In Land Swap, Where Did $43 Million Go?

Money Flying Away in Land SwapWhere did $43 million go? Did Vancouver City Hall give a developer an overly sweet deal? And did taxpayers lose almost $45 million in a complex land swap? These are all questions that are raised in reading this week’s Georgia Straight article, City of Vancouver Downtown Land Swap Questioned.

Author Carlito Pablo points to a huge discrepancy between the value that the City attributed to the property at 508 Helmcken in 2014 and its new 2015 assessed value.

The Land Swap

As readers of this site will recall, 508 Helmcken and 1077/1099 Richards are set to be traded in a land swap agreement between the City and a developer, Brenhill. As part of that deal, the City valued its property at 508 Helmcken in 2014 at $15 million. The difference in the value of the swapped properties, according to the City, was $6.6 million.

2015 Assessment Surprise

Recently, the City issued its 2015 Property Assessments for the two properties. Surprise! 508 Helmcken is now valued at more than $59 million–and will soon become the property of developer Brenhill. The difference in value for these same swapped properties in 2015 is now suddenly nearly $50 million.

That $50 difference is roughly $44 million more than the city’s own estimate just a year ago. Brenhill will soon own this $59 million property, on terms based on last year’s $15 million valuation.

How Could This Happen?

Why did the City agree to trade away its land based on an assessment that is $44 million lower than its current value? Did Brenhill get an unusually sweet deal? Did Vancouver taxpayers lose out, big time? Why isn’t the City getting full value for its property?

And perhaps most importantly, how could this kind of deal happen?

For more information, please read the article in the Georgia Straight, and earlier more detailed analysis in CityHallWatch.

2020-04-23T17:24:29-07:00January 21, 2015|

Please vote

VoteAll residents of Vancouver have the opportunity to vote today for the city we want to become.

For the residents of New Yaletown, it is time to vote for change. The incumbent council has repeatedly voted against our interests, without proper consultation or even disclosure of relevant information. It has held secret meetings, hidden bylaw changes from our community, and refused to consider reasonable proposals for compromise.

As a non-partisan association, the Community Association of New Yaletown can not, and will not, recommend a slate of candidates. What we can and will do is recommend you vote for change, to replace the current dominant party and elect a mixed slate of your own choosing.

Above all, we urge you to vote.

Find a place to vote :

Even if you haven’t yet registered, you can bring two forms of ID and register at any polling place.

Today is the day. Vote now!


2020-04-23T17:24:29-07:00November 15, 2014|

Why won’t Mayor Robertson enforce laws for peaceful protest?

Protesters targeting young children with unpleasant imagesOn Davie St. downtown every week for the past year, a group of protesters violates Federal criminal, Provincial,  and City bylaws. Police officers regularly observe the violations and take no action.

The police confirm that laws are being broken. They embarrassedly admit that are under strict orders not to take any action against the protesters unless things “get out of hand.” Top police officials say that they’ve been instructed by our Vision-led City government not to enforce the laws.

Protest sign with offensive languageNew Yaletown residents, businesses and visitors are increasingly frustrated by this untenable situation. Every week for a year we have been subjected to disturbances of the peace, unpleasantly loud screaming and shouting, and verbal abuse and hostile threats by the protesters, and we have had our children forcefully exposed to disturbing images and offensive language as we simply pass by on the sidewalk.

Speak quietly to a protester and you’ll likely get screamed at and perhaps threatened. The protesters’ noise travels for blocks, interfering with peaceful conversation even within our own homes.

Numerous calls and emails to police and city officials have resulted in no action against the protesters.

Possible criminal and by-law violations by the protesters include:

Federal Criminal Code (R.S.C., 1985, c. C-46)

BC Provincial Laws

 City of Vancouver By-laws

The Davie Street location of the protest is classified by the City Noise Control Bylaw as a residential neighbourhood. The law gives us the right to quiet enjoyment of our homes.

Numerous calls to police and emails to city officials have resulted in no action.

The Community Association of New Yaletown (CANY) has been asked by its members to take action.

CANY firmly believes in the right to protest peacefully. Regardless of the issue being protested, the right to free speech can not be trampled. The right to protest is not at issue.

CANY also firmly believes that laws are created for a purpose. When laws are not enforced, as in the case of the Stanley Cup Riots, civil disorder ensues and confidence in our elected officials drops.

These protesters have gone far beyond peaceful protest. They appear to be violating numerous civil and criminal laws and are creating a hostile, noisy, unpleasant environment in our residential neighbourhood. We have had enough of the continued inaction by our Vision-led government.

