Housing is a Right, Not a Commodity!

November 12, 2011

On Saturday November 12th we will get back in the streets. Banking and housing deeply effect us in Canada, but this is nowhere more true than in Vancouver. Every day, renters are evicted and existing housing is demolished in order to keep prices high for the real-estate industry and the Big Five banks that finance them.

As we saw with subprime mortgages in the United States, housing finance targets poor, low-income and working people who can no longer subsidize the housing bubble. As the Bank of Canada states, Vancouver is “ground zero” of the housing bubble[1], while inequality is etched onto the landscape of the city. Day after day, gentrification in Vancouver is like another subprime mortgage crisis, but instead of targeting individuals it targets entire neighborhoods: areas with the largest stock of desperately-needed affordable housing are being callously bought up because they yield the highest margins of profit for developers.

Development and banking are the only monopoly industries in Canada that yield a 25% profit rate. In order to understand how the 1% reproduces themselves in Vancouver, we will march to key Downtown sites of Vancouver’s housing/finance complex. Locations will include: sites where social housing was promised but never built, headquarters of Vancouver’s largest developers and marketers, and historical and architectural sites important to the housing movement in Vancouver. On Saturday we will continue the class struggle for housing. RUN ON THE DEVELOPERS!

[1] Jeremy Torobin and David Ebner, “Carney warns on housing markets,” Globe and Mail, June 15, 2011


Why Do We Need Another Housing Rally?

•We live on unceded Coast Salish Territory, where a disproportionate rate First Nations are homeless on their own land
•A condo boom that won’t stop spreading
•City-wide displacement of the poor
•Loss of vital community and social space
•City sold off on a global market
•Rising cost of living, declining wages and benefits
•Closing of much needed shelters
•Rising rents, homelessness, and joblessness
•Tax breaks for gentrifiers, no breaks for the poor
•Record developer contributions to city politicians
•2000: Brutality and co-optation at Woodwards
•2009: Destroyed family housing at Little Mountain
•2010: Broken housing promises at the Olympic Village
•2011: Condos pushed through in the DTES/Chinatown

Join Us! For a history and tour of Vancouver’s housing struggle, by grassroots groups offering solutions and building community in a system in crisis!


Endorsed by Occupy Vancouver, Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood Council, Power of Women, and the Purple Thistle.

To have your name added to this list email directactionov@googlegroups.com

One Year Anniversary of the Sell Off of Social Housing at Olympic Village!

May 23, 2011


VANCOUVER, Unceded Coast Salish TerritorySUNDAY, MAY 15th at 11AM– Join us for the One Year Anniversary of the Sell-Off of Social Housing Units at the Olympic Village, hosted by the City of Vancouver and Rennie Marketing Systems! May 15th, 2010, marks the City and Millennium Water’s first unsuccessful attempt to launch their doomed sales campaign. This campaign attempted to sell off nearly 800 units of committed social housing as condos. After a year of poor sales, negative feedback from homeowners and increasing pressure from the public to reinstate social housing, the City of Vancouver and Rennie Marketing have announced a new sales strategy!

Mayor Gregor Robertson, Penny Balem, Christy Clark & Rennie Marketing Systems invite you to join us for a special one year celebration of the Sell-Off of Social Housing Units at the Olympic Village!

Given the original plans included a commitment to develop 2/3rds affordable housing at Olympic Village…

Given that despite these promises, a reversible decision was made to sell those units off as condos…

Given the Olympics have made Vancouver the most rapidly gentrifying and unaffordable city in the world…

Given that most affordable SROs are substandard, and include persistent bedbug, rat and cockroach infestations…

Given that 62 condo owners are filing a lawsuit against the developer and City for their not-so-luxury Olympic Village units…

Given that these luxury condos are still in better condition than most of the affordable housing stock that over 14,000 low income families and individuals are waiting for…

…On MAY 15th, 2011 we open the doors, and mark this one year anniversary as a new day in the history of the Olympic Village!

Find out more about our exciting plans for the Athletes Village! Come celebrate the launch of our new strategy for Affordable Housing at the Olympic Village. Join us for an official ribbon cutting ceremony, and a very belated passing over of keys to those promised social housing units.

