On the Return of the Smoke and Vancouver Becoming 1970s New York City

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.

Have you ever watched an empire crumble on live TV? Have you ever watched Reddit and Twitter become two senile narcissistic boomers personified, talking over each other for two hours as though Jordan Peele was directing a folk horror about a midwest Thanksgiving Dinner gone horribly wrong? Have you ever done all this and thought, “Holy shit, I’m glad I live in Vancouver!” but then wake up and see that the smoke is back as you step on a needle while walking through a vape cloud on your way to buy a $6 coffee that tastes like you’ll never be able to afford a house?

Because as bad as not condemning white supremacy, lying in front of millions of people, and only paying $750 in income tax, Vancouver mayor Kennedy Stewart took to Facebook to tout Amazon, a company that pays virtually no taxes: Amazon will employ 6,000 people in Vancouver’s The Post redevelopment. 6,000 poverty positions that only exist because of our smart, cheap, exploitable, labour. That’s 6,000 more people that won’t be able to afford to live here. This is a company whose CEO is the richest human being to ever live on this planet, whose factory employees pee in jars. Bezos has added between $5-10 billion to his personal wealth each month since the pandemic started, but refuses to supply his workers with personal protective gear. His Whole Foods company ended hazard pay for its workers but gave them shirts that say hero on them. This company bullies workers out of organizing, enables ICE to operate literal concentration camps, and emitted 51.17 million metric tons of carbon dioxide last year. Greenest City, my ass.

And this chucklehead neoliberal slimeball of a mayor gets on his knees to welcome an anti-immigrant, anti-worker, anti-environment, local business-killing, freeloading foreign behemoth to our city in the midst of a full blown housing and opioid twindemic. Shame on him.

And shame on us, for on one hand we invite a company that doesn’t pay taxes and on the other complain, wrongly, that our property taxes are too high: Vancouver homeowners pay highest property taxes in Canada, research finds. No, the research doesn’t say that. Not even your own fucking publication says that. Gross dollar amount and tax rates are two very different things.

Pavlov is a puppet of BC Liberal/NPA astroturf group StepUp Vancouver, the same people that protested the progressive tax on homes worth $3+ million. The fact is, we’ve completely failed at capturing billions of dollars of unearned wealth. And don’t @ me about some little old lady who bought a house in 1964 for $100,000 that’s now worth $1.2million, because she can defer.

How else do you explain this $1.4 million Cleveland home with $32,000/year in property taxes, while this $1.2 million pays $4,600? We have the lowest property taxes on the continent and most of the people who complain don’t even pay these taxes, but rather pass them on to renters.

Then there’s C. Montgomery Burns Andrew Wilkinson: BC Liberals promise to eliminate PST for 1 year if elected. Dramatically decreasing the amount of revenue coming in for government during a pandemic? Now that’s wacky! Remember, the last time a Liberal premier cut taxes, we lost 6,000 healthcare jobs.

And they still ended up winning: Horgan, NDP lead with wide margin one week into campaign, poll suggests. Never forget the time the Province told everyone that Adrian Dix could kick a dog and still win the election.

Wilkinson: “There’s no room for homophobia in my party”. His party: BC Liberal candidate votes against rainbow crosswalk in Langley Township. The saddest part of this story? “UBC political science professor Gerald Baier said Kunst’s position on the crosswalk doesn’t help the Liberals’ attempt to appeal to the LGBTQ community, but it likely won’t shake things up in the electoral district”. Something stinks in Langley, and it ain’t the usual manure.

But the worst part of the campaign so far, and probably most predictable, is the nakedly opportunistic moralization and criminalization of poverty by the Liberals. Egged on by a sensationalizing media and right wing astro-turf groups, Wilkinson is stoking fears of a “street phenomenon of people who are out of control”: The BC Liberals Have an Election Campaign Strategy to Regain Power: Spread Fear About the Homeless.

For a party that implemented the most blatantly devastating policies that saw homelessness skyrocket; that presided over an out of control housing market fuelled by money laundering that they knew about; that froze social spending and spent like drunken maniacs on countless boondoggles to try and shift blame to the NDP would be laughable if it wasn’t so infuriating.

Although this tweet is pretty funny:

‘This is money that could be better spent’: $450,000 to restore Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park. Wow, I actually agree with the Strathcona tax-strike guy here: “That [$450,000] could have been provided in the form of housing, temporary housing, rather than cleaning up parks.” Or you know, we could have just left them in Oppenheimer.

