Sapporo – One Year Later

The giant Sapporo Station shopping and transportation complex

It’s been exactly one year since I flew off to Sapporo, Japan to spend 1 month there. Not only were there great memories from my month in Japan, but I also started a few new friendships while there. In the age of the Internet, it’s easier than ever to stay in touch with everyone. I’m now in touch with people in Japan, Malaysia, Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Montreal. It was a lot of great memories and a lot of great fun.

I’m a little jealous of those who are actually returning this year to Sapporo and the Hokkaido Japanese Language School (JaLS). I know of at least a couple of people going back. I even see photos of other schoolmates who are travelling in Japan again. They’re not necessarily going to Sapporo, but they are visiting other parts of the country.

Here are some photos from last summer while I walk back down memory lane.

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DYK? Vancouver has a Cycling Spot Improvement Program.

COV Cycling Spot Improvement Program screencap

I just discovered recently that the City of Vancouver has a Cycling Spot Improvement Program. The program basically looks at small projects that affect a single block or intersection and try to improve the safety and comfort of those blocks and intersections. The main goal is to look at these projects through the cycling infrastructure lens. However, I think there can be improved pedestrian experiences as well from these little spot improvements.

arbutus & w 7th improvement graphic

For example, take this map of West 7th Avenue between Yew and Arbutus Streets. A private elementary school is redesigning their driveway and more traffic is expected on 7th Avenue. A separated two-way bike lane is proposed on the north side of the road to protect cyclists from the increased traffic expected from the driveway. Parking will be removed and a one-way vehicle lane going east will be set for the most of the eastern half of the block. The separated bike lane will also likely impact people visiting the non-profit agency across the road from the school. You can read more details about this particular mini-project here.

So these Cycling Spot Improvement Programs are open to comment. Simply go to their site at vancouver.ca/spotimprovements and see what mini-projects are on the go and to see if any affect a part of Vancouver where you live/work/shop/visit.

A PEI Solution for Vancouver Housing Affordability?

Could Prince Edward Island be on the right track when it comes to ownership that “comes from away”? The Financial Post featured what non-Islander buyers face when they buy significant property in Prince Edward Island.

from The Canadian Encyclopedia

Canada’s tiniest province is an island unto itself when it comes to letting foreigners control the property market. Prince Edward Islanders refer to those people as “come from away” but it’s not just overseas investors that are restricted in how many acres they can buy or how much shoreline they can own, the rules apply to Canadians outside of P.E.I. too.

P.E.I. has long worried about the impact of absentee landowners. But unlike the rest of the country, which is so consumed with the issue of foreign ownership that even Canada’s top housing agency has gotten involved, P.E.I. identified those people and enacted laws to prevent them from taking over ages ago.

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News Doc on Mainland Chinese Property Buyers

I saw this originally on Price Tags. It’s a very interesting news doc to watch. The focus is primarily focused on the US and Australia. However, those of us in Vancouver are keenly aware that the same phenomenon is having an effect on our own local housing market.

For better or worse, these Mainland Chinese buyers are investing all around the world. In the short term, it’s having a negative effect on a local’s ability to buy a home in their own city. In the long term, we will see how things shake out.

The call for some sort of foreign ownership or absentee ownership fee should be seriously considered. Even such measures in Australia have slightly dampened the hot Sydney real estate market. Read this from the Sydney Morning Herald.

The federal government plans to charge fees to foreign nationals buying residential property and fine those who break foreign investment laws, in an attempt to improve housing affordability amid some of the world’s highest property prices.

The scheme could raise about $200 million a year by charging foreign home-buyers $5,000 for properties valued under $1 million and an additional $10,000 for every additional $1 million, Treasurer Joe Hockey said on Wednesday.

Mr Hockey said a register of foreign nationals buying real estate would be established and those who break the law would face a fine up to a quarter of the value of the property and could be forced to sell.

I think such fees are probably a good idea. Will it deter foreign investment? I doubt it. I think those with the money to buy will barely blink an eye at an extra $5-10k. Chump change in many cases, I’m sure. However, I think we need to slow the market just a little and at least get some financial benefit for our own governments out of it all. There’s my 2 cents (or chump change).

Housing and Affordability in Vancouver

Everyone knows that Vancouver has a housing and affordability problem. The recent #DontHave1Million hashtag gained viral status in early May and highlights the angst that the region feels about housing prices. Housing on the west side of Vancouver is well into the $2-3 million territory. I’ve seen $1.2 million homes for sale in my working class East Vancouver hood. And just this weekend, I discovered a 1300+ square foot apartment in my neighbourhood on sale for over $500,000. Even the condos aren’t very cheap in town.

Well, most of us don’t have $1 million. (And I don’t think we need $1 million to live in Vancouver. You just accept that you won’t have a detached house). So where is the best bang for your housing buck in the Metro Vancouver? Here’s a different look at housing costs in conjunction with transportation costs.

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Bus Tour 10 – Ginseng and Wine

We started the last day of our Rocky Mountain Bus Tour at an early, early hour. Was it 6am? Something like that. We didn’t go back to the WK Garden for a 3rd meal. Thank goodness. That would have really done me in. Instead, we headed down the Trans-Canada Highway to Sicamous about an hour away. We pulled into the Husky gas station. Western breakfast? Sort of…

Breakfast at the Husky in Sicamous

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