Heather Gies: Why settle for Vision Vancouver or the NPA?

Yesterday (July 14), after the NPA announced its mayoral candidate, the NPA and Vision began criticizing each other immediately. They are both correct in their criticisms: it is true that Vision doesn’t listen to Vancouverites and it is true that the NPA would represent a step backwards for this city.

But why settle for either when the Coalition of Progressive Electors fixes the faults of both? Only COPE privileges the voices of residents and renters over corporate donors. Only COPE develops strong progressive policies by way of member collaboration.

The NPA says Vision doesn’t listen to residents, but they neglect to mention the real reason behind this. Big real-estate companies donated over $1 million to Vision Vancouver in the last election. The NPA also relies on these developers and corporations to fund their campaigns. The idea that they could "listen" more effectively than Vision is outrageous: they are beholden to the same corrupting financial interests.

It comes as no surprise that Vision's and the NPA’s housing policies are essentially the same. Both are proposing tax cuts for developers and cutting “red tape” at city hall to make things easier for the real-estate industry. Only COPE is willing to tax the real-estate corporations and implement a luxury housing tax to fund and maintain public housing. Only COPE will sweep the real-estate corporations out of the backrooms of city hall and commit to fixing Vancouver’s housing crisis. COPE’s housing-authority plan will build 800 units of social housing each year to end homelessness as well as thousands of real affordable public rental homes.

The real question of this election is: who do you trust to keep your rent more affordable? The parties in the pockets of the corporations who stand to profit from high rents and skyrocketing homelessness levels? Or a party with the integrity to refuse developer funding? The answer is clear: COPE is the only option to build a Vancouver everyone can afford.

Comments (24) Add New Comment
Heather unfortunately COPE has burdened itself with so much Marxist rhetoric it is not a viable choice for most voters. I will be considering the Green party as a true alternative though.
Rating: -11
Tommy Khang
Help! Someone please save me from death by laughter! COPE's own policy on housing clearly states that they will: Make use of the strong private market and direct CACs and DLCs toward the social and affordable housing. Last time I checked CACs and DLCs are generated by DEVELOPERS.
Rating: -14
Boris Moris
Sorry Heather, voting for a party with Marxist underpinnings isn't an option for close to 90% of voters anymore. Lose the commies, the cultists and the latent anarchists and you might just manage to elect a park board member or 2.
Rating: -13
I was at that COPE Annual General Meeting, and it was really exciting to see new faces getting involved who have the principles of Vancouver's long-time no-developer-money party.

If they can get some reasonable candidates before the election, I'm hopeful we'll get the a voice for the city's renters, seniors, and young people back on council.
Rating: +14
Burger King
If taxing developers and building affordable is "Marxist", I'm in.
Rating: +33
This municipal election should be an easy decision for Vancouverites - there's a party with a corrupt Vision, a Non-Partisan Association of developers, and COPE.
Rating: +16
Mr Practical
What do you mean you want to keep rents down? I want the rents to double, aye to triple! And then blame it on anyone else except city hall and the real estate industry.
Rating: -19
Way too radical, way too ridiculous. I'm already in the frying pan, no need to jump into the fire.
Rating: -27
@TommyKhang - you are crying "gotcha" a little prematurely. Where does the profit go from private developments? To the owner/shareholders, yes? Where does the profit go from developments the "one stop shop" at City Hall will okay? Private developers.

Now, where does the profit go in a public system? Back to the City. These CACs and DCLs you speak of with such ease are a pittance thrown to the city to ease consciences about huge new amounts of people in neighbourhoods that aren't designed for them.

Developing market-priced housing and selling it to fund social housing - like they do at UBC Trust for education - is not crazy. It's done all over the world. What - you think Vancouver should shut down development altogether? Or not take the pittances of CACs and DLCs? I think you read your Vision playbook wrong.
Rating: +9
You guys will have my vote if you can overcome certain stereotypes.

My understanding is that the COPE intelligensia are behind The Mainlander, that opaque screeds which leads the charge against restaurants in the DTES.

While parsing and dissecting various types of privilege can be a fun past-time, one fears that a COPE-led council will spend its entire term apologizing for colonialism, accusing each other of being closet reactionaries, and urging Parliament to appoint Harsha Walia as Minister of Immigration.

My concern is that you not drive away the filthy, dirty, capitalist money that is needed to build the utopia of Vandustan in unceded Coast Salish Territory.

The CoV doesn't really have many other income sources. Are you going to raise community centre gym fees to make up the difference? Or massively lay off your staff and/or bring in un-unionized contractors? Clearly not.

And you can't just go into deficit financing because the city doesn't allow it.

So, I wanna hear that COPE does not just have its heart (and Foucault-infused brain) in the right place. I wanna hear about pragmatic business models, precedents that have worked in other places, skills, relationship-building.

VISION has been just this side of acceptable to me because they at least give a veneer of greenwash to their cooperation with business, which we would not get with the NPA. I've been ok with VISION because of low expectations, basically. A bike lane is at least something.

