On Electoral Aftermaths and Vancouver Killing Its Own Restaurant Scene

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.

So it looks like Trudeau won a minority, which is good because he’s dressed up as one before. It also looks like power in Ottawa is going to need some BalanSingh. And while nobody really got what they wanted, we ended up with what we need. Perhaps now we can seriously begin to reform our voting system.

460 people voted for the overtly racist People’s Party in East Van, but Bernier couldn’t even win his own seat. People chanted “tax the rich” on live TV. A 25-year old named Mumilaaq Qaqqaq won in Nunavut. And an overwhelming majority of Canadians voted for climate action. Here’s what a minority government means for them.

Speaking of which:

Meanwhile, You Might be the Reason the Rest of Canada Doesn’t Take Alberta Seriously if…. If you think BC would join Alberta if it separated.

I’m sure Greta will have some choice words for all of Vancouver’s conservative voters: Greta Thunberg coming to ‘post-election’ climate strike in Vancouver. Miss me with your male rage-induced “why should we listen to a 16 year old autistic girl” because it’s crystal clear you won’t listen to grown adult professional scientists either.

South Granville businesses are leaving en masse and scores of jobs hang in the balance. “We really haven’t been making money for a number of years”. So you’re going to blame something that happened last year? If you can’t afford to pay people a decent wage then you shouldn’t own a business. Blaming minimum wage is a spineless way to sidestep your failings. Oh, boo hoo your luxury district doesn’t appeal to Vancouverites who can barely afford to live here. You failed to adapt to changing demographics and market conditions. I’m surprised you didn’t blame millennials. As usual, greedy landlords and the small business-devouring Amazon get a pass.

Haisell isn’t sure what changed last spring, but says speculative purchasing or development tied to the Broadway Subway announcement — which will have a stop in Broadway and Granville — isn’t to blame.

Um, citation needed there, bucko.

One thing’s for sure, property taxes are wack. We need to figure that out. From July: Vancouver’s ‘boldest’ plan for property tax surges that are killing local businesses.

Properties are taxed not on their existing use, but based on “highest and best use,” meaning some local businesses have recently had property taxes double or triple in just a few years. Many family businesses operate in older one- and two-storey buildings sitting on increasingly expensive land. Their properties are assessed — and taxed — as though the property were developed to the highest use based on factors like area zoning. In many cases, that’s a new building with five storeys of condos above one floor of commercial space.

Those businesses have been paying taxes on millions of dollars of unbuilt development potential in the air above their heads.

Meanwhile: ‘Ghost restaurants’ reducing rent fright factor in Vancouver. I’m pretty sure I’ve worked with a few ghost chefs. Spaghetti Boolognese anyone?

How much does a ghost chef make in a dead end job? It certainly isn’t a living wage. Wraith the rates! Sorry, I’ll stop now, but this is scary: Statistics Canada: Percentage of Canadian Workers Earning Minimum Wage Has Doubled Since 1998. And you wonder why people can’t afford to eat in your fancy restaurant?

Speaking of ghost towns: How San Francisco Is Killing Its Restaurants. This article stops just shy of suggesting we automate the entire industry. Those pesky humans always ruin things!

Tech will not save us: Seattle offers lessons in the dark side of the tech industry boom. “Of course, that’s the story of B.C., historically. Foreign companies that have come in to exploit resources here, lumber and minerals … Maybe this is another version of that. Except it’s our talent that’s being exploited.” Nail meet head.

“We don’t have a parks crisis. We don’t have a ‘great street’ crisis. We have a housing crisis”: Vancouver’s $12-Billion Opportunity to Lose?

Bus service slowing across Metro Vancouver, new TransLink report says. Hey, I know! Let’s put a bunch of Uber cars on the road!

Bonus: This Week in History: 1948: A giant ‘slum clearance’ is proposed for Strathcona.

There are 3 comments

  1. tech worker here and can confirm silicon valley companies are flocking to Vancouver to take advantage of “cheap labour”. Its a 2hr flight away, same timezone, and they can hire tech workers at a fraction of the cost, with less benefits, and pay in Canadian dollars. Don’t get me wrong, these are still good paying jobs but when husband and wife, who both work in tech, and can’t even afford a home in the far out suburbs, we have problems

  2. Canadians have long been a source of cheap(er) skilled labour for foreign interests and corporations. Unfortunately we’re too spineless a people to stand up and fight for what we’re worth. Whether that’s investing to build our own tech unicorns or taking a strip off executives beholden to shareholders. Ultimately we will reap what we sow. Which isn’t much. Let’s just continue to keep our heads down and the bar as low as possible.

  3. I’m a programmer from the USA currently living in Vancouver while my wife attends graduate school at UBC. The wage gap for programmers between Vancouver and not just Seattle but practically everywhere in the USA is … interesting, which is to say, I don’t really understand it and would welcome well researched and cogently argued explanations. (And yes, I do realize programmers are still relatively well paid in Vancouver.)

    By the way, Sean, thanks for this column, which I read regularly, although I haven’t commented before. It’s easily the best commentary on Vancouver news I’ve found.

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