Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Balanced Reporting

I've been saving this one for a couple of days. After the National Post article, Disgusted in Victoria, Victoria's mayor ALowe felt he needed to say some words in his, and the city's, defense--likely in that order too. He claims the author of Disgusted is not balanced in his reporting. Because I posted the whole article before, in an attempt to be balanced I'll give ALowe his fair shake of things.

Victoria's Mayor Responds
Re: Disgusted In Victoria, Brian Hutchinson, Sept. 1.

When I agreed to speak with Mr. Hutchinson regarding the state of Victoria's downtown I did so with the intent of providing a frank and forthright assessment of the challenges we are facing in our urban core. In exchange, I expected a balanced reporting of the problems, and solutions we are working to advance. Sadly, and perhaps not surprisingly, sensationalism triumphed once again over thoughtful and comprehensive journalism. In particular, I challenge Mr. Hutchinson's negative and one-sided characterization of our community without any reference to our consistent ranking as one of the top international travel destinations. I continue to receive feedback from many visitors who feel Victoria is a safe and beautiful city to visit.

We have never denied that our city, like so many other urban centres across the country, is confronted with the street-level impacts of escalating addiction and homelessness. And in many cases, undiagnosed and/or untreated mental illness is creating a more complex set of social and health challenges whose consequences are becoming more visible and more acute every day. These street-level impacts are not acceptable to me or to our citizens.

What does distinguish Victoria is our genuine commitment to finding a new and better way to assist these individuals:We are eagerly awaiting the recommendations from an expert panel of medical practitioners and researchers, chaired by our provincial health officer, Dr. Perry Kendall. The panel's recommendations will lead, I hope, to a new integrated model of service delivery that will represent a substantial shift in the way we respond to social and health challenges.

People must have access to stable housing, detox, treatment, health and social services if we want to end the downward spiral. Cities must be assisted in this endeavour by other levels of government who ultimately determine funding levels and service priorities. It is shameful that our streets have become the de facto institutions for the homeless, addicted and/or mentally ill.

Alan Lowe, mayor, city of Victoria.

ALowe accuses Hutchinson and the NP of sensationalism. In defense of the city, ALowe says we are consistently high-ranked as a travel destination. Wow. Thanks ALowe. Why don't you just say we consistently have over-priced RE, so that means everyone wants to be here, don't you know? ALowe "continue[s] to receive feedback from many visitors who feel Victoria is a safe and beautiful city to visit;" but notice how he doesn't mention any specifics?

ALowe could have said CondeNast Traveler Magazine, or any one of a myriad travel publications. He could have tossed some celebrity names around. But. He. Didn't. Guess what? Hutchinson did toss in some names. And big ones. Like the Auditor General. Or mention of the well known fact that this city has had big name companies cancel conferences here because of the street issue.

Hutchinson did write a balanced article. The problem in ALowe's eyes was that it was too honest. Hutchinson did editorialize on the issue for certain. But you see, he's not a bleeding heart, so therefore in direct opposition to ALowe's plans to study this issue ad naseum and at great cost to the taxpayer and still do nothing (think sewage treatment) until the provincial and the federal governments legislate action (again think sewage treatment) and commit equal money.

I won't get too political on you. Really my thoughts on this issue are irrelevant. But I will say this: for any city official, from the mayor to the city manager, to say that this city just doesn't have enough funds for extra policing and more support services (remember they wouldn't license the church basement ones) is absolutely freaking ludicrous. Property taxes have risen, both because there have been rate increases and because property values have skyrocketed. This city is swimming in cash. If they're not, then someone somewhere needs to be asked why and held to account.


solipsist said...

ALowe says we are consistently high-ranked as a travel destination.

Great, so people want to visit, but what about the citizens? I can't believe how people speak of being a travel destination and that makes the crappy living conditions acceptable.

One can't live in, or eat, pride of place.

Anonymous said...

From what I understand Tourism is way down. Lowe just has his eyes shut. He will be the mayor that ruined Victoria.

vg said...

