Vancouver city council approves Marpole plan

A 30-YEAR PLAN FOR the Marpole community was approved unanimously by city council Wednesday (April 2), after more than two dozen members of the public signed up to speak to the strategy.

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Reblogged from The Georgia Straight

City staff told council the document includes plans for 6,800 new homeownership units, 835 rental units, and 1,085 units of social housing. It also calls for expanded park space, including a new 10-acre park near the Fraser River, enhanced walking and cycling routes, and upgraded community facilities.

Vision Vancouver councillor Heather Deal noted the plan has “evolved significantly” since the beginning. An earlier draft of the strategy resulted in neighbourhood protests last year.

“There were some changes made since those June and July meetings that people were asking for, and tonight there were some concerns expressed, but overall, people are supporting the plan, and that’s huge,” she told the Straight by phone.

“I think it’s a great example of community consultation that went through a rocky part and then, thanks to the dedication of community and staff, found its way back.”

Marpole resident Albert Leung told council he supports the plan “with reservation in several areas”, including a concern for increased traffic on arterial roads from densification in the community.

Wendy Cosby said there is “still much work to be done”, including establishing a location for an upgraded community centre—a concern echoed by Marpole Residents Coalition spokesperson Mike Burdick.

“The community centre upgrade is one of the key components that needs to be dealt with,” he told council. “You cannot move this building. This building is the centre of the community. We own the land. It needs to be renewed, there’s no doubt about it. It could have a library attached to it—that would be great. But it needs to be where the children are who are probably the biggest users of the community centre.”

Another issue raised by some speakers, including Burdick, was the creation of affordable housing as part of the plan.

“Not one person I have talked to…has been able to clearly give me a definition of affordable housing,” he said. “Who are they affordable to? That’s the key issue.”

While many community members spoke in support of the revised version of the strategy, resident Don Larson called the density planned for the neighbourhood “outrageous”.

“This is not the Marpole that I grew up in,” he told councillors.

Deal said city staff will update council in five years on implementation of the plan. Consultation processes will be launched on the community amenities, including the neighbourhood house, community centre, and library, and on the Fraser River park.

“It’s one of the first neighbourhoods in the city,” she stated.

“The Fraser is the real first waterfront in the city of Vancouver, and I think it’s about time we started paying more attention to the Fraser River side of the city, and Marpole’s a great example of that.”

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U.S. sues S&P over pre-crisis mortgage ratings

Bang for your $599,000 buck

There’s a house for sale in Vancouver for under $600,000

Reblogged from The Province

In a city where affordable housing is an oxymoron, a two-storey East Vancouver character home is bound to catch some attention with its price tag.

The 1,951-square-foot home at 2622 Clark Dr. is set to go on the market Monday with a listed price of $599,000 — expected to be the lowest-priced, detached, freehold house in Vancouver.

“I expect it to be noticed,” said listing agent Mary Cleaver. “It’s a beautiful renovated Craftsman-style house in a lovely neighbourhood at a great price.”

The low price is because the three-bedroom, two-bath Grandview-Woodland property faces busy Clark Drive and is on a small 30.5-X-58-foot lot, about half the depth of typical lots in the neighbourhood.

Contrary to what some people might expect from the — relatively — bargain-basement price, the house is well-kept and lovingly maintained.

Built in 1911, its plumbing, electrical and windows were updated before the current owners bought the place in 2005 for $333,000. They have since replaced the roof, refinished the floors, installed a new kitchen and repainted the exterior, said Cleaver.

Homeowner Simon Yu, who owns a deck-renovation company, also added a wraparound deck to the home, adding an extra 600 sq. ft to the property.

The low price is rare in the city, said Cleaver, although it isn’t the only one. In January, a house in the Fraserview-Killarney neighbourhood sold for $592,000. A house off of Commercial Drive sold for $471,000 in April 2012.

Currently, the cheapest freehold, detached house listed in Vancouver is $628,000 in Hastings-Sunrise.

The Clark Drive house may be a deal in comparison with million-dollar fixer-uppers that have become the norm in the city, but statistics show Vancouver’s housing market still remains out of reach for average wage earners. An RBC report last year shows detached homes in Metro Vancouver require more than 80 per cent of median household income. A recent international survey also placed Vancouver second after Hong Kong in having the least-affordable housing.

