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On Going Full Fash, Camping Out, and the Battle for the Soul of Vancouver

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.

Pearl-clutching elites pen a revisionist, lazy and bloodthirsty op-ed about crime and mental health: in her article for The Orca, “Enough“, author Lynda Steele trots out the well-worn (and consistently disproven) broken windows theory while firmly establishing herself as the real victim. A classic trope of the downtrodden neocon, she then has the hubris and audacity to declare that she’s “not entirely sure what’s fuelling the vandalism and violence”.

First off: hate manufactured by far-right groups on Facebook can take some of the blame.

Secondly: community safety happens when we become a community, not when we push ‘Us Versus Them’ messaging that perpetuates a divide. What we need are healthy, happy, and equitable cities. Cities with adequate housing, mental health services, peer support networks, treatment beds, green spaces, meaningful reconciliation, mutual aid, cheap and accessible transit, cycling and pedestrian infrastructure and so on. How are we going to achieve a healthier, safer city when the VPD won’t even take a funding freeze during a global pandemic that crippled the city’s revenue streams?

Third: you’re not sure what’s causing it? Could being vilified by the media have anything to do with it? Seriously – we live in an apartheid city, a city of haves and have-nots, and our media is still out here blaming the have-nots?

In the same article, Steele complains that she has had to call 911 to assist people overdosing, and then goes on to whine about a coat that was lit on fire in her precious Yaletown neighbourhood, “leaving a smouldering, ashy mess.”

The only smouldering ashy mess is this tone-deaf, sensationalist, clickbait. An entire building just burnt down leaving 144 homeless and you’re talking about a jacket?

Not to mention this:

More on that: Canada Post Stops Delivery to the Downtown Eastside, Again. “Amazon, UPS, Shaw cable, FedEx and countless home support nurses, doctors, mental health support people get around these three blocks every day,” she said. “But Canada Post can’t?” Interesting that a colonial corporation doesn’t want to deliver mail to a “scary” indigenous and racialized community. Go figure that the people directly responsible for the criminal inequality that manifests itself in the DTES are weaponizing this story for cheap partisan points. This lands squarely on the BC Liberals for freezing welfare rates and disability rates for a decade.

Government poll tried to skew public opinion against defunding the police. This is why it’s so absurd when I see the far right calling Trudeau a “lefty”. You’ve got Public Safety Canada headed by Bill Blair, the cop behind the mass arrests in Toronto that ended up in a $16.5 million settlement conducting these faulty polls; Wayne Rideout, the appointed bureaucrat who had a 34-year career with RCMP over-ruling Vancouver council’s budget; an upcoming election hijacked by far right; pro-police groups where two incumbents are married to police officers. We are truly one step closer to becoming a techno-fascist utopia. Only Vote Socialist, (full disclosure: I am a member) is running to defund the VPD.

Meanwhile, our deputy PM goes full flash and blames immigration for the high cost of housing. Not rampant financialization of a basic human right. She trots out the same market fundamentalist lies about supply, while 1.3 million homes lay empty, or that Canadian Real Estate Prices Are Growing Over 10x The Rate of Incomes, or that Over 1 In 6 Canadian Homeowners Own Multiple Properties, or that 9/10 of the largest landlords in Canada are REITs or private equity funds, or even pension funds. Why these financial instruments aren’t beholden to human rights commitments is beyond me.

Louder for the people in the back: We Need Public Housing, Not Affordable Housing. The market is either unable or unwilling to provide adequate housing.

North American rents continue to soar. This rise has not been confined to popular megacities and has increasingly spread to midsize jurisdictions as well. Driven by speculation, meagre social housing, and lax regulation, the affordable rental crisis has intensified year over year for two decades. With exponential growth in the cost of living coast-to-coast, few exits present themselves to tenants looking for a way out.

So on the one hand, there is an affordability crisis — there certainly is a crisis in rental affordability. On the other hand, however, this framing misses the forest for the trees. The relative affordability of housing is not simply a by-product of its location and general levels of supply. Unaffordability is an inevitability when housing is commodified. One of the main barriers to fixing the housing market is the fact that ownership of property is for many people the only insurance against destitution in retirement.

The perfect metaphor for Vancouver doesn’t exi…A seagull has been trapped on a Vancouver balcony for at least three days . “Beeseeboy — the Reddit user — said that he spoke to the building concierge, but they can’t access the apartment because the owner is absent and so are all the owners of the floors above”.