Although maybe it’s a good thing it’s in Strathcona. This is some great visibility and media availability for what activists have been talking about for decades. Totally nothing to do with them being property owners or anything: Strathcona residents protest against what they say is inaction on homelessness. So wait, they are calling for action on homelessness by protesting against a camp of Strathcona residents which is a protest calling for action on homelessness?

Some good news: First Shelter for Sex Workers to Open in the Downtown Eastside. About fucking time.

Meanwhile, the VPD totally downplay reports of serial abductions across Vancouver, stopping short of saying “well, what were you wearing?”

Who do you protect? Who do you serve?

And where were they when this happened? What do we even pay the police for? Burnaby M.P. Jagmeet Singh followed down street by man who threatens a ‘citizen’s arrest’.

Look at these fucking chuds: Burnaby RCMP investigating alleged hate crime, assault near Metrotown

So, not a single one of Vancouver’s two thousand communications staff thought it might be a bad idea to enable comments on a town hall on racism? Have you ever even been on the internet before? City of Vancouver criticized for allowing racist comments flood live stream of anti-racism town hall. But yeah, tell me again that orange man bad.

Also, how did anyone approve this? Vancouver ads urging one-child families fuel eco-fascism. We don’t have a population problem. We have a billionaire problem.

If you thought the Liberals blaming the NDP for homelessness was rich, check out this guy blaming the NDP for Covid:

Some good news: Financial aid for workers hurt by COVID-19 gets unanimous support in Commons. Thanks, NDP.

More good (breaking) news: Vancouver mayor ‘flabbergasted’ in housing plan defeat.

Now that’s art: Graffiti vandals strike Millennium Line SkyTrain. I, for one, am looking forward to Vancouver transforming into 1970s New York.

Bonus: Your Old Radiator Is a Pandemic-Fighting Weapon.

There are 7 comments

  1. “Have you ever watched an empire crumble on live TV? Have you ever watched Reddit and Twitter become two senile narcissistic boomers personified, talking over each other for two hours as though Jordan Peele was directing a folk horror about a midwest Thanksgiving Dinner gone horribly wrong? Have you ever done all this and thought, “Holy shit, I’m glad I live in Vancouver!” but then wake up and see that the smoke is back as you step on a needle while walking through a vape cloud on your way to buy a $6 coffee that tastes like you’ll never be able to afford a house?”

    No.

    This is lazy framing on your part.

    Please try harder?

  2. Thomas, the only thing lazy is calling someone lazy without even a shred of constructive criticism. Literally a drive-by non statement. Try harder.

  3. What a vulgar, crackpot article. Go join the wingnut dishwasher’s union and stop fomenting hate and anger online. Can’t believe Scout is publishing this edgy garbage.

  4. For 10 years Tea and Two Slices has been one of the most consistently popular columns on Scout Magazine. You feigning disgust that Scout would publish this article is proof you have no idea what the magazine is about. You disparaging me for being a dishwasher exposes your ugly classism and only seeks to prove my point. What’s so vulgar about it? Is that ICE rapes children? Is that our city is full of vulgar racists? Is that the BC LIberals have blood on their hands from allowing money laundering to go unchecked?

  5. A: in what world do you think Amazon pays poverty wages to its tech employees? No one who works in their office at the post office building will be unable to afford to live here. When they say we have cheap labor compared to Seattle that’s because the average software engineer at Amazon makes like 120k usd, which is a fair bit higher than the average tech salary here.

    And B: it’s very easy to explain the discrepancy between the property taxes of the house in Cleveland and the one in Vancouver. The cost of utilities and such relates to the scale of the house, not to the price. To keep property taxes at the same level whilst property prices are rising means lowering the % rate. This does not mean that property taxes are being lowered.

    That house in Cleveland is likely one of the most expensive properties in that city. One of a similar size and with similar amenities would probably have similar or even higher taxes in Vancouver. This does not mean that we have low taxes, it just means our property is expensive

On Feeling Sorry for the Granville Strip and Yaletown Finally Dealing With its Drug Problem

In his latest read of the news headlines, Sean Orr wonders at Spanish cheese while marvelling at the BC Liberal implosion.

On Dooming the Futures of Young Vancouverites and Blaming Frat Bros for Everything

In his latest read of the news headlines, Sean Orr finds scatological journeys and fictional unions.

On the NDP Buying Our Votes and Vancouver Being Totally Awesome (But Not Really)

In his latest read of the news headlines, Sean Orr finds ancient mummies being opened and good news among the bad.

On the Downtown Eastside Not Escaping Covid and Blaming Social Media for Everything

In his latest read of the news headlines, Sean Orr finds Kevin Bieksa in a suit and sharks tied up in power lines.