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.
First, the good news. The first vaccines have arrived in BC, ICBC rates are going way down (wait, is this even good news?), Translink is buying more trains, Health Canada is removing barriers to psilocybin therapy (because who couldn’t use a dose of shrooms about now?), Cleveland has finally changed their baseball team’s name, and the Ikea Monkey is thriving.
Also this: B.C. premier calls for increase to income assistance and disability payments. Wait, what? Who is he calling to if not himself? Two decades of activists calling – not begging – for the province to raise the rates and Johnny Boy looks into the mirror wistfully while trimming his pristine goatee and whispers to himself, “John, you handsome devil. You should ask someone to raise the rates!” and then splashes a little hot water on his brow before proclaiming, “My God, son. You’ve done it again!”
Like, what kind of hubris are you knee-deep in to slash the Covid supplement in half to someone who makes $760 a month on income assistance before rent? As drug user advocate Karen Ward reminds us, we need to end cheque days in combination with safe supply and enable social assistance to get out of poverty, not trap people in a deadly cycle. Take a look at the data showing the correlation of overdoses and cheque day:
And in other good news (but probably also bad news): Dan Fumano: Park board, city moving to end Strathcona Park tent city. Good news because they aren’t balking to pressure from Point Grey NIMBYs but bad news because there’s almost no services out there and most people will want to stay close to their friends and family on the DTES. Good news because Strathcona can get back to the business of gentle gentrification, bad news because when this fails the pearl clutchers will say “See! They don’t want help!”
Just straight up bad news: Vancouver Paid $11.5 Million for Condemned Regent and Balmoral Hotels. The good news? The Sahotas will be inside the buildings when we demolish them.
Joint Statement Re: Vancouver Police Department 2021 Operating Budget. Not that I needed any more reasons to completely and wholly support this, but the VPD accosted me on my building’s stoop earlier this week and searched me after I returned home from getting a coffee from across the street. The most terrifying part of the ordeal wasn’t having cops suddenly come at me – apparently because I matched the description of a “white guy in his mid-40s dressed in black” who had been running around the neighbourhood waving a knife (not a coffee) – it was because they didn’t even know how to put handcuffs on. As they fumbled for two minutes to cuff me, I kept thinking, “This is how people die.”
Vancouver police officers won’t be charged over unarmed man’s 2015 death. Fuck. I want to scream. I can’t imagine what his mother is going through right now. This is the same force whose investigations were found to be a “blatant failure by the Pickton inquiry; whose “paramilitary culture” was implicated in the death of Frank Paul; who discriminated against trans woman Angela Dawson for repeatedly misgendering her and denying her medical care; who lied about Jamiel Moore-Williams and Sandy Davidsen, the woman with cerebral palsy they pushed to the ground; who victim-blamed Alyssa Leblevec, who bravely came forward about domestic violence by a VPD officer.
Their street check data shows ongoing and clear racial targeting of Black and Indigenous people and found that Indigenous women account for 21 percent of all VPD street checks of women. They claim to support decriminalization but targeted drug users through drug seizures 15,000 times in just the past three years. They threw a 12-year old indigenous girl in cuffs for trying to open a bank account. They beat up Indigenous man Shane Robertson outside a Walmart. They mistakenly arrested Jason Victor Hernandez. They drove sexual assault victim and fellow officer Nicole Chan to suicide. They killed a guy last month in a Tim Hortons. They murdered Paul Boyd, Phuong Na “Tony” Du, and Frank Bell in 1992 for holding a walkman. They murdered Myles Gray, covered it up and got away with it. Shame on the VPD.
Not that the Mounties are any better: Privacy Commissioner Launches Investigation of RCMP Internet Unit. This is what healthy investigative journalism can accomplish.
I can’t think of a symbol that more perfectly embodies the entitlement of Vancouverites than the strata council. Yeah, sure they’re in every city, but they just suit us so well. Hollow Tree be damned: Vancouver couple ordered to remove rainbow doormat, flag after condo neighbours complain. I just went through 10 years of Tea And Two Slices to make sure I’ve never used the phrase “This is why we can’t have nice things” and I’m clean…so: this is why we can’t have nice things.
Exhibit B: Canucks Twitter. It’s an absolute raging dumpster fire of racism right now, first over Holtby’s mask, and now over this: Ben Kuzma: UBC professor calls for conversation on changing Canucks logo. Cue the hordes of idiots who a) don’t know what systemic racism is, b) don’t know what cultural appropriation is (hint it’s not eating tacos), and c) don’t even like the fucking logo but are making themselves the victim anyway.
As Justin McElroy points out, maybe the only thing that will unite Canucks fans at this point a story about Mark Messier getting into a sticky situation: Messier suing Alberta cannabis company CEO after losing $500K: report. Can’t blame the Roxy Flu on this one, bud!
Speaking of Justin McElroy: Why the ‘sucker’s payoff’ is one of B.C.’s biggest obstacles this Christmas. In a town full of self-entitled, ‘the rules don’t apply to me’ pricks, this season is going to be one giant prisoner’s dilemma:
Tiffany highlighted a particular problem in decision theory called the “sucker’s payoff”: you do something for the greater good, but you see another group making a different choice, receiving a bigger immediate payoff and overall case counts and restrictions continue to rise.
It’s a hard temptation at any time but particularly during the holidays.
“If people start looking at it, they say I don’t want to be the sucker,” said Tiffany.
“You have to change how people think about the problem … one way is instilling a sense of duty. You’re not just thinking about it from the sense of self-interest.”
Yeah, good luck with that: Anti-maskers gather for Christmas protests across Canada. I’d say we should pen them in and fine them all the maximum amount but they’d probably just compare it to Nazi Germany.
Metro Vancouver bus drivers to be part of Phase 2 COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Anyone whose job it is to interact with the public should be in group 2. Frontline overdose prevention workers, janitors, baristas, delivery drivers, cab drivers… As far as I can tell, only grocery store workers are included.
Maybe it’s because we hate workers: Two bucks an hour: pay for many BC paramedics stuck in a previous era. And here I thought day rates for chefs were bad.
Meanwhile: Imperial Oil took $120 million in Federal help for workers and handed three times that amount to their shareholders: Canadian companies that received CEWS and kept paying a dividend. wE nEeD to sTOp peOpLe fROm sCaMMinG cERb aND wELfarE.
Speaking of welfare. Landlords are the real welfare queens:
Oh, and remember, mom and pop landlords are a myth: Vancouver real estate: Shift on to big corporate landlords of apartment buildings.
“Don’t raise the property tax in Vancouver, I don’t have any real wealth!” say homeowners who are continuing to use their homes as ATMS: Canadian Home Equity Borrowing Is On The Rise Once Again.
Which is why we need a land value tax. In 2017 alone, we had a 100 billion dollar increase in land value. Also just listen to this guy: Will Vancouver Real Estate Prices Ever Decline? with Professor Patrick Condon.
Ah yes, I see Vancouver has entered into the Jim Henson’s Dark Crystal phase of our development: 580-ft-tall landmark shard tower proposed near Robson Street in downtown Vancouver.
Today I learned about BC’s wrongful death laws and how they are in dire need of reform: Natasha’s Story.
Honour bound: 15 Indigenous Canadian Brands You Can Shop Online.