Current housing trends 'unsustainable,' economist says

OTTAWA — Home prices across Canada are ripe for a fall, says one bank economist.

Adrienne Warren, senior economist with Scotia Economics, said a bustling market has led to housing in many regions of the country being overvalued, increasing the risk of prices dipping in the longer-term.

vg said...

From Michael Levy this morning,sorry,can't post the link:

Housing prices ready for correction: Scotiabank

Scotiabank, in a report issued this morning, feel that Canadian home prices are climbing faster than they should be, and by doing so, are pricing a lot of Canadians out of the market.

Although, not calling for a collapse in the real estate market by any means, Scotiabank does state that “There is little doubt that current trends are unsustainable.”

The report keys on affordability, and as prices have escalated for more than a decade, more and more Canadians cannot afford to enter the market which lowers the pool of buyers.

With the economy, somewhat at risk from the U.S. caused credit crunch, and the potential for more market disruption, buyers will not have the same confidence to go out and borrow and buy, that they had before the subprime debacle hit.

Scotia also hastens to point out, that prices are now above their long term trend and technically this market is looking for a sell off from that aspect also.

Scotiabank are not the only Canadian bank to be warning of a pull back in prices. The Royal's Derek Holt weighed in yesterday by saying that, affordability in housing in Canada has seen “one of the largest and most broadly based quarterly deteriorations since the mid-1990s.”

We feel, that anything that goes up in a straight line (parabolically), will have to come down somewhat the same way. As in any market, there has to be bases and support levels built along the way with corrections in prices in order to give a pause and let the participants catch up.

This has not happened in many areas in Canada, and with the current economic environment, Scotia wonders how long the hot market can be sustained.

They are not looking for a collapse of any kind because of the basic strong fundamentals of the Canadian economy. But, this torrid pace of new record prices cannot go on without a pause at least.

vg said...

Lowe's response was what I expected as they have buried their heads in the sand til it is a crisis. Now we have to wait for this report which will take how long to debate and implement if ever ? these guys took 20 frigging years just to decide to build a new arena,I can only imagine how long anything out of this report will take.

Funny how he didnt slag CHEK6's very insightful report showing all it's ugliness and right in a prime part of downtown that developers and business people have spent like 20 years trying to renew and redevelop and this scum is allowed to take over all the hard work people have put into it ?

Anonymous said...

When money is involved, like shutting down the Coho, they seem to act quickly. Nonsense.

vg said...

exactly, shutting down the Coho is one of stupidest ideas of all time. Can't these boneheads figger out that tourism and large ships is what makes the harbor not a bunch of noisy seaplanes ? talk about shooting themselves in the foot.

Anonymous said...

Three real estate articles from the unbiasied Times-Colonist this morning. Talk about balanced reporting. Someone forgot to tell them that what other news agencies already know. Housing is correcting.


olives said...

Scotiabank's new slogan:

"You're poorer than you think"

Anonymous said...

I posted this on BP's blog. This is from the Globe & Mail. It is about our version of subprime - the 40 year amortization. They say that Sh*t will hit the fan.

Aleks said...

The BC equivalent of the 2 and 28 mortgages from the US are the special 'deals' some developers are offering for new condos. First was Reflections offering to pay half your mortgage for the first year. Centennial Walk just had a "weekend special" offering an interest rate of 4.99% for three years.

In both cases, the mortgage payment will balloon once the introductory period ends--just like the "toxic" 2 and 28 mortgages in the US. I really hope that the only people taking advantage of the Reflections offer are flippers, because it's practically a foolproof recipe for default.

vg said...

"There are also buyers who thought the market had passed them by until 40-year mortgages and no money down allowed them to stop renting."

How stupid of me to let this overpriced market get me down,the funny part is we make $90,000 income and wouldn't qualify with a 10% down payment on a crack shack for $400,000. Can you say "out to lunch" ??

Thru all these reports the past few weeks we have not once seen average incomes discussed and some real facts and figures put forth by these journalistic experts on how we are supposed to afford these places.
TC, you continue to insult our intellegince and you are a joke to your peers and look like the News Group mentality.
In other words shut up stupid and keep buying,dont need no facts and figures.

vg said...


