The 2012 CMHC Spring Rental Report: affordability still an issue for Vancouver.

spring rental report

It’s not surprising that there was little media coverage of the CMHC Spring Rental Report release given that it contained pages of tables and no concise summary of the results. Pretty dry reading and lots of page scrolling to find relevant information for Vancouver.

However, in a media release by CMHC announcing the report, the following summary states:

“An overall improving job market over the last year, in conjunction with new migrants coming to Canada’s major centres, are factors that are supporting rental demand in Canada,” said Mathieu Laberge, Deputy Chief Economist at CMHC’s Market Analysis Centre. “Immigrants, as well as young workers, usually tend to rent first and then move to homeownership.”
CMHC media release

The report indicates that Vancouver is continuing with the tread of low vacancy rates and increasing rental costs to tenants. In 2012, vacancy rates drop two tenths of a percentage point from 2011 to 2.6 from 2.8. Average rents went up as well, with studio apartments increasing from $839 to $855, one-bedrooms increasing from $934 to $965, two-bedrooms increasing from from $1,288 to $1,219 and three bedrooms having a minimal rise in rent of a buck from $1406 to $1407.

Vancouver has the ignoble distinction of being the most expensive city to rent a two- bedroom apartment in Canada. If you are looking for a deal on rent try Trois-Rivieres where a two-bedroom goes for $543 or Saguenay at $553 or consider the lovely Eastern Townships in Sherbrook at $581.

Photos from West End Car Free Day 2012

mroe photos

West End Car Free Day this Sunday, June 17, 10 am to 8 pm

Don’t forget that Denman St. will be closed this Sunday June 17 from 8 am to 8 pm for Car Free Day.

Come join the West End Residents Association (WERA) and play some ping pong.

This is how the event is described on the Car Free Day website:

The West End is one of the more diverse neighbourhoods in Vancouver and Car Free Day gets us all out on the street: young, old, families, couples, single folks. We all get together and celebrate our community and the things we love about it. And no cars makes it even funner! Did we mention all the music is acoustic? Oh ya!!!!

Date: Sunday, June 17th, 2012 (Father’s Day)
Location: We’ll be celebrating on Denman Street between Davie and Robson
Time: Festival runs from noon to 6 p.m. and the street is closed from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Some of This Year’s Features in the West End

Vancouver Aquarium
Miss Teen Vancouver World 2012: Miss Nadia Afshar
Vancouver Historical Society
Denman Fitness
Kids’ Zone!
PuddleCity Arts
West End Seniors’ Network
Wilderness Committee
Tango’s Gourmet Meats BBQ
West End Community Bouncy Castle & Fun Games for Kids
and more to come…

Home, Recap & Dialogue: An Exploration of 3 Vancouver Communities, Tuesday June 19, 6-9 pm

Recap and dialogue of the Jane’s Walks Special
June 19, 6 – 9pm, Museum of Vancouver (1100 Chestnut St)

In support of the ongoing community planning processes at the City of Vancouver, MOV and Spacing Magazine have partnered with them in order to co-host a series of walking tours in the three areas where planning dialogues will take place: Marpole, the West End and Grandview-Woodland.

Three concurrent walking tours were held as part of the Jane’s Walk activities that place in Vancouver on Sunday, May 6. Jane’s Walk are yearly, community-led walking tours that take place in neighbourhoods across the worlds in honour of the late urbanist Jane Jacobs.

This free public dialogue is an opportunity for participants, tour leaders, and neighborhood planners to reconvene and share their insights, learnings, and thoughts from their respective neighborhood walks.

The local resident and urban designer from each neighborhood – Marpole, Grandview-Woodland, and the West End – will recap highlights from their walks, and share brief features that make that neighborhood unique. City of Vancouver planners will be on hand to answer questions about the specific Community Plan and provide more details about the ongoing process.

6:00PM – Welcome/Interactive Warmup “Jane’s Game”
6:30PM – Introductions, Neighborhood Recaps
7:30PM – Discussion
8:15PM – Wrapup & Mingling

*cash bar and reception to follow

RSVP online

Premier Clark’s St. Paul’s Hospital announcement

More photos
This morning, Wednesday June 13, 2012, Premier Christy Clark and Minister of Health Mike de Jong announced their government’s commitment to the renewal St. Paul’s Hospital on the Burrard St. site.

In the Premier’s statement she announced her government’s commitment to Providence Health Care’s (PHC) concept plan that was presented at a WERA community forum back in 2010. Ms. Clark stated that the more detailed work of planning the renewed hospital could go forward without stating the establishment of a business case, a project board, or the allocation of a dollar amount in the budget.

