Seeking Community in Vancouver's High Rise Ghost Towns

The Province in Vancouver reports (in "15% of downtown Vancouver condos sit empty, turning areas into ghost towns: Study") that "much of the downtown core is starting to look like B.C.’s ghost towns — with apartments languishing empty, businesses closing down and residents not feeling the sense of community they bought into." The study, by University of British Columbia (UBC) planning professor Andy Yan, indicates that the problem is most pronounced outside the long-established high-rise district of the West End. He notes that in Coal Harbour, well located adjacent to the downtown area along Burrard Inlet, approximately 25% of the condominium units are unoccupied.

UBC economics professor Tour Somerville suggests that the number may even be higher, at 65% vacant, including both unsold units and units that have been purchased but not occupied by their owners. Vancouver has had an unusual amount of investment from mainland China, especially as that nation has substantially limited the purchase of condominium units for investment purposes.

Reporter Mike Reptis of The Province notes the difficulties for businesses in the area, indicating that "it’s a problem to local small business owners and residents — especially in Coal Harbour — who have bought into the neighbourhood expecting more of a community, and more business."

A long time convenience store manager complained that “foot traffic has slowed" and "local people can’t afford (to live here)," concluding that "small grocery stores are closing up" and "A lot of small companies are closing up.”