Cool spring leads to 'delayed start' of B.C.'s wildfire season, BCWS says

'Delayed start' to fire season

British Columbia’s cool spring has delayed the start of fire season in the province, according to the head of the BC Wildfire Service.

“We are seeing sort of a delayed start to what typically would be the start of fire season first week of July,” Brent Martin, BCWS deputy director, said Friday in a news conference.

“We really haven’t come into the conditions yet that would promote severe fire as we start to enter the start of this particular period of time.”

Martin said there are some areas of concern in the Okanagan and Cariboo, but nothing “abnormally dry.”

He said he expects longer days and higher temperatures will see the danger rating increase in the coming weeks.

“We’re anticipating starting to see sort of a slow escalation and buildup of hazards and a general increase of fire activity as we move into the month of July and August, as one would expect,” Martin said.

Year-to-date, the BC Wildfire Service has recorded 167 wildfires in the province, well shy of the 10-year average of 319 for this time.


Lengthy dispute in B.C.'s film and TV industry ends with new contract

BC TV industry new contract

A 15-month dispute in British Columbia's film and television industry has ended with the ratification of a new contract for creative and logistical staff working on productions shot in the province.

The Directors Guild of Canada BC District Council says in a statement the new contract was supported by 89.5 per cent of the members who voted on the deal.

The guild contract is with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers and the Canadian Media Producers Association-BC.

District Council Chairman Allan Harmon issued a statement saying the ratification comes after 15 months of negotiations which included the council's first ever strike vote last April.

Kendrie Upton, B.C. council executive director, says the contract means the province's film and TV industry is open for business and a busy summer of filming ahead can begin.

Among some of the new contract details provided by the guild are: annual wage increases of three per cent retroactive to 2021, provisions for increases in B.C.'s minimum wage and recognition of National Truth and Reconciliation Day as a statutory holiday.

Highway 3 closed after vehicle incident

Highway 3 closure

Highway 3 is closed to traffic after a vehicle incident between Exit 177 and First Avalanche Gate roughly five kilometres east of Hope.

An assessment was in progress around 8:00 p.m.

Eastbound traffic has been able to pass on the shoulder.

DriveBC has an estimated re-opening time of 11:00 p.m. Saturday.


Vancouver police collaborate with mom of missing woman to share timeline and plea for the public's help

Police, mom pleas for help

Contributed Vancouver Police Department

A new video documenting the last known whereabouts of a woman missing for more than seven weeks has been released by Vancouver Police and the family of the missing woman on Saturday.

Tatyanna Harrison was last seen on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside in April.

“Each day that passes without finding Tatyanna increases our concern for her well-being,” Constable Tania Visintin said in the press release.

“Tatyanna’s family, friends, and the community have been instrumental in helping establish a timeline of her last whereabouts. The VPD and Tatyanna’s family want to ensure that the entire community remains engaged in the ongoing search for Tatyanna. We are asking everyone to share this video so we can find Tatyanna.”

Tatyanna had been in regular contact with her family until the end of March, when she last texted her mother, Natasha Harrison, from a new phone number from somewhere in the Downtown Eastside.

Police said she was reported missing six weeks later, on May 3. Even with the investigation by police – supported by Tatyanna’s family, friends, and the community – there have been no solid leads on her whereabouts.

“Tatyanna is a very strong and beautiful girl that’s a voice for people who suffer, or people who don’t have one,” Natasha Harrison said in the video. “She’s articulate, she’s smart, she’s an avid reader, she’s fearless.”

“I’m putting out a plea to the public to help find my daughter. She’s 20 years old and she was last seen on the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver.”

Tatyanna had been staying in Surrey until about Feb. 3, when she spoke with Surrey RCMP officers in the area of King George Boulevard and Bolivar Road, and told them she had nowhere to stay.

From Feb. 9 to Feb. 22, Tatyanna stayed at a shelter at 875 Terminal Avenue in Vancouver, where she was often seen in the company of a companion.

On March 23, Tatyanna visited an RBC bank at Main and East Hastings Street to report her bank card lost. She got a new card, withdrew cash, and was recorded on video with a man who has not yet been identified.

The next day, Tatyanna sent her mother a text message from a new phone number. This was the last time she communicated with her mom Natasha.

Police said that there have been numerous sightings of Tatyanna in Vancouver, including on April 7 at Robson Park, and on April 22 at the Grand Union Pub near Abbott and West Hastings Street.

