Is Vancouver the new Fortress?

The Vancouver Sun is reporting that the City of Vancouver is expected to buy out Fortress Investment Groups financing of the $1 billion Olympic Village:

Vancouver city manager Penny Ballem is meeting with council Wednesday morning to tell them arrangements have been made to assume the $750 million loan Fortress made to Millennium Developments.

In its place, the city is expected to sign a financing deal with a consortium of Canadian financial institutions.

In October Fortress stopped advancing money to Millennium for its monthy construction draws after it claimed the developer was “out of balance” on its loan requirements. That forced the city to borrow $100 million from itself to pay the monthly draws and provoked the council into asking the provincial government for special legislation allowing it to borrow an unlimited amount of money in order to consider removing Fortress as the lender.

73 Responses to “Is Vancouver the new Fortress?”

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    Olympic Nightmare Says:

    The woodpile is chock full of surprises that will be seeing the light of day soon enough.

    Whacked foundation on chitty ground with a forked sheetwall. Construction schedule far behind because of MIA offshore glass will cost millions.

    "Developer" one in name only and costing far more than will ever be "worth".

    Congratulations Vancouver taxpayers. You are screwed.

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    Olympic Nightmare Says:

    "VANCOUVER – City of Vancouver has bought out Fortress Investment Group's financing of the $1 billion Olympic Village, city officials announced Wednesday.

    The city confirmed it bought out Fortress on Wednesday for a total of $319,494,235. It paid a $4-million buyout fee but says Fortress started at $56 million, went down to $19 million and finally to $4 million.

    City manager Penny Ballem said the deal allowed the city to cut out high interest rates charged by Fortress.

    The city now has a $400-million line of credit with Bank of Montreal, the city's bank since 1886.

    The bank is charging 3.25 per cent, far under the 9.5-11.5 per cent Fortress wanted."

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    one would think it might be nice if the city taxpayers got a choice as to whether they go into a multi-generational debt, but i guess that's not going to happen…

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    Vansanity Says:

    The Republican response to Obama's $75B housing aid bill:

    • What will your plan do for the over 90 percent of homeowners who are playing and paying by the rules?

    • Does your plan compensate banks for bad mortgages they should have never made in the first place?

    • Will individuals who misrepresented their income or assets on their original mortgage application be eligible to get the taxpayer funded assistance under your plan?

    • Will you require mortgage servicers to verify income and other eligibility standards before modifying mortgages? Watch more on the home foreclosure crisis »

    • What will you do to prevent the same mortgages that receive assistance and are modified from going into default three, six or eight months later?

    • How do you intend to move forward in the drafting of the legislation and who will author it?

    Great questions!

    I have to admit, if I was American my economic policy is very much Republican. Everything else (ie. pro-war, pro-life, christian right, rush, scott hannity, etc..) I'm definately Democrat. Good thing I'm Canadian.

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    read on: I think the closest we got to that was the Olympic referendum. We've been on the hook since the village deal was signed, have we not? Everything that has happened since has just been damage control of one sort or another.

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    Vansanity: "I have to admit, if I was American my economic policy is very much Republican."

    I'm with you there, except that Republican economic policy has this thread of "cut taxes and hope nobody notices the resulting deficit" kind of irresponsibility to it. I'd be more in favour of "cut taxes once we have the deficit under control" politics, roughly how the Liberals used to do things. The right's fascination with "outgrowing the debt" has always seemed wishful to me.

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    I wonder what else Fortress get besides the 4 million penalty? It seems rather generous of them to let go of substantial interest payment between now and whatever the completion and sales date of Olympics village.

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    Mr Cambell said (yesterday ?) that BC will have 10 billion dollar wealth increase from the Olympics. I guess he forgot the minus sign!

    Go for a shopping spree while you have the money!

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    "I have to admit, if I was American my economic policy is very much Republican. "

    I heard a Republican congressman being interviewed last week. His awesome solutions were: A. tax cuts B. $5,000 towards each of his constituents to help them purchase a Chrysler (he has a Chrysler plant in his area). Still feeling Republican?

    The Republican response is a lot of hot air and nonsense. They are equally involved in intervening in the market, they just have a different agenda, and they have managed to guide one of the world's largest economies to near-collapse. Yes, Clinton helped get the bubble rolling, but I would trust Clinton to steward my money over Bush, based on their respective records.

    The big Republican proposal is tax cuts and more tax cuts, which is just an extension of economic policy from that financial genius George Bush Jr. At some point that money has to come from somewhere, so they're not even cuts, they are delays for short-term political gain.

    Republicans are also being hypocritical, because their states need money (ie for fire/police services etc. which, in many places are getting close to insolvent, because their tax base is a mess), which they are happy to take, even as they take a public position against the stimulus for political reasons.

    Money from the government which is put into work programs and food stamps makes its way directly back into the economy with interest. Yeah, there is a lot of padding and yeah, it's not going to prevent a massive recession, it can only cushion the blow. The Democrats have inherited a horrible mess, and the Republicans had 8 years to fix it. Fail.

    I do not want to see any of these dumb policies up north, but…too late :( Personally, I am over the Reaganomics. They didn't work. Next, please.

