Living/Working May 30, 2019


May 31, 2019

Richmond woman claims foreign-buyers tax appeal wrongfully rejected by Finance Ministry over ‘absurd’ and ‘excessively narrow’ take on Property Transfer Tax Act

BIV's lawsuit of the week


A permanent resident who bought a Richmond home and was hit with a $237,000 foreign-buyers tax bill is taking the provincial government to court, claiming “absurd” hairsplitting by the Ministry of Finance unfairly sank her chance to appeal the assessment.

Zi Yang, a Chinese citizen and permanent resident of Canada, filed a petition in BC Supreme Court on May 23, claiming her attempt to officially object to the tax bill was wrongfully rejected by the Finance Ministry. Yang claims she bought a home on Wintergreen Avenue in March 2017, intending to live there as her primary residence. But to obtain a mortgage, Yang claims, she needed a guarantor and placed a 1% interest into the name of her ex-husband, a citizen and resident of China. In paying the property transfer tax on the sale, Yang paid the foreign-buyers tax on only the 1% registered in her ex-husband’s name.

Months later, a property transfer tax administrator initiated an audit of the transaction, but Yang was unable to “respond to the administrator in a timely manner due to English language barriers,” the petition states, adding that she later enlisted the help of her realtor to translate.

In February 2018, Yang was hit with a $237,600 tax bill, with authorities finding that her 99% stake in the property was also subject to the foreign-buyers tax. Yang sent a letter weeks later to the auditor on the file disputing the assessment, and hired an accounting firm and legal counsel to aid in the appeal process when the auditor remained unmoved.

However, the director of the appeals branch refused to treat Yang’s letter as an official “notice of objection,” claiming that she failed to follow instructions on her assessment and sent the letter to the wrong recipient. 

“The Minister’s excessively narrow interpretation of ... the act leads to the absurd and unequitable consequence that an objection will only be valid if sent ‘c/o Tax Appeals and Litigation Branch,’ such that had the petitioner’s letter been sent ‘c/o’ that branch it would be valid, but because it was sent ‘c/o’ the Property Tax branch it was not,” the petition states. “The petitioner, however, is not a professional tax practitioner. As a lay person and immigrant who struggled with English as a second language, the petitioner cannot be expected to be familiar with the Ministry’s administrative practices and cannot be subjected to requirements that are more stringent than those set out in the act.”

Yang seeks an order compelling the minister to issue a decision based on her objection letter of the tax assessment. The petition’s factual basis has not been tested in court and the provincial government had not responded by press time.


Time to remove BC NDP, taxi lobby ride-hailing roadblocks in B.C.

Lament our leadership.

Granted, most every politician needs to possess the ingredients of blarney and bluster. What genuine veins they possess must on occasion run cold blood through them to evade those moments in which they are cornered.

But it has come time to call out this nonsense from the premier and his government about puck-ragging on ride-hailing. As we lurch toward introduction, we are the laughingstocks of North America, perceived pretenders in tech because one of the most significant applications of its innovation remains on ice into its second decade elsewhere. And what John Horgan will just not say – just will not make this one public concession to and admission of realpolitik in British Columbia – is that his government’s antediluvian posture is more than anything out of defensive dread of a perceived political third rail: the fearsome taxi lobby that possibly swung the last election by punishing two Liberal Surrey MLAs who dared suggest we adopt what the rest of the world has.

And for those two swing seats, the province has since contorted itself into concocted tales of the need for more study, the absurd objective to level the playing field for newbies and incumbents, the hubris of creating a made-in-B.C. model, the fabrication of the difficulties in creating a new insurance scheme, and the overall pretension of protecting the public instead of a minuscule element of it.

His failure to just fess up frankly makes the most cynical think his folks are beholden. Industries everywhere have borne disruption, but the effort of the NDP government is reminiscent of 12th-century courtiers claiming King Canute could hold back the tides. Memo to the premier: Even the King admitted he couldn’t.

When the Passenger Transportation Board, newly led by BC NDP stalwarts, begins in October to entertain entrants into the ride-hailing era, they stand to do so under unique retrograde conditions that severely compromise the viability of the offering.

Caps on the number of vehicles. Boundaries on where they can go. Rules on what they can charge. And of course, Class 4 driving licences that require time and money to gain that will likely help undermine the side hustles these jobs typically are. This is not Ride-Hailing 1.0, but Taxi-Protecting 2.0.

The NDP’s approach is to bolt a new way of doing business on to the old way of doing it.

If I were Lyft or Uber, I’d be wondering if it’s worth the effort – which, if we might resume cynicism for a moment, might be the overall discouraging purpose of the government. Last week at one of our public events, Lyft’s managing director for Canada, Aaron Zifkin, said he was cautiously optimistic of progress on some of these impediments before autumn. I say to the fellow native Torontonian: I was once like you, but politics here can change sunny assumptions.

