Vancouver Poverty Olympics torch relay reaches London England in 2012

Press Release: Historic Olympic Protest Torch Relay in East London

Passing of the Olympic Protest Torch in East London

Yes, this is the same toilet plunger torch in London.

They still tell us: “Globalization, free trade, de-regulation, privatization, gentrification–  like a rising tide, will ‘raise all boats.’”  Even after their economy imploded.

All will benefit, they say.  But their tide has raised only the yachts of the 1%.  The rest of us get “austerity” budgets, more police, service cuts, more gentrification, pension theft, more police, greater inequality, more pollution, more prohibition, more corruption, and always more police. Plus the military, and private “security.” ~Statement by London Poverty Olympics organizers, 2012

(Contact Julian Cheyne after 1pm on 020-3560 4064 and 07988 401216)

Press Release from Counter Olympics Network – 16th July 2012

The iconic Vancouver Poverty Olympics Torch will make an historic appearance in London. The East London Poverty Torch Relay will herald the ‘Whose Games? Whose City?’ Demonstration against the Corporate Olympics to be held on July 28th. Counter Olympics spokesperson, Julian Cheyne, said:

‘The Poverty Torch Relay highlights long-standing Olympic issues of eviction, land seizure and the exclusion of the poor. London 2012 is no different. The Olympics epitomises corporate power and growing social inequality.’

The Torch was handed over to London at a ceremony at the Olympic Cauldron in Jack Poole Plaza, Vancouver in 2010, visited Glasgow in March 2012 and was received by the Counter Olympics Network at the Bishopsgate Institute in April 2012.

Julian Cheyne added: ‘This is a milestone in Olympic protest – the first time, to our knowledge, that a protest torch has been handed from one host city to another. We hope this will be a feature of protest in future host cities.’

On Saturday 21st July, the Torch will go from ‘Lympic Stratford and end at bulldozed Wanstead Flats, where there will be an open day arranged by the Met to look at the police facility from 11am to 3pm. Our runners will be received by members of the Save Wanstead Flats campaign at the end of the open day event.

On Friday 27th July, the Torch will go from scenic Clissold Park to the unsightly basketball training facility at Leyton Marsh. The Save Leyton Marsh campaign will hold a welcome party for the torch.

The relays will start at 2pm. Allowing roughly an hour to complete the routes means the runners should arrive at both end points at about 3pm.

(Contact Julian Cheyne after 1pm on 020-3560 4064, 07988 401216)

Notes

1. Compulsory Purchase for London 2012: ‘A prime opportunity for the property industry.’

‘We don’t think it will be difficult to get partners,’ says LDA head of property and development Gareth Blacker. ‘If we do the site assembly we’re proposing to do, we’re creating a prime opportunity for the property industry.’

2. Wanstead Flats – A Terrible Precedent Is Born

The campaign against the use of Wanstead Flats during next year’s Olympics by the police for a Muster Briefing and Deployment Centre has never just been about what happens in 2012. From the beginning, it has always been about the precedent set by choosing to enclose part of Epping Forest, an area supposedly protected by a 135-year-old Act of Parliament.

3. History of Our Campaign: The story of Save Leyton Marsh

The landgrab is not just about abusing a large area of greenbelt land in opposition to the local residents. It’s not just about creating a precedent for this land to effectively become brownfield and so ready for other development. We have uncovered that it’s also a Trojan horse whereby the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority (LVRPA) will be able to more easily implement its pre-existing (but publicly unknown) proposals to knock down the adjacent Ice Centre in Lea Bridge Road and build something double its size.

Principally we have learned that the weight of state oppression is on us. Save Leyton Marsh originally set out to be a local environmental campaign, and the group would have opposed whoever, whichever public body decided to start digging up Leyton Marsh for whatever reason, for whatever period of time. We have learned that because the purpose of this shameful destruction of our green fields is the London 2012 Olympic Games, we are not free to object, protest or campaign as we should be.

