A Vancouver everyone can afford

Now that the election is over, it's time to get back to work: on affordable housing, affordable transit, making Vancouver a Sanctuary City, $10 a day childcare, and fighting to reverse climate change.

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  • The Coalition of Progressive Electors, since 1968

Resignation of COPE’s Executive Director

On Wednesday, Sarah Beuhler announced her resignation from her position as COPE Executive Director, taking responsibility for the failure to include Ray Bergen and Canreal donations in COPE’s voluntary disclosure …

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COPE to return donation from real estate corporation

At the end of October 2014, two donations totalling $12,500 from Ray Bergen and his property management company, Canreal, were accepted by COPE. $9,500 was donated from Ray Bergen personally, and $3,000 from Canreal. The donation was not initially perceived to contravene COPE’s policy of not accepting donations from developers.

At COPE’s subsequent Executive meeting, on November 23rd, the Executive was notified of the donations and voted to return them, determining that Canreal and Bergen fit the definition of “developer.”

COPE is in the process of developing clear policy on what constitutes a developer. Ray Bergen maintains that Canreal is a commercial property manager and does not engage in real estate development. Bergen did, however, work as a developer in the early 1990s, which is the basis of some of the experience listed on his website.

Bergen’s statements do not change the fact that the donation will be returned, as has been the case since the COPE Executive meeting of November 23rd.

COPE recognizes that vetting procedures which should have been in place around developer donations were either deficient or overlooked. COPE is working to identify and rectify the problems caused by these deficiencies, and will develop a robust system of checks and balances moving forward.

On November 4th 2014, COPE voluntarily disclosed to the public the election donations received to date. Omissions in the voluntary disclosure will be investigated and remedied. The legal deadline to file the full campaign finance disclosure with Elections BC is February 13th, 2015.

COPE is taking these errors seriously and is currently developing internal processes to address this issue, including clarifying donations policies and vetting procedures to avoid future errors.

COPE wholeheartedly apologizes for letting down the voters of Vancouver, our membership, and the candidates who campaigned in good faith.

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Vancouver can’t trust the NPA to tackle real estate speculation

For Immediate Release October 14th, 2014 Today the NPA announced its housing platform, which included a watered-down version of Meena Wong’s plan to tax vacant properties. COPE announced its plan …

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We can’t afford four more years of Vision Vancouver

“Only COPE can be trusted to build a Vancouver everyone can afford,” says Meena Wong

For immediate release
Wednesday October 8th, 2014

In 2008 Gregor Robertson promised to end homelessness. After six years of corporate tax breaks, luxury condo development, and renovictions, homelessness is at its highest level in recorded history. Today, while Vision is in court seeking to evict hundreds homeless people from Oppenheimer park, they are announcing that they want to make Vancouver affordable.

  • Vision says it has adopted COPE’s idea for an Affordable Housing Authority. While COPE’s plan means the city will build and own affordable housing, under Vision’s plan the city won’t build or own a single unit of housing. According to Councillor Geoff Meggs it will be a “one-stop-shop” for developers. “This is all style and no substance, not the kind of leadership we need to solve the housing crisis,” said COPE’s Mayoral candidate Meena Wong.
  • Vision says they have built new rental housing by giving tax-breaks to developers through the STIR and Rental 100 program. But the rents in these apartments are not affordable. “I don’t call $1,800/month for a one-bedroom suite affordable,” said Meena Wong.
  • Vision says that they’re requiring that a portion of new developments to be for families. But every year 2% of children leave Vancouver public schools because they can’t afford to the cost of living. “New families can no longer imagine themselves building a life in this city. We need housing that families can afford,” said Meena Wong.
  • Vision says that have offered a free swimming course. But Vision has increased community centre fees across the board. “Only COPE can be trusted to reduce community centre fees for everyone,” said Wong.

“Vision accepted over $1 million from the real estate industry last election, and now you see the results,” said Meena Wong. “Only COPE can be trusted to build a Vancouver everyone can afford. We don’t accept funding from property developers.”

So far this campaign, COPE has proposed concrete ideas that will make life more affordable immediately.

    • Placing a duty on vacant properties to help fund our Housing Authority’s affordable and social housing.
    • A ban on renovictions to stop evictions for cosmetic renovations and to ensure a right-of return for tenants at previous rents.
    • Bringing in a Living Wage for all city employees and a $15/month minimum wage starting with large chain stores and hotels.
    • Reducing the cost of a 3-zone bus pass from $170/month to $30/month for all Vancouver residents who want it.

Vision Vancouver has opposed all these plans. We can’t afford four more years of Vision. It’s time for bold ideas to reduce the cost-of-living and increase incomes.

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“Minimum Wage Should be a Living Wage”

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At Vancouver’s biggest mall today, Meena Wong, COPE candidate for mayor, announced a key plank in the party’s plan to combat income inequality in Vancouver.

“I’m standing before you now to say this loud and clear: Vancouver needs a raise. Now, I don’t mean that City Councilors need a raise. In February of this year, the Mayor and City Councilors gave themselves a raise. And I don’t mean that the city’s communications department needs a raise. It came out last week they’re already getting $1.6 million. And for sure the property developers in this city don’t need a raise. They are making record profits under Vision Vancouver’s government,” said Meena Wong.

“I’m standing before here today to say that the people of Vancouver need a raise. Especially those who work the hardest and get paid the least. Hospitality workers, retail and food workers, caregivers, and more. These people are often women, people of colour, immigrants, indigenous people and students.”

Wong detailed COPE’s plans for implementing a Living Wage. Leading the way, a COPE government will institute a Living Wage as the minimum standard for those directly employed by the City of Vancouver.

Next, contractors will also be required to meet the Living Wage in order to qualify for City of Vancouver contracts. They will also have to meet unionization and Fair Wage requirements.

COPE will seek an amendment to the Vancouver Charter giving the City the power to set a local minimum wage. The provincial minimum wage is only half of a Living Wage in Vancouver, contributing to the growing inequalities that make the city unaffordable. Where the province has failed, COPE will lead.

The next phase will focus on big box stores and chains. Most small businesses want to pay their employees well, but they are undercut by big businesses that pay low wages. COPE will work with other municipalities to institute a Living Wage across Metro Vancouver, lessening the chance of stores relocating to avoid paying their employees a fair wage.

The Seattle experience demonstrates that with the support of residents, city governments can take a stand to support working people and to bring low wage workers out of poverty.

In Seattle last year, Kshama Sawant was elected to Seattle City Council on a platform of winning a $15/hour minimum wage. Sawant unseated the incumbent Democrat and now Seattle is implementing a $15/hour minimum wage, which will rise with inflation.

Councillor Sawant is coming to Vancouver this weekend, and she will be giving the keynote speech at COPE’s event this Saturday. Sawant is here to say, “if we gave Seattle a raise, you can give Vancouver a raise too!”

Seattle City Councillor, Kshama Sawant, will be speaking Saturday September 27th, 7:00pm at the Maritime Labour Centre, on that city’s successful fight for $15/hour. Tickets available here: www.cope.bc.ca/kshamasawant.

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