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episode # 52

Who Runs This Town? with Frances Bula

Freelance journalist and Vancouver political commentator Frances Bula joins Adam and Matt to discuss Vancouver urban politics, the inner workings of City Hall, and who really runs this town. We’ll give you a hint…it’s not Jay Z.


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Episode Summary


Adam: And welcome back to Vancouver Real Estate Podcast. I’m your host, Adam Scalena.

Matt: And I’m your other host, Matt Scalena.

Adam:  And Matt, we’ve got an amazing show today.

Matt:  We do.

Adam: Seriously, one of my favourite.

Matt:  It was.  You know what?  We just, I can’t believe it.   Frances Bula was just sitting in the podcast studio with us.

Adam:  Exactly.  And we’ve both been fans for years so really exciting to have her here and to get to meet her face to face.

Matt:  Yeah.  Frances Bula, local journalist.  Used to work for the Vancouver Sun for over twenty years. Beat reporter.  Covers City Hall. All her work right now can be found at but she’s in the Globe and Mail and basically you find her everywhere but I would start with her site, for sure.

Adam:  Weren’t you saying she’s the Paul Simon of Vancouver?

Matt:  The David Simon.  The David Simon.

Adam:   Oh the David Simon.  Sorry.  Sorry.  Just don’t call her the Garfunkel.

Matt:  Yeah.  Yeah.  David Simon. No, I was saying.  You know, the creator of The Wire.  So he used to be a beat reporter in Baltimore and that’s where that show gets that kind of the depth to it right? And Frances Bula is basically Vancouver’s version.

Adam:  I agree.  I agree.  So, Matt, you had an interesting thing happen to you over the last few days.

Matt: Well, it was just last night.  I feel like I’m always having an interesting thing.  Every time I meet my daughter…

Adam:  You’re the storyteller of the podcast.

Matt:  I’m the storyteller of the podcast.  The last one of course was with my daughter swimming.  She’s now skating.  And that brings on a different set of stories.  So last night she was at skating.  I take her every week, it’s, you know, watching a five year old learn to skate is actually a lot of fun.

Adam:  Right.

Matt:  I convince my wife who has not ever gone to skating to go because it was one of the last classes and you know it’s a very cute thing to watch. Anyway stop at Subway on the way home. That’s kind of a tradition of the skating now that we stop there for a quick 6 inch on the way home and my wife got locked in the bathroom.

Adam:  On purpose?

Matt:  She locked the door.  No, she got locked in the bathroom for about 45 minutes in the Subway on Main and 49th.

Adam:  You mean she couldn’t get out?

Matt:  Yeah.  Yeah.  No.  We had to get the fire…We should post some photos on our site.  But no she literally went into the bathroom.

Adam:  Okay.

Matt:  The two guys and we know these guys because I’m there every week now like they recognize us. He assured me this has never happened before.  The bathroom door got stuck.

Adam:  Okay.

Matt:  So they were trying to kick it open for 10, 15 minutes.  She’s inside. We’re eating subs.

Adam:  So you and your daughter are just sitting there eating subs?

Matt:  Finished our subs. Yeah.

Adam:  Right.

Matt:  And anyway we had to get…the fire department came.  And they brought in an axe.

Adam: The Jaws of Life.

Matt: And literally they broke down the door.  We were there for about 45 minutes.  Good times.

Adam:  Wow. That’s a walk of shame coming out of that bathroom.

Matt:  We got the photos. I’m telling you.

Adam:  The photos to prove it.

Matt:  Yeah.  When it happens.  Next week we’ll see what happens but we’re on a real streak right now.

Adam: Wow.  Yeah, you guy are a …lot of… Never a dull moment in the Scalena family.

Matt:  Yeah.

Adam: Alright.  Well hey, without further ado we’ve got a very…It’s actually a long but super entertaining interview with Frances Bula.

Matt:  Yeah.

Adam:  So maybe we should cut to that.

Matt:  Yeah.  Let’s cut to that one.  Enjoy guys.


Adam:  Hi Frances.  How are you doing?

Frances:  I’m great.

Adam: Well thanks a lot for joining us.

Matt:  Yeah.  Thanks for your time.

Adam:  Can you tell some of our listeners a little bit about yourself?

Frances:  Sure.  I’m a person who studied French and Music in university and never thought I was going to be a journalist.

Matt:  We studied history.

