On Old Restaurants Going Dark and the Cowardly Ineptitude of City Hall

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.

We live in a police state: Vancouver police want $340.4 million or more than one-fifth of the city’s entire 2020 operating budget. Even someone who isn’t as anti-cop as I am must see this is a fucking joke. This is 7.3 percent more than Vancouver spent on policing in 2019 and 10.8 percent more than 2018. Bloated $358k salary for the chief aside, this is a police force that has historically failed in their de facto (whether they like it or not) role as frontline mental health workers, and repeatedly failed to prove they can de-escalate tense situations. We should be slashing the VPD budget, not increasing it — especially in the face of the coming decriminalization of all drugs.

Why? Because this is the same force that is currently under investigation for corruption relating to the case of a cop sexually exploiting women who were themselves victims of sex crimes; the same force that is facing a public hearing over excessive force; and the same force that killed the unarmed and not intoxicated Myles Gray (and refused to press charges against the gang of officers responsible). And these are just the most recent examples in a long and sordid history of VPD crimes and corruption.

Now to the question of how we’re going to pay for it. City of Vancouver proposes 9.3% hike in fees, property tax for 2020. And guess who this will be passed on to? Renters. So what did the City do?

A minuscule 25% hike in the Empty Homes tax when Kennedy promised to triple it: Vancouver council bumps empty home tax rate up to 1.25 per cent. “During Wednesday’s council meeting, COPE Coun. Jean Swanson proposed raising the tax up to 1.9 per cent, but failed to get support from her fellow councillors…”

But if you think that makes the council look like cowards, watch this: Vacancy Control Rescinded. Background:

Council voted to put the lobby group Landlord BC in charge of administering a $1.5 million grant as part of a project to retrofit old buildings without tenant displacement.

Swanson made an amendment to make the grant conditional on tying rent control to the unit in the buildings (i.e. implementing vacancy control) which surprising enough passed.

Lo and behold, LandlordBC wrote to City right away and threatened to pull out of the project, which scared the council into rescinding the vote and eventually voting it down.

Can you tell who really runs City Hall yet?

To recap: A property tax hike, inexplicably spun by the media as a tool in curbing speculation, which will filter down to renters, to pay for the police to increase its criminalization of poverty, without shifting some of the commercial property tax burden, then voting for density increases without social benefit and with no proof they will be affordable, while voting down vacancy control in…the eviction capital of Canada (One in 10 British Columbians has been forced to move, research shows).

Oh, but hey…at least we aren’t pretending these for profit rental projects are affordable anymore: Stop describing market rentals as affordable, Vancouver city council finally orders staff

Remember folks, the kind of market rate blanket density that Council approved the other night is only going to make Vancouver more segregated. From 2018: By the Numbers: Metro Vancouver’s Increasing Inequality and Division.

Others who live in Metro Vancouver might’ve glimpsed these scenes too, but what they don’t show is the bigger picture of how our region is changing — and becoming more segregated and unequal. It’s the side often ignored when heralds share the dense and sustainable “Vancouverism” school of city building with the world.

Another reminder: Why Rent Control Works. “Neoliberals are wrong: rent control protects tenants, is good for the housing market, promotes lively cities, and reduces one of the biggest sources of rising inequality today. We need to expand it dramatically”.

Meanwhile, NPA members elect a former Rebel Media bureau chief and the B.C. Conservatives president to party board. I expect a name change to the Hyper Partisan Association forthcoming.

What Makes a Street Special? “Vancouver’s ‘fine grained’ arteries are losing their character to blocky new buildings. If you feel sad, here’s why.”

Downtown Vancouver’s Tsui Hang Village Restaurant goes dark without explanation. 86 Vancouver’s beloved 1am “cold tea“.

It’s me: Local man “baffled” that his Facebook comments do not affect city policy.

Bonus: Simon Fraser University – 1988 Feature.

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