Media Coverage of My Book

The Death and Life of the Single-Family House: Lessons from Vancouver on Building a Livable City has now been covered by:

PRINT/ON-LINE (as of Feb 15th, 2017)

TV/RADIO/PODCAST (as of Nov 29th, 2016)

  • Metropolis (Metro podcast, Nov 28, 2016) – Interview with Luke Simcoe & Matt Elliott
  • Arts on Air (CiTR 101.9, UBC Arts podcast, Nov 28, 2016) – Interview with Rachel Sanders & Brittany Duggan
  • C-FAX Radio (1070 AM, Victoria, Nov 7, 2016) – Interview with Adam Stirling
  • CBC Radio (The 180, Oct 30, 2016) – Interview with Jim Brown
  • Global TV (Global News at Noon BC, Oct 21, 2016) – interview with Sophie Lui (re-posted Jan 19, 2017, in support of piece on home prices)
  • Business News Network TV (Oct 14, 2016) – interview
  • CKNW/Omni Radio (The Jon McComb Show, Oct. 12, 2016) – interview with Jon McComb
  • Vancouver Real Estate Podcast (Oct 5, 2016) – interview with Matt and Adam Scalena
  • CBC Radio (On the Coast, Aug 11, 2016) – interview with Stephen Quinn [listen to just my clip here]

Pre-sale Media Coverage: The Death and Life of the Single-Family House

A few local media outlets have picked up interest in my book since I announced it was available for pre-sale on twitter and this blog.  On the one hand, this is great!  I really welcome the exposure for both the book and the ideas it contains.  On the other hand, I worry (together with my publisher’s media rep) about too much early exposure before the book is actually available (October!).  I don’t really know what the right balance is – we don’t get a lot of media training in academia – but I’ll keep working on figuring it out.  In the meantime, I ask for patience from interested reporters with my ham-fisted efforts to manage the roll out of the book and its ideas, and I’m hopeful interest continues into when the book is actually ready to fall into readers’ hands.

For now here’s the audio clip from a recent interview talking about my forthcoming book with Stephen Quinn on CBC’s On The Coast.  (Or you can just listen to the whole August 11th, 2016 show).  I’m a regular listener, so it was really fun to meet Stephen Quinn and Amy Bell and see the inside of the CBC studio. [Update: and here’s the CBC write-up].

Prior to the radio interview, Jen St. Denis also interviewed me about the book for the Metro News, in a nice little piece posted here.  I think the piece was good, but it’s worth making two quick clarifications:

1) The 80% of land base figure speaks to 80% of land set aside to support residential uses (rather than 80% of all land as a whole), and covers the municipality of Vancouver. Metro Vancouver has data on land use broken down by municipality (and a lot of other data besides!)  Also Jens von Bergmann over at MountainMath (mentioned in the piece) has a beautiful map breaking down land use by lot within the City of Vancouver, which everyone should check out.  It really demonstrates just how much land has been set aside for single-family detached houses (almost entirely in protected RS zones, though there are also duplexes in RT zones and houses in Shaughnessy included, along with a scattering of old houses remaining in places unprotected by zoning).

2) The accompanying photo for the piece, as multiple people have pointed out, looks like it was taken at Mole Hill, which is a lovely little development preserving and rehabilitating old houses downtown by subdividing them up into apartments.  To be clear, the census would not consider these to be single-family detached houses, nor would the city.  But the ambiguity of how they LOOK like houses (and very photogenic ones at that) is really interesting.  This speaks to the focus of my first chapter in the book, laying out just what we talk about when we talk about single-family detached houses, and how the legal categories don’t always match people’s lay understandings of what counts as a house.  It also speaks to the many possibilities for subdividing existing houses to support more households – if zoning laws were modified to allow such a thing (it’s already the case, of course, that most RS zoned lots in Vancouver can now already support up to three households through secondary suite and laneway housing provisions).


Participate in the 2016 Symposium on Housing Research in BC

The Pacific Housing Research Network (PHRN) is a collection of scholars and practitioners in the field of housing in British Columbia [full disclosure: I sit on the steering committee]. It’s a great organization to be a part of, and I’ve really enjoyed and benefited from all the connections I’ve made through the Network. For the last couple of years, they’ve been working together with the BC Non-Profit Housing Conference to bring greater exposure to local housing research.  Just out now is their Call for Abstracts for those interested in participating in the November, 2016 PHRN research symposium.

