Home » Posts tagged 'vancouver'

Tag Archives: vancouver

Click on image to purchase

Olduvai III: Catacylsm
Click on image to purchase

Post categories

Post Archives by Category

With ‘jaw-dropping,’ ‘astounding’ and ‘extraordinary’ weather, Vancouver just had its rainiest fall ever

With ‘jaw-dropping,’ ‘astounding’ and ‘extraordinary’ weather, Vancouver just had its rainiest fall ever

Weather bombs, seven atmospheric rivers in a month and a tornado, among other things, plus lots (and lots) of rain
Rain drenched Vancouver this fall, smashing records in city and across the province.

The fall of 2021 was quite a season.

Vancouver saw weather bombs, seven atmospheric rivers in a month and a tornado, among other things. And along with all of that came the rain.

The City of Vancouver, pelted with near-constant rain for three months, smashed its record for rainiest fall on record (which meteorologically speaking runs from Sept. 1 to Nov. 30) says Environment Canada warning preparedness meteorologist Armel Castellan.

Over September, October and November 611.5 mm of rain fell here. That breaks the old record of 531.9 mm in 1996, smashing it by almost 80 mm; in meteorological terms, that’s a lot. And records go back over 120 years.

On average we see 364.4 mm, so this year we got 168 per cent of the usual.

But it wasn’t the most, with Abbotsford getting an “astounding” 884.5 mm over the three months; the average there is 475 mm.

“The previous wettest fall for Abbotsford was 2016 and was only 666 mm, so you overshot that in Abbotsford by over 200 mm which is absolutely jaw-dropping,” says Castellan.

And in Victoria, where the total wasn’t as high, the difference from the usual was massive; at the Victoria Gonzales station they had 509.6 mm, compared to the normal of 230.1 mm. That’s 221 per cent of the normal.

“Honestly, for a seasonal record to be broken by that much, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that,” Castellan says.

While daily records can vary quite a bit, for an entire season to break records by those numbers is extremely unusual, given that it requires such a long pattern of weather.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Disastrous Flooding Cuts Vancouver Off From Rail, Road Service

Disastrous Flooding Cuts Vancouver Off From Rail, Road Service

image description

Food and toilet paper have been stripped from grocery store shelves across British Columbia as panic buying follows the realization Wednesday, Nov. 17 that the previous day’s Biblical flooding means road and rail connections with Vancouver and southwestern British Columbia could be disrupted for months.

There are now worries of imminent hunger and empty fuel stations in communities cut off from resupply by road or rail, with hundreds of people still marooned and waiting for evacuation by Canadian Forces helicopters. Some communities are without water, sewage power and natural gas as winter temperatures threaten to freeze homes.

Both the CN and Canadian Pacific main lines along the Fraser River are out of service and will require heavy reconstruction of bridges and railbeds. Vancouver, the country’s biggest port, is closed. Coal mined from the Rocky Mountains is piling up at loading terminals along the Continental Divide. Potash unit trains are backed up at mines in Saskatchewan. The Prairie grain harvest, which should be flowing West at peak seasonal volumes, is constrained to CN’s northerly route from Edmonton to Canada’s secondary Pacific port, Prince Rupert.

A trickle of train movements over CP’s Crowsnest Subdivision indicates some traffic may be moving from an interchange with Union Pacific at Eastport, Idaho, but flooding on the U.S. side of the 49th parallel has choked off access to alternative ports at Portland and Seattle.

Both CN and CP are surveying the damage to their shared parallel main lines along the Thompson and Fraser Rivers. On Nov. 16, a CN train derailed on CP track near Yale, B.C. and remains immobile.

“Crews continue to perform critical repair work following the mud slides and washouts that interrupted the movement of railway traffic through southern B.C.,” said CN spokesman Mathieu Gaudreault the afternoon of Nov. 17…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Weather whiplash in Canada: extreme rains hit wildfire-devastated British Columbia

Weather whiplash in Canada: extreme rains hit wildfire-devastated British Columbia

Climate change is likely to increase extreme flooding from atmospheric river events like this one.
Flood damage
Flooding in British Columbia on November 15, 2021. (Image credit: BC Hydro)

An intense low-pressure system brought an atmospheric river of water vapor and torrential rains to southern British Columbia and northwestern Washington state on Monday, generating devastating flooding that virtually isolated the city of Vancouver from the rest of Canada. The floods came less than five months after the most extreme heat wave in global history affected the same region, fueling destructive wildfires.

