Mark Hasiuk has been addressing this issue in his recent articles featured the Vancouver Courier, which have been considered controversial. I’ve even heard it said outright that he is a racist.
The conversational pot about housing unaffordability and foreign investment in Vancouver has been stirred yet again. Peter Ladner, former Vancouver City Councillor and Mayoral Candidate, took quite a bit of heat when he addressed this issue last year. When I was interviewed on the Bill Good show about my Absurd Vancouver Property posts, I was asked about the “elephant in the room” (i.e. foreign investors). Cam Good of thekey.com, followed me and insinuated that people who think foreign investment is a factor in lack of affordability to the average Vancouverite are “unfairly blaming visible minorities.” Mike Smyth, anchoring for Bill that day, shared the same view as me which is that, for most people, it’s not about racism. People are simply frustrated by and concerned about the inability for local buyers (or those who want to be) to get into a house.
Allen Garr, also of the Courier, states that “blaming Chinese for high house prices in Vancouver is racist.”
Pete McMartin, in his recent Vancouver Sun article, says “…as multicultural as Metro Vancouver is, and as tolerant as it claims to be, real racial resentments exist here. We may voice these resentments in our homes and among friends and we may dress them up in terms of dollars and cents, but we are too polite, or too cowed, to admit to them openly.”
People believe what they see and hear with their own eyes and ears. When we see empty houses in our neighbourhoods, we wonder who owns them and where they are. When our friends and children move away because they cannot afford to stay in their hometown, we wonder why. Perhaps a better job needs to be done by our media and government in explaining all of the contributing factors behind the lack of housing affordability in Vancouver? Because, like it or not, lots of us are talking about this and we are feeling confused and frustrated and angry.
Personally, I do not consider myself to be racist. I love the diversity and ethnicity in my neighbourhood and city. Further, isn’t almost everyone from Vancouver originally from somewhere else? Aren’t most of us the product of years and years of immigration into this country? One of the concerns I hear from people is particularly with foreign investors who are using the city as a place to “bank” their money. Not having restrictions on this, as Ladner points out (in the YouTube video below) can have “…unpleasant effects on entire communities and neighbourhoods” (which we saw illustrated in Hasiuk’s most recent article about the Trafalgar neighbourhood on Vancouver’s westside).
I believe that there are many contributors to the high cost of real estate in Vancouver and foreign investment is only one of them. However, labeling those who see foreign investment as a factor in the state of local real estate as “racist” is as absurd as placing the blame solely on foreign investors themselves.