For $25,000 you could have attended a private roundtable lunch meeting today with Vision Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson. Organized by real estate marketer Bob Rennie, it’s the most recent, and perhaps most tasteless, case of the real estate industry filling Vision’s coffers.
Bob Rennie is the most prominent condominium marketer in British Columbia. His following of real estate agents, brokers and, more importantly, developers, has earned him the moniker condo king.
The biggest players in real-estate keep him as close as possible, ensuring they’ll have the ear of BC’s most powerful politicians. Peter Wall of Wall Financial Corp, for example, maintains access to Rennie by paying him $25,000 a month as a consultant.
In this role as real-estate co-ordinator, Rennie has been a key to the creation of both the Vision and BC Liberal political dynasties.
After the deposition of Gordon Campbell, he threw his weight behind Christy Clark’s leadership bid in 2011. He has been credited with being a key part of Clark’s comeback, and his support for her during the provincial elections was critical for the BC Liberal victory.
In 2012, he was rewarded with an appointment to the board of BC Housing by Clark and Housing Minister Rich Coleman.
At the municipal level, Bob Rennie wholeheartedly backs Vision Vancouver. In 2005 he contributed a hefty $96,639 to help Vision Vancouver – a party bankrolled by real estate corporations since its inception – get off the ground and split from COPE.
That year, Vision’s first big fundraiser was a who’s-who of real estate magnates. To name a couple of notables, Concord Pacific gave $65,750 and Polygon Homes gave $12,980 […]
Corporations and the real-estate industry donate to Vision Vancouver because it pays off.
The ruling party strategically approves developments that make their donors rich. Most notably, Wall Financial was a founder of Vision Vancouver and donated $280,000 in 2011. Since Vision came to power in 2008, Wall has seen its profits increase from $18 million to $61 million.
Rize Alliance (who donated $10,950 to Vision in 2011) had their 26 story tower approved at Broadway and Kingsway, right in the heart of working class Mount Pleasant, despite community opposition of 80%.
Westbank, which donated $11,705 to Vision and $31,000 to the BC Liberals in the last municipal and provincial elections, was given a rezoning in Chinatown right in the middle of a community planning process. Next week council will be giving Westbank hundreds of millions of dollars of new density in exchange for building almost zeronew social housing on the Oakridge Mall site.
The Aquilini Family, who has donated at least $10,000 to Vision over the last two elections, and donated over $285,000 to the BC Liberals before the provincial election, got a $35 million tax exemption for their project next to GM Place.
Concord Pacific, which donated $36,250 to Vision in 2011 and $40,000 to the BC Liberals, is allowed to use urban farms to evade property taxes. They also get to flex monopoly powers on housing supply: in 2009 Concord, in combination with Westbank, built 58% of all of the condos constructed in Vancouver that year.
These super-profits are in turn buoyed by across-the-board tax-cuts, which have led Vancouver to host the second lowest tax-rate in the region next to West Van, and the second-lowest combined corporate taxes in the world according to KPMG.
Corporations see affordable and social housing as a threat to the market and an unwelcome competitor in the scarce supply of housing. As a result, Vision has worked to liquidate the existing affordable housing stock […]