Image by Ahamedia
On today’s agenda at City Hall sits a proposal to increase the maximum fines on 42 city by-laws by a factor of five. Among the changes are measures to levy $10,000 fines on low-income people for sleeping outside, jaywalking, and engaging in “illegal” street vending of recycled wares, a crime councillor Kerry Jang recently called “unacceptable behavior.” A homeless person in Vancouver already gets a minimum $1,000 fine for erecting a tent in public (under the illegal Structures By-law covered by The Mainlander here, here and here), but the new revisions propose extending that punitive logic to all aspects of daily life.
The report to city council states that both the ‘Street Vending’ and ‘Street and Traffic’ by-laws will have their upper limits increased from $2,000 to $10,000. Pivot legal society has noted in the Straight that people who are homeless cannot possibly afford to pay the previous fines, nevermind the new fines. The same is doubtless true of low-income street vendors selling recycled wares. With the city’s new measures, the poor can now be jailed for fifteen days for non-payment.
Solterra President Gerry Nichele (centre) with VP Mike Bosa (right)
EDITOR’S NOTE | On Jan 20th 2013, the Waldorf Hotel will close its doors to the public. For the last two years, developers have been quietly buying up property along the Hastings Corridor while building support from city councillors. The result has been a dramatic escalation in property values, followed by evictions and rent increases. While evictions are typically poorly covered by mainstream media, the eviction of the Waldorf has been making big headlines. This cultural space, however, has a backstory that links it to other evictions and to the broader neighborhood of which it is a part.
Vision Vancouver and the revitalization of East Hastings
For the past two years the real-estate industry has been aggressively acquiring property in the area east of Clark Drive on the Hastings Corridor. This forward march of developers into the east end, actively encouraged and brokered by Vision Vancouver, has brought dramatic increases in the value of property in the area surrounding the Waldorf. The price of the Waldorf property has increased $1 million in the past year alone. The blocks surrounding the Waldorf site are being consolidated by the Solterra Group, a large property development corporation, with the Waldorf site being the last piece of the puzzle. Solterra, who purchased a table at Vision’s recent fundraiser, is run by Vice-President Mike Bosa of the Bosa family of developers, also reliable Vision funders.
Across the street from the Waldorf is 1500 East Hastings. This past year, the entire block was purchased for $5.5 million by Sharam and Peter Malek of Millenium Development, who were bailed out by the City during the Olympic Village social housing betrayal.