Frances:  Exactly.  And then suddenly you graduate and go Oh, holy sh…(beep) how am I going to support myself for the rest of my life?  Is it okay that I say bad words once in a while?

Adam:  Sure it makes it even more entertaining.

Frances:  Okay. So I decided it was too late to get a PHD in Marine Biology so I decided to become a journalist and I did an old-fashioned route.  I started working for small papers, like my first job was in the Krestin Valley Advance and I worked in Comox and Kamloops and eventually got on at the Sun and discovered while I was there that I really liked beat reporting which is when you cover a particular area like day in day out cause I felt like in general assignment people can kind of get away with anything.

Matt:  Right.

Frances:  They can kind of tell you anything and you don’t have enough depth to be able to ever challenge them. So I found I liked beat reporting and I did education first and then in 94 I asked to cover City Hall because the spot was open.  And I’ve been covering City Hall and urban issues ever since.  And you know had a chance to so some really different things while I was doing that.  One of them was I got I had a yearlong fellowship from the Atkinson Foundation to study homelessness and affordable housing kind of around the world because Vancouver which didn’t actually have much of a homelessness problem back then

Matt:  Right.

Frances:  but it was starting to emerge so I got interested in it so I had a chance to do that and so I did that at the Vancouver Sun for a long time and in 2008 as I like to say the day the recession started I decided to quit my job and become a free-lancer.   And now I write largely for The Globe and Mail and for the local magazines In Town Vancouver Magazine and BC Business and you know for a few others.

Adam:  Great.

Matt:  Awesome.  So part of the reason we were so excited to have you on Frances is because you have that long history of understanding and sort of just watching how the city works so we were trying to think of an interesting opening question and what better than just a simple one…  Who runs Vancouver?

Frances:  Yeah. That is interesting.  I mean, obviously for a long time it was like a group of old white business guys and I know some people would think that that’s still true. Old white business guys who had a lot of links to various interests in town obviously always developers sometimes you know sports would be you know a big deal and you know there’d be connections there, other types of business and so on.  Who runs Vancouver has changed over the years.  I mean I think you do see more people who’ve been deeply involved in the community you know deciding that they want to run for park board and then council.  You know that’s often a stepping stone is those too.

Matt: Right

Frances: Obviously development real estate interests are always big in the city and that’s for a particular reason which is the primary business of council is regulating land use so it’s been more unusual to see how involved real estate developers have gotten in the province.  It didn’t use to be like that. It use to be like mining, forestry,

Matt:  Yes.

Frances:  you know road builders, truck loggers you know those kinds of people who really dominated in the supporter donor group so it’s been interesting to see the shift at the province of how dominant real estate has become but real estate developers have been interested in city councils since the first one was formed here.

Matt:  Right.

Frances:  In fact my house was built by Robert Balfour who was one of the first councilors and you know half of them were in real estate cause that has been the business of Vancouver for a very long time and city councils.  Their main job besides picking up garbage and taking away your poop and stuff like that

Matt:  Right.

Frances: their main job is regulating land use so developers need and want a relationship with those councilors.

Adam:  Just to follow up on that.  Do you think that the city has a healthy relationship with developers?

Frances:  You never do because they have their interests which aren’t always aligned with, you know, what makes a good city or whatever.  I know people aren’t going to believe this but I think Vancouver has a healthier relationship than other cities because Vancouver has been in the position of being able to dictate terms for quite a long time.

Matt:  Right.

Frances:  There was a time when the population of the city was actually declining in the 70s and so on after Expo starting in the 80s you know it became the place where people wanted to build and because it was so desirable Vancouver much more so than other cities could say mmm we don’t like that.  We want you to do it this way.

Matt:  Yeah. They are able to extract a lot from developers.

Frances:   They People don’t get it like they keep saying oh we’re you know giving everything away.  They actually extract quite a lot.  Like when you compare with other cities and I know other planners look at Vancouver and go I wish.

Matt: Right.  Right.  Would you say, and another sort of follow-up I was thinking, would you say since you’ve started watching the city, it sounds almost like the dynamics have shifted quite a bit and sort of local sort of community activists have become more influential.  Do you see that as a positive overall?  Is the city moving in the right direction?