4. Planning Displacement: The Real Legacy of Major Sporting Events
Three Games, three eviction stories

In September 2009 Planning Theory and Practice Magazine published, in its Interface section, three articles on displacement caused by three different mega-events, the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, the 2012 Summer Olympics in London and the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

5. ‘What Olympic Legacy?’

In 2002, long before the credit crunch, Game Plan, a Government report signed by Tony Blair, said ‘We conclude that the quantifiable evidence to support each of the perceived benefits for mega events is weak, The explicit costs of hosting a mega event should be weighed very carefully against the perceived benefits…(which) appear to be more about celebration than economic returns’. The party legacy!

6. MEGA-EVENTS, OLYMPIC GAMES AND HOUSING RIGHTS
Report by Centre for Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE)

This report is dedicated to the millions of victims of housing rights abuses in the context of mega-events. It is dedicated to those who have lost their homes and suffered displacement or eviction because of the Olympic Games or other megaevents; those who have been arrested, beaten, traumatised, incarcerated, even killed; those who have been dispossessed and impoverished; and those who have otherwise found themselves unable to ‘share the spirit’ when the Olympics or other events came to town.

7. Rio Evictions: Brazil off-course for World Cup and Olympics – UN housing expert
UN Housing Report

GENEVA (26 April 2011) – As Brazil prepares to host the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games, the Special Rapporteur of the UN Human Rights Council on the right to adequate housing, Raquel Rolnik, said Tuesday she has received many allegations concerning displacement and evictions potentially leading to violations of human rights.

8. Sochi’s Soviet style Olympics

The dismal record of mega event evictions, media manipulation, lying and overspends continues. Sochi is striving hard to compete with Delhi and Beijing as the most brutal event in recent years.

9. COHRE paper on ATLANTA’S OLYMPIC LEGACY
ATLANTA’S OLYMPIC LEGACY

The goal of this chapter is to address the housing displacement and criminalization of Atlanta’s poor and homeless people – both motivated and generated by the Olympic Games.

A few other interesting things from the internet about London Poverty Olympics 

London pictures and info

Robert Anderson (RIP) carries Poverty Torch in Vancouver 2010

Carmelita Joe carries End Poverty Torch in Vancouver 2010

 

Torch handed to girl in London for Poverty Games

Vancouver Olympic Poverty Torch reaches London 2012

 

 

For Immediate Release: Chinatown Neighbourhood Plan challenged by low-income group

For Immediate Release:  If it doesn’t include the majority residents it’s not a neighbourhood plan
Carnegie Community Action Project statement on the 2012 Chinatown Neighbourhood Plan

July 25, 2012

City council is poised to accept the recommendations in a new report on Vancouver’s Chinatown going to council on July 25, 2012.  Carnegie Community Action Project recommends the plan be deferred to be coordinated with the rest of the DTES community, particularly as key aspects of the plan, especially housing for low-income people, hinge on cross-sector cooperation.

The Chinatown Neighbourhood Plan is rooted in 11 “Vision Directions” which  treat low income people as though they don’t even exist in the neighbourhood. They are implicitly referred to as impediments to economic revitalization and development.

The low-income community is mentioned in when the report tells us that the median income in Chinatown is $17,000 a year; that 67% of the population is low-income, and over half of the residents live in single-person homes. (p. 11) It sums up the demographic sketch by explaining the “neighbourhood has been and continues to be predominately low-income.” And it asks, in a way that seems to set the question for the rest of the report to answer,  “How will the existing low-income community and new residents define a new vision for the neighbourhood?” Unfortunately this question is not answered. Nowhere are low-income residents’ voices audible nor are their interests represented.

The explanations of issues and visions for each section of the report are totally missing any sort of low-income community perspective. And worse, the record of actions already taken and recommendations for future actions consistently overlook the needs of low-income people or contribute to their displacement from Chinatown altogether.

