A Chinese real estate agent in B.C. whose bus-stop bench ads were vandalized with anti-immigrant slurs and racist graffiti is drawing strong reactions from associations that called the vandalism ‘unacceptable.’
“We are appalled by the defacing of bus benches promoting the services of Asian agents in our community,” said Margo Hoffman, president-elect of the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board.
“If they were targeted due to fears that foreign ownership is driving up house prices in our area, that isn’t the case. Numerous other factors are causing house prices to increase, including rock-bottom interest rates, high consumer confidence, declining inventory levels, and a strong provincial economy.”
The Nanaimo RCMP is actively looking for the culprits, and pamphlets were also reportedly distributed recently, blaming wealthy foreign investors for inflating real estate prices.
Mounties aren’t treating the incident as a hate crime, merely dismissing it as mischief; however, some came out in strong support for foreign agents who are being antagonized. Eight bus-stop bench ads were defaced, one with a swastika, others with ethnic slurs or offensive messages.
For months, talk of inflated prices in Vancouver have drawn a flurry of protests and speculation about the impact of foreign buyers from China and the Middle East. While some blame foreign buyers for the disappearance of housing affordability in B.C., others say that it’s much to do about nothing, adding that domestic investors are more active in driving prices.
“We don’t think it meets the definition of a hate crime, but having said that, it’s still very disturbing and we’re taking it very seriously,” said Nanaimo RCMP spokesman Const. Gary O’Brien. While police have not established whether the graffiti is linked to the flyers, police believe that is likely the case.
The flyers, published by a group calling itself “Putting Canada First,” were found in many mailboxes and featured images of ads by Chinese real estate agents to support the group’s claim that foreign buyers are influencing the housing market. The flyers also urged people not to sell to Chinese buyers.