So we are asking everyone to demand that Mayor Gregor Robertson and his Vision-led Council enforce the law.

Take Action Now

  • Call, Email, and Share every time the protesters disturb the peace.


Vancouver Police: 604-717-3321
Noise Complaints Hotline: 604-873-7000


City Council:
Mayor Gregor Robertson:


Add any of the following to your tweet:
#Vanpoli #Vancouver @MayorGregor @CityofVancouver @VanMayorsOffice @VancouverPD @VisionVancouver @iyaletown @yaletown

Sign the petition

Add your name to the hundreds of people who want the City to enforce the laws to keep protests peaceful.

2020-04-23T17:24:29-07:00October 3, 2014|

Did City Get a Bad Deal in Secret Land Swap?

Did the City of Vancouver strike a “sweet deal” with a developer, and lose over $40 million in the process?

That’s what documents recently released by the City appear to show.

Unfortunately, these documents were hidden from the public at the public hearing for the rezoning of the land in question, at 508 Helmcken St.

Months before the public hearing, the City and Brenhill Developments secretly signed a Land Exchange Contract, and then City Council secretly approved this deal during an in camera meeting.

Then at the public hearing, the terms of the deal and even the existence of this secret contract were intentionally withheld from the public.

At the public hearing, the Land Exchange Contract was repeatedly described by the City in its public documents as “a proposal”. In reality, it wasn’t a proposal at all. It was a done deal, with financial terms and agreed-upon density that were intentionally kept secret.

The City intentionally kept the existence of the contract and its terms secret so that the public could not analyze or discuss what a sweet deal it was for the developer — and what a bad deal it was for taxpayers.

Months after the rezoning, and months after a CANY FOI request, the City finally released the Land Exchange Contract — but only after CANY filed its lawsuit against the City.

CityHallWatch has now examined the terms of the deal and finds that in the land swap, the City lost over $40 million of public funds. See the full details plus an excellent analysis at CityHallWatch:

Has City secrecy gone too far? Does the public have a right to know how its tax dollars are spent?

2020-04-23T17:24:29-07:00September 1, 2014|

Social housing rent: How high is too high?

Construction is progressing rapidly at 1099 Richards, a development the City described at a public hearing as “100% social housing” and therefore worthy of additional density in excess of local zoning bylaws.

In addition to the 87 units that will simply replace the 87 units currently at Jubilee House, this building will also contain 75 “low end of market” units. These units are tiny: 34 studio apartments are 320 sq. ft.. The 41, 1-Bedroom units are 350 sq. ft., for an average size of 336.4 sq ft.

Average rent is $1142 / month for these “low end of market” “social housing” apartments. Not a tiny amount.

How costly is this on a per-square-foot basis? $3.39/sq. ft. monthly, or 40.74/sq. ft. annually.

Let’s compare this rent to other apartments in the area on a per-square-foot basis.

Furnished New Yaletown ApartmentWe checked Craigslist, which on Aug 24, 2014, listed an 883 sq. ft. apartment directly across the street from 1099 Richards. This fully furnished Yaletown apartment rents for $2350/mo. That’s $2.66/sq. ft. monthly, or 31.94/sq. ft. annually.

On a price per square foot basis, the 1099 Richards “low end of market” City-defined “social housing” is 27% more expensive than a fully furnished New Yaletown apartment across the street!

Luxury Apartment 1400 sq ft water viewsTo see if this is just an anomaly, we checked out another listing for another data point. This 1400 sq. ft. luxury apartment with water views rents downtown for $3950/mo. That’s $2.82/sq. ft. monthly, or 33.86/sq. ft. annually.

On a price per square foot basis, the 1099 Richards “low end of market” City-defined “social housing” is 20% more expensive than a downtown luxury apartment with water views!

Which apartment is the better deal? You decide:

Apartment Size
$ per Sq.Ft.
1099 Richards “Social Housing” at “Low end of market” 336.4 $1142 $3.39
Fully Furnished Yaletown Apartment 883 $2350 $2.66
Luxury Apartment with Water Views 1400 $3950 $2.82

apartment rent comparison

Is the City playing fast and loose with the terms “social housing” and “low end of market?”

Or being lured into giving density bonuses to a developer who is charging luxury rents for “social housing”?

Should the developer Brenhill be earning luxury-rate profits from so-called social housing?

Share your thoughts on Twitter, and with the Mayor and Council.

2020-04-23T17:24:29-07:00August 24, 2014|