Frances:  Well, you know community activism comes and goes and so you know in the 1970s it was really strong and people who were trying to protect neighbourhoods from density and apartments and things like that like they’re really the people who elected Team which was this new party in 1972 that kind of swept in and they were different from the old left wing and right wing groups and then it kind of died off.  There was a real loss of interest in city council like when I started in the 90s it was me and a guy from Sing Tao who was there. That was it. Nobody was covering the city.   It was considered boring.  And also all the development that was happening was happening in that industrial land around the perimeter of the downtown.  Well nobody cared because they weren’t living there so do whatever you want.   Build all the towers you want we don’t care.  What’s happened in the last ten years is those areas pretty much got built out like North False Creek, Coal Harbour.  We see the results of that you know forest of glossy towers.  But then developers started to run out of downtown room so they started looking well where else can we build? They started moving out into the established neighbourhoods and that’s when you know kind of sh… (beep) hit the fan.   And really that’s what the Vision Council that was first elected in 2008.  That’s a lot of what they’ve been dealing with.  Some of which they haven’t handled very well. So it’s you know kind of added fuel to the fire.  Neighbourhood activism, it’s always good when people are involved but you know what a lot of observers will tell you is that unfortunately the people who tend to get the most involved and have the loudest voices at council are certain residents over others so it tends to be you know the land owners, the home owners,

Matt:  Right.

Frances:   who want to preserve the status quo?  And so they’re often coming to council.  We don’t want   towers.  We don’t want apartment buildings.  We don’t want townhouses.  We don’t want basement suites.  We don’t want row houses.  We just want things the way they are.

Matt:  Yes.

Frances:  So that’s been a real issue and like in Seattle one of the things that the Seattle Council has done is start an office that’s specifically for renters and they’ve kind of taken some of the power away from the traditional neighbourhood groups cause they’ve said those neighbourhood groups tend to represent a really small circle of people within that neighbourhood

Matt:  Right.

Frances:  like the white older home owners who are protecting certain interests.

Matt:  Yeah, for sure.   And we’ve had people on talking about the nimby sort of not in my backyard types in Vancouver.  Should young people be moving out of the city and chasing affordability, do you think?

Frances:  Well, I would never advise that if they really want to be here.  And I think we’ve seen a real change, you know, that there’s been the emergence in Vancouver of what’s called yimbys….yes, in my backyard.  It’s a movement that kind of started in San Francisco where people have been very entrenched about no, no new buildings nothing you know don’t even think about trying to build something new here so it started in San Francisco it now exists in numerous cities these sort of little yimby movements of younger people saying, “Hey wait a minute this is all very nice to preserve your beautiful old houses but if it means that none of us can ever move in

Matt:  Right.

Frances:  well we’re not so crazy about that.” So you know, I mean, you know when you talk about what young people should do I mean it kind of depends on what you want.  If you’re really fixated on having like a big yard and a house that’s in the middle of that and so on and some people are, that really appeals to them then yeah you’re going to have to hunt around to find that. That’s going to be hard to find in Vancouver but what I increasingly see is people who say you know I sort of want that but I also really want to be in the city, on transit, you know, close to where I work or whatever and I’m willing to live in a smaller space or with less you know sort of yard space or whatever and you’re seeing people doing that.

Adam:  Right.  Right.  So there’s a lot of talk about limiting demand in Vancouver real estate and there’s also a lot of talk about creating supply, what would it take to make Vancouver affordable again?

Frances:  I know that and if someone gives me a million dollars I’m going to tell them the answer. No, I don’t know.

Matt: You heard it here first.

Frances: You know, that’s what we’re all struggling with right?  What will it take?  You know and so people are trying taxes on groups that they think are driving up demand.  I mean right now we have a Foreign Buyer’s Tax.  What a lot of people have advocated for in the past is you know a sur tax on anything that seems to be a luxury type purchase, a speculator tax cause the problem with a market like Vancouver is it’s hard to understand housing supply science like have you ever tried to read an article on it in an academic journal?

Adam:  Almost.

Matt:  Yeah.  Almost.