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    Vansanity, sorry, if I seemed to jump on you there, but that crew increased the American deficit to such high levels, they have had to pull down and remake the national debt clock, just to hold the new debt and they helped deregulate the bejeesus out the banking system down there. Now that they are getting on TV and moaning about "liberal" big government, I can't believe their gall.

    Someday, I hope the old-school conservatives take hold of their parties (up here in Canada, too) but at the moment, conservative government no longer means fiscally conservative, which….sucks!

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    PS. Calculated Risk has a thorough breakdown of the housing bill (critical and constructive):

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    Republicans or Democrats, Conservative or Liberals, etc.. does not make any substantial difference, even if they wanted to act differently, which is quite dubious.

    No matter who is in the executive the budgetary margin or maneuver is always a small fraction of the total (around 5-10% perhaps?), so unless the government wanted to smash basic services substantially the overall effect in the economy of ANY budget is mostly psychological for the majority of the population (taking exception of the usual "cronies" indeed!).

    Adding more debt to an already indebted economy may be the solution but mostly not. You do not need to be an oracle for this prediction.

    So we are on our own to get out of this mess and any hope of relief coming from the heights is mostly wishful thinking.

    Watch for your pockets!

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    #4 Vansanity "Everything else (ie. pro-war, pro-life, christian right, rush, scott hannity, etc..) I’m definately Democrat. Good thing I’m Canadian."

    I don't get it, isn't it the same story up here?

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    squidly77 Says:

    its official you guys now own it..

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    NO -LYMPICS Says:

    Olympic Village

    COV won't fire sale them?

    Lets make sure they have to!

    This looks likes job for Mr Floatie

    Recall previous VCI discussions how False Creek is the end of the line "toilet bowl" for much of the COV old sewage infrastructure.

    Mr Floatie sails around the Olympic Village waterfront as Bob Rennie does his pre sale schmooze/BS.

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    Anonymous Says:

    does anyone know how much 2242 west 49th Ave, sold for?

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    VanTOVan Says:

    I love what this tool has to say in this

    <a HREF="; rel="nofollow">Sun article:

    However, Michael Audain, the third 2009 Hall of Fame inductee named by Junior Achievement of British Columbia, said he views the current downturn as a correction in a long-term bull market for the people of Vancouver and British Columbia.

    Audain, the chairman of Polygon Homes Ltd., said he can still tell friends and family that it makes sense to go out and buy a home today.

    “If you are prepared to wait four or five years, it will look like a very smart decision because prices are down and interest rates are down and it is really the time to buy.”

    So he's telling his friends and family to buy right now? Sheesh…

    Maybe no one else will listen to his b.s.

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    It sold for 15% below 2008 assessment.

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    patriotz patriotz Says:

    read on:

    one would think it might be nice if the city taxpayers got a choice as to whether they go into a multi-generational debt, but i guess that’s not going to happen…

    They got a choice all right, in February 2003. I voted "no".

    And please, spare me the protestations that the vote didn't mention debt commitments. People who thought that the city or province (which the city of course is part of) could host the Olympics without debt exposure were just greedy and/or egocentric fools.

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    realpaul Says:


    #14 No-Lympics, I'm not going to feign surprise when we see a "Mr. Floatie" show up in Vancouver during the Olympics. I also wonder if he'll be arrested as a terrorist suspect and held until after the games.

    The Sewage in the Water problem in Vancouver has been and continues to be a really gross issue. Thinking about it though , why haven't any of the hard core enviornmental groups picked up on this issue?

    I had a friend pose an interesting question to me yesterday, he asked me

    " What do you make of the 'street sweep' by the VPD issueing all these DTES residents numerous tickets. Some individuals have been ticketed several hundreds of dollars of tickets in just a few days and getting new ones every day".

    It stuck me like bolt from the sky

    " I think whats going to happen " I answered, " is that these outstanding unpaid tickets are probably going to be used as an excuse to arrest mass numbers of street people and get them off the street for the 16 days of the games".

    " What is going to happen is this, because they can't arrest you for being poor, they are going to use the excuse that since you didn't show up in court to pay or answer the summons,you will have an arrest warrant issued for serial non payment and failure to appear.

    Many official bldgs will be closed due to the security of the games same as they were trying to also close down all the schools ( but failed) , one of the bldgs closed for security reasons will be the courthouse and justice will be delayed. Meaning that these bums ( prior citizens) will sit it out in the drunk tank or the remand centers around the lower mainland until they can see the beak when courts resume sessions".


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    realpaul Says:


    #19 Patrioz, fair comment except that the taxpayers were told that the costs would never exceed $660 million, not the $6 billion it's now costing and growing wildly by the day. I think that even the most zealous wouldn't have put thier hand up if they realized the games would blast so far into the current financial inzanezone.

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    re: republican vs democrat. liberal vs conservative.

    See for clarification.

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    patriotz patriotz Says:


    #19 Patrioz, fair comment except that the taxpayers were told that the costs would never exceed $660 million, not the $6 billion it’s now costing and growing wildly by the day.

    I have just two words for you: Jean Drapeau.

    No excuses.

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    Anonymous Says:

    To #22 asp

    Than you for the link. Nice graphics but utterly useless content.

    It assumes that there is a difference between denominations. I have a different experience therefore cannot base knowledge in faith.

    Humans are entitled to believe whatever fits them but this does not change the reality. Trial and error wotks better, usually.

