Housing protest surrounds Vancouver Olympic celebration site with message for Stephen Harper
For three hours on Saturday (February 27), red tarps encircled Vancouver's LiveCity Downtown celebration site, home of the Canada Pavilion for the 2010 Winter Olympics.
As Olympic revellers lined up to enter the site, protesters added political graffiti to the tarps before blocking the entrance for one minute.
"It sucks being outside," protester Carly Louth, a 35-year-old East Vancouver resident, told the Straight while she painted a tarp along Beatty Street. "You're cold, you're miserable, and there's way too many people having to do it. So, that's why we're out here."
Carly Louth explains why protesters came out.
Just down the street, Nancy Bailey, a 61-year-old clown and storyteller who lives in Surrey, told the Straight she used to work in the Downtown Eastside and cares about the situation of homeless people in the city.
"What we need is a government housing program, so that we can get people into housing," Bailey said. "All the programs in the world to help the homeless won't do anything until they have four walls where they feel safe, they have an address, and they can start getting healing and get jobs and get off the street."
Nancy Bailey talks about why a national housing program is needed.
Protesters paint graffiti on the red tarps.
Coalition of Progressive Electors councillor Ellen Woodsworth, who came down to see the protest, told the Straight that Canada is the only G8 country without a national housing program and it hasn't had one since 1993.
Woodsworth noted that seven emergency shelters in Vancouver will close on April 30, throwing hundreds of people onto the streets.
"Shelters are not homes," the councillor said. "We need to spend the same kind of money and energy that we've spent on the Olympics on a national housing program that's supported by the province and the city government.
Woodsworth urged people to throw their support behind NDP MP Libby Davies' Bill C-304, which would see the federal government establish such a program.
Ellen Woodsworth describes the impact of the housing crisis.
Initiated by Pivot Legal Society, the Red Tent campaign previously held a “solidarity sleepover” on the night of February 19 at Creekside Park to draw attention to homelessness.
You can follow Stephen Hui on Twitter at twitter.com/stephenhui.
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