And there are no signs Vancouver’s sky-high market is heading for a downturn. The region’s housing market is maintaining its steady pace from last year, said the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, with residential sales in February jumping 40 per cent compared with February 2013.

Cleaver said the homeowners, who have two young children, were very happy in the house, but are selling it because they need more space. She’s holding an open house April 5 and 6 from 2 to 4 p.m.

“It’s a very nice, livable house, and (at that price), it is competing with apartments and townhouses,” she said.

What $599,000 will get you:

If you want even more bang for your buck, you have to look farther afield. Here is what $599,000 will get you in:

Langley: 20465-67B Ave.

A 3,248-square-foot, five-bedroom, four-bathroom house in Willoughby with gourmet kitchen and finished basement.

Maple Ridge: 10070-246B St.

Built in 2013, this four-bedroom home on a quiet street has a great room, vaulted ceilings in the master bedroom and a rec room.

Sechelt: 6220 Mika Rd.

There are panoramic sea views, oversized decks and 14-foot ceilings in this five-bedoom West Sechelt home on a 11,412-sq.-ft lot.

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Joe Oliver, expected to be named Canada’s next finance minister

We’ve been following Jim Flaherty quite a bit here on theresashaw.ca as his monetary policy has had such a drastic effect on housing, affordability, real estate market, financing, mortgages and more in Canada. News yesterday of his resignation quite sudden for some, but somewhat expected by others. His replacement is expected to be Joe Oliver, read more about him below:

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Reblogged from National Post

Joe Oliver, the relatively new Toronto-area MP who has spent the past three years as Natural Resources Minister, is expected to be named Wednesday as the successor to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty

News broke of the appointment Tuesday night.

Mr. Oliver, 73, is a relative newcomer to the ranks of the Conservative caucus, having first been elected to his Eglinton-Lawrence riding in 2011.

Nevertheless, whereas Mr. Flaherty brought more than a decade of political skills to the post, Mr. Oliver boasts more than 40 years’ experience in the financial sector.

Originally from Montreal, Mr. Oliver obtained an MBA from the Harvard Graduate School of Business in 1970, and just before his 30th birthday had entered the investment sector with Merrill Lynch Canada.

The 1980s and 1990s saw him take up portfolios at Nesbitt Burns and First Marathon Securities Ltd., as well as serving as the executive director of the Ontario Securities Commission from 1991 to 1993.
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Northeast False Creek Website Launched!

The City of Vancouver has announced the launch of Northeast False Creek Website!

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This website will be a major communication tool throughout the planning process.

Northeast False Creek (NEFC) is a local and regional hub of sports, culture, and events venues, including BC Place Stadium, Rogers Arena, and the Plaza of Nations.

NEFC remains one of the largest undeveloped areas in the downtown peninsula.

The City aims to create an active and diverse waterfront neighbourhood by replacing the viaducts with a new ground-level road network.

Removing the viaducts and realigning the road network will maintain the essential movement of goods and services to and from Downtown, and allow for:

  • Improved connections between Vancouver’s historic neighbourhoods and False Creek
  • More park space on the False Creek waterfront
  • Development of the vacant City-owned blocks on either side of Main Street (now interrupted by the viaducts)
  • New housing opportunities, including affordable housing

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Recent Updates (as of Jan 2014)

55 Expo Boulevard (International Village School)
November 1, 2013 – Construction on the International Village Elementary School will move forward, as amendments to the legal agreement registered against Andy Livingstone Park were granted without opposition.

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Vancouver home sales jump 30% in January from a year ago, board warns people to ‘price’ home right

The message from realtors in Canada’s most expensive city is clear — price your home right if you want it to sell.

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Reblogged from The Financial Post | Gary Marr

The message from realtors in Canada’s most expensive city is clear — price your home right if you want it to sell.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver said there were 1,760 sales through the Multiple Listing Service in January, a 30.3% increase from a year ago. But sales were down 9.9% decline from December.

The board’s president had a specific message to homeowners, in a press release.

“If you’re looking to sell your home in a balanced market, it’s critical that your list price is reflective of current market conditions,” said Sandra Ms. Wyatt.

