Following is a letter written (July 9th) to both North Van Councils by a North Shore resident, Hazen Colbert; reprinted with permission. Following his letter is a response to him from CNV Councillor Pam Bookham and his reply to her.
He also sent some price statistics for homes in Squamish and Whistler – please contact us if you’d like that information.
Your Worship & Council of Both DNV and CNV,
In 2011, the DNV created an OCP. Since then, implementation has focussed
solely on densification ignoring the remainder of the OCP. The City now has
a draft OCP which supports continued rapid densification. Densification is
solely focussed on large condominium projects. Densification was to be a
tool for affordability, to create younger family housing options, and to
encourage public transit use. Over the past year, the District (and the CNV)
have added an unprecedented number of new condo projects.
The impact on the housing market in North Vancouver is shown below:
North Vancouver Avg Price 1-Yr Change 5-Yr Change
All Homes $ 675,000 3.9% 20.7%
Detached $ 1 million 6.5% 28.9%
Condo Apartment $ 352,700 -.6%* 11.3%
*Low rise stratas are most significantly impacted since off-shore
speculators who represent about 50% of the condo apartment market are most
amenable to higher rise buildings.
There are very clearly three trends in the market:
1. Overall housing affordability continues to worsen.
2. There is a massive supply of unsold condominiums on the North Shore,
which is rising as new listings far, far outpace sales.
3. On the North Shore, municipal densification is not a housing strategy but
a wealth creation tool benefiting existing single-family home owners at the
expense of people who own other forms of housing.
In the past year, about 754 resale condo apartments sold on the North Shore.
There is no reliable estimate for new project sales.
A number of new projects on the North Shore have been approved
and/commenced. These include the Onni project on Lonsdale, Seylynn Village, Bosa at Lynn Valley Center, the Grouse Inn redevelopment and the Concert Waterfront project.
Based on the existing market sales profile, a number of these projects will
fail. There is simply no demand for these properties. In the meantime the
glut of unsold condo apartments has driven down existing prices, wiping out
hundreds-of-millions of dollars of personal wealth from condo apartment
With the exception of Mr. Bell, it is my understanding you are all single
family home owners. Please stop creating wealth for yourself on the backs of
condo apartment owners.
Densification has failed everyone save existing single family home owers.
Hazen S. Colbert
Councillor Bookham’s response July 12:
> Hazen, thanks for this information.
> Last Monday I along with Councillors Bell, Clark and Heywood voted to
> ensure that future development in the City of North Vancouver occurs at a
> moderate pace and provides the kind of ground-oriented housing that is
> needed by young families who have outgrown their Lower Lonsdale Condos
> while protecting rental housing in low-rise buildings in Central and Lower
> Lonsdale. I agree, we do not need to provide incentives for developers to
> build higher and denser condo towers. I have argued for a long time that
> the current pace and form of development has not provided affordability by
> increasing supply but simply drove up land values everywhere in the city.
> People buying in new condo towers are paying more for less space, and now
> are seeing their equity shrink because of the glut of new and unsold
> inventory. And yes, it’s true that the value of single-family homes has
> continued to rise and is now out of reach of many of the people that
> housing was originally built for. It may be just a matter of time before
> we see the long predicted correction impacting single family homes as
> I can assure you that I have never voted for a development proposal with
> any self interest in driving up property values in mind. I voted against
> the Onni proposal, Harbourside and the Shore. These three projects will
> bring 337, 800 and 375 for a total of 1512 units to market in the next few
> years. These are in addition to the many other developments currently
> under construction. If you are looking for a reason for the unsustainable
> pace of development, look no further than the role developers have played
> in funding the election campaigns of candidates who favour growth at any
> Best regards,
> Councillor Pam Bookham
Response to her from Hazen Colbert
Thank you for the information, and for your frankness regarding oversupply.
I do not think anyone intentionally set out for personal gain by voting in
favour of densification. However, now that they are aware of the oversupply
and the polarized impact on wealth, I would expect that information to be
acted upon honestly.
The North Shore is not unique with the profile, but is unique with the
volume of oversupply.
I been involved in the financial side of real estate (including condos) for
over a quarter-century and seen the boom-and-bust times. There have been too
many projects on the North Shore approved through rose-tinted lenses. Most
worrisome is that some decision makers are unaware that municipalities can
be very adversely affected by the bust cycle. I highly recommend that the
CNV get is community amenity contribution in hard cash from the
Lonsdale/13th development now, not later. As for the District, there will be
no $8 million cash for old Lynn Valley library site. I will send you via a
separate email some projects I have seen crash.
The reality of these things is stark and simple: (1) developers like height
and density because it is more profitable; (2) planners like more
development because it means more planning jobs; and humans will always be indebted to people who give them money.
Thanks again for the response.
Hazen S. Colbert