Here's what happened at our first General Meeting of 2018 on February 24th...
Item 1: Territorial Acknowledgement & Community Agreements
The meeting started with introducing our Community Agreements, (which will be re-iterated at all our meetings). They are:
1. One-mic - means to respect each others speaking time.
2. Speak Up/Listen Up - means that people who are comfortable should step up on their listening skills and people who tend not to speak should step up speaking more.
3. Break It Down - explaining words or phrases that are unclear/ inaccessible.
4. Respect Each Other - oppressive behaviour will not be tolerated.
5. Challenge Ideas, Not People - disagreements should be expressed with what people have said and not the people themselves.
6. Be Present
7. Take Care Of Yourself - do what is best for your physical and emotional well being
Item 2: Community announcements:
- Rally on Monday the 26th, against Beedie development.
- 105 Keefer event Monday 11am, 111 West Georgia
- John Clark event Monday 7pm, at 113 E Powell St.
- Colton and Fontaine Rallies today and last week -- solidarity
- Tuesday 7pm at SFU Institute for Humanities, panel on basic income with John Clark.
- Neil has an op-ed (link: https://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2018/02/20/Dont-Give-Us-Renters-Rebate/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_content=022018-1&utm_campaign=editorial-0218 )
- Wednesday there will be a panel at 221A, called “Biting the hand that feeds…”. Talking about avoiding developer money, and talk about “art-washing” (companies/developers using art as a tool for gentrifying neighbourhoods and covering up negative public image)
ACORN Burnaby, 25 demovictions happening in Burnaby, Public hearing Tuesday at 7pm, you can sign up and oppose the demovictions. Even if you’re not in Burnaby it helps to oppose it. A petition on the website, (link: https://www.acorncanada.org/take-action/act-now-stop-burnaby-demovictions )
Item 2: Intro of 2018 Steering Committee
(Present: Wendy, Marina, Sara, Kell, Sydney, Derya, Liam, Sam)
What does the Steering Committee does:
- Meet every other week
- Keep members on track with mandate - our constitution and bylaws
- Make sure all the teams/working groups are connected
- Organize 6 GM’s per year + AGM
Financial Report Presented
**VTU Needs a book keeper. Erica has volunteered to help.
Item 3: Working Group Reports
- Membership Team Introduction
- Communications Team Introduction
- Constitution and bylaw committee Report:
This committee has been meeting since the fall - still looking for more input on our constitution. We have adapted and made some suggested changes since the AGM. Committee will need to hear about Locals before improving the constitutions.
We are still looking for more people with interest in constitution. Please talk to Sydney, or give your name to Derya for volunteering.
- OAT (Outreach and Advocacy Team) Report:
Active Building Reports [Confidential - VTU does not share building organizing updates in public minutes
We’ve won 3 eviction disputes in December/January
Victory on Commercial and 6th
Woodland and Pender, has won its case, but might get another eviction notice soon.
Victory for a for-cause eviction at Belvedere Court. Senior tenant of 30 years was behind in payment, b/c he had a verbal agreement with previous landlord. Belvedere tenants also held support rally.
East 7th, convinced the landlord to drop the case, and renegotiate with the tenants. The eviction notices were all for different causes so this was a good solution.
Another case coming up, 9 out of all the tenants are all on board.
Item 4: Policy Working Grou Response to BC Budget
Written response to the provincial government's new budget available HERE.
Sydney: I would also like to start a petition for rent control. TIE the RENT to the UNIT. While the NDP is in power we need to take advantage and ask them to legislate everything.
Shazia: Similar to Montreal, make it like that in Vancouver
Motion to create Petition for vacancy control
Seconded and Carried
Question from the floor:
How disappointed are you with the NDP and what kind of tone should we be taking when talking to our MLAs?
Sydney: VERY disappointed. Spencer Chandra Herbert and Melanie Mark both supported what we would like with the vacancy control. They’ve said it. We should hold them accountable.
Item 5: Neighbourhood Chapters / Locals
Neighbourhood based organizing teams set up a meeting 2 times a month, advertise for tenant rights meetings, they break into small groups and help tenants solve their own problems in these groups, whatever they can’t solve they bring back to the big group. The organizing team takes on roles like -
- Solidarity Case Workers who go and visit people in their homes to troubleshoot problems and organize whole buildings
- Oat members are excited about this and are writing a proposal to take to General Members for your consideration.
- Come to next Oat meeting if you want to get involved.
- Some have started to set up Organizing Teams in their neighbourhoods, please speak to them if you want to get involved in a particular neighbourhood. You don’t have to live in that neighbourhood to be involved, just make a commitment to be an organizer:
Erica / Downtown East Side:
We meet every Saturday at 2pm at Carnegie. Everyone is invited, we would appreciate your support. We meet on the 3rd floor, classroom 2. Every neighbourhood has its own problems, and only people in that neighbourhood knows what they are talking about. This is why we thought of dividing into geographic chapters. It makes us stronger, and our voices heard. We have been wanting to recruit people.
Mt Pleasant / Marina-David:
We have a meeting at Kingsway and Main, date TBA. We will talk about Local Chapters, and start organizing.
West End / Gail:
I have been a tenant in West End for 14 years. W/E has 23,000 renters, greatest portion, and they are the vast majority. Most renters are 2.5 years in unit. There is a huge shift in the west end with turnover. West End VTU members there are 140 of them but we do not keep a data system. But unfortunately only 8-10 people were interested in organizing in the West End. We do need to focus on finding buildings that have problems, and map the West End. Talk to Gail after to start the West End Chapters, there is lots of work to be done.
Item 6: Advocacy Rounds
[Confidential - VTU does not publish names of meeting attendees or their tenancy situations]
NEXT GENERAL MEETING TBD