Vancouver Xmas Wishes In Song – “And all they want for Christmas, Is affordable housing.”

mangan xmas

“The mountains and the beaches,
How they make children sing,
And all they want for Christmas
Is affordable housing.”

– from ‘Very Vancouver Christmas’ finale by Dan Mangan and Jon Siddall, CBC, 18 Dec 2012 [above verse starts at 1:08 in the video]
[hat-tip Jeff Murdock; many thanks]

Added to the ‘RE References In Popular Culture‘ sidebar category.

21 responses to “Vancouver Xmas Wishes In Song – “And all they want for Christmas, Is affordable housing.”

  1. Be careful what you wish for…

  2. [#CouldBeWorse]

    “You have to show that it’s not popular, it’s not profitable and it can’t be made profitable. So just running it into the ground, by putting in a bad manager and being rude to all your customers, isn’t good enough.” – Tim Ward, Cambridge City Councillor

    [G&M] – Last Call for British Pubs?

    …”The city [Cambridge] has lost 20 pubs recently, prompting an outcry from residents fed up with seeing their local watering holes closed down or converted into something else, such as apartments or restaurants. Now pub owners will have to prove their pubs aren’t viable before getting approval for any redevelopment.”….

  3. Real Estate Tsunami

    If you want affordable housing, rent.
    I noticed that more and more for rent signs are popping up in Richmond.
    I saw one today attached to a realtor’s for sale sign.
    Sellers are opting to rent out rather than sell in this depressed market, and wait for the elusive rebound.

    • Relatively affordable housing is available in Port Coquitlam, Surrey, and Langley, the dreaded and much-maligned “Zone 3”. And no I’m not talking about ownership. New rapid bus service from Langley will cost you an extra $67/month compared to Vancouver Zone 1, plus you get an extra 45 minutes of blogging to and from work, or just plain old napping, assuming you work in Vancouver. Juuuuust sayin’!

      • Real Estate Tsunami

        “Assuming that you are working in Vancouver” is the key here.
        Many young families are moving away from Vancouver and Richmond to the Valley.
        Sooner or later the jobs will follow.

      • Cyril Tourneur

        Jobs growth is already higher in Surrey than it is in Vancouver.

        Click to access EmploymentTrendsbyMunicipality.pdf

      • you get an extra 45 minutes of blogging to and from work

        That’s a nice spin. Some may think that this is wasting 1.5 hours communitng every day (not counting the walk to/from and waiting time for the bus)

      • A few days back, I wrote several posts on VCI arguing that both population and economic growth are shifting east in Metro Vancouver/Lower Mainland. But they weren’t having anything of it, over at VCI. What I was saying was dismissed and voted down. Patriotz didn’t like how I used the word “obsessed” when I said people are obsessed with living downtown. They didn’t like that I argued rents in Downtown Vancouver are too high, as well as ownership prices, when you consider alternatives in the suburbs have comparable urban amenities as the West End and are becoming more central over time as population and economic activity is moving east in Metro Vancouver. I was being respectful and reasonable and backing up my argument with evidence. I couldn’t believe the negative reception I received at VCI. You would think a blog dedicated to discussing how real estate in vancouver is overpriced would be more receptive to an argument that prices ( and rents) in Downtown Vancouver are too high relative to alternatives in suburbs. It was just because my reasoning went against something Patriotz said and he didn’t like my choice of words when I used the word “obsessed” and my argument didn’t rely on evidence such as MOI or price to rent ratios. I can’t believe how small minded and petty that VCI blog can be. I was basically laughed off the board for my opinion. Then I come over to VREAA and see people discussing the exact same thing, arguing the same thing I was–that population and economic activity in Metro Van are moving east to the suburbs. People here can make that point so I don’t know why it was blasphemous over at VCI.

      • Do you mean shifting East up the Fraser Valley, Hope, Abbotsford etcetera or do you mean shifting to East Vancouver, Burnaby and Couquitlam?

        Maybe it is only the perception of how far out the direction lays that is conflicting with your observations and ideas.

        You know, many years back, Surrey was considered utterly back-woods. Nobody in their right mind would want to live there given the terrific opportunities for employment within the city versus the long commutes and bridges that Surrey folk faced.

