photo by Erica Holt
The last decade has been an era of broken housing promises in Vancouver. Whether it is the undelivered housing legacy of Vancouver 2010, the sell-off of the Olympic Village, the ultimate watering down of the Woodward’s promises, or the Mayor’s undelivered promise to end homelessness by 2014, few if any housing promises have gone unbroken.
If Vancouver city councillors get their way next week, an affordable family housing complex in central Vancouver – Heather Place – will be demolished and replaced with mostly expensive market housing. That will count as another serious broken housing promise, because to date Vancouver city councillors have committed to replacing the affordable housing at Heather Place.
The official Heather Place policy report was released to the public last month, revealing that – despite promises – the 86 units of affordable housing at Heather Place will not be replaced on a one-for-one basis.
Today there is an increasingly skewed perception about what the private rental market can and can’t do. In the face of unaffordable condo prices, think tanks and governments have promoted rental housing as an affordable housing alternative. The problem is that while the majority of us live in rental housing, that doesn’t make our homes any less of a speculative commodity. Unregulated rental housing, as much as condos throughout the 2000s, is today a growing vehicle of financial investment and real-estate profitability.
Louise Lagimodiere (right) and Dave Hamm (left) – Photo by Ward Perrin, The Province
Louise Lagimodiere (picture above) is a 70-year old Indigenous senior and member of VANDU. “I got two tickets more than a year ago,” she in an interview with The Mainlander yesterday, “but yet I’m still being called to court. I didn’t harm anybody yet they are spending thousands of dollars trying to get money out of me I don’t have. I wouldn’t be vending if I had the money to pay these fines.”
The Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner (OPPC) has now rejected the reasons given by the Vancouver Mayor and Police Department for dismissing a complaint of discriminatory by-law enforcement in the Downtown Eastside. The complaint was filed by VANDU and Pivot Legal Society when it was revealed that 95% of all vending tickets and 76% of all jaywalking tickets were handed out in the Downtown Eastside. In September 2013, the Mayor dismissed the joint legal complaint and spoke in favor of a VDP board decision to dismiss the VANDU delegation.
The OPPC is a watchdog formed in 2011 in response to a systemic lack of police accountability in British Columbia.
VANDU members have been fighting against discriminatory by-law enforcement for more than a decade. In 2010 VANDU members collaborated on the Pedestrian Safety Project to address traffic safety concerns for pedestrians in the DTES. The VPD opposed the changes, including a 30km speed zone along Hastings. Many of the recommendations of the Project have since been implemented. At a press conference today, however, VANDU vice president Laura Shaver stated that police need to do more to focus enforcing speeds limits for drivers instead of fines for low-income pedestrians. “It is not the people hitting the cars, it is the cars hitting the people,” Shaver said.
Adrian Dix and the NDP have been defeated in an election that was widely expected to yield a comfortable win for the centre-left party. Over the course of the month-long race, BC politics threw off the political intensity often associated with battles of left and right. Instead of attacking the BC Liberal record, Dix and the NDP chose a strategy of passive precaution, waiting for the other side to falter.
Even if the campaign was marked by few highlights, Dix framed his party’s approach in both lofty and strategic terms, arguing that the new BC NDP had risen above partisan bickering and the petty politics of the BC Liberals. Supporters framed this “21st century” approach as a necessary path for winning government. Beneath the media strategy — the story went — a progressive platform was held waiting to be implemented once in power.