Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC


Yesterday Premier Gordon Campbell along with Mayor Gregor Robertson and Housing Minister Rich Coleman announced to the media that 8 new supportive housing buildings will be built by 2011-2015 to combat our increasing homelessness. This would according to them provide an increase of 1,000 units of affordable housing stock.

In the past we have seen these types of announcements and actual purpose built housing took forever to come about and often the earmarked units have been scaled back with governments often citing budget constraints.

From 2002-2009 we saw plenty of announcements regarding Woodwards and the original affordable units promised in that development were scaled back. Ditto for Olympic Village which also saw a dramatic decrease in promised units.

While feel good announcements are often a good thing for politicians, the reality though for those who need immediate affordable housing is quite another.

Minister Rich Coleman states that the bulk of the funding for this newer-announced housing which is really questionable about its newness is coming from the re-development of Little Mountain Housing where the government turned over public land to a private developer who will now cash in big time with the selling of luxury condos.

Many of the residents residing at Little Mountain, including families, were mass evicted in order to pave the way for this massive condo development. This latest announcement says nothing about affordable family housing and again we see that none of this newer-announced housing is slated for the Westside except for one at 7th and Fir.

It seems that all levels of government are still fearful of building affordable housing in the creme-de-la-creme Westside bastions where they desire to keep these areas exclusively for the well to do, which is too bad since this really feeds the impression that we really do have two cities within Vancouver with Main Street the dividing line. Only thing missing from Main Street are the railway tracks.

So while this newer-announced housing will be viewed favourably and many politicians will gain traction from these announcements, whether the actual housing numbers cited come into being will be another matter. I guess though we can take the politicians at their word but how many times have we seen broken promises?

And this newer-announced housing will not come without some conflict.

Already a Gay Club which sits on one site slated for affordable housing will not go quietly. This club has become quite well known more for the place to purchase drugs and supporters of the this club are spitting on the idea that they need to move. Problem is no downtown area wants this club in their midst so who knows what will happen here.

Interesting though that the government chose to take this time to make this affordable housing announcement.

As everyone knows the provincial government are in the midst of a huge battle with the public regarding the unpopular Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) and because they were not able to promote propaganda regarding the supposed benefits of the HST,, one if left wondering if this newer-announced housing strategy is part of an over-all arsenal to make the provincial and municipal governments look good.

Does anyone know by chance if Mayor Gregor Robertson and Vancouver City Hall have staked out an official position against the HST?

Jamie Lee Hamilton


At 3:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't it nice that they found money for this affordable housing finally?

I mean, the government laid me off last week (healthcare cuts thanks to the OWElympics), so it's nice to know i'll have an affordable place to move to when I can't find new work and get evicted from my home for non-payment of rent.


At 12:18 AM, Anonymous Keith said...

It's naturally a great thing that this project is going through, regardless of the less-popular programs it may be designed to cover up, but I'm curious about your comments here and in previous posts about the site's current occupants, The Odyssey Nightclub.

A year ago you blogged about how the City and VPD reported that the club was very well-run and caused few problems. Your postings since then, seems to focus on a perceived drug infestation, going so far in one case as to accuse ownership of directly profiting from drug-related activities. Did something happen in this time to change your mind? At that point you seemed willing to take the word of City Officials, but now seems to reject that, content to take the word of unnamed third parties.

For clarity, the extent of my drug use was half of a joint in highschool. I am 100% on board with enforcement and/or harm reduction methods where deemed appropriate, and believe that those caught dealing should be held accountable for their actions.

I can't help but wonder if you've *been* to the Odyssey in the past 5 years though. I am openly a long-time patron and while your colourful depictions of a "drug distribution centre" might have been applicable a decade ago, the club has departed markedly from that reputation in the past few years. I don't think anyone would claim that there isn't some part of club life that overlaps with drug culture, but I have to wonder what your basis is for singling out a club that's done quite a few good things for the community and is the farthest thing from the hub of the West End's drug trade.

For purposes of information, it's pretty well known that there was a management shift a few years ago, and while I won't speculate about the reasons, it's also very common knowledge to current patrons that the new General Manager is about as straight-edge as they come, pretty much abhors drugs, and is a stark contradiciton to his predecessor in this respect.

Not saying you couldn't find drugs if you really tried, but you can do that *anywhere* in Vancouver, and by all accounts it's a HELL of a lot harder to do at The Odyssey than it used to be. I guess I just feel like it's unfair to publicly label a pretty decent community bar as a drug profiteer without doing some pretty solid *current* investigating, which I don't think has happened here.

Again, I'm right on board with doing all we can do to help slow and stop the spread of addiction. I just happen think it's more useful to take a hard look at real causes rather than easy targets.

Keep up the good fight.

At 1:38 AM, Blogger Jamie Lee Hamilton said...

Hi Keith

Sometimes we need to affirm that things can change in the gay community and we need to keep on top of these changes.

Yes a year ago I supported the relocation efforts of the Odyssey mainly because I thought they deserved to be re-located and at one time quite a long tme ago I did attend the Odyssey regularly especially for the Sunday shows.

I can honestly say that it was a community bar back then. Because I don't frequent the bar and haven't for quite some time, I made an assumption that it was still the same but when I came out so strongly in favour of their relocation I had many people sending me information and challenging me, asking how could I be supporting a place which turned a blind eye to the shadiness which was occuring.

I even had drug users in recovery informing me how they feel this place contributed to their downfall and destruction.

I heard these voices and so I began to investigate, trying to confirm whether the information I was receiving had merit. I even contacted friends who frequent this spot and asked them their opinions.

What I heard back I wasn't at all liking and because I had been so supportive, I was often asked why I was ignoring the ugly side of this Club's reputation.

While I have complete empathy for those who are drug addicted, this same compassion does not extend to those who benefit from people's misery especially around the trafficking of drugs.

And sometimes we need to take a stand even if this means speaking out against our own community.

I will not support this Club's relocation efforts and in fact, I think there should be an investigation of the illicit activities which is being alleged there and which you even confirm.

So I guess we will need to see how the cards fall on this one but something positive will come and that is people will be properly housed an safe and affordable accommodations on this site and that is a good thing.


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