Blaming Chinese For High House Prices in Vancouver Is Racist," April 6. Pretty strong stuff from Allen Garr last week.
Vancouverites are, it appears from Garr's column, a bunch of gullible racists who'll swallow any myth that comes their way, especially if it involves the Chinese menace. A pretty good story, if it were true.
Let's start with a given: Vancouver, like every city, has no shortage of yahoos who are full of spite, cruelty and yes, racism. Just check out the comments section on any story on real estate. It's shameful to see this ugly face of hatred in our community. But before we get our knickers in a twist about a race divide over real estate, let's take a closer look at some real myths.
Myth #1: People concerned about foreign buyers pushing our real estate market are white people who don't like Chinese people. When I raised concerns over the impact of international transactions during the civic election campaign, the response was overwhelming and full-spectrum from across our entire community, because the problem is universal.
Myth #2: Public perception about foreign investment in Vancouver is irrational and unsubstantiated, based on gossip and rumour. Hello? Vancouver real estate made headlines around the world, shooting to the second least affordable city on the globe. Far less affordable than New York, London, or L.A. And the media have told us why in clear terms: international investment-spurred by China's new wealth.
Finally, Governor of the Bank of Canada Mark Carney appeared in Vancouver last June, cautioning that (among other things) Asian investment has become a contributing factor bidding up the cost of our real estate. How ironic for the public to now be called racist for believing the hype that the media and real estate industry peddled with unbridled enthusiasm a mere six months ago.
Yet inexplicably, our housing market went suddenly mad with speculation fuelled by an irrational confidence in an endless supply of prospective buyers. At precisely the time when the media showered us with stories of an endless supply of prospective buyers, in a different country.
The media presented solid evidence from credible sources, from which a rational person might reasonably conclude that foreign capital contributed to the insanity. It's fair to ask for hard data on what is happening, and to question the potential impact on our economic sustainability.
What's not fair is for the good faith and bona fides of questioners to be impugned by a spurious accusation of racial malice.
Funnily enough, it's only now that the public is questioning its practices that the real estate and development industry has hit full tilt back-pedal mode. Denial, denial, denial, with a helping of racial invective on the side. Richest of all is the quote from Larry Beasley, identified by Garr as a former city planner, who dismisses public anxiety about international capital as "bullshit," adding that it's "racist."
Interesting that Garr didn't mention that Beasley was once VP of Aquilini Developments-part of the Aquilini Group reported in the media for inking its strategic partnership with Asian developers, and for its proposal to market the remaining Olympic Village condos to-where else-China.
Sandy Garossino, a former lawyer and businessperson, ran for Vancouver City Council as an independent candidate in the recent civic election.
Editor’s note: The original version of this story incorrectly identified Larry Beasley as a current vice-president of Aquilini Developments.