        We thought of them as farmers! The place was all big trees, open drainage ditches and dirt piles. There were cows and chickens in the fields and more hippies than you might imagine were attempting to eke out an existence based on small scale local farming. They were producing vegetables, pork and chickens of all things!

        This crazy(!) behaviour was taking place in the shadows of a time in history when high technology was in its early stages and sweeping the globe while making fools of everyone who had a desire to actually work the land for a living.

        The thing was though that land in Surrey was dirt cheap despite it being within an easy commute of Vancouver proper. Some people saw that as a golden opportunity for the future. They bought and they farmed or simply held for the future. You could still get a very decent acreage for peanuts there as recently as the mid Seventies and early Eighties.

        I am talking 10, 20 and 30 acre parcels that were going for a song compared to Vancouver housing prices. It was really no-brainer and I had friends that threw caution to the wind and bought despite being mocked as complete idiots.

        Guys I knew who bought cheap chunks out there and subdivided became millionaires inside a decade with virtually no effort on their part. Guys I knew who held on and did not sell don’t even talk about how much paper gains they have on the books anymore.

        They did really, really well.

        So what is a small acreage in Surrey worth now that Skytrain has penetrated the heartland? Was the gamble worth the effort if it made you a multimillionaire inside your lifetime?

        Your idea may be right on the money although I would not personally buy anything in the region at this time as all of it is now highly inflated. Maybe it is only the issue of timing that your detactors object too.

      • @Farmer:

        I don’t want to dwell on VCI. I noticed a lot of vacancies in the West End when I went for a walk there on New Years Day. Just about every building has at least one vacancy–which is shocking because I have known that to be a very tight rental market. I would have loved to rent there but I could never find a suitable rental that I could afford so I moved to New West. New West has comparable urban amenities to the West End. Much like in the West End, it is possible for some residents in New West to get by without a car and possibly even without a bus pass given that you can walk to all amenities and in some cases, to a job. My larger point is that people who are looking for an urban lifestyle with urban amenities, walkability, close to jobs, diversity, tolerance of gays, etc. are no longer confined to the West End. You can find all of that in New West or even in Metrotown area or Lougheed or Richmond, etc. There are lots of places connected by skytrain that offer comparable urban amenities to the West End. These suburban locales have newer housing stock and cheaper rents. So people who may have rented in the West End are looking at these suburban town centres on the skytrain lines and saying I can get more value for my money in the burbs, I can get a place that is larger and newer with comparable urban amenities to the West End for a cheaper rent/ownership price. Maybe I can rent a brand new condo near Lougheed Town Centre and be close to SFU and I don’t have to pay a high rent for a really old dumpy apartment in the West End that is further from my school. Higher rents in the downtown core are meant to reflect a price premium for living in a central convenient location. But I pointed out that increasingly the western part of Metro Vancouver (including the West End, really all of C of Vancouver) is becoming less central in terms of the spatial distribution of the population. The weighted mean centre of the population of Metro Van/Lower Mainland is moving east as new suburbs are being built on the eastern fringes in Maple Ridge and up valley. The population is growing east. That means the western part of the region is becoming more marginal, from a strictly quantitative/population perspective. The downtown core is becoming less central, in terms of population and the economy. Really, the New West area is closer to being in the centre of all the activity. But this isn’t just a Vancouver thing. I just read a comment on Garth Turner’s blog that says more people are commuting into Mississauga today than commuting out of it. I suspect pretty soon we will be able to say the same thing about Surrey. Metropolitan regions around the world are in the process of some pretty dramatic change. We can no longer make the same assumptions about suburb vs downtown that we used to. The idea that people live in the suburbs and commute downtown is becoming less common. In fact, many people live in dowtown condos and commute to work in suburban business parks. So the entire urban geography is changing–that urban geography that assigns values to real estate in part based on centrality–is this close to downtown, is it a central convenient location? If the centre itself is moving in the region, then the prices will have to move (quite separate from the adjustments in price that will come from a deflating real estate bubble). There is a difference in the rent you pay in New West versus the West End–New West is cheaper reflecting that it is a more marginal location quite some distance from the central downtown core. But if the centre of population/economy is moving towards New West then that price difference between New West and the West End should change. Now we can argue that the West End will continue to command a premium because of its special place qualities–being near the beach, gay culture, night life, etc. But if we just look quantitatively at the population and the economy–it is moving east and the centre of gravity is moving east too.