According to the RCMP, Tatyanna never arrived to collect her social assistance cheque at the end of April, and her current whereabouts remain unknown.

“It is out of character for Tatyanna to have gone so long without speaking to her friends and family, who tell us her failure to reach out is an indication Tatyanna is in danger,” Cnst. Visintin said. “That’s why we’re renewing our appeals for anyone who has information about Tatyanna’s current location or previous activities to come forward.”

Tatyanna is a 20-year-old Indigenous woman, described as 5’1 in height, with brown eyes, and a slim build. When last seen, she had medium-length auburn hair, although her hairstyle and colour may have changed. Police note she often wears prescription glasses and baggy clothes.

Tatyanna’s disappearance is being investigated by VPD’s Missing Person’s Unit, which is part of the department’s Major Crime Section.

If you’ve seen Tatyanna, if you know where she is, or if you have any information that can help locate her, please call VPD’s dedicated tip line at 604-717-2530, email [email protected], or contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

Experts caution against becoming 'air-conditioned society' as heat waves get hotter

An 'air-conditioned society'

Hundreds of people who perished during the historic heat wave in British Columbia last summer died in homes ill-suited for temperatures that spiked into the high 30s and beyond for days, a report by B.C.'s coroners' service found this month.

It was hot outside, but inside it was often much hotter, with tragic consequences.

Of 619 deaths linked to the heat, 98 per cent happened indoors, the review from the coroners' service shows.

Just one per cent of victims had air conditioners that were on at the time.

But one year on, experts caution that residents and policymakers need to think beyond air conditioning as the predominant solution to the risks as climate change fuels heat waves that scientists say are becoming hotter and more frequent.

"What I worry is that we're talking about mechanical ventilation as this umbrella measure for all buildings, and that's hugely problematic if that's what we ultimately end up doing," said Adam Rysanek, assistant professor of environmental systems in the University of British Columbia's school of architecture.

"We're going to get totally accustomed to this air-conditioned society," with windows closed all year round, said Rysanek, director of the building decisions research group at the university.

Alternative answers can be found in how buildings and cities are designed, landscaped and even coloured, since lighter surfaces reflect more of the sun's energy, he said.

Two thirds of those who died during the extreme heat last summer were 70 or older, more than half lived alone and many were living with chronic diseases.

Rysanek said it's important to ensure such vulnerable people have access to air conditioning when temperatures become dangerously hot.

But many sources of overheating in buildings stem from design and performance, and focusing on air conditioning ignores proven solutions, he said.

City planners and the construction industry should adopt lighter coloured materials for buildings and even paved roadways, he said, in addition to adding shading to building exteriors.

"In the peak of the heat, a huge chunk of the cooling demand is coming from solar energy being received on the exterior of the building. Let's reflect that away."

Alex Boston, who served on the coroner's review panel, said "underlying vulnerabilities" to dangerous heat are growing in B.C., and across the country, as a result of demographic change and how homes and communities have been built.

The numbers of people over 65 and people who live alone are on the rise, and both of those characteristics compound risk during extreme heat, said Boston, executive director of the renewable cities program at Simon Fraser University.

"On top of that, it's solo seniors who have chronic illnesses, and then on top of that it's seniors who have some form of material or social deprivation," he said.

"That could be income, it could be the nature of their housing and the neighbourhood they live in that (could) have inadequate tree canopy. All of those factors come together and we have to work on many of them simultaneously."

Failing to ensure that buildings are surrounded by trees to provide shade and evaporative cooling would be "shooting ourselves in the foot in terms of the energy load and the cooling demand of a building in the future," said Rysanek, calling for "very robust" requirements for vegetation and landscaping to mitigate extreme heat.

Metro Vancouver is aiming to increase its urban tree canopy to 40 per cent by 2050, up from an average of 32 per cent across the region, although a 2019 report noted the existing canopy was declining due to urban development. The goal for the City of Vancouver, specifically, is to increase the canopy from 18 to 22 per cent.

Boston said there are significant co-benefits to many of the measures to improve heat resiliency, such as the restoration of urban tree canopies.

Trees and vegetation help reduce flood risk, he said, and neighbourhood parks serve as social hubs that can ease social isolation and foster a sense of community.

"We have complex problems, and if we only look at one isolated component, we don't maximize benefit from solving these problems in an integrated manner," Boston said.

For instance, Boston's organization is working on a project on Vancouver's north shore to consider how social service providers could help older single people manage secondary suites in their homes, an approach he said could ease housing unaffordability while mitigating risks stemming from living alone during extreme heat.

