When Vision Vancouver came to power in 2008, the median income in Vancouver was $52K1)Extrapolated from https://vancouver.ca/files/cov/2018-housing-vancouver-annual-progress-report-and-data-book.pdf, while the rent for a two bedroom apartment was around $1,285 per month2)http://www.metrovancouver.org/services/regional-planning/PlanningPublications/ApartmentAverageRentsTwoBedroom.pdf, or 30 per cent of the income would be going towards rent.
After a decade under Vision Vancouver rule, the median income in Vancouver has increased by about a third to $70K3)Extrapolated from https://vancouver.ca/files/cov/2018-housing-vancouver-annual-progress-report-and-data-book.pdf, but rents have doubled to $2,612 per month4)http://quantitativerhetoric.com/monthly-rental-report-june-2018.html, or 45 per cent of the income would be required to pay rent.
30 per cent is considered the upper limit of affordability in Canada5)https://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/developing-and-renovating/develop-new-affordable-housing/programs-and-information/about-affordable-housing-in-canada, meaning that when Vision Vancouver first came to power, at least rental housing was still affordable.
The percentage of a household’s income going towards rent has increase by 50% under Vision Vancouver, making housing extremely unaffordable to middle class income earners.
Vision came to power promising to end homelessness and build affordable housing6)https://cityhallwatch.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/vision-vancouver-platform-2008-election.pdf. Vision has failed on both counts.
I hear from my fellow Vancouverites everyday about how they’re being thrown out onto the streets to make way for luxury condos that remain empty as safety deposit boxes in the sky. I hear from friends and neighbours about being renovicted as their landlords turned entire rental towers into illegal Airbnb hotels.
Vancouverites are fed up with a City Hall that kneels prostrate before the greedy few who profit off the citizen’s misery.
Developers like Westbank are brazenly yelling to the world “Vancouver’s becoming a safety deposit box for the global rich!” as a sales pitch with no fear of consequences.
Why would Westbank fear any consequences?
After all, Westbank’s owner Ian Gillespie is Mayor Gregor Robertson’s buddy and a Vision Vancouver bankroller.
Gillespie’s correct. Vancouver is becoming one giant resort for the global rich to gamble with our homes as their chips. Vancouver is also becoming a giant washing machine to launder the proceeds of transnational crime.
As the raging opioid crisis kills thousands of our citizens every year, the fentanyl dealers are making a killing speculating on our homes.
I have had privilege of mentoring promising young students at our universities and colleges. But many are forced to leave Vancouver upon graduation, forcing them away from where they were born and raised and away from their families. The salaries in Vancouver, even in the tech sector, are among the lowest in Canada. The cost of housing – whether you seek to buy or rent – is among the highest. Our citizens who contribute to the city while paying for taxes that pay for all the great public goods – I’m talking about our teachers, nurses, our friends in the trades and pretty much every other worker – are struggling to make ends meet.
The exodus of talent and the hollowing out of our neighbourhoods mean that local businesses are unable to stay afloat. The boarded up storefronts that line once busy thoroughfares in Vancouver seem straight out of a set of a post-apocalyptic dystopian movie.
And as local businesses are shutting shop, multinational chains are taking their place. Instead of hiring locals and paying them a living wage, these large corporations are importing indentured labour under the highly exploitative temporary foreign worker program.
What saddens me the most is that, I know Vancouver has the potential to be a global hub of commerce, innovation, science and art. Yet, we have now become world famous for the “Vancouver model” of money laundering.
The real estate industry – I’m talking about the developers, marketeers and realtors – have been the greatest beneficiaries of the fentanyl-fuelled housing crisis. The industry has poured millions of dollars into the coffers of both Vision Vancouver and NPA. In turn, the mayor and the council have stubbornly refused to take any meaningful action to stop our beloved city turning into a laundromat for all the world’s dirty money.
I, along with scores of other housing advocates, have spent countless hours presenting to City of Vancouver simple common sense solution to address the issues such as Airbnb licence abuse and presale flipping. But we feel that we’re hitting a brick wall at every turn. It’s blatantly obvious that the City Hall under Vision Vancouver leadership is protecting the interests of transnational criminals and the real estate industry instead of promoting the interests of the citizens.
It’s said that change must come from within. That’s why I’m running for Vancouver City Council at the upcoming elections with David Chen and the ProVancouver team.
When I’m elected, here are the five motions that I will table at Vancouver City Council within the first 100 days.