Flooding and landslides from Monday’s storm cut the three main highways connecting the city of Vancouver, located on the Pacific coast, with the interior portions of Canada. Damage to some of these highways was extreme, and will result in months-long closures. In addition, all rail access to Vancouver was cut by the flooding, with closures expected to last days or weeks. These closures may have significant impacts on the Canadian economy, since the Port of Vancouver is the largest port in Canada, and fourth-largest in North America. Canada is one of the world’s largest grain exporters, and the flood damage will interrupt exports of wheat and vegetable oil, potentially causing a rise in global food prices, which are already at a 46-year high.

Over 10 inches of rain in 24 hours

On Monday, a large swath of southern British Columbia recorded four to 10 inches of rain in 24 hours, setting numerous records for most precipitation in a day. One of the highest 24-hour amounts observed was 11.59 inches (294.3 millimeters) in Hope, British Columbia.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Vancouver is now completely cut off from the rest of Canada by road

Vancouver is now completely cut off from the rest of Canada by road

There is currently no way to drive between Vancouver and the rest of Canada.

The Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley are now completely cut off from the rest of British Columbia and the country by road.

<who>Photo Credit: Linda Corscadden</who>The southbound lanes of the Coquihalla Highway have been completely washed out near Othello Tunnels.

Photo Credit: Linda Corscadden
The southbound lanes of the Coquihalla Highway have been completely washed out near Othello Tunnels.

Flooding and mudslides had closed most routes between the coast and BC Interior over the past 24 hours, but the back route through Whistler on Hwy 99 remained open this morning.

That changed shortly after 11 am, when DriveBC reported that a mudslide 42 kilometres south of Lillooet had shut down Hwy 99 as well.

The only way to drive between the coast and the rest of Canada at this time is through the United States.

However, Washington is also seeing highway closures due to the inclement weather and residents would need a COVID-19 test to re-enter Canada.

Here’s a full list of mainland BC highways currently closed:

  • Hwy 1 between Hope and Lytton
  • Hwy 1 between Lytton and Spences Bridge
  • Hwy 3 between Hope and Manning Park
  • Hwy 3 between Princeton and Keremeos
  • Hwy 3 near Fernie
  • Hwy 5 between Hope and Merritt
  • Hwy 7 on both sides of Agassiz
  • Hwy 7 between Maple Ridge and Mission
  • Hwy 11 between Mission and Abbotsford
  • Hwy 93 between Radium Hot Springs and the BC-Alberta border
  • Hwy 99 between Pemberton and Lillooet

Vancouver Council Votes Against Delay for Climate Emergency Plan

Vancouver Council Votes Against Delay for Climate Emergency Plan

City bylaw will require new homes built after Jan. 1 to use zero-emissions heat and hot water systems, effectively banning natural gas hookups.

New homes in Vancouver will be built with zero-emissions heating and hot water systems starting Jan. 1 following a city council vote this week.

Council was considering delaying the zero-emissions requirement by one year to give the heating and plumbing industry additional time to adapt to the new bylaw, which was introduced in 2019.

Council voted 6–4 to stick to the original timeline outlined in Vancouver’s Climate Emergency Action Plan. OneCity’s Christine Boyle, independent Mayor Kennedy Stewart, COPE Coun. Jean Swanson and Green councillors Adriane Carr, Pete Fry and Michael Wiebe voted to keep the original timeline.

Independents Rebecca Bligh, Lisa Dominato, Colleen Hardwick and Sarah Kirby-Yung voted for a one-year deferral. NPA Coun. Melissa De Genova abstained.

“I’m really pleased and relieved about it,” says Boyle. “What’s clear to me after years of doing climate work is that climate delay is the same as climate denial. We’ve been losing slowly for too long, and we don’t have enough time to continue to take that approach.”