I now see that I only have about 6 years left to live in a house cause once I am 55 I have to buy a condo, what a frigging joke ! LOL
Who are these clowns ? over 70 years old maybe,most people love their homes and have no intention of moving into a 600 sq ft box once they hit 55. I thought 55 was the new 35 ?? media pumpers piling on the garbage to the bitter end,this reeks so badly of journalism in bed with the industry.

vg said...

one quote from the RBC report that was very important:

Canada's housing affordability saw “one of the largest and most broadly based quarterly deteriorations since the mid-1990s,” said Derek Holt, assistant chief economist at the Royal Bank of Canada, in a report Wednesday.

Anonymous said...

Another thing ... and this is sad.

Many elderly in Oak Bay can't afford upkeep on their homes or keep their homes for that matter since the property taxes have gone rocketing up due to high assessments. These people are on really fixed incomes. Widows only receive 1/2 of their husbands pension.

Their houses are worth more but an 80 year old might just want to stay in the house they love with
their memories and not cash in and it is sad because many are having trouble paying their property taxes. And this is the generation that was frugal.

Anonymous said...

Fed can't stop recession
Even if the central bank starts to cut rates aggressively, many of the risks for the U.S. economy are beyond its reach.

But many economists also say that the Fed can do little at this point to address many of the factors threatening continued economic growth. Some economists even argue that rate cuts could make matters worse.

vg said...

what a liar !

Greenspan: I didn't grasp subprime threat

Former Federal Reserve Chairman says he didn't see early on the damage that lending to those with questionable credit could do to the economy.
September 13 2007: 1:34 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan acknowledges he failed to see early on that an explosion of mortgages to people with questionable credit histories could pose a danger to the economy.

In an upcoming interview, Greenspan said he was aware of "subprime" lending practices where home buyers got very low initial rates only to see them later jacked up, causing severe payment shock. But he said he didn't initially realize the harm they could do.

olives said...

Anon 12:32

Seniors (well anyone over 55) can defer their taxes as long as they have 25 percent equity in the home. The taxes are payable when the house is sold. Only a minor amount of the tax bill is not deferrable.

Aleks said...

I've never understood the idea of seniors downsizing. The only elderly people I know who would qualify sold a house on the far side of Sooke because they are in their 80s and need to be closer to medical care.

All the others pretty much stay in their houses until they have to move into a retirement home with some level of care. They certainly don't choose to downsize just for the sake of living in a condo. The ones who would want to live in a condo... already do.

Maybe this is a round-about way of saying that all those Boomers without enough savings to retire will be forced to downsize into a condo to be able to eat.

Anonymous said...

In reply to "Aleks" ^^ above:

I totally agree, for many, downsizing will not be a choice but a forced way of accessing their home's equity. ie: sell $600K house in saanich to purchase $300K 2 bed condo when you're in your 70s, but likely not before.

So this so called "wave" of downsizing, is a bit of a load of BS as I've only known a few people to do this.. (one was 85 year old lady who sold saanich house to buy a condo in Tuscany Village ofr 1/2 the price of her house.) Others were widows.

hhv said...

Olives, that should read "you owe more than you have"

hhv said...


"I really hope that the only people taking advantage of the Reflections offer are flippers"

I hope so too, because at current rates of growth, they'll lose their shirts and get out of a business they obviously know nothing about.

Anonymous said...

@ aleks :
The HeatherDale Estates project near CommonWealth Rec Centre (just a little bit North of Centennial Walk) is handing out a mortgage rate sheet titled "Variable Rate Mortgage with Teaser or (Introductory Rate)".

There are 3 main categories, with 14 variations.

1) 1st 6 Month Teaser (6 options)
2) 1st 9 Month Teaser (4 options)
3) 1st Year Teaser (4 options)


Each one is Prime - some % for the teaser term
And then Remaining term @ Prime - about .5% on average.