Here is a new quote form the DSHP thanks to a conversation Carol Romanow and I just had:
Inspire and help network / organise each autonomous community to “think outside the box” and co create Social Housing in the diverse ways communities like Super InTent City are now envisioning, and use a version of the Clubhouse Model in at least one project as a way to address affordable housing and chronic poverty in the Capital Region of British Columbia. We encourage Organisations/Groups/Church’s/Anarchist Communities/Individual Homeowners to sponsor a Mini Tent City, like in Eugene, only adapt it to your area/city/village/town. Once a community, like VANDU is currently doing in the DTES at 48 West Hastings, to repeat, once an established organisation sponsors a Mini Tent City, that tent city can be supported to create a residents council, begin to go thru process of creating policy for their building or micro house village. Create a residents only board with committees of support chosen by them. Each community has a starting point and most organisations church groups can easily support a mini tent city of 20 tents. I am proud of VANDU’s support of the larger group they have taken on in the DTES, I respect their groundbreaking work in this movement.
In 2008, Gregor Robertson built his successful mayoral campaign around the tragicdeath of Darrel Mikasko, a homeless man who burned to death trying to keep warm after being turned away from a Kitsilano shelter. But while Gregor was campaigning on a soon-broken promise, low income people in the Downtown Eastside were actively fighting against a new threat of displacement posed by Concord Pacific – this time on a property down the street from Woodward’s. The address was 58 W Hastings, evicted and demolished (“demovicted”) by Concord Pacific that same year.
The empty lot soon became the long-term focus of a demand for social housing in the Downtown Eastside. The lot at 58 W Hastings has been at the heart of numerous campaigns since 2008, including the Downtown Eastside Neighborhood Council’s “Ten Sites” campaign, and more recently the Our Homes Can’t Waitcampaign. During the 2010 Winter Olympics the property was also occupied by theOlympic Tent City. Now, almost ten years later, the battle over 58 W Hastings continues. Homelessness and community resistance have now culminated this month in a second tent city at 58 West Hastings.
The tent city erected since Saturday, July 9th – one part direct-action and one part emergency survival – is a critical response to a homeless count and homeless deaths that continue to grow as Gregor Robertson’s expired promise of ending the homelessness crisis fades into the distance. As rents continue to rise in SRO hotels, and with record-high homelessness numbers, the time is now to mobilize around social, affordable and welfare-rate housing at 58 W Hastings.
Greenwich Village plans for the Downtown Eastside
“With the pride of ownership comes a commitment to neighbourhood stewardship that leads to cleaner and safer streets. This is all part of making the Downtown Eastside neighbourhood a more real neighbourhood.”
–Bob Ransford on “Greenwich Village” plans in 2008
For the past decade most people have known 58 W Hastings as an empty lot, with the recent exception of a community garden managed by the Portland Hotel Society. But the address across from Save On Meats once housed music studios, a popular pawn shop, and Field’s discount store before being demolished in 2008 to make way for market housing. Local area resident and housing organizer Wendy Pedersen recalls how fast the buildings came down. “It just kind of happened overnight.”
“Somebody knocked down all the stores, then it was capped and sealed and surrounded by a chain-link fence, and almost immediately a development permit sign went up that read, ‘This project has been approved by the director of planning.’” Later it would be revealed that Concord Pacific was behind the proposal. Titled “Greenwich” after the village in NYC, the City did not view Concord Pacific’s project as a major development because it was deemed to fit within the existing zoning limits and as such did not require additional community consultation.
DTES community residents and the Carnegie Community Action Project were quick to mobilize against the proposed plans for 58 W Hastings Street. In the summer of 2008, CCAP attempted to pay Terry Hui of Concord Pacific several visits to dissuade him from moving forward with the plan to build “swanky condos.” On June 13, 2008, they arrived at his office bearing gifts which included a jar of bedbugs and a giant card, asking Mr. Hui to reconsider the development and instead invest in social housing and name the project after Darrel Mikasko. Each time, the Downtown Eastside residents were denied entry and their requests to meet with Mr. Hui were refused. But the events would launch a decade of struggle around the future of 58 W Hastings.
“Death of The Community”: From Permit Board to Street Theatre
In June organizers moved their efforts to City Hall. On June 23rd, 2008, with 201 letters of support in tow, over 40 activists and residents crowded the Development Permit Board hearing to voice their concerns about Concord Pacific’s proposed 154-condo project. Despite the overwhelming opposition and concern about the proposal, City housing planner Jill Davidson assured the Development Permit Board that the city’s policy of replacing each lost SRO unit with a unit of “social housing” was being met.
