New website tracks empty homes in Metro Vancouver

Jan 6 2017, 3:21 am

Concerns over empty homes – and just how common they are in her neighbourhood – have prompted a Coquitlam woman to take action.

Christine Boehringer is the creator of the new website,

She told Daily Hive the purpose of the website is to quantify the number of empty homes in her neighbourhood and around the Lower Mainland, while at the same time, generate discussion as to why there are so many empty homes in the first place.

“Homes shouldn’t be commodities,” she said. “They should be available for people to live in and raise their families.”

The idea for the website began last year, Boehringer explained, when the availability and affordability of rental housing in the Lower Mainland was a particularly hot topic.

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“I wrote down some addresses and checked on them regularly to see if they were empty over a period of time and talked about it with a few friends,” she said. “The discussion evolved into how empty homes affect everyone.”

Interestingly, it was while the website was under construction that the BC government introduced the foreign buyer’s tax and the City of Vancouver introduced a vacancy tax for those who self-report.

The new website isn’t meant to shame or target empty homeowners, Boehringer noted. Rather, it’s “simply another way to provide complementary data for public policy discussion” and understand “broad trends.”

For those concerned about privacy issues, the information that is submitted – and compiled – on the website is saved in a secure database and kept private by using secure application authentication-based permission, Boehringer noted. “Only registered site users who add a property can see the full property address they’ve entered.”

While the website is still new, Boehringer shared some early insights on the type of activity she’s seen so far.

“Users appear to be registering properties close to them and most users register only one or two homes each so far,” she said. “Except for one entry, the entries have been single family homes.”

And when it comes to submitting an address, situational details are important as well.

“If users are unsure whether an address is an empty home or not then it shouldn’t be added to the site,” Boehringer explained. “A home under construction isn’t an empty home, it’s an unfinished home.”

Eric ZimmerEric Zimmer

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