Start with an ageing housing stock and deteriorating housing conditions. Add shock evictions, growing waitlists, and negligent landlords. Throw in renovictions and gentrification creeping into almost every corner of the city. On top of that, add run-of-the-mill rent increases for people earning stagnant wages, expiries of operating agreements for non-profit housing providers and co-ops, and a precipitous decline in the number of non-market housing units in British Columbia. Top it off with over-capacity shelters and shelter closures, single mothers in the streets, and shelters that won’t take in families. This is where we’re at in British Columbia. These are the ingredients for a world class housing crisis.

British Columbians are by now familiar with hearing that their housing costs are the highest in the world. Any way you look at it, BC is experience the worst housing crisis in its history. When the former UN Rapporteur on Housing visited Vancouver last year, he observed that “not much has changed” since his previous visit in 2007 when he declared a national emergency in the state of housing and homelessness. These conditions have inspired a Social Housing Coalition and even acts of civil disobedience. Most notably, a resident has been on hunger strike since March 22nd to stop gentrification and draw attention to housing rights in the Downtown Eastside.

And for good reason. We’ve gone astray. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares that: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including…housing.” And yet, at any given moment in British Columbia, thousands of people are on the verge of eviction and personal bankruptcy. Household debt is higher in Canada than it has ever been, reaching 163% earlier this year. While corporate taxes are rock-bottom after ten years of BC Liberal tax cuts, BC has the highest consumer debt in the country. Services have been slashed and austerity measures have made it all but impossible for the average person to expect stability in the event that they’re laid off or evicted from the increasingly-precarious market housing.


The struggles against pipelines and tankers, against colonial dispossession, span from Vancouver to Haida Gwaii. The Haida were among the first to take a stand, and have done so in proud, creative and inspiring ways. Here Christine Leclerc speaks with Ken Leslie, an animator who lives in Haida Gwaii. Ken talks about “Haida Raid 2,” an animated film he and fellow community members released through the Haidawood Project. The series addresses the stresses which the colonial economy puts on the community and the earth, while highlighting revitalization of the Haida language as a key to the way forward.


DTES delegation talks to Vancity VP Linda Morris (Photo Credit: Murray Bush, VMC)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Vancity provides funding both to large-scale gentrifiers and to anti-gentrification groups in the DTES. Vancity is an organization that seeks to best reflect the diversity of their membership, and its clients range from low-income renters all the way up to global corporations and developers. Currently, however, one side is being shoved aside by the other. As Nathan Crompton and Maria Wallstam write in this article, DTES residents are being pushed away not only from the negotiating table, but from their very neighborhood.

Vancity, BC’s largest credit union, was started in 1946 in response to the lack of financial services available to working class Vancouverites living east of Cambie. Since then, Vancity has cultivated a tradition of honouring its roots and providing financial funding to working class and poor people’s cooperatives, grassroots movements and organizations across the province. In BC’s poorest neighborhood, the DTES, Vancity has provided financial backing for essential services such as Pigeon Park Savings, United We Can and community groups such as the DTES Women’s Centre, Purple Thistle and the Carnegie Community Action Project (CCAP).


Photo credit: DM GILLIS

After ten steady weeks of nightly protests by anti-poverty activists in front of the PiDGiN restaurant in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, police have stated that they plan to arrest picketers. In a press conference delivered yesterday, Vancouver Police Department spokesperson Brian Montague stated that his department is “anticipating an arrest soon.”

A letter issued yesterday by the VPD states that PiDGiN picketers can now be arrested for “shouting, screaming, or swearing.” The statement cites section 430(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada, which means that the VDP is seeking to label the protest a criminal action. An associated VPD release states that the police are issuing the arrest order to prevent Vancouverites from being “denied the lawful use and enjoyment of property.”

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