Centre for Urban Economics and Real Estate

News and Events

The Centre for Urban Economics and Real Estate hosts an annual professional forum event in Vancouver downtown to present the academic’s knowledge to the professional community. This event brings together the experts to address the topics on urban economics and real estates from their perspectives, and they will take on questions from the audience after the presentations. The lively discussion and networking opportunity attract many business leaders and professionals in urban economics and real estate every year. We are grateful for the continued financial support by Grosvenor Americas to make this event possible.

Centre for Urban Economics and Real Estate Interview Series

Past Forum Events

  • Housing in Vancouver is challenging for renters, who face limited availability and high rents, and for builders, who face a complicated regulatory environment, high costs to build, and stiff competition for land. 

    In this event, we will discuss the current environment on the supply side, assess the numerous federal, provincial, and local government interventions into the housing market over the past few years, and assess prospects for improvements on the supply and demand side.


    • Joshua Gordon, Assistant Professor, School of Public Policy at SFU
    • David Hutniak, CEO, Landlord BC
    • Khelsilem, Council Member, Squamish Nation
    • Anne McMullin, President & CEO, Urban Development Institute
    • Anthony J. Pappajohn, President, Jameson Development Corp.


    Tom Davidoff
    Director, Centre for Urban Economics and Real Estate
    Associate Professor, Strategy and Business Economics
    UBC Sauder School of Business

  • The high cost of housing continues to dominate headlines in the lead-up to municipal elections throughout Greater Vancouver. How do the parties running for Vancouver's City Council and Mayor plan to address housing affordability, high commercial taxes, and a regulatory process in need of streamlining?


    Christine Boyle, OneCity
    Hector Bremner, Yes Vancouver
    David Chen, Pro Vancouver
    Pete Fry, Green Party
    Ken Sim, NPA
    Kennedy Stewart
    Jean Swanson, COPE
    Shauna Sylvester


    Ian Bushfield, Cambie Report
    Nadia Stewart, Global BC

  • Cities sometimes let developers build bigger building than zoning allows in exchange for cash, affordable units, or other community benefits. Some say these mandatory contributions hold up projects or get passed on to the already burdened real estate consumer more.

    But if the city can't show some civic gain from what activists argue is density pain, what incentive do they have to allow more housing? Homes might be more expensive if we take away one of the key bargaining chips planners have to negotiate improvements to metro Vancouver’s communities' antiquated zoning.

    But how much is too much? When do concessions become so large that development ceases to be profitable? With rising prices, how can cities avoid the perception of giveaways without making these development charges uncertain and adding to much risk to the development process?


    Craig Cameron
    West Vancouver City Council

    Damon Chan
    Via Vista Consulting for
    Westbank Projects

    Gil Kelley
    General Manager of Planning, Urban Design and Sustainability
    City of Vancouver

    David Taylor
    Vice President, Colliers

  • This panel discussion focused on the following issues: What are the most important factors driving current trends in global real estate investment? How are capital flows and human migration from China affecting real estate markets in Vancouver and elsewhere? Beyond the headlines, what does the research say?

    This event brought together experts from the International Monetary Fund, the real estate industry, the media, and the University of British Columbia to explain the forces that have so dramatically shaped the Vancouver real estate market in recent years. Its focus was on providing contexts for understanding current patterns in Chinese investment and migration. What does today’s real estate market look like in historical perspective? Is the case of Vancouver exceptional, or is it symptomatic of broader trends?


    Richard Koss D
    irector, Global Housing Watch Initiative
    International Monetary Fund (IMF)

    Shao Long (Patrick) Li
    President of Modern International Holding & President of Green Mountain Jade.

    Douglas Todd
    Spirituality, Migration and Diversity Columnist
    Vancouver Sun

    Tsur Somerville
    Real Estate Foundation of BC Professor in Real Estate Finance
    Sauder School of Business, The University of British Columbia


    Christopher Rea
    Director, UBC Centre for Chinese Research
    Associate Professor, Modern Chinese Literature
    Department of Asian Studies, UBC

    “Can Vancouver Become More Affordable While Remaining Livable?” on May 24

    Can Vancouver build more affordable housing while maintaining our high quality of life? Our panelists presented their vision of whether, where, and how this can be done. We gave special emphasis to the role of community groups in preserving the character of family-friendly neighbourhoods.


