Here we are, the day after learning of our city’s $875-million condo speculation catastrophe. I had a tough sleep last night, and it wasn’t because I made the mistake of going to The Roxy to drown my sorrows. (OK, maybe it was part of it.) The Olympic Village predicament has far-reaching effects on our city. However this ends up, it will amount to significant monetary losses which in turn impacts all the services, programs and infrastructure we use and enjoy.
The political consequences are the least of our concerns. The political blame game is not irrelevant but it is a distraction from more important questions. How does Vancouver deal with this? What’s the best solution? How do we ensure the response does not repeat the mistakes of the past?
To that last point, I hope our leaders can understand the corrupting influence of real-estate hype. When I look at how the Millennium Water/Olympic Village deal is structured — culminating with the city’s disastrous commitment to provide a completion guarantee — it has all the indicators of decision-making driven by real-estate hype. Many city managers and elected officials, like much of the real-estate obsessed public, got caught up in the exuberance of our own self-appreciation. We bought condos to no end because we believed we couldn’t lose. Real estate only goes up, the world wants to live here, it’s a gamble NOT to buy…
I love Vancouver and I hate that we’re having such a hard time growing up. I’ve always believed Vancouver is on the edge of incredible potential. But the city is so young, seemingly stuck in perpetual adolescence. Will we ever think past the latest fad? I hope one day we come to understand who we are, and leave the culture of condo hype behind us.
Photo credit: John Bollwitt