The Heritage and Culture section is focused on a “Society Building Strategy” that aims at the heritage and real estate renovation of Benevolent Society owned buildings that will also help with the gentrification of Chinatown. Two key tools have been used to accomplish this “revitalization” of privately owned buildings. The “Transfer of Density” heritage incentive policy helped renovate Bob Rennie’s Wing Sang building into an exclusive art, real estate office, and now museum space. And 5 out of 11 society owned buildings have received $100,000 each to support their “rehabilitation plans” (p. 19)

One of these buildings is the Asia Hotel, owned by the Mah Society. The Mah society recently informed its 34 low-income tenants that they will all be evicted sometime this year to allow a major renovation. The society has been tight lipped about what the rents will be in the building after the renovations are complete. Has the city directly funded a major renoviction of a society owned hotel? Are there any measures the city is using to stop renovictions from the hotels in Chinatown under the guidance of this report?

The 2005 Downtown Eastside Housing Plan’s section on Chinatown says to “recognize housing objectives when implementing heritage policies in Chinatown, and vice versa.” (2005 Housing Plan, Pg 56, section 9.3.4) This is suspect because the AECOM consultant report on economic revitalization in Chinatown and commissioned by the City of Vancouver, written in November 2011, recommends easing SRA bylaw restrictions so that societies can get rid of tenants because “rents that can be charged for the ground floor retail spaces and the market orientation of the retail tenants will be influenced by the residents living upstairs.” (AECOM Project Report, “Vancouver Chinatown Economic Revitalization Action Plan.” November 2011, Page 9.)

The AECOM report also lists, under the category of “threats” to revitalization, “The presence of population attracted to the social service facilities on Hastings Street,” (Page 45) And finally, the report argues that it is important to renovate heritage and SRO buildings despite restrictive city guidelines that will not allow for the demolition of SRO rooms because, “additional pedestrian activity, particularly in the evening hours, will dilute the influence of the underprivileged population.”  Imagine how it feels to be underprivileged and know that some business people think your presence has to be “diluted.”(Page 53) This report clearly sees the displacement of the low-income community as a precondition to and also a positive consequence of the economic revitalization of Chinatown. A lot of the recommendations of this report pop up in the Chinatown Neighbourhood Plan with amendments only to the language that has fallen out of fashion for Vancouver planning because it is too strong and outwardly poor-bashing. The ideas, though, appear throughout the city report in a shallow code.

The Built form and Urban Structure section celebrates the Historic Area Height Review’s success in attracting to Chinatown between 600 and 700 new condo units and their residents to support the business, street and shopping climates (p. 12). It is not concerned with the effects of these condo developments on land and rent prices for tenants in hundreds of privately owned SROs or rental units, nor on the effect of a sudden massive increase in higher income residents on the cultural and social assets of the existing low-income community.

The Land Use: A living and working community explains “Chinatown has traditionally been an affordable neighbourhood with a mix of rental, SROs, non-market housing and limited owner occupied market housing.” And it explains the DTES Housing Plan calls for the replacement of “existing SROs with better quality housing targeted to low-income and aging residents” and also, at the same time, to “encourage market housing with a focus on affordable market rental and ownership housing.” (p. 33)

How does this report deal with this policy contradiction of both protecting the existing low-income housing stock (until it can be replaced) and encouraging market developments that threaten to erode that low-income housing stock through gentrification? It provides actions to encourage market development and defers the low-income housing action plan to staff “working on implementing the Housing Plan” through the DTES LAPP committee.

The Housing Plan says that 1 for 1 SRO replacement in Chinatown is unlikely and to expect for replacement to take place in other DTES sub-areas. (pg. 56, 2005 HP) Replacement then, rather than destruction, requires that the city ensures that the housing is replaced before it is lost, not just that low-income housing is offloaded to another area due to economic expedience and dropped. The Chinatown Neighbourhood Plan is plotting the destruction of SRO hotels before there is even a plan for their replacement.

