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  • Friday, October 4, 2019
  • 3:30 PM–4:30 PM
  • North Hall 078

The Department of Geology, Geography and Environmental Studies invites you to the inaugural Don Vermeer Lecture on Geographical Change: 

"The Great Wall of Capital: Or, Why Is Vancouver Housing the Most Unaffordable in North America?"

By Dr. David Ley
Department of Geography
University of British Columbia

We examine the globalisation of a local housing market in Vancouver, Canada, the most unaffordable city in North America. The background political economy included a persistent attempt by Canadian governments since the 1980s to reboot a troubled regional economy through investment from the growth region of Asia Pacific. An important tool was a Business Immigration Program (BIP), which welcomed capital and invited capitalists to transfer their entrepreneurial skills to Canada. The BIP was very popular in Greater China, attracting wealth migration to Vancouver from Hong Kong and Taiwan in the 1980s and 1990s, and from Mainland China after 2000. A powerful growth machine developed, as substantial capital crossed the Pacific after 1986, sent by distant investors and transplanted migrants, much of it destined for the Vancouver property market. The provincial government became addicted to the spinoffs from these funds, and relations became ever closer with a vigorous local and trans-Pacific property industry sharing the same pro-development agenda. The gutting of regulatory agencies eased the passage of capital and wealthy migrants with minimal monitoring. The result was serious over-heating of the housing market and severe unaffordability. Only In 2017 did a new government introduce cooling policies leading to a modest and far from complete re-regulation.



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