The Mainlander’s Sean Antrim appeared on Wake-Up With Co-op Radio this past Friday Jun 24 at 7:00am. Antrim outlined Vancouver’s regressive tax climate, describing the impacts of City Council’s tax shifts, corporate tax breaks and tax holidays:

  • fuels real-estate speculation
  • drives up rents, displacing small businesses
  • gives the advantages to big-box stores
  • blows a hole in the city budget
  • impairs the City’s capacity to invest in affordable housing and other public goods

Listen by clicking this link. Sean speaks from minutes 37 to 50 (out of 60min total).


Michael Barnholden, author of Reading the Riot Act: A Brief History of Rioting in Vancouver (Anvil Press 2005), is associate director of Humanities 101 at the University of British Columbia, member of the board of the Kootenay School of Writing, and managing editor of the literary magazine West Coast LINE.

I have to admit I was taken by surprise. When asked if there would be a riot after game 7 of the Stanley Cup final I said: “No, conditions just aren’t right, there’s not enough anger out there.” The anger I was referring to would be the anger directed at the police and the government, in short, the authorities. I was wrong. It seems there was no shortage of anger. But then, I also thought the Canucks would win the cup.

For me the question that remains is what is the source of the anger? I don’t buy the theory that losing a game results in such rage. The bad apple theory doesn’t hold water nor does mob mentality. Too many bad apples not enough mob. So where does the rage come from? Here’s my theory.

BC has just come through the most vicious ten year cycle of class warfare waged by the BC Liberal government under Gordon Campbell and the election of a new leader in the person of Christy Clark promises more of the same in a new style. What is the evidence?

In the 2008 election, Vision Vancouver and Gregor Robertson recognized that to win an election in progressive Vancouver, politicians needed to talk the talk of progressive politics. For Vision this meant rallying Vancouver around the bold idea of addressing the housing crisis and Ending Homelessness. Electorally, it meant a compromise with COPE, Vancouver’s traditional progressive party. COPE and Vision would work together under the “big umbrella” of progressive change, with COPE running only two councilors.

Today, after three years of a Vision majority on City Council, the progressive spirit chosen in the 2008 municipal elections is nowhere to be found. The party who promised to end homelessness and address affordability has turned out to be its mirror opposite, giving millions in tax breaks to developers, decreasing the corporate tax rate to the lowest in the world, forcibly closing homeless shelters, cutting services, hiring millions of dollars of additional police officers, and deepening the affordability crisis at every possible turn.

This month, the members of COPE will have to decide whether or not to enter into another electoral deal with Vision. Members will be presented with that choice at a COPE general meeting on June 26, 2011. Here are ten reasons COPE members ought to reject the deal as proposed, and instead support an independent progressive party in the 2011 municipal elections:

1. Affordable Housing….

A study released yesterday shows that Vancouver’s affordability crisis is deepening. The study, released by BMO Capital Markets, shows that Vancouver’s unaffordability score (a ratio of median house price to median household income) has increased to 11.2.

Affordability is defined as a ratio of 3, meaning that the median house in Vancouver is almost four times the affordable rate.

In 2009, Vancouver scored 9.3 on Demographia’s annual affordability report, making it the most unaffordable city in the world out of 272 studied. In 2010, Demographia showed that Vancouver’s unaffordability score increased to 9.5, with only Hong Kong and Sydney competing for most unaffordable spot out of 325 global cities studied. BMO’s report suggests that Vancouver housing prices have spiraled further out of control.

The report states: “Vancouver’s house prices have nearly tripled in the past decade, spiralling beyond the reach of most first-time buyers or non-lottery winners.”