On Watching Rents Fall and Albertans Getting Angry About Our Campgrounds

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.

Vibe check! How’s everyone doing with Phase II so far? How’s Return Anxiety treating you? Did you get as stressed as I did looking at this week’s forecast? Did it strike a pang of nausea to see crowds of mostly white Covidiots at Toronto’s Trinity Bellwoods Park who think the rules don’t apply to them? How about CTV airing that viral video of a stranger kissing sexually assaulting a stranger?

While there’s no shortage of fodder down south, from Maryland to the Ozarks, we seem to be (mostly) insulated from the death of expertise, post-fact, patriotic Christian exceptionalism that has permeated the American culture war and are trending more towards the caring communalism of Jacinda Ardern’s Stay Home, Stay Safe, Be Kind approach — statue-licking Torontonians aside.

There are outliers, of course (Westworld anyone?), those who deign to import that American brand of anti-intellectual conservatism with its “mash-up of elite bashing and performative victimhood”. But it certainly helps that our governments have (mostly) risen to this challenge with social programs that are lacking in the USA, not to mention the rage-triggering effects of mask-wearing seem to be at least mitigated here because of its normalization via our large and considerate Asian population (to whom we owe our thanks not our scorn).

This week will test our patience when we inevitably see packed parks and beaches again. We know that herd immunity is a dangerous misconception and people saying “if you’re scared about busy restaurants don’t go” are tacitly admitting that they don’t view service workers as actual human beings.

Meanwhile, I still see a lot of mixed messages with our (mostly) excellent health officials. For example, “Looking ahead to the summer, Henry said that if B.C. continues to hold its line on new cases, current restrictions on non-essential travel within the province could ease. “If things continue to go well, then yes, I will be encouraging people to vacation at home in B.C., to experience what we have here,” she said.” Ok, so then why did BC Parks open up camping reservations? BC Parks website opens for camping reservations, promptly crashes due to demand.

I know camping is low risk, but hey, just so long as Alberta doesn’t get to camp here, amirite? No outsiders, including Albertans, allowed to camp at provincial parks in B.C. or Sask.. Oh, the irony of their outrage is so sweet. Remember when they pretty much had a full on Boycott B.C. movement, like, last year? Glorious.

Then there’s this: Alberta minister says it’s a ‘great time’ to build a pipeline because COVID-19 restrictions limit protests against them. Holy shit, you’re not supposed to say the quiet part out loud!

Give the BC government some credit, however, for they did do this: Prime minister agrees to Premier John Horgan’s push for national sick-pay program. This is what I’m talking about. This is why we need more government to rebuild the economy, not less.

Here’s another idea: ‘Everybody will love it’: A four-day work week could help rebuild Canada’s economy post-COVID-19, experts say. The arguments against this are hilarious. ‘I demand to have my labour exploited! I demand to have less free time!’

It’s such a weird strain of Stockholm Syndrome. You don’t need to be even slightly versed in theory to see how naked the aggression is. From a White House advisor referring to workers as “human capital stock” to the army of Twitter bots calling for the economy to reopen, we are being duped: As Millions Lose Jobs, the Billionaire Class Sees Wealth Soar by $434 Billion During Pandemic.

It’s because we’re all just “temporarily embarrassed millionaires”…:

Make no mistake, they’re going to use the threat of economic Depression to claw back every conceivable gain we’ve fought tooth and nail for: Ottawa lacks financial capacity to withstand another economic lockdown, must look to rein in spending. As John Clarke says, “the coronavirus doesn’t care about the well being of Canadian capitalism any more than the capitalists care about the lives of working class people.”

Case in point: Over 90% of Corporate Directors at Canada’s Biggest For-Profit Nursing Homes Have No Medical Qualifications. Now what industry in Canada could possibly be that good at profit-driven vampiric bloodlust? “Corporate boards of directors at Canada’s four biggest for-profit nursing home chains are dominated by real estate developers.” Uh-huh. Say no more.

Related: Military alleges horrific conditions, abuse in pandemic-hit Ontario nursing homes. Private, care, home — three words that should never be used in the same sentence.

Totally not scumbags: Landlords Can’t Evict Their Tenants, So They’re Shutting Off Utilities and Threatening Them Instead.