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    Vansanity Says:

    ella – no worries. I quite agree with you re: Republican party has lost its way, been that way for decades. Anyway, the point of the post wasn't to spark a political debate, the questions they raise are good ones and worth discussing, especially with the "monkey see, monkey do" Canadian policies. We're getting off topic here, so I'll digress.

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    patriotz patriotz Says:

    The Republican party hasn't lost its way at all. It's just that its way – appealing to stupid white people – has hit a demographic and economic dead end.

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    MickeyFinn Says:

    This is disturbing… viewer discretion is advised.


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    NO -LYMPICS Says:


    Post # 20

    Good thinking.

    When I heard re: the ticket campaign on DTES, I thought it as mostly harassment by police to discourage loitering.

    However, your point about the DTES residents inabilty to pay then sets them up to for possible incarceration is probably what the authorities are planning to do if the need arises. However, that may backfire on the authorities if the public sees through this and protests.

    I wonder if this was the same strategy other Olympic host cities have employed.

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    Vansanity Says:

    Vancouver commercial real estate sales plummet in first half of 2008, Colliers reports

    Down 50% in 1st half of 2008 vs. 2nd half of 2007.

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    NO -LYMPICS Says:

    VPD throw out homeless man's belongings

    Wednesday, February 18, 2009 by David Eby

    Watch the video


    I stopped and watched as the male police officer asked two bystanders if they owned the shopping cart, tarps and blanket. He then approached me and I told him that I didn't own the belongings. He then made an "into the truck" motion with his finger to the City of Vancouver employees who then promptly began loading all of the belongings into the garbage truck.


    Difficult to see how our homeless couple was committing this criminal offence by sitting on the sidewalk in a blanket this cold morning.

    I'm not sure what kind of instructions are coming from the top in terms of clearing the sidewalks of the DTES in time for the Olympics, but this kind of thing is unacceptable. Who needs an anti-sitting bylaw if police will just make up the necessary offences?

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    Well Garth hits one on the nose again. In his latest blog he outs a high placed denier who accuses him of doomsaying when in fact his writings have actually underestimated the problem as it is. Cognitive disonance by the deniers is always born out of some personal tradegy unfolding. People who are in big trouble want the bad world to stop spinning.

    I suspect that some of the most vociferous deniers are those people who are literally standing on the proverbial track watching a train bearing down on them and it makes them feel helpless , and useless and very afraid of the lack of control they can excerise regarding the outcomes.

    Like some of the real wack jobs who rage occaisonally against truth telling on this blog, it is most likely fear of jobloss, personal loss, personal failings and financial ruin that haunts thier screaming rants. I can pick up the echos of psychic pain in the background.

    The trolls always seem to try to find any issue no matter how obtuse and disconnected and then they start screaming, senseless nad maniacal. Total denial is that frieght train coming.

    Tonight I was listening to CKNW and heard a new ad they are playing in heavy rotation ( every 2 or 3 minutes) featuring the idea that its all going to be better in BC if we just think good thoughts , we live in the best place in the world. It had Bob Rennie suggesting that you should be the first one at your next social opportunity to speak up and talk against the negative speculation.

    Next was Too Short (skirt) Gregor Robertson saying that spending at retaurants and getting on with your life was good, everything was going to be OK.

    The ads themselves were sponsored by CKNW, apparently they couldn't find a commercial sponsor dumb enough to get in front of this stupidity, too embarrassing to be that blatantly objectionable. I wouldd suggest to anyone listening to CKNW to do so with a grain of salt.

    Yesterday I heard Christie Clarke going on about how all the schools, universities and colleges should be closed during the Olympics because it was a 'once in a lifetime opportunity". Are they afraid that the ticket sales and attendance numbers aren't looking good? They need us to commit that much? The full court BS press from CKNW may be a sign of things to come from the local media. Watch out for the bullshit bandwagon.

    How much does 'whom' have at stake in this real estate propaganda war, what about the Olympics. Are some really BIG people in REALLY BIG trouble? I smell some serious behind the scenes quaking of the boots going on. Doesn't it ( the constant grandstanding ad campaign) seem awfully desperate and hurried to you?

    From Garths Blog

    "Hey, do I scare you? Apparently I scare Rick Anderson, former Reform Party chief strategy whiz and now a Stephen Harper closet advisor. Oh yeah, and CBC-TV talking head. He wrote the words below for his Globe and Mail online column Wednesday.

    This actually is an interesting point. Will economic times improve if we don’t talk about them? Are we better not to have guys like me writing books explaining the mess and travelling around the country getting people stirred up and mulling their options? I mean, is Canada but a willow in the global winds, helpless to protect its citizens and mitigate the bad times. Do we just take this crap and play the victim?

    Or does Rick Anderson have a really big sucker of a house in suburban Calgary?"

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    realpaul: the taxpayers were told that the costs would never exceed $660 million, not the $6 billion it’s now costing and growing wildly by the day.

    So who do we blame, the liars who lied, the stupids too stupid to properly do the math, or the fools too foolish not to verify the numbers?

    But we were told… wah wah wah. The pathetic cry of fail.

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    NO -LYMPICS Says:

    COV and Olympic Village:

    I see that the COV will be playing cute with numbers.

