Our fourth monthly member meeting took place on Sept 16th. Here's what happened...
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: Introduction of Interim Steering Committee (SC):
The VTU's interim Steering Committee's mandate is to steer our union towards an inaugural Convention in the fall of 2017, where members will vote to ratify our constitution, bylaws, and elect a governing body to carry the union forward. Member of the interim Steering Committee are:
Derya Akay, Sydney Ball, Vivienne Bessette, Molly Billows, Justin Choi, Marina Classen, Sam Dharmapala, Kell Gerlings, Shazia Ghaznavi, Cristian Hernandez-Blick, Beverly Ho, Mark Iyengar, Liam McClure, Lama Mugabo, Derrick O’Keefe, Wendy Pederson, Sho Shibata, Neil Vokey
Item 3: Round of introductions & immediate risks with all present members
[Confidential - VTU does not publish names of meeting attendees or their tenancy situations]
Item 4: Vancouver Municipal By-Election Candidate Survey & Endorsement
- Steering Committee sent out a questionnaire to candidates to try and set the agenda with the by-election for tenants issues
- Reviewed Questionnaire answers [AVAILABLE HERE]
- Steering Committee's Endorsement - Jean Swanson
-Jean Swanson’s platform is tenant-focused (the Rent Freeze)
-Swanson has long track record and credibility as an anti-poverty advocate
-Swanson’s activist style, grassroots campaign aligns well with VTU policy
*Followed by open discussion among members*
Member: Jean is radical, and I like that
Member: This is the best way for the VTU to use the next month (election is on Oct. 14)
Member: What are the drawbacks of getting involved with electoral politics? How should we pick our battles?
Motion: Should the VTU endorse Jean Swanson’s candidacy for the Vancouver Municipal By-Election?
-Motion is Carried Unanimously by present Members
How should we proceed with this endorsement?
- Press Release
- Publishing Questionnaire online
Item 5: VTU Steering Committee (SC) Updates:
-VTU has joined the National FairBnB Coalition for better regulations of homesharing sites like AirBnB
-It looks like the provincial gov’t wants to open up the BC Residential Tenancy Act (RTA). A Working Group had begun drafting up a policy wish list for all levels of Gov't. Interested members can submit their ideas and feedback at this meeting, or request to join the group via email
Outreach & Advocacy Team (OAT) Update:
Outreach and advocacy teams decided to merge because they share similar goals, but also to share information. Outreach strategy includes developing network of building reps and connecting tenants with issues to the VTU
Meeting 1st and 3rd weeks of every month. Contact group via email if you are interested in joining the working group or to learn more about becoming a rep in your building
Victory: A tenant living in a building with 22 units was evicted when it was bought by a new landlord. VTU advocates paid for a title search and found that the eviction was illegal because the new landlord did not technically own the property yet.
Member: One concern from last GM was people concerned about becoming a building rep.
(OAT Working Group member) - It is a work in progress, but we want to maintain confidentiality for tenant's safety
(OAT member: VTU is looking for a professional plumber and electrician to provide second opinions on landlord quotes for renovation costs and/or renoevictions. Contact us if you are interested
Member: I’ve worked as a contractor before, and never has a job caused a resident to move. These claims (necessitating renoviction) are all fraudulent.
Member: Why are there no consequences for bad landlord behaviour? Liam (SC Member:) Under the existing RTA, there are not strong enough disincentives.
Wendy (SC Member): We need to do a workshop on Reno-evictions.
The SC wants to hire organizers to help plan VTU's first tenant Convention, which will include a strong educational component, the election of new Steering Committee, ratification of a constitution and bylaws, a fundraising component, and some fun (art & music). Heart of the City Festival wants to bring some tenant organizers from the US here as well. SC wants it to be accessible for Downtown East Side Residents as well.
Member - I think organizing is work, and the SC has done a ton of work for free, so I think this is valuable
*No members present expressed concern with the SC hiring temporary organizers for this work*
Constitution & Bylaws Working Group:
This group has met twice already. If you'd like to join, please contact us.
We still need members for occasional phone-banking (calling members with updates). Please contact us if you would like to be on our roster.
Item 6: Breakout Working Groups:
-Policy Working Group
-Advocacy for members
-Outreach & By-election strategy
NEXT MEETING: October 28th (Email reminder will be sent out to members with time & location)