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Indifference, Narcissism, Denial, Corruption

A weekend topic starting with the Globe and Mail in Canada. “There was a time when Vancouverites never gave any thought to the meaning of a condo that had no one living in it. But too many dark windows got people wondering, and it inspired urban planner Andy Yan to start asking questions.”

“It’s been exactly 10 years to the month that Mr. Yan made the first official attempt to measure the extent of Vancouver’s empty condo problem, which lead to him coining the phrase ‘hedge city,’ to capture Vancouver’s emerging status as the ideal place to stash wealth. Studying 13 buildings and 2,186 units over a two-year period in the downtown core, they discovered that in any given month, a range of 5.5 per cent to 8.5 per cent of the study’s downtown condo units could be empty.”

“‘But that wasn’t the entire story,’ Mr. Yan says,. ‘The story was that 52 per cent of the units were investor owned – as in not occupied by the owner. That was totally unanticipated. That, to me, goes to the heart of the city we built – for all the buildings and condos we had put up in the city of Vancouver and the downtown in particular, it was about driving a speculator market.'”

“Sandy Garossino, former Crown prosecutor and regular commentator on the housing market, remembers that those who bravely suggested the market was speculator driven and fuelled by global wealth were derided, or unfairly accused of racism and xenophobia.”

“‘They actively undermined those of us ringing the alarm for our lack of data, then attacked our motives. It was an ugly battle that divided our community. Those whose responsibility it was to address this crisis turned their backs on a crying public need, while putting developers in charge of their election fundraising,’ Garossino said.”

“Mr. Yan also sees the period as a dark one for Vancouver. ‘We kept hearing, ‘we don’t have any data. If only we had data.’ That’s a bit of a cop out, because there was data,’ he says.”

“‘It was an indifference, a narcissism, and denial, with a faint whiff of corruption,’ he adds. ‘The complacent environment for corruption, whether perceived or real, is created with the amount of money circulating. Any time that occurs, without a rigorous regime of regulations and measurement, it opens it up for abuse. And the indifference part of it is that ‘the money is good,’ and ‘we are so beautiful so of course the world wants to come here,’ which is also the narcissism, and then the denial of leaders who are supposed to protect us.'”

From Maclean’s. “Canadians have learned a lot in the past few months about some of the forces that contributed to the astonishing run-up in real estate prices over the last decade and a half. Many of these revelations have emerged from British Columbia in recent weeks with the release of two landmark reports on money laundering that sought to estimate the scale of the province’s dirty money problem, and detail how it tightened its grip on the housing market and other industries.”

“The gush of ill-gotten gains into the economy is deeply troubling. An expert panel set up to examine money laundering’s influence on B.C.’s real estate sector ‘conservatively’ estimated in its report that $46.7 billion was laundered in Canada last year. Of that, the panel estimated that transactions in B.C. accounted for $7.4 billion.”

“But the panel also contained unpleasant surprises for other parts of Canada. Using what’s known as the Gravity Model for its estimates—which factors in international trade flows, per capita GDP and crime statistics—it found that Alberta and Ontario have even higher levels of money laundering activity.”

“‘People like to say this is only a B.C. problem,’ says Maureen Maloney, a Simon Fraser University professor and chair of the panel, ‘but it’s clear that this is a problem facing all of Canada.'”

“Kevin Comeau, a retired lawyer and advocate for greater transparency in property ownership, is blunt: ‘While money launderers in B.C. could leave Canada altogether, they’re more likely to head to Ontario, because it has among the weakest anti-money laundering laws of all the Western liberal democracies.'”

“How bad is Canada at stopping money launderers? ‘We have a 99.9 per cent failure rate,’ says Comeau. He sits on Transparency International’s Canada working group on anti-money laundering and beneficial ownership transparency, and says the most important thing Canada can do to improve its performance is to adopt a national registry of who owns what residential property.”

From Burnaby Now. “Some drug rings are actually spending their days manufacturing, storing and selling their products of death in some pretty swanky digs in luxury highrises in Burnaby and other spots in Metro Vancouver.”

“Just this week, Burnaby RCMP released details of a mid-level drug ring that was busted operating out of highrise condos in the Metrotown and Brentwood areas. It’s unclear if they owned the units or were just renting. Police moved in on May 30, executing search warrants at the two buildings and seizing two kilograms of prepackaged, street-ready drugs, bulk fentanyl and cocaine, $50,000 in cash, valuables such as watches and jewelry, and two vehicles.”

“In June 2018, the NOW wrote about a drug lab that was operating not in some dingy warehouse, but in a high-end apartment in the High Gate neighbourhood in South Burnaby. The drug dealers had an arsenal of loaded firearms and were cooking up deadly drugs with Magic Bullet blenders and frying pans.”

“When police finally entered unit with a search warrant, they quickly backed out again after finding open foil packages of fentanyl on the kitchen counter. Decked out in hazmat suits, members of the RCMP Clandestine Laboratory Enforcement and Response Team returned to find more than 1,578 grams of the deadly drug. Fifty times more potent than heroin.”