        I appreciate your reflections on Surrey. Surrey is going through incredible change right now. It actually has a downtown skyline with condo towers and office buildings now. New city hall opening up by Surrey Central. But you still see traces of the past, even the agricultural past. There’s a farm on 96th Ave somewhere around 128th. There’s an old barn with tractors and various other farm equipment. Right on 96th–right in the middle of the ‘hood–you can walk there from the skytrain. Trailer parks on King George Highway have their days numbered. Many of those sites will become condo towers–many trailer parks have already closed.

      • anonymous -> All of your points are valid, and pertinent to a discussion regarding where one should/could choose to live in the LML. In part it’s a suburbs/smaller_centre/urban_centre and commute/no-commute debate.
        When it comes to discussing prices of RE, these topics are pertinent to the relative cost of housing in different parts of the LML. All well and good. But are not all prices in the LML elevated absolutely?
        From the point of view of the close RE market watcher, it could be argued that you’re seeking debate about whether to place your Titanic deckchair port or starboard, fore or aft.

      • @VREAA:

        Yes, I agree that the entire Metro Vancouver region–indeed the entire country of Canada–is in a real estate bubble. Virtually all real estate prices everywhere–suburb and downtown–are overinflated above economic fundamentals. Absolutely, you are correct, I am talking about relative real estate prices within Metro Vancouver.

        I disagree with you that my discussion is akin to discussing whether it’s wiser to put the deckchairs on the titanic on the the port or starboard. That may be the case if we are talking about owning. But I am more thinking about renting. I think it is a huge waste of money to pay a price premium in your rent to live in the West End when you can get comparable urban amenities in New West for a cheaper rent. Live in New West, enjoy the urban amenities, pay a cheaper rent, and invest your savings from not renting in the West End. Freeing up money that may otherwise have been spent on rent and still enjoying comparable (or better) living accommodations is a pretty awesome thing.

        I think, at least in part, the changes in urban geography I am talking about are the direct result of the real estate bubble. The reason why so many people and so many businesses and so many jobs are moving into the eastern parts of Metro Vancouver is because the real estate prices are just absurd in the City of Vancouver. Yes, all of Metro Vancouver is in a bubble. But you can still find some degree of affordability in the eastern suburbs. Yes, real estate prices everywhere are divorced from economic fundamentals. But perhaps the City of Vancouver and downtown have become so detached from economic fundamentals that they have priced themselves right out of the real economy. So the real economy relocates to the eastern suburbs. This creates a self-reinforcing positive feedback loop. Initially, people move to the eastern suburbs because that’s all they can afford–they were priced out of Vancouver (push factor–high prices in Vancouver). But as more people start moving there and as more jobs and businesses move that way too, eventually people say I want to live in the eastern part of Metro Vancouver because that is a more central location close to my job and other the businesses I frequent and my friends and family live there (pull factor–places like New West become more central to the real economy). Downtown Vancouver ceases to be a central place at that point (I’m not saying that is the case now). The downtown ceases to be central to the distribution of the population and the economy precisely because the real estate bubble priced the population and the economy out of the downtown.

      • Froogle Scott

        New West has been a strange beneficiary of the bubble. Fallen on hard times for years, and shunned by many home buyers, unless you wanted a character place for cheap in Queen’s Park, it’s now become a bit of a go-to place. Our former tenants moved to New West because they wanted more space than our rental suite provided. They got the main floor and the top floor of a house, a yard, and a two-car garage, for exactly the same rent they were paying us for a centrally located East Side rental suite ($1300/month). Our current tenants are only with us while they build a new house in New West — the land was cheaper (relatively), or let’s say, less outrageously expensive, and the new place will be much more central to the entire Metro region, and close to major highways — which is important to them — and there’s always the SkyTrain for when you want to go downtown and drink and leave the car behind.

        I’m sure this trend is annoying many longtime New West residents, who probably considered their little corner of the Lower Mainland a well-kept secret. But they’ll probably get some new businesses that they’ll enjoy.