I'm sure that City Hall can be done even better but you need to sell the specifics, the nuts and/or bolts. Good luck COPE!!!
Rating: +17
Free Marketeer
Any barrier to sales in Vancouver is ensures that prices will go down and my investments will suffer. I applaud Vision for their attempts to cut down on red tape. Permits and having to take community amenities into account are such a pain and take way longer than they should. Housing is not a right, whatever the UN or lefties say, it's an investment and a profitable one. Any other opinions on this are invalid.
Rating: -41
If the worst that people can sling at COPE is that they have a diverse collaborative membership then i dont even know what to say.

COPE's new platform is incredible!
Rating: -4
Tired 20th Century Nonsense
"who do you trust to keep your rent more affordable? The parties in the pockets of the corporations who stand to profit from high rents and skyrocketing homelessness levels?"

How much of Vancouver's rental stock is owned by "corporations"? How is it that "corporations" profit from "skyrocketing homelessness levels"? If anything, homelessness drives down the value of real estate. It seems here that COPE is all but stating its class-war aims: people who rent their basements or who own a hard-earned condo that they rent out are the scum of the earth. But COPE can hardly call out such people honestly.

How do they intend to fund their pie in the sky dreams? A "luxury housing tax", among other things. The bitter contempt in the wording itself belies the disconnect from reality. A ~2800 square foot 4 bedroom home in Dunbar, the first I found on MLS, lists for 2.7 million. 4 bedrooms is a "luxury home"? To the radicals in COPE, I suppose it is. So, there you have it, kids: to COPE, a home fit to raise a family in is a "luxury." After all, responsible western imperialist pigdogs know that they're oppressing the world by having children, so they should responsibly live in tenement houses and not have families rather than being "part of the problem."
Rating: -15
@Tired 20th Century Nonsense
A house worth 2.5 million - if you don't consider this "luxury" then I wonder what you would!
Rating: +4

Yes, a $2.7 million home is a luxury. To afford the mortgage payments on that you'd be in the top 1% income bracket.

That's obscene, and that's the real problem. A house to raise a family in should not be impossible for all but the top 1%. The real estate sector is completely off the leash in this city.

However, I don't see the unreformed campus jarhon theorists of cope as having any solutions. Their obsession with "social housing" constructed by the public, while being an OK if nowhere near sufficient idea on its own, has the smell of Cuba fetish about it. They're not interested in solving the problem, their goal is more to build housing to prove a point.

A real move to fix Vancouver's problems would take more courage than cope apparently has: it would involve crashing the real estate sector as an explicit goal. Having the public sector throw its chips down on the real estate casino table at this point only feeds the sickness.

Rating: -9
The housing policy = whatever.

I'm just glad they're taking a stance against Vision demolishing community gardens in Strathcona to build a freeway.
Rating: -9
Vision had better clean up their act and build some real social housing
Rating: +7
Tommy Khang
Look I ain't reading from some little green and blue handbook titled "quotations from Mayor Moonbeam" over here. The fact is COPE's election platform, to most rational people, is out of this world and mere fantasy.
Rating: -13
How is it a luxury? 2800 square feet, 4 bedrooms is a luxury? You cannot define luxury in terms of price, especially when it is not like there is an over-abundance of 1 million dollar homes in Vancouver which people are ignoring in order to buy these 2.7 million dollar homes. Luxury is buying $100/pound coffee instead of $3/pound coffee. Luxury is not buying a 2800 square foot home for your family, even if it is incredibly expensive.

I agree we have economic problems, but the issue is federal monetary policy. Municipalities and Cities cannot fix this problem. Even Provincial Governments cannot fix this problem. The problem is that we manufacture money at interest, and that there is no interest-free money available for public works. For reasons beyond all rational comprehension, Parliament has given over most of our money-creating capacity to the private banking sector. Former Vancouver Mayor Gerry McGeere covered this in the senate standing banking and commerce committee in, iirc, 1939. Why, he asked Graham Towers, a former Governor of the bank of Canada? Because Parliament has done so.

And you are right about the Cuba fetish. Look at Tim Louis who parades around with a vile murderer on the back of his wheelchair, Che Guevara. We don't need these sorts of radicals involved in anything in Vancouver.
Rating: -19

"You cannot define luxury in terms of price..."

Yes, you can. You don't have to buy a $2.7m home in Dunbar, one of the most expensive neighbourhoods in Canada. You also don't "need" a 2800 sq ft detached home to raise kids. Hell, if coffee cost $100/pd, then coffee would be a luxury good as well. Gold is a luxury good due to its price, not because it's useful.

Anyone who can afford a mortgage on a $2.7m home is in the top 1% of incomes. They're pulling down several hundred $k per year, and they can afford a luxury tax. Besides, if it helps keep speculators from inflating prices any further, it's a good thing on those grounds alone.
Rating: +10


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