    The opening volley will be the promotion of cost savings…ie it has saved $100 million .That becomes a relativity argument, given the project had high probability of becoming a white elephant with cost overruns in a collapsing RE market.

    Now it is waffling about the social housing component.

    Given details revealed earlier…the entire project will undergo some renovations after the Olympics is finished. That costs money.

    If not mistaken, the Olympic Village will not be ready for sale or occupation till late 2010. If this is the case, the COV will be out millions in potential property taxes.

    They dance around the issue of " fire sale" , but how long can they hold out ? My guess is that for the sake of pure optics, they may consider renting the units so as to cover up a collapsing RE market, so that they can claim they haven't sold them hence have not incurred a loss, at least on paper .

    However, at some point, the costs of financing will eat at any potential or projected profit margins .

    There will be a tipping point they will have to be put on the market.

    I see that Mayor Gregor claim on the news that taxes will NOT rise….they are funding this from some other reserves. What reserves? Are we taking about that COV endowment fund where most of these assets are locked up in other RE?

    Is the COV using these other assets as collateral for the bank loans ?

    The plot thickens

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    NO -LYMPICS Says:

    Request for info:

    On Global , Chris Carter says the Canadian Housing starts will dip by 25 %

    25 % ??

    Doesn't that imply it will be 75 % of what it was .

    Where do they pick these numbers?

    Most of the starts would be concentrated in the ex- boom areas, ie urban centers, would they not? Those have now tanked.

    All I am seeing is " Big Chill " , a major collapse, and NFW is there much if any new starts.

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    Are they harrassing the bums for the Olympics or for the completion of W? Bob Rennie is probably worried about his reputation or part of his commission as W completion approaches and rumors of buyers walking away from deposits are floating around. Are they trying to clean up the DTES temporarily so that W presale buyers complete?

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    Propety taxes in Vancouver are going up a long long way. People who own property are grabded by their "cajones" with the only recourse to cry and pay.

    Welcome to Happy Owners Club!

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    markx: Nah, the city doesn't care about the W as much as they care about our reputation on the world stage. City workers have been clearing out tent cities and moving along homeless in other neighborhoods as well. I suspect the "ticketing so you can throw them in jail at the last minute" theory may be true.

    As far as all the extra Olympic debt goes – that's happened to various degrees in every host city. It's amazing how that gets ignored in the bid process. Didn't Montreal just finish paying for their olympic stadium after 30 years? I wish my no vote meant that I'm not responsible for any part of the Olympic cost overrun. If that meant I wasn't permitted to go to the Olympics or watch them on TV that would be a trade I'd gladly make.

    Instead I'll likely move away from Van in the next couple years as the tax burden creeps up.

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    Anonymous Says:

    i heard yesterday a lot on olser st. between 50th and 51st, just sold for $1,366,000.00. it looks to be approx. 70×12?.

    it seems like a good price for a lot to be selling in this environment. thoughts/comments by anyone?

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    Can you hear me? Says:

    The olympics…

    WTF.. pardon my english.

    Honestly who really cares? How can it benefit this planet, humanity, environment if somebody can do double cork screws in the air on a board? Honestly.

    Or, get in to the goal 0.000002 secs before the other one?

    How the , pardon again, can we get (or rather them) get their priorities so frickin messed up.

    Is it time for a revolution?

    Apparently the current "democracy" is not working.

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    NO -LYMPICS Says:

    Re: Police and City crews tossing Homeless peoples belongings into garbage.


    I actually asked a Police Officer the definition of " Theft ".

    He stated theft was defined as " depriving someone of the lawful use of their own property " .

    CASE: Homeless person in possesion of real goods.


    (i) they were stolen


    (ii) the homeless person is the rightful owner (ownership is 9/10 of the law )

    Thus, if the police see a homeless person's goods , and no owner , the police should determine if they are stolen, or else have them confiscated as "found /abandoned property" to police lockers but not disposed of.

    The normal procedure is UNclaimed goods are auctioned off.

    If the Police not prepared to follow this usual procedure, then leave them alone, it's one or the other ….very simple .

    However, if the police direct City crews to take and dispose of a homeless person's property, they have deprived them of the lawful use of their property, and the police and city crews should be CHARGED with THEFT.

    What gets me is these police must know that a homeless person likely won't be far from their belongings, but the police seem to look for windows of opportunities to grab and trash these people's meager possessions like a bunch of bully -thugs.

    It is not the police's call to judge and determine the "value" or worth of someone's possessions ,as " one mans junk is another man's treasure".

    This is typical of parties who are ignorant of the actual law , or abuse it and go UNchallenged .

    I wonder WHO or WHAT is giving the police these orders ?

    A$$holes !

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    Can you hear me?:

    Apparently the current “democracy” is not working.

    Oh it's working all right. Vancouver voters expressly supported the Olympics 2 to 1, and BC voters supported parties that supported the Olympics twice in a row by a margin of about 90% to 10%.

    People simply thought the the Olympics were going to be all gain and no pain. In other words, they were expecting something for nothing. This attitude is also essentially the root cause of the global housing bubble and current economic crisis.

    The fault, dear voters, lies not in our politicians, but in ourselves.

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    Anonymous: Are you kidding? You think that's a good price for a lot? You need your head examined.

