On Tuesday I attended the annual city planning event at the Museum of Vancouver. It featured prominent speakers such as Frances Bula (urban affairs journalist), Jennifer Marshall (Architect and urban designer), Noha Sedky (urban planner) and the legendary Bob Rennie. There were a few things I wanted to recap on the two hour presentation.

Firstly, the thing that struck me the most was all 4 speakers echoed the same message regarding foreign investment. It has very little impact on Vancouver real estate prices. They felt it has influenced prices for only the high end luxury market and little to no affect on the average condo market. Bob Rennie and the gang went on to say that prices are coming from limited supply and demand and low interest rates.

I couldn’t help but think, really, no affect on the average condo market in Downtown Vancouver? Prices went up by 18% in one year. I’ll agree limited supply and demand and low interest rates certainly play a huge roll but to downplay foreign investment. They continually referenced that only 2% of Vancouver condos were purchased by foreigners. If you believe that stat I think you’re completely oblivious. As i’ve said before it’s not right to point the finger at the foreigner but It’s shocking how much they downplay it’s role on prices.

Things got pretty heated last night with many local Vancouverites raising their arguments with Bob Rennie and the rest of the speakers. Their goal for Vancouver is to continue to densify it as much as possible, especially around transit lines. Their hope is with continued densification that it will stable prices. Bob Rennie continued to stress he can’t bring down the price of a detached home in Vancouver. The problems lie in areas such as Dunbar where it becomes extremely difficult to convince current home owners to replace the detached homes with townhouses or condo units.