Frances:  There’s a lot of weird math formulas in there and stuff like that so but from what I’ve been able to grasp from what I’ve read is cities that have a supply problem that you start to see prices go up and then once people build and the supply you know sort of starts to catch up then the prices come back down but the problem is when they start going up you get speculators coming in cause they say Oh hey prices are going up. This is a way to make money and we’ve seen this in Vancouver numerous times, right?  So then people pile into the market and then they drive it up even more and then if the supply never does catch up it just keeps that speculative spiral going upward so you definitely need a way to try to suppress speculation in some way and you need supply and everybody is tinkering with like how do we do that?  How much supply is enough and is it the right kind?  I think we were talking about the relationship of council and developers and I think this council when it first came in in 2008 you know remember there was a big recession there was a crash they also wanted to create housing so they talked they had a big conference I still remember it at the cemetery symbolically.  There’s a really nice meeting room at the cemetery, honestly I swear to God.    And they invited housing advocates and developers and architects and all kinds of people and what they came up with was this idea of promoting rental by giving developers incentives

Matt:  Right.

Frances:  and then they also tended to listen to developers who came in pitching specific projects, like Maureen Gateway.  You know PCI bought that piece of industrial land down by the Canada Line.  It was zoned industrial which means they got it for nothing and they convinced council oh you know if you want to save the planet what you should do is let us build a tower here and

Matt:  It’s now trading at over 1000 a square foot.

Frances:  Exactly.  Exactly.  And so I think that this council, what happened is, they started taking a little bit too much advice from developers or you know they were desperate to sort of do something about the housing situation and so when some developer would come in and say hey I can do this for you if you do this for me I think they were a little quick to jump at things like that and I think you know they learned over the years and I’m going to get circle back eventually to the point I think I was trying to make  but what I’ve heard various councilors say is you know at first we believed it was just supply and then we came to realize no, it can’t be just supply.  We have to shape the supply otherwise they’re going to build what’s good for them which is tiny little boxes or luxury penthouses you know with not much in between.  And so what I’ve seen over the years, the last few years, is council moving more toward shaping the supply saying you have to build 2 and 3 bedroom places, giving more incentives for rental and really trying to encourage rental cause the one great thing about rental is like it’s not going to be a speculator bait, right?  It’s rental so there’s been more of a move towards that as a way of you know, creating supply but making sure it’s a supply that doesn’t just serve the developers and investors.

Adam:   Right and so in your career as a journalist have you seen real estate be this explosive as an issue or do you think it is just something that’s always there because I mean, I feel like everyone’s kind of sick about talking…

Frances:  Well I know.  We are a bit like New York and it is a fact that we talk more about real estate than anyone else in the country except maybe Toronto.

Matt:  Right.

Frances: Like Mario Canseco at Insights West says when he does polling and he asks people in different parts of the country like how much do you think your house is worth, you know,   would you ever consider selling it you know and in other parts of the country like half the people don’t even know what their house is worth whereas here like everyone knows it to the dime.  The day the assessment notice comes out everyone’s on the phone nanana mine’s worth more than yours.

Matt: Yeah.  We’re constantly saying Vancouver has such a savvy populous in regards to real estate.

Frances: And that’s and that’s in part what you know contributes to the issue because people talk about foreign investors and for sure there are.  They are everywhere like China is what the Unites States was in the fifties.  It’s an industrial power house.  They have loads of money, thanks to us shipping them all our cash for their ipads and stuff like that so they have loads of money.  There’s definitely foreign investment but there is a lot of domestic investment.

Matt:  Well that’s part of what I was thinking about when you mentioned about speculators I mean when the Foreign Buyers Tax came in last year and Adam and I talked about it on the podcast quite a bit it was what we saw the shift was all those people maybe 5 out of 10 people looking to purchase were local speculators buying rental properties

Frances:  Yeah.

Matt: or investment properties and they are the ones that pressed pause and pulled back and that’s the

Frances:  Because they weren’t sure how much the values would keep going up. I know like I did a study once where I looked at every apartment in one Coal Harbour Tower and every apartment in the tall Woodsward Tower and in the Coal Harbour Tower there were a lot more you know Americans, South Africans, the Koreans, I think a couple of Chinese, people from Edmonton, you know Ontario and so on buying those nice apartments. What was interesting about the Woodsward building how many local investors there were and you can tell cause if the property tax bill is being mailed to a different address you know and it was like the DiSilvas in Burnaby and the Hernandez in Surry and you know the Johnstons in Langley.  A lot of local people had bought an apartment at Woodwards as their little piece of you know casino gambling in Vancouver real estate.

Adam:  I know you’re just using examples but I actually know DaSilva’s in Burnaby.  Shout out to the DaSilva family.

Frances:  I think there’s a few of them probably.