The Public places and streets section. It calls for the expansion of throughways with a rail line and to open up the alley to market development in order to make the area distinctive (competitive) and attractive to “modern” entrepreneurs and consumers. It specifically targets the “clean up” and “safety” improvement of the streets, sidewalks and alleys in and around Chinatown. A pilot alley revitalization project in “Market Alley,” which runs parallel to Hastings and Pender between Main and Carrall will set the “tone for commercial revitalization in the future.” The planned “upgrade not only increases the recognition of this unique historic place, it also sets the tone for commercial revitalization of Market Alley in the future.” (page 39) Again there is no concern for the low-income communities who currently call these alleys community spaces. There is no concern for the gentrifying impact of connecting the Market Alley to Hastings St. where hundreds of low income people live.

The Community and economic development and Economic revitalization strategy focus on attracting new entrepreneurs, cleaning up and tenanting storefronts, and developing a more tourist friendly heritage based and walkable Chinatown.

The active storefronts program has already given incentives and support to six new businesses in Chinatown. The only one mentioned, as a model candidate for the program, is the high-income and non-resident oriented Bao Bei boutique restaurant on Keefer near Main St.

The conclusion of the report is as telling as the introduction. The challenges, taken from the AECOM consultant group’s report, include:

-        “Need more people on the street at night and on weekends” without saying directly which people need to be gotten rid of (not “displaced”) and which are desireable.

-        That the “revitalization strategy must lead with restaurant sector;”

-        That Chinatown “needs to be clean and safe,” and that;

-        “Renovated heritage buildings… could provide a unique competitive advantage in the long term” because “renovated heritage buildings and revitalized laneways = unique, walkable neighbourhood (competitive advantage)”.

Where are the low-income people? Why is the city not recognizing the assets and legitimate tenure of the low-income community? This report could represent a serious step backwards in Downtown Eastside planning.

CCAP’s recommendations

  1. Any restoration and renovation of society buildings must not risk eviction of SRO tenants of the buildings. The city should develop a zero evictions policy for SRO hotels before supporting further renovation efforts.
  2. Replacement of SROs must happen before losses are allowed to occur. The city should not permit any market development in Chinatown until potential ripple effects of market real estate prices and rents can be controlled and low-income housing protected, and tenancy guaranteed. Losing hotel rooms before they are replaced is not replacement, it’s against city policy. It’s displacement.
  3. Public space development must not come at the cost of low-income peoples comfort and safety. Feeling a sense of belonging in the streets is a key asset of the DTES (including Chinatown) low-income community. We cannot afford to lose this to overzealous tourist and retail development. The city should incentivize low-income serving shops and businesses and non-profit industries for a low-income friendly revitalization of Chinatown. All market businesses should go through a social impact assessment of their proposed business before being given a business license.
  4. Market alley and the boutique-ization of any alley in the Downtown Eastside should be put on hold until low-income community housing and other assets are protected and secure. Although this report does not mention the Pantages condo project, the Market Alley redevelopment is inconceivable without it. The DTES low-income community and many others have gone on record against the highly destructive Pantages condos proposal and we strongly recommend not basing any city plans around this development, which the community is committed to stopping. We recommend the city buy the Pantages lot at 138 E Hastings and build 100% resident controlled social housing where people on welfare and pensions pay 30% of their income for rent.
  5. Finally, the Chinatown Neighbourhood Plan should be deferred to be coordinated with the rest of the DTES community, particularly as key aspects hinge on cross-sector cooperation. Currently the plan calls for “sharing” the recommendations of the Chinatown plan with the DTES LAPP committee in the fall of 2012 (page 53) so that the LAPP can learn from the Chinatown plan. We believe these plans must be integrated and enrich and challenge each other by being finalized and implemented alongside each other.

For more info contact:  Ivan Drury (604-781-7346) or Jean Swanson (604-729-2380)

-30-

For Immediate Release: City orders condo developer to clear rats and rubble from demolition, residents call for futher protections

Marc Williams, owner, showing off year old debris filled with rats on future condo site

For Immediate Release
July 18 2012

City orders condo developer to clear rats and rubble from demolition site, Downtown Eastside residents call for further protections