After this announcement the media the media immediately grilled the premier noting that she was just announcing work that had already been done by PHC back in 2010 and that there were no dollars attached to her announcement. But in surprising moment the Premier stated that she had a “firm, absolute, commitment” to the renewal of St. Paul’s Hospital. When further pressed she stated that there was a business case with government and that $500 million had been allocated in the 2012 budget and the detailed planning would be done by 2014.

This is all good news for St. Paul’s Hospital. Timing is slow and the “firm, absolute, commitment” to the hospital is long overdue, but the statement was clear that PHC should start the detailed planning for the hospital’s renewal.

The most confusing and troubling part of the announcement was when the Premier stated that there was a business case before the Treasury Board and this was something that the Minister of Health has denied. In research done by Extra West reporter Jeremy Hainsworth from Hansard at the BC Legislature on May 15, 2012 the Minister of Health is recorded as saying;

“We now have a concept plan and have had since last year, and say that there is a strong desire to move forward with this. The next stage would be the commissioning of the business case.

When the decision is made and the announcement is made to move forward with the business case and the expenditure of that $5 million or $6 million, I believe that represents the beginning of the redevelopment project.”

Full Extra West Story

The questions that need to be clarified as we move forward are:
– Is there a business case before the government?
– If a business case needs to be done where will the dollars come from?
– When will a project board be established?
– Will the whole project be a “P3” and have go through Partnership BC?

Good news today, but there are some serious hurdles that need to be cleared before the Downtown Peninsula has a renewed and seismically safe hospital.

After years of silence, doctors finally speak up about the difficult working conditions at St. Paul’s Hospital

A view of St. Paul's Hospital

I have frequently heard that St. Paul’s Hospital has a high commitment to patient care from all of the staff despite the challenges of a decrepit and crumbling building. With the urgent need for a comprehensive renewal since 2002, it is curious that very little has been publicly heard from the hospital staff on the subject. Especially given that staff at other hospitals often send open letters to the Premier and stage media events (remember to Tim Horton’s emergency room story at Royal Columbian Hospital:CBC story . For some reason St. Paul’s Hospital staff have been persistently silent on the widely known poor conditions where they work.

Now, thanks to the diligent work of MLA for Vancouver-West End, Spencer Chandra Herbert, who filed a Freedom of Information request to Providence Health Care, the public has a very shocking picture of the inner workings of St. Paul’s Hospital through two letters from physicians at St. Paul’s Hospital to the CEO Dianne Doyle.

In these two letters written by Carole Richford, BSN, MD, FRCPC and Stephen R. Wiseman, MD, FRCP, a barrage of serious issues with the conditions at St. Paul’s Hospital are chronicled from mice, pigeons, cockroaches, broken elevators, high absentee rates, patient care in hallways, risk of infection, risk of cataclysmic failure of building in an earthquake to both vulnerable patients and staff. Quite a litany of concerns were poignantly stated.

Here are some excerpts from the Letters

Dr. Richford

“…I now find myself completely demoralized with my physical work environment.”

“….building was ‘deplorable’ at 70 years old. I believe the mice and pigeons are also geriatric!”

“…sick time were higher than last year”

“…being publicly blamed by VPD for a psychopath stabbing an elderly man.”

“…this hospital has come to the point where NOTHING more can be improved until we have a new building. “

Dr. Wiseman

“You cannot provide good care regarding infection control, for example, with mice and cockroaches running all over patient care areas like I have seen for years now”

“…we cannot come close to properly addressing the scourge delirium in this hospital”

“Placing multiple patients to a room, to be kept up by the acutely ill, or snoring, or agitated by others’ family visits, is not appropriate care for those at risk of becoming delirious”

“I won’t even get started about the patients placed in stretchers in hallways of hospital inpatient units.”

“…if there is the slightest little burp of an earthquake, the building I spend most of my week in will fall to the ground in seconds….

“The West End/downtown of Vancouver is the most densely populated area of Canada…and it is situated on what is essentially a peninsula….Yet, we have had the incredible foresight to construct the only Emergency Department in this entire region on the first floor of the Burrard Building-so when there is an earthquake, it will be completely flattened and all the doctors and ruses working there killed. The brides will be out, and the downtown area of the city will be an utter disaster zone. “

After years of silence the dirt on St. Paul’s hospital is out. Check out the full letters: Doctor’s Letters

In an article in the Vancouver Province, by Elaine O’Connor, entitled, “Condition Critical: aging hospital at high risk in earthquake”, CEO Dianne Doyle of St. Paul’s Hospital is quote as saying, “We are on life support” comparing the hospital to a terminal ill patient in the intensive care unit.

