New report highlights sale of West Side homes to students and homemakers with nonanglicized Chinese names

    1 of 1 2 of 1

      This morning, there's another round of news about people from China buying homes on Vancouver's West Side.

      It's spurred by a report by urban planner Andrew Yan, who works at Bing Thom Architects.

      Using the questionable approach of looking at nonanglicized Chinese surnames, Yan concluded that 70 percent of detached home sales on Vancouver's West Side were bought by people who fell into this category.

      Media outlets widely reported that this meant that the buyers were from mainland China.

      I don't understand how anyone could make a determination of someone's country of origin based on a surname.

      This is especially so with Chinese surnames, given the large number of overseas Chinese living in countries like the Philippines, Malaysia, Canada, and the United States.

      But setting that concern aside, the report also indicated that more than 80 percent of these multimillion-dollar homes carried mortgages. Most were negotiated by three financial institutions: HSBC, BMO, and CIBC.

      Surprisingly, 36 percent of the owners were listed as housewives or students, according to Yan's research.

      So why are there so many students buying houses on Vancouver's West Side?

      Here's one aspect of the story that's been overlooked in the media.

      The provincial government has kept a tight lid on postsecondary funding under Premier Christy Clark.

      The allocation to the Ministry of Advanced Education actually declined in the last budget. This occurred even though the province posted an $879-million surplus.

      This has put more pressure on universities to attract foreign students.

      That's because foreign students pay vastly higher tuition fees than domestic students.

      Luring foreign students enables universities to cover the cost of collective agreements without resorting to wholesale layoffs.

      For example, UBC charges foreign students $32,558.89 for a year of undergraduate applied-science education. Domestic students pay $6,151.99 for the same course load.

      The only foreign students who can afford more than $30,000 a year are going to be kids of wealthy parents.

      And the government shouldn't be surprised if these same parents might also be able to buy their child a house on the West Side.

      The minister of advanced education is Andrew Wilkinson. His constituents are increasingly upset over the sale of homes to mainland Chinese buyers.

      Wilkinson, of course, could reduce demand for these homes by taking steps to ensure that universities are adequately funded.

      Then university administrators wouldn't have to rely on so many foreign students to pay the bills. There would be fewer spots for them and more spaces for Canadian students.

      But don't expect this to happen as long as Clark remains premier.

      She's already sent a signal through her recent budgets that postsecondary education isn't a priority for this B.C. Liberal government.

      It seems to be especially so since the voters of Vancouver-Point Grey, home to UBC's Point Grey campus, sent the premier packing in the last provincial election.