Video: Olympic Tent Village residents speak out on homelessness in Vancouver

    1 of 1 2 of 1

      This morning (February 16), I visited the Olympic Tent Village at 58 West Hastings Street in Vancouver.

      Set up yesterday (February 15) by Streams of Justice, the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre Power of Women Group, and others, the tent village was home to around 100 people last night.

      According to organizers, the vacant lot occupied by the village is owned by condominium developer Concord Pacific and was being used by Vanoc as a parking lot during the Olympics.

      Hundreds attended a rally yesterday to support the village and to call for an end to homelessness, condo development in the Downtown Eastside, and the criminalization of poverty.

      Tent village residents and supporters held a press conference this morning. Here’s what they had to say.

      You can follow Stephen Hui on Twitter at

      See also:
      Photo gallery: Olympic Tent Village draws attention to housing issues in Vancouver
      Photo gallery: Anti-Olympic protesters unleash 2010 Heart Attack on Vancouver
      Video: 2010 Heart Attack sees anti-Olympic protesters clash with riot police in Vancouver
      Photos: Take Back Our City protest greets opening of 2010 Olympics in Vancouver
      Video: Take Back Our City protest welcomes 2010 Olympics in Vancouver



      Enough garbage

      Feb 16, 2010 at 2:21pm

      They should do like the rest of us taxpayers do... get a job and move to somewhere they can afford. I can't afford to live in Vancouver so I don't. You don't see me waving signs asking for free housing because I'm too busy working for these lazy whiners. Disabilities prevent you from doing certain things, you can still do other types of work, a disability is not an excuse to be lazy. Drug addiction is also not an excuse for free housing in Canada's most expensive city. If the taxpayers can't afford to live there, drug addicts should also not get free housing there. Further, that's the worst place for free housing right in the middle of a drug haven. Put free housing away from the drugs. But I guess that would make them whine more because access to the drugs would be harder. Cry me a river... get a job, learn some responsibility like the rest of us and grow up.

      Morals in Gord's BC

      Feb 16, 2010 at 3:16pm

      Ah guilt and shame...

      Those basic inescapable human sensations. I've got a roof you don't. What can I tell myself to justify why I get it and you don't.

      Are we starving and vicious? Is it the "law of the jungle" in Vancouver? No.

      It really sucks to have abundance and have to look at those people camping outdoors.

      A human right? The right thing to do.

      Petey J

      Feb 16, 2010 at 3:47pm

      what's James Moore worried about ?
      Quebec is supported by BC in lots of ways you never even figured !


      Feb 16, 2010 at 5:36pm

      What a bunch of nonsense. As Frances Bula guessed, most of the people protesting homelessness are comfortably ensconced in social housing. The homeless people in the DTES are homeless because of their drug problems. They are not the shiny-faced activists shown above, who, without the homeless, would have to find another axe to grind (or would have to join their APC compatriots and just generally protest with or without cause).

      It's the drugs

      Feb 16, 2010 at 9:50pm

      Morals - I'm don't seek to justify why my life has turned out for the better (relatively speaking). As with any person in any position, rich or poor - there but for the grace of god/whatever, go I. The problem with the homelessness issue in Vancouver is and, it seems to me, always will be drug addiction. These people need help badly, but simply providing them with housing won't solve their problems.

      Some homeless men with addictions were given apt's in my neighbourhood and could not last more than a month. Their places were trashed, keys lost and neighbours frightened. The experiment was a failure.

      A man standing outside London Drugs on W Broadway said to me just today when I walked by "i need to go back to the DTES where I can be invisible" That is exactly why the DTES must change. It's a land of the walking dead where these tragic people are indistinguishable from one another. I don't know what the solution to the problem is.... I guess my thought would to be to people off the street, house them under supervision until they have completed a drug rehabilitation course as well and some sort of life-training for reintegration to the outside world. That probably paints me as some conservative wacko, but I feel that is what's moral. Giving them shelter so they continue their long march towards suicide is I think a tremendously sad, ineffective band-aid solution.


      Feb 16, 2010 at 11:02pm

      Housing is a right? So are working 16 hour days for the privilege of living indoors. I don't live where I can't afford to live. Makes sense to me and lots of others who commute up to 3 or 4 hours a day getting to and from work.
      I don't mind giving a hand to some one who's had a tough go of it. I hate being forced to give a hand to someone who simply refuses to even try to make a go of it and demands MORE. I get up everyday and travel an hour and a half to work a job that frankly any schmuck could do...and it pays my bills with a wee bit left over. That schmuck job could have been filled by anyone that bothered to apply for it and it's not the only schmuck job out there. I got it, because I applied...if I hadn't, well then, I'd be lumped into that free loading, hand-out demanding crowd. I have a bit more self respect than that. There are programs for addicts of all stripes....some really great ones that work (if you want to make the effort) and the gov't foots the bill. No excuses there. There is's not free but all of us have to pay something. There are assistance programs for alot of different situations. However, alot of people faced with living outdoors simply refuse to comply with the requirements outlined for getting assistance.
      My buck stops there.


