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Douglas Todd: the ten most popular articles of 2021

Skyrocketing housing prices, the crisis of the middle class, homelessness campaigns, foreign ownership and vaccination chaos for Canadian travelers were among the topics covered in Douglas Todd’s Top 10 Articles of 2021

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Housing was the big deal for readers in 2021. That’s no surprise, given that prices have soared 34% in Canada since Covid-19 hit. This is mainly due to Ottawa’s monetary stimulus and low interest rates, which have been like crack for the real estate market.

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The government’s response to the pandemic has exacerbated already astronomical prices, which had been swayed by foreign capital, including “students” buying up mansions as proxies for wealthy landlords – the subject of my most-read column in the world. ‘last year.

Readers were eager to hear about foreign investment in real estate in Canada, whether from the United States or elsewhere. But some other top 10 articles explored the Canadian middle class crisis, homelessness rights campaigns, China, and the chaos of COVID vaccination for Canadians who dared to leave the country.

1. Vancouver still suffers from “student” mansion purchases

“The most important thing to understand about foreign capital is that it never comes back. It just hangs around in Canadian real estate.

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2. The provocative world of luxury Vancouver real estate agent Layla Yang

High-profile businesswoman claims five clients, fearing ban on foreign buyers, asked her to list their homes

3. An American billionaire wins the battle to keep fishermen away from his giant ranch in British Columbia

Stan Kroenke wins the battle to keep fishermen out of his ranch’s lakes, even though the lakes belong to the public.

The British Columbia Court of Appeal has handed down a setback for anglers like Rick McGowan, who helped launch the case against billionaire Stan Kroenke's Douglas Ranch, which is larger than Metro Vancouver. [PNG Merlin Archive]
The British Columbia Court of Appeal has handed down a setback for anglers like Rick McGowan, who helped launch the case against billionaire Stan Kroenke’s Douglas Ranch, which is larger than Metro Vancouver. [PNG Merlin Archive] Photo by Douglas Todd /PNG

4. Mom and Dad Bank taking us back to 19th century heirloom culture

The large-scale transfer of intergenerational wealth is a sign that this country is returning to the harsh class system that once dominated Britain, France and Russia

5. China lifts hammer on Hong Kong residents holding Canadian passports

Hong Kong leaders are pressuring about 350,000 residents holding Canadian and Chinese passports to make a final decision on their citizenship

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6. Global wealth distorts the look of Vancouver, Toronto

A surprising new book illustrates the distortions that occur when a city’s housing becomes a destination of choice for the world’s wealthy

7. Canada has abandoned the middle class, says former senior BC official

Don Wright, who has just retired, has seized on his newfound freedom to produce powerful work that aims to unlock wage stagnation, adjusting immigration and increasing productivity

Don Wright's essay, published online with the Public Policy Forum, argues that despite repeated promises, most politicians have abandoned the broad middle classes by letting real wages stagnate.
Don Wright’s essay, published online with the Public Policy Forum, argues that despite repeated promises, most politicians have abandoned the broad middle classes by letting real wages stagnate. Photo by jentakespictures /iStock/Getty Images

8. Ottawa is creating COVID vaccination chaos for Canadian travelers

It’s more than just a hassle at the airport. This has serious implications for the country, as many are urging the federal government to simplify its travel rules

9. Exorbitant housing prices causing psychological damage

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Anxiety is common among people forced out of the housing market. Anger too. And, for many, a sense of inadequacy.

10. Pressure is mounting to complete the Fraser River Trail through Vancouver’s private Marine Drive Golf Club

While other clubs have cooperated, the private Marine Drive Golf Club has for decades refused to give in to calls to remove its barricade from 700 meters of the Fraser River trail.

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Well, that’s the top 10. But I can’t resist adding a few more popular pieces from 2021, on different topics.

They would include:

Sam Cooper’s book on corruption in Canada tops bestseller list

An investigative journalist has written a disturbing expose on the “mind-boggling” links between organized crime, the Chinese Communist Party, real estate, offshore billionaires and Canadian politicians.

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Unceded: Why we do or don’t recognize BC First Nations never ceded land

Indigenous peoples are among those who are divided on the value and meaning of territorial recognitions.

(Of a dozen articles I’ve written in 2021 on First Nations issues, this one has been the most “popular.”)

“I have yet to meet anyone who (does land reconnaissance) talks about anything meaningful or practical, anything that addresses the social issues that we face today,” says Ellis Ross, former councilor in leader of the Haisla nation.  He is the MPP for Skeena.
“I have yet to meet anyone who (does land reconnaissance) talks about anything meaningful or practical, anything that addresses the social issues that we face today,” says Ellis Ross, former councilor in leader of the Haisla nation. He is the MPP for Skeena. Photo by Peter Versteege

Generous Canada now #1 for international students

Some higher education experts are skeptical of Ottawa’s increasingly aggressive efforts to attract international students.

People are moving from other provinces to British Columbia, but are avoiding the metro

“We’ve had a lot of people from Alberta and the East shelling out and moving to Nanaimo,” says Mayor Len Krog. Meanwhile, Metro Vancouver is much less attractive to other residents of Canada.

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