Boyle was an outspoken opponent of the one-year delay. Earlier in the week she told The Tyee a delay would punish businesses that had invested in Vancouver’s low-carbon transition and signal to the fossil fuel industry that the city was willing to cave on its climate goals “with a tiny bit of pressure.”


…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Vancouver Council Pushed to Weaken Climate Emergency Plan

Vancouver Council Pushed to Weaken Climate Emergency Plan

An industry group wants the city to delay a deadline for shifting from natural gas in new homes. At least one councillor says no.

A natural gas lobby group could delay action on a pillar of the City of Vancouver’s Climate Emergency Action Plan this week.

The plan currently requires all new homes to be built with zero-emissions heating and hot water systems starting Jan. 1, which could effectively ban natural gas hookups in new homes.

But after the Canadian Institute of Plumbing and Heating sent a letter to the City of Vancouver saying the industry couldn’t meet the January deadline and needed an additional one to two years, an amendment was added to the action plan that would delay the zero-emissions requirements by one year.

City council will vote on the amendment Tuesday.

The Canadian Institute of Plumbing and Heating is a non-profit association with 270 companies across the country who manufacture and distribute plumbing and heating products. In its letter the association said Vancouver should maintain its gas piping infrastructure for the eventual rollout of alternative fuel sources like hydrogen or renewable natural gas.

The Climate Emergency Action Plan was first introduced in 2019.

OneCity Vancouver Coun. Christine Boyle said that a one-year delay would punish climate leaders in the building industry and signal to the fossil fuel industry that the city is willing to cave on its climate goals “with a tiny bit of pressure.”

Over half of Vancouver’s greenhouse gas emissions come from burning natural gas for heat and hot water, according to the plan, so it’s hugely important for old homes to be retrofitted with electric appliances and urgent that new buildings are built to be as close to zero-emissions as possible, Boyle says.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Where Does Vancouver’s Urban Forest Need to Grow Next?

Where Does Vancouver’s Urban Forest Need to Grow Next?

The city strategy faces a tricky challenge: inspiring the growth of trees on private land.

Over the last decade, the City of Vancouver has focused on growing the urban forest to combat tree loss and foster climate resiliency. But if that’s going to happen, the key will be promoting more trees on private land.

It’s an urgent priority for the city. Fewer trees means more exposure to air pollution, heat waves, flooding and other climate impacts.

Vancouver’s Urban Forest Strategy, launched in 2014, has mostly focused on what it can control — protecting existing trees from being cut down and planting new trees wherever it can — and it has seen some good success, hitting its original goal of planting 150,000 trees by 2020.

But that’s largely happened on public land.

Meanwhile, according to the city, the removal of trees on private land is responsible for reducing Vancouver’s urban forest from 22.5 per cent to 18 per cent between 1995 and 2014. Sixty-two per cent of the city’s trees were on private land at the time, the strategy noted.

2018 update to the strategy showed that while trees have increased on public property, in places like parks and on city streets, growth has still been declining on private land, where a third of the urban forest still remains.

In December 2020, the Vancouver Park Board set an admirable new goal for the strategy: to increase the canopy cover of the city’s urban forest from its current level of 23 per cent to 30 per cent by 2050.

But can that happen while trees on private land keep diminishing?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Why this Vancouver suburb is putting 950 new homes right next to a farm

Why this Vancouver suburb is putting 950 new homes right next to a farm

This ‘agrihood’ integrates suburban living with farming, so people are more connected to their food.

Why this Vancouver suburb is putting 950 new homes right next to a farm
[Image: courtesy Southlands]

Since 1989, Sean Hodgins’s development company Century Group has owned about 500 empty acres of agricultural land in the Vancouver suburb of Tsawwassen, and what to do with it had been a matter of contention in the town for years.

Traditionally a farming community, Tsawwassen had seen suburban development grow up around the site, putting it into a sort of limbo. For many locals, the land was too agricultural to develop into edge-to-edge housing, but there was too much housing in the area for it to be used as a farm large enough to compete with industrialized agriculture.

So Hodgins and his company began looking for a middle way to give people what they said they wanted: to be connected with farming and food.