Adam:   So, okay, so speaking about foreign investment, we’ve obviously seen a lot of recent interventions by the BC Liberal Government.  What are your thoughts?  Do you see it as good policy? Foreign Buyer Tax?

Frances:  You know, I don’t know.  You know, like all jurisdictions all around the world are trying different kinds of these taxes. I tend to agree with people like Tom Davidoff and others who say why make it just a foreign buyers tax like why not a speculator tax or why not a tax that applies only if you have no income that you ever declare in Canada you know or something like that.  Like, it’s just a bit too… I feel like it’s pandering a bit too much to people’s stereotypes about how the real estate market is working and but you know we’ll see how it pans out. I mean  every article I read contradicts the previous one about you know whether it’s having an impact or not and I notice the latest chart I saw on twitter said prices are right back up to where they were so I don’t know.

Matt: So shifting gears a little bit here we haven’t had people on talking much about TransLink which is a hugely important topic and you’ve been writing about it recently.  So obviously the lower mainland has had a fairly interesting relationship or fraught relationship with TransLink over the last couple of years.  Where do you see public transportation going within the next kind of 5, 10, 15 years?

Frances:  Yeah.  I mean it feels a bit better today than it did two years ago. I think two years ago after the plebliscite failed everyone was like we’re bad word starting with f you know like just what is going to happen to us.

Matt:  Right.

Frances:  There’s no way out here.  You know TransLink was created in 2000 and from Day 1 they knew that they needed one more source of funding to be able to pay for improvements.  They had enough through property tax, gas tax and fares to kind of cover operating the system but they knew that they needed one more source cause they needed to keep adding onto it unless everyone stops moving here which apparently they’re not going to do.  So the first proposal was for a vehicle levy and the NDP were facing an election and there was a big popular revolt against the vehicle levy so they cancelled it and then every few years they’ve tried to convince the province to give them one more source and it just keeps going down the tubes.  And the plebliscite was a way to try to get out of that.  That was a disaster for various reasons. But there does seem to be a little break in the log jam and largely because the Federal Government has come in saying you know they ran ads during the election here, Edmonton and Calgary saying we’re going to bring you transit so they are bringing some money in and then that’s loosening everything up because once one person puts their money in then others feel more confident

Matt:  Right:

Frances:  about putting more in.  So it does feel better.  Everyone’s now waiting for the Federal Budget which I think they think is going to be Mar. 21st. where they are going to announce how much they’re going to give for the second phase of transit funding and that’s going to be really key because if they kind of wimp out and don’t put as much in as everyone hoped that’ll really limit what Vancouver can do.  If they come through with the full package then we’re on the way to doing that 10 year mayor’s plan that was talked about in the publisite. So actually I think everyone’s feeling a bit better like things are starting to roll out. They’re starting to do some service improvements because the mayor’s decided we’re going to throw in a bit more in advance for our part so they you know put in a small fare increase, a $3.00 property tax hike and something else and so they are starting to put money in you know the money for the first phase is rolling out and so it actually feels pretty good and it’s a surprising thing that the province isn’t more on board with it because like developers love transit

Matt:  Yeah.

Frances:  you know they love it you know and so many groups do and it just feels like Christie Clark and her cabinet are the only people that I don’t know why they don’t like buses

Matt: Yeah it seems like such a strange…why would they you know

Frances: or sky trains.

Matt: it seems like so clearly the way that we’re moving and the way of the future.

Frances:  Yeah and it does seem odd like they always seem to position it as you know why should we make people in the north pay for you latte sipping bus riders to get around which is weird because when you look at it I mean the amount of tax money generated in the lower mainland that goes to the province and then goes to pay for roads in the north is pretty considerable

Matt:  Right.

Frances: but they’ve always sort of positioned it that way like why should people in the north pay for you to get around.

Matt:  Yeah.

Frances:  However, you know, there’s so many people on board like the port wants better transit because the more cars they can get off the road the easier it is for the container trucks to get around and developers want to build near transit.  Businesses want to locate their employees near transit. One of the funniest stories I read to some engineering firm that I heard about like they wanted to be on the transit line not because any of their employees used transit but because there were so many services near the station so that’s where they wanted their new office to be.

Matt:  So Frances does Vancouver need a housing reset do you think?

