High housing costs muffling B.C. boom

Canadian Creativity 2012

Although digital production in Vancouver has been exploding, so have real estate prices. Given the lack of restrictions on foreign ownership here, Vancouver real estate agents largely cater to wealthy buyers from China, pushing the costs further up.

This is making it increasingly difficult for entry-level vfx and animation artists to find affordable housing, even as demand for their services grows.

Studios such as Nerd Corps and Sony Pictures Imageworks have located their offices near public transport (skytrain) to give employees more options on where to live.

Still, Rick Mischel, senior VP, satellite production at Sony Pictures Imageworks, acknowledges the problem and believes developing a better infrastructure to match employees with lower-cost housing or roommate services would be a big boon to entry-level employees.

Jason Dowdeswell, head of studio of Digital Domain, suggests that studios might consider technology that would allow staff to work remotely or from localized offices near home to avoid the lengthy commutes that are hurting the life/work lifestyle that makes Vancouver so attractive in the first place.

Meanwhile, the city has been trying to address the affordable housing issue via laneway homes — tiny houses shoehorned between or around existing housing — and neighborhood rezoning to alleviate the increasing cost of living in Vancouver.

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