Vancouver real estate is a unique market. Where else in the world would you find smurfing, money laundering, abandoned mansions, and now the arson of vacant multi-million dollar homes. Since the announcement of the vacant home tax, officials suspect more than $60 million in property has been set ablaze in what authorities are calling “suspicious.”
10 Vacant Homes Set On Fire This Month
Just this month, at least 10 vacant homes slated for redevelopment have been set on fire. This comes just days after the City of Vancouver proposed a vacant home tax, to tackle the empty home problem that’s been plaguing the city for years. 8 of those homes have been publically identified, and a quick check of property values tallies up to $66,207,098 in property. In just the past 30 days, we’ve seen double the number of vacant home fires set in all of 2015.
29 Vacant Home Fires
Vacant home fires in Vancouver have been on the rise this year as a whole. Year to date, we’ve identified 29 fires at vacant homes, a 480% increase from the year before. The total value of the places in question have an assessment value of over $100 million, and almost all were scheduled for redevelopment or have been vacant for years. Both the Vancouver Police Department and the Vancouver Fire & Rescue declined to discuss the fires with us any further, citing it was an “active investigation.”
Police Consider Them Suspicious
Vacant home fires are relatively common in the winter months, but the surge has authorities deeming them “suspicious.” One person has been arrested in connection with the fire of a $20 million place on Drummond Ave. Details of the arrest sound like they knew what they were doing, intentionally placing holes in the walls so fire would consume the home faster. Police say at this time, they have no evidence that the person is connected to any other fire.
The attached map only shows the 8 places that have been publically identified, as a courtesy to investigators. Although the vacant home fires not mapped are all relatively close to the same areas. Despite the areas being fairly expensive, vacancy is fairly high – which has created two problems, empty streets and squatters.
Vancouver’s empty home problem has created a perfect environment for these fires. Empty streets have been providing few witnesses to the crimes, making easier for people to enter the homes unnoticed. With the exception of the Drummond Street fire, this has left investigators with few clues other than the scene of the suspected crimes.
Anyone with information is urged to contact Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services, or the Vancouver Police Department.