On Stupidity Killing Bars and Surrendering Vancouver to Selfish Supercar Drivers

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.

Oh, would you look at that! Just as we are sending our children back to school and ending the moratorium on evictions, lung-crippling forest fire smoke wafts up from Washington, just in time to complete the 2020 dystopian bingo card!

Brace yourselves for a deluge of smoky sunset Instagram photos! As if yesterday’s explosion of Hemlock Looper moths wasn’t creepy enough, we now get to be constantly reminded of the frivolity of the hoi polloi as we ponder the immediate and tangible consequences of an ecological crisis that capitalism will also fail to tackle miserably.

On top of all of this, we have to contend with a sudden uptick in anti-homeless vigilante social media groups tearing at the fabric of our communities: Vancouver Councillor Urges End to Social Media Attacks against Homeless People and Drug Users. And yet, this is Vancouver. Groups like the Downtown Community Safety Watch Group and Safer Vancouver are direct windows into the our collective psyche. We are as hollow as the hollow tree and as vacant as our empty green glass condos.

And remember, these are exactly the kinds of people that City Hall and the media panders to — these privileged and superficial basics whose pearl-clutching complaints about “street disorder” mask selfish concerns for property values and an unforgivable disdain for the poor. They suggest people who use drugs should be forced onto naval ships on the Fraser River where they “can do whatever they want and use their drugs and yell and scream and fight but it’s not going to be near children [or] elderly people.”

Both groups have links to homeowner groups in Shaughnessy, one of Vancouver’s wealthiest neighbourhoods where homes are valued in the millions or tens of millions. StepUP started as a group of homeowners opposed to a provincial tax on homes worth more than $3 million, while Brodie is a former member of the Shaughnessy Heights Property Owners’ Association.

How rich is it that these fuckers started as anti-mansion taxers, something that literally starved the city of funds that could have helped the situation they are now whinging about? How rich is it that they think poor people all come from the nebulous amorphous zone they know as the DTES, spawned there like some sort of Dark Souls cursed undead?

And how rich is it that Nadia Iadisernia, the only other person publicly associated with Safer Vancouver, is also the principal at the Hublot Diamond charity rally, a glorified street race with VPD escorts that donates to the Vancouver Police Foundation: Lamborghini with supercar rally among vehicles involved in Sea-to-Sky crash. I’m not sure I can think of a better metaphor for the current state of Vancouver: Poor-bashing, addict-shaming, Lamborghini-driving 1%ers getting an escort from a bloated, overfunded police force that’s being paid overtime to chaperone supercar drivers.

The very next day: Ferrari impounded on Sea to Sky after being clocked at more than 100 km/h over the limit. Hands up if you’re thinking a luxury tax of at least 50% on cars like this might be a good idea.

‘It’s gotten worse and worse’: Gastown residents besieged by homeless on their doorstep. Gastown resident here. No it hasn’t. How rich is it that the media interviews renoviction king Jon Stovell, whose building used to be an SRO and is now charging crazy rents for “micro-suites”. Is it really that hard to make the connection between renovictions and the rise of “street disorder”?

This is the part of the column where I remind everyone that it is indeed possible to have compassion for drug users and the street-entrenched while also being worried about the uptick in violence and open-drug use. Apparently, that’s some real big brain stuff.

I’m just glad I could help: NPA members denounce party director over Facebook comments targeting drug users and homeless people.

Speaking of people who shamelessly insert themselves into their own articles: OPINION: With a drug crisis raging, my MLA leans on dangerous ideas. Wherein a guy who consistently voted for the same BC Liberals that got us into the public health disaster we are facing now smears his BC Liberal MLA.

Punch up, not down: Amid rising hostility toward drug users in Vancouver, Gabor Maté urges empathy. “It’s easy to focus on how someone is different from you than recognize what you share, Maté said. That tendency is magnified when the person doesn’t resemble you, he added.” These people won’t stop until the city is a homogenous, cookie-cutter simulacrum, Black Mirror-inspired dystopian hellworld where everyone lives in the exact same condo, eats at the exact same Joeys, and wears the exact same $600 Arc’teryx jacket.