"We have to multi-solve," Boston said.

Meanwhile, a 2020 survey and report from B.C.'s hydro and power authority found residential air-conditioning use had more than tripled since 2001.

Many residents were adding an average of $200 to their summer bill by using air conditioning units inefficiently, with nearly a third of survey respondents setting the temperature below 19 C. Popular portable units use 10 times more energy than a central air-conditioning system or heat pump, the report said.

Globally, the International Energy Agency projected in 2018 that energy demand from air conditioning would triple by 2050.

Continuing on that path would make it difficult for governments to achieve greenhouse gas reduction targets to mitigate climate change, Rysanek said.

"If we exacerbate this problem … the building development costs are a drop in the bucket with regards to the climate impacts we're going to be facing," he said.

The B.C. government should incentivize non-mechanical cooling options to spur their adoption in homes and commercial buildings, he said, pointing to measures such as natural ventilation, ceiling fans and radiant cooling built into floors or ceilings, all of which would cool residents before turning on an air conditioner.

"We should be encouraging our policymakers to realize there's a big world out there of alternatives. We might not have the suppliers here yet in B.C., but it's a great opportunity for business," Rysanek said.

Companies all over the world have been deploying these cooling alternatives in Europe, in Asia and elsewhere, and "we should try to invite them here so that we learn about these things, as a public, as consumers," he said.

The coroner's report calls on B.C. to ensure the 2024 building code incorporates passive and active cooling requirements in new homes, along with cooling standards for renovating existing homes, and to make sure "climate change lenses" are adopted in regional growth strategies and official community plans.

It also recommends that the province consider how to issue cooling devices as medical equipment for those at greatest risk of dying during extreme heat.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth has said the government would consider the report and "take necessary steps to prevent heat-related deaths in the future."

It's difficult to predict how often B.C. might see a repeat of last summer's highest temperatures, but climate change is undoubtedly causing heat extremes to increase in frequency and magnitude, said Rachel White, an assistant professor in the department of earth, ocean and atmospheric sciences at the University of B.C.

"When we have a normal heat wave in the future, it will be hotter than we've been used to," she said.

A heat dome refers to a region of high pressure that settles in place as temperatures below get hotter, White explained.

These regions sometimes become "quasi-stationary," depending on factors such as the strength of winds circulating high in the atmosphere, she said.

As the heat dome blanketed B.C. last year, its effects were amplified by soil that was already stricken by drought, lacking moisture that would evaporate and help cool the land during the long summer days with clear skies, she said.

Earth's "atmosphere is not in equilibrium," White warned, "and the longer we continue to put out these greenhouse gases, the more and more warming we're going to see."

"We need to act now if we don't want it to be dreadful in 40, 50 years' time."

Clearwater hospital emergency room to be closed overnight

Limited access to ER

Clearwater residents will have limited access to the hospital's emergency department this weekend.

Interior Health has said the Dr. Helmcken Memorial Hospital ER will have reduced hours due to limited staffing availability.

The emergency department will be closed at 6 p.m. today until 7 a.m. Sunday when full service is expected to resume.

Interior Health reminds residents to call 911 in the event of an emergency.

IH is recommending patients go to the Royal Inland Hospital emergency room, 311 Columbia St., Kamloops.

They can also call HealthLinkBC at 811, 24 hours a day, if they are unsure of the need to seek emergency care.

The emergency department in Clearwater is normally open 24/7.

Burnaby RCMP seeking high risk missing elderly woman

High risk missing person

The Burnaby RCMP is asking for the public’s assistance in locating a high-risk missing person.

Rui Jin Su, who is 85 years old, was last seen walking northbound on Gilmore Avenue near Hastings Street, at around 12 p.m. (noon) on Friday,

Police said that Jin Su does not speak English, only Cantonese.

"It is unknown what she was wearing; however, she wears a gold bracelet on her right wrist with her son’s phone number on it. She also wears a jade bracelet with another phone number on it, on the same wrist," the press release said.

Rui is described as an Asian female, standing 5’3” with a medium build and white/grey ear-length hair.

"There is a chance that Rui took a bus to Chinatown in Vancouver."

Police are asking anyone who may have seen Jin Su or have information on her whereabouts to call the Burnaby RCMP at 604-646-9999. Jin Su may seem confused, so if you find her, please call the police and stay with her until the police arrive.

