On Living in a Hate Crime Capital and the True Costs of Cleaning Up a Tent City Mess

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.

We’re number 1: This Is the Anti-Asian Hate Crime Capital of North America. While the article does get into the fact that we built this city on the backs of an exploited Chinese labour force then turned around and placed a Head Tax on them, instigated anti-Asiatic riots, created internment camps, and fostered the xenophobia that ties race to capital in the often toxic debate around the housing crisis, this kind of romantic and highly idealized vision of racism that completely ignores its deep structural historical roots is what we criticize knuckle-dragging Province commenters for:

It’s said to be the most Asian city outside Asia. Where a quarter of residents speak a Chinese language and the char siu rivals what’s served in Hong Kong barbecue shops. Where a Sikh gurdwara, a Tibetan monastery, and a Chinese evangelical church coexist in harmony along a 3-kilometer stretch of road dubbed the Highway to Heaven. The kind of place that should be immune to a rise in pandemic-fueled racism.

Other than the sophomoric lede the article touches on a lot of good points, something I’ve been saying for, oh…about 15 years now.

There were a host of factors fueling the market: Vancouver’s rock-bottom property tax rate, the lack of a capital-gains tax on primary residences, a byzantine zoning and permitting regime that strangles the housing supply, and a local economy that from its early days has attracted speculators, be they gold prospectors, stock promoters, or real estate opportunists. But the real villains were a decade-plus stretch of historically low interest rates, a legacy of the 2008 financial crisis, and a Canadian propensity to borrow that had elevated property speculation to a national sport.

I’ll forgive the writer for leaving out criminally low wages, low property taxes, short-term rentals, a corrupt self-regulating real estate industry shadow flipping and exploiting bare trust loopholes, the fact that BC is the eviction capital of Canada, and that the feds has been downloading housing responsibilities onto provinces since the 1990s.

But like a lot of things, this pandemic has at least exposed who we are. It’s exposed the systemic class and race-based systemic inequalities that have existed since we founded this colonial outpost:

And we would only know this if it wasn’t for a brave whistleblower: B.C. government’s pandemic data leak confirms lack of transparency relative to other provinces. They’ve been gaslighting us for over a year, saying “we just don’t have the resources”. Journalists have been working overtime to scrape together charts and graphs to inform the public. The only logical conclusion is that they wanted to keep it secret so they could sacrifice working people’s lives in the name of opening the economy. That’s it. As Derrick O’Keefe reminds us, “You have to be cultishly partisan not to see this.”

Why else would action on paid sick days take so long? Why else would they dangle a paltry Doug Ford-esque three days when we know this illness can take people out for two weeks? If not because we are triangulating with peoples lives, bending to the corporate lobby’s desire to give actual employments standards to workers? B.C. the first province to promise permanent paid sick leave in the time of COVID-19. Could it catch on? Could it be anymore clear? “The Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (CFIB) said it supports the temporary COVID-19 program with government reimbursement, but not a long-range plan.” Aw, did you get addicted to paying poverty wages? Did you get used to workers coming in sick because they couldn’t get their shift covered? Did you just realize at-will employment works both ways?

A Letter to Dr. Henry from Hardest Hit Surrey:

When you have COVID-like symptoms, you weigh the definite outcome of hunger and eviction against the possibility of having COVID. If you don’t go in to work, you don’t get paid, and if you don’t get paid, your family doesn’t eat because the little money you do have must go to rent.

Related: ‘Sick City’: What the Pandemic Tells Us about Our Housing Crisis.

Not the Beaverton: Vancouver ranked as Canada’s best city for youth to work: RBC study. This is the future liberals want: “While the Vancouver region ranked almost dead last for cost of living (it) came out at the top for public health, equity, and inclusion, and public transportation”. Ah yes, we don’t care your gender, sexual preference, or race or that you live in a closet. We will make it very easy for us to exploit your labour!

B.C. accidentally sent out an emergency test alarm to smartphones. I don’t know if you guys read it closely but here’s what it actually said:

Even when two rich West Side douchebags berate workers and assault a POC, we let them off the hook: Charges stayed against 2 men involved in mask confrontation at Vancouver pizza restaurant.

Internet praises Vancouver transit police officer for calmly handling anti-masker (VIDEO). Something about praising police for being able to do their basic job without escalating seems off. Now do drug users/fare evaders.

When a muslim mayor calls it like it is, he’s the one being racist. Calgary mayor says anti-mask rallies are ‘thinly veiled white nationalist’ protests. But what about all the non-white people against the lockdown? Yeah, sorry. That’s called internalized white supremacy. As they say in Germany, if there’s a table of 12 people and 6 of them are Nazis, what you have is a table of 12 Nazis.

“Hello, I am a B.C. resident.” What it’s like to have an Alberta licence plate in B.C. right now. “Whoa, whoa calm down, I’m just committing insurance fraud!” is a weird thing to announce to the world, but ok.

If this is true, I might be a resident of Alberta with BC plates (if I had a car):

Lol: Anti-Maskers Ready to Start Masking—to Protect Themselves From the Vaccinated.

Meanwhile, in the other pandemic: Plans for drug decriminalization in Vancouver could do more harm than good, coalition claims. The iron cage of bureaucracy prevents them from listening to the people their policies actually affect. It’s time for that to end.

You know what else decriminalization would prevent? Metro Vancouver gang conflict won’t be solved by blaming racialized communities: commentator. Whoever thinks this has clearly never heard of the fucking Hells Angels.

Vancouver taxpayers on hook for at least $3.5M for Oppenheimer Park tent city. What a disgusting way to frame this issue. First of all, that number includes the price of regular park work, and second will only foment hatred against the homeless. Stop parroting right wing anti-tax activists and look at how much cheaper it would be to house the homeless long term.

More families contesting wills amid rising Metro Vancouver home prices, lawyer says. If only this was ancient Egypt, boomers would be taking their entire house with them into the afterlife.

Tim Louis: End sweetheart deals for Vancouver developers. The single worst legacy of Vision Vancouver.

Save Crab Park: ‘We Are Losing It as We Speak,’ Say Crab Park Advocates. The park wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for pressure from the community. Keep up the pressure. Write to your representatives.

RIP: Friends mourn death of Gerald Peachey, longtime Downtown Eastside resident and advocate.

Sports of the Day: Move the Oakland A’s here and call them the Vancouver Eh’s. Do we even have that many baseball fans here?

There are 4 comments

  1. Small edit to a great weekly post, the Bloomberg article does mention “low property taxes”, as its first litany item.

  2. Hate China.

    Chinese food here is not the same as in China. It is too Americanized.

On Voter Candy for Millennials and Our Dumbest People Proudly Revealing Themselves

In his latest read of the local news headlines, Sean Orr finds tofu history and vaccine passports going into action.

On Rescuing Lost Paddle-Boarders and the Right to Raise the Rent

In his latest read of the local news headlines, Sean Orr finds thick chuds and the tragic loss of another Starbucks.

On Tumbling Down Little Mountain and the Coming of the Vaccine Passports

In his latest read of the local news, Sean Orr learns of landlords in governments and what it's like to work in an SRO