On Hockey Players Demolishing Thieves and the Insufferable Whining of the Over-Privileged

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.

OK Boomer: NPA councillor Rebecca Bligh describes proposed 8.2-percent property tax hike as “outrageous”. Ah, yes. The same person who voted down a mansion tax. Instead, working and middle class home owners have to make up for that lost revenue.

Seriously, how fucking privileged do you have to be to reap enormous unearned wealth from skyrocketing land values but throw a tantrum when we ask for a few hundred dollars to pay for infrastructure?

Besides: Vancouver has Canada’s lowest property tax rate — and a housing crisis. Something has to give.

In effect, we’ve designed our property tax system to pretend that hundreds of billions of dollars in land wealth doesn’t exist. Property taxes are treated exclusively as a means to raise revenues for a limited set of city services, no matter how large the stock of land wealth grows. Meanwhile, we puzzle about how to raise revenue for additional public investment in affordable housing.

As a friend recently pointed out, when there’s an economic boom we don’t suddenly cut income tax rates. Those rates are held steady, with both individual incomes and our collective tax revenues rising together so the prosperity can be shared. In contrast, when there is a land wealth boom, we cut property tax rates, ensuring that this wealth isn’t shared. In Vancouver, which is highly attractive to begin with, property wealth will continue to grow.

And still, small business owners, non-profits, artist spaces, etc. all suffer because the provincial government refuses change the “highest and best use” taxation policy by creating a new sub-class within the tax bracket: Building owner tackles ‘insane property tax’ with pointed rent sign. Um, “Pay me less so I can pay the government the same amount” might not be the most effective protest but…

When the climate crisis and housing crisis intersect: B.C. condo owners brace for sticker shock as insurance rates surge ’50 to 300%’. “One could say climate change affects those catastrophes, so one could say that effects the insurance premiums that the insurance companies pay.”

Which is why we need to tackle global inequality on dual fronts: A Green New Deal for Housing. TIL the building sector is responsible for 39 percent of US energy consumption. “A Green New Deal can’t deliver economic or environmental justice without tackling the housing crisis. We should go big and build 10 million beautiful, public, no-carbon homes over the next 10 years”.

And no, this doesn’t mean letting the market build as much as it possibly can: ‘Upzoning’ Might Mean More Apartments — But It’ll Wreck Neighbourhoods. How’s this for some shade: “When real estate developers pack a public hearing at Vancouver’s City Hall and the head of the Urban Development Institute shows up, you know the development industry wants something real bad…”

Meanwhile, to our immediate east: Burnaby adopts ‘best in Canada’ tenant assistance policy. Can Michael Hurley be our mayor?

In lieu of that, sign this petition: Fix Vancouver’s Tenant Protections. Because we don’t want to be like Doug Ford’s Toronto.

And if we can’t get vacancy control in any of these new rental projects, then let’s get it in the most precarious places in the city: Help us get full rent control in SROs!

Many SROs in DTES are for sale or kicking out tenants to raise rents (i.e. $450-$750/month), which means very low income tenants are at risk of homelessness. The motion put forward by Councillor Swanson (see below) asks the City to tie rent control to the units not tenants to remove the incentive for renovictions. Can you come to city hall on Wednesday to speak in support?

Sigh: Newsmaker of the Year 2019: Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. I’m just really glad we’re finally talking about the DTES, you know, really shedding some light on the situation we created and enforce everyday vis-a-vis the criminalization of poverty, austerity and a poisoned drug supply. You know, really shedding some light on all the solutions we’ve known about for a fucking decade…

But it’s cool, because all three levels of government are sponsoring this art piece making fun of the overdose crisis in a tone deaf attempt to be “edgy”:

The DTES is a resilient community and has a history of grassroots action in the face of crisis much like the current work done by peer support networks and the push for safe supply: B.C. owes Downtown Eastside activists thanks for Vancouver’s reputation as a research leader on HIV/AIDS.

Half of homeless people have experienced traumatic brain injury: study. While you would think this study dispels the myth that homeless is some sort of personal choice, I can also see the potential for people to pathologize homelessness. There’s no proof of causation because the data doesn’t distinguish when/if brain injuries occurred before/after they were already marginalized.

It’s not the dystopian science fiction hero we want, but it’s who we got: Vancouver thief clotheslined by crime-fighting Ottawa Senators player.

Islandist: ‘Satan’ shows up to Courtenay Christmas parade after newspaper typo announces his arrival.

Bonus: Woman of the Year 2019: Autumn Peltier.

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