In the end the Development Permit Board approved the Concord Pacific plans for the site, with two small considerations in response to the opposition: 1) Request that Concord Pacific work with CCAP staff to educate and inform purchasers of the goal of supporting and retaining low-income housing, 2) Concord and city staff should continue to “consult” with the DTES community prior to the release of the permit. These were considerations, however, not requirements. “We lost at the development permit board hearing,” said Pedersen at the time. But she vowed to keep fighting: “We’re resolute that we want 100 per cent social housing on that site.”
On July 5th, 2008, a mock funeral procession was held in response to the decision at City Hall’s development permit board. The community gathered at Pigeon Park and made their way down to 58 W Hastings, and then finally ending at Concord Pacific’s showroom on North False Creek. Throughout the procession they carried tombstones representing hotels that had already been lost to market development and gentrification.
During the march, Dave Diewert of Streams of Justice performed a piece of street theatre that drew parallels between colonization and gentrification, with developers descending on the Downtown Eastside like neo-colonizers. “Today we have new explorers; they are the large real estate developers who are invading the community of the Downtown Eastside in order to appropriate the land and acquire for themselves great wealth.” The analysis was an accessible way of understanding both historical and structural oppression and repeated displacement on Unceded Coast Salish territory.
Olympic Tent City at 58 W Hastings: “No Olympics on Stolen Native Land”
In 2008 the global financial crisis put a pause on developments underway across Vancouver, including Concord’s 154 units of condos at 58 W Hastings. Before and during the 2010 Winter Games, Olympics planners (“VANOC”) arranged to use the empty Hastings Street lot as a parking and storage space for trucks and Olympics-related equipment. But the community had different plans, and by early February the pieces were in place for a radical alternative at 58 W Hastings that would last throughout the Games.
On Feb 15, 2010, a coalition of groups organized a rally and march under the banner, “No More Empty Talk, No More Empty Lots: Homes Now!” Hundreds of DTES residents and supporters marched through the streets until eventually arriving at 58 West Hastings, where they quickly occupied the site. Organizer Harsha Walia remembers the first hours of the occupation:
Based on a call for supporters to defend the site for the first 24-72 hours, the first night brought out hundreds, including DTES residents and homeless people. Over 80 tents – supplied with tarps, sleeping bags and blankets – popped up within a few hours. Dozens of banners and flags adorned the chain link fences, a sacred fire with sweetgrass and sage was lit by Indigenous Elders…
The Olympic Tent Village was a vibrant site of resistance and popular power, guided by the key role of the Power of Women Group that lasted the entire duration of the games. As Jule Boykoff recalls in his book on Olympics resistance in London and Vancouver, “campaigners descended on 58 W Hastings Street where they took control of the space owned by bête-noire developer Concord Pacific, permit in hand to develop a nest of high-priced condominiums on the plot…In what become known as the Olympic Tent Village, activists didn’t just seize space, they produced it.”
Sympathy across the city surged, building on the nearly 100 groups who endorsed the opening action. But since the erection of the very first tent, the City of Vancouver exerted continued legal pressure as well as police infiltration at the site. In late February the local government escalated its opposition and issued an official eviction notice. While the community was ultimately unable to stand up to police repression, the tent city highlighted the power of self-organized resistance and pointed to the glaring contradictions of a city built on capitalism and land theft. It has also been characterized as a “win” because a short-term demand of the action was met – to house all homeless residents living on the site.
Post-Olympic Years and Today
In 2011, Vision Vancouver freed Concord Pacific from its legal obligation to provide social housing in their planned high-rise condo developments along False Creek. Municipal inclusionary zoning laws require that developers build 20% social housing into all “large developments.” If followed (inclusionary zoning is often ignored in Vancouver), Concord would have been forced to build hundreds of units of social housing. It should be recalled that during this period, social housing was still a real thing – it would still be another few years before Vision’s city council voted to gut the definition.
Instead of enforcing its inclusionary zoning law in 2011, the City decided to grant the developer a special way out through a land swap involving the exchange of 58 W Hastings and another site at 117 E Hastings. Once in city-owned hands, these sites could in theory be used for social and affordable housing – a possible win for the community after years of struggle. But so far no substantive plans for social housing have been laid. In the interim, the Portland Hotel Society has been allowed to run the site, erecting a community garden in 2012 and using the space for much-needed community programing, festivities, and ceremonies.
