
    presidents.office at ubc.ca (President Steven Toope’s office)
    janf at myuna.ca (Jan Fialkowski- executive director at UNA)

  25. Apparently, units here WERE worth $1 million. Caveat emptor.
    Should have bought the lot next door. Oops…

  26. I also have to ask. Why all these endowment land are now condos? Where does the lease land money go? Are they all accounted for?

  27. Go back to where you came from with your Chinese superstitions!

  28. I was in Hong Kong last year and stayed in a hotel that is built right next to a cemetary (and across the street from the Happy Valley Race Track). The windows on the cemetary side were all heavily frosted but since many Asians love to go the races the hotel is very popular and almost always full. The Asian patrons tended to get windows you could see through and, whenever possible, the Caucasian tourists were put in the rooms with the frosted glass, so yes, Asians do seem freaked by the sight of death but not so freaked they can’t be near said sight if there is something nearby they value.

  29. I am Chinese myself. We have a lot of “ghost people” or “gwai lo” in this country. If you don’t like it, please go back to Asia.

  30. 1) Canuck Place is in the middle of Shaughnessy. Don’t see people freaking about property values there.

    2) The proposed hospice will only be 2 stories, and pretty much the size of an under-sized detached house.

  31. Chill out folks! Imagine if the hospice was going into British Properties in the seventies (or earlier) – it would have cause a bigger commotion than Aunt Ada’s sneaking a tipple of gin into her coffee.

    There is no mistake about it – UBC is selling expensive real-estate and it is what that is funding the University (there has not been significant funding increases from the provincial government but you don’t see the profs complaining)

  32. Man, what about the frat houses! Jesus, it’s a freakin university! Like students.. And hospitals… Ai ya!

  33. I don’t think the mainland Chinese are ready for their close-up yet.

  34. Ummm, oh yeah, the Faculty of Medicine. It’s full of pieces of dead people. I guess that better close so nearby condo owners don’t have nightmares.

  35. See ‘UPDATE’ at end of original post for link to news video.

  36. The next thing we are going to hear is that living besides white people is bad for property values.

    What if it were their relatives dying in there? Would the ghosts of their families destroy businesses, families, people’s health and market values?

    I love these statements:

    1. If Asians won’t buy in here we could never sell our places.
    2.. We can accept how you celebrate Halloween but we can’t accept this.

    If the UBC Board of Govenors capitulate, it will indeed be very sad. Where are they suppose to move this hospice? Abbotsford? From Vancouver to Abbotsford is all Asians. The Westside is all Asians.

    Unfriggin believable.

    • Several Asian friends of mine were shaking their head on the story and told me that they are not aware of any “such custom” and found it rather insulting to their culture.

      I am guessing it may be a regional thing, but still, if you don’t like living next to people who are soon dead, move into the middle of nowhere where you will not be at risk to have neighbours that could die on you any second now.

    • Royce McCutcheon

      Ohhh – I like that Halloween reference. Well played.

  37. I would be so embarrassed to be petitioning to stop the opening of a hospice because of my cultural superstitions.

    Which is it, you’re worried about your bad juju and bad karma, or you’re worried about the value of your house? If it’s bad karma, then money shouldn’t be an issue and you can just move.

    I thought that the Chinese were a collectivist culture, where multiple generations live under the same roof, elders are respected and nursing homes are frowned upon. Don’t their elderly, thus, die at home??? Like I said, embarrassing. They should be ashamed. They are giving the Chinese a bad image.

  38. So apparently this project is on hold now.
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/british-columbia/vancouver-hospice-put-on-hold-over-cultural-sensitivity/article1869613/
    We are a bunch of PC pushovers. Im really looking forward to dealing more with China in the future. Im sure China will be sensitive the the worlds needs and concerns.. it will be a pleasure.

  39. I can only wonder what their children will take from this example, and how they will treat them when they reach the end of their lives and are in need of palliative care….

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