Their solution is a relatively new sort of suburban development, where farming and community are co-located and integrated: an agrihood. Called Southlands, the project is a New Urbanist-style development, with a village-like mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented design. It has room for 950 homes centered around a market square that connects to a 325-acre farm. The project is beginning to see its first stages of life, both on the farm and in town, where half of the first 75 homes are sold and residents are beginning to move in.

[Image: courtesy Southlands]

The project is building on a similar model used in a farming-centric community in Georgia called Serenbe, which is woven through with parks and farmland as a way of pushing back against the unsustainable farming practices of big agriculture and giving people a better sense of how food gets from the farm to their plate. Hodgins says Southlands is aiming to have the farm and the neighborhood support each other.…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Most Splendid Housing Bubbles in Canada Deflate Further

The Most Splendid Housing Bubbles in Canada Deflate Further

Vancouver prices drop. Toronto down 3.7% from peak, flat for 10 months. Winnipeg plunges most since at least 1990. Quebec City flat for 6 years.

In Greater Vancouver, BC, Canada, house prices fell 0.4% in April from March, the ninth month in a row of month-to-month declines, according to the Teranet-National Bank House Price Index. The index is down 4.7% from the peak in July 2018, the sharpest nine-month decline since July 2009. And it’s down 2.8% from April last year. One of the most splendid housing bubbles in the world is now deflating before our very eyes, after prices had skyrocketed 316% from January 2002 to the peak in July 2018 – meaning prices had more than quadrupled in 16 years:

The Teranet-National Bank House Price Index tracks single-family house prices, based on “sales pairs,” comparing the sales price of a house in the current month to the last sale of the same house years earlier (methodology). Using “sales pairs” eliminates the issues that affect median and average price indices but has its own limitations. These median and average house prices, which are much more volatile, are now showing much sharper price declines for Vancouver.

Because the Teranet index uses a similar methodology of “sales pairs” as the S&P CoreLogic Case Shiller index for US housing markets, the indices produce comparable metrics. So let’s compare Vancouver’s housing bubble to the also deflating housing bubble in the San Francisco Bay Area. Splendid v. Splendid. The chart below shows the data of Vancouver (black columns) and San Francisco (red columns), with both indices converted into “percent change from January 2002.”

As the chart above shows, Vancouver’s housing market dipped briefly during the Financial Crisis while San Francisco’s market went into a hard four-year downturn, as the US housing bust morphed into the Mortgage Crisis that contributed to the Financial Crisis.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

A “Cancer On Our Economy”: Report Finds Over $7 Billion Laundered Through British Columbia In 2018

A “Cancer On Our Economy”: Report Finds Over $7 Billion Laundered Through British Columbia In 2018

It may have taken a while, but now that housing prices are starting to crash in Vancouver, BC legislators are finally starting to get wise to the fact that the province has been a hot bed for money laundering. It was an easy problem to ignore with prices on the way up, but on the way down – not so much.

And so an independent report released on Thursday concluded that an astounding $7.4 billion was laundered in British Columbia in 2018, out of a total of $46.7 billion laundered across Canada throughout the same period. The report was published by an expert panel led by former B.C. deputy attorney general Maureen Maloney.

Attorney General David Eby told a news conference Thursday:

Wealthy criminals and those attempting to evade taxes have had the run of our province for too long,to the point that they are now distorting our economy, hurting families looking for housing, and impacting those who have lost loved ones due to the opioid overdose (crisis).” 

The reports come after the government commissioned them to try and shed light on laundering by organized crime in BC’s real estate market. This follows last June’s report on dirty money in casinos, which we also wrote about just days ago. 

RCMP commissioner Peter German was commissioned to write the report on real estate, and he concluded that illicit money is what led to “a frenzy of buying” that caused housing prices to spike around Metro Vancouver. The report concludes that there are thousands of properties worth billions at high risk for money laundering. 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“Ghastly” Vancouver Home Sales Crash By 33%, Lowest Since 1985

“Ghastly” Vancouver Home Sales Crash By 33%, Lowest Since 1985

On Monday, the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver reported February results that could be classified as ghastly, with residential home sales plummeting 32.8% year-over-year to 1,484 units. That’s the lowest February sales total since 1985 and 42.5% below the 10-year average. 