The article goes further on the situation:

Surprisingly, Doyle, a senior executive in health care for 25 years, said her hardest job is not funding a major upgrade, but simply keeping St. Paul’s staff doing their best in a clearly sub-par environment.

“What I don’t want to see is that this progresses to a point where our staff become so distracted by that and so frustrated by needing to work in an environment that is so challenging and doesn’t enable their excellence that they begin to lose hope and begin to lose their focus on excellence … or leave,” she said.

Here is a link the full article well worth a read: Province story

This is the legacy of the BC Liberal government, after being in power for more than a decade, doctors and senior members of the hospital management team are frustrated and increasingly disengaged to order to cope with the inaction on the hospital renewal and piecemeal efforts when actually a comprehensive response is critically required.

1401 Comox starts public hearing today

1401 Comox

The proposed redevelopment of 1401 Comox Street goes to public hearing on Monday, June 11.

City staff is recommending approval (with a few minor modifications) of the proposal to rezone the former site of St. John’s United Church to allow for the construction of a 22-storey market rental building.

Details can be found on the City website at

Vancouver viaducts open houses

Dates of 3 Open Houses:

Tuesday, June 5th, Woodwards Atrium, 4pm-7pm, 111 West Hasings

Thursday, June 7th, Creekside CC, 3:30-6:30pm, 1 Athlete’s Way

Saturday, June 9th,Central Library Promenade, 10am-2pm, 350 Georgia St.

One of the more exciting moves that this Council has been working on is the discussion and planning on the removal of the viaducts. Imagine the possible uses for the land under the bridges, from more park space to whole new opportunity to develop a model of an affordable community. The city is hosting open houses for the project and this would be an opportunity for resident put their ides forward and what should be done with land.

Here a link to CoV page about the project with a very cool slide presentation about it:Viaducts

The project is describe in the following manner on the city’s website:

In July 2011, Vancouver City Council directed staff to undertake work on an Eastern Core Strategy. The purpose of the study was to explore reconfiguration options for the Georgia and Dunsmuir Viaducts, within the context of a “big picture” land-use and transportation examination of the broader area. Based on input gathered from initial stakeholder consultation and an open ideas competition, a new concept for the area has been developed. The public is invited to view this new concept for the viaducts and provide their feedback at upcoming open houses. Staff will be reporting to Council prior to the summer break (July 2012).

MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert’s renters forum: renters know your rights and responsibilities!

MLA for Vancouver-West End,Spencer Chandra Herbert is hosting a renters forum this Thursday, June 7th, 6pm at Central Presbyterian Church at 1155 Thurlow Street.

Want to know more about your rights and responsibilities as a renter?
MR. Herbert will be joined by Tenants Resource Advisory Centre (TRAC) and local community members affected by evictions and other tenancy issues.

They will be addressing:

• What to do when first signing a lease and moving in
• How to make repair requests or submit complaints
• How to mediate with your landlord and solve problems together
• How to prepare for dispute resolution or challenge evictions
• Getting your damage deposit back at the end of your lease
• Organizing with your fellow tenants
• How to make larger changes to rebalance the Tenancy Act
• And a whole lot more!

This workshop will be a great chance to get your questions answered and learn more about your rights and responsibilities as a tenant. Participants will also receive great renters’ resources to take with you!

The workshop takes place at Central Presbyterian Church at 1155 Thurlow Street on Thursday June 7th from 6PM-8PM and is FREE, but registration is required.

Please call 604-660-7307 or email s.chandraherbert.mla@leg.b to register and for more information.

Justice not just democracy: are residents’ self interest a barrier to the critical needs of our time?

The City of Vancouver is in the process of conducting three new community plans in Grandview Woodlands, Marpole and the West End as well as a Community Planning Table meeting in the Downtown Eastside. While these planning processes are underway, fundamental questions need to be asked about this planning process. What are are the outcomes of this process and what do we collectively hope to achieve through them? While some residents are engaged in the process to protect the status quo and to say “no” to change, other residents know that the world is changing and every neighbourhood needs to respond to the critical issues of our time through creating more housing affordability, adapting to climate change and responding demographic challenges. Continue reading Justice not just democracy: are residents’ self interest a barrier to the critical needs of our time? →