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In 2008, Gregor Robertson built his successful mayoral campaign around the tragic death of Darrel Mikasko, a homeless man who burned to death trying to keep warm after being turned away from a Kitsilano shelter. But while Gregor was campaigning on a soon-broken promise, low income people in the Downtown Eastside were actively fighting against a new threat of displacement posed by Concord Pacific – this time on a property down the street from Woodward’s. The address was 58 W Hastings, evicted and demolished (“demovicted”) by Concord Pacific that same year.

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In their annual Housing and Homelessness Report Card, the City of Vancouver reports that 1,683 units of new social housing are in development or have been built since 2012. Yet based on research by the authors, under 6% of the new social housing is guaranteed for people on welfare. The vast majority of Vancouver’s “social housing”, therefore, will be unavailable for the 1,847 people reported as homeless in Vancouver this year, the highest number since counts began.

Volcano Invite

The Volcano is an independent printed newspaper in British Columbia distributed four times a year. The Volcano reports on low-income, working-class, and Indigenous peoples’ movements for justice throughout BC, supporting their resistance against structures of poverty and displacement. We hope you will join us in supporting this important publication, which continues to impact movements for justice within and between communities by amplifying their analysis and demands.

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April of this year marks nine years since welfare rates – still frozen at $610 a month for a single person – have gone up. Although the provincial government plans to increase disability rates by $77 a month in September, they also plan to begin charging people who receive the disability pension $669 a year for a bus pass that they now get for $45 a year. This means giving with one hand and taking with the other, and the decision has enraged the many people trying to get by on meagre benefits across this province.

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Transit prices are unaffordable for an increasing number of people in British Columbia. But they’re especially costly for recipients of social assistance, who today receive only $375 for housing and $235 for “everything else,” including groceries, bus fare, clothing, emergencies, and otherwise. The expectation is for recipients to budget (somehow) for transit costs, despite their low income. For those receiving welfare, a $2.75 bus ticket is a big deal. I’d like to put this in perspective.

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As part of a wave of anti-pipeline actions across BC this week, Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Expansion (BROKE) organized a march and rally on Tuesday outside the Delta Burnaby Hotel and Conference Centre. Inside the hotel the National Energy Board (NEB) continued its review of Texas-based oil-giant Kinder Morgan’s proposed expansion of the Trans-Mountain pipeline.