Vancouver housing activists plan to set up another tent city

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      An organizer of a protest that was shut down by police at the former Olympic Village site on Saturday says housing activists are determined to set up their tent city again.

      “We’re definitely planning on coming back twice as strong, and bigger and better,” Vancouver Action organizer Nathan Crompton said in a phone interview. “We’re feeling stronger than we ever have felt.”

      Protestors walked from the Downtown Eastside to the former athletes’ village Saturday (February 26) afternoon and began setting up tents in the central plaza of the complex. After being told to leave the city property, the activists moved their tents to an empty lot across the street, followed by a heavy police presence.

      Not long after setting up on that site, Crompton said activists were told by police to leave the private property. A group of about a dozen activists then occupied an empty storefront, which Crompton described as a “vast” retail space.

      “This empty space in the Olympic Village could house a vast number of people,” he said. “The area of the space is in my estimation larger than every shelter in this city combined.”

      Eleven protestors occupying the site were later arrested and taken to the police station. By late Saturday night, the group was released.

      Crompton said while a location hasn’t yet been determined, organizers plan to set up another tent city.

      The housing activists want to see the original plan for two-thirds of social housing at the site restored.

      “We’ll continue making the same demands that we’ve made, which is an immediate moratorium on the sell-off of promised social housing units at the Olympic Village,” Crompton said, noting activists are also calling for social housing throughout the city.

      “In this city, we’re thousands of units behind,” said Crompton. “We need to make up for 10 years of market development and gentrification and lack of affordable housing.”

      While two-thirds of the former athlete’s village complex, which was recently renamed The Village on False Creek, was designated as affordable housing in the site’s original plan, the number of units reserved for social housing was since decreased to 126. Another 126 units are being rented out at market rates, with priority given to essential workers such as first responders, and health care and public education workers.

      According to Thom Armstrong, the executive director of the Co-operative Housing Federation of British Columbia, 45 units in two of the city-owned rental buildings have so far been rented out, including 16 market rental units for essential workers. These units are moving slower than anticipated, although Armstrong said interest has picked up since the recent relaunch of condo sales at the village.

      The non-market units range in price from $375 a month to about $1,200, while rates for the market units range from $1501 for a one-bedroom condo to $2368 for a four-bedroom unit.

      An information session for a building designated for co-op housing will be held in the next couple of weeks. Armstrong said the goal is to fill 100 of the market and below-market rental units by the end of March.

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      Sven Crawson

      Feb 28, 2011 at 6:30pm

      Looks like the Mayor had these losers evicted.

      9 5Rating: +4

      Michael Geller

      Feb 28, 2011 at 6:44pm

      If these housing activists really care about housing for the homeless, they will NOT protest...because they'll do more harm than good for their cause. But if they want to be the centre of attraction, and watch themselves on the evening news, then they'll protest. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the Vancouver media would ignore them...

      3 3Rating: 0

      Sasha Sash

      Feb 28, 2011 at 6:48pm

      it sucks the police got their grubby hands into the tent city so quickly, but i'm so excited to see what happens next!! this is the kind of work that needs to happen so that we can have a city that actually meets those "most livable city" polls vancouver seems to wind up on, a vancouver which is actually livable! go tent city go!

      4 6Rating: -2

      Peter Parker

      Feb 28, 2011 at 7:07pm

      Those of us who pay the bill have a question: where is the end of it?

      How many units must be built to solve the problem? Who gets to live in them? For how long? At what expense in maintenance and operation? At what expense in construction? Why shouldn't taxpayers get free housing too?

      Those who demand social housing "for all" never talk about the endgame. They never talk about obligation -- only 'entitlement'.

      If we build 10,000 units in Vancouver, will we attract ten thousand who will come for the good weather and the free housing? Vancouver cannot go it alone. An effective policy must be a national policy. Otherwise, we will create an unaffordable and unsustainable mecca in SW Canada.

      Those who demand social housing "for all" must answer a simple question: when is enough enough? If there is no end in sight, we're not buying it.

      4 9Rating: -5


      Feb 28, 2011 at 7:19pm

      Why does vancouver have to be "affordable"? Is it written somewhere that people have a right to affordable housing and that everyone is accountable to provide it?

      3 6Rating: -3

      Richard Fresh

      Mar 1, 2011 at 6:26am

      The door's open come on in.

      5 6Rating: -1

      Sid Tan

      Mar 1, 2011 at 9:53am

      Short video of Olympic Village Tent City. I was impressed the the fresh and enthusiastic faces of young people getting involved in the political process which includes protests.

      @Micheal Geller - what harm to social housing in protesting broken promises and debt?

      @Peter Parker - a lot of people who pay taxes want more affordable and social housing

      @NDB - good you can afford living in Vancouver. Issue is more lack of national housing strategy...

      @Sven Crawson - we (residents of Vancouver) are all winners because the Tent City partcipants organise and exercise their rights. It's called participation in political process...

      7 3Rating: +4

      Sven Crawson

      Mar 1, 2011 at 10:51am

      These stupid "tent protests" or whatever you want to call them are about as useful and effective as the Critical Massholes who create chaos all over the city for hours on end to protest god only knows what. All they know how to do is be against something, and be a jerk while doing it.

      5 6Rating: -1