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

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.

Business as usual: B.C. government gave developer $211M interest-free loan in Little Mountain land sale. This might be the single worst thing any BC government has ever done, but it’s part of the same market forces that see us handing out tax breaks and density bonuses for CACs. It’s the same system that gets us spinning chandeliers and poor doors, or shadow flipping and bare trust loopholes. It’s the Expo Lands and Li Ka-Shing all over again, or Burke Mountain, or the Pearson-Dogwood lands. This is the same company that is sitting on 500 Dunsmuir, prime land that used to be an SRO but has sat empty since 2013.

It’s a persistent pattern of relying on under-regulated private enterprise to do the right thing. It’s all greased palms and incentives and backroom deals. The financialisation of the housing sector is criminal. If we want to get serious we would expropriate Little Mountain immediately and call a public inquiry. We would never again sell public land to a developer and give the city and province first right of refusal on any sale where a loss of housing is involved. Oh, and we’d make it easier for journalists to get FOIs to expose this level of corruption.

All that being said, the contract is so particularly vile that Rich Coleman should be dragged before a tribunal:

The contract has details on the payment schedule that could explain, at least in part, why Holborn has only paid $35 million, 13 years after the deal.

In essence, the rate at which Holborn was required to pay the province under the contract was linked to the progress of development on site.

Therefore, less development on the site meant smaller payments. More development on the site meant larger sums.

With a hefty interest-free loan in hand and a lack of specific building deadlines, that means Holborn not only controls the speed of development, but in large part, the speed of repayment too.


To make matters worse, they are rubbing our faces in it. This what Holburn put up at the site:

Great stories take time to write. Like the story of so-called Vancouver, from the very start it was a story of shady real estate deals and speculation. I’ve said it a thousand times: ours is city built on nepotism and the booster class. Little Mountain is no exception, it’s the norm…

CRA study from 1996 found migrants bought B.C. luxury homes despite having low incomes. Great stories take time. They just need to be buried and blocked for 27 years first, and the people trying to blow the whistle need to be shamed for trying to scrape together piecemeal data. All the while government coffers were filling up and we were getting rich selling our homes for $2.88-million to people declaring a global income of $174…

We made it happen and we got rich off it. And still no capital gains tax on primary residences: The NDP Hitting Canadian Homes With A 75% Capital Gains Tax Wouldn’t Change Much. Although, to be fair, the NDP is proposing a return to the 2010 level corporate tax rate of 18%, a 20% foreign buyer’s tax on homes, a 2% increase in the marginal tax rate, and a luxury goods tax. Still no inheritance tax though.

Meanwhile, the Globe gets to the bottom of the real issue facing most Canadians: Why cottage ownership is increasingly out of reach for most Canadians. The odds of a minimum wage worker being able to afford a one- or two-bedroom apartment in just about every city in Canada are next to nil, but please tell me about how oppressed you are because you can’t afford a summer spot in Muskoka.

Rents are unlikely to fall when you consider that a whopping 26.3% of Canadian Members of Parliament are landlords. This means the MP and/or their spouse make rental income, own a rental property, or have a stake in a numbered corporation used to rent out residential property. And they vote on housing policy. The number should be 0. Find Out If Your Political Representatives Are Landlords.


Related: This Real Estate Bubble Won’t Pop.

We need to make it illegal to turn a passive profit off basic human necessities like shelter.

There, I said it.

We need to ban for-profit residential real estate investment.

Instead we’re too busy painting over renovictions with fancy murals that our corporate media gushes over by an artist who is out here defending the richest man on earth whose family may have owned an apartheid-era emerald mine: ‘The smartest person in any room anywhere’: in defence of Elon Musk, by Douglas Coupland.

Pretty on par for the neoliberal death cult that is Lotus Land. though. To wit:

Video of premier dining in Vernon causes anger, highlights confusion with COVID rules. Yeah, he was allowed more than 6 people at a table, but the thing that got me was when they said “we all got tested” when the rest of us don’t have that luxury.

B.C.’s vaccine passport will likely make life more difficult for homeless people, advocates say. I think the vaccine passport has already done its job. Even just announcing it had the intended effect. Then there’s all the businesses who voluntarily admitted they won’t be enforcing it, so we can just focus our efforts there.

Then there’s all those people who think a vaccination card means that vaccines are mandatory. You don’t have to get a vaccine. You just give up certain privileges like going to a restaurant or a concert. Your mild inconvenience is not oppression: Protesters take their case against vaccine requirements to Vancouver General Hospital, city hall. Since the majority of people in hospitals are the unvaccinated they are literally saying please don’t treat us. We should listen to them. Damn Hippocratic Oath.

While it’s a little sophomoric to point out that this mostly white crowd gets a free pass while Indigenous, queer, 2 spirit, BIPOC kids are getting physically brutalized every day by the RCMP for protecting the last fraction of old growth in our province I’m going to anyway. Especially since the only guy that got arrested was a hero trying to give them free chicken eggs from a safe distance: Man arrested for throwing eggs at anti-vaccine mandate protestors. I really hope there’s a bail out fund going.

I’m one of the service workers who left the restaurant industry during the pandemic. Serve yourself. For those that aren’t subscribers, here’s an un-paywalled version.

Then again, if you like being treated like absolute shit and paid very little, you could always work in an SRO: The Housing Is Owned by the Province. The Working Conditions Are Terrible. No wonder all my friends have PTSD.

Some good news: Province reverses privatization of cleaning and dietary work in B.C. hospitals.

Satire of the day: Liberals announce election platform of things they could have easily done before now.

On Ken Sim’s So-Called “Swagger” and ABC’S Class War

Sean Orr is back from his hiatus with a rundown of the local headlines that have been running on a ticker tape through his mind over the past six months...

On Post-Election Recuperation, Platform Paradoxes and Refund Communities

In his latest read of the local news headlines, Sean Orr finds irony in "safety, affordability, and sustainability", and shouts out a bunch of amazing local organizations working on the frontlines.

On Running for City Council, Playing Whack-a-Mole with Homelessness, and the Public Washroom Deficit

In his latest read of the local news headlines, Sean Orr finds a park ranger with a grudge, a gross misuse of air quotes and Tripadvisor slander.

On Living in a City Preoccupied with Street Cleaning, Chandeliers, and Campaigns Against the Homeless

In his latest read of the local news headlines, Sean Orr hones in on the recent Langley shootings, and the ongoing criminalizing and dehumanizing of the homeless population.