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    #40 no-lympics, a few weeks ago an RCMP official was giving a budget speech in Kelowna ( I have posted this before) and told the City Council that they would need to prepare for extra policing costs due to the outflow of transients from Vancouver due to the Olympic security measures.

    He was quickly moved out of the scene and a senior RCMP spokesman reworked the statement that same day and the story dissapeared. I assume he was told to STFU. But the genie was out of the bottle, the plan is to 'disappear the street people' during the games.

    A plan is in place to 'clean up the DTES' and it is obvious that some will get the bums rush and others will be incarcerated. Either way, it's a very ugly scene brewing. No investigative reporters following this story though hmmmmm, makes you think.

    The Vancouver Sun says we're getting tired of hearing bad news about the economy, but fill the front page of the Sun with fluff pieces. I like the way they are trying to rework the old Depression slogan " Better Days are just around the corner". Business leaders disagree, the facts disagree, but it would appear to me that the Vanc Sun has hired SupraBoy to write copy.

    There is a story in todays Sun about the restaurants and the parking lot of IKEA Coquitlam was full over the weekend, so where's the problem. It's really laughable at how so many local job losses ( and losses of top professionals making really big money) are being swept under the carpet in favour of 'happy news and denial at all costs'.

    If theres anything world class about this berg, it's the world class ability to deny reality.

    US jobs lost numbers today were brutal, exceeding expectations, by extension we have to assume our little 10% comparable as we are tied to the hip of the US economy. The US number was 627,000 jobs lost last week, by extension we have to assume that would equate to 67,000 jobs lost in Canada in the same time frame. However the official job loss numbers out of Stats Can last week showed that the velocity of job loss was greater in Canada was GREATER in Canada than it was in the US for that period. The Canadian media has chosen not to publish the US numbers in any publication today. I wasn't surprised.

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    PS, I Couldn't help including this from Garth Turners Blog today, on the money info.

    "Back in the real world, life was disintegrating at the usual clip.

    * Today’s numbers show the Canadian economy is contracting at an annual pace of 9.6%. By way of comparison, the definition of a depression is a decline in activity of 10%, and this week we heard Japan has tumbled 12%. Bummer.

    * Today we discovered 6.54 million American are unemployed and 600,000 a week (more) are applying for unemployment benefits.

    * House building in Canada will collapse by 25% this year, says CMHC. In Saskatchewan it will crumble by 40%. Sales of existing homes will drop another 15%, too. These, by the way, are government estimates. Hence, you can probably double them.

    * Construction of new homes in the States plunged by 17% in January alone.

    * Oil prices have dipped into the $30-a-barrel range, and look poised to enter the twenties. At least they can still dig up valuable dino bones in Alberta.

    * And new numbers show almost 30% of all American homeowners – 14 million of them – are now in negative equity. Imagine that. A country when one in every three families has a mortgage bigger than the value of their home."

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    Lily pad: Sorry Anonymous, I thought you meant 1.3 was a good price for the buyer but now that I re-read your post you must have meant for the seller. (I haven't had my squirrel pate yet this morning :) ).

    Yes, could be possible that a greater fool came along. The 15 year old (monster) houses in that area on 6k ft. lots are listed between 1.3 and 1.8. Newer/larger ones are listed for 3mil. Go figure.

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    deathspiral Says:

    An article in the Vanouver province paper today suggested that hawaii tourism from Canada was booming. What a crock of shit. Tell that to the Hawaiians. What are these local papers trying to pull?

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    America has been under the control of the Democrats since 2006 when the housing bubble hit it's peak and burst. So far the results don't look so good. The same old pattern is repeating. The democrats lead the US economy to ruin and the republicans step in later and fix it.

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    NO -LYMPICS Says:


    Post# 38..

    Keep em coming…that info re: sales etc is great.

    I do believe there are buyers that will still pay these F'n ridiculous prices ..maybe call the "Groundhog" Buyers.

    They don't see the RE market tanking, but were programmed to buy when spring rolls around, but have now awakened from their bunker of hibernation, and will still pay high "bubbled " prices .

    Then the Muir's , Rennie's and assorted RE and REBGV types will use these ridiculous prices like trophies and say " See? All is WELL !" .

    Let economic (and other?)Darwinism kick in till these greater fools become fiscally extinct. aka The old " More $$$ than Brains " species.

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    grapplingwithdoom Says:

    The BC governments don't make a lot of sense. First Gordon Campbell announced that BC would lose around 7000 jobs, that got blown out the window and so the projection moved up and thats been blown away again. Where are these guys getting thier 'projections from', a box of cracker jacks?

    And an economists view of the BC numbers

    Economic and Fiscal Outlook

    My own view is that the economic picture in BC is worse than what is in the budget. While premised on a 0.9% drop in real GDP in 2009, the budget assumes a rebound arriving in 2010. Given the state of housing starts, commodity prices and the state of export markets, I am more pessimistic and as a result it seems to me that the budget does not do enough.

    The budget’s optimism is reflected in the projections for unemployment, which is assumed to average 6.2% for 2009. But unemployment recently surged by almost one full percentage point in January 2009, to 6.1%, and is two full percentage points higher than a year ago. The budget’s estimate of 11,000 job losses for 2009 is one-third as much as we lost in January alone. My best guess is that unemployment will close to year in the 8-9% range, as the job losses pile up.

