Plus, a potential treatment for prostate cancer at UBC garners the university $142 million and the mayors ask for more control of TransLink

Sizzling November
B.C. is buoying the country's residential real estate market, according to a forecast update from the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). Prices increased 11.5 per cent, significantly bolstering the national average, while sales activity increased 21.4 per cent in 2015 over 2014—and those figures aren't just for Vancouver. The association, however, expects increases in sale prices in B.C. to continue but to drop to a more modest two per cent next year, down from an unprecedented 11.5 per cent in 2015. 

Over the last 12 months, the Lower Mainland has bucked up not just the provincial average but also the national average. Prices increased 18 per cent over the last year in Greater Vancouver and 12.3 per cent in the Fraser Valley. The benchmark price for a property in the city of Vancouver, which includes condos and townhouses, hit $930,000. Even on Vancouver Island, which hadn't seen a full recovery since the 2009 recession, prices fluctuated at between six and eight per cent higher last month over November 2014.

The CREA, which represents the country's realtors, also laid out its analysis of the recent changes to Canada's mortgage rules, which affect properties sold for over $500,000. "Larger more expensive housing markets will be affected most," said Gregory Klump, CREA's chief economist, in a statement. "Unfortunately, the regulatory changes will also cause unintended collateral damage to housing markets beyond Toronto and Vancouver, including places that are facing economic headwinds from the collapse in oil prices."

Drug money rides
UBC may be up for a $142 million windfall as part of a deal to license a potential treatment for prostate cancer to big pharma multinational Roche. The treatment, developed by UBC and Vancouver Coastal Health's Prostate Centre, is in pre-clinical development, and its proponents hope that it could one day be used to treat prostate cancers resistant to current drugs on the market.  The deal is the largest ever for the university, dwarfing the $60 million in private sector funding amassed over the last nine years by UBC's drug commercialization branch, the Centre for Drug Research and Development. And that $142 million does not include potential royalties, which are, however, a long way down the drug development pipeline.  “We’re at a stage now that we need the right pharmaceutical partner to help to move this technology from a discovery into a finished product,” said Dr. Paul  Rennie, professor in the department of Urologic Sciences at UBC, in a statement.

The mayors want in
Six months after the failed transit referendum, the mayor-filled board of Metro Vancouver is asking Victoria to cede control of  regional transportation policy from the province-controlled TransLink to the municipalities of the Lower Mainland. That includes transit plans, spending plans, annual budgets and a say over funding sources, according to a statement from the board. And to that end, the board of Metro Vancouver wants the province to rewrite the act in early 2016 from which TransLink to take its mandate. "Legislative change is essential," said Greg Moore, mayor of Port Coquitlam and chair of Metro Vancouver, in the statement.

Perhaps revealing the ambitiousness of that request, Metro has also asked TransLink to hold joint-planning sessions so that the voices of the region's mayors are heard when the transit authority's board decamps to talk strategic planning.