Prices have also broken lower, with the composite index sinking by 6.1% year-over-year.  In addition, inventories have jumped, with total listings in metro Vancouver up to 11,590 homes at month end. That’s up 48.2% from February 2018.

Toronto, Canada’s largest city, has held up better, with February prices rising 1.6% year-over-year, while new listings dropped 6.2% to outpace the 2.4% decline in sales. Nevertheless, TREB president Gurcharan Bhaura asked for regulatory relief from the mortgage stress test mandated by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions. These subject borrowers to the greater of the five-year benchmark rate or the contracted mortgage rate plus 200 basis points (Almost Daily Grant’s, May 31):

The OSFI mandated mortgage stress test has left some buyers on the sidelines who have struggled to qualify for the type of home they want to buy. The stress test should be reviewed and consideration should be given to bringing back 30 year amortizations for federally insured mortgages. There is a federal budget and election on the horizon. It will be interesting to see what policy measures are announced to help with home ownership affordability.

On the score of home affordability, there is certainly room for improvement. According to Demographia’s International Affordability Survey for 2019, Toronto ranked 294th out of 309 metropolitan housing markets, with a median house price of 8.3 times median annual gross pre-tax household income, up from 7.9 times year-over-year.  For context, the United States national median multiple registers at 3.5 times, while the organization designates anything beyond 5.1 times to be “severely unaffordable.” Vancouver puts Toronto in the shade, ranked second to last by Demographia (only Hong Kong is more expensive) with a median multiple of 12.6 times.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Vancouver Home Prices Turn Negative, First Time Since 2013

The sudden shift in the Vancouver housing market has been well documented. In November, home sales across all property types sank to a ten year low for the month. The drop is rather unprecedented considering the current economic backdrop suggests unemployment across Canada has plunged to a 42 year low. And while unemployment may be a lagging indicator, the housing market is certainly not. Of the components of GDP, residential investment offers by far the best early warning sign of an oncoming recession.

So too does the yield curve, which continues to flatten. Earlier this week the Canada 2 and 5 year bond yields inverted, the first time since 2007. A flat or inverted yield curve is when short term rates exceed long-term rates. This is often taken as a signal that investors are more optimistic about short-term prospects versus the long term, suggesting a lack of confidence in continued economic growth. This can also impact bank profitability, as banks pay short-term rates on deposits and take in long-term rates on loans. A flat or inverted yield curve, therefore, could lead to negative net interest margins.

In simpler terms, this can cause bank lending to further tighter, leaving borrowers high and dry when market liquidity is most needed.

Canada 2/5 yield spread.

While the resulting slowdown from bank lending can most easily be seen in the decline of sales volumes, it is now more noticeably reflecting in home prices.

The detached home price has now dipped 8.5% from last year, the largest decline since late 2009.

detached prices Vancouver
Year-Over-Year price change in the Vancouver detached MLS benchmark price.

Meanwhile, the resilient condo market has finally dipped into negative territory as well, dropping 1.8% year-over-year in November, the first negative reading since October 2013.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Anatomy of the Housing Downturn in Vancouver, Canada

Anatomy of the Housing Downturn in Vancouver, Canada

It’s not pretty.

In 2018, “each month has brought weaker than normal sales, rising inventory, and continued downward pressure on prices” in Vancouver, British Columbia, writes Steve Saretsky, a Vancouver Realtor and publisher of real-estate blog, Vancity Condo Guide. The market faces another headwind: “With the Bank of Canada determined to reach a neutral rate of interest of between 2.5-3.5%, borrowing power continues to erode.”

The single-family price spike unwinds.

The hardest hit segment are single-family houses (“detached houses”). Sales volume in the city of Vancouver has dropped to 27-year lows for most months of the year. In October, sales plunged 32% year-over-year to 146 houses, the third worst October on record. The plunge in sales was first triggered by the imposition of a tax in August 2016 on nonresident foreign buyers – mostly investors living in China. This chart from The Saretsky Report shows sales volume in every October going back to 1991 (click to enlarge):

Inventory for sale of all types of homes combined – single-family, townhouse, and condo – in the city of Vancouver surged 24% year-over-year, “pushing prices lower across all property segments,” he writes. Within that group, townhouse inventory jumped 34% and condo inventory soared 74%.

