BC Politics & Resources

British Columbia

Shocking Truth about Crime Rates in Vancouver

Crime_SceneVancouver and Los Angeles are two of the most popular cities on the western coast of North America, many people being interested in visiting them or even purchasing a residence there. However, many people may be surprised to find out that the crime rate of Vancouver is comparable to that of Los Angeles – one of the biggest crime cities in America. Before considering moving to these two cities to be aware of the crime rates citizens face living there. At the end of the day there is one question which remains: Which city is safer to live in; Vancouver or Los Angeles?

Crime rate in Vancouver

Being the host of Olympic Winter Sports 2010, Vancouver gathers over 600,000 residents according to a recent census and is also the biggest Canadian city asides from Toronto. It has a population density of 4,34 persons/km2. However, the crime rate in Vancouver is also alarming, with an average of 43 crimes taking place for each 1,000 residents. Out of these 39 are property crimes and 4 are violent crimes.

Over 7,000 crimes take place in Vancouver every year, 6,400 of them being property crimes and almost 600 being violent crimes. Out of the total of 593 violent crimes 343 are attributed to Assault, 172 to Robberies, 73 to Rape and 5 to Murder. In terms of crime rate Vancouver is considered to be slightly unsafer than Washington, which registers more violent crimes but has a wider density of population (over 5.4 million inhabitants). In Vancouver 139 crimes take place per square mile as opposed to 57 in Washington.

Vancouver has a crime index of 13/100 (is safer than 13% of U.S. cities).

Crime rate in Los Angeles

Los Angeles is the biggest city in California and the 2nd biggest in U.S. It registers over 4 million inhabitants and has a population density of 1,086 persons/km2. The crime rate is slightly lower than that of Vancouver, with 28 crimes per each 1,000 residents. Out of these 23 are property crimes and 5 are violent crimes.

Over 107,000 crimes take place in Los Angeles every year, 89,000 of them being property crimes and 18,600 violent crimes. Out of the total of 18,600 crimes one can distinguish 8,360 assaults, 9,010 robberies, 953 rapes and 299 murders. Los Angeles also has an alarming rate of 213 crimes per square mile, number which is higher than that of Vancouver, Washington and even California. “Although the famous LAPD is taking action in arresting criminals and turning the city into a safer place, it is not uncommon to be wrongfully accused of a crime in LA.” says criminal defense attorney and specialist Seppi Esfandi.

Los Angeles has a crime index of 28/100 (is safer than 28% of U.S. cities).

Which city is safer?

Although both cities can be deemed as unsafe due to their current crime rates, Los Angeles has a slight advantage in front of Vancouver due to its better crime spread. Los Angeles has more inhabitants, but the number of crimes per year is lower if we are to report to the amount of citizens. The number of violent crimes is mostly the same in terms of volume, but Los Angeles registers more crimes per square mile.

What Can Be Done About The Unaffordable Housing In Vancouver?

The city of Vancouver is slowly but surely pushing the middle class out. The way things are going middle class families will never be able to own their own home in the city. That’s because prices are astronomical. Unless you are super rich you can’t afford to live in Vancouver. Because of this more and more young people are opting to leave the city. Many of which will never return.

There are two main things driving up the housing costs in Vancouver. High immigration and foreign investors. The situation in Vancouver is a great example of how globalization can have a negative impact on housing markets all over the world. After all, it isn’t just Vancouver that’s having a housing dilemma. Places such as Hong Kong, Sydney and London are having to deal with the same issues.

Is Vancouver’s Middle Class Vanishing?

middleClassSo now the question is what can be done about it? One solution could be to raise development fees for condominiums like Toronto did. It is also important the government be more transparent and provide better information when it comes to foreign ownership.

Another solution proposed by Andy Yan, a planner at the University of B.C., is to have an extra tax on offshore investors who use the Vancouver real estate market as way to ìparkî their fortunes. Hong Kong has done something similar by placing a a 15 percent surcharge on foreign buyers coming into the city and buying up all the real estate.

