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

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.

If you had told me 10 years ago that we’d be in a pandemic, that the BCNDP were on the verge of winning a majority (without the right being split), and that Yaletown was about to get a fucking Overdose Prevention Site I would have spit out my Morning Brew: Yaletown might be home to first overdose prevention site in Vancouver outside the DTES. Sit back with a bag of popcorn and watch the pearl-clutching begin, as if Yaletown isn’t already inundated with drug addicts living in high-rise condos.

And if you told me that Sam “Project Civil City” Sullivan was running on a campaign of “homeless people are scary” in 2020 I would have slapped you right in the mouth: Vancouver drug-user activist slams BC Liberal’s ad for ‘weaponizing’ his words to oppose harm-reduction. You know, I think the most heroic part of this story is that someone actually had the stamina to sit through a 4-minute Sam Sullivan ad.

And if you had told me 10 years ago that Vancouver city council was going to buy all the SROs I would have kissed you on the forehead and said “Oh honey, please”: Vancouver City Council approves plan to acquire $1 billion of SROs for the homeless. My fave comment on Reddit (I know): “Just looking from a pure economic point of view it doesn’t make any sense to house Canada’s homeless population in the most expensive real estate in all of Canada”, as if the two things aren’t fundamentally and inextricably related!

Under the plan, the city will pursue $1 billion in funding from the provincial and federal governments to buy up to 105 SRO hotel buildings. Around 2,500 rooms in the buildings would be renovated or redeveloped into self-contained units with their own bathrooms.

The SRO plan is separate from a previous decision to spend $30 million to buy or lease hotels, apartment buildings and SRO buildings to address an uptick in homelessness in the city because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Wendy Pedersen, a housing activist who founded the SRO Collaborative, praised the plan as a “watershed moment for the Downtown Eastside.”

And if you had told me…ok you get the idea: Vancouver City Council passes motion calling to end “no pets” rental rules. Pour one out for all the pets that got left behind and put in pounds. Never again!

And if you had told me council would pass a major piece of tenant reform called Taking Action Against Renovictions and there wasn’t a single mention of it in local media, well then I’d say that sounds about right. Sorry, you’re going to have to settle for a screen-cap:

How many low income, racialized, immigrant, disabled tenants had to be evicted before we finally did this? Respect to the tireless work of organizers and tenants to make this happen. Evidently the media only gives a shit about poor people when they can sensationalize it.

Case in point: Strathcona community leader says she was beaten with a pipe. This is terrible, but the newspaper forgot to ask two important questions. First, why does she assume it was someone from the camp? Second, why did the police not tell her to go to the hospital immediately if she had a head wound that required 13-stitches?

While I have no doubts she was attacked I also believe this is being exploited by the media to stoke vigilantism. The system is failing all of us, not just homeowners. It’s not a ‘safe’ neighbourhood just because some people gentrified it and it’s not an ‘unsafe’ neighbourhood just because some of its residents live in tents.

Related: Witness calls cops on ‘Homeless Jesus’ statue 20 minutes after installation.

Anti-mask protesters, conspiracy theorists march through downtown Vancouver. The whites are not ok. Does anyone want to tell them that there’s no lockdown?

Victoria police officers asked to remove thin blue line patches after complaints. Remember, “folks are so sensitive nowadays” just means “remember the good old days when we could wear white supremacist insignia and spout bigotry without facing any consequences or pushback?”

But this is nothing compared to what the RCMP is letting happen back east. “Federal minister criticizes RCMP response in lobster fishery dispute as more officers dispatched to intervene. Ah yes, it’s a “dispute” when a gang of entitled white dudes burn down a lobster pound but it’s “domestic terrorism” when indigenous people block roads. Understood.

Meanwhile, the BC Liberals are imploding and I’m so fucking here for it: B.C. candidate Laurie Throness resigns from Liberal caucus after eugenics comments. Best comment: “Laurie Throness has decided to end his re-election campaign, but I think he should be forced to carry it to full term.” Unfortunately this POS is still on the ballot, but…just…wow.

This leads to questions as to how this guy was permitted to be in the party for so long: B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson under fire from within own party. Owning the libs to own the libs.

Quick, Andrew! Get on a truck to show you’re not rude, elitist, and awful:

Then there’s this terf: B.C. Election 2020: NDP calls on Liberal party to fire candidate over tweet praising J.K. Rowling’s anti-trans blog. Imagine thinking someone’s entire identity was a matter of “hearing different ideas“.

Then there’s this son of mega-wealthy venture capitalist and Real Housewives of Vancouver star (who sent him to New York to intern with the Clintons as a teen) who wants you to know that he doesn’t believe that “life hands you opportunities on a silver platter”: Why this 26-year-old decided to run against BC’s health minister.

It. Just. Keeps. Coming: BC Liberal Candidate Voted Against Motion Recognizing That Science Shows ‘Human Activities’ Cause Climate Change. Holy shit is their vetting agent just two guys in a trench coat?

Then there’s this Green candidate: Vancouver Island Green candidate apologizes after calling First Nations gaming grants ‘handouts’. I don’t care how well Sonia answered the debate question on racism their party still has some major structural problems.

I really hate to be so blatantly partisan, but this is the single most important issue and they totally get my vote: B.C. Libertarian Party calls for legalization of unpasteurized milk in October 24 election platform. You think I’m fucking joking? Have you ever even had unpasteurized Manchego? I didn’t think so.

Of course as juicy as all this BC election stuff is, it’s still nothing compared to #zoomdick: New Yorker writer Jeffrey Toobin suspended after reports he exposed himself in Zoom work meeting. Is Toobin a verb yet?

Langley of the day: Why the Alt-Right’s Most Famous Woman Disappeared. Who knew misogynists would be… um, misogynists. I never thought I’d feel sorry for Lauren Southern but here we are…

I never thought I’d feel sorry for the Granville Strip but here we are: Vancouver’s nighttime entertainment forgotten by provincial leaders, says author. But seriously, “someone should do something”.

Indeed, because whose city is it anyway?

Crisis and recovery can inspire utopian forms of thinking as the capacity to imagine a future that departs significantly from what we know to be a general condition in the present. Today, there is indeed a desire for urgency and disruption and upheaval that the moment calls for. We can’t go back to addressing a crisis with a little bit of Keynesian politics sprinkled here and there — something more fundamental is being asked for by the moment. The fork in the road was passed a long time ago.

Related: New Normal: 15 ways cities can emerge better than ever after COVID-19.

Bonus: Millennials Control Just 4.2 Percent of US Wealth, 4 Times Poorer Than Baby Boomers Were At Age 34.

There are 3 comments

  1. You do realize the BC Libertarians were marching at the anti mask rally, right?

  2. “Holy shit is their vetting agent just two guys in a trench coat?”: Hey, it’s genuinely challenging to find conservatives with enough discipline not to say the quiet parts out loud.

    Actually, that’s been a problem for Andy himself:

    “On the topic of housing affordability Wilkinson offered no solutions, instead advising students they better become doctors and lawyers.”

    (https://thetyee.ca/News/2020/10/19/Andrew-Wilkinson-Woes/)

  3. I wouldn’t worry too much about Lauren Southern. She’s still making bank as a Nazi sympathizer, just not quite as much as before.

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