        A lot of economic activity has moved east and south. Part of it is owing to the various municipalities trying to lure businesses to their jurisdictions with various incentives. I’ve never bought the run-out-of-land thing as a justification for residential RE values, but large affordable chunks of land for business and industrial ventures are not that easy to find in the City of Vancouver. The main problem would appear to be that the land is more profitably used for residential condo towers. And of course there’s the way City Hall uses zoning to control the patterns of development. A number of years ago, Charlie Smith wrote a good article in the Georgia Straight about how Vancouver was losing industrial land, and what it could mean for the city. He was looking at False Creek Flats, in particular. There are a number of low-rise business-park-like structures currently being built on False Creek Flats, but the fact that they’re low rise suggests to me that the fill underneath them doesn’t permit anything taller. All of the projects began with the driving of multiple piles. Keep in mind that fill is not a good thing to have underneath a building in the event of a major earthquake.

        Population distribution would seem to have several things going on simultaneously. The ‘condo-izing’ of the core has meant that more people now live in downtown Vancouver, reversing a trend of diminishing population that had held sway a number of years ago. But that return to the city hasn’t kept up with the population growth in Surrey. Didn’t Surrey recently pass Vancouver as the regional municipality with the largest population?

      • @Froogle Scott

        Very interesting anecdote about your former tenants. I think those factors (central location, close to highways, skytrain) are definitely pull factors for why people choose to move to New West. Interesting to consider how the long term pre-existing residents of New West feel about all the newcomers.

        Surrey’s population has not surpassed the City of Vancouver’s population. In the 2011 census, Vancouver is still number one in Metro Vancouver with 603,502 people. Surrey ranks second for population at 468,251 people in 2011. Surrey is projected to surpass Vancouver’s population some time in the next 20 years, I believe.


        Interesting, these trends show that between the 2006 and 2011 censuses, the City of Vancouver population only grew by 4.4%

        Meanwhile, New Westminster grew by 12.7% and Surrey grew by 18.6% and the fastest grower was Port Moody at 19.9%. Anmore grew by 17.2% and Pitt Meadows grew by 13.5%.

        Eastern suburbs have been growing like crazy. This is most definitely pulling the weighted mean centre of the population of the Lower Mainland east and away from the City of Vancouver.

      • @anonymouse

        Who is Garth Turner?

      • Froogle Scott

        > anonymous

        Okay, so Surrey’s population is only projected to surpass Vancouver’s, but it isn’t there yet. If those growth rate trends continue, it certainly will be there before long.

        I think there was some category in which Surrey recently passed Vancouver for the first time. Largest total number of new residents?

        What you’re saying regarding population and the local economy should be pretty self evident, and I’m not sure why people would find it contentious. It’s precisely what the regional governments and the planners have envisioned. Regional transit and SkyTrain was designed to encourage the growth of ‘satellite’ cities and urban hubs, as a way of reducing sprawl and car commuting. Of course, now that it’s actually happening there are all sorts of consequences that different players may not like or agree with — witness the bickering over which municipalities get the transit dollars and new infrastructure, and the charges of business dollars being siphoned from the core by the aggressive tactics of places like Richmond, with its very pro-development council, and Surrey. I think the attempt to bring a massive casino development to downtown Vancouver was something of an attempt to reverse the flow of some of those dollars. Personally, I’m glad that was blocked.

  4. Sally Ann recycle clerk

    children we’e complaining about Hand-me down clothing, back in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. Now you can’t get rid of the stuff unless you send it overseas…. piling up around donation boxes at the end of every weekend… Food was like that too, but today, it’s abundant.

    The writing is on the wall Vreaa.. homes homes homes …. everywhere… a massive abundance of homes…. coming to you if you’re patient.

    • Those clothes are not welcome in parts of the Third World anymore. Some African governments are trying to clamp down on the trade as it is harming their young but growing textile industries which cannot compete against the mountains of free clothing coming in by container load. They do not always have policies on record but instead merely refuse to give the OK on import permits where clothing is the majority of the load. Charity continues to be the bane of Africa and has slowed development and hurt its manufacturing trade.

    • There will defiantly be a massive abundance of 650 sq ft 2 bed room and 450 sq ft 1 bedroom condos.

      Who would want to live in one of those? Maybe we can shove Grandma into one of them when she starts going loopy?

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