Downtown Vancouver is at a critical juncture. Many people do not even realize it but the city is well on its way to becoming an elitist centre for the uber rich and tourists and that’s about it. Many local residents can no longer afford to live or even rent in the downtown core.
What social, cultural, and economic impact will this have on the city and BC economy? It will be devastating. The lack of response from Premier Christy Clark and Prime Minister Stephen Harper on this issue is very short sighted and detrimental to the health and well-being of Vancouver in the long term.
Below are five reasons why the federal and provincial government must take swift action to make affordable housing a priority for Downtown Vancouver and the city at large.
Seniors will be left at greater risk of poverty.
Real estate prices are inflated in Vancouver. Many people cannot afford to purchase property. This means many people will not have a real estate nest egg when they retire or to leave to their children. Seniors will be squeezed for income as renters instead of owning their homes in their golden years.
Low rental vacancy means potentially more crowded and cramped living spaces.
It is difficult to find a suitable place to rent in Vancouver. Owners are charging a premium to live in Downtown Vancouver and the city at large. The demand for housing is high. This means there will be pressure for more and more people to share and crowd themselves into cramped living spaces. How does this add to the quality of life and accommodation in Vancouver?
Property taxes and strata fees will increase.
As real estate values rise so do property taxes and strata fees as strata includes such items as insurance which is pegged to the value of the land and buildings.
Flight of local residents to more affordable locations
Vancouver will likely experience an encroaching demographic shift which in turn will change the culture, character, and diversity of everything including business in the heart of the city.
The flight of the poor, working class, and middle class, and perhaps even the professional class from Downtown Vancouver will mean a huge black hole and void in the downtown core. What kind of city would Vancouver be left with. Maybe Vancouver could become the Monaco of North America? Everything could cater to the uber rich, foreign investors, and tourists. Locals would basically become enslaved to serving our new financially imposed masters. Great I cannot wait for this to happen.
A city where people no longer work and live.
As land and property values and taxes increase their will be pressure on businesses and employers to relocate their operations outside of Downtown Vancouver. This will result in a city where people no longer work and live. A city with little or no business or industry really cannot sustain itself in the long term or provide sufficient and adequate services to its residents.
And there you go. These are my five reasons why our political leaders must do something about replenishing the affordable housing stock in Vancouver as well as increasing rental vacancy rates.
What’s the bottom line? Vancouver may just have to save itself from its own success.
Alex Sangha is an award winning author and social worker based in Surrey, B.C.