September 2020 [Virtual] General Meeting

43 VTU members attended our first online general meeting on September 25, 2020. Here is what happened...

Item 1: Territorial Acknowledgement & Community Agreements

As usual, we ask all attendees at VTU functions to follow these community agreements:

  1. One-mic- means to respect each other’s 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

In addition to these agreements, we are asking everyone to observe the following meeting norms to help our virtual meeting run smoothly:

  • When entering the meeting, please type your full name. We will use this to cross reference our database so that this can remain a members-only meeting.

    • If you are calling in, we will be cross referencing your phone number. 

  • Keep your mic on mute unless you are the speaker. Facilitators will have the ability to mute your mic if need be.

  • Questions & Comments

    • Please submit your questions and comments in writing in the Zoom Chat window, or ahead of the meeting if possible.

    • The above community agreements apply to the Zoom Chat window. Members submitting disrespectful comments in the chat window may be ejected from the meeting by facilitators

    • Call-in participants will be given a time at the end of each Q&A session to ask their questions out loud or they can use email

    • Please keep your questions and comments succinct so that as many people as possible can have time to ask their question

    • If your question wasn’t answered in the meeting, you are always welcome to follow up after the meeting: info@vancouvertenantsunion.ca

  • If you are having technical difficulties hearing or participating in the meeting, please understand that facilitators will have a limited ability to help you. If you are asking a question and it does not come through clearly, we may have to move on, but we’ll try to come back to you.

    • If you missed something, you can refer to our meeting minutes document [linked above] Minutes will be recorded in real-time.

Item 2: City Hall Working Group Updates

Motion to support for CRAB Park arrestees

    • Oppenheimer park tent city was shut down by the City, led to encampment at Crab Park, which was then shut down by an injunction on June 17, 48 were arrested

    • Campers moved to Strathcona Park, Camp KT, run by Indigenous matriarchs, who keep a sacred fire on site 24/7

    • Arrestees had a court appearance September 8th, made a series of demands, including the construction of a healing centreSeptember 21st, 23rd, 24th @9:30AM the arrestees require support at the BC Supreme Court

    • Camp KT needs donations, including N95 masks

    • Instagram accounts @nogentle and @Namegans48

MOTION:

Whereas the VTU has stated its commitment to advance decolonization and end the displacement of Indigenous peoples

The VTU must advance the interests of both housed and unhoused tenants

Therefore be it resolved that the VTU officially endorse the demands of Camp KT and Namegans 48 and work with them to advance housing justice and decolonization on the stolen lands of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tseil-Waututh

Motion passes with 26 in favour, 3 opposed and 2 abstentions

Item 3 : Vacancy control for SROs - Oct 6

  • Members viewed a promo video for the campaign

  • Single Resident Occupancy units, 1 bedroom suites with shared bathrooms, used by significant number of Vancouver renters

  • SRO rents currently average $600; average income of low-income tenants $375. Poorly maintained.

  • Presentation from SRO Collaborative member Tom De Grey; one of the units of his SRO has gone from $384 rent to $1100

  • City Council and staff is unanimously in favour of rent control at SROs

  • This is a supporting campaign not a pressure campaign

  • Targeting specifically privately owned SROs, not the non-profit buildings

  • About 30% of residents in private SROs are Indigenous; this is a second displacement

  • Rent control is currently linked to tenant; proposal to tie rent to unit rather than the tenant

  • From 2014-2018 Van City Council was urging province for SRO rent control; continued pressure from new Council under Mayor Stewart, also considering a municipal approach

  • Q: Why preserve them?
    A: This is a housing of last resort for many renters; the last stop before homelessness

Motion: BE IT RESOLVED that the VTU general membership endorse and write a letter to the City Council supporting SRO rent control

 

Motion passes: 32 yes, 0 no, 1 abstain

Item 4 Real rent control working group update

  • Group looked at case studies of other collective bargaining models for tenants, such as in Washington DC; tenants have right to bargain for rent, rent increases, conversions, eviction policies

  • Would involve a restructuring of the RTB, so it would function more like a labour board

  • Key piece is legitimizing the tenant’s right to rent strike; illegal rent strikes often end in tenants getting evicted

  • An opportunity to connect tenants struggles with labour; get endorsement of campaign from general membership

  • A suggestion was made that one of the demands from collective bargaining could be to negotiate subsidized renters insurance

  • Q: How the Residential Tenancy Act would change to reflect collective bargaining rights

  • A: Could organize under individual landlords, rather than by address (building associations tend to work best with 5 units or more.

    • NOTE: members can still join this campaign even if they are not currently in the Real Rent Control Working Group

Motion: BE IT RESOLVED that VTU General Membership endorse the campaign for collective bargaining rights for tenants and that VTU provide formal representation in the form of members of the Real Rent Control working group.

Motion moved and seconded, motion passes: 32 yes, 0 no, 1 abstain

Item 5Mount Pleasant Chapter - Broadway/Carolina evictions

  • Members viewed interview clip with Nelia

  • 4 tenants at 3 properties are to be demovicted on September 30th from developer PortLiving at Broadway/Carolina

  • Nelia Guevarra and her husband Wilfredo, both 67, have lived in the Carolina for 24 years, both live with disabilities; Nelia does critical child care for her daughter

  • A tenant named Andrew is at risk of losing his business license if he is evicted on the 30th; his business services low income people

  • 100 people have sent letters in support of the tenants so far

  • There’s a website launched for the campaign: defendmountpleasant.ca

  • Article going into PortLiving’s poor finances: https://www.citynews1130.com/; There’s a case to be made that this is a bad faith eviction

  • The goal is to get the developer to NEGOTIATE and give tenants just compensation and help them find new homes they can afford

  • Action on Sept 27th/29th: Rally at Broadway and Carolina, date TBD

  • Form to sign up and get involved: https://forms.gle/54U2ttGYsCxSYiy3A

    [Motion on eviction response: Motion to endorse the anti-eviction working group's recommendations]

    Motion moved and seconded, motions passes with 20 in favour, 0 opposed and 2 abstentions

Item 6 Motion on advocating for provincial policy on above items

FINAL MOTION: Be it resolved that the VTU General Membership advocate for the following five items to get included in provincial party platforms, for the possible upcoming provincial election:

    • support collective bargaining rights for tenants

    • vacancy control for all renters

    • halt to all evictions

    • support for BC rent crisis campaign

    • Support the demands of Camp KT and Namegans 48

Motion moved and seconded, motion passes with 15 in favour, 0 opposed and 2 abstentions

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