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.
With a little effort we can reach number one: Vancouver ranked world’s second-least affordable city. Welcome to Apartheid City, with its booster class of Boomers and their “get a job” bootstrap attitudes pretending they didn’t inherit a bonanza of unprecedented unearned wealth via rampant speculation. On the other side is a beleaguered population of low-paid resource and service sector workers beset by intergenerational trauma in a sterile fishing-village cum playground for the 1%.
This is the Land of Destiny, where from the very outset we’ve marketed ourselves as a real estate boomtown with pretty mountains, low crime and stable government. Ours is a yoga-loving Banana Smoothie Republic where from Expo86 to the 2010 Olympics we’ve told the world we are open for business at any cost, all while convincing ourselves the prices can’t keep going up forever. “Someone should do something”.
Vancouver is a perfect storm of outdated zoning, manufactured land scarcity, tax loopholes, foreign investment, mortgage debt, low interest rates, low property taxes, no vacancy control, money laundering and decades of austerity is protected by a cadre of entitled, faux progressive elites hellbent on getting a good return on their investment while paying lip service to environmentalism and social justice. It is a militant centrist hellscape with a spinning chandelier, a place where every attempt to make lives better for the most vulnerable are met with shrieking howls of Randian anti-tax indignation.
Welcome to Hedge City, a futuristic City of Glass where the overfunded police are privatized foot soldiers of gentrification and our billionaire developers run the show. It’s a luxury playground where the police budget has doubled in a decade and we’re about a year away from a Robocop prototype: Developer’s $1-million donation to Vancouver police charity raises alarm. Holy shit! Way to say the quiet part out loud, rich guy! Definitely no connection between real estate industry profits and ‘tough on crime’ policing. Definitely not a direct attempt to influence the police under the guise of charity.
“Vancouver’s current city officials’ answer to the homeless problem for the people on the Downtown Eastside is to buy up or rent dilapidated old hotels that are rodent-infested and lack proper plumbing and heating, and their answer to mental health and addiction problems is to open more injection sites throughout the city where adults and youth can bring their contraband drugs which kill them,” he wrote.
This is a guy who thinks his 200 unit vanity project on unceded land will solve homelessness. This is a guy who spent $85,000 on billboards for pro-development Vancouver mayoral candidate to place fifth in the 2018 election. And most importantly, this is a guy whose company allegedly picked up $3.2 million dollars from the federal wage subsidy: Exclusive: Vancouver luxury real estate firms got pandemic payroll subsidy. Things are so absurd in this city that we’re now just funnelling taxpayer money into police charities to fund private militias and getting tax receipts for it. As Mo Amir says, “these aren’t donations; they’re investments.
And yet here we are in 2021 and The Province is running a Harsha Walia editorial. We can choose differently: safety beyond police, prisons and criminalization. Although noticeably absent from their Facebook page, I can just picture the seismic contortions of the average Province reader while reading this:
These proposed federal amendments also come months after the global #BlackLivesMatter challenge to systemic anti-Black racism and police violence. There is now a sustained and necessary reckoning about how many of our institutions — such as police, criminal legal system, prisons, immigration enforcement, and child apprehension — are founded in the violence of settler-colonialism and enslavement and, still today, continue to target and harm Indigenous, Black people, and racialized people.
Alas: ‘It’s appalling’: Indigenous protesters, advocates condemn Vancouver police for arrests. And yet a mostly white crowd of anti-maskers gather every Sunday with impunity.
Let me guess, they’re going to investigate their conduct: Vancouver Police to Review Own Violent Arrests at Indigenous Pipeline Protest.
Why are we still doing these? Civil rights groups give VPD “Street Check” audit an ‘F’. I mean, I know exactly why we are doing these, but still…
Reason #9181991 to defund the police: Student says RCMP officer talked her out of laying charges against alleged serial voyeur on campus. Our very own Brock Turner: “The woman alleges the officer focused on the suspect’s ‘good values’, his standing as an engineering student and how he might ‘never get a job’ if convicted”.
Related: Remembering Black, Indigenous, and Other People of Colour killed by Canadian police. Can we start putting heritage plaques at the site of each police killing?
Some good news: Army & Navy building to become homeless shelter as B.C. announces 120 new beds. Sean, please don’t mention that this is probably a tax write off for Jacqui Cohen while she waits for the value to go back up so she can develop it into condos. Just don’t even go there.
The number of people commenting on the above article saying “they should be in rehab” – as if every homeless person is an addict – is staggering: Daphne Bramham: Compulsory addiction treatment high on Canadians’ priority list.
The Venn diagram of people saying the government should force addicts into rehab and those saying the government shouldn’t force people to wear masks is a circle: ‘You don’t get to punch us, buddy’: Confrontation with unmasked Canadian Tire customer under investigation. These people want so badly to be oppressed. It makes up their entire identity then they bitch and moan when real oppressed people are given any help. The both-sides media narrative here doesn’t help. This clown isn’t a hero, he’s a well known flat-earther who probably thinks snow is fake.
Horgan ‘deeply’ troubled by 717% increase in anti-Asian hate crimes in Vancouver. From filmmaker Sean Yap Sei-Been Devlin:
The rise in hate crimes during COVID is not surprising. What does surprise me is how many well intentioned white people have downplayed, dismissed and straight up ignored this for years. The lack of compassion towards the Asian community this past year has been heart breaking to experience and to witness.
Covid related racism got you down? Make a blanket fort! Pandemic frustrations boil to surface as B.C. government posts ‘self-care bingo card’. We’re a kakistocracy governed by a bunch PR obsessed technocrats whose ‘nerd’ premier gave a Vulcan salute during his swearing-in ceremony. We need a ban on evictions, rent relief, paid sick days and access to mental health support, not a fucking cup of tea.
We’re doomed: ‘No indication we need to change,’ says B.C. as signs of a third wave increase. Have you tried turning off your devices?
Three Surrey schools warned about exposure to B.1.1.7 variant of COVID-19. Have you tried going for a walk?
School officials order windows screwed shut after teachers opened them to increase ventilation. Have you tried not being a murderous capitalist neoliberal regime that is literally sacrificing our workers to needless deaths?
BC schools: We can’t force kids to wear masks. Also BC schools: Is this outfit inappropriate for a Kamloops classroom? Let’s get to what’s really important: Policing young women’s bodies.
Ken Sim starting his mayoral bid a tad early: Opinion: Here’s how Vancouver can leave its “No Fun City” reputation behind. What is this, 2005? Pretty sure we have other things to worry about than your personal nostalgia, Ken.
Vancouver to update noise bylaw in response to anti-gay preachers in West End. Yeah, I’m sure this won’t have any unintended consequences. Why are we so afraid to shut down hate properly? Oh right, the VPD.
Great idea: Dan Fumano: Public drinking as a health measure — Vancouver eyes allowing booze in DTES ‘parklet’. I’m so inside the mind of the average Vancouverite I can already hear them saying “Oh, great I’m not allowed to have a beer on the beach but these guys can drink a mickey of vodka in the middle of the road.” Somebody help me.
Praxis of the day: ‘My Old Apartment’ Wants Renters To Know If Their Landlords Illegally Hiked Rent.
Not chill dude: Vancouver’s Dude Chilling Park sign has been removed. Will be updated to Dude Socially Isolating Park.