This year there are eight candidates running in the Vancouver city council by-election, including Jean Swanson and Judy Graves. Given their longtime involvement in Downtown Eastside politics, the media has been quick to conflate Graves with Swanson. But are they really so similar, and what exactly are the politics behind Judy Graves and OneCity?
Vancouver Mural Festival, at the core of its structure, does not represent a culturally diverse or marginal perspective as you might expect from a mural festival. Instead it is the initiative of a group of predominantly white men who have built alliances, not with the everyday people of Vancouver, but with real estate developers, Business Improvement Associations (BIAs) and the City government.
Today, the City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Public Library broke ground on a new library in Strathcona. The new VPL branch includes 21 units of social housing for single mothers. Despite positive media coverage, the truth is that the social housing units were built despite Vision Vancouver’s plans for the project.
On June 24th, 2014, Vancouver city council voted unanimously to formally acknowledge that the city is built on the unceded territory of the Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh, and Squamish Indigenous peoples. After more than a century of denial and erasure, the motion might have opened the way for real change in Vancouver. And yet when the motion was put forward, Councillor Andrea Reimer told the media that the gesture wouldn’t affect the legal practices of the City of Vancouver. “[Reimer] isn’t concerned,” reported the Toronto Sun, “about possible legal ramifications of declaring the city is on unceded territory because Vancouver is not involved in treaty negotiations and has no such authority over land.”
If the Vision campaign has taught us anything, it’s that politics is often about lies. Lies, damned lies, and statistics, as Benjamin Disraeli once said. Especially when it comes to housing. Vision has disseminated a mountain of statistics about their affordable housing record. But the numbers aren’t real. They’re not even half real.
Ignore the fact that tanker traffic has doubled in the Burrard Inlet under Vision’s watch, up by over 100%. Set aside the fact that Vancouver has among the lowest business property taxes in the world, making it a haven for the majority of the world’s mining corporations. Overlook the fact that Vision Vancouver’s big answer to the global climate crisis is green business and tax breaks for venture capitalists.
This election season, Vision Vancouver and the Non Partisan Association (NPA) are putting forward wedge issues to give the appearance of a conflict about policies. But, as Frances Bula suggested in her recent article for BC Business (pictured above), it’s only branding and image that separate the two ruling parties.