Motion 1: All future condominium pre-sales will be restricted to just local income taxpayers, by adding a local income taxpayer only condition to all projects approved by the council.
Motion 2: Completely ban on Airbnb, until such time the company learns the meaning of corporate citizenship and agrees to a new memorandum of understanding which ensures platform accountability.
Motion 3: Establish a startup accelerator which will finance and nurture young innovators, thereby enabling the city to be partners in their success.
Motion 4: Vancouver will set up a city-wide job seeker database and work with Service Canada to ensure that when businesses apply for temporary foreign worker permits, they’ll be matched with a qualified local worker first.
Motion 5: Establish a special Vancouver Police Department task force to investigate crime in the real estate industry and bring the perpetrators, who are currently acting with absolute impunity, to justice.
Dear friends, for too long we have seen successive municipal governments gut the heart and soul of our city by allowing proceeds of transnational crime to chase away our honest hardworking citizens. Our politicians are gleefully lining their pockets by betraying the ones who elected them, while promoting the interests of the industry that bankrolls them.
It’s time we said “Enough!”. It’s time to rise up and reclaim our City Hall, so that once again, it can serve the interests of the citizens instead of pandering to the whims of a greedy few.
The battle for Vancouver will be not be a walk in Stanley Park. The cancer of cronyism has metastasized in every organ of city government. But we’re Vancouverites. We’re resolute. We’re tenacious. We’re defiant in the face of even the greatest adversity.
We shall take back the City Hall and rebuild Vancouver as a city where innovation and hard work is rewarded, where families can thrive, and our bright young minds can fulfil their true potential.
Dare to dream, my friends, dare to dream of a free and prosperous Vancouver known world over as a great city shining bright on Canada’s western shores as a beacon of integrity in world riddled with corruption and greed.
And we shall not give up until every Vancouverite is liberated from the clutches of these transnational criminals who’ve laid siege on our city. The sounds of children’s laughter will once again ring through our playgrounds.
My speech at the City of Vancouver Public Hearing on rezoning applications for a condo project where I asked the Vancouver City Council to limit pre-sales to local income taxpayers.
Your council has been approving rezoning applications, just like the one before us, at a breakneck rate. Tens of thousands of new homes have been built and many more thousands are being built, yet, the local income taxpayers continue to be priced out of the local market.
Perhaps you are not familiar with who the local taxpayers are and why we matter.
We are your teachers, nurses, construction workers, police officers, software engineers and every other worker and small business owner contributes to make Vancouver a wonderful place for us, our families, and our neighbours. At the same time, we pay taxes to fund all the great public services we enjoy: schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, our emergency services, and every other service that makes our city such a desirable place to live in.
The median household income in City of Vancouver is 67K1)2017 estimate based on City of Vancouver data from 2015 http://vancouver.ca/files/cov/2017-09-29-city-of-vancouver-2016-census-income-data-release.pdf. The median house price in the City of Vancouver is 1.2M2)http://vancouver.ca/files/cov/vancouver-2018-budget.pdf. At 18 times the median income, housing in Vancouver is now well out of reach of the local income taxpayer.
What’s causing this disconnect between local incomes and local house prices?
To find the answer, you only need to ask Mayor Robertson’s buddy and bankroller Ian Gillespie.
“Vancouver has become a safety deposit box for the global rich,” screams the headline of Westbank’s marketing article on its China website3)Original: http://www.westbankcorp.cn/media/141.html Archive:http://archive.is/jdxTy – a website that for a while was off limits to Canadians.
What Westbank is brazenly using as a marketing pitch is what experts have been telling us for decades: the world’s wealthy treat our housing market as a stock market, and our homes as commodities for speculation. And much of this money is dirty. Proceeds of transnational crime are also parked and laundered through our housing market.
The recent measures introduced to calm the housing market such as foreign buyer tax and speculation tax has driven speculators away from flipping existing homes to flipping pre-sales, as the new measures do not apply to pre-sales.
That’s where local income taxpayers only pre-sales policy comes in. By restricting all pre-sales to local income taxpayers who wish to occupy them, we can cut out toxic demand that’s making it impossible for our local income taxpayers to afford housing in Vancouver.
How it works
Every pre-sale buyer would be required to swear an affidavit confirming that they will:
a) using income that has been taxed locally to purchase the property
b) upon completion, will occupy the property as their primary residence
Strict enforcement and heavy fines will ensure compliance.
What I’m proposing is not too different to what your council has put forward as a “locals first” policy. Hawaii has had an “owner occupant” law since 1980.
