Lack of affordable housing, public transit hinder Vancouver: report

VANCOUVER – A new report says Vancouver’s inadequate public transit and lack of affordable housing may hinder the city’s ability to attract labour and business investment.

The Greater Vancouver Board of Trade released a scorecard Wednesday prepared by the Conference Board of Canada that rates the city ninth among big international cities in terms of key economic and social indicators.

Singapore received the scorecard’s top marks, while Miami finished last in 20th place.

Part of the reason for Vancouver’s ranking is that the region’s economy has performed well for several years, and the area is a diverse and attractive place to live, said Iain Black, the board of trade’s CEO.

“But the scorecard results suggest Greater Vancouver still faces significant challenges that, if left unaddressed, could impact our future economic vitality,” Black said in a statement.

The report ranked Vancouver ninth in the economic category, based in part on the geographic advantage of having an airport and a port close to fast-growing Asian markets.

It noted, however, that the city has low levels of labour productivity and relatively weak venture capital investment, compared with cities such as San Francisco, Houston and Seattle.

Vancouver ranked seventh in the scorecard’s social category, garnering points for clean air, the relatively large population of foreign-born residents and a low homicide rate.

But the report said the city’s lack of affordable housing is likely contributing to the region’s low number of 25 to 34 year-olds, and present big problems in the future.

“These two factors represent a major barrier to retaining and attracting talent and business investment,” said a release on the report.

The scorecard also docked marks for the region’s long-commute times, saying inadequate public transit infrastructure compounds the difficulties in convincing people to move to — and stay in — the Vancouver area.

Those issues will need to be addressed in order for Vancouver to thrive in the future, said Daniel Muzyka, president and CEO of The Conference Board of Canada.

“If left unaddressed, these challenges could prevent Greater Vancouver from fully realizing the advantages of being a preferred gateway economy to Asia, as well as deter talented people and business investment — both crucial ingredients for success in an increasingly globalized and competitive world,” he said in a statement.

Other Canadian cities ranked in the scorecard include: Calgary in fourth place, Toronto in 10th, Montreal in 14th, and Halifax in 16th.

The report noted, however, that the indicators used to determine the results only went up to 2014, and did not take into account the impact of steep declines in oil and gas prices.