Last month’s sales figures remain 7.2% above the 10-year average for the month of January. Prices have inched up a bit too. The board’s composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver stood at $606,800 last month, a 3.2% increase from a year ago.

“The Greater Vancouver housing market has been in a balanced market for nearly a year. This has meant steady home sale and listing activity accompanied by stable home prices,” said Ms. Wyant, in the release.

New listings are on the rise, reaching 5,128 in January. That’s a 4.2% increase from a year ago. New listings were also 17.7% above the 10-year average for the month.

The new listings bring the total number of properties for sale across the Greater Vancouver area to 12,602 which is down 4.9% from a year ago but up 9% from December.

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What it would take for Canada’s housing market to crash, and why Pimco says it won’t

Pimco on housing

The world’s biggest bond fund manager expects a “cyclical decline” in Canada’s housing market, but says there’s little chance of a meltdown.

We touched on the comments from Pimco late yesterday, but, given the angst surrounding the residential real estate market, thought we’d go for a deeper look this morning.

Reblogged from Michael Babad | The Globe and Mail

“There has been much media attention on Canada’s housing market lately, with some forecasters calling for ‘the bubble’ to pop in 2014,” Pimco says in latest look at Canada.

“While we think the housing market in Canada is overvalued and due for a correction, the correction will likely happen over several years.”

That said, Pimco’s Ed Devlin, the chief of Canadian portfolio management, believes the decline will begin this  year, though he stresses that a correction is not “a bubble bursting in a disorderly manner.”

Several Canadian economists are also calling for a slowdown, rather than a meltdown.

One of three things would have to happen this year to spark a full-on bust, Pimco’s Ed Devlin says:

1. Interest rates would have to spike sharply, which simply isn’t in the cards. The Bank of Canada isn’t anywhere near a rate hike, and in fact has left the door open to a cut from its current policy rate of 1 per cent. “With real growth of about 2 per cent and a relatively subdued inflation forecast, we see no reason for interest rates to substantially rise in 2014.”

2. Unemployment would have to spike. While the jobless rate isn’t projected to decline – rather, it’s expected to hover around the 7-per-cent mark – it’s not forecast to surge either. “Given this macroeconomic environment, it is also unlikely that the unemployment rate will spike to 8 per cent to 10 per cent (which, we estimate, would be needed to cause a disorderly housing correction).”

3. Mortgage credit would have to be “disrupted.” Also not in the cards. “The Canadian banking system continues to provide sufficient mortgage credit to keep the housing market financed.”

Over all, Pimco sees “modestly” higher mortgage rates, tighter mortgage rules, an ongoing “modest” economic rebound, and still-stretched property values.

All of which means home prices will erode this year, and sales will slip, but that’s about as far as it goes.

Read the original article

Read the PIMCO post

Three reasons why the Bank of Canada is not trying to drive down the loonie

“The Bank of Canada’s most recent policy meeting this month revealed a growing dovish streak, raising questions about whether the bank is actively trying to drive down the loonie.”

Stephen Poloz

Reblogged from John Shmuel

It’s a policy approach that would make sense, considering the strength of the loonie has hurt Canadian exports in the past few years. The strategy of “talking down” a currency has been used to relatively successful effect in countries such as Australia and Norway.

But Charles St-Arnaud, Canada economist for investment bank Nomura, doubts the Bank of Canada is currently attempting something similar.

“While a weaker CAD would be welcomed by the Bank of Canada… we find that using the properties from the BoC’s projection model the size of the depreciation needed to compensate the loss in competitiveness and to bring back inflation to target would require a depreciation of CAD of between 25% and 30%,” he said. “A depreciation of the currency of this magnitude would be almost impossible to attain only through monetary policy and requires significantly lower commodity prices.”

Essentially, the loonie would need to become much weaker than it currently is for Canada to see any economic benefit. Driving it down by such a large margin would be extremely difficult and, even if it could be done, would create a whole host of other problems.

Mr. St-Arnaud points out others have argued the bank could create smaller benefits for the Canadian economy without going to such great lengths, but he counters those, too. Below, he lists three main arguments he’s heard for why the Bank of Canada is actively working to lower the loonie, and why he thinks they’re wrong.

