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