It’s weird how “putting them all on a naval ship on the Fraser” isn’t included here: Jean Swanson: My three-point plan to tackle homelessness that creates six big winners. “bUt hOw wIlL wE pAy foR iT”- all the people who were against the mansion tax. Never mind the fact that almost every study ever shows that it’s cheaper to house people who are homeless than abandon them on the streets.

Oh, hey look! It’s Gastown/Yaletown/Strathcona:

Fantastic in-depth long read about Camp K-T: Tent cities Save Lives. They Shouldn’t Have To. I can’t decide which segment to highlight because it’s all so good, so here’s two:

A small encampment grows, housed neighbours complain, and the Province intervenes. In doing so, they promise that residents will be offered adequate housing, yet it becomes immediately apparent after police have destroyed the encampment that many unhoused people still have nowhere to go.

“The solution to tent cities, then, will not be found in forcing every unhoused person to conform to middle-class norms of respectability. Instead, it will require profound structural change…”

It will also require a lot more than a measly fucking $7 million from the Feds, whose decision to get out of the housing game in 1993 helped trigger this whole mess: Dan Fumano: ‘Numbers don’t lie’: B.C. gets just 0.5 % of federal housing program funds. “National” housing strategy, indeed.

It doesn’t help that the middle class is allergic to paying their fare share: Canada real estate: House of Commons petition says tax on home equity will punish millions of residential owners. We’re also, like, the only developed nation that doesn’t have an inheritance tax.

That being said, there is still a lot municipalities can do: Can innovative thinking solve Vancouver’s affordable housing crisis?

“Development taxes put downward pressure on the price of the land underneath the project. Municipalities have more power at their disposal than they have actually used up to this point. They should make use of it.”

Of course, that would mean politicians would actually want land prices to decrease: Vancouver real estate: city staff note to developer seen to suggest land lift for controversial Broadway rental tower. It turns out we’re addicted to CACs and we’ll do anything to change zoning to allow more density, even if it means windfall profits for landowners. Land lift is such a banal term for it. More like land steroids, amiright? I mean, do you even lift, bro?

Scumbag of the day: Man who ran Airbnbs in rented houses takes owners to court claiming multimillion-dollar loss. Guy takes rentals off an already insane housing market, rents them out unbeknownst to the owners, gets caught and then claims there’s ‘nothing extraordinary’ about his multiple lawsuits. He’s just another trusted member of the AirBnB community.

Wow, imagine being outflanked on the left by the most fascist president in history: White House moves to halt evictions as fears of coronavirus-fueled housing crisis grow.

Of course, to be fair, landlords are really doing everyone a favour:

Oh good, only 1.4% more unaffordable: B.C. drops maximum allowable rent increases for 2021 to 1.4%.

‘Now we have teeth’: New unit cracks down on bad landlords. So…all of them? If it’s not a guillotine then it doesn’t have teeth: “We’ve had cases where tenants are living with rat infestations and cockroach infestations with small children, and they’re getting bed bug and cockroach bites, living in rodent feces,” McGregor said.

Landlords have hearts? ‘It was heartbreaking:’ Nanaimo landlord flooded with pleas for his apartment. “These weren’t people on welfare, these were people who are the backbone of our community and the stories they’ve been communicating to us, they just cannot find apartments…”

Unacceptable: Homeless Vancouver man battling cancer struggling to find parking for his RV. At the risk of sounding sophomoric, maybe all the RV owners should park at City Hall.

Into the Wild: Squamish Ponders a Ban on Van Life. And Its Future. How dare these people help grow your booming recreation economy by any means necessary.