Speeches by Gregor Robertson, Penny Balem, Christy Clark and Bob Rennie, along with Current Condo Owners and New Renters. Press Conference with above speakers followed by questions and answers will be held at 11am Sunday, May 15th outside the SEFC Sales Centre at 1693 Manitoba!




Sales Picket at the Olympic Village Sell-off

March 4, 2011

Attention all Press:


Saturday, March 5, Noon | Olympic Village Sales Centre


On Saturday, February 26, 2011, housing activists, low-income residents, homeless, and allies, attempted to establish a tent city at the site of Vancouver’s largest social housing sell-off, the Olympic Village. The action was organized in order to pressure the City to deliver the affordable ‘Housing Legacy’ promised to Vancouver in the lead-up to the 2010 Olympics. The rush on the part of the city and police to suppress our right to gather in public space is telling, given the seriousness of our demands: a return to the original promise of 66% (roughly 800 units) social and affordable housing at the Olympic Village, an end to the criminalization of poverty, and a concrete plan to purchase the 10 sites designated by the community for housing in the Downtown Eastside.

Throughout the day on February 26, public space was repeatedly declared off-limits. After being evicted twice – first from the public park in the Olympic Village plaza, secondly from the park directly south of the Olympic Village, and then being denied access to the public community centre – tenters then reclaimed the only space left: the interior of a vacant retail space once slated for the high-end Urban Fare. Police responded by arresting eleven people inside. Despite their show of force, police overreaction has only galvanized the community. The housing crisis is felt by all people in the city as living costs outpace our incomes and homelessness continues to grow. We demand that the state respond to the housing crisis not by escalating its police operations, but by taking actions that empower people through member-controlled, affordable housing.

This Saturday, March 5, the community will return to the site of the social housing sell-off at the Olympic Village. We will establish a picket-line at the Olympic Village sales centre, asking that citizens of conscience refuse to purchase the ‘broken promise’ units. We will also present a cheque for $400m, as requested by City Councilor Suzanne Anton, drawn from the City’s $3b Property Endowment Fund. The money will help accomplish housing promises by immediately providing affordable housing to the poor and working class people who work for the rich day by day. The City has bailed out billionaire Millennium and has mismanaged the project by failing to reclaim their loan, either in cash or from Millennium’s assets. It is not and never has been the taxpayers’ responsibility to pay out-of-pocket for this whole project. In spite of the Mayor’s rhetoric of “empty drawers,” the City of Vancouver has sources of revenue for promised housing, including basic revenue lost from hosting a global tax haven. Vancouver has the lowest corporate taxes in the world. Enough is enough. Yesterday was too late – Reclaim Housing now!


Olympic | Village | Tent | City

February 17, 2011

‘Rally for Housing, Take Back our Village’ | Saturday Feb 26, 12pm Noon | Meet at Pantages Theatre (Main and Hastings), march to Olympic Village

In the midst of a housing shortage and affordability crisis, community groups are redoubling efforts to secure the promised affordable units at the Olympic Village. The 2005 SEFC Official Development Plan promised that 66% of the units would be affordable. Today that number has been reduced to less than 10% while a majority of the promised units remain empty, awaiting to be sold. 

In the lead-up to February 2011, the one-year anniversary of the Olympic Tent Village established at 58 West Hastings, our campaign will work to attain a moratorium on the sale of the promised units by use of petitioning, letter-writing, condo boycott campaign, squats, and other strategies.

On February 26th, community groups will establish a Tent City at the Athletes’ Village under a general call to “Reclaim Housing.”  In the second week of the tent city, if the sell-off of promised units continues, residents of the tent village may expand the direct-action by occupying the empty units and/or City Hall.

download poster PDF


February 17, 2011

A Rally with all our neighbours and allies to support the 10 Sites Campaign and the Olympic Village Tent City!
Stop the Sell-off!
Reclaim Housing!
Not One More Condo!

WHEN: Saturday, FEBRUARY 26th 2011, NOON
WHERE: Start at Pantages Theatre, 152 E. Hastings (South West corner of Main and Hastings), Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, Coast Salish Territory.
Organized by: Tent City Council
Endorsed by: Van.act, Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood Council, Transformative Communities Project Society

*Support the 10-Sites Campaign to secure 10 sites in the DTES for resident-controlled social housing before the municipal elections of 2011.*
*Support the reclamation of housing at the Olympic Village by protesting the sell-off and establishing the Olympic Village Tent City.*

We Demand:
1. Resident-controlled 100% social housing for ALL unsold units at the Olympic Village.
2. The purchase of a minimum 10 sites per year in the Downtown Eastside, and the creation of resident controlled 100% social housing on all those sites.
3. An END to the criminalization of poverty by immediately abolishing Project Civil City, overturning anti-street vending by-laws and all anti-poor discriminatory legislation and by raising welfare rates.