PHRN is seeking housing research and examples of promising practices from community-based practitioners, academics (including graduate students), and government researchers from across housing sectors (i.e., policy, technical, cultural, health, social services, political, economic, social) who will help draw the connections between research and practice in creating affordable housing. The Symposium will include research presentations, panel discussions, and networking opportunities.

See the full details here!  Submissions due June 1st!



(Yet More) Changing Migration Profiles

By popular request, I’m posting a snapshot of net migration profiles by age across four time periods for both Metro Vancouver and the Vancouver School District (encompassing both the City of Vancouver and the University Endowment Lands of UBC to its immediate west).  The comparison allows us to see how Vancouver, as a central city, relates to the wider metropolitan area in terms of net migration.  But I’ll also walk more carefully through the steps I’m taking to come up with the figures.  Let’s start with the big picture (click here to make it bigger!).


Here I’m comparing net migration figures by age groups (aggregated for simpler presentation) across four time periods for both the Vancouver School District and the metro area.  I toyed around with how to present the data, and went with the Vancouver School District net migration figures in color, and the corresponding metro figures in white.  Of note, and as previously demonstrated, the metro area is growing across nearly all age groups in all time periods.  Only amongst older residents, in their fifties and above, do we see evidence of possible out-migration (and I’d be careful about interpreting this).

For the Vancouver School District (VSD), contained within the metro area, it’s a different story.  Young people, especially of university age, FLOOD into the VSD.  They keep flooding through their twenties, but as they move into their thirties, the flood starts to recede.  As people proceed through their mid-thirties (in red), more of them leave the VSD than enter.  This is a relatively common pattern for central cities, as many thirty-somethings decamp to cheaper and more spacious suburbs nearby.  As visible from the metro stats, more thirty-somethings continue to enter the Metro Area than leave it, even though that’s no longer true for the VSD.

All that said, the historical comparison is interesting!  In relative terms, it looks like Vancouver saw a ramping up of the usual exodus of thirty-somethings between 1986 and 2011.  But in the most recent five-year period, the exodus has slowed again.  Relatively fewer thirty-somethings are fleeing the VSD now than was the case in the previous five-year period.  I’m not sure how much to make of this pattern, but it’s intriguing.

As for the flight of the Millennials, I’m still not seeing it.  Not for Metro, and not for the VSD.  But maybe that’s just because I think of Millennials as the fresh-faced twenty-somethings in my classes now, rather than the dour thirty-somethings of my classes from ten years ago.

How to do it yourself

As with the net migration profiles I ran yesterday, I’m using  BC Stats data from their population estimates.  For Metro data, I’m selecting “Greater Vancouver” from Regional Districts available.  For the City, I’m selecting “Vancouver” from School Districts.  In each case, I use the five year age categories, totaling across both sexes, and I select all years available.

The five year age categories match nicely with five year time comparisons.  Setting aside death and migration, if I knew how many people were ages 5-9 in 1986, then I’d also know exactly how many people would be ages 10-14 in 1991.  But people die and people move around.  To take the former into account, I age everybody five years.  I do this by finding reasonable age-specific mortality rates to apply. This time I chose 2008 mortality rates for all of Canada.  But these rates are worth playing around with; choose your own games to play with death!   Different rates can have sizable effects for older populations, though they won’t matter much for the young.  For good measure,  I killed people off for three years using rates from their starting age bracket, and two from their receiving age bracket.  Then I subtracted how many I had left from my 1986 population from how many people actually showed up to be counted in 1991.  Voila!  The remainder is my estimate of net migration.  Given that most of that migration presumably takes place during the intervening years, I’ve labeled my estimates by mid-ranges, like ages 7-12, centered between 5-9 and 10-14.  There are ways to tinker with this to try and be even more precise, but this exercise should provide a decent estimate of net migration (especially given remaining uncertainties I have about data quality).  If you’ve read this far, you should download the data into a spreadsheet and try it out!