UNCEDED COAST SALISH TERRITORIES – The City of Vancouver has issued an order to Marc Williams, owner of the former Pantages theatre site and target of community actions for over a year. The order, signed by Will Johnston, Director of Licenses and Inspections and Chief Building Official, says that Sequel 138 Development Corp must “remove the accumulation of construction debris, rubbish and discarded material on or before July 31, 2012.” It threatens legal action for “failure to comply with this order” including a threat that the city will undertake the clean-up work if the owner does not. (*see attached order)

Members of the DTES low-income community and neighbours of the Pantages site held a news conference Monday July 16 demanding the city use their power in this way. John Douglas, a resident of the Asia hotel immediately across the alley from the Pantages demolition site said, “It’s about time. It’s amazing that it took this long for the city to issue an order to clean up the site. The demolition has looked like a warzone for about a year. People who live around this site deserve an apology from the city for not taking action sooner.” Another resident of the Asia Hotel has posted video footage to Youtube of rats swarming in the alley beneath his window. See the clip here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-W-V9pSi578

Mona Woodward, Executive Director of Aboriginal Front Door, said, “This is a victory for the health of our community but it’s a short term victory. Aboriginal people who live and gather around this site struggle with many health problems and the conditions of this site has made their lives harder for over a year. But the bigger problem is that our people need good housing and we need to end homelessness. The city has done one thing right, now we need them to take the next step and buy the Pantages site for social housing.”

Herb Varley, Co-President of the DTES Neighbourhood Council, said: “This is a victory for us because we made this clean-up happen. Our community’s struggle made the city do what they said was impossible. People who live here have been suffering for their inaction. Now that we made it a very public issue that is embarrassing to City Hall, now they can clean up the site? Now we’re supposed to buy their story that they can’t buy the property? We’re going to step up our fight for social housing at the Pantages and make that possible too.”

The DTES Not for Developers Coalition organized for over a year to get attention from the city to improve the health and safety conditions at the Pantages site. The Coalition will continue to fight to get the city and province to build 100% social housing for low-income residents instead of condos for higher income people.

Ivan Drury, Board Member of the DTES Neighbourhood Council and organizer with the coalition said: “Pantages owner Marc Williams has definitively proven he can’t be trusted with the health and wellbeing of low-income DTES residents. We’re still concerned that the clean-up be done according to what we call ‘West Vancouver standards’. That means the rat infestation cannot be allowed to spread. The still-standing frontages of the theatre should be safely shored up so they don’t fall into the street and the debris must be constantly sprayed down as it is removed so the dust doesn’t rise up into the homes of people who live around the site. And most importantly, our community needs long-term protection from Marc Williams’ greed and irresponsibility. We demand the city or province buy the Pantages site from Williams to stop his sequel 138 condos and build 100% low-income social housing.”

For more information: Ivan Drury, 604-781-7346

- 30 -

http://dtesnotfordevelopers.wordpress.com/

Residents shut down unsafe demolition site in summer 2011. Demolition stopped and has been a neighbourhood blight since then. (Rickie Lavallie, “Warrior In Memory” holding “wn”)

Summer heats up, planning process heats up too

First meeting of the LAPP Committee

Summer is here and some of us Dtes residents continue to go to 3 or 4 meetings a month to make a plan for the future of our neighbourhood with the city. As you probably know, Wendy and Ivan (CCAP staff), along with Herb from the Dtes Neighbourhood Council (DNC) were elected by the DNC to be co-chairs of the Local Area Planning (LAPP) Committee. CCAP’s goal is to use this city process, plus research and direct actions to get more housing and other improvements for the majority of residents who are low-income.

As you may recall, a few months ago the city tried to remove Ivan from the LAPP Committee for leading a loud chant against the police blockade at the Pantages condo hearing inside city hall. Many are obviously upset by the city’s actions and see the attempt to remove him from the committee as a move to “muzzle dissent” of others. As it stands, Ivan is still on the committee and the LAPP committee looks like it is taking control over the matter. Will this conflict emerge again because of future protests? Time will tell.

In June, the LAPP Committee had a workshop on housing. We sorted out about 50 points that the LAPP Committee and the city can agree on. The main points of agreement that we can work on is the principle that the DTES needs 5,000 units of self-contained social housing to replace the SRO hotels. There were, of course, some points that need more discussion too. Some of the most important ones had to do with how to get that housing funded and built, and what to do about market development in the meantime.

