It was quite a contrast! I was leafleting at Trout Lake’s Farmers Market about noon on Saturday. As I walked down Victoria towards the market, I passed the new ice rink that is under construction. Then I went to the Stand Against Homelessness at City Hall.
First there were two positive things, a new rink being built to replace the old, inadequate one in the Trout Lake neighbourhood (and a rebuilt community centre to come if the 2009-11 Capital Plan is passed by the voters on Nov 15), and a busy Farmer’s Market bringing local food to people in East Vancouver. Then a rally against homelessness. Shelter is a basic human need, and it just doesn’t seem right that people should have to stage protests to persuade the people with power that they need to act now.
The current NPA-dominated Council points to housing that is being built, but it is mostly upgraded SRO’s that already existed. Meanwhile people are still sleeping on park benches, being kicked out of low-income housing units that are then either converted to higher-end market or demolished in favour of more dense market housing with at most the same number of social housing units that existed before. The NPA-dominated Park Board is no better – they refused to even allow a motion on addressing homelessness from COPE Commissioner Spencer Herbert to be put on the table.
The positive thing about the Stands for Housing are that people are doing something about it. However, they need the politicians at all levels of government to respond and act.
When I went to COPE’s Campaign Office Opening Party, I listened to our council incumbent David Cadman and former incumbent Ellen Woodsworth, who are both running for Council in 2008, and I am confident that if they–along with any Vision candidates that are elected–will take action to have more units of of low-income housing built, and prevent existing units from being lost.