On Vancouver Being Handcuffed and a New Breed of Unscrupulous Predator

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.

Wrathcona: Man threatens to stab Vancouver city councillor in verbal altercation caught on video. I’m torn on this. Tea & Two Slices Sean thinks this kind of behaviour is wildly inappropriate for a public official and will only serve to rile up all the goateed suburban chuds from Chilliwack and encourage vigilante justice. But Sean the Gastown resident can empathize with Fry here. I probably would have done the same. I have to navigate this stuff on the daily. Needles, human shit, being called a ‘goof’ for just walking out my back door, constant mental health crises, and yeah, I’ve had people threaten to stab me (and yes, I’m a physically fit, white male). Do I have the odd altercation? Sure. Do I post it on social media to shame an entire group of people? Nope.

I understand these are heady times. It’s a pandemic on top of an epidemic. It’s not ideal. In fact, it’s terrible. Nobody is saying this is ok. But let’s try and look at the big picture, yeah? You’ve chased these people all over the city. Oppenheimer wasn’t ideal but people demanded that “parks are for everyone”. Yeah? So is housing. The parking lot at Crab Park seemed perfect, but still people complained, shockingly, about the sound of indigenous drumming wafting over one of the busiest port railways in Canada.

Constant displacement, a poisoned drug supply exacerbated by turf wars resulting from supply chain interruptions due to COVID, ever-increasing criminalization of poverty, personal trauma, inter-generational trauma, deeply entrenched systemic inequality, societal stigma, barriers to access, mental health, addictions, or a combination of all the above — all while living on 10 bucks a day and being preyed upon by a new breed of unscrupulous predator that doesn’t give a shit about the so-called code.

The City is handcuffed. There’s no money and the VPD won’t take a measly 1% budget cut. Strathcona homeowners threatening to withhold taxes is just going to exacerbate things. We can get through this with mutual aid and patience. There will be a chance to address this with this city council this fall.

Let’s set up a fund to pay the camp peers to post-up at schools and hire clean-up crews. Let’s look into making tiny house villages like the ones in Seattle. Stop playing whack-a-mole with our street-entrenched community. On the flip side, we should stop painting all of Strathcona with the same brush. Yes, it’s a gentrified neighbourhood and its demographics have shifted wildly in the last decade, but it’s already host to a massive amount of low income renters and struggling families.

These camps are often safer than SROs. It sucks but right now human lives are more important than your right to enjoy a park (which were created through displacement in the first place). John Horgan telling hundreds of people they have to take down their tents in the morning won’t solve anything. Humans have to be somewhere: Stop passing the buck on tent camps, Horgan tells municipalities. Passing the buck, eh? That’s rich. The province has passed the buck for decades onto cities, prioritizing low-return debt reduction over high-return public investment. The province has the authority to raise welfare and disability rates. The province has the authority to stop renovictions. The province has the authority to create vacancy controls in SROs. The city can provide land for housing but the feds and the province have to provide the money. The province has the authority to give cities the right to progressive property taxes (mansion tax) so we can build our own.

And the province has the authority to listen to their top doctor about decriminalization without the province passing the buck to the feds. Even then: Government-sanctioned safe supply not enough to get some off fentanyl-laced street drugs. 728 overdose deaths in the first half of 2020. Fuck.

No, but it’s cool because the anti-homeless vigilantes in Downtown Community Safety Watch have isolated the real problem:

Won’t someone think of the plants?

‘He saved lots of lives’: Murdered man was overdose prevention volunteer. Absolute tragedy. Gutted.

Some good news: New 75-bed mental health centre opens in Lower Mainland. Now do 10 more of these across the province.

Meanwhile, former mayoral candidate Ken Sim retweets a thread that proposes rounding up all “the mentally ill poor” and imprisoning them in Merritt.

(For the record, referencing Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” without irony is peak neoliberalism.)

Speaking of neoliberalism, if you’re complaining that you can’t hire your workers back because they make more on CERB you are, in fact, in the business of making poverty: CERB exposes business reliance on poverty wages.

The meeting to decide whether or not to send kids back to school was via conference call. That’s all you need to know: Thousands sign petition to make in-class learning in B.C. optional for September. “There is no evidence to support mask wearing by children in a classroom setting”- Bonnie Henry. No evidence, eh? Just ignore what happened in Israel. Just ignore the fact 44% of children at a camp in Georgia contracted the virus. I mean, I hate kids too…but not that much.

Abolish cruise ships: Young child among 43 cruise ship passengers testing positive for coronavirus.

What part of ‘stay home’ don’t you understand? No profit over life: Statement from Haida Hereditary Chiefs’ Council Regarding Queen Charlotte Lodge. 24,604 people have signed a petition and these entitled rich fucks are whining about the uppity, “inconvenient Indian”…

Stanley Park businesses continue to suffer due to road changes for cyclists. Yeah, and this has nothing at all to do with the fact that there’s a fucking pandemic going on and there are consequently ZERO tourists, these businesses chief source of revenue? Is this a paid article for the NPA? Jesus Christ, Daily Hive.

How long before they blame the cyclist on this one: Vancouver cyclist struck by driver carrying oversized load on Sea-to-Sky Highway. I know Todd is a reader of this column but I doubt this is how he wanted to be mentioned in it. Get well, man.

The party that never happened: Only organizers show up for party at Stanley Park’s Third Beach. I know they said tickets will be refunded but what about the 132 eggs that I bought to throw at them?

Abolish the Granville Strip: Vancouver musician and mom disfigured in attack on Granville Street.

Defund the police: Indigenous man and his mother sue Vancouver police over alleged beating, arrest outside Walmart. “This is a pattern that keeps repeating itself,” Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said at the time.

TIL that BC Day is directly related to Canada’s Emancipation Day: The British Columbia That Might Have Been. “BC began as a model to the world of multi-ethnic settlers living peacefully among self-governing indigenous peoples—and then it all went wrong”. Yeah, that sounds about white.

“Site C Sucks” – John Horgan: Site C dam has a huge problem — and it’s not COVID-19. We can’t afford a $20 billion boondoggle. We don’t need the electricity. We don’t need to flood a fertile food valley. Get some guts and cut your losses.

Tomato plants to fuel the revolution: Green thumb senior refuses request to remove balcony garden. What kind of sick assholes threaten to destroy a food source in a pandemic for the sake of “uniform appearance”? Answer: Vancouver’s property management companies.

Bonus: An Eviction Crisis Is Coming — We Need to Treat Housing as a Right.

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