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    NO -LYMPICS Says:


    Post # 43

    One business news item was even WAL MART has seen declines.

    What does THAT tell you ?

    IKEA crowds?

    IKEA has always been a cheaper option if one needs the types of items it sells. My guess is IKEA will survive. Other simply won't. However, people may simply be window shopping…it may be cheaper to turn down the thermostat at home and get heated in a mall etc. who knows?

    BTW I know a long term IKEA employee who told me IKEA did have plans to mega- expand the Richmond store,(bought adjoining property ) but pulled back a few years ago. Not sure what happened.

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    james: Huh? Are you saying that inflating the housing bubble was 'fixing the economy' and that it would have carried on inflating forever if it weren't for the democrats? I think both parties, and both sides of the political spectrum are equally guilty when it comes to the blind greed that caused global credit and housing bubbles.

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    The IKEA parking lot was full because of the 50 cent hotdogs and free daycare. Home furnishing sales are way down.

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    #50 no-lympics, I'm just not buying the 'happy talk' from Bob, CKNW, Vanc Sun, BCREA etc etc. The recent propaganda campaign from the weasel crowd is sick but entertaining at best.

    Speaking of a very short media memory, what happened to the Paper delivery Mr. Khan story who was attacked, beated and robbed by three uber rascist , coked up, drunken lunatic cops?

    Anyone following the Taser death story of poor Robert Djeikanski , it's no wonder the prosecuters said they wouldn't prosecute the cops before the story came out. It looks like they tortured the poor guy to death while he was struggling to breath. Witnesses versions have refuted everything the cops tried to say. What a horrible cover up. No outcry from the press though. Just 'happy talk'. Shame.

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    NO -LYMPICS Says:

    Lets be blunt:

    Our political leaders are at the equivalent of the nude beach. There is nothing there, they are grasping at straws.

    They are ill fit to handle these crises. If they were they should have seen it coming.

    Gordon Campbell's modus operandi is to write big cheques and ask questions and give details later.

    The 2010 Olympics will be promoted as the " cure what ails you " till the last Polish Olympic athlete gets out alive.

    These 2010 games will be mind candy propoganda fest mode on par with a Hitler rally

    In the early 1980's the unions had Solidarity marches.

    Maybe its time we had another major one in a nonpartisan sense

    IMHO, everyone should take to the streets and we have a massive protest before the Taser(or worse) order comes in.

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    Human778 Says:

    One thing I really don't understand is the whole 'stop listening to the bad news' line. Seriously?! What about understanding that there are market contractions and these happen within the system we've chosen.

    It seems like people want objective evaluation when it supports their world view or wishes and subjective valuation when the world doesn't reflect their wishes.

    I really don't blame people for doing this – I do it too and enjoy not living in constant dispair. But seriously, if you're speaking professionally and take this view how do you every expect to retain your credibility?

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    realpaul Says:

    I am not the only basher out there it seems, are people waking up? two quotes from yesterdays Condohype exchange

    1)Nice bit of exegesis.

    The Sun originally had the story as something like “Sales Volume Plunges 61%”. As the day wore on (I checked back because I always enjoy the comments in the Sun articles on housing), they changed the headline to add that teaser question “is now a good time to buy?”. So there was some conscious editorial decision to put that spin on it, not just some “reporting too fast” kind of gaffe.

    Why the blatant pro-buy bias? In the interests of “balance”, shouldn’t they have also speculated that there may be more drops to come? After all their main headline was about the dire economic predictions in the Throne Speech. I know it’s hard, but try to connect the dots here!

    I don’t mind the angle on the story that some folks might be thinking it’s a good time to buy because it’s not untrue. Same as where folks thought buying stocks in November was a good idea. Though you’d think they’d try to interview a potential buyer, rather than simply throwin’ it out there in a headline without factual foundation. But sheesh, at least acknowledge that it just might NOT be a good time to buy too. Isn’t the Sun tired of being mocked?

    2)The real fact that is being completly missed in all this is that Cameron Muir is a paid spokesman for the BCREA. The BCREA is the body which organizes support for and manages the buisness for REAL ESTATE SALESPEOPLE AND AGENTS, only! In this context Mr. Muir is not an economist or a real estate expert, columnist or opinionist, HE IS A PAID SCHILL WHO REPRESENTS REAL ESTATE SALESPEOPLE and AGENTS, ONLY.

    Mr. Muir is reading a script which has been crafted to attempt to generate businsess for sales people and as such cannot be listened to for facts or information. Mr. Muirs recent speaking through the media WAS IN FACT A paid advertisment FROM AN INDEPENDANTLY PRODUCED INTERVIEW, IT WAS AN ‘INFOMERCIAL’ .

    So, to forget that Mr. Muir is a non person with no opinion and is only represnting the intrest of the Real Estate sales organizations is to have left all common sense behind.

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    Best Rant on TV Says:

    Comments on the 75 Billion Obama earmarked for benefits for those refinancing.

    Anybody notice Citigroup and Bank of America dropped 13% each today and together represent over 85 Billion in government aid? GM dropping to $ 2.00?

    The bad news tidal wave is NOT done by a long shot.

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    Sold2Soon Says:

    NO -LYMPICS: Interesting reference to the police behaving like a bunch of bully -thugs. I wonder if they will be wearing pink for Pink day on February 25th?