Why did Hawaii promulgate such a law? In the words of Hawaii’s real estate commission’s chairperson4)http://files.hawaii.gov/dcca/reb/real_ed/re_bull2/re_bull_01_05/bull1305.pdf:
“Hawaii’s Owner-Occupant Law was promulgated in 1980 by our legislature in response to growing public concern at what was then viewed as rampant speculation by investors in the condominium presale market. Essentially, developers were offering investor buyers first priority to purchase units in their projects, resulting in resale prices unaffordable for residential buyers.”
Mayor and council, under your watch rampant toxic speculation has distorted the market, displacing our families and destroying our communities. The real estate industry, and the politicians who are in the industry’s payroll, and the financial industry who bankroll them, are raking in obscene profits at the expense working Vancouverites.
But it’s not too late to rescue our city. By imposing “local income taxpayers only” as a condition for passing rezoning applications such as the one in front of you today, you can reconnect local housing prices to local incomes.
We can reclaim Vancouver from the transnational criminals who hold sway over our city. All we need is our leadership to look after the interests of the local citizens ahead of the interests of the real estate industry.
Right Honourable Justin Trudeau,
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2
Dear Prime Minister,
Please don’t hand over $14B of our tax dollars to Westbank’s Ian Gillespie
I’m dismayed and distressed to hear that the Government of Canada is considering handing $14 billion in taxpayer dollars to real estate developer Ian Gillespie and his company Westbank to build “affordable housing” through an outfit called Creative Housing. Giving Ian Gillespie tax dollars to fix the housing crisis would be like giving a fentanyl dealer public money to buy naloxone kits to sell back to his clients.
I urge you not to pour a supertanker load of salt in the deep wounds Mr. Gillespie has inflicted on Vancouverites by even giving a penny of our hard earned tax money to him.
If you’ve forgotten what Mr. Gillespie, your friend and fundraiser, has done to earn the dubious distinction as being an architect of the housing crisis, let me jog your memory:
Westbank pitches Vancouver’s hot real estate market to buyers in China with the “Vancouver’s becoming a safety deposit box for the global rich!” as the selling point. “In recent years, the boom in Vancouver’s properties has attracted the global rich,” Westbank’s tells the world. “It took only two years for Vancouver’s housing prices to double.”1)Original: http://www.westbankcorp.cn/media/141.html Archive:http://archive.is/jdxTy
Westbank has openly declared that it only cares about building for the Chinese market. “ But right now I have a rule when we talk about projects if the Chinese market doesn’t want it, I have no interest in it.” Westbank’s Director of Marketing Michael Braun said on the Westbank website2)Original: http://westbankcorp.com/michael-braun archive: http://archive.is/cwqJ8.
Mr. Gillespie provides an “asset management” programme for absentee owners of his condominium projects, where property managers perform such tasks as running water through the taps and regularly switching on appliances should an apartment lie vacant for an extended period.3)http://www.scmp.com/property/international/article/1534655/vancouver-developer-targets-worlds-wealthy-his-52-storey
Westbank sponsored a Yacht gala in China even as a judge ordered Mr. Gillespie’s other company to pay $200,000 in unpaid bills to a local contractor4)http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/jdb-txt/sc/18/06/2018BCSC0600.htm.
Mr. Gillespie himself doesn’t offer any apologies for the sky high prices of his condos. “I don’t set the prices. It is what the market will bear,” Gillespie told reporters5)https://www.thestar.com/business/2007/02/10/king_of_highprice_condos_coming_to_town.html.
Instead of rewarding Mr. Gillespie for fueling the housing crisis, I implore you to take all action necessary to stop him and other like him from doing further devastating lives and livelihoods of Vancouverites. You have the duty, as the leader of our nation, to stop Mr. Gillespie from turning Vancouver into a grotesque caricature of his deformed phallic symbols: glistening on the outside, empty on the inside.
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson announced last week with much fanfare that the City of Vancouver has signed a memorandum of understanding with Airbnb to help the city crackdown on illegal short term rentals.
I got a hold of the full text of the MOU1)https://drive.google.com/file/d/1fhQagqnZxXHX2DGmAysApgO5xYN0OSaa/view?usp=sharing through a Freedom of Information request. Buried inside the five pages of text is a clause indemnifying Airbnb from prosecution for the what people do on the platform.