All over the city, residents are being pushed out of their neighborhoods, whether it be the West End, Mount Pleasant, or Chinatown/Downtown Eastside. People are being forced into poverty as Vancouver becomes one of the most unaffordable places in the world. Others are being pushed out the bottom and onto the streets. Homelessness in Vancouver has tripled in less than a decade while the City responds by hiring more police and criminalizing the poor.

The rising costs of housing, the lack of social housing, accelerated gentrification, and years of aggressive cuts to public services have created a crisis in Vancouver and across British Columbia. At the same time, Downtown Eastside properties are under intense speculation from uncontrolled development and the city has not taken action to buy property for member-run social housing. Condos are outpacing social housing development in the DTES at a rate of 3:1 between 2005 and 2011 and no social housing is planned for the DTES after 2013.

Meanwhile, the affordable housing component of the Athletes Village has been reduced from a planned and promised 66% to less than 10%. The units promised to the poor and working poor remain empty and unsellable, but the city refuses to allow anyone but the richest to call them home. On February 17th, Bob Rennie and the City relaunched their condo sales campaign at the Olympic Village for the third time, trying to offload promised social housing in a bid to sell “60 condos in 60 days.” The Take Back our Village Rally will protest the social housing sell-off and launch the upcoming Feb 26 tent city, a direct action to reclaim the site.

The Rally will begin at Pantages Theatre, which has stood empty for years while investor owners allowed it to decay. Investors now plan to build a massive condo development at the site, a gentrification bomb in Heart of the Downtown Eastside community. The 10 Sites Campaign will fight to secure land for much need social housing in the neighbourhood.

Contact information:
Email: tentcity2011@gmail.com
Phone: 604 700 2309
For a backgrounder on housing at the athletes village see: http://falsecreekpromises.wordpress.com
Facebook: join us at ‘Olympic Villlage Tent City, Feb 2011’ and ‘Take Back our Village’

Pancakes for All, Homes for All!

December 19, 2010

Pancakes for All, Homes for All: Launch for Tent City February 2011

Sunday December 19, 2010, Olympic Village/Millenium Water

85 West 1st AVE (Olympic Village Plaza, North side of the Salt Building)


December 17, 2010, Vancouver – On Sunday, December 19th, community groups, residents and allies will be serving a free pancake breakfast at the Olympic Village. The event will be a community gathering and a launch for the upcoming Olympic Village Tent City, February 2011.

Free pancakes will be served in the wake of repeated broken housing promises by all levels of government. According to organizer Lena McFarlane: “As the housing crisis only gets worse and more and more people are homeless each day, it is crucial that we come together as a community to highlight these broken promises and to demand action. At this Sunday’s pancake breakfast, grassroots community groups, friends and allies will come together to kickoff our 2011 campaign to demand action on social housing and an end to the gentrification of our communities, both at this site and in the Downtown Eastside.”

Tristan Markle, another organizer with Vancouver Action, states: “We’ve been waiting for too long to see action taken on housing. There is an affordability crisis in Vancouver, the shelters are shamefully overflowing, and the Mayor wants to sell low-income homes to the rich? I don’t think so. We have been fighting Olympic displacement since the beginning and we will not stop now. The Olympics are not over because the Olympic housing commitments remain unfulfilled. The time has come to rationally address the negative impact of the Olympics on the poor and working poor, and to reclaim the Village once and for all. You might call it the Olympic reckoning…with free pancakes!”


Media Contact

Tristan Markle: 778 836 9877




The Olympic Village is today a ghost town with hundreds of empty units waiting to be sold on the real-estate market. More than a hundred of those were purpose-built in order to house those who need it the most, while hundreds more were promised as low-income housing in the project’s Official Development Plan (ODP).

The amount of people living without housing has increased drastically over the past decade, and the number continues to rise with every new development. Vancouver residents are being pushed out onto the street by rising housing costs, lack of social housing, and accelerated gentrification.

