30 VTU members and guests attended our June general meeting which took place on June 18th in-person and over zoom. Here is a summarized version of the minutes.
Item 1 - Land Acknowledgement and Community Agreements (15 mins)
Item 2- Speedfriending!
Item 3 - 105 Keefer Update:
- A campaign was started at the beginning of May because Beedie living tried for the 6th time to get development approved at 105 Keefer. They sued the city for giving a ruling that actually took tenants into consideration. The city was forced to review their proposal again. There was notice on May 1st that the proposal was being put up again. The ruling would be on the 29th of May.
- Some VTU folks along with SROC and others got together to do outreach in both English and Chinese speaking tenants. VTU lent a lot of support for the English speaking portion of the campaign. We tried to tie together the Downtown EastSide tenants with the residents of the Chinatown area.
On the 25th there was a people's council to reject the proposal.
- Over 500 people attended that rally.
We then held a rally at city hall.
- Over 70 people signed up to speak at city hall.
- The hearing was delayed until June 12th then delayed again to June 26th.
- No further speakers will be allowed to sign up.
We will continue to fight for 105 Keefer regardless of the decision.
- Anyone interested in contributing to the fight would be best served to show up to the city hall decision on the 26th.
- You can reach out to the vancouver tenants union through the website vancouvertenantsunion.ca. There was a fundraiser that raised over $8000.
- A member noted that at the Keefer rally, they were very proud and impressed with the translation services and the will of the people to come out and fight.
A member asked for a recap of the Keefer fight.
- Beedie is trying to build over 100 units (condos, not market rentals) at 105 Keefer with no social housing aspect, and no consideration to the will of the existing community. Chinatown has been heavily gentrified over the last decade and this would further erode the cultural significance of the area.
- VTU funding to the stop 105 Keefer project: May 10th steering committee meeting decided to contribute $2880 to the campaign, based on a budget organizers presented. The campaign was considered time-sensitive so steering invoked bylaw 4.19 and approved the funding prior to consulting general membership. That decision can be challenged by the membership under 3.5.1.
Item 4 - Chapter Updates
- Has a new chapter rep.
Broadway Plan: lots of buildings for sale right now. Preemptively landlords are currently looking for the most vulnerable tenants to push out to turn a profit.
- We’re focusing on getting into a lot of buildings right now and slow burn organizing along the Broadway corridor.
- Members of MTP disrupted the housing minister’s press conference recently and made the news.
- Trying to re-activate members in the West End. Tabling at farmers markets and other public events.
- One building is sort of a pilot project that had a building party yesterday. Lots of agitated tenants.
- Organizing Keep Your Landlord in Check workshops.
- Chapter is reworking their practices: rotating chair.
- Hosting a new member orientation on July 13th.
- Has a new chapter rep.
- Continuing to organize 4 buildings with the same building manager. They’re doing a letter writing campaign.
- Hopefully having a block party sometime in August because there are a lot of buildings going up for sale right now and landlords are attempting to put smart locks on buildings.
“Anyone here that lives in an area that isn’t covered by a chapter?”
- A member mentions they live in Shaughnessy and it’s a difficult neighbour to organize due to the city planning.
Item 5 - Financialization of Purpose-built Rentals:
- VTU created an AD-HOC working group to review the National Housing Council review.
- “The review transforms rental housing into a financial asset and vehicle for investments” - specifically Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) such as Starlight, and others.
- Financialization of purpose built rentals has major impacts such as human rights violations of evictions, displacement, gentrification and destruction of community for individual tenants, buildings of tenants and entire neighbourhoods, and finally all tenants in the city and province.
- Take action to extend the freedom of association rights, including the right to organize, collectively bargain and strike to tenants who organize together.
- Ensure adequate funding for public housing that keeps rent permanently low which includes expanding support for social and affordable housing to counter neoliberal policies that violate the right to housing and expropriate housing owned by financial firms that violate human rights. The right to return with dignity and the same rent to the same size unit and remain in the same neighbourhood.
- Starlight, a REIT, is charging 41% more for a one bedroom than the equal units across the city. They are actively gentrifying neighbourhoods but also the city at large.
Item 6 - Community Announcements:
Rent Strikes are happening in Greater Toronto Area
- Long-term organizing project
- GTA folks are fighting against landlords attempting to charge renters for AGIs (capital expenditures).
June 25th at the Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG)
- Heat Dome Action organized by a few different organizations. Show up at the north side of the VAG at 2:30. Action is 3-5pm.
- Keep Your Landlord in Check Workshop tomorrow at Molehill Community Centre in the West End.
- Stop The Sweeps film screening 2 PM June 24th at the Japanese Language Centre.
Live minutes are recorded at each GM and condensed for the website. For more detailed minutes any member may contact us: [email protected]