Vancouver Tenants Union members pass constitution and bylaws at first annual general meeting

    1 of 1 2 of 1

      With rents reaching unprecedented levels in Vancouver, a group of tenants has ratified a constitution and bylaws.

      Today at the Russian Hall in Strathcona, members agreed at their first annual general meeting that the organization should be called the Vancouver Tenants Union.

      "We believe everyone, regardless of race, class, gender, age, ability, sexual orientation, religion, lifestyle or citizenship status deserve safe, affordable housing and homes," the VTU constitution states.

      It also notes that VTU members are "organizing, living, and residing on unceded Coast Salish territories, specifically of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh nations".

      "We recognize that displacement and gentrification are part of the larger colonial and capitalist systems that occupy these lands. Fighting for tenants' rights is a fight for housing justice for all," the constitution states. "No more displacement on stolen Native land."

      Earlier this year, a private-sector website called PadMapper stated that the median price for a one-bedroom apartment in Metro Vancouver was $2,020 per month. It collects listings from a variety of sources, including Craigslist.

      This was significantly higher than the average rent of $1,223 for purpose-built rental apartments, which was reported by the Canada Mortage and Housing Corporation in November 2016.

      The CMHC statistic includes rents for units that have been protected for years under provincial rent control; PadMapper only includes new listings in its estimate.

      Meanwhile, the VTU constitution states that members have a responsibility to work toward decommodifying land by rejecting corporate ownership and supporting "cooperative housing, land trusts, and other alternatives to private ownership".

      In addition, the constitution states that members "oppose displacement in the forms of violent gentrification, renovictions, rent increases, illegal evictions, and the tearing down of tent cities".

      According to a tweet by Vancouver activist Derrick O'Keefe, the Vancouver Tenants Union already has nearly 1,000 members.

      Memberships are valid for one year and anyone who's accepted must uphold the constitution and comply with the VTU's bylaws.

      Memberships can also be revoked with a two-thirds vote of the steering committee.

      The quorum for an annual general meeting is 10 percent of the voting members.

      In addition, the VTU plans to hold at least six regional general meetings each year. In these instances, the quorum is 20 members.