Thursday, July 11, 2013

Housegate: When did the Mayor buy and when did he know he would buy there?

To say that our breaking blog post about Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson listing his house for sale is a story with "legs" is a bit of an understatement.

Our story lead to media questions for the Mayor, prompting a press release (see also here).Turns out his worship has not only listed his home for sale, but he's already bought new digs, which is where our story really heats up.

Our post originally queried whether our fair Mayor was bailing on the bublicious Vancouver real estate scene... grabbing the equity that has grown since the Mayor paid $450,000 for his Cambie area home back in 2005 (it's on the market now for $1.9 mil).

But in the press release, Gregor not only addressed the reasons for selling (downsizing due to empty nest syndrome), but he also came out with a statement from the City Solicitor.

The City Solicitor?
"The mayor’s family is selling their home and downsizing now that their kids have graduated high school. They’ve bought a new home within a block of York Avenue in Kitsilano, but the location isn’t being disclosed for security reasons.

The City Solicitor [Francie Connell] has informed the Mayor that there is no legal conflict with voting on matters related to the Point Grey–Cornwall bike and pedestrian safety upgrades at this time. However, out of an abundance of caution, the Mayor informed the City Solicitor that he will be recusing himself from voting on the upcoming Point Grey–Cornwall project. The City Solicitor will review the final staff report on the project and provide any further advice to the Mayor on this matter as required."

Speculation is that the Mayor has bought (exact address removed) on Stephens Street in Kitislano.   XXXX Stephens Street happens to sit at the western-most end of York Avenue.

Suddenly you understand the need for input from the City Solicitor because when the Mayor 'downsized' to a house just off Point Grey Road near York Ave, he opened up a huge can of worms.

This part of York Avenue just so happens to be the terminus of the latest, and highly contentious, bike lane proposal being pushed through by the City.

The new traffic-calmed bike route being proposed for York Ave is part of a Burrard Bridge to Jericho Beach 'corridor'.

The section between Stephens St and Chestnut St is a hodgepodge of no changes, one-way “counterflow” bike lanes, one-way roads, two-way roads, and two-way bike tracks. It's a critical stretch that will dramatically impact the neighbourhood... and it's garnered a lot of negative neighbourhood attention.

On May 23rd, CBC news talked about the City's public consultation for the contentious plan.
The City of Vancouver is considering a separated bike path along Cornwall Avenue and Point Grey Road in the city's Point Grey neighbourhood.

The first of three open houses to discuss the plan takes place tonight. Another open house takes place Saturday at 10 a.m. PT at Bayview Elementary School, followed by a final presentation Monday at 4 p.m. PT at the Kitsilano Public Library.
What no one told the public was that the dedicated bike path would lead to the front door of the Mayor's new house. A house which - at the time of the meetings - Robertson may have already bought (or was under negotiation to buy).

To borrow from a famous political phrase: when did the Mayor buy and when did he know he was going to buy it?

It's an important question because this story now has all the appearances of a massive conflict of interest.
  • Did Robertson scope out this new house before or after the plans for the bike route were underway? 
  • How much did the Mayor's house hunting factor into the designing of this contentious new bike route?
  • How much influence has the Mayor exerted to get this route set up to terminate at his doorstep?
At first blush you can't blame people for wondering if Robertson influenced the process to ram the the proposal through channels. The very fact he hid his real estate purchase from the public during the Open Houses process certainly creates the aura of impropriety.

How significant do you think this fact is to those who attended the public meetings to voice their displeasure with the proposal?

The public has a right to know what role all this played in the political process at City Hall. When did the Mayor buy and when did he know he would buy there?

Sounds like it's time for another press release, Gregor.


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  1. Ok, so first the Mayor "asked" the public to pay for his skytrain fare (but not paying it himself)... and now he "asked" the public to pay for his bike lane?

  2. If I may.... Property at 1645 Stephens was listed on May 20th, and sold on June 1st, 2013 for $1,575,000.00. To be precise, June 1st should be the date written on the contract of purchase and sale. More than likely, subject clauses would have been for 10 days and the sale would have appeared on the MLS just recently. The 3 level 33 year old house that is 1596 sq ft boasts 3 bedrooms and 4 baths. I guess Gregor will have enough bathrooms to clean himself of this dirty scandal.

  3. The other legal issue involved in the purchase of the house 1645 Stephens St is whether Gregor had inside knowledge of the bike lane and purchased the property for a lower than market price which would not have occurred had the seller been aware of the change. Wouldn't the previous owner/seller have grounds for a lawsuit?

  4. You all voted this guy in (well enough for him to become mayor)...whazzup?!?


  5. A greenway along Point Grey and Cornwall was recommended way back in the 1995 Greenway Plan almost two decades ago. That was back when Phillip Owen was mayor.

    The idea of the Point Grey bike route has most recently been highly promoted by Peter Ladner - former NPA mayoral candidate.

    This is one of the stupidest conspiracy theories I have heard. Maybe you should stick to real estate analysis.

  6. Point Grey and Cornwall is a far way from Stephens Drive.

  7. I would be interested to know if there is any objective evidence that a bike lane increases the value of a house. And if yes, by how much. I am not convinced that there is a strong link between the two.

    1. Increasing the amount of hippies riding past your front door definitely lowers the value of your home.

      Just like transit spreads poverty...


      ....increasing access to your neighbourhood to folks who can't afford cars, obviously is a detriment to a neighbourhood.

    2. Alleviating traffic and congestion in front of your house, and no more idling tour buses as well. Hmmm...that should increase your values by 20%. Cleaner air, bike path, view of the ocean, no more sweet is that? I would say that Gregor didn't buy this house without the knowledge of this inevitable pathway. Whoever the seller is should sue him for undisclosed insider knowledge of information. He is as slimy as they come.

  8. Robertson is born September 18, 1965, making him 47. I wonder if he realizes his Lunar Node position reverses at this age?

  9. the Lunar nodes reverse on a person at age 47 1/2, more specifically. In Robertson's case, that's March 2013. Take a look at what he was promoting back then.. the Broadway subway line, that will terminate.... (drum roll)... at UBC’s Point Grey campus

  10. Robertson's Lunar Node is in Gemini at his birth. This is the character he aspires to in his first 47.5 years. With the reversal, he will now aspire to the characteristics of Sagittarius.. 'truth seeking, adventure'.. he could turn into a big jet setter, and work as a consultant flying Hither and Thither. Sagittarius is ruled by Jupiter the largest planet.. Big Money,, big projects.. just like the Broadway Subway line


    Broadway subway, all the rage back in March 2013. You can bet he'll be consumed by this project in the years ahead

  12. Whether a bike path increases property value is beside the point. I believe the point is that the mayor has pushed this project through specifically, and will now get the city to build him a new bike path right on his new doorstep. Or is this all just a fortuitous coincidence?

  13. Since Robertson's Lunar Node was in Gemini at his birth, does that mean that "GREGOR GRIDLOCK" will finally start speaking more honestly and more clearly, now that he's cleared his "throat" and passed his node?

  14. What makes his worship different than all other politicians who work the inside to their own personal benefit...nothing....they are all low lifes feeding on tax dollars and pensions.

    Wake up Vancouver....silencing the press..think Berlin '33