During the post-Olympic years the downtown eastside community continued to pressure for affordable and social housing at the symbolic site. From 2011-2012 the Downtown Eastside Neighborhood Council organized its “Ten Sites” campaign, citing 58 W Hastings as one its key properties. More recently the Our Homes Can’t Wait campaign has again pushed for housing on the site. In May of this year they organized a “paint in” at 58 W Hastings to demand 100% social housing at ten sites in the Downtown Eastside including 58 W Hastings, measures to improve and save SRO hotels as well as rent control.
Seizing the Moment
Today’s encampment at 58 W hastings builds on the momentum of resistance across BC, with ongoing tent cities in Victoria, Abbostford, Maple Ridge and elsewhere. The tent city was also launched as part of a national day of action coinciding with a tent city in Kitchener and housing actions across Canada. But most importantly, as the residents of the tent city prepare to meeting the Mayor next week, today’s action at 58 W Hastings builds on a history of organizing at the site itself. It is the latest chapter in a principled and sustained campaign for housing justice.
Last summer the City announced 58 West as the home of one of the Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency’s (VAHA) seven sites of “affordable housing.” Thepreliminary plans indicate that only 15% of units will rent at shelter rate, despite record high homeless counts and an unprecedented loss of SRO rooms in the Downtown Eastside. If these plans are allowed to go through, the overall effect – like Woodward’s – will be displacement and a continued overall loss of affordable housing.
For years the community has insisted on the importance of protecting 58 W Hastings, pointing to the overall affordability failures of the Woodward’s modellooming at the end of the block. They have argued that, with or without Harper, Trudeau and Christy Clark, the city can and must protect affordable sites and set aside land for non-market housing. Now it is time for the city to stop deflecting full responsibility onto other levels of government and onto vague economic forces outside its control. It is time to honour the community’s unified demands for housing at 58 West Hastings.
Special thanks to Wendy Pedersen
 Jules Boykoff, Activism and the Olympics: Dissent at the Games in Vancouver and London (New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2014) p. 77
Its the Tuesday before welfare day for thousands of people in BC.
Including me and many of my friends and community.
You will begin to hear police sirens like clock work soon, it happens every month, the poor like angry hungry mobs more and more, having to do the run around, VICPD left to deal, only the bullies enjoy stalking and criminalizing and recriminilizing the poor…
This scene to me is as wild as Clock Work Orange the movie…only its better than this cause its a movie.
Please be compassionate, I beg of you. Ask your ancestors or your God to help you “feel the love”.
Especially this month when the Neo Liberal’s Government got their way and Rich Coleman forced a hand, made PHS come to town and, I guess SOMETHING ahd to make this town change/shift… and here we go, Super InTent City will be taken down.
I wonder how the VICPD are going to handle this? Hmmm? I’d suggest that the new staff be brought up to speed as to legalities re: police and warrants etc.
Like the one about how VICPD need one to enter a persons home!
As a reminder: Lisa Helps was the one politician who came down early on and as soon as she was invited , and even returned many times. She heard from folks directly and asked Don Evans from Our Place and let every other service provider attached to SIC to please listen.
Not all the residents have been hard, many have even had housed folks attack them from within the site, at the same time they were heavily attacked as Rich Coleman pushed and the VICPD responded with way too much support from Ben Isitt, if you ask me.
I know from months of meetings that at least two groups or more did steps and formed a society in hopes of acquiring land and forming an “eko village” style micro housing village with a small tent city beside it and help transition folks out of THEIR OWN community into housing when they were ready and wanting it for what ever reasons.
Yet, Rich Coleman, not unlike local Lkwungen Nation, did nothing to help these homeless residents, many are first nations, all “Canadians” on stolen native land. I met a few from the island and beyond, some had family members coming and going checking in, often poor themselves…often wondering how will we hang onto our housing?
This song I am sharing a link to, it was shared to me by a Quaker Youth named Sam. I met Sam thru my then partners sister Vanessa. It brings tears to my eyes just writing her name. She died of a form of Leukemia at the age of 18yrs. I still cannot write about it, and thats ok.
However, I needed to share that introduction in order to righteously introduce this song, it speaks volumes and is kind of Tonglin really….:
Some 7 or 8 months ago Mayor Read and Council approved an expenditure of $75,000.00 of municipal tax money for a independent study of “delivery of social services in Maple Ridge”. At the time it was promised it would be made public. Has anyone seen or heard anything about this since? Or are we being bamboozled again…
What an opportunistic “vote seeking” thing to say Ben Isitt! I can honestly say I called this months ago …
I am completely disappointed in you:
“The police presence in and around the homeless camp on the Victoria courthouse lawn has proven that with proper checks in place, tent cities can work, says Coun. Ben Isitt”.