Trust Douglas Todd to take what should be an article on short term rentals and turn into a dogwhistle about foreign students: Douglas Todd: Three reasons why rents suddenly dropped in Metro Vancouver. It’s not demand that is making rental prices high, it’s landlords capitalizing on that demand.

They shook:

It’s like The Wire meets Ozark: ‘Vancouver model’ marries dirty money and Chinese capital flight, inquiry hears. I know this seems so distant now, but remember a couple things: The BC Liberals knew and did nothing; the real estate industry took bags of laundered cash as down payments and did nothing; and as bodies started piling up people just blamed addicts.

Because that’s what we’ve always done. The Province in particular has made a model out of it. You simply ignore the bigger picture of income inequality, austerity, frozen welfare rates, stagnant wages, a collapsed heartland/hinterland resource industry, decades of trauma vis-a-vis settler colonialism and blame a tiny swath of land instead: John Mackie: The Downtown Eastside is a war zone disaster — stop ghettoizing it. No, John. Vancouverism is a disaster. Neo-liberalism is a disaster. The DTES is just a visible manifestation of the failures of the system and a convenient foil for those wishing to push for further gentrification and social mix. If the DTES is a warzone, it’s from the war on the poor, and it’s been raging for decades.

On the flip side: Coronavirus is not fuel for urbanist fantasies.

The sidewalks have been converted into bustling restaurants, with families on bikes roaming the open streets, inhaling the cleanest air they’ve breathed in decades—through properly fitted masks, of course. Is this what your city will look like in post-pandemic America? For many, COVID-19 is a life-or-death crisis where your ZIP code determines if you physically and financially survive. For others, it’s the dawn of an urban utopia.

And in Vancouver, we love our urban utopia bereft of any whiff of intersectionalism that tackles the pre-existing inequities built-in to its core: Vancouver to convert road space for post-pandemic patios, pedestrians. “Vancouver will introduce 50 kilometres of ‘slow streets’ to help the city’s businesses and residents adapt to a post-pandemic life”. Ok, sorry…that’s actually kind of cool. So which streets are gonna be slow streets? I’m thinking Denman, definitely Davie Village, maybe a bit of Robson, Commercial Drive for sure, maybe Water Street, parts of West 4th, Cambie Village probably… *checks CoV website: “We started installing 12 km of Slow Streets signs and barriers on May 22 on Wall Street continuing to Lakewood and along Gladstone St. to 37th E Ave”. Oh, weird…it’s totally not like Vancouver to only half-ass everything in the name of optics.

Speaking of half-assing things, Montecristo ran an article helping Earls inspire confidence in local diners that they are following the guidelines using this photo of an employee with his exposed nostrils billowing moist exhalations over a burger and fries. Good grief.

Meanwhile. Shops are reopening after COVID-19, and some are adding a new line to your bill to pay for it. From my former co-worker, Mya Brown:

Let’s start by re-framing what a Covid surcharge is. You are not paying ‘extra’. The service or item you are paying for costs more than it used to. Your haircut/cocktail/steak dinner always included some overhead costs. Those costs have gone up and now they have passed on to you as a consumer. Asking a business already struggling due to decreased capacity and the debt of several months without income to absorb the additional expense will ultimately lead to more closures.

Airlines do it, so why not restaurants? One of Vancouver’s best restaurants is re-opening for dine-in, but you’ll have to pre-pay for your meal.

Wow, who knew treating people with dignity and respect would have such drastic results! ‘My life has changed a thousand-fold’: Victoria campers move into hotel.

Stop calling the police on people for this kind of bullshit: Neighbours call police on woman who sings nightly to honour frontline workers. WTF, Atira.

Go Figure: We sketch a picture of B.C.’s private fine art world. In 2019, British Columbians imported $29,328,878 worth of original paintings, drawings and pastels from 47 countries. And like most wealth accumulation based on speculation, most of that goes untaxed.

As hockey get set to return with Vancouver being considered one of two “hub cities“, a reminder that the sport is not for everyone.

Bonus: Where Do Eels Come From?

There are 7 comments

  1. “If the DTES is a warzone, it’s from the war on the poor, and it’s been raging for decades.”: If only all those disgusting poor people would have the simple decency to kill themselves or otherwise go die somewhere that Hard-Working Real Canadians (TM) don’t have to see them!

    Many “conservatives” are not only vicious but squeamish.