The NDP and previous BC Liberal government might have treated the disrupted taxi business as other governments have other industries with an adjustment package to mitigate the misery of owning the licensing medallions that must now feel like the weakest cryptocurrency. Given ride-hailing yields productivity gains and expanded economic activity in the tens of millions of dollars, might government have been wise to compensate those side-swiped by innovation instead of taking such pains to fabricate anything but that?

What we know now is that in this catch-up NDP environment, ride-hailing will have no chance here of ingenuity. Under such grudging conditions, why would anyone research or invest in advances on the technology its government restrains?

Then there is the incongruence with many other stated NDP intentions: to get us out of our cars, to create more green space instead of asphalt lots and to help some of us deal with affordability issues.

We need to get to the stage where getting a ride is even more seamless than getting Wi-Fi in a coffee shop. The bad news is the NDP aren’t taking us there. The good news is that they didn’t get a chance to introduce Wi-Fi.

Kirk LaPointe is editor-in-chief of Business in Vancouver and vice-president, editorial, at Glacier Media.


This new patio in Coal Harbour serves up beautiful food and drinks (with photos)

A trio of dishes from the new summer menu on the new patio at H Tasting Lounge. Photo by Lindsay William-Ross/Vancouver Is Awesome

Patio time is serious business in Vancouver, and if you can factor in the dreamy setting of the mountains and water of Coal Harbour on top of beautiful food and drink, it’s a match made in heaven.

There’s a new contender for your patio time that’s just opened up in Vancouver: you’ll find a super-cozy new outdoor dining space at H Tasting Lounge.

Adding yet another patio space to the Westin Bayshore’s food and drink offerings, H Tasting Lounge is a chic and comfy 1,765-square-foot space designed by Liv Interiors. With seating for 50 in a mix of tables for two or four, or larger groups at casual couch seating, the patio also has a fireplace running its full length for chillier times.

Chef Shaun Maclean is behind a fresh new summer menu that makes fantastic use of select ingredients brought in from local suppliers, including morel mushrooms, Two Rivers meats, sustainable seafood, and even micro-greens from a micro-growing operation in Gastown.


Kanpachi crudo. Photo by Lindsay William-Ross/Vancouver Is Awesome

With an emphasis on share plates, light bites, and seafood, the H Tasting Lounge menu includes dishes and platters showcasing chilled and raw seafood like B.C. mussels, clams, and oysters and more, as well as seasonal crudo plates of kanpachi or halibut. A silky beef tartare is mixed tableside and paired with toast from Matchstick, while veg-centric bites like the Eggplant Carpaccio make for tasty and visually stunning choices.


Eggplant Carpaccio. Photo by Lindsay William-Ross/Vancouver Is Awesome

Make sure to get something from the Tartines section; these open-faced loaded toasts feature crunchy sourdough (also from Matchstick) and toppings like Morel Mushroom (with house-made ricotta, black garlic mustard, watermelon radish, and micro kale) and the intriguing Clam (bechamel, Manila clams, pancetta, and gruyere) – the latter which is like the fanciest and most decadent version of a northeastern clam pizza slice.


Yuzu Spritz, a non-alcoholic drink at H Tasting Lounge. Photo by Lindsay William-Ross/Vancouver Is Awesome.

The food at H Tasting Lounge was meant to pair with the concoctions from the bar, both boozy and zero-proof. You’ll note many similar flavour profiles between the kitchen and bar menus, and a similar respect for the tastes of the season and the quality of locally-sourced ingredients. Bartenders Andrew Kong and Chiara Fung are behind the selection of non-alcoholic gems that will delight any non-imbiber, from the coconutty foam and fruity sweetness of the “Rolling Uphill” to the puckery and refreshing zip of the Yuzi Spritz.


Peace Prize at H Tasting Lounge. Photo by Lindsay William-Ross/Vancouver Is Awesome.

On the boozy side, punches like the Late Blossom or the Rye Chai make deft use of the subtle flavours of tea mixed with spirits, while stronger creations, like Peace Prize, featuring rye, cynar, sweet vermouth, black tea, and bitters, pack a bold punch.


Beef Tartare. Photo by Lindsay William-Ross/Vancouver Is Awesome


Rolling Uphill. Photo by Lindsay William-Ross/Vancouver Is Awesome


Morel Mushroom Tartine and the zero-proof Dressing on the Side drink. Photo by Lindsay William-Ross/Vancouver Is Awesome


Nicoise. Photo by Lindsay William-Ross/Vancouver Is Awesome


Clam Tartine. Photo by Lindsay William-Ross/Vancouver Is Awesome


Thinner Walls cocktail at H Tasting Lounge. Photo by Lindsay William-Ross/Vancouver Is Awesome.

H Tasting Lounge is located at the Westin Bayshore, at 1601 Bayshore Drive in Vancouver. The HTL patio is open daily from 11:30 a.m. to midnight (weather permitting), with happy hour served daily from 5 to 7 p.m.

Vancouver Is Awesome


This free drive-in movie theatre returns to Metro Vancouver this summer

Viewers will get to choose this year's movies at the annual Lansdowne Centre summer drive-in. Image: Outdoor Movies BC/Facebook

Lansdowne Centre’s free, annual drive-in movies are returning again this summer, but this time, movies will be decided by votes.

