Marpole, one of the last affordable areas in Vancouver, is experiencing a rapid increase in non-resident ownership and empty homes.
Places like Coal Harbour are well-known for empty homes, now according to data by SFU’s The City Program, transit-oriented community Marine Gateway is experiencing a 24 per cent increase in empty homes or homes owned by non-residents. While residents are concerned about the effects on their neighbourhood and their wallets, new businesses at the Marine Gateway community have not yet noticed the effects.
Jodi Stecyk, a resident at one of the Marine Gateway towers, has only ever seen two of the neighbours on his floor. Despite working a well-paying job in Alberta, Stecyk cannot afford to own and instead rents his apartment. He said community is lacking here.
“I don’t see very many families in here. It’s mostly like older couples, maybe two or three people in one place,” Stecyk said. “It’s kind of sad but I think that’s just the way it goes I guess.”
From 2011 to 2016, the neighbourhood experienced a 348 per cent increase in non-resident owned or empty homes. The neighbourhood is one of several transit oriented areas, including Metrotown and Joyce Station, originally
Community is not the only concern for residents. Some worry about the increase in rental costs. Craigslist ads for rentals in the development range from 1,600 for a one-bedroom up to 3,500 for a penthouse.
Lourdes Vasquez, a Marpole resident for the past ten years, thinks the increase in non-resident ownership will continue and so will the rise in prices.
“It’s the rent,” Vasquez said. “If you just earn 3,000 a month, 2,500, you’re paying almost half of your income. How about your bills, your telephone, you cannot go for holiday.”
Vasquez is concerned the price increase will lead to more people living in Marpole temporarily, attracting young people that move when the costs become too high.
Businesses at the shopping centre, most who’ve only been open for around a year, have not yet noticed a decrease in business.
“Since this development is new, our business is also relatively new, which we have no way of judging whether or not…the apartments upstairs being uninhabited will affect our business or not,” said Anne Terry, salesperson at Express News, at local convenience store.
Express News relies mainly on passerby and not on residents. Yet high prices and fraud make this an expensive business to run, without taking into account the issue of empty homes.
Nikki Perton, manager at Marine Gateway Liquor Store, hasn’t noticed any changes in business in the 14 months her business has been open.
“It’s slow season for us anyways,” Perton said. “If it stays like this we will be able to see this in like June or July, if it would affect us.”