On Metaphors Writing Themselves and Imagining an End to Vancouver’s Housing Crisis

Tea & Two Slices is a long-running local news round-up by NEEDS frontman and veteran dishwasher Sean Orr, who lives and works in Gastown, deeply aware of his privilege.

Vancouver is still in a housing crisis. But when will we know if it’s over? Never. Because we care more about semantics than actual people. Because we are obsessed with numbers and stats so we can bring it up at ever social gathering we attend. Because we commodified housing and now it’s a ponzi scheme that drives revenue to the government because we didn’t bother to fucking diversify. Because we are freaking out over a return to 2015 prices when it would still be too expensive if it went down to 2005 prices.

Oh, and because we are more interested in protecting property values than the human rights of renters: Mayor Stewart more interested in protecting property values than human rights of renters.

The working class of this city is already on the brink of a collapse. We cannot afford three more years of a Mayor cozying up to developers at the expense of renters and low to middle income salaried people of Vancouver.

As demonstrated last Wednesday, the question of protecting renters at Vancouver City Council comes down to one vote these days: that of the Mayor. It’s on everyone who voted for him to call up his office now, asking for accountability on standing up for renters and a reconsideration of the defeated motion.

And because we still can’t agree on how to fix it: Faceoff: Two Experts on the Best Way to Address Vancouver’s Housing Crisis. Because “even under the best of government policy, some people will not be able to afford to live decently in Vancouver” is somehow an acceptable position to hold.

Because even though the “$22.5 billion drop” is clear evidence that foreign capital inflated our market, we still blame victims of the crisis instead of capitalism: Vancouver’s ‘Race Estate’ Market Has Hurt Many of Us.

In high school, my Canadian-born-Chinese friends and I would joke about the Chinese international students — even though most of us were friends — in order to dissociate ourselves from them. I felt guilty for reinforcing the stigma, but feared that if I didn’t openly renounce my culture, I’d be targeted as well.

I was living in two worlds, and one world was constantly repressed.

Speaking of two worlds…

I feel the same when we talk about how beautiful Vancouver is. On the surface, for sure. But it’s 2019 and we still have people fighting against doing the bare minimum: A lone councillor’s ‘quiet protest’ against city’s reconciliation efforts. As usual, Derrick O’Keefe is much more eloquent than I:

Canadian colonialism in an ongoing process, and these comments by an NPA city councillor are deeply disturbing. Imagine complaining about local “taxpayers’ money” being used on reconciliation with the Indigenous nations whose stolen land is literally the primary basis for local tax revenues.

Related: The dumb and racist letters about Judge Begbie have returned. Oh goody. I mean, even my own mother, a New Westminster historian, had reservations about removing the statue. We aren’t erasing history, Mom, we’re just not waving around our colonialism for everyone to see.

The placement of this statue was an insult to Indigenous people. Removing it was about removing that insult, so you – “whitey” – don’t deserve jack squat. The people who were there were able to have some quiet reflection without interference from people trying to kick around a political football.

Get over yourselves.

This is what we mean when people say that racism isn’t a question of attitude, it’s a question of power. Racism is structural, and this is how it plays out: People ‘dying unnecessarily’ because of racial bias in Canada’s health-care system, researcher says.

And this is what it means when we say poverty is structural: How bad teeth are at the root of income inequality in Canada.

The fact that poor oral health has come to be framed in moral terms, rather than as a disease that needs fixing, exacerbates the problem, writes Mary Otto in her fascinating 2017 book, Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America. Otto also traces the medical politics that saw dentists deemed members of a separate profession, rather than doctors who specialize—like cardiologists or dermatologists. As a result, dental records are kept separate from “medical” records.

Here’s an example of getting it right: Powell Street Festival announces it won’t displace people living in Oppenheimer Park. Wow:

“We recognize that our activities take place on the unceded territory of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh nations and acknowledge our own role in the history of settler colonialism and dispossession of the Indigenous people,” Powell Street Festival Society president Edward Takayanagi said in the press announcement today. “Our Festival Map has been designed to work with the current residents of the neighborhood.

“As a community that has experienced forced displacement, we refuse to continue this pattern of dispossession of vulnerable people in this area,” continued Takayanagi. “In respect for the current residents and the occupants of the park, they have designed their festival and program to ensure the people in the park are not displaced while providing a rich cultural experience for festival goers.”

Here’s another: After UBC allows anti–SOGI speaker to hold event, Vancouver Pride rejects university from 2019 parade.

A little light shed on the historical revisionism surrounding the closing of The Cambie, in spite of the click-bait title: The spectacular drama and booze-filled history of The Cambie.

Honour Bound: Vancouver electronics recycler Free Geek needs a boost.

Bonus: Rescued ‘phoenix’ was actually a seagull covered in turmeric. Ah, the metaphors just write themselves.

There are 2 comments

  1. Well, I went to that Tyee ‘debate’ and Condon opens with “the housing market is ~completely~ broken and any strategy that ~depends~ on market forces is doomed to fail.

    Yes, we have challenges, some big. But that extreme exaggerated BS is neither academic or debate-worthy. That is the chicken squawk of a hysteric.

  2. To be fair, we’re in a crisis that we knew was coming for decades and did nothing about. then when we did agree something needed to be done, we relied on those same market forces. it got worse. so I think a little hysteria is warranted.

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