Income mapped: As wealth grows across Vancouver, have-nots get squeezed out

Watch: Are we getting richer?

The past ten years appear to have been good to Lower Mainland pocketbooks.

A Global News analysis of tax filing data obtained from Statistics Canada reveals areas of growing wealth in Lotus Land between 2001 and 2010. But that rising income could disguise an exodus of those priced out of the market, moving to new pockets of poverty outside the city core.

In depth: Track a decade of income shifts in your neighbourhood

“By definition it sorts out who is allowed to come and play here: You better be well educated, you better have yourself a pretty good family income, because boy, you can’t get into this market otherwise,” said Lindsay Meredith, professor of marketing at Simon Fraser University. “So the city prices by themselves, sort out the kind of income levels that might creep in to the [Greater Vancouver Regional District] region.”
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Despite a slight drop in house prices in Vancouver in May, the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver says “the balance of sales and listings meant continued market stability this spring.”

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“There’s more green than brown, which means Metro Vancouver seems to be maintaining good high median salary incomes for families,” said Meredith.

“Looking at that map, I see more winners than losers. We still have pockets of course where incomes have dropped, but that may not even be due to concentrations of poor people. It could be due to retirees dropping off large salaries going back to say $50,000, $60,000, $70,000 a year.”

West Vancouver, Point Grey and Shaughnessy, show a drop in incomes, but real estates prices in the area are holding fairly steady.

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“When we look at the higher ends, like West Point Grey, Kerrisdale, places like that, you see a big increase in the kinds of retirees that are starting to show up, people hitting the finish line.”

Some believe residents are being pushed out of areas of rising wealth, such as Downtown Eastside. The area just west of Main and Hastings has seen its median income grow by double digits in the past five years alone.

Jamie Richardson from the Downtown Eastside Neighbourbood Council said he thinks gentrification in the area can work, but the residents on social assistance and disability haven’t seen their income increase in more than a decade, even as rents and prices around them rise.

“So when the rents go up, they have to take money out of their support money, which they use for food and daily living expenses, to pay the increase in their rent,” he said. “And the number of buildings of supportive housing and social housing has been decreasing, even though the city has a bylaw where any new construction is supposed to have 20 per cent social housing in it.

“The government has not kept up with the amount of social housing that’s decreasing.”

Meredith said looking at the map you can see people moving out of the downtown core, as various regions gentrify and former residents are forced out or lose jobs. And given the outlook for housing prices, he adds, “I don’t think we can look for any major relief.”

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“If you look at some parts of Surrey, some sections there are coloured that red or brown, translated, you got lower socio-economic income in those regions.” That suggests some migration of people who can no longer afford to stay downtown, he said.

In the Downtown Eastside, Richardson said, he sees that monthly.

“They call it ‘rennoviction’,” he said. “Landlord comes in, existing tenants are evicted to do renovations, but when the buildings are open again the rents are now raised from $400 a month up to $800 or a $1,000, and existing tenants can’t come back and pay that kind of money.

“There is nowhere for us to move.”

Read more: Long after ‘priority’ designation, pockets of poverty persist in Toronto

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