  2. Liberals did nothing? They had the courage to crack down on an industry that had supported them. And not just a wrist-slap; they stripped them of authority.


    And then an election came, 3 greenies appointed an NDP party to whom 60% of BC voted against, and during their 4 years of ‘studying’ launder, it is expected that $7.5 billion will be laundered, annually.

  3. From where the world was, to where the world went for 2 plus months, to were the world is trying to claw back too. All I can say is, the corona virus or covid 19 was not harsh enough to humanity. Yes the loss of life to the virus is horrible, how it has effected nearly everyone and everything, but, in the end, humanity has not learned a damn thing, has not gotten any wiser, has not for a second paused and considered being humble and thankful toward the massive bullet that just missed. Cause really, with the world wanting so badly to get back to the status quo, the state where humanity goes right back to being greedy, destructive, wasteful, violent, being harmful to the environment and itself.. etc. The corona virus could have, maybe even should have infected a billion people and killed 300 million people. And because that didn’t happen, thankfully, we are now seeing the ugly side of society popping up. Seeing the complete disregard for laws, rules, regulations in relation to covid19. Seeing racism, hate, prejudice toward others for (x) reasons. I could go on and on to only further my point that Humanity didn’t learn a damn thing, but, for a brief period of time, those 2 plus months were most everyone was hiding inside, the world got a small reprieve from the virus know as humanity.

  4. This article seems to have been written by someone blind to one full half of a story. Threats of a depression? What do you think happens when you force people not to work? Don’t worry i guess, we will all be fine anyway because the feds are lining our pockets with CERB payments. We can all just live the new normal, at home, doing nothing, living off government cheddar. But that money comes from our the money we make… At work. We earned it, paid our taxes and now it’s gone and then some. But it’s okay because we have money to buy the things we need, right? But if we aren’t making anything, then there isn’t anything to buy. We’ve all seen the numbers. We’ve kicked the shit out of social distancing and it’s working. But how many lives will be lost from food shortages? Loss of homes and jobs? Suicide? How does the food service worker afford to live if we choose to keep their industry closed? And for how long should they be closed? Until there’s a vaccine? When is that going to be? Do you think we have enough cash in the bucket to support the entire population of Canada until then? Cash that can’t buy anything anyway because we aren’t producing anything? Or maybe you would rather Albertans be forced to go to work in order to provide you with the things you need so the rest of the provinces can turn up their AC, relax in their comfy chairs, and bitch about dirty oil? Yes, I’m talking about the same Albertans who boycotted BC wine for an hour, and only after our lovely neighbors to the west decided they didn’t want our gas. Oddly enough, last time i was in BC, there were plenty of fossil fueled cars and heated homes around. And wait, don’t you still clear cut forests and ship coal out to China? What a fantasy world you live in. As for the harsh attack on landlords? Of course there are some assholes. And there are asshole renters too. Asshole renters who have been protected from being evicted for not paying rent. That’s great, I truly am thankful the renters won’t be going homeless. But what about the retired couple whose only income is the rental property they worked their ass off to purchase. The renter stops paying but continues to have shelter while the landlord is forced to continue paying the utilities for them as well as for their personal homes until they go homeless themselves. No protection there. But we will all be fine. If we get hungry, we can eat are CERB cheques.

  5. The CDC has confirmed the over reaction. Our children are more likely to get struck by lightning, and adults are more likely to die in a car accident.
    .004% is the mortality rate. Covids average death age nearly the same as the regular life expectancy. This is more an attack on out sovereignty than anything else folks. Do your research, verify all facts, understand that 96% of media is owned by the same people so ask yourself what might be their incentive in causing such a hoax. I’m very sorry to hear some have lost their lives, I truly am. But this was never worth shutting down an entire economy. And any writer who claims herd immunity doesn’t make sense, doesn’t understand how the immune system works. Fear and social distancing negatively affect our very ancient l, wise immune systems. Vitamin A, C, and D + exercise also do a great job. Sharing in bacteria is how our immune systems build themselves.

  6. Wade: Actually we’ll eat the rich

    As for the next comment I’m not sure why that got approved. It’s disgusting.

    Third comment: ” And any writer who claims herd immunity doesn’t make sense, doesn’t understand how the immune system works. ” I’m quoting John Hopkins fucking university you nonce.

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