“Unbeknownst to their neighbours, the stove used to cook up these ‘highly toxic products’ was also being vented directly outside of their complex, according to court documents. That must’ve been some shock to the neighbours. Loaded weapons. Toxic drugs. Highly flammable chemicals.”

“Operating out of high-end Burnaby condos makes it more difficult to spot such illicit operations. After all, when you live in such a building, you probably don’t suspect your neighbours of committing heinous crimes. Then again, so many of these condos probably sit empty because they are owned by speculators, so there aren’t exactly a lot of neighbours around to be suspicious.”

“I’ve also been told by people working in law enforcement that there are a lot of luxury condos in Burnaby that house prostitution operations. Good times.”

This Post Has 34 Comments
  1. ‘It was an indifference, a narcissism, and denial, with a faint whiff of corruption’

    I admire Mr Yan, but there’s a whole sh!t-ton of corruption in Canada and it hasn’t stopped.

  2. ‘They actively undermined those of us ringing the alarm for our lack of data, then attacked our motives. It was an ugly battle that divided our community. Those whose responsibility it was to address this crisis turned their backs on a crying public need, while putting developers in charge of their election fundraising’

    That last part was about you, Bob “the biggest ass-hole in Canada” Rennie! Look at the drugs, murder and addiction. Wow, but you got your money and crawled off into some hole. Dirt-bag!!

  3. “Sandy Garossino, former Crown prosecutor and regular commentator on the housing market, remembers that those who bravely suggested the market was speculator driven and fuelled by global wealth were derided, or unfairly accused of racism and xenophobia.”

    Now that truth-tellers on the Internet have broken the globalists’ monopoly on news and information, the Oligopoly is going all-out to silence any and all dissident voices who challenge the lies and propaganda of the globalists’ approved Narrative by steadily expanding the definition of “hate speech” and the banning of bloggers who violate Orwellian “community standards.”

    1. That’s not quite true, sure list prices are down 24%, but per square foot it’s up 2%. Things are certainly slowing/trending down in Seattle metro, but I think it’s too early to say Kirkland is “cratering”.

        1. Since most people are ignorant and respond to pathos rather than logos, I’d say he’s performing a valuable service. Besides, prices are ALWAYS set at the margin.

        2. “MB is a bit of an alarmist.”

          You alarmed? I’m not. I’m quite thrilled about falling housing prices.

  4. Isn’t it great having a ton of money launderers ,speculators , drug pushers and prostitutes being your neighbors. Theiy are great for driving up the market and taking units off of builders hands. But let’s be honest here, they are creepy end users.

    But seriously, remember in the last crash all the ghost tracts and ugly dead lawns . That might be why they buy condos.

  5. “How bad is Canada at stopping money launderers? ‘We have a 99.9 per cent failure rate,’

    Hey, it could be worse.

      1. how?

        It could be 100%. Jeff was either being sarcastic or finding the silver lining.

    1. LOL. Did he seriously think he was going to make that kind of a killing? At a minimum, he was unscrupulously trying to take advantage of a pricing error, and got screwed.

      World’s smallest violin.

  6. ‘One thing Uber has been completely consistent with is that when they lower rates to passengers, they pass those decreases onto drivers in the form of pay cuts. But when they increase passenger rates, they never pass the increase on to drivers. When they were in their rate-slashing phase, they told drivers they had to pay them less because they were charging passengers less. But when they began increasing passenger prices, they told drivers that their pay was no longer tied to the passenger’s fare, but rather to the distance and time rates they had previously established at the lower prices.’

    ‘In the beginning, Uber’s rates were some two to four times higher than they are now. Passengers paid that much more and drivers made that much more. Then they started slashing rates once or twice a year. Each time they cut rates, they cut driver pay. After a few years of that, they implemented a new passenger feature called “upfront pricing,” where they tell passengers what the total cost of their trip will be before they confirm their request for a driver. Soon after that, we started seeing information from drivers suggesting Uber was charging passengers for longer distances and more time than trips actually took. But they were paying drivers for the exact time and distance, which almost always was less than they had charged the passengers.’

    ‘Uber has also slashed the percentage they pay to drivers. Originally, they paid drivers 80% of the fare and kept 20% for themselves. After a couple of years, they started paying new drivers just 75% and keeping 25% for themselves (a 25% increase for Uber). Then, after they implemented upfront pricing, drivers started sending us screenshots of the earnings page from their driver app showing that Uber was frequently taking 60% or more and paying drivers just 40% or less of the fare.’

    https://www.autoblog.com/2019/06/15/uber-lyft-hidden-costs-drivers/

    1. “One thing Uber has been completely consistent with is that when they lower rates to passengers, they pass those decreases onto drivers in the form of pay cuts. But when they increase passenger rates, they never pass the increase on to drivers.”

      I like it; It reminds me of adjustable rate mortgages.

      Suck the marks in with low mortgage rates then Jack the marks up by jacking up the rates. Allow the marks to believe that the term “adjustable” translates to “down” as well as to “up” and you’ve got them trapped.

