Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Archive for July 9th, 2007

More on No 3 Road

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No. 3 Road in Richmond is going through the same construction problems that have turned customers away from visiting Cambie Street

 

Linda Nguyen, Vancouver Sun

Published: Monday, July 09, 2007

 

Page 3 – two thirds of it with big pictures. As luck would have it I was out on No 3 Road last evening taking pictures of the construction. You can see them on my flickr page

 

Sunday afternoon around 6pm is quite quiet on No 3. The only place that seemed to be really busy was the Yaohan centre where the parking lot was full, and people were looking for spaces. A number of closures were notable. At the corner of Cambie Road all the stores are empty and a sign is up advertising the plan for an expansion to the Aberdeen Mall. There has been extensive coverage of this development in the local press . It includes yet another hotel. XS Cargo, which had been doing a brisk trade between Yaohan and Canadian Tire has relocated – it is not clear that this is related to the line construction. But the extra parking spaces seem to have been welcomed!

 

As with Cambie Street in Vancouver, the amount of space taken up by the construction is much larger than the footprint of the line. A lot of working space and a safety zone has been set out but it is not clear that all of it is being used. In fact what was most noticeable when I was in Vancouver is how much space is needed just for parking the construction workers’ cars. And, of course, they don’t work on Sunday. I did not even see any security presence – which actually helps my photographic efforts. I can’t help feeling that if a bit more urgency had been put into the construction schedule, the disruption to business (which is inevitable) could have been significantly reduced. But then with a P3 the only concern is to reduce the private cost to the construction company not the public cost of the disruption they cause. It’s just another externality for the community to absorb. Except, of course, this hits hard on a very few people who do not seem to be getting much help from the community at large.

Written by Stephen Rees

July 9, 2007 at 4:32 pm

Posted in transit, Urban Planning

Vancouver Housing Bubble to Pop?

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 News :: thetyee.ca

The topic of house prices is one where everyone has an opinion. In terms of affordability we have already gone past that point many years ago, and it is just getting worse. That, of itself is not enough to rein in house prices, because there are still people looking to move to Vancouver because compared to “world class” cities, prices here do not look so bad. London for example.   And the desirability of our scenery, climate, safe predictable government and free health care … well, none of those is likely to change.

Much is made of the rise in interest rates, but that only affects those who stuck to variable rate mortgages, or are new to the market and are just getting their first mortgage. And there is more help these days than there was just a few years ago. You can now get 100% mortgages. There are more flexible options about house sharing – and the really irritating ad that goes with that. Municipalites are getting more relaxed about secondary suites “mortgage helpers”. And in terms of demographics, the boomers are downsizing as they become empty nesters. Many are beginning to realise they don’t need such a big house, or a yard, or the maintenance hassles of outright freehold. Hence the boom in condos and “lifestyle communities”.

The verious levels of government also seem to not grasp that they should be involved at the bottom end of the ladder, with more social housing, greater tenure options (co-housing, co-ops) and other innovations in lending insurance – location efficient and energy efficient mortgages. What this does is drive more people into the home pruchase market whi would much rather not be there and who will be caught out whenever there is a shift in the balance of supply and demand.

The other thing that is happening here is the amount of speculation in housing. People flipping condos: people buying up homes to just remodel and then move on pocketing more than they spent: investors buying up older smaller homes on large lots to replace them with townhouses – 2 or 3 to a lot depending on the municipal rules. Frankly I would not shed too many tears if some of those people who have been driving the prices up got caught in a falling market.

But mostly it is about land prices. And we are in a different situation to many cities. We simply do not have lots of space and we do not want to sprawl onto the farmland. So unless the ALR gets clobbered – or Kevin Falcon gets his wicked way – I suspect that our house prices will hold up in the long term but may wobble a bit in the coming months.

Written by Stephen Rees

July 9, 2007 at 1:26 pm

Posted in Economics, housing