      Feb 17, 2010 at 7:06pm

      For those of you advocating they go out and get jobs, how do you get a job without somewhere to live? How many of you or your companies would hire somebody with no address to put on an application, etc? Oh and let's see, the best that most of these people could hope for is a part time job(16-20 hours) at minimum wage($8) which works out to $512-$640 a month, could you live on that? Never mind that would also take them off welfare, which not only pays more, but helps cover other costs such as medical, prescriptions, among a few other things necessary for life.

      And for those advocating that they can just go to treatment and get clean and/or help, there just simply isn't enough spaces for those that want it as there are long waiting lists just to get in. And just going to treatment for x number of weeks isn't going to solve their problems, as any addict will know its a constant struggle to not fall back, add to that if their is no support after treatment, treatment is likely not to help a person get back on their feet.

      And assistance programs require a lot of time and effort to get into, most have so much red tape that it takes forever to get the needed assistance.

      And those with disabilities, it is so much more than just finding a job that we can do, having a physical disability, and I'm speaking from personal experience here, means it takes longer to get ready for the day, that we may not be able to wear certain clothes(ie. I cannot get into a properly fitted suit jacket, etc without help), that some days are just off days and your body just will not cooperate so it takes much longer than normal to do anything, then there is getting around the city which most people take for granted, but for us is very difficult especially with able-bodied people taking up elevator space(!) when I would be absolutely ecstatic if I could take the stairs instead of the slow, stinky, crammed elevators. My doctors diagnosed me back when I was 6 and forecasted I would be dead by the time I was 10(yes I was in the room when they told my parents and I understood what they were talking about), but fortunately I have an absolute stubborn streak and here I am at 31 and still alive! I have endured much over those years, most of it I have endured all on my own, yes i have had help from friends and parents, but most people who know me, even those my entire 31 years, know very little of what it is like to be me. There is oh so much more I coud go into but for brevity I won't. So those that think it's a simple matter having a disability, its not, we just make it look easy.

      And these people are not just protesting homelessness, but also everything that goes along with it and in some cases cause it. There are a lot of issues all bundled up into that one word, just we, elite, assume that they are only raising the issue of not having a home to live in.

      Yankee Socialist

      Feb 18, 2010 at 6:43pm

      Vancouver is heading the way of San Francisco, e.g. its becoming a place for wealthy corporate yuppies and global elites. Everybody else fuck off, nothing will be affordable for you. This is not a good thing, capitalism concentrates money in the hands of fewer and fewer corporate interests, and more and more working people will be unable to afford housing as prices skyrocket upwards. Gentrification sucks, and its happening to too many cities worldwide. The price of housing in Vancouver is out of control, you have a neoliberal premiere who is a corporate pawn, no different from GW Bush or Obama.

      Capitalism is making our world more and more unaffordable, there are fewer and fewer jobs due to globalisation, and gigantic corporations own and control our governments and politicians.

      People will have to learn to organize and take a very proactive, aggressive stand against their government to pass laws to keep housing prices within reach of working families.

      Capitalism sucks, socialism is much more egalitarian and sane.

      Adolf Vancouver

      Feb 19, 2010 at 2:39am

      Vancouver hates these leeches. We gotta deal with them while they're still young. If a kid starts flunking out in grade 8 or 9, they're never gonna amount to anything. why should i as a taxpayer have to pay these lazy bums and those lazy bums in wheelchairs too, getting free money just because no legs. Maybe I should chop my legs off to get free government money, huh? What's stopping me? I say we take all the bums, the junkies, the hookers, the native indians, the kids who fail at school, the kids who are sexually abused, and we feed em to the pigfarm. Who wants to pay taxes just so a stupid kid, especially one that got skullfucked by a priest at a residential school, can get counselling and health programs, I'm sick and tired of my taxes going up to pay for crap like hospitals and homes and stuff for lazy seniors who want to stop working. I'm not gonna be able to retire at 65 why should you? Maybe we outta feed you to the pigs too. Give me more Olympics and bring back Pickton to deal the bums and then cancel my taxes. What a beautiful world that would be. Welcome to Vancouver, city of assholes.

      Buck Rogers

      Feb 22, 2010 at 2:30am

      Here we go again: the bums dangerous self entitlement rears it's ugly head. There's a title for activity like this: social parasitism - why work and actually provide for yourself when you can steal, commit crimes, abuse drugs and alcohol and harass decent people all so can be be rewarded with more entitlements.......