On Dr. Bonnie Henry Doing More and Zoning Whole Swathes of Vancouver for Rentals

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.

Dr. Bonnie Henry tells British Columbians to ‘do more.’ But many wonder, what more can they do?. This is the equivalence of going to the doctor with crippling anxiety and the doctor asking if you’ve “tried doing yoga”. My god. March is five weeks away. We’ve been holed up for almost a fucking year. How much more do you expect us to do? This milquetoast mixed messaging and namby pamby finger-wagging will be the death of us, handcuffed by neoliberal fear of government intervention from a self-declared army brat who has never worked in any industry, and who – as a medical officer – described her job as “90 per cent boredom and 10 per cent panic”.

You want us to do more? You want small businesses to do more? You want the homeless population to do more? You want the restaurant industry to do more? You want musicians to do more? You want people making minimum wage in a city they will never be able to afford a home in to do more? This from a government that ended the freeze on evictions at the worst possible time; that was wrong about aerosol transmission; that delayed for months on a mask mandate; that has dithered when it comes to asymptomatic testing; that said kids can’t be spreaders even though a British study said young people aged 2-12 are more than 7 times more likely to be the first case of COVID in a household; that called parents hysterical; that delayed pandemic pay; that slashed the disability assistance top-up in half; that was reticent with data transmission; and whose vaccine rollout fails to apply the triage model and relies instead only on the age vector. You want us to more?

You must do more! You must dine out at a restaurant! Dine Out Vancouver to highlight more than 330 restaurants during 31-day festival. So BC limited alcohol service on New Year’s Eve because they didn’t want too many people at restaurants, but they’re also promoting that everyone go in this short period en masse? WTF?

I know restaurants are incredibly safe, but maybe we can pay restaurants to not do Dine Out instead. (And then when the pandemic is over we can continue the tradition. Wink wink.)

Related: Operation ‘blame the public’ wilfully ignores Covid-unsafe workplaces.

For example, Tourists are continuing to flock to Whistler: 12 cases confirmed at Whistler hotel as COVID-19 numbers climb in resort community. And because BC tracks cases by residential address, that’s only people who live there. Who knows how many cases were spread because BC was too chickenshit to tell a multinational like Vail that only locals should be allowed on the hills. Like Big White did. Voluntarily.

Canadian mogul fined after getting Covid vaccine meant for Indigenous residents. As usual, the Guardian is the only one framing this as a legacy of systemic colonial racism. Not that we should be shocked that the CEO of a casino made famous for laundering money on behalf of criminals ignored the law. Not that we should be shocked that the company’s CEO – who bought said casino – resigned after paying $158M to Jeffrey Epstein. And it’s not even that shocking that Senator and former Vancouver mayor Larry Campbell is poised to cash out nearly $2 million worth of shares in the Great Canadian Gaming Corp., of which he is a director. What is shocking is that we expect the 1% to be deterred from doing this by a paltry $575 fine. If there was justice, they should be manning the morgues for the next 6 months.

More candidates: COVID-19: Vancouver man fined $2,500 for makeshift nightclub out of condo. 100 people at $25 bucks a head and this guy breaks even. What are we doing?

The other epidemic: Vancouver, Health Canada to formally discuss drug decriminalization, mayor says. Without safe supply this falls firmly in the realm of the symbolic gesture. Will it stop the cops from harassing the poor? Probably not, but it has to be a huge psychological boost to people who use drugs. Let’s put an overdose prevention site inside every single Tim Hortons across the city! You get an OPS! You get an OPS!

No, but we all know what the real problem is. It’s that pesky graffiti everywhere! Graffiti overwhelms Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and Chinatown. Wherein John Mackie jumps in his time machine to revisit the moral panic of the mid-80s. This is a kind of galaxy brain tone-deafness that wilfully ignores the wholesale failure of policy and institutions that create “violent inequality, intergenerational poverty, and health policies that fail to address the trauma caused by living in an unjust society”. Focusing on graffiti, or garbage, or needles, is purposefully and superficially glossing over these systemic failures and reifies the idea that this crisis is one of personal responsibility.

But don’t take it from me: The Sun Wrote about ‘Overwhelming’ Graffiti. The Downtown Eastside Wrote Back.

Meanwhile: Save-on-Foods arena to reopen as homeless shelter in March. While this sounds like the government is doing something, it’s more a last minute Hail Mary for a population that has been ferried about from place to place during the pandemic.

But who needs cities to wage a war on the poor when you have local coffee chains doing it for you: JJ Bean is waging a war on the poor. Which side are you on? Hyperbole of the writing style aside, you can’t hide from the fact that this is the face of displacement:

While his boss lobbies for greater police power, Bentley does police work for free. He profiles, surveils, and bans low-income customers. He poured water on a campfire being used by an unhoused person to stay warm in the dead of winter. Bentley listened when the police told him, “Call everyday, create a paper trail, amass a precedent, and then something can be done.” He sides with his boss against the street community, admitting, “They personally don’t like me and, quite frankly, I personally don’t like them.”

Unfortunately, this attitude of self-victimization is all too common in the hospitality industry. You can be frustrated without ‘being foot soldiers of gentrification’. That being said, there needs to be ways for everyone to deal with the challenges of entrenched street poverty without calling the cops.

So what do we do? Make it easier to narc on poor people. Thanks Pete: New trespassing initiative will support businesses, not criminalize homeless: city councillor. It’s hardly the booster class’ first volley in the class war it and won’t be that last. The entire world is trying to figure out how to rely less on policing and Vancouver is here just licking the boot.

Meanwhile, the NPA, whose cop-wife councillor once proudly displayed the white supremacist “Blue Lives Matter” flag, compared the terrorist attack on the Capitol to Jean Swanson and other housing advocates and refused to apologize; whose school trustee said we need to hear from white kids about cops in schools; whose board member said on Facebook “we need to start harassing these lowlifes”; whose other board member flashes white power signs, issues a statement attacking The Tyee while doubling down on their position regarding International Holocaust Remembrance Day: The NPA Board’s Attack on The Tyee Is Baseless. Classic pattern of deflect, blame, and self-victimize. Conservatives are the real victims. Natch. “The NPA is a party of all political stripes!” You mean like moderate conservatives, conservatives, and far right conservatives? Lol.

We Could Zone Whole Areas for Rental Only. Why Don’t We?. Quick guess: it will interfere with profit?

The objection seems to be that land owners might see the value of their parcels reduced by 10 to 30 per cent. But the value of all lands in the city of Vancouver (and similarly, in the rest of the region) has shot up by more than 200 per cent in just the three years between 2014 and 2017!

My heart cannot bleed for land owners unhappy at marginal decreases in already hyper-inflated land values.

And isn’t defeating the spiraling rise in land values that drives housing unaffordability the entire point?

Nailed it.

From Tent Cities to Affordable Housing on One Downtown Eastside Lot. Took long enough.

Satire of the day: Tearful Justin Trudeau Chains Self To Keystone Pipeline To Stop Biden Administration From Destroying Oil Industry Heritage Site.

Not satire: Governor general an important safeguard in Canadian democracy, says journalist. “The Crown has power, but doesn’t exercise it. And the government of the day borrows that power to exercise it, but doesn’t actually have it.” Any poli sci doctorates want to tackle that one for me?

Canada’s mining giants pay billions less in taxes in Canada than abroad. Sounds about white.

Bonus: House of Commons passes motion to designate Proud Boys a terrorist entity.

Shout Out: The amazing cross stitch in the photo is at Flat Spot by clever_little_stitch!

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