Vancouver is one of a handful of global cities where real estate values have grown exponentially as investors from within North America and around the world continue to seek safe and attractive investment options. However, as home prices have continued to rise, Vancouver's average income levels have remained stagnant. The local housing market has become de-coupled from the local "real economy". This, along with increasing costs of child care, food and drinks, post secondary tuition, fuel, insurance and other factors have contributed to a crisis of affordability in the city.
The debate in Vancouver has been heated, with many framing the issue in terms of wealthy mainland Chinese often being the assumed cause of the housing price inflation, but at the same time the discourse in Vancouver has cautioned the city to not lay the blame for its un-affordability crisis one any one single group of people, particularly on basis of race or nationality. As this discourse is unfolding there is evidence of adaptation and innovation happening in both the property development sector, in local government, and in the local populations particularly affected by cost of living challenges, mainly younger adults choosing to remain in Vancouver. These are evidenced through such things as innovation in land use and planning, built form, social enterprise and the sharing economy.
Due to the nature of Vancouver's geography and the temporal pattern of development over the past few decades there is speculation, and early evidence, that developers and even the City of Vancouver itself are now focusing on Vancouver's Eastern neighbourhoods to absorb new housing as the downtown core and western neighbourhoods are believed to be nearly fully developed. This has caused concerns about displacement and gentrification and has resulted in numerous forms of activism. This blend of resistance, adaptation, innovation and speculation is examined through a discourse analysis of local media in Vancouver and numerous case studies highlighting examples of innovation, adaptation and resistance in the city. It was shared by Wes Regan, Executive Director of the Hastings Crossing Business Improvement Association and Graduate Student at Simon Fraser University's Urban Studies Program, at the Urban Land Institute Cascadia Young Leaders Conference in Portland Oregon, July 2014.