A no messing around guide to the coolest things to eat, drink and do in Vancouver and beyond. Community. Not clickbait.

On Silly Cops And The Role Of Racism In YVR’s Housing Clusterfuck


by Sean Orr | Uh-oh: Pete McMartin: Is racism part of the housing issue? Of course it is. A much better headline would have been: “Is racism a part of the conversation around the housing issue. Of course it is”. That is, if you only read the comments on your own Vancouver Sun articles.

We, of course, cast ourselves as innocent bystanders in all this rather than accomplices, despite the fact that not 20 or 30 years ago we were doing everything we could to attract Asian money to B.C. because of our hope to become world class and globally competitive, and to lift us out of the cycles of boom and bust that British Columbians had suffered. How soon we conveniently forget. What did we think Expo 86 was, if not a door swung wide open?

I’ve always maintained that we are culpable and so is our government. From when early Vancouver landowners took out ads in the Oregon newspapers to Expo86 and the 2010 Olympics, we’ve built this city on boosterism and speculation.

In 1885, we wanted to keep the Chinese out because they were too poor and too numerous and would steal our jobs. Now, we want to keep them out because they are too rich and too numerous and would steal our homes.

Calls for market regulation are not calls to “keep them out”. Asking for better data does lie in the realm of conspiracy. Discussing data is not racist.

Or, as Justin Fung writes: “This has nothing to do with Chinese people as a race and everything to do with China as a rising economic superpower with its own set of growing pains.”

It is possible to condemn the racists and race baiting at the same time. It is possible to blame a diverse array of conditions for this crisis, as I said last week. But it’s called a tipping point for a reason.

Charlie Smith briefly touches on this in a condescending defence of McMartin in the Georgia Straight.

Of course, neither McMartin or Smith mention this little fact: B.C. politicians almost alone in seeking foreign donations. Don’t tell anyone, but I gave money to Bernie Sanders.

Do we have a legacy of systemic colonial racism? Absolutely, but it’s a lot closer to home than what Pete McMartin is talking about. To wit, this article from last year, which focused on the troubles in Ferguson. It’s relevant again in light of the police shooting deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling: Canada’s race problem? It’s even worse than America’s.

Exhibit B: Meanwhile in Canada: Black Man Stopped by Police For Reading

Which is why it’s time to disarm the police. Teach them de-escalation. This isn’t fucking rocket science.

But back to housing, and if this doesn’t exemplify the multi-pronged chimera that is our crisis then I don’t know what does! After getting a generous tax break from the city to build rental buildings and an exemption from paying community amenity contributions, Aquilini Developments are using the legal but morally dubious practice that gives them the ability to bypass rent controls after one year: New rental towers free to use controversial fixed-term lease agreements. This can’t be too surprising as this is the same company that signed Roberto Luongo to a 12 year contract.

Of course, this points to a larger problem with BC tenancy laws: B.C. tenant laws need overhaul to protect renters, say advocates.

Meanwhile, slumlords still exist. DTES tenant’s court case shines light on practices of Sahota landlords. Featuring the quote of the day: “If I’m in in there having my 53rd beer, I definitely don’t want the floor collapsing when I get up to leave”.

It’s a no-brainer then that Housing Activists Are Setting Up a Tent City in Vancouver.

Just don’t forget about the middle class: Opinion: Feds must build public housing for middle income earners.

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.