1.7 Airbnb shall not be held responsible under any provision of the City’s License By-law No. 4450 for information provided by the Host, which may be incomplete or inaccurate. Airbnb shall not be held responsible for any infraction, violation or non-compliance by Hosts under any provision of the City’s Zoning By-law No. 3575.
It gets even worse. By signing the MOU, the city has agreed that Airbnb is under no obligation to remove offending listings.
1.11 The City is responsible for verifying the correctness and validity of STRA Licence numbers and exemptions posted by Hosts, and seeking enforcement against Hosts under its by-laws, Airbnb will not be responsible for removing from its platform any listings that have incorrect registration numbers or are otherwise invalid. Similarly, the City may pursue enforcement action against Hosts that have otherwise violated provisions of any City bylaws. Airbnb shall not be responsible for removing listings from its platform that belong to such Hosts that have violated provisions of City bylaws.
At a time when other cities are fining Airbnb upto a million dollars per infraction2)https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/11/24/barcelona-fine-airbnb-homeaway600000-offering-illegal-accommodation/, Mayor Robertson and the City’s General Manager of Licensing Kaye Krishna are letting Airbnb off the hook for any violations, and voluntarily giving up the power to force Airbnb to take any meaningful action.
Once again, Robertson and Krishna have betrayed the citizens of Vancouver by putting the interests of a predatory multinational corporation over those of the city’s residents.
Shame on you, Mr. Robertson. Shame on your, Ms. Krishna. Instead of trying to solve the housing crisis, you’ve just poured a tanker-load of fuel on it by crippling the city’s power to regulate short term rentals.
Update II: Prof. Pavlov has finally published his materials and methods, almost a month after his graph was published. In the words of great scientist Carl Sagan “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”, and Prof. Pavlov’s original graph was an extraordinary claim with an extraordinary lack of evidence. But I’m happy that he has finally made his methodology public, and, as promised, I’m updating my post.
However, I stand by the statement that Prof. Pavlov’s claim “City of Vancouver currently has the highest property taxes in Canada” is a lie.
A graph produced by SFU Professor Andrey Pavlov that purports to show Vancouver as having the highest property taxes in Canada is doing the rounds on the Internet1)https://twitter.com/andrey_d_pavlov/status/996798250446286848. But as you can see from the tables below, Prof. Pavlov is comparing the property taxes for composite (all home types: detached, townhouses and condos) in Greater Toronto against the property taxes for single family homes in the City of Vancouver.
Mill Rate from Altus (Pavlov’s Source) 2)Altus Group: Canadian Property Tax Rate Benchmark Report 2017 https://www.altusgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Canadian-Property-Tax-Rate-Benchmark-Report.pdf
Property Tax indicated in Pavlov’s graph
MLS Benchmark required to get Pavlov’s property tax figure
City of Toronto
City of Vancouver
Composite MLS Benchmark
MLS Single Family Detached Benchmark
City of Toronto
City of Vancouver (East) 3)CREA provides MLS Benchmark values for City of Vancouver, but REBGV East Vancouver and West Vancouver separately.
City of Vancouver (West) 4)CREA provides MLS Benchmark values for City of Vancouver, but REBGV East Vancouver and West Vancouver separately.
Not only is Prof Pavlov comparing apples to oranges, he is outright lying by passing off benchmark prices for Greater Toronto as ones for the City of Toronto.
Prof. Pavlov’s erroneous graph has been used as the basis for a Vancouver Sun article5)http://vancouversun.com/opinion/op-ed/elizabeth-murphy-b-c-taxes-need-a-second-look which, in turn is now being used by the opponent of BC NDP government’s housing reforms to attack those much needed reforms6)https://twitter.com/search?q=http%3A%2F%2Fvancouversun.com%2Fopinion%2Fop-ed%2Felizabeth-murphy-b-c-taxes-need-a-second-look&src=typd. Even the BC Liberals7)https://twitter.com/bcliberals/status/1000852543705006080 are tweeting Prof. Pavlov’s mendacious graph.
In the era of fake news, the public look up to academia in their search for truth. I find it disturbing and unacceptable that Prof. Pavlov has chosen to disseminate false information. Prof. Pavlov’s steadfast refusal to offer an apology and issue a correction even after being called8)https://mobile.twitter.com/1alexhemingway/status/1000246334975131648 out on his falsehoods further seek to not only diminish the credibility of Simon Fraser University, but it also undermines people’s trust in academia as a whole.
