Vancouver: Vacant homes held as commodities by wealthy foreigners

Vancouver plans to create a database of empty houses and condos to determine how much vacant properties contribute to the city’s affordability crisis.

Two of the major questions the city hopes to answer with this research is how much of an influence investors are having and whether housing is being treated as a commodity instead of as a place to live.

But one city councillor worries that in seeking the data, Vancouver may give more oxygen to xenophobic comments that have suggested Vancouver’s problems arise from foreign investments, particularly from China.

Coun. Kerry Jang, a third-generation Chinese-Canadian, said he was reminded of that possibility when someone emailed him at City Hall to report an empty house in his neighbourhood that probably owned by “a foreign investor”…