Frances:  Well clearly council looked around and said we do have a housing plan but it’s coming nowhere near to matching what you know what’s needed  and also it was created at a time before this current like it is a housing crisis right?  We have zero percent vacancy.  Property prices increased like some incredible amount.  I can’t even you know I can’t keep up with the percentage

Matt:  Right.

Frances:   but you know I just know duplexes on my block went from being sold for $899,000.00 which I thought was outrageous at the time to 1.45 you know that’s duplexes in a formally dumpy part of the east side where we still see the occasional sex worker

Matt:  Right.  Right.

Frances:  so you know so I think it was a good idea to have it and what’s really interesting is the mayor made a speech a couple of weeks ago that was kind of an eye opener a bit of you know I’m more used to him kind of spewing out boiler plate you know we must do this green a city blah blah blah and he really took on the housing thing and talked about how we have to take some pretty dramatic action and he named 4… 5 places where they could try to densify and 5 were you know sort of what you would expect transit arterials you know various pieces of city land but he also said we need to go into the single family housing areas and look at ways of doing gentle density and he said I’m encouraged to do this because of the young people who I’ve seen coming out saying we want to stay in the city. We want a place in the city and you need to do something to find us one and so he said that has really made us change our mind about how we are approaching some things like preserving character homes.  Should that really be our first priority

Matt:  Right.

Frances:  or should it be something else?  So it was a real change of tone by him which he said came from a change of tone in what he was hearing from young people who were starting to come out to public hearings and just generally speaking in public about hey wait a minute you know you can’t just preserve this city in amber you have to find a way for us to live here.

Matt:  Right.

Adam:  Well, maybe we’ll leave it there but before we go we have this segment called the Five Wire.  Can you stick around for that?

Frances:  Yeah.  Okay.

Adam:  Okay.

Frances:  I did it. I’m the one who did it.  I admit everything.

Adam:   Yeah.  Exactly. So your favourite neighborhood in Vancouver?

Frances:  Oh, besides the one I live in?  Do I have to name a different one?

Matt: I was going to say, the dumpy east side neighbourhood. Do you….

Adam:  Formally.

Matt:  Former.

Frances: I mean my favourite neighborhood these days.  Yeah, I live in East Mount Pleasant, the less, you know West Mount Pleasant is where they fixed up all the nice houses and it’s close to City Hall. East Mount Pleasant they’re still working on it but I would say like the place that I’ve been rediscovering lately is Chinatown.

Adam:  Great.

Frances:  You know, I’m in and out of there all the time and I love, I know this is not what you want a long answer but I love the variety that there is now like you can go and buy $1.99 leggings at some of the cheapo shops or some smelly thing you know at one of the herb places and then there’s also like you know Jukes or Fat Mao or Ramen Butcher or all kind of interesting new places.

Adam:  I agree 100%.  Favourite bar or restaurant?

Frances:  The restaurant that I’ve probably spent the most money…like the minute they see my face they like give me a table is Sushiyama on East Broadway.

Adam:  Oh, amazing. Yeah.

Frances: Yeah like their Dynamite Rolls are the best.  I’ve never had anything better anywhere else.

Adam:  Favourite place to bring someone from out of town?

Frances:  Okay.  You’re not going to believe this but The Dike in Richmond because it’s so different looking. It’s not the dramatic Vancouver that everyone…you know it’s not the mountains.

Matt:  Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Frances:  It’s not whatever. Like it’s very flat there and you look out over the ocean and the mountains are way off in the distance and it’s just a really different  part of Vancouver and then you know if you follow it all the way around  you get to the old Japanese boat works in Steveston.

Adam:  Wow.

Matt:  That’s a fantastic answer.

Adam and Frances:  Yeah.

Adam:  and we haven’t heard that before so that’s great.

Frances:  Yeah No, I know. I know. Like it’s not where most people think of taking out of towners.

Adam:  Right and west side mansion or downtown penthouse?

Frances:  You’re going to make me choose?

Matt:  You got to choose one.

Frances:  between like how about the other kinds of decisions walk naked on a bus or chop off your arm

Adam: Well, that’s actually our next question.

Frances:  I have never lived in an apartment so I would pick a west side mansion. I’m sorry but I’m really not part of the 1%.  So like can we make that totally clear?

Adam: But one with multi- family zoning and then you should tear it down.

Frances: Yes, yes, exactly. You know what I would like to do there?  In Chicago I stayed in an Air B&B like this.  They have these areas where it looks like big mansions but they’re 4plexes.  You go in and there’s an apartment on each side of the main floor and you go up a beautiful wooden staircase and then there’s another apartment on each side so that’s what I would do.