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    NO -LYMPICS Says:

    Re Media:

    Yea it is quite interesting how they pick and chose.

    Don't the media have the mantra

    " If it BLEEDS it LEADS"

    …..aka the worse the Bad News (ie shooting , murder etc.)then it gets THE headline or makes THE lead story?

    EXCEPT if its bad "economic" news ??????????

    In WAR time its called "Propoganda"

    In PEACE time its called " Advertising "

    What time is it NOW ?

    The TRUTH is the TRUTH…whether its good news version or bad news version, so the nedia should quit dressing it up and sugar coating it.

    If its BAD news, let people know so they can get prepared.

    To do otherwise is irresponsible.

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    Sold2Soon Says:

    Regarding the buyout of the Olympic Village, Mayor Robertson is quoted to have said: We have gone from an agreement that clearly was not in the best interests of taxpayers to an agreement that puts Vancouver taxpayers first

    Are those who made an agreement that was not in the best interests of taxpayers (i.e. the previous city administration) going to be held accountable? Didn't they make totally asinine guarantees to deliver market-ready units to Fortress by a certain date that they had no business making?!

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    globalview Says:

    Things aren't all that rosy in Hong Kong either, no buyers, no sellers. Full article suggests it may take 5 or 6 years before you get your money out at this point.% or 6 years Hmmmmmmmm , thats a long time in Vancouvers jittery real estate biz, isn't it?

    HONG KONG: Hong Kongers, who turned pessimistic about property early in 2008, now seem to be at something of a stalemate: Buyers are unwilling to commit unless they see a real steal, and sellers are unwilling to cut prices all that much.

    There is reason for their reluctance. People here don't talk about the subprime crisis or the credit crunch. Across the territory, the current economic woes are dubbed the "financial tsunami," sweeping into Asia from the United States and Western Europe.

    The term is redolent of the real tsunami that swept Asia at the end of 2004. But it also carries a reminder that Hong Kong has seen its share of crashes: the Asian financial crisis in 1997 and 1998, and the near-meltdown during SARS in 2003.

    "The market is very quiet since the Lehman Brothers collapse," said Anita Fan, senior associate director in the investment department at the brokerage DTZ. "It is quiet, but I don't see the price has really dropped a lot."

    Residential prices fell 19 percent in the six months through November, according to the most recent data from the Hong Kong University Real Estate Index Series, a drop that is mostly the result of a 10 percent correction in November. Yet there were heady price gains at the start of 2008, so the net result was a one-year decline of just 6.9 percent.

    Who's going to blink? Is this a parallel for Vancouver market, will desperation set in and blow the lid off after an extended stalemate? The real estae commentators are trying to suggest the market will turn around by the spring, the Hong Kong commentators suggest maybe 5 or 6 years. Who's right? The rest of the world or our genius local pundits?

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    Anonymous Says:

    globalview (61) and lilypad (42) and no-lympics (48)

    if things arent so rosy in hongkong then why are properties on the westside selling for the prices such as, eg. lot on olser st. of $1.366 mill and a new house (corner of 51st and olser st.) for $2.75 mill. im assuming they were hongkong or asian buyers. i dont know if the chinese new year had an effect on the market(more people visiting from asia) but im hearing of a few more sales lately. im assuming these are sophisticated buyers with that kind of money. the lot on osler has lots of huge trees on it and is beside a lane. im a little puzzled.


    what do mean by "monster house". i think lots of big houses dont look like "monsters", as long as they are tastefully done and generally fit into the neighborhood. there are lots of older houses that are not kept up and look worse than big houses.

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    Anonymous Says:


    just because a house maximizes square footage does it automatically qualify as a "monster house".

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    The world is wonderf Says:

    Rose coloured glasses in the overpriced fishbowl village that is Vancouver. Good luck with that stupidity.

    Dow average now at 6.5 year lows and has nowhere to go but down. Industrial production dropping almost as fast employment.

    Double digit price decreases in real estate this year across the board and good luck Vancouver Taxpayers selling those Olympic Village millionaire condos in 2010.

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    globalview Says:


    #62 anon, I found that article in todays International Herald Tribune epage. Could be that people living in Hong Kong are a little more aware of current events. Otherwise it's mystery.

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    Speaking of Hong Kong – stuff isn't moving like it did in the boom years. Check out this picture from the AP of unused shipping containers stacking up in Hong Kong, nobody is sure what to do with them all yet:

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    Lily pad Says:

    Anonymous: I didn't mean anything other than "large, i.e., greater than 3000 sq. ft" when I used the term "monster". Other than size, I don't know what else would constitute "monster". I didn't mean that it looks like cookie monster or anything like that! :)

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    Just received this from H&H.. looks like they didn't sell out, plus something interesting: 7 more units for sale from people who were unable to complete. I forsee more of this coming…

    Thank you for your interest in this project.

    We are pleased to announce that we sold 95% of the units at our First Come, First Serve Sales Event which was held on February 7th and 8th.

    You registered on one of our preview dates and we are contacting you first to give you the opportunity to purchase one of the last units in this exciting project.

    The only 2 units that did not sell at the Receivers Sale were:

    Unit 404 – 2BDR for $432,600 (865 SF) [which has subsequently sold]; and

    TH5 – 2BDR Townhome for $445,000 (971 SF).