Every Wednesday in July and August, film enthusiasts can pull up to Lansdowne Centre by dusk to watch an old classic or a new release on a massive, four-storey screen. Walk-ins with lawn chairs are also welcome, with the Lansdowne Canada Line station close by.

But before that, viewers need to have their say on what movies will be shown.

Here are the movies battling it out for time on Lansdowne’s big screen:

July 3 – Crazy Rich Asians vs. Bohemian Rhapsody

July 10 – Ocean’s 8 vs. Mean Girls

July 17 – Spider-Man into the Spider-Verse vs. Skyscraper

July 24 – The Notebook vs. Happy Gilmore

July 31 – Rocky Horror Picture Show vs. Dark Knight

Aug. 7 – Aquaman vs. Lego Movie 2

Aug. 14 – Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald vs. Shazam

Aug. 21 – Detective Pikachu vs. First Man

Aug. 28 – Ferris Bueller’s Day Off vs. Inception

Voting closes on June 16 and can be accessed on Lansdowne Centre’s website.

Richmond News


These FREE outdoor yoga classes run all summer in Vancouver


Do you love summer in Vancouver? Is the thought of betraying a beautiful sunny day for a hot, claustrophobic session in a yoga studio more than you can bear?

Mat Collective transports yoga-enthusiasts to various scenic locations throughout the city to enjoy their calming workouts in the great outdoors. Aaaaaah.

What’s more, these fresh-air sessions are completely free – all that you have to bring is a mat. All skill levels are welcome, so you don’t have to worry if you can’t nail a mayurasana pose just yet.

While the group operates out of two primary locations during the summer, one on Main Street and the other by Kits Beach, there are also numerous popup locations throughout the year. They offer Hatha, Power, Flow, Yin, Yin Yang, and Hatha Flow fusion classes.

Classes commence on June 1 and run until August 30, and they run rain or shine. All classes are drop-in and do not require pre-registration.

Mat Collective – Summer Yoga Series

When: June 1 – August 30, 2019
Where: Two grassy locations are: Main Street – 95 E 32nd Ave & Kits Beach – 1015 Maple Street, plus numerous popup locations
Cost: Free

See the schedule and find out more information here.

Vancouver Is Awesome


What are we reading? May 30, 2019


Each week, BIV staff will share with you some of the interesting stories we have found from around the web.

Kirk LaPointe, editor-in-chief:

An extensive profile of the extraordinary tale of Football Leaks, a site fuelled by insider-provided documents that have shaken the soccer world. – The New Yorker


Great news, generalists. You chose not to devote 10,000 hours to specialize, but a new book says you’ll excel, anyway, due to well-roundedness. – The New York Times


Granted, it’s a bit grisly to contemplate. But there was once a big black market in our tendency to grow as we age -- a black market in human fat. – The Atlantic


Mark Falkenberg, deputy managing editor:

Nanoparticles – additives of vanishingly small scale that can change the look and taste of food, have been used on this continent for years. A French ban on one type of them is raising new questions about their effect on human health. – Guardian


New York Times-owned product review site Wirecutter features obsessively detailed looks at consumer products. It describes its mission as seeking out “the best gear and gadgets for people who want to save the time and stress of figuring out what to buy.” The reviews are well written and interesting, so the site is fun to browse even if you’re not chewing your nails over a consumer conundrum or even looking to buy anything. –


Glen Korstrom, reporter:

Lululemon founder Chip Wilson has long been known as someone who speaks his mind. His blog posts are wide ranging and sometimes zany. The blog gained social media buzz this week, particularly for a his post on erections, and his fear that we are living in an era of demasculinization.  He also wrote a post saying that he only believes 5% of what the mainstream media reports. A day after the buzz about his blog, he removed the post about erections. The next day he removed his blog from his site, although the blog lives on via this link. – Wayback Machine


Tyler Orton, reporter:

Scientists examine whether Leonardo da Vinci had ADHD and how it likely shaped the man as we know him. – CNN


Americans leave almost US$1 million a year in loose change at the airport. – Vox


Nelson Bennett, reporter:

Several tech companies are in the race to build the first flying car. Hands-down, the coolest has to be this one: The Skai, which is essentially hydrogen fuel cell powered drone that could ferry passengers above ground traffic as a kind of futuristic sky taxi. Question is: Does it fly? – Futurism


A new online tool called ElectricityMap underscores just how important hydro power and nuclear power are, in terms of carbon emission intensities of power production. Click on Germany and you’ll see the country’s grid has a carbon intensity of a whopping 313 grams of CO2 per kilowatt hour, compared to France, where the carbon intensity of its grid is just 26 grams CO2 per kilowatt hour. The reason? France has a lot of nuclear power, whereas Germany still burns a lot of coal and natural gas. Ontario and Washington also have low carbon grids, thanks to hydro power in Washington and hydro and nuclear power in Ontario. –