Building a Vancouver you can afford.

COPE is working to make Vancouver affordable and sustainable. We are a movement of working people from across the city. With your help we can implement bold solutions to the housing crisis, make daycare affordable, reduce transit fares, and stop climate change.

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Introducing COPE’s 2014 Team!

  On Sunday, September 7th, 2014 COPE members came together at the Japanese Hall and selected COPE’s 2014 election team. After voting overwhelmingly in favour of running a mayoral candidate …

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COPE calls on Vision to refrain from imminent eviction of Oppenheimer Park homeless tenters

tentcityThe Coalition of Progressive Electors stands in solidarity with the tent city at Oppenheimer Park, and calls on Vision Vancouver to refrain from using its unconstitutional anti-tenting Bylaws to evict those tenting in the park.

Vancouver City Council passed a resolution June 25th, 2014 acknowledging that Vancouver occupies unceded territory of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh peoples.

In an open letter to the City of Vancouver, the residents of Oppenheimer Park tent city declared:

The City of Vancouver recognizes the unceded and enduring existence of our Aboriginal Title here. Under this recognition, we now require that you leave this place and cease any attempts to remove people or their belongings from this place. Because we are the title holders to this land, we assert that you do not have jurisdiction over this place until such time as our title to it is lawfully resolved. Any actions against this camp are thereby unlawful actions against our title; we demand an immediate cease and desist of action or the threat of action against this camp or those within it.

In the wake of the Idle No More movement and the Year of Reconciliation, COPE believes that the city can’t stop at symbolic gestures.

“Recognizing this is indigenous land is not a symbolic act. It must change the way the City treats the land and indigenous people. Park Rangers walking into this tent city, with its important message about inequality and indigenous sovereignty, threatening to use force to arrest people, steal their belongings, and dismantle the longhouse they have built, is totally unacceptable. Recognition without action is hypocrisy,” said COPE Co-Chair Heather Gies.

Twice Vision Vancouver has created new anti-structures bylaws they have used to fine homeless people for sleeping outdoors, and protest camps by groups like the Falun Gong. In 2013, the Vision-led council attempted to increase the fine for homelessness up to $10,000, which was challenged by Pivot Legal Society.

Some of the campers are recent evictees from the York Hotel, and many say they are safer in the camp than in SROs, where bed bugs, overcrowding, and unlivable conditions are the norm. The City of Vancouver says they are trying to find shelter spots, but that provides no long-term stability or security for people without housing, Shelters are not homes, and are not an acceptable replacement for actual affordable and social housing.

The Adams v. Victoria BC Supreme Court decision established that it is unconstitutional to punish people for sleeping outside when there is no adequate housing. Right now in Vancouver, homelessness is at its highest rate in recorded history. There are fewer emergency shelters this year than in past years, and all the winter shelters have been closed. Meanwhile, renovictions are increasing as landlords upscale their buildings in the context of Vision’s gentrification plans for DTES, Grandview-Woodlands and other neighbourhoods.

Rosanne Gervais, COPE’s Aboriginal Caucus Representative said: “The City of Vancouver has not taken steps to protect SRO’s from renoviction and has stepped back its plans to build social housing that is affordable for low-income people. Now they are trying to hide the city-wide homelessness that is a direct result. Until the City of Vancouver takes real actions towards ending homelessness and finds solutions to the problems it has created, it has no business using force to try to hide the problem it refuses to solve.”

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COPE denounces sexist personal attacks on Park Board Candidate

The Coalition of Progressive Electors denounces attacks made on Trish Kelly in response to her performance in a sex-positive video.

This is not the first time women’s personal lives, bodies, and sexuality have been unnecessarily dragged into the discussion and made to overshadow their politics, and that is unacceptable. It is already difficult enough for women to participate as candidates, and women should not be bullied out of an election race.

The bullying and additional scrutiny that women candidates face is sexist and reinforces the huge disparity between men and women in politics at all levels. In municipal governments across Canada, on average, only 26% of City Councillors are women.

In Vancouver specifically, we have never had a female mayor or a majority of women on Council. Provincially, women don’t fare much better, filling only 35% of the seats in the BC legislature. We must do all that we can to rectify these disparities, rather than allow female candidates to be publically shamed and further marginalized.

People of all political parties and all genders must be especially vigilant to ensure that politics is an open and safe space for women and other non-male identified participants.