In April 2010, the social housing component of the Olympic Village was handed over to the real-estate market. The original 1/3rd affordable non-market housing was cut to merely 10%, while the original promise of 1/3rd “deep core” low-income units has dwindled to a token amount, if not nothing. These changes represent Mayor Gregor Robertson and Vision Vancouver’s specific broken promises at the Olympic Village, but also their overall failure to follow through on the “End Homelessness” campaign that got them elected.

In February 2011, community groups, residents and allies will be hosting a Tent City at the Olympic Village. The Olympic Village Tent City is a citywide mobilization to take back the promised units of housing at the Olympic Village, with the following demands:

1) Implement original commitment of 2/3rds affordable housing, half of which is low-income. Place a moratorium on the market-sale of all promised affordable units.

2) Stop criminalizing the poor: scrap Project Civil City laws, increased policing, and discriminatory ticketing policies.

3) Stop facilitating luxury condo construction, real estate speculation, and gentrification. Follow through on community recommendation for the city to secure 10 sites for social housing in the downtown eastside before the next election.

RIGHT TO THE CITY | A Conference

November 2, 2010

DAY 1:
Fri Nov 5, 2010, 7pm-9:30pm
@ VIVO Media Arts Centre, 1965 Main St.

DAY 2:
Sat Nov 6, 2010, 9:30am-5pm
@ Creekside Community Centre (Olympic Village), 1 Athlete’s Way

Vancouver is one of the most unaffordable cities in the world. Its low-income housing and non-luxury architecture are pressured by ever-heightening gentrification, causing displacement and a homelessness crisis that grows each year. Right to the City is a two-day conference hosted by VANACT in East Vancouver, Coast Salish territory, where residents, organizers, academics, and others will assemble to discuss the causes and impacts of gentrification, and to identify strategies and collaborations across the city to halt gentrification, promote community control and establish a Right to the City.


DAY 1:
Friday Nov 5 @ VIVO, 1965 Main St.

Introduction – ‘Right to the City’
Elders’ welcome
Poetry by Bud Osborn, Cynthia Oka, and Jeff Derksen

Keynote Address, Gentrification: Global & Local
‘The Gentrification of Capital,’ Elvin Wyly (UBC Department of Geography, co-author of Gentrification and The Gentrification Reader)
‘The Gentrification of the Downtown Eastside,’ Wendy Pedersen (Carnegie Community Action Project)

Roundtable on future of the Olympic Village

Sat Nov 6, 2010 @ Creekside Community Centre (Olympic Village)

A: Policing & gentrification
B: Art & gentrification

A: Woodward’s: Then & Now
B: Health & harm reduction

–Lunch break–

Alternatives Panel: Grassroots and Community Control

Action planning


Sabine Bitter (Urban Subjects, Audain Gallery)
Bud Osborn (Poet)
Cynthia Oka (Poet)
Wendy Pedersen (Carnegie Community Action Project)
Douglas King (Pivot Legal Society)
Cecily Nicholson (No One is Illegal – Vancouver)
Harsha Walia (DEWC Power of Women Group)
Aiyanas Ormond (VANDU)
Ivan Drury (Downtown Eastside Neighborhood Council)
Jeff Derksen (SFU English Department)
Ali Lohan (Oppenheimer Park Community Art Show, Lifeskills Collective, Desmedia)
Gord Hill (Olympic Resistance Network)
Kathy Coyne (Community planner)
Am Johal (Impact on Communities Coalition)
Dawn Paley (Vancouver Media Co-op)
Nicholas Perrin (SFU Against Goldcorp, SFU Teaching Support Staff Union)
Aaron Vidaver (Archivist, editor of Woodsquat book)
Debbie Krull (Moms on the Drive, APC co-founder)
Arlin French (Purple Thistle Centre)
Anthony Meza-Wilson (Purple Thistle Centre)
Lauren Gill (Vancouver Action, Citywide Housing Coalition, Abolitionist)
Tonia Zinger
Dave Diewert (Streams of Justice)
Gregory Dean (Vancouver Action)
Ed Durgan (UBC Social Justice Centre)
Nathan Crompton (Vancouver Action)
Sue Pell (SFU Dept of Humanities)