Adam:  Amazing.

Matt:  Great and the last one…Barbara Amiel or Barbara Walters?

Frances: Ohhhh….Do any of your listeners even know who those people are?  I don’t think they do.

Adam:  We struggled…

Frances:  But I will say Barbara Walters because she always makes her guests cry and that’s worth tuning in for don’t you think?  She always makes them cry.

Adam:  Yeah.

Matt: For sure.

Adam:  Matt has a history of making guests cry as well but he’s not Barbara Walters.

Frances:  Oh yeah.  Well you didn’t get me, ha ha.

Matt: Well thanks so much for coming on Frances.

Frances:  Okay.

Matt:  It was an absolute pleasure.

Frances: Yeah.  No, nice questions.  Thanks very much you guys.

Adam:  Great. Take care.

Frances:  Okay.


Matt:  So there you have it folks.  Our discussion with Frances Bula.

Adam:  If you’re not familiar with Frances’s work you should definitely check out her blog

Matt: Yeah. It’s a place that you basically wake up in the morning and you look at a couple of different sites.

Adam:  and that’s one of them.

Matt: If you’re in Vancouver that should be one of them, for sure.

Adam.  Absolutely.  What a great interview and so many interesting stories that she…I mean just a wealth of knowledge.

Matt:  A wealth of knowledge, for sure. Yeah, hey, before we go we should say we are hiring a realtor.

Adam: Yes.

Matt:   This is a great opportunity.  I know there’s some realtors out there listening so please…

Adam: We’ve had some great applications so

Matt:  We have but we’re still collecting them.

Adam:  And we are trying to set up some meetings in the next week or so. It’s been a busy time in the spring market.

Matt:   For sure.

Adam:  And also Matt, I’ll just mention I was just recently on Roundhouse Radio

Matt:  Oh, yeah.  That was great.

Adam: this past weekend talking about spring tips for buyers and sellers so if you’re interested in that you can check it out

Matt:   And its Joannah Connolly’s show The Real Estate Therapist.

Adam:  The Real Estate Therapist.

Matt:  Right.  So check that out.  I was listening on Saturday morning.  That was fantastic.

Adam:  Yeah well that means you were up early so hey

Matt:  9:30, 10:00. Yeah.

Adam: Oh wow.

Brayden: I thought it was earlier than that.

Adam:   I didn’t listen.  I’m planning on listening though.

Matt:  No, you should.  It was good.

Adam:  I’m going to take my own advice and go over to that website.

Brayden:  You didn’t listen and you’re going to tell everyone else to go listen.

Adam:  Brayden…you know, how can people reach you?

Matt:  Yeah.

Adam: Start with Brayden.

Brayden:   Alright.

Adam:  And Matt?

Matt:  Give me a shout at 778-847-2854 or

Adam:  Or you can try me at 778-866-4574 or

And Matt you’re motioning to me.

Matt:  I’m motioning…

Adam:   You’ve got something else.

Matt:  that I want to say one other thing.  Come check us out at our site We’ve got the VREP Live Wire.  We got the whole catalogue.  It’s a fantastic place.  Brayden is updating the blog regularly as well as Adam and I so yeah there’s tons.

Adam:  Absolutely and thank you so much for the reviews on i-Tunes.  We’re at 104 if you can believe it

Matt:  It was a big week.  It was a big week for reviews.

Adam:  and if you were the person that was the 100th review on i-Tunes.

Matt:  We have a sense we know who it is.

Adam:  I think we know who it is so if you can just verify by sending us an e-mail to either…one of our e-mail addresses are  We’ve got something very very special.

Matt: Yes.  Big gift.

Adam: Yes.  A big, very big gift.  Is it that big?

Matt:  It’s fairly special.   It’s worth getting in touch about, for sure.

Adam:  Great.   Well have a good week, guys.  We’ll see you next Sunday.

Matt:  Take care.


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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. […] The costs of the project, including amenities such as childcare, social housing, artist space, plazas, and a new cultural centre, will be covered by developer-related revenues, utilities, sale or lease of City lands, and strategic partnership agreements with not-for-profit organizations. For more on how our City expertly negotiates with developers, check out “Who Runs This Town? With Frances Bula.” […]

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