In other news, the sky is blue: Vancouver is the third least-affordable city in the world: Survey. “Vancouver, which placed second last year, was bumped by Sydney into the No. 3 spot this year”. Oh you mean Sydney, Australia, the place that cracked down on foreign home buying? Hmmm…

Residents call fight over Jericho Lands redevelopment ‘a battle for the soul of Vancouver’. Ah yes, nothing says the “soul of Vancouver” like a bunch of rich, whiny landowners telling indigenous peoples what to do. (I know that sounded sarcastic but I’m serious.) Which point of reconciliation is it when a bunch of NIMBYs tell a development by the Squamish, Musqueam, and Tsleil-Watouth Nations that their housing towers might cast too big a shadow on nearby mansions?

Speaking of NIMBYs, I can’t wait for the Karens to come running to city council on this one: 112 units of social housing to be built on Davie Street near Yaletown SkyTrain.

On the flip side, the YIMBYs will be all out for this one: Affordable rental housing under threat as Vancouver looks to densify with Broadway Plan. Because this worked out soooo well for Metrotown.

Tell me condo developers are scumbags without telling me condo developers are scumbags: Vancouver penthouse owner can’t keep amenity space to himself as city refuses to amend permit.

Some students in Victoria are riding out the rental crisis by camping out full-time. I see, when it’s students it’s just “camping out”, but when it’s racialized drug users in a park it’s a “tent city”.

Meanwhile, in Toronto: Toronto landlord tries to rent out 3 individual beds in the same room for $420 each.

Citing high rent and the “convenience of mediocrity”, Vancouver’s beloved Black Dog Video announces its closure. The same financialization of residential property happens to commercial property too. If only we could do rent control for small businesses. If only small businesses weren’t crippled by triple net leases. If only we could protect legacy businesses like Black Dog or Macleod’s Books.

Yup, we’re stilllll racist! Province refuses to register baby’s First Nations name.

The new normal: Blisteringly hot and dry summer ahead for BC says Farmers’ Almanac. Oh boy, Daily Hive – would it kill you to mention climate change once?

Human interest story of the day to cleanse your palate of all that is awful: TikTok of B.C. dad hoping to see his cloud photo on TV gets millions of views.

There are 7 comments

  1. What is this? Is Scout publishing notes from a college freshman intro finance course?

  2. Housing industry builds towers; “look, it’s commodification!!” Natives build the same towers; “that’s reconcilliation!!”

    We’ve known for over a century (since Karl Popper), the madness of pseudo-science such Marx’s theory of history, where a true Marxist can open a newspaper and find, on every page, confirming evidence of the theory. Same with Freud; conveniently, every clinical case could be distorted to confirm his theory.

  3. THOMAS V:

    You have been making comments on Scout for as long as I can remember. I don’t always like them, but I read them, and I value the insight.

    You obviously find Scout important enough that you continue to read and comment, so out of respect for that, I want you to understand something about the platform that you choose to shit on so frequently:

    Aside from the invaluable help of one editorial assistant, and some really awesome contributing writers, Scout is just one person: my name is Michelle Sproule.

    My husband and I ran Scout together for 14 years, but since he died – only six months ago – I’ve been doing it alone.

    I’m here because I love this community. I respect the fuck out of hard-working risk-takers that make our city more interesting, and I consider it a privilege to shine a light on what they are doing. But it is a lot to do solo – particularly when I’m also parenting alone, and grieving the loss of my best friend and husband of 22 years.

    Sean Orr’s views are not always aligned with mine, but should that matter? Isn’t it better to listen to one another and engage in dialogue? Should I just edit him out completely?

    If you have the time to write to me personally with your thoughts, please do. I need all the feedback and help I can get as I try to navigate this time in Scout’s history without Andrew.

    But if you have to stick with the condescending asshole tone and insist on hiding behind a fake name, I don’t have the bandwidth to listen.

    You can reach me at Michelle [at] scoutmagazine.ca (if you have the guts).

  4. Sean Orr has been shiting on people for as long I can remember. “Condesending asshole tone” (your words) sounds about right.

    If you provide a platform for him and his ilk, you could expect rebuttal in kind.

    I’d provide my contact info but given Sean’s threats of physical violence towards Hipster Designer’s fingers, I’ll pass. You will recall his threat to “break ‘your’ fingers” in a previous post on this site.

    I’ve stated on here before that I enjoy agitating the agitaor. Sean is a paradox on this site. I am a small portion of your readership that chooses to enjoy that paradox and respond with similar puerility.

  5. It really is much easier to be an asshole than provide substance.

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