City gives tax exemptions to billionaires and threatens to cut social housing

October 22, 2010

City gives tax exemptions to billionaires and threatens to cut social housing above the new DTES library due to lack  of funds

“Engineered hardwood floors & Stainless appliances. Woodward’s owners are exempt from property tax for 3 years!!! GST is paid!!!” –Lindsay Stefanko, Rennie & Associates Realty, April 30, 2010

“Last week, two major retail anchors opened for business [in Woodward’s]. One, the latest addition to Vancouver billionaire Jimmy Pattison’s stable, is [Nesters]. The second is a London Drugs supermarket…Both stores were enticed by subsidies; they won’t pay municipal taxes at Woodward’s for the next 10 years and their rental rates are rock bottom.” –“Vancouver Downtown Eastside slowly crawls toward gentrification,” National Post, December 17, 2009

“We have the advantage of an extremely competitive tax regime here. Within a few years we’ll be the lowest corporate tax rate combined in the G8.” –Mayor Gregor Robertson, 2009

Of 41 major international cities, Vancouver ranks number one for having the lowest combined tax rate for businesses. –Competitive Alternatives 2010 Special Report: Focus on Tax (KPMG, 2010)

The Keefer is a “four-unit boutique hotel where rooms cost $700 a night…The entire project would not have been possible were it not for financial incentives offered by the City of Vancouver. A 10-year property tax exemption.” – “Lush Life,” Canadian Architect (Vol. 55 No. 9, September 2010). The Keefer is located at 133 Keefer Street (between Main and Columbia). The owner is millionaire Cam Watt, who made his fortune selling bottled water as the owner of Canadian Springs.

“The new Gastown Terminus condo homes on offer have to be seen to be believed. Act quickly [on] property tax exemptions for new home purchasers.” –“FINAL OPPORTUNITY at the Downtown Vancouver Terminus Gastown Condos for Sale,” Vancouver Pre-Construction Real Estate Condos, April 2009

“We don’t have the money in the drawers…we have nowhere near what we need for housing…We have real limitations and uncertainty in the economy and city books in terms of what we can do…we can’t make a commitment.” –Mayor Gregor Robertson, on justifying city council’s threat to exclude social housing from the new Strathcona Library, October 7, 2010. After being shown 1,500 signatures on a petition calling for housing on the city-owned library site, City Council passed a motion saying they would “investigate” the need for housing on the library. Unfortunately, at a meeting on October 7, 2010, City Council voted to deprioritize housing and prioritize a “stand-alone” library, citing financial limitations.

welcomegreg copy

Athletes’ Village Tent City Feb 2011

September 24, 2010

Attn: All News Editors For Immediate Release, 25 Sept 2010

In the midst of a housing shortage and affordability crisis, community groups are redoubling efforts to secure the promised affordable units at the Olympic Village (Millenium Water). The 2005 SEFC Official Development Plan promised that 66% of the units would be affordable. Today that number has been reduced to less than 10% while a majority of the promised units remain empty, awaiting to be sold. 

In the lead-up to February 2011, the one-year anniversary of the Olympic Tent Village established at 58 West Hastings, our campaign will work to attain a moratorium on the sale of the promised units by use of petitioning, letter-writing, Millenium Water boycott campaign, squats, and other strategies.

If by February 2011, promises at the Athlete’s Village remain broken, the community will establish a Tent City at the Athletes’ Village under a general call to “Reclaim Housing.”  In the second week of the tent city, if the sell-off of promised units continues, residents of the tent village may expand the direct-action by occupying the empty units and/or City Hall.

download poster PDF


July 16, 2010

The suite will be held for eleven hours and twelve minutes, representing one minute for every affordable unit the city has redesignated as unaffordable at Millenium Water.

Vancouver, BC – As of 4:45pm on Thursday July 15, 2010, residents of the least affordable city in the world* have reclaimed a home in the Athlete’s Village on South East False Creek.

The home is one of 800 housing units the City of Vancouver promised as affordable and social housing, 674 of which are now being sold on the most unaffordable market in the world.

The suite will be held for eleven hours and twelve minutes, representing one minute for each of the 674 affordable units the city has redesignated as unaffordable.

This action will highlight the sheer magnitude of the broken promises at the Athlete’s Village, beginning a series of actions and initiatives in the coming weeks and months to win our demand for an immediate moratorium on the sale of empty units at Millenium Water.