In 2008 Vision Vancouver was elected on a platform to end homelessness and build affordable housing. After three years of NPA rule, Vision was supposed to be the progressive alternative to NPA’s developer-friendly politics at City Hall. Today many Vancouverites feel they were given a raw deal. Basic affordability has worsened and homelessness is higher than when Vision started. What was promised as a political “paradigm shift” turned out to be one of the most aggressively pro-corporate, tax-cutting municipal governments seen in the history of Vancouver.

Now yet another ‘new’ party is appealing to people who are frustrated with corporate-class civic politics and want to see real change. David Chudnovsky and RJ Aquino, former COPE politicians, yesterday announced the formation of OneCity. Some progressives have expressed tentative optimism about the announcement, while some Vision backers have also endorsed the party.


Kelvin Bee, Kwakwaka’wakw Aboriginal Front Door elder, his son Hank,
and Victoria Bull, stand before Vancouver City Council on Saturday
Photo by Erica Holt

After three days of public hearings, Vancouver city council has approved the Downtown Eastside local area plan. The LAP is a 30-year plan for real estate development in the Downtown Eastside, with the aim of accommodating more than 8,850 new condominium dwellers and 3,300 high income renters while dispersing at least 3,350 low-income residents out of the neighbourhood.

Councillors from the rightwing NPA and Vision Vancouver unanimously voted in favour of the plan.

A dissenting vote was cast by Adriane Carr of the municipal Greens, along with more than eighty low-income residents and their supporters. Throughout the public hearings, residents and community activists called for the protection of affordable housing, a definition of social housing that does not exclude poor people, the replacement of run-down SROs and the construction of new social housing in the Downtown Eastside. These demands circulated through a 3,000-signature petition.


The Pidgin picket has pressured the city government to declare its stance on the gentrification of Vancouver’s most affordable neighborhood. City Councilor Kerry Jang has thrown his support behind gentrification in general, and has made a point of making personal appearances at the Pidgin/21 Doors project in particular. This has revealed a contradiction of the city’s policies: the mayor claims to oppose homelessness, but at the same time promotes a targeted gentrification policy that is causing the rapid loss of affordable housing in the DTES. The Pidgin restaurant itself is part of the 21 Doors condo project, which displaced 30 low income families when tenants were evicted in 2008. Pidgin is only blocks from the Woodward’s project, which resulted in the direct loss of eight hotels and 404 low income units in a 1-block radius since 2010. Today Woodward’s is flanked on all sides by high-end boutique stores instead of affordable housing.

Against the visible facts on the ground, Kerry Jang is arguing that gentrification is not causing the loss of low income housing in Vancouver’s Eastside, stating, “Gentrification is a problem if people are being displaced. But no one is being displaced.” As evidence, Jang points to a statistic from a recent city hall report — a statistic also used in an article published today in the Tyee by Doug Ward: “The study found that the number of low-income housing units in Vancouver’s downtown core not only stabilized during the gentrification boom that came before and after the 2010 Olympics — it’s on the rise.”

shelter evictions

This week the City conducted its annual homelessness count. As usual, the count was conducted shortly before the closure of several emergency shelters. This April five shelters are set to close, resulting in a net loss of approximately 200 shelter beds.[1] No replacement shelters have been planned. The homelessness count is a public relations stunt timed weeks before the yearly shelter closures.

Since the start of the Homelessness Emergency Action Team (HEAT) program in 2008/9, the annual closure of the shelters in April has caused an exodus of people from shelters onto the
street. In 2010, 2011, and 2012, residents of the closing HEAT shelters were ruthlessly evicted. The shelter closures were largely ignored by the corporate press and statisticians, while limited funding extensions have been repeatedly mis-reported as creating “new” shelter spaces.