But inventory of single-family houses edged down by 4%, to 1,556 listings, “primarily a result of sellers taking their house off the market and trying to wait out current conditions,” Saretsky writes. Given the decline in sales, months’ supply surged 35% to 10.7 months. “This has paved the way for buyers to negotiate steep discounts”:

We have now been in a weak detached housing market for over two years and as a result, price declines are becoming more noticeable and more significant. There is strong evidence from previous housing booms that volumes tend to lead prices by about two years, and for the most part that has been the case here in Vancouver.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Vancouver Housing Starts Flash Red As Chart Rolls Over

Canadian housing construction starts slowed in August, coming in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 200,986 vs. 205,751 in July – missing expectations of 210,300, according to CBC

The decrease came as the annual pace of urban starts fell 2.5 per cent to 184,925 units. Starts of urban multiple-unit projects such as condos, apartments and townhouses fell 2.4 per cent to 132,700 units in August while single-detached urban starts fell 2.6 per cent to 52,225 units. –CBC

“The national trend in housing starts continued to decline in August from the historical peak that was recorded in March 2018,” said Bob Dugan, CMHC chief economist. “This moderation brings total starts closer to historical averages, largely reflecting recent declines in the trend of multi-unit starts from historically elevated levels earlier in the year.”

Of note, housing starts are in Metro Vancouver are slowing to a greater extent, falling 4% from its March 2018 peak, according to Steve Saretsky of the VanCity Condo Guide.

A slowdown in housing starts suggests homebuilders perceive risks ahead or simply can’t make new projects feasible due to elevated land prices and construction costs, which is typical at this stage of the cycle. This does not bode well for future economic growth considering housing and the consumption that goes along with it (renovations, furniture, etc) are a big driver of the economy. In Canada, household consumption and residential investment as a percentage of real GDP is nearly 65%. –VanCity Condo Guide

Saretsky notes that a rebound in housing starts seems unlikely “given how extended this current expansion is,” while the labor market is at capacity and rising interest rates should cause investors to reduce exposure considering that Vancouver home sales are at a 17-year low.

Instead, the construction industry is working at a frantic pace to complete existing units. Housing under construction in Metro Vancouver ticked upwards to a new record high in August- hitting a staggering 43,684 units. well above annual population growth of 30,000. –VanCity Condo Guide

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

CMHC Finds Irrational Exuberance in Vancouver & Toronto

There is much to learn from financial mania’s. In particular, the role of human behaviour responsible for inflating asset prices to previously unimaginable heights. Economist Robert Schiller has done some excellent work on this topic in his book Irrational Exuberance.

In essence, Schiller highlights a few key themes. Mainly that real estate booms seem just as mysterious and hard to understand as the stock market booms when they happen, there are always popular explanations for them- explanations that are not necessarily correct, but people love a good story. Meanwhile, higher prices tend to drive a positive feedback loop where initial price increases lead to more price increases as the effects of the initial price increases feedback into yet higher prices through increased investor demand. This second round of price increases feeds back again into a third and then a fourth round, and so on.

A recent publication from CMHC highlights strong human behaviour dynamics have been playing out in the Vancouver & Toronto Real Estate markets. After surveying 30,000 recent homebuyers, CMHC found evidence of euphoric and perhaps irrational behaviour.

For instance, respondents were asked about whether how much they paid was aligned with their plan budget. Respondents were also asked about a series of choices regarding location, size and timing of purchase. Choices all potential homebuyers must consider before buying a home in both Vancouver and Toronto, 48% of homebuyers respectively spent more than they budgeted.

CMHC believes home buyers may have experienced a fear of missing out, citing that homebuyers measure the value of a home through rule of thumb mechanisms like, “it’s a hot market, I can’t miss out, it’s really tight right now-will have to revise our budget if we want to get in”  all of which are phrases pushing homebuyers to overvalue an investment.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
Click on image to read excerpts

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase

Click on image to purchase @ FriesenPress