The Doc Project

Race and real estate in Vancouver: 'The chickens of globalization have come home to roost'

Owning a house: It's a dream that some young Canadians in one of the booming cities in this country will never realize. But in Vancouver, some families and long-time residents are speaking up and fighting back against being priced out of the city they call home.
Wealthy Chinese immigrant investors are being blamed for pushing real estate prices sky high in Vancouver, British Columbia. (Getty)

Just last week the B.C. government announced it would tax foreign home buyers in the Vancouver region. The new 15-per-cent tax could add hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional taxes for buyers who aren't Canadian citizens or permanent residents.

"It's a class problem, it's not a race problem, and it's just something we have to get used to," says Vancouver architect Bing Thom.
This could have a major effect on the city's housing market, considering that foreign buyers — mainly from China — purchased more than $1 billion worth of B.C. property between June 10 and July 14th of this year.

The news of the tax has been applauded by Real Estate industry watchers and welcomed by many Vancouver natives, who for years have believed there's one major reason why housing prices were climbing beyond reach. And that reason — depending on who you talk to — could come off as, well, racist.

This week's documentary, Race and Real Estate: Vancouver's China Syndrome, explores ugly accusations and difficult conversations about Vancouver's housing market.

About the producer

Karin Wells (CBC)
Karin Wells has reported from more than 50 countries and is regularly heard on CBC Radio's The Sunday Edition as both a guest host and documentary maker. 

Trained as a lawyer, she has produced documentaries on subjects as diverse as post-conflict resolution in Mozambique and the rehabilitation of jihadi fighters in Denmark, to opera in the English countryside.