Why Can’t Boffo/Kettle Answer A Simple Question?

A senior member of the Kettle Boffo team that wants to build a massive over-sized tower on the corner of Venables and Commercial Drive loves to retweet on Twitter material regarding “affordable housing,” as if that is important to him. We also know that it is becoming difficult in Grandview to find affordable housing.

So, yesterday, I asked him (and copied to Boffo Properties) a simple question:

“How many of the Boffo condos on the Drive are planned to be affordable under CMHC definitions for median income Vancouver families with minimum legal down payment?”

All of the variables are easy to find:

  • CMHC (and most other) definitions of “affordable housing” consider 30% of gross income to be the maximum of affordable.
  • The latest Stats Can figure (2015) for median family income in Vancouver is $72,662. I’d be happy for them to use $75,000.
  • The minimum down payment in Canada is 5% for the first $500,000 and 10% for the balance above $500,000.

So far, there has been absolute silence from them. I wonder why that is? Could it be that none of the condos will be affordable to the average Vancouver family? If so, how is that helping the situation in Grandview?

If the Boffo Tower is designed for the global luxury market rather than to help house regular locals, that’s up to them, but let’s not have any of the partners suggest this has anything to do with affordability.

What I did get in return for my question was the typical nonsense from the build, build, build crowd. As usual they say that a $651,000 condo (now the median price in Vancouver) is more affordable than a $2 million single-family property. While that is technically true it still doesn’t make the condo genuinely affordable. This argument is exactly the same as telling a working family they should buy an Aston Martin rather than a Lamborghini when what they actually need is a Ford Escort.

 

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11 Responses to Why Can’t Boffo/Kettle Answer A Simple Question?

  1. David Carman says:

    I’ve also noticed how developers and their various lobby groups, like the UDI and Fraser Institute are always opining about how they so desperately want housing affordability. If there was some sort of magical, sure-fire cure that would see home prices cut by 25% overnight I would like to ask the development industry if they would endorse such a solution. Their words suggest the answer would be yes, but If pressed I can GUARANTEE you the answer would be no. These people are not fools. They know that supply has outpaced population growth for some time, yet prices have continued to skyrocket – and they’re laughing all the way to the bank. The bleeding heart cry for supposed “affordability” is simply a PR ploy to try and convince the public that increasing supply is the only way to bring down costs.

  2. Alex Greenfields says:

    I guarantee we’ll achieve affordability more quickly by burning Boffo condos than by building new ones.

  3. Alex Greenfields says:

    I don’t see Grandview Citizen’s comment here anymore, but I’m interest in the litigation process suggested. (“get a couple hundred neighbours together and seek legal representation. Make it financially painful for the Developer”) Is there any precedent for a community group litigating against a developer on account of damages to the neighbourhood?
    Presumably this would happen through some kind of class action. I think it wouldn’t be feasible to bring a case like this unless you could identify a large class that has suffered demonstrable and quantifiable damages that result directly from the developer’s activities. Seems like the only potentially viable course would be to show that developers have colluded to drive up prices. There’s a couple notable real estate marketing companies that appear to run most of the large sales campaigns for all the big developers and thus de facto set the price of real estate commodities in Vancouver. So that might be a way to do it if one can find a law firm willing to take up the cause.
    That would be a more politic course of action than arson, but I’m not convinced it would be as effective.

    • jakking says:

      What you are describing is called Third Party appeals. We lost that right at the Supreme Court in the Salsbury Gardens case some years ago. It could be changed through political will, I guess, at the provincial level through a change to the Vancouver Charter or some other legislation but not, at this time, through the courts.

  4. Alex Greenfields says:

    I don’t see Grandview Citizen’s comment here anymore, but I’m interest in the litigation process suggested. (“get a couple hundred neighbours together and seek legal representation. Make it financially painful for the Developer”) Is there any precedent for a community group litigating against a developer on account of damages to the neighbourhood?
    Presumably this would happen through some kind of class action. I think it wouldn’t be feasible to bring a case like this unless you could identify a large class that has suffered demonstrable and quantifiable damages that result directly from the developer’s activities. Seems like the only potentially viable course would be to show that developers have colluded to drive up prices. There’s a couple notable real estate marketing companies that appear to run most of the large sales campaigns for all the big developers and thus de facto set the price of real estate commodities in Vancouver. So that might be a way to do it if one can find a law firm willing to take up the cause.
    That would be a more politic course of action than arson, but I’m not convinced it would be as effective.

    (Sorry if this is a repeat comment. It appears that I was earlier replying to a now-invisible comment, so I’m reposting this.)

    • jakking says:

      What you are describing is called Third Party appeals. We lost that right at the Supreme Court in the Salsbury Gardens case some years ago. It could be changed through political will, I guess, at the provincial level through a change to the Vancouver Charter or some other legislation but not, at this time, through the courts.

      • Alex Greenfields says:

        I think what I’m suggesting here is different than a Third Party appeal (which I assume is an intervention in a City rezoning, land-use decision, or other approval process). I’m suggesting civil class litigation directly against a group of developers for engaging in city-wide price fixing and collusion. I think this would be a long shot and it might be impossible to prove intent, but I think it’s been happening. Clearly one of the reasons prices Vancouver prices are so high is that a small number of large developers control the market and act in concert to drive up prices.

  5. jakking says:

    OK, well that sounds like the Benthill case from Yaletown about four years ago. The locals won in court but the City won on appeal.

    Glen Chernen, who is currently running for the NPA mayoralty position, has been discussing this stuff for years. Take a look at his website for examples.

  6. Alex Greenfields says:

    Thanks for the info. That’s an interesting case, but it does seem to be a suit against the City not the developer. Definitely the City has been negligent in protecting the public interest but I’m wondering if a case could be made against the developers themselves for market manipulation.
    Good to know Glen is championing some of these issues.

  7. jakking says:

    We are getting above my paygrade here. Best to speak to someone like Glen who has specialised in this kind of thing (no political endorsement intended).

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