      This process would only work on a population consisting mostly of totally dumbed-down ignorant pukes which is the reason it works so well.

      1. Regarding the Uber drivers, what we are witnessing is the behavior of the dumbest of the dumbed-down. The dumbest of the dumbed-down is what remains of the pool of Uber drivers after the less-than-dim drivers eventually “get it”, meaning get how they are being exploited, and move on to something else (most likely to similar type of job, meaning another process of becoming exploited).

          1. (snip)

            “The churn that companies like Uber experience, with drivers starting and quitting regularly, also reflects the low value placed on drivers and their general lack of satisfaction.”

            And intelligence, IMO.

            “In 2015, Uber admitted that its drivers often bail after one year. One of the reasons for that? Feeling expendable.”

            “Feeling expendible”. 😁

            “While the companies claim that they would prefer to retain their drivers, their lethargic responses to backlash suggest that this kind of chaos is more or less accepted as a sacrifice for retaining their power.”

    2. Soon after that, we started seeing information from drivers suggesting Uber was charging passengers for longer distances and more time than trips actually took. But they were paying drivers for the exact time and distance, which almost always was less than they had charged the passengers.

      Fraud, likely unactionable. How convenient.

    3. This kind of reminds me of airlines when they implemented a fuel surcharge when oil prices were high. They always tacked on the extra charge to customers. But when oil fell did they reduce the surcharge? No way. They kept it in place. It’s just a way of squeezing the consumer, or in Uber’s case the “independent contractor”.

    4. When I started driving trucks long distances 40 years ago, I worked for a company in Omaha that contract-hauled for the Armour Meat Co.

      In a relatively short time, I started getting high priority loads. I learned later that I had developed a reputation for reliability. It seems that I was one of the few drivers that could deliver to the west coast without getting waylaid by the whorehouses and casinos in Nevada.

      I was paid by the mile, which was the standard for this type of driving. When I compared the miles I was reporting vs. what I was paid, I found I was getting paid significantly fewer miles than I had actually driven.

      My next high priority load after this discovery was one that HAD to be in L.A. early Monday morning. I was ahead of schedule when I pulled into a Barstow truck stop on Sunday evening.

      I called the dispatcher and told him, “I’m stuck in Barstow and can’t go any farther. I just ran out of miles.”

      “Ran out of miles? What do you mean you ran out of miles?”

      “I drove the same number of miles I was paid for my last trip to L.A. and I’m not there yet.”

  7. I was looking at listings in the middle-class Si Valley zip code 95129.

    Total open listings: 44 (there was a time around March 2018 when this number was just 4)
    Price reduced: 21 (of which 6 are on the market more than 30 days after the price was cut).

  8. https://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/not-owner-occupied-property-skyrockets-in-vancouver

    Not-owner-occupied property skyrockets in Vancouver

    Property in Metro Vancouver is often sold as an investment, not as a place to live. [insert my shocked face here 🙂 ]
    John Mackie
    Updated: June 14, 2019

    “Almost half the condos in Vancouver are not-owner occupied, and almost one-fifth of the detached homes.”

    “The startling figures come from data released by the Canadian Housing Statistics Program on Tuesday.”

    “The federal study presented the numbers in more of a positive light, noting that “over half (54.3 per cent) of … condos … were owner-occupied, compared with 81 per cent of single-detached houses.”

    “But Simon Fraser University’s Andy Yan flipped the numbers around to show how the not-owner occupied numbers have skyrocketed during Vancouver’s housing crisis. Yan said in 2009 that a City of Vancouver study found 35.2 per cent of condos in the city were not-owner occupied. The new study found the number grew to 46 per cent in 2018, an increase of 10.8 per cent in a decade.”

    “It’s gone up substantially, city-wide,” said Yan, director of SFU’s City Program. “It will probably be even higher when you look at particular neighbourhoods.”

    “Not-owner occupied means “owners who don’t live in their units.”

    The local, shelter-buyer is hosed. Take off ey? This is normal. I’m sure the local gov’t. has been doing everything they can to prevent this situation from occurring.

    “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’ ”– Ronald Reagan – 40th president of US (1911 – 2004)

    No speculation/money laundering/graft-corruption/shady business here. Move along. (sarcasm intended). And yet people wonder why populism is growing by leaps and bounds world wide. Go figure.

  9. ‘those who bravely suggested the market was speculator driven and fuelled by global wealth were derided, or unfairly accused of racism and xenophobia’

    Or worse if you said anything about money laundering you were saying these Chinese people were crooks. A whole lot of them are worse than crooks. They are Chinese police mafia. Cut people up into pieces kind of mafia.

    But this thing isn’t uncommon. Completely criminal set ups accusing those opposed of something egregious just to throw off the debate on their bad deeds. And it worked for years. Now the whole sordid debacle is plain for all to see. Where’s the apologies? Why aren’t the Liberal party bashtards in prison?

    Anyway, remember all this the next time you hear someone accused of racism. The person doing it may have something to hide.

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