Friday, November 11, 2011

From tent city to the Village?

Occupy Vancouver's next rally, on Nov. 12 at 1:30 p.m., is a pro-housing march after a noontime speech by University of British Columbia Urban Studies chair Elvin Wyly on "the Vancouver housing shortage (and) overpriced condos" and a 1 p.m. speech by Neighbourhoods for a Sustainable Vancouver mayoralty candidate and City Hall Watch-er Randy Helten on how campaign finance and corporate influence have tainted city hall.

Where will that pro-housing march go?

The Occupy Vancouver website doesn't show the route, but I'm going to guess: could this be the day that Occupy Vancouver meets the Olympic Village?

The Olympic Village, which went into receivership on Nov. 17, 2010, is now known as the Village on False Creek and remains the most controversial luxury housing development in Canada. The Olympic Village's lender once was a division of Fortress Investment Group, the debt-laden, Wall Street hedge fund that, through a subsidiary, foreclosed on victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

According to the fifth point of a six-point motion passed at the Nov. 10 general assembly (see below), Occupy Vancouver members would like to move to the Village, into the portion of units that were originally to be set aside as non-market, social housing. The inventory of 252 was halved when Vision Vancouver decided to give unionized first responders, teachers and nurses first dibs. Residents of the other half of the so-called affordable units have been burdened by a confusing and costly utilities regime run by a company with ties to Vision Vancouver.

In 2008, a different OV -- the Olympic Village -- changed the course of Vancouver politics and enabled Vision Vancouver to win election to Cambie and 12th.

It can be argued that Occupy Vancouver, though leaderless, has become the dominant force of the Nov. 19, 2011 civic election, dictating how both Vision Vancouver and the NPA have campaigned.

If Occupy Vancouver visits the Olympic Village, will that cause Vancouverites to ask more questions about the billion-dollar bailout, such as how much it's really costing taxpayers and could the money have been better spent on housing the homeless?

Passed by General Assembly, Nov 10, 2011

That if BC Housing, Judy Graves, or any representative of any housing
agencies come to Occupy Vancouver to offer housing options to those on
site, that members of this tent city collectively, and in solidarity
with one another and the movement, negotiate as a block for housing
with the following, or other, stipulations.

1) That those receiving housing from the tent city at occupy Vancouver
be housed in the same vicinity as each other, and ideally, the same
building, to maintain the vital community that has grown here, and
continue the movement in accessible, local, social space.
2) That those housed continue to maintain collective bargaining rights
in dealing with building managers and non-profit housing providers
regarding tenancy rights issues once housing has been provided. This
is to ensure adequate and appropriate housing options for those with
families, pets, or other ‘barriers,’ and to avoid slumlords,
infestations, and restrictive conditions preventing guests.
3) That BC Housing or some other entity provide daily transportation
funds or provide a shuttle bus between the new housing and the
Vancouver Art Gallery, to ensure accessibility within the Occupy
Vancouver movement.
4) That the encampment at the Vancouver Art Gallery continue, in order
to, amongst other things, allow those who have not yet been provided
permanent housing an interim safe, warm, and dry space to sleep and to
connect with housing agencies to secure housing.
5) That this housing be at the site of the promised, but lost, social
and affordable housing at the Olympic Village.

6) Before a final decision is reached, it would be brought to the
General Assembly for approval.

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