Update: Alex Hemingway, whom I cited earlier in the article, has kindly informed me that depending on how Prof. Pavlov calculated the Toronto four year average “current assessed value”, the figures used in the graph may indeed be for single family homes. Based on data obtained from sources Prof. Pavlov has mentioned, I’m unable to reproduce the good professor’s math.
If Prof. Pavlov were to reveal his materials and methods, I will be happy to update my post.
Even if Prof. Pavlov were doing an apples to apples comparison, his “City of Vancouver currently has the highest property taxes in Canada” graph is still a lie, as he does not mention anywhere on the graph that he is only using single family home benchmark values in his calculations. Even if all his numbers are correct, all that his graph shows is that “City of Vancouver may have the highest property taxes in Canada if you only consider the most expensive segment of the market.”
Deputy Commissioner Brenda Butterworth-Carr
14200 Green Timbers Way
Surrey BC V3T 6P3
2018 May 20
Please investigate W. Brett Wilson for offering to pay BC NDP MLAs to cross the floor
On or about 2018 May 19, Calgary, Alberta-based businessmen W. Brett Wilson tweeted the following (please see attachment for the complete tweet)1)https://twitter.com/WBrettWilson/status/997836348739354624 (archived: http://archive.is/awL6D):
Idea – am thinking we should just pay a couple of folks from #PremierHorgan @NDP teamto cross the floor & give power back to the people of #BritishColumbia
I am in for $10,000. Should almost be enough eh? DM me to arrange.
This is a plain and obvious conspiracy to violate Section 119 of the Criminal Code, which states:
Bribery of judicial officers, etc.
119 (1) Every one is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years who
(a) being the holder of a judicial office, or being a member of Parliament or of the legislature of a province, directly or indirectly, corruptly accepts, obtains, agrees to accept or attempts to obtain, for themselves or another person, any money, valuable consideration, office, place or employment in respect of anything done or omitted or to be done or omitted by them in their official capacity, or
(b) directly or indirectly, corruptly gives or offers to a person mentioned in paragraph (a), or to anyone for the benefit of that person, any money, valuable consideration, office, place or employment in respect of anything done or omitted or to be done or omitted by that person in their official capacity.
I humbly request you to investigate Mr. Wilson’s tweet and take appropriate actions to bring Mr. Wilson to justice.
I’ve just filed a complaint against Sutton West Coast over the part they played in disrupting BC Attorney General David Eby’s town hall.
Here’s the full text of my complaint:
Sutton Group West Coast Realty (“Sutton West Coast”) took out a full page advertisement on Vancouver Courier newspaper published on or about 2018 April 28 urging supporters to disrupt Attorney General David Eby’s planned town hall with his constituents.
This advertisement, and similar call by BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, forced Mr. Eby to cancel the event owing to security reasons.
The wording of the call for action in Sutton West Coast’s advertisement was “Regardless of whether or not the Hall is full, demonstrate your opposition to these taxes and make your voice heard by attending:” followed by details of Mr. Eby’ town hall. The “Regardless of whether or not the Hall is full” was underlined in the original advertisement.
Similarly, Mr. Wilkinson, urged his supporters to protest at Mr. Eby’s town hall “whether you have a ticket or not”.
An elected MLA has a duty to meet with his or her constituents. In turn, the constituents have a right to meet their MLA. Sutton West Coast’s advertisement, singularly or in conjunction with Mr. Wilkinson’s letter, amounts to a deliberate disruption of the democratic process. It deprives the constituents of their democratic rights, and prevents an elected official from carrying out their democratic duties.
Section 35(2) of the Real Estate Services Act states : A licensee commits conduct unbecoming a licensee if the licensee engages in conduct that, in the judgment of a discipline committee, (a) is contrary to the best interests of the public, (b) undermines public confidence in the real estate industry, or (c) brings the real estate industry into disrepute.
It is plain and obvious that Sutton West Coast has violated Section 35(2) of the Real Estate Service Act as inciting mobs to sabotage a democratic process is contrary to the best interests of the public, undermines public confidence in the real estate industry, and brings the real estate industry into disrepute.
Candice Dyer is named as the managing broker of Sutton West Coast.
Section 6 (2) of the Act states: A managing broker licensed in relation to a brokerage acts for the brokerage for all purposes under this Act, and is responsible for … (c) the control and conduct of the brokerage’s real estate business, including supervision of the associate brokers and representatives who are licensed in relation to the brokerage.
Therefore, Ms. Dyer is named as the licensee against whom the complaint is made.