We all have to support women, and other marginalized groups, in running for office. We must collectively take a strong stand against personal, gendered, and misogynistic attacks on their candidacy. We must stand together against all forms of discrimination and bullying. Only then can we work towards creating a government that truly represents the diversity of our city.

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Differences between COPE’s strong Housing Authority and Vision’s weak “housing agency”

HAgraphic

Late Wednesday night Vancouver City Council received a staff report on what will become a City-run “one-stop shop” for developers. There are crucial differences between COPE’s Housing Authority plan and Vision’s “Housing Agency.”

In April of this year, COPE released a 98-page report entitled, “Ending the Housing Crisis: International Best Practices for Creating a Vancouver Housing Authority,” which analyzed case studies from around the world and proposed key principles for a uniquely Vancouver approach to a municipal housing authority.

COPE’s Housing Authority fundamentally differs from the Vision housing agency in these ways:

1. Developer powers: COPE’s Housing Authority will build housing. Vision’s housing agency is not empowered to build housing.

2. Public profits: Any profits from COPE’s Housing Authority will go to the city, while Vision’s housing agency relies on private developers and allows them to keep profits.

3. Public ownership: COPE’s Housing Authority will own the housing it builds. Under Vision’s housing agency the city will not own the housing, rather the buildings will be privately owned.

4. Democratic governance: COPE’s Housing Authority will be democratically elected and represent tenants and community members, drawing on Toronto’s experience. Vision’s housing agency will be governed by a board of real estate industry experts.

5. Social housing: COPE’s Housing Authority will build social housing to end homelessness. Vision’s Housing Agency plan excludes social housing – it is all market housing.

6. Progressive funding sources: Part of COPE’s Housing Authority budget for operation and building will come from a dedicated tax on private developers and a luxury housing tax for houses valued at more than $1.5 million. Vision’s Housing Agency budget will come from general revenue and provides only for an executive board and expert consultants.

7. No corporate tax breaks: COPE’s Housing Authority will not be governed by real estate industry interests nor will it give tax breaks to real estate corporations, unlike Vision’s Housing Agency.

8. Lobbying: COPE’s Housing Authority will aggressively lobby and pressure other levels of government to support social housing. In Stockholm and New York City, tenants of the Housing Authority buildings work together to run the building and lobby for their interested. Vision’s housing agency does not plan to mobilize tenants or lobby government.

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COPE members adopt a policy for a Housing Authority with teeth

At yesterday’s COPE Annual General Meeting, the membership approved the party’s 2014 policy platform that highlights the need for a municipal Housing Authority to build real affordable and social housing.

To end homelessness, COPE’s Housing Authority program will build 800 units of city-owned social housing annually. The city’s 2005 Homeless Action Plan called for 800 units of social housing each year for ten years, but Vision and the NPA abandoned this goal.

“Thousands of Vancouver residents are living in deplorable housing conditions, especially poor people in single-room hotels, seniors, single mothers, indigenous people, and many migrants,” said Charlene Sayo, a new voice on COPE’s Executive. “COPE’s Housing Authority will build real social and affordable housing that remains publicly-owned.” COPE’s Housing Authority plan outlines annual income to fund city-owned social housing:

Luxury Housing Tax – $35 million
Levies and contributions from private developers – $50 million
Housing Authority profits – $50 million
Property Endowment Fund revenues – $10 million
Lobbying / other sources – $25 million
“People who have benefited from Vancouver’s high housing prices can afford to pay a little more to help end homelessness, and build a Vancouver everyone can afford,” said Sayo. COPE’s Luxury Housing Tax will not affect homes valued below $1.5 million. A property valued at $2 million be taxed only an extra 42 dollars per month.

This week, City Council will be voting on Vision’s plan for a Housing Agency that builds no social housing and puts private real estate corporations in charge. Under Vision’s plan, the city will not build housing, but as Councilor Meggs told Metro News it will be a “one-stop shop” for private real estate corporations to get approval for projects to reduce so-called red tape. This sounds like the NPA’s free-market solution of removing red tape for developers to override community processes.

“COPE’s Housing Authority will be democratically governed by residents, not developers. It will be guided by the needs of tenants and elected representatives, and will build relationships with communities and First Nations,” said Sayo. “Vision’s Housing Agency will be run by real estate industry interests, who caused the problem in the first place.”

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