BC Hydro anticipates soaring air conditioner demand this summer

AC demand to soar

BC Hydro already sees a 2022 increase in electricity demand as British Columbians try to remain cool as the mercury climbs. It expects that trend to continue as climate change impacts the province.

That demand has led to a change from B.C. being a winter high-user of power to being a summer one, according to a report released June 24.

“As global warming accelerates, BC Hydro has seen an increase in demand for electricity in the summer months, as more British Columbians turn to AC for longer periods to cool down during heat events,” the report said.

Data since 2017 indicates residential electricity demand has increased by 12 per cent from June through August, mainly due to a rise in residential air conditioning (AC) use.

“Climate change has made access to AC increasingly vital as summer temperatures increase,” utility spokesperson Susie Rieder said. “BC Hydro data shows AC use increased by about 50 per cent over the past decade from a quarter of British Columbians using it at home to nearly 40 per cent, but we still see far greater demand for electricity in the winter months.”

B.C. broke 19 of 25 heat daily peak records in the summer of 2021, a summer that saw the town of Lytton burn down, multiple forest fires and more than 600 deaths related to the heat dome.

“This includes breaking its all-time summer peak hourly demand record on June 28, 2021, when demand reached 8,568 megawatts, shattering the previous record by more than 600 megawatts—the equivalent of turning on 600,000 portable air conditioners,” the report said.

In a recent survey, BC Hydro found that 62 percent of British Columbians with AC said their use has increased at home in recent years, and 63 per cent used their AC for more than five hours per day last summer.

One-quarter of British Columbians have purchased or upgraded an AC this year, with 72 per cent of those citing increasingly severe and frequent summer heat as their primary motivation.

This summer, BC Hydro recommends various measures to beat the heat, save energy, and stay safe:

• Cooling with a heat pump: Because BC Hydro generates 98 per cent of its electricity from clean, renewable resources that are powered mainly by water, using a heat pump to cool in the summer and heat in the winter is more environmentally friendly than a system powered by gas;

• Going ductless: If a central heat pump system is not an option for your home, ductless units are a great option while offering the same benefits as a central system;

• Buying smart: If you are buying an air conditioner, opt for a window AC unit as opposed to portable units, as they are twice as energy-efficient;

• Optimizing temperature: Cool homes to 25 degrees Celsius in the summer months when occupied, and the air conditioning should be turned off when unoccupied;

• Closing the drapes and blinds: Shading windows can block out up to 65 per cent of the heat;

• Using a fan: Running a fan nine hours a day over the summer costs just $7;

• Tracking usage: Use MyHydro to track electricity usage and see how using air conditioning can impact costs.

The utility said it offers up to $3,000 in rebates for switching from a fossil-fuel-based system, which can be combined with provincial and federal rebates for a total savings of up to $11,000 on cost and installation, with some municipalities adding additional rebates on top of that.

[email protected]


What B.C.’s money laundering inquiry said about real estate prices and regulations

Money laundering inquiry

Despite being unable to determine the exact impact money laundering has on home prices, the real estate sector is of top concern to the Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in B.C.

Of the 101 recommendations Commissioner Austin Cullen made in his June 15 final report, 40 are directly related to real estate, and several others are ancillary, such as proposals to strengthen anti-money laundering (AML) policies within financial institutions and the asset forfeiture legal regime, as well as greater controls on notaries and lawyers, who process transactions.

Despite the apparent problems in the industry, Cullen poured cold water on prior attempts to peg a precise price increase on homes due to money laundering.

While his executive summary states, "money laundering is not the cause of housing unaffordability," he clarifies within the report that he examined whether it is "the" cause or "a main" cause — as it may be perceived publicly. Cullen found no such proof but nevertheless concluded the real estate sector is vulnerable.

Cullen said the reasons for increases in housing costs "are many, and they are complicated." He cites housing supply and demand and interest rates as more proven factors.

Cullen examined the 2019 expert panel report of professors Maureen Maloney, Tsur Somerville, and Brigitte Unger titled Combatting Money Laundering in BC Real Estate, which did prescribe a figure for money laundering in real estate — about a 3.7% to 7.5% increase in prices. But Cullen noted that the estimate came with caveats and uncertainties. The model the panel used was "an exercise in speculation and, ultimately, guesswork," said Cullen.

Cullen took time to separate what he perceives as a common mistake in the public discourse — that foreign investment and money laundering go hand in hand.

Cullen relied on the Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation's conclusion foreign investment was not a significant driver of real estate prices in Vancouver, based on home ownership data from 2010-2016.