Andrew Wilkinson, MLA
Leader of the Official Opposition
2018 May 01
Please don’t incite violence against political opponents
Dear Mr. Wilkinson,
I’m greatly alarmed to learn that you have recently incited mob violence against British Columbia Attorney General David Eby, forcing him to cancel a planned town hall on the speculation tax. Your conduct is both undemocratic, and unbecoming of a person of your intellect, calibre and stature.
Fom Mussolini to Mugabe, intimidating one’s political opponents through violence is a depraved tactic only the most despotic dictators have engaged in. And history has shown us that once politicians divide societies by means of violent polarization, they send those societies down a path of certain ruin. Is that what you want for British Columbia?
While I’m aware that you have made a career of representing big tobacco1)https://thinkpol.ca/2018/02/05/bc-liberal-leader-batted-big-tobacco-bc/ and corrupt businessmen from China2)https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/new-bc-liberal-candidate-has-ties-to-shuttered-pulp-mill/article8798196/ against BC, I want to believe that you did so for the money, and not out of some deep rooted hatred towards your fellow British Columbians.
I, like you, am an immigrant to Canada. I learned while studying for my citizenship test that the role of the opposition in a parliamentary democracy is to “peacefully oppose or try to improve government proposals.”3)https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/corporate/publications-manuals/discover-canada/read-online/federal-elections.html(Emphasis Mine.)
A town hall is one of the most inclusive forms of democratic discourse. By inciting mobs to violently disrupt a town hall, not only are you compromising the safety and security of an elected official and civilians who wish to engage with him, you’re also undermining our democratic institutions.
I urge you: stop. Stop inciting violence. Take the honourable path and restore civility by apologizing to Mr. Eby and asking your supporters to refrain from violence.
Would attempts by a multi-billion dollar corporation to influence city administration be considered a matter of public interest?
City of Vancouver does not think so.
On November 3, 2017, I sent the following freedom of information request to the Freedom of Information office of the City of Vancouver by email:
Copies of all documents, including emails, memos, briefing notes, powerpoint presentations, manuals, and Q&As containing the words “AIRBNB” or “ALEX DAGG” or “SHORT TERM RENTAL” or “PUBLIC HEARING” for the time period Sep 1, 2017 to Oct 30, 2017.
Following correspondence from the FOI office, on November 10, 2017, the FOI request was modified as follows:
Copies of all documents including emails, memos, briefing notes, power point presentations, manuals, and Q&A’s containing the words “AIRBNB” or “ALEX DAGG” or “SHORT TERM RENTAL” or “PUBLIC HEARING” from September 1, 2017 to October 30, 2017 to or from Mayor Robertson, Kaye Krishna, and Janice MacKenzie.
On November 23, 2017, the FOI office assessed a fee of $690 to fulfill the request.
On November 30, 2017, I requested a fee waiver on the grounds that the information sought was a matter of public interest and public safety, as per Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, ss. 75(1), 75(5)(b) and BC Housing (Re), 2014 BCIPC 45:
I wish request a fee waiver on the grounds of public interest .
Has the subject matter been a matter of recent public debate?
Yes. The City of Vancouver’s inaction on the Airbnb file, and the new bylaws, have been widely publicized in the media and debated in forums.
Does the subject of the records relate directly to the environment, public health or safety?
Yes. The public may be at risk of various property crimes and fraud associated with Airbnb.
Would dissemination of the information yield a public benefit by
– disclosing an environmental, public health or safety concern
– contributing meaningfully to the development or understanding of an important environmental, health, or safety issue, or
– assisting public understanding of an important policy, law, program, or service?
Yes. Short term rentals are a public safety concern. Politicians being influenced by large corporations is a public safety concern. Releasing the information requested will contribute contributing meaningfully to the development or understanding of the issue. Given the allegations of City officials’ involvement with Airbnb, it would assist public understanding of an important policy, law, program, or service.
Do the records show how the public body is allocating financial or other resources?
Is your primary purpose to disseminate information in a way that could reasonably be expected to benefit the public, or to serve a private interest?
My objective of obtaining this information is to release it on my blog.
Are you able to disseminate the information to the public?
I will be releasing the information I receive on my blog at (https://rezel.ca). I have significant online presence and I’m able to use that to disseminate the information.
On December 1, 2017, the FOI office denied my fee waiver request without any explanation simply stating
Rohana, thank you for your feedback below. I am afraid we are unable to waive the fee based on public interest or public safety. I am going to suggest that you narrow your request in order to avoid a fee.
Today, I wrote to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia asking a for a review of the fee request denial.