Podcast: Urban planner Andy Yan on data and democracy

The born-and-bred Vancouverite’s work starts conversations, influences policy

Andy Yan.

Who is Andy Yan?

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To start, he was my guest on the third episode of “12th&Cambie: The Podcast!” And get this – he actually is a fan of the work that journalists do. So right there, you know he’s a good guy.

Yan is an urban planner, a teacher and is the director of Simon Fraser University’s city program. He’s worked in New York City, San Francisco, New Orleans and Los Angeles, where he earned a master’s degree in urban planning from the University of California-Los Angeles.

For many in this city, the born-and-bred Vancouverite is probably more widely known for his work in collecting data and mapping it out for us to better understand real estate trends in this city. Did you know nearly all detached homes in Vancouver have been assessed at $1 million, or more? Yan did because he’s the guy who mapped that out.

Some of Yan’s work has likely influenced governments (empty home tax, anyone?) and opened up conversations about the pressures of growth and foreign investment that can sometimes get nasty; Yan was accused of racism for a piece of research he did in 2015.

He talks about that research, the importance of sharing data and more in this episode. He even made a reference to a line he read in The Washington Post about democracy dying in the dark. See what I mean about his thing for journalism.

Here’s a quote to get you started: “You as a journalist, shine a light into that darkness and I as an analyst, as an urban planner, design the light bulbs and flashlights for you.”

Click on the play tab below to hear more. In advance, thanks for listening.

  • On his love for data (at the 2:36 and 26:20 minute marks)
  • On how he knows nearly all homes in Vancouver are assessed at $1 million or more (9:17)
  • On answering critics that he “throws grenades” and doesn’t offer solutions (14:45)
  • On how housing prices in Vancouver have skyrocketed under the watches of Premier Christy Clark and Mayor Gregor Robertson (16:30)
  • On being accused a racist for work he did in 2015 (19:55)
  • On what he’s working on next (27:49).



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