He noted, however, that defining foreign investment can be difficult and "witnesses disagreed about whether foreign investment plays a significant role in Vancouver's housing prices."

Simon Fraser University professor Joshua Gordon and University of B.C. professor emeritus David Ley testified how foreign capital can explain the decoupling of local incomes to home prices in B.C. However, such capital may not show up as direct foreign investment in home ownership data; instead, it is foreign money transferred into homes owned by newly established residents or via beneficial ownership structures that can obscure the real picture.

"It became clear as the evidence developed before me that there is disagreement in the academic community about what should be considered 'foreign ownership.' Is it limited to beneficial ownership by persons or entities based or resident outside Canada? Or does it extend to purchases made largely with funds earned outside of Canada?" asked Cullen, to which he replied to his questions that "resolving these complex issues is somewhat outside the ambit of my mandate."

Cullen noted Gordon's position that it is difficult to determine the origins of foreign capital and, with respect to China, the money being transferred is often escaping capital export controls set by the Chinese government.

He dispelled the notion that foreign investment, particularly from China, is money laundering. And Cullen expressed concern that, in his view, public discourse had reached such a conclusion.

Cullen noted racist stereotyping of investments in real estate originating from China, as University of B.C. professor Henry Yu testified to, must be weeded out from "legitimate policy questions relating to foreign ownership of real estate in the province."

Cullen concluded that he could make no conclusive finding on money laundering or foreign investment, however defined, is a "primary cause" of home price increases in B.C. and steps to address money laundering should not be viewed as a "panacea for housing unaffordability."

Ultimately, more study is required on the matter, concluded Cullen.

Ron Usher, general counsel for the Society of Notaries Public, said the conclusions may frustrate some members of the public, however they are not surprising given it is difficult to track money laundering.

"I think people were understandably very interested in that. But I think it's appropriate for him to say, 'We just don't have information.' Well, of course, we don't because, you know, people don't tick a box on a form saying, 'I got this money from money laundering or a predicate crime,'" said Usher, who followed the daily testimony over two years as an intervenor.

Recommendations run deep into real estate sector

Despite not finding answers to such a significant question in the public discourse over the past 10 years, Cullen lays bare 40 recommendations for the real estate industry, now regulated by the 2021-established B.C. Financial Services Authority (BCFSA).

His recommendations suggest that real estate licensees are largely uneducated on AML measures and that both managing brokers and sub-brokers require education "focusing on the detection and reporting of fraud and money laundering in the industry."

Cullen also recommends the BCFSA, a government regulator, put in place measures for better data collection and that it implores real estate licensees and notaries to record source of funds information should the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) not do so on a federal level. He also wants BCFSA to mandate AML programs at each brokerage as a licensing condition.

Seventeen recommendations directly relate to mortgage brokers, who are overseen by the Registrar of Mortgage Brokers within the BCFSA.

Cullen wants brokers to have extended criminal record checks and more clearly defined responsibilities, including new reporting mandates under the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act.

Cullen also recommends all legal owners of mortgage charges are reported and that this information be available through the public land titles registry of the Land Title and Survey Authority. Presently, one is unable to conclusively determine, from flings, all of the owners of a registered mortgage charge.

Cullen is also calling for greater penalties and repayment of profits from proven unscrupulous brokers.

As for real estate licensees, Cullen has recommended employees of developers be brought within the licensing scheme. Today, many developer representatives effectively sell homes ("pre-sale" units) without any regulatory oversight.

Cullen also identified some legal matters to resolve, such as how courts cannot refuse to enforce debts made with funds of suspicious origin. As such, he recommends a source of funds declaration in foreclosure proceedings, at the judge's discretion. This recommendation stems from Cullen's examination of numerous foreclosure filings by alleged money launderer and casino cash provider Paul Jin.

Meanwhile, sunshine policies are a prominent set of recommendation for Cullen, namely by populating the B.C.'s Land Owner Transparency Registry with historic data within three years. He also recommends the Land Title and Survey Authority have a clear and enduring AML mandate, including the ability to "more readily" share data with other agencies.

Finally, with all such measures, Cullen recommends the Ministry of Finance analyze how such changes may impact housing prices.

Cullen thirsty for more data

Cullen emphasizes in his report the need for a beneficial ownership registry for both real estate and corporations, with the latter requiring a pan-Canadian approach. Contrary to some witnesses he heard from, such as journalists and Transparency International Canada, Cullen says a small search fee ($5) for beneficial ownership land titles is acceptable if government deems it so for operational purposes. However, Cullen suggests no such fees exist for a beneficial ownership registry of corporations. No fees should apply to law enforcement and regulators, noted Cullen.

