48 VTU members attended the general meeting on November 16, 2019. Here is what happened...
Item 1: Territorial Acknowledgement & Community Agreements
- We are meeting on the unceded and occupied territory of the səl̓ílwətaʔɬ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh), Skwxwú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish), and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations.
Item 2: Community Agreements
The meeting next moved summarizing our Community Agreements. They are:
- One-mic - means to respect each other’s speaking time.
- 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.
- Break It Down - explaining words or phrases that are unclear/ inaccessible.
- Respect Each Other - oppressive behaviour will not be tolerated.
- Challenge Ideas, Not People - disagreements should be expressed with what people have said and not the people themselves.
- Be Present
- Take Care of Yourself - do what is best for your physical and emotional well being
Item 3: Sara gave an update on the 326 Nanaimo Street demoviction fight
- Sara discussed difference between renoviction and demoviction (renovictions may have some protection, while demovictions have none)
- In this case, tenants tried to take up the terms of the new TRPP (tenant relocation and protection policy)
- 326 tenants who are going through relocations have received very weak relocation assistance (for example, getting sent links to Craigslist ads for inappropriate rentals)
- Since Sept 7th, tenants are refusing to leave until the landlords relocate them properly
- A break-in has meant an escalation in urgency because the landlord refuses to fix the door, creating a fire hazard. This could create an eviction situation.
- In case of emergency eviction, the plan is for tenants to go to City Hall with a rally. Talk to Sara if you are able to help or for Hastings Sunrise canvassing.
Item 4: Syd led a breakout group activity to engage with the Red Women Rising report as it intersects with housing:
- The expropriations happening on unceded land (e.g. Balmoral) also should point us to listen to the people who live here and the people whose land we are on.
- We read printed copies of “I am Priscillia Tate” account and discussed the reading in breakout
- Circles of 8-10 people discussed our personal responses and responses to discussion prompts
Item 5: Presentation: Thanks to Hotel Workers organizers and volunteers
- VTU members showing up was appreciated; updates on the work to keep up the action
Item 6: Wendy and Sam: Question and Answers about City of Vancouver expropriation of neglected SROS
- Wendy and Sam emphasized that success was due to workers
- Sam recounted his personal experience organizing within SROs
- Vancouver City Council was sympathetic to experiences of those in SROs
- Can find the Council video online
Item 7: Presentation by Tristan on Rent Control as a Wealth Tax
- Tristan gave a quantitative look at renters and rent control
- The city is about half renters, less than half homeowners
- Various ‘super wealth taxes’ are in public discussion
- In Canada, the majority of wealth is in Real Estate
- Wealth is transferred from renters to homeowners
- But Tristan outlined how rises in property are driven by projected rises in rents above regular inflation (speculating on upzoning)
- Beyond a rent freeze, there is the option of a rollback to match inflation
- Check out the whole slide show: [link to come]
- Cope Housing Convention is on Dec 1
Item 8: Short-term Rental Presentation by Claire from City Hall Working Group
- Short term rental is defined as 30 days or less (e.g. Air BnB)
- It undermines the long-term rental market (e.g., offers 200-300% more net revenue than long-term renting)
- VTU is not arguing against home-sharing
- VTU is pushing back against this use in secondary homes (laneways etc)
- City of Vancouver has a memorandum of understanding with Air BnB (requiring short term rental business license and limiting to principle units)
- This relies on data supply; not only Air BnB but identifying operators
- Requires a provincial government charter change, as city’s power of enforcement is limited to by-law enforcement
- Need to lock-down definition of short-term rental business and how taxes are managed (e.g. right now $4 million going to Tourism Vancouver)
- Also creates labour issues (e.g. ‘shadow hotels’)
- City Hall Working Group meets every second Friday at 7pm
Item 9: Update from David Hendry about Renter Grant Advisory Committee:
- Application was submitted
- Info to come in the newsletter and more at the next GM
Item 10: Community Announcements:
- Rocco: Burnaby tenants need support re: demoviction plans in 8 buildings
- Evan: talk to Evan about Extinction Rebellion and Vancouver EcoSocialists
- Syd: support RA union organizers on Nov 21
- David: training by Jane McAlevey on Nov 19 and 26