    In addition, we have some 2BR units from priority locations, including prime view apartments that will not complete for a number of reasons including being unable to obtain adequate financing. These units are:

    TH4 – 2BDR for $567,000 (1273 SF);

    TH13 – 2BDR for $585,900 (1273 SF);

    TH16 – 2BDR for $551,250 (1204 SF);

    Unit 708 – 2BDR for $446,250 (834 SF);

    Unit 1004 – 2BDR for $523,550 (904 SF);

    Unit 1104 – 2BDR for $528,150 (904 SF);

    Unit 1304 – 2BDR for $536,550 (904 SF);

    All prices include GST.

    The Bowra Group will be having a further sale and will be entertaining back-up offers again this weekend on Saturday February 21, 2009 from 12:00PM to 4:00PM.

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    macchiato Says:

    "We are pleased to announce that we sold 95% of the units at our First Come, First Serve Sales Event which was held on February 7th and 8th."

    hhhmm … but so far, so they say, 7 can't complete, but for their marketing purposes, these units are 'sold' even though they aren't. Interesting contradiction in the email.

    There were only 44 units for sale to start according to Bowra's website.

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    NO -LYMPICS Says:

    Post # 62


    Re : People still willing to pay high prices ?

    That's THEIR choice, time will tell if that holds up.

    Monster houses?

    Many SFH residential zonings have always allowed the large Monster / McMansion house.

    However, when the lands were developed(often after WW 1,…. Depression….,WW 11 )people didn't have the funds and UNDER built with respect to what they were actually allowed to build .

    When the first wave of Rich Asians came along, the builders wanted to make the biggest $$$ possible , thus milk the Rich Asians, and then maximized the allowable Sq. Ft. of the new house , which was often twice the size (or larger) of what existed previously.

    Hence the Monster/McMansion House.

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    NO -LYMPICS Says:

    City concerned over developers skirting taxes by rezoning land


    A couple of shrubs and a few park benches thrown up on vacant land owned by developers means they can dodge hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax bills.

    These miniparks or vegetable gardens have sprouted on some half-a- dozen sites in Vancouver and are saving the developers $1.3 million this year. And that has the city worried that more requests will arise as the economy tanks and developers seek cheap ways to carry property as they ride out the storm.

    Council voted Tuesday to put together a detailed argument to the province asking that the loophole be closed.

    Classification of property for tax purposes is done by the B.C. Assessment Authority and would require the province's involvement.

    To reclassify, developers create parks or garden space and apply for rezoning from Class 6 (business or commercial) to Class 8 (recreational or nonprofit). That move cuts taxes by about 70 per cent.

    Among the proper- ties that have been re- classified in Vancouver recently:- Omni Group's popular gardens at Pacific and Seymour. The seven parcels are worth an assessed $24 million. All are now Class 8, saving Omni $357,000 this year alone.

    – Prima Properties' community garden at Burrard and Davie. The $24-million site was headed for retail and condos. As Class 8, it saves Prima about $345,000 a year.

    – Sunco Enterprises' gardens at Oak and 16th. On land worth just over $3 million, Sunco saves $47,000 for the scraggly site.

    – Cressy Developments' two community parks, one at West 1st and Columbia and one at Drake and Howe alongside the Granville Street Bridge.

    The first, directly bordering Olympic village construction, is worth $14.9 million and earns a tax break of $222,000. At the moment it features two benches, a line of young trees and a stretch of gravel. The other, the site of a former Travelodge hotel, is worth more than $20 million. Its two benches, handful of saplings and gravel earns it a $308,000 annual tax break.


    This is VERY interesting:

    On way to Whistler this past Sunday, I drove by the one at Davie and Burrard….I thought the City owned it.

    However, if the developers are pursuing this legally, and BC Assessment agrees to it(*****IMPORTANT******!!!) ,the COV is simply a bunch of baby-whiners.

    COV: What a bunch of hypocrites….agreeing to the Olympic Village, screwing up royally… ask the Province to amend legislation to allow a loan without referendum…now it wants to change another existing rule someone ELSE is using.

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    NO -LYMPICS Says:

    BOWRA just pulled down their LARGE / TALL signs at the (Ex Chandler Group)Garden City development in Richmond.

    Curious what's up….looks like smaller signs are going to be set up.

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    NO -LYMPICS Says:

    Re Post # 71

    Forgot to mention that my understanding is that Developers (or any property owners) qualify for these re-classifications by Oct. 31 of the previous year. COV is out of luck and can't stop it.

    BC Assessment is THE authority that determines the eligibility for such re-classification .

    All other property assessments will be finalized when the appeals process has been exhausted .

    The Local Gov't will then establish mill rates for each property classification .

    What will happen is that these properties re-classification to a lower class will then shift the tax burden onto other properties, likely residential (as opposed to business, etc.which historically pays a much higher tax rate).

    My guess is that the City only caught this re-classificiation recently, it can't stop it…and is shite -ing bricks now when it is forced to have OTHER property owners make up the difference with higher property taxes., and is fearing a major backlash .

    This is an interesting collateral damage/backwash from the collapsed condo market , with many expensive sites sitting vacant , and likely for the foreseeable future

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