B.C. restaurant rebound amid COVID-19 linked to location: industry rep. “Whether or not a restaurant in B.C. will rebound from the effects of the pandemic seems to come down to one factor: location”. Or you know, whether or not it’s a fucking corporate behemoth with deep pockets that can outlast mom and pop operations so that there’s nothing left in this city but Instagram influencers living in cookie cutter condos taking pictures of smokey sunsets and crashing their lambos on the Sea to Sky. I think you get my drift. Alex Black, take it away:

The fact that the tone of this article makes it seem like there’s some positives to be had right now in this industry is beyond insulting. The fact that the BCRFA chose two representatives from companies that were listed in a human rights commission investigation into over sexualization of workers and another that’s company was involved in a CBC expose on tip theft to represent my industry is even more insulting. The hospitality industry is going through an apocalypse right now, and these clowns are patting themselves on the back and using the media to make it seem like everything is fine and dandy thanks to their efforts. Small, independent bars and restaurants are being destroyed. The BCRFA board of directors is made up of multinational food supply representatives and not those that care about locally owned and operated business, or local farmers and suppliers. They are not the leaders this industry deserves.

Speaking of local independent businesses: Petition: Keep the beat in the ‘Heart’ of Mount Pleasant!

Thanks to all the selfish assholes who can’t even do this “sit in this chair and drink” thing right: B.C. closes nightclubs, banquet halls after confirming 429 new COVID-19 cases over long weekend.

Many parents were depressed, anxious and drinking more during COVID-19 lockdown: report. Me too. I mean, I’m not a parent, but… me too.

B.C. government says pandemic pay promised in mid-May coming in October. It turns out banging pots and pans doesn’t pay the bills.

Yuuuge surprise: ‘Alternative measures’ to criminal charges recommended for B.C. police chief’s wife in hose incident.

This is a wild story. White teacher runs over black student and instead of calling the police dumps him on the sidewalk in front of his home and drives away. No charges laid: Surrey mom petitions for stricter hit-and-run laws after son struck by motorist. Here’s a GoFundMe for Marquice.

Honour Bound: Christopher Curtis: Why I’m quitting Postmedia to test a new model of journalism.

Bonus: ‘Beethoven was black’: why the radical idea still has power today.

There are 19 comments

  1. I fucking hate Joeys. But I consistently love your writing. Bravo, Sean, well done! Again!

  2. The middle class don’t pay/are allergic to paying their fair share of taxes? It’s the middle class who pay most of the taxes. The rich use loopholes made for them and the poor have no money. That leaves the middle class on the hook. Do your research. You’re making false claims and putting out serious disinformation.

    You sound like a bitter and angry person just venting because you can. Stop being a whiner. People don’t owe you anything. You can’t just take and yet never give anything back. You are a sanctimonious douche with a chip on your shoulder. Seek help or you will wind up old and alone.

  3. 1875 words and you chose to be upset by the words middle class. Fine, upper middle class then.

    First, I never said they “don’t pay their fare share of taxes” I said they are allergic to the idea of taxes. They are often the most vocal when it comes to “taxes this, taxes that” and last year got a 6 billion dollar tax break that should have gone to much needed social programs.

    Second, if you read my column, I think I mention my disdain for the rich every 15 seconds, but if you want to talk about “doing your research” then let’s look at the claim ” It’s the middle class who pay most of the taxes”. This is absolutely not the case. The top 20 percent pays nearly two-thirds of all income taxes. Should they pay more? Yup. But be very careful when calling out someone using false claims while promoting your own.

    Third, lets look at the link where this ever-so egregious false claim was made. The middle class has reaped an absolute windfall of profits from the housing crisis. In Vancouver, any suggestion of raising property taxes is met with a howling chorus of “how dare you tax my unearned wealth”. Property taxes have been far too low in this city for decades. We could have recouped that explosion in land value, but we failed, and now the city can’t even afford to pick up trash.

    Fourthly, you sound like a bitter and angry person just venting because you can. Stop being a whiner. People don’t owe you anything.