1. Because he joined from EDC, Gov Poloz wants a weaker CAD: Interestingly, since Gov. Poloz took over the helm of the Bank of Canada, none of the policy decision communiqués have made reference to the currency and the reference to the strong Canadian has disappeared from Monetary Policy Reports. Furthermore, all is comment have pointed to the need for a flexible exchange rate that is determined by the market. Ultimately, we believe that the most important comments made by Governor Poloz since taking the helm of the BoC has been during his first public appearance when he said that ’the inflation target is sacrosanct’.

2. A strong CAD is the reason for the weakness in exports: Recent publications by the BoC suggests that the weakness in exports comes mainly from ongoing competitiveness challenges over the past decade that have been exacerbated by the appreciation of CAD over the period. While it is tempting to conclude that a weaker currency would solve the problem, the BoC also showed that the appreciation was driven by fundamentals and CAD is currently around fairvalue and, hence, hard to reverse. Moreover, while a weaker CAD would push exports higher, simulations from the BoC’s projection model suggests the magnitude of the FX move needed to push growth significantly above potential and close the output gap more rapidly is also big.

3. A weaker CAD would help bring inflation to target: Recent Bank of Canada research papers have shown that the pass-through from a weaker exchange rate to inflation has diminished over the past few decades. Moreover, simulation from the BoC projection model suggest that the impact of a CAD depreciation on inflation is also weak and would require a large depreciation to bring back inflation to target.

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Flaherty regrets massive growth of CMHC, vows mortgage action if needed

“Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said Friday he regrets that Canada’s housing agency has grown as large as it has and promised to take additional measures if a reduction in the amount of government insurance on mortgages is needed.

The value of home loans insured by Canada Mortgage & Housing Corp., which is backed by the federal government, has almost doubled since the end of 2006, saddling taxpayers with a growing liability as policy makers warn that gains in house prices may be unsustainable.”

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Reblogged from Bloomberg News

“Regrettably, CMHC became something rather more grand I think than it was intended to be,” Flaherty told reporters today in Markham, Ontario, near Toronto. “We’ll see over time what that role should be.”

CMHC, set up in 1946 to address a post-war housing shortage, had assets of $289 billion as of Sept. 30, which would make it the nation’s sixth-largest bank.

The Finance Department and financial regulators have taken steps over the past four years to curb mortgage lending. Most recently, CMHC announced Nov. 29 that the agency would be paying a “risk fee” of 3.25% to the federal government on the insurance it writes, starting Jan. 1.

While measures introduced last year by regulators and Flaherty slowed the market temporarily, home sales and values rebounded as the year progressed. The average sales price of a home sold in the country this year is up 4.6%, according to Nov. 15 Canadian Real Estate Association data.

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BoC chief Stephen Poloz says Canadian housing market not a bubble, predicts soft landing

Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz said he believes the most likely scenario is a soft landing where home prices stabilize, although he acknowledged that an imbalance in the market and high household debt remain key risks.

Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz said he believes the most likely scenario is a soft landing where home prices stabilize, although he acknowledged that an imbalance in the market and high household debt remain key risks.

Reblogged from Canadian press, Julian Beltrame

OTTAWA — Canada’s housing market is not in a bubble and not likely to suffer a sudden and sharp correction in prices unless there is another major global shock to the economy, Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz said this week.

The central banker, testifying before the Senate banking committee on his latest economic outlook Wednesday, said he believes the most likely scenario is a soft landing where home prices stabilize, although he acknowledged that an imbalance in the market and high household debt remain key risks.

Poloz used the testimony to pointedly disagree with a couple of forecasting organizations that weighed in this week on the Canadian situation — the Fitch Rating service that judged Canada’s housing market as 21% overpriced, and an OECD recommendation that he start raising interest rates in a year’s time.

“Our judgment is (the housing market) is a situation that is improving, this is not a bubble that exists here that would have to be corrected,” he said. “If there is a disturbance from outside our country that’s another analysis.”

Poloz said most of the fundamentals surrounding the housing market appear headed in the right direction. The prospects for the economy is improving, he noted, which should create more jobs.

As well, he said banks are now demanding higher credit scores from new borrowers and added that he does not believe there has been serious overbuilding in the housing market.

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