Hey Guy who ONLY WENT DOWN TO Super InTent City TO DO YOUR OWN THING: The Police Presence shift after you and others decided to go for vote in May, that is why SIC did not work! What is wrong with you? I have to say, I swear even Lisa Helps might get more VICPD votes than you next time round?
What are you thinking? We ARE in new days, old patriarchal hierarchal power over ways are going going gone! Even Police more and more want OUT of the sick fear monger inequitable system!
More Main Stream Media Krap:
“While there was initial reluctance and apprehension on the part of tent city residents to the police presence, that changed as they came to understand the police were there to support them and help in their search for housing”
OMFGawd! I wonder who that came from? Pffft!
This is but one example of Soft Management by Housed Supporters/Residents Taking on self defined leadership roles! Where I come from you earn that! Nothing ABout Us Without Us!
Gawd I cannot stand Divide and Ruled!
Running alongside this story on web is a grouping of related stories in Main Stream Media who prints what ever VICPD tell them to print:
Now if that is not a VICPD hand crafted list of stories for Main Stream Media, I am not sure what is? Sick stigma that ought to be illegal to print!
Anyways, to go on…below article states:
“In recent weeks, officers have performed CPR in overdose cases, apprehended people with outstanding warrants, made drug arrests, intervened in fights and prevented assaults, Manak said.”
This is unbelievable and the use of these stats are a stretch. Many of us know that at least 50 lives been saved in SIC since it opened, that is an underestimate as well.
Many in the field of harm reduction would say that other users are best help in an overdose situation.
Also: “Young said tent cities by their very nature “create problems that are difficult to address” and reallocating funds to temporary shelters or permanent housing is a better use of resources. “The word gets out and sometimes it’s not the correct word. The word is: ‘This is a sanctuary. This is where crimes can be committed without any chance of police intervention. This is a free for all where people can come’ — and I think the problems are obvious.”
So, Mr. Young, you are not reading your facts! There are Mostly No permanent or affordable housing being built, pretty much! Neo Liberals are more about Rent Subsidies for their middle class supporters and their lifestyles. The solution to poverty is not to fund temporary shelters AND:
that we still criminilise the person who uses a particular pain relieving substance this earth gave us all for pain and thus making their lives miserable and then blaming the drugs is sick backwards criminilising of people.
Hello! Leave politics or get re-inspired! Both of you!
Coun. Ben Isitt’s takeaway from tent city: It can work
BILL CLEVERLEY / TIMES COLONIST
JULY 22, 2016 06:00 AM
Tent city, on the grounds of the Victoria courthouse. June 2016. Photograph By DARREN STONE, Times Colonist
The police presence in and around the homeless camp on the Victoria courthouse lawn has proven that with proper checks in place, tent cities can work, says Coun. Ben Isitt.
“The lesson we have to take from this is that there is a way to manage outdoor sheltering that is safe — safe for the people sleeping there and safe for the broader community,” Isitt told council on Thursday.
But Isitt was quickly countered by Coun. Geoff Young, who said additional policing costs alone — which he said could amount to $1 million a year for a small pocket of the city — are not sustainable.
“I know [Isitt] started off with the view that a tent city could be managed, but I find it difficult to conceive how he can still hold that view after what we’ve seen,” Young said.
“If we spent $1 million of our police budget on one tiny neighbourhood of half a square block and we manage to achieve some semblance of civilization, to me that is not a sustainable model.”
Both were responding to an update given councillors by acting police chief Del Manak regarding dedicated police enforcement in and around the tent city.
The Victoria Police Department put extra foot patrols in the neighbourhood around tent city beginning May 21 after council approved additional funding of $113,000. Beginning in June, officers were stationed for 12 hours a day within the camp itself.
About $50,400 of the $113,000 budget has been spent on the neighbourhood patrol. It has cost about $90,000 for the officers in the encampment. Manak is trying to recover policing costs within the encampment from the province, which has ownership of the courthouse property.
Manak said both initiatives have been successful.
While there was initial reluctance and apprehension on the part of tent city residents to the police presence, that changed as they came to understand the police were there to support them and help in their search for housing.
In recent weeks, officers have performed CPR in overdose cases, apprehended people with outstanding warrants, made drug arrests, intervened in fights and prevented assaults, Manak said.
He also said known gang members who were living at the tent city have also left.
“At the end of the day, it’s been very proactive and very, very positive,” Manak said. “Having the officers on site and in the surrounding community has had a significant impact in bringing a sense of calm and safety, and also a bit of a code of conduct for how behaviour is occurring in tent city and the surrounding neighbourhood.”
