Today I was interviewed by the CBC respecting a study they had citing Chinese names as an indicator of non-resident buying.
My statement on this study was that as far as I am aware, no names are more Canadian than any others. Further, this is precisely the kind of “research” that shows how poor our data is on the subject of global investment in our domestic real estate market. These statements were not included in the news story.
I was also tempted to ask whether George Bush was a more Canadian name than Sook-Yin Lee, but figured that might not have gone over so well. My own husband has a name that many would regard as foreign and is routinely asked where he comes from. He comes from VGH and his family has lived here for almost 100 years.
This issue has nothing to do with the origin of what appears to be our global capital influx, or the people who hold it. It has to do with the nature of global capital itself, which could belong to anyone and come from Antarctica or Texas.
I do not put stock in polls showing public support for restrictions on foreign investment, and none whatsoever in the anti-immigration statements on media comment threads. It’s a mystery why credible media outlets permit anonymous comments on race of any kind, and I wish they would end the practice.
The first and primary thing we need is an independent review of the extent of non-resident and speculative investment and a determination of its downstream effect on housing prices and rents. Despite the fact that relative to median incomes our housing prices are now 56% higher than New York’s, we still don’t have even the most basic data on the subject.
Housing costs are now extreme and causing real hardship in our city, without any rational explanation. They are traumatizing seniors, constraining the ability of our corporate sector and universities to attract and retain professional talent, and undermining the ability of young families to thrive in the city.
For the record, I do not call for restrictions on foreign investment, but for study of its extent and a review of the options used by other cities to protect their local housing stock. This might lead us to restrictions, but I would also like to see options like the one suggested by Richmond City Council candidate Chak Au, who proposes finding ways to channel this capital into local business development.
Whatever the ultimate result, we do need to address housing affordability in many creative ways, all made in Vancouver.