    Dr. Thomas Davidoff
    Director, UBC Centre for Urban Economics and Real Estate
    Dr. Penny Gurstein
    Professor and Director, UBC School of Architecture and Planning

  • Panelists:

    Dr. Michael Goldberg
    Professor and Dean Emeritus
    Sauder School of Business
    University of British Columbia

    Dr. Stanley Hamilton
    Emeritus Professor
    Sauder School of Business University of British Columbia

    Dr. Robert Helsley
    Professor and Dean, Sauder School of Business
    University of British Columbia

  • A long history of high house prices has made housing affordability a constant topic of the local political discourse. Yet, years of rhetoric and hand-wringing has not changed the relationship between incomes and housing costs for the better. A panel of housing and design experts discussed whether we can fundamentally affect the affordability equation for the better, and whether public funds spent on making housing affordable is an appropriate and efficient use of tax dollars. Our speakers offered three very different perspectives on this issue.


    Dr. Raphael Bostic
    Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research
    US Department of Housing and Urban Development
    Professor, Sol Price School of Public Policy, University of Southern California

    Mr. Mark Guslits
    Principle, Mark Guslits & Associates Inc.

    Dr. Thomas Davidoff
    Assistant Professor, Strategy & Business Economics and Finance Divisions
    Sauder School of Business, University of British Columbia

  • A truly impressive panel of speakers explored how city life and the urban experience are defined by developers and their choices. This wide ranging forum explores what role and responsibility developers have in contributing to and defining urban society and life. Our panel members addressed this topic from their varied perspectives of developer, economist, and architect.


    Mr. Jeremy Newsum
    Chairman of Urban Land Institute
    Executive Trustee of the Grosvenor Estate
    Former CEO Grosvenor

    Dr. William C. Strange
    RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust Professor of Real Estate and Urban Economics
    Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

    Mr. Alan Boniface
    Principal, DIALOG

  • Capital for real estate is now global as institutional money and individual investors develop, purchase, and sell real estate in locations from their home shores, from the bulk pre-sales of Vancouver condos in Hong Kong to Canadian pension funds buying shopping malls in Brazil. Culture and goods now flow nearly effortlessly around the world. How has the broad internationalization of economics and finance changed the fundamental business of real estate? The three world-renowned real estate thinkers discussed globalization and what it meant for real estate.


    Dr. Lijian Chen
    Managing Director
    Head of Global Real Estate
    Greater China UBS Global Asset Management

    Dr. Robert Edelstein
    Maurice Mann Chair in Real Estate
    Co-Chair, Fisher Center for Real Estate and Urban Economics
    Haas School of Business
    University of California, Berkeley

    Dr. Michael Goldberg
    Professor and Dean Emeritus
    Sauder School of Business
    University of British Columbia

  • The disappearance of the Commercial Mortgage Backed Securities, tightening lending criteria by banks, and an allocation away from real estate by institutions has caused many to worry about the availability of debt for real estate development, acquisition, and refinancing. A distinguished panel of academic and industry experts assessed the current situation for real estate debt in the US and Canada and discussed developing trends in these markets.


    Dr. Marsha J. Courchane
    Vice President, Practice Co-Leader of Financial Economics
    CRA International, Washington, DC

    Mr. David Dulberg
    Managing Director – Real Estate Group
    RBC Capital Markets

    Professor Anthony Sanders
    Bob Herberger Chair of Arizona Heritage
    Professor of Finance and Real Estate,
    W.P. Carey College of Business of Arizona State University

  • The roundtable panelists discussed the effects of the subprime crisis in the United States on commercial and residential finance as it related to real estate markets in the US and Canada.


    Carl Gomez
    Vice President, Research
    Bentall Investment Management, Toronto

    Richard Green
    Associate Dean for Graduate Programs
    Oliver T. Carr, Jr., Chair of Real Estate Finance
    The George Washington University School of Business

    Timothy Riddiough
    Professor and E.J. Plesko
    Chair of Real Estate and Urban Land Economics

  • The roundtable presented both the economics and professional planning perspectives on land use and density downtown, urban sprawl and the future of cities.


    Robert Helsley
    Watkinson Professor for Environmental and Land Management &
    Senior Associate Dean, Faculty and Research, Sauder School of Business, UBC

    Matthew Kahn
    Visiting Professor
    University of California, Los Angeles, Institute of the Environment

    Brent Toderian
    Director of Planning for City of Vancouver, British Columbia

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