With respect to data, Usher said tools such as land title registries, which are "secure and reliable," are increasingly being used by government agencies. He said Canada Revenue Agency could more easily track land purchases these days to weed out tax evasion and money laundering.

"It's easy to come up with lots of rules," said Usher.

"What we really need is a formal process of a notice of acquisition of real estate for CRA and a notice of disposition of real estate for CRA for every transaction.

"We need to get the right information from the right people at the right time," said Usher.

[email protected]

CP NewsAlert: Ex-CFLer Boden gets life for B.C. murder, no parole chance for 14 years

Ex-CFLer Boden gets life

A British Columbia judge has sentenced a former Canadian Football League wide receiver convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend to life in prison, with no chance of parole for 14 years.

Joshua Boden was found guilty last fall of second-degree murder in the 2009 death of 33-year-old Kimberly Hallgarth in the Burnaby home she shared with her three-year-old daughter.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Arne Silverman says his decision to set parole eligibility at 14 years took into account the fact Boden recently obtained a high school graduation certificate and has been seeing a counsellor while in pretrial custody.

Silverman told the court the school records in particular compelled him to provide some encouragement to Boden.

The former B.C. Lions player looked over at members of Hallgarth's family as he was led out of the courtroom after the sentencing.

"Have a good day," Boden said.

The Crown had argued parole eligibility should be set at 14 years, while Boden's lawyer asked for 12 years.

Crown prosecutor Brendan McCabe told a sentencing hearing last week that Boden, who is now 35, viciously beat Hallgarth, choked her to death and then staged the scene to make it look like an accident.

McCabe called the murder "blunt, brutal and horrific," saying photos of Hallgarth's injuries were the most shocking he'd seen in his career.

Boden played for the B.C. Lions in 2007 before being released from the team in 2008 and signing with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, although he never played a regular-season game with that team before he was cut.

McCabe told the court Hallgarth sent photos of her injuries from a previous assault by Boden to then Lions coach Wally Buono, and Boden blamed her for ending his football career.

He has maintained his innocence in her death.

Officials urge caution around swollen waterways with hot weekend in forecast

Be careful near high water

Enjoy the warm weather this weekend, but stay away from high water.

That was the message from government officials on Friday during a news conference updating B.C.’s flood situation.

“I would really urge safety and caution as we come into this weekend,” B.C. River Forecast Centre head Dave Campbell said.

“Flows on the rivers across the vast majority of the province are extremely high for this time of year — unusually high. So certainly recognize that hazard.”

Environment Canada meteorologist Armel Castellan urged similar caution.

“Public safety around water bodies is critical,” he said.

“We do not want to see statistics like we sometimes do at this time of the year with people accessing the very cold water and becoming hypothermic or getting swept away in high river levels and streams.”

B.C.'s first heat wave of the year is expected to see temperatures cracking the 30 C-mark by the end of the weekend and into next week.

TransLink turns to real estate development to make up for pandemic revenue losses

TransLink battling losses

TransLink is turning its attention real estate development as it attempts to make up for lost revenue in the pandemic.

The regional transit authority announced Thursday it was launching a real estate development program that would see it build both commercial and residential projects near transit sites.

TransLink CEO Kevin Quinn described it as a “creative way” to boost revenue as it tries to lure more riders back to the system after ridership levels plummeted at the outset of the pandemic. Its goal is to get ridership back up to 80 per cent of pre-pandemic levels by this fall.

TransLink is projecting revenue losses of $216 million this year.

“We will still need to identify more long-term funding solutions,” Quinn said in a statement.

“But this program will improve people’s access to transit, create more transit-oriented communities and generate new long-term revenue to help us improve and expand our system.” 

TransLink’s real estate division currently oversees the acquisition of land for transit infrastructure projects, such as bus loops and SkyTrain lines.

It's also responsible for working with developers that wish to better integrate their properties with transit infrastructure.

For this venture, TransLink said it will be collaborating with both public and private partners to develop real estate projects

“By developing near transit, TransLink will be helping to create transit-oriented lifestyles and communities throughout Metro Vancouver," TransLink chief operating officer Gigi Chen-Kuo, who oversees the real estate division, said in a statement.

The agency said it would be looking to best practices in other regions, such as Paris, London and Hong Kong, that have implemented similar programs.

[email protected]


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