Vancouver’s foreign-owned real estate: Is public policy required?



(Source: Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada)

The Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada has just published a “virtual roundtable” on the increasingly contentious question of whether and how to regulate foreign ownership of residential real estate in Vancouver. I’m honoured to be one of the experts who was asked to weigh in.

In general, the panel expressed strong concern about housing affordability in Vancouver, but also warnings not to uncritically demonize “foreigners”.

As I argue:

There’s a strong public interest in regulating the sale of housing to people who don’t live and work in the Vancouver region, because non-local buyers make housing less affordable for everyone else. The specific question of foreign nationality isn’t the problem (although it may be the easiest way to tackle the problem politically); the problem is people buying houses who aren’t living in those houses year-round and contributing to the local economy.

See more: Vancouver’s Foreign-owned Real Estate: Is Public Policy Required?

Why does everyone think cities can save the planet?

A speculative render of Tianjin Eco City

A speculative render of Tianjin Eco City (source: Surbana Urban Planning Group)

For the upcoming 2016 annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers, Hillary Angelo (from the University of California Santa Cruz) and I have organized a set of sessions responding to the question “Why does everyone think cities can save the planet?”. We received an enormous amount of interest in the call for papers we circulated (nearly 40 submissions!), and we’re both very excited about the final lineup. Date and time is still TBA, but here are the sessions:

Why Does Everyone Think Cities Can Save the Planet?

Session organizers: Hillary Angelo (University of California Santa Cruz) and David Wachsmuth (McGill University)

While fears of global warming and environmental catastrophe loom ever greater, urban areas continue to expand unevenly. And, in the face of environmental crisis and urban crisis, the ideal of the ‘sustainable city’ is increasingly taking a leading role in urban planning and policy discourse. But if the city is to save the planet, who will save the city? And why does everyone think cities can save the planet in the first place? These sessions consider the reasons for, and political implications of, this phenomenon. New ways of conceiving the urban have always been linked to the identification of new “problems” and strategies for urban governance—and to the production of new blindspots and new dynamics of sociopolitical contestation. The same is also true of nature: changing ideologies of nature suggest new understandings of environmental problems and solutions, and provoke new socio-environmental crises. The collected papers examine the interconnectedness of these two propositions by interrogating two sets of ideologies. We ask: How do ideas about good cities and ideas about good natures co-produce the framing of urban sustainability problems and preferred solutions in urban policy worlds? How do organized and everyday politics reproduce urban nature ideologies, and how do they challenge them?

Session 1. New Global Ideologies of Urban Nature

The papers in this session probe the contradictions of global urban sustainability policy by considering the ideologies, visualizations, and political economy of smart, sustainable future cities.

Why Does Everyone Think Cities Can Save the Planet? New Ideologies of Urban Nature in Global Sustainability Politics
David Wachsmuth (McGill University) and Hillary Angelo (University of California Santa Cruz)

Global Sprawl Revisited: Countering the Density Myth, and Making Progressive Policy for a Sub/urban Planet
Robin Bloch (ICF International) and Roger Keil (York University)

The Art of Ideology: Maps, Simulations and Flythroughs in Making the Smart City Fiction
Ayona Datta (University of Leeds)

From Urban Jungle to Good, Green & Beautiful: The City of Tomorrow as a Political Imagery
Markus Hesse (University of Luxembourg)

On the Political Economy of Crisis-Driven Metabolic Transformations in Cities
Vera K. Smirnova (Virginia Tech)

Session 2. Grey Urban Natures and the Promise of ‘Smart’ Technology

This session examines the application of “smart city” policies to solve urban sustainability problems, focusing on the promise of new technologies.

A Smart City Dispositif: Urban Energy Governance in the Smart City
Anthony Levenda (Portland State University)

Urban Atmospheric Control: Nowcasting and the Modulation of Infrastructure
Andres Luque-Ayala and Simon Marvin (University of Durham)

Smart Cities, Renewable Energy and the Not So Smart ‘Urban’
Pushpa Arabindoo (University College London)

Making Room for Water? Contested Visions of Urban Adaptation and Development
Kian Goh (Northeastern University)

Ambiguities in the Sustainability and Growth Politics of Alberta’s Cities: District Heating, Scalar Politics, and Carbon Flows
Aida Nciri (University of Calgary)

Session 3. Green Urban Natures and the Promise of ‘Natural’ Nature

This panel examines the use of public parks, gardens, and other green spaces in the creation of sustainable, livable cities. The papers offer contemporary and historical perspectives on the changing ideologies and geographies of ‘natural’ nature.

From a Suburban Greenfield to an Urban Park: The Case of Årstafältet in Stockholm, Sweden
Liisa Perjo, Peter Schmitt, Lukas Smas, and Moa Tunström (Nordregio)

Property That Was, and Will be Again: The Significance of Cherokee Re-territorialization and Megapolitan Political Ecology in Southern Appalachia
Nik Heylen (University of Georgia)

The Racial Geographies of Metropolitan Nature in the United States, 1850-Present
Kevin Loughran (Northwestern University)

The Parisian Jardins Partagés : Temporary Territories for a Sustainable City?
Kaduna-Eve Demailly (Paris-Est Créteil University)

From Grey to Green: Contradictions of Eco-urbanism at the Industrial Margins in Seattle, WA
Nicholas Janos (California State University Chico)

Session 4. The Environmental Politics of Collective Consumption

This session considers the environmental dimensions of planetary urbanization, and sustainability as a problem of spatial planning and consumption. The papers examine efforts to solve these problems through density and economic development.

Leveraging Bogotá: Sustainable Development, Global Philanthropy and the Increased Speed of Urban Policy Circulation
Sergio Montero (Universidad de los Andes)

What Good Is a Low Carbon City if No One Can Afford to Live There?
Jennifer L. Rice (University of Georgia) and Kshama Sawant (Socialist Alternative Councilmember, City of Seattle)

Saving the Sustainable City from Itself: Carbon, Collective Consumption, and 21st Century Urbanization
Daniel Aldana Cohen (New York University)

Is Density the Problem?
Eliot Tretter (University of Calgary)

From Grunge to Glimmer: Building the New Seattle
Keith Harris (University of Washington)

Session 5. Urban Nature Ideologies in Planning and Development Practice

This session examines urban nature ideologies in practice at the level of policy and everyday life. The papers examine planners’ efforts to visualize and operationalize ideologies of sustainable cities, and to come to terms with their inevitable shortcomings.

Title TBD
Alana Boland (University of Toronto)

Hope and Doom on the High Line: Public Art, Climate Change, and the Poverty of Contemporary Urbanism
Julian Brash (Montclair State University)

Spatializing Urban Sustainability: Conflicts and Contradictions in the Governance of the Calgary and Freiburg Metropolitan Regions
Samuel Mössner (University of Freiburg) and Byron Miller (University of Calgary)

Contradictions of Progressive Planning: How Urban Designers Understand Equity in Sustainability, Creative Placemaking, and Resiliency
Gordon Douglas (New York University)

Seeing Is Believing: Design and the Visual Economies of Global Urban Sustainability
John Lauermann (Rhode Island School of Design)