Isitt said had the city implemented the management model now in place — with extra policing — many problems associated with tent city would not have materialized.
“I think we would have seen much less impacts on the neighbourhood, much more safety for the people residing there and probably a more orderly transition to housing.”
Young said tent cities by their very nature “create problems that are difficult to address” and reallocating funds to temporary shelters or permanent housing is a better use of resources.
“The word gets out and sometimes it’s not the correct word. The word is: ‘This is a sanctuary. This is where crimes can be committed without any chance of police intervention. This is a free for all where people can come’ — and I think the problems are obvious.”
I met for a second time with Mayor Lisa Helps and for the first time with Acting Police Chief Del Manak in regards to very serious concerns regarding the human rights issue of the use of Red Zones in the control of some Canadian Citizens. This relates to bylaw ticketing which can turn into warrants and further into Red Zoning restrictions.
I went over most of this list below with Lisa Helps and Del Manak today, I emailed the list to them as Deputy Chief Manak will be doing follow up with us come September, we are in process of booking that now.
Boma Brown from VIPIRG, Vancouver Island Public Interest Research Group attended both meetings and we will be making a time to meet again sometime in September for follow up and begin to get VICPD’s feedback to the below questions.
Deputy Chief and I both seemed to agree that officers ought to NOT be dealing with certain social situations that myself and many other citizens beleive we as community are perfectly capable of dealing with without police presence.
He spoke of being open to hearing from folks who were Red Zoned or ones where it was attempted and the person did not accept one.
Many beleive Red Zones are a human rights issue and we need to pay attention. Red Zoning Practices speak to social profiling specifically around class and race. Its a big issue most are not wanting to deal with directly. Red Zoning is used against the homeless pretty much in all cases. Social profiling based on class stature occurs daily in Victoria and its getting worse.
It is occurring.
Here are some questions I put together with the help of many across Canada regarding Red Zoning Practice, in this case specifically by VICPD.
I pulled these questions from a lot of other people’s work including in Toronto and Vancouver, we at the CTEHV also inspired a Police Conduct Study which VIPIRG took on and many were a part of including homeless folks. I drew from a lot of other people’s work in my personal research over this past few years on red zoning concerns.
What is your officers’ involvement in imposing, advocating for and policing “red zones”?
How many people are red zoned out of areas where there are shelters, free food, harm reduction equipment every year? (Pandora, Johnson, etc…)
How many times a year does those red zones result in people being arrested or having charges recommended for breach of their conditions?
How does your leadership ensure that red zones are not recommended, imposed or enforced in a way that prohibits people from accessing the necessities of life such as shelter, food, and community?
What is the statistical breakdown between people who are red zoned (from entire areas – not just one address) who have no fixed address as opposed to people who have housing?
The impression exists that it is mostly people living in poverty and engaging in criminal activity to meet their basic human needs or to feed an addiction who are subject to red zones. Has the police force ever correlated red zoning to income of those subjected to them? How is the police force ensuring that they are not socially profiling and over criminalizing people based on poverty?
It seems that red zones don’t stop people from needing shelter, food, services – just like abstinence conditions don’t stop people from having addictions – how do police ensure that they are not forcing people (through their enforcement of red zones) to shelter, use drugs, etc in more remote/dangerous locations or share injection equipment if red zoned away from harm reduction services?
Do your officers engage in stop-and-checks of peoples ID to assess whether they may be in breach of conditions? (These would be stops that aren’t based on reasonable probable grounds that someone committed a crime, they are usuallypitched as officers asking if people will ‘voluntarily’ show their ID, many people are unaware of their rights in these situations).
I asked for a photo and we kind of went thru a series before we laughed out loud, I decided to show them all, in the end, we are all human and laugh. I see this as a good sign of change to come.
Here is Will to talk about his Red Zoning:
Here is June 8th Illegal Search of Tent City, VICPD was seeking a dead body / injured body, they still have not found it.
From LEAC member guest Rob Robinson out of New York: He is tall man second from left.
7:08 AM (10 hours ago)
Good morning all,
I wanted to share a recent interview (Thu 7-14) I did with Rick Wolff’s Economic Update show. Economic Update is heard on over 60 radio stations around the US,
shown on public access stations like Manhattan Neighborhood Network and posted to 300,000 readers in Truthout. Based on the events of this weekend, the interview and it’s content seems to be spot on. This country is in need of some serious changes and not Donald Trump’s vision of change.