Rising cost of Vancouver housing sparks protests

Image via Thinkstock
Image via Thinkstock

Advocates hope to bring changes to the Vancouver housing market

By Mercedes Deutscher, Staff Reporter

Residents of the Lower Mainland continue to protest the rising prices of Vancouver properties.

Hundreds of people gathered outside of the Vancouver Art Gallery on May 24 to bring attention to the increasing cost of living in Vancouver. At the protest, organized by Vancouverites for Affordable Housing, attendants presented data regarding the increase of Vancouver housing prices over several decades. Some of the protesters in attendance were adults with young families, saying that the costs of living in Vancouver have forced them to move out of the city.

Among the protesters was Eveline Xia, who had started a viral Twitter conversation in April titled #donthave1million, which featured adults listing their age, occupation, and the hashtag.

Although not in attendance, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson released a statement to the media that the City of Vancouver is attempting to address the rise in housing prices. Robertson also suggested that higher governments do more to help.

“One of the biggest ways we could boost affordability […] is for the federal government to re-engage in housing.”

BC Premier Christy Clark has responded to protesting Vancouverites and to the opposition leader John Horgan, saying that “We’re making sure we look across the world to see what’s worked and what hasn’t, to see what’s had unintended consequences and what hasn’t.” It was a move that was celebrated by advocates like Xia.

A group of realtors also made a decision to get involved in the affordability conversation. After Xia’s hashtag went viral, the group bought the domain donthave1million.com and opened the Twitter account @donthave1mil. The group is working to aid people looking into buying real estate in the Vancouver area by donating free services that are valued at a total of $1-million.

The actions of the real estate group resulted in both praise and negative backlash. Some have seen the gesture as a generous one from a group that wishes to assist first-time buyers. Other affordable housing advocates view the group’s actions as selfish.

In an interview with CBC, Xia accused the real estate group of twisting the conversation and only being “in it for personal gain.” Xia hopes that the conversation will return to its original intention: to bring awareness and action towards the increasing costs of property in Vancouver.

Vancouverites for Affordable Housing continues to encourage supporters to take action outside of protests by sending data related to Vancouver housing prices.