Grad research showcase tomorrow! Plus: New Hildebrand fellow studies housing inequality

We received this newsletter from a fellow Canadian organization in the Bay Area yesterday – so the event(s) described as “tomorrow” are actually later today.

Canadian Studies Announcements
In this issue:
  • Tomorrow: Hildebrand Graduate Research Showcase
  • New Hildebrand Fellow studies inequality and the Vancouver rental market
  • In the News: Are investors fuelling Canada’s soaring housing costs?
  • External events:
  • “Canadian Brass: Making Spirits Bright for 50 Years and Counting”
Beginning today, the Canadian Studies newsletter will be published every two weeks. We’ll return to a weekly newsletter in January 2021.
Hildebrand Graduate Research Showcase
December 7 | 12:30 pm | Online | RSVP here
Learn about the research Canadian Studies funds through our Edward Hildebrand Graduate Research Fellowships, as recipients present short overviews of their projects. Participating scholars are below; RSVP to
Caylee Hong, Ph.D. can., Anthropology
“Orphaned Wells: The Impact of Corporate Bankruptcy on Energy Infrastructures and Municipal Futures”
Mass bankruptcies of energy companies have “orphaned” thousands of oil and gas wells across Canada and the United States in recent years. Without solvent owners to plug and decommission them, such wells pose serious environmental, financial, and health and safety concerns, especially in urban areas. Caylee examines the ways that cities and their residents grapple with these oil and gas wells in their midst. In this talk, Caylee will draw upon her comparative research from several diverse urban environments in British Columbia, Alberta, and California.
Sophie Major, Ph.D. can., Energy & Resources Group
“Engaging with Indigenous Political Thought From British Columbia”
Sophie’s research examines the marginalization of Indigenous people and Indigenous knowledge in political theory discourses and asks if and how political theorists ought to engage with Indigenous political thought. Incorporating original ethnographic work with First Nations peoples in British Columbia, Canada, Sophie’s dissertation introduces a number of case studies, illustrating the strengths of an ethnographic, historicist, genealogical, and interpretive approach to the study of Indigenous political theory.
New Hildebrand Fellow, Molly Harris, Studies Inequality and Commodification of Rental Housing in Vancouver
Canadian Studies is pleased to introduce Molly Harris as the latest recipient of an Edward Hildebrand Graduate Research Fellowship. Molly is a master of city planning student, concentrating in housing, community, and economic development.
Molly’s research explores the role of financialized actors in the Metro Vancouver region’s multifamily rental housing sector. She assesses the scale and perceptions of financialization, or the growing ubiquity of financial logic in everyday life, in the development and operation of rental buildings, as well as the impacts of this process on residents. Molly’s work evaluates how financialized actors—such as private equity firms, asset managers, and real estate investment trusts—can transform rental housing from a home into an investment commodity, potentially creating new systems of extractive accumulation and consolidation. Her Hildebrand Fellowship will provide funding for data and interviews with real estate industry professionals, local policy makers, and tenant organizations.
Molly’s research builds on her interest in increasing access to housing through decommodification. Her current project expands on prior work investigating the disparate impacts of housing quality issues on subsidized and unsubsidized residents across the United States, mapping neighborhood change in Vancouver and Toronto, and evaluating post-wildfire disaster rebuild strategies and land use scenarios. Before coming to Berkeley, Molly worked as a consultant at HR&A Advisors, supporting clients on strategic planning, open space, economic development, and real estate advisory projects. She holds a bachelor of arts degree in urban geography from McGill University.
Are Investors Fueling Canada’s Soaring Housing Costs?
While cities like Vancouver and Toronto are now infamous for their high cost of housing, soaring home prices are no longer confined to Canada’s major cities. Housing prices are up across all provinces, with real estate records registering a nearly 25% increase in June compared to the previous summer. The average home cost in Toronto reached $1,163,323 in November, a 2.5% increase from October.
Bank of Canada deputy governor Paul Beaudry attributed some of the growth to domestic investors looking for secure returns. High real estate prices have allowed many homeowning Canadians (and corporations) to take out loans to buy investment properties. In Ontario, 25% of new mortgages were taken out by individuals who already possessed at least one home, up from 16% ten years ago. And buyers are not longer merely interested in rental income. Expectations of continued price increases mean investors are sometimes willing to pay more on a mortgage than a rental property brings in, on the expectation they will be able to later sell the house for an even greater profit.
The Bank of Canada cautions that overinvestment in the housing sector may prompt a price correction. In September, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. warned that the housing market was now “highly vulnerable” due to overvaluations and accelerating price increases. While Beaudry insists Canadians shouldn’t worry about a 2008-style mortgage crisis, he warns any drop in prices would have severe knock-on effects for the rest of the Canadian economy. Most families’ wealth is tied up in their homes, which gives Canadians access to cheap credit. A decrease in value would likely cause a major cutback in household spending, with consequent effects on retail and unemployment. Beaudry nevertheless assured citizens that the Canadian financial system is fundamentally sound, and would not be seriously affected by a hypothetical price drop.
Image: House for sale in Burnaby, BC. Philippe Giabbanelli, Wikimedia Commons.
Support Canadian Studies with an End-of-Year Gift
Do you support the work we do? Give now to keep Canadian Studies going strong! As a donor-supported program, 90% of Canadian Studies’ funding comes from friends like you. Your gift of any size helps support our public lectures, graduate student fellows, and original research, and strengthens our community of Friends of Canada in the Bay Area.
Canadian Brass: Making Spirits Bright for 50 Years and Counting
December 11 | 8 pm | Zellerbach Hall | Buy tickets
For half a century, the lighthearted but seriously virtuosic Canadian Brass has been luring listeners of all ages to the rich, exciting, exuberant sound of brass music. The Grammy-winning quintet, with more than 100 recordings to its name, has charmed audiences from Moscow and Beijing to Boston and Tokyo, playing a dizzying range of repertoire including music of the Baroque, Dixieland, Broadway, and John Philip Sousa.
This very special holiday program features originals like “Bach’s Bells”; favorite songs such as “White Christmas,” “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” and “Christmas Time Is Here”; and familiar classical, choral, and popular music arranged to make brass instruments sing.
Canadian Studies Program
213 Moses Hall #2308
Canadian Studies Program | Univ. of California, Berkeley, 213 Moses Hall #2308, Berkeley, CA 94720

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