  4. I applaud the fact that you advocate for those who need it most. The world needs much more of that. My concern (and please take this in the constructive vein it’s offered) is that some of your arguments stoke an “us vs them” scenario where we blame the “others” for all the issues and that for some to win others must lose.

    The middle class are not horrible because, for example, some are tired of being taxed. Even the rich (like the poor and the middle class) are people too with its mix of amazingly wonderful, terrible, and everyone else in between.

    In fact the issues you outline are ALL of ours. Demonizing any group (rich or poor) as I believe your arguments do set ALL of us back. I applaud your heart and passions. But I respectfully suggest that progress is set back when we demonize others as “the other”. Progress is brought forward when we acknowledge that all groups consist of people. And that while people are diverse, we must acknowledge that they have many valid views we may or may not share and that education and understanding is the only way toward progress that benefits all.

    I hear the opposite in your article.

  5. ‘It’s gotten worse and worse’: Gastown residents besieged by homeless on their doorstep. Gastown resident here. No it hasn’t…

    [I am also] worried about the uptick in violence and open-drug use.”

    Apparently, it’s “some real big brain stuff” not to contradict yourself in the space of two paragraphs.

  6. Murray: “The middle class are not horrible because” I literally never said they were horrible. Also, I’m demonizing people for demonizing people. Very different.

  7. Your friendly Gastown neighbour: It’s anecdotal that gastown either has or hasn’t gotten worse. In my case, my alley is about ten times cleaner and less rowdy than it has been in 15 years, so I take issue with the hyperbole in the article.

    That being said, it has clearly migrated to other parts of the city. The perception is that crime has risen, it hasn’t. It’s gone down. People in Yaletown and Downtown South are just experiencing poverty and its affects for the first time and it’s really telling. So when I say one can be “worried about the uptick in violence and open-drug use”, I’m talking about downtown.

  8. Fucker: Well at least I’m popular, and that’s literally the only thing that matters.

  9. curious about the choice of image for the article? is this in reference to the van life?

  10. The images assigned to TTS are from Scout’s collection. Any and all perceived alignments with the content of Sean’s column (or the associated headlines) is purely coincidental. Promise.

  11. I really appreciated your article. So many people just say ” it is what it is.”
    But you speak up. Yes it’s you view, but we could all take a lead an voice these things in a respectable manner.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I agree with a lot. You make me feel like my voice was was said too.
    That’s the thing too. It’s OUR voice and we are allowed to voice it.

  12. So many excellent points and so well related and reasoned. Thank you. What is it about kindness, compassion, and common sense that seems so difficult for a significant minority to miss? Very glad to have found you, Sean.

  13. First time reading your take on the local news and I loved it. Great idea on the supercar tax. If we could convince the golfing class that ending drug Prohibition and affordable housing was their best chance at moving the homeless “somewhere else” it might get some support. Pawning it off on the library and park boards has not been working that well.

  14. Indeed, so much “kindness, compassion, and common sense” on display here:

    “‘Now we have teeth’: New unit cracks down on bad landlords. So…all of them? If it’s not a guillotine then it doesn’t have teeth…”

  15. A post is a post is a post. None of this will work when the 1% will always have the ears of those that can change policy by backing their re election. Who did you vote for? And why? Who do you endorse? Every metro city on the planet has this issue and it will not change. Follow the money, and try n fight that..
    The folks that want to make a difference it seems once they get into office, seem to change…
    They love the attention gotten from those that can afford to swing votes w/ money and that is a tough fight from the street.
    Real estate as it is now will now never be afforded to help the homeless, not from the investor’s point of view. Try and convince the rich that legalizing opioids is a wise move. Good luck on that.
    Again, a very informative post, but I find it misses the obvious. Bitter reality.

  16. H Humphreys: Thanks, but keep in mind this is a weekly column. I do my best to tie the weekly news into bigger, structural issues but I also feel like the column works best when you keep coming back.

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