The B.C. Chamber of Commerce is actually urging the province of Vancouver to do something similar. They want to raise the property transfer tax on foreign buyers. They want it to be double that of what Canadian residents pay. The idea is to come up with something that would ultimately lower the cost of housing in the area.

Is Foreign Investing A Bad Thing?

Instead of putting all the costs back on Canadian residents they want to force the many foreign investors to pay the extra cost. And while each change is a small change, when combined together they can have a huge impact on the Vancouver housing market in the long run.

Is the city of Vancouver addicted to debt?

Vancouver Politics
I read in the Huffington Post today the question of whether or not the city of Vancouver is addicted to debt. The quote read:

“When a person is addicted to a substance…they are not able to control the use of that substance. They continue taking it, even though it may cause harm.”

According to the Huffington Post article, as far as the city of  Vancouver is concerned, our “substance” of addiction is government debt. And we have been addicted for more than a ten years.

Despite our “out of control” debt, Vancouver’s city hall recently proposed an ambitious infrastructure plan that would further increase debt over the next four years. Ultimately it is up to voters whether or not this new plan will be approved, but the Huffington Post cautions that we need to consider the city’s finances before heading over to the polls.

Here’s a little background information: The City of Vancouver is the only municipality in B.C. that can directly take on debt without permission from the provincial and regional governments. And it is also the only municipality in the Metro region with liabilities (debt, employee pension obligations, etc) greater than assets (cash, investments, etc). Obviously, being in the opposite position where financial assets are larger than liabilities is the more ideal financial position.T

The huffington post reports on the most current data dated in 2012. It states that Vancouver’s liabilities exceeded assets by $268 million. In other words – the city of Vancouver is 268 million dollars in the hole. Alternatively, nearby cities such as Surrey and Burnaby, have collectively $2 billion in “reserves” or assets that can be used towards any sort of future liabilities.

Another observation was that Vancouver’s net liabilities increased more than 400%  between 2006 and 2011, from $101 million to $419 million. On a positive note, Vancouver’s  net liabilities decreased over the next 2 years (2012 and 2013) but this reduction only stemmed from the increased value of it’s assets – not by reducing any of the liabilities. Another disturbing fact arises when looking closely at the liabilities. The city’s gross liabilities  have double since 2002 taking it from $857 million in 2002 all the way to $1.8 billion in 2013.

The biggest increase in the cities liabilities was noted in  2009 when the city borrowed $630 million to bail out the unsuccessful Olympic Village project. During the time Vancouver has been paying down that debt, the overall debt has decreased slightly – but the overall liabilities have been increasing rapidly bring us to a record high. Although we are faced with this record high debt, Vancouver city hall is proposing to spend $1.1 billion over four years on infrastructure. The plan, which includes new spending on bike lanes and social housing, would be partly funded by adding $400 million to the city’s existing debt. So instead of reducing liabilities, the city plans to take on even more debt.

But accumulating debt has consequences. The money eventually has to be paid back and regular Vancouverites will foot the bill through increased taxes and municipal fees. According to estimates by the city’s finance staff, the cost of servicing new debt for the proposed infrastructure plan is the equivalent of a 2.2 per cent property tax hike over four years.

It’s important to remember that the city, like the rest of us, has to pay interest on debt in addition to repaying the principal. With more money going to service past debt (interest plus principal), less is available for important municipal services such as garbage collection and policing. That means Vancouverites also “pay” for debt indirectly through reduced services.

Importantly, debt servicing costs are set to grow even if the new infrastructure plan fails to move forward. In 2010, debt servicing costs equaled 7.2 per cent of the city’s budget. By 2013, they grew to 7.8 per cent and are expected to reach approximately 9 per cent by 2019. In five years, nearly one of every 10 dollars spent by the city on operations will go to servicing debt and not municipal services.

Many addiction gurus state that the first road to recovery is admitting you have a problem. After reading this article about Vancouver’snewly proposed infrastructure plan, it seems to me the city is still in denial – and ready to continue feeding it’s debt addiction.