It looks like the committee will be organizing some discussions about protecting privately owned low-income housing against gentrification, and about income mix and keeping the DTES a predominately low-income neighbourhood.

We’re not sure what the next steps will be or what outcomes of the housing discussion will be in the final plan. We do hope the key points of agreement can get acted on right away and the points that need more discussion can be sorted out and turned into agreements so we can act on them too.

In July, the LAPP Committee had another workshop on “livelihoods” which is a fancy way of saying: “the ways that you included a lot of discussion about things like “green development zones” and questions like “what businesses do you want in the Dtes?”, “what role should our neighbourhood play in Vancouver’s overall economy?” and “what people in the neighbourhood need to meet basic needs.” CCAP reps talked a lot about the need to increase welfare and secure housing so people can be more secure and buy things in low-income stores. Next, we’ll go through a process similar to the housing workshop and figure out agreements and disagreements on this topic.

In August, the LAPP Committee will discuss “places” which is probably about the physical environment and in September, we discuss “well being” or health. Likely in September, the LAPP committee will organize round tables for residents (and other “stakeholders”) to give input on the results of these workshops and to identify the areas where more work needs to be done.

Part of the LAPP includes a study of community assets and impacts of development on low-income people. The city calls this study a “Social Impact Assessment” or “SIA”. Questions asked in the workshops are: What do you love about the Dtes community? What do you want to see changed? What are your hopes and fears about Dtes development?

The goals of this study are:

1) To maintain places and spaces important residents
2) To plan for where gaps exist and;
3) To monitor and measure progress and impacts of development.

CCAP hopes the results of this study will support residents’ concerns about rent increases, displacement, losing low-income community assets and not gloss over them as a way to justify more gentrification. ~wp

United Nations Housing expert criticizes City of Vancouver “affordable” housing strategy

Phoenix and Wendy from CCAP with Miloon Kothari, former United Nations official

“You can’t do business as usual. You need radical change. There has to be more outrage.” That’s what Miloon Kothari, the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing said about the Vancouver housing situation at a meeting hosted by the city’s Planning Commission on July 11.

In 2007 Kothari spent over a week in Canada documenting the homeless crisis and national housing emergency. He visited a tent city set up by Streams of Justice on Main St. and met with volunteers from the Carnegie Community Action Project. He recommended then that Canada needed a comprehenive housing strategy based on the right to adequate housing.

“The situation in Vancouver is worse now,” said Kothari. “Why is there a housing crisis in a country that is so wealthy? The wealth here is astonishing. I’m quite taken aback that this have been allowed.”

“Canada needs to embark on building social housing on a large scale. You can’t get over the crisis without this,” he said. Kothari said that the city’s Task Force on Housing is a “market oriented approach.” “Why are you not taking a
rights based approach?” he asked. He noted that the city’s Housing Task Force is only dealing with housing for people whose incomes are over $21,000 a year and said a task for was needed for people who earn less than that.

Kothari recommended that people who are concerned about the lack of affordable housing work to get the right to housing put into Canadian law and work for a national housing program to build social housing. ~ JS

Tornedo of gentrification hits vulnerable low-income community, despite planning process

Tornado of gentrification development hits vulnerable Downtown Eastside community.

Hundreds, maybe thousands of new condos coming during the Local Area Planning Process despite Interim Rezoning

• 219 E Georgia St. 9 storey narrow condo tower, approved by the director of planning in 2011

• 189 Keefer St. 10 storey condo tower with no social housing. Already approved by the Development Permit Board

• 611 Main St. 17 storey condo tower with some “senior’s housing” in the proposal. Will go to hearing at city council in October 2012.

Look at this photo. Are you on West 4th Avenue? How about Broadway and Oak Street? No! You are in Chinatown. This is one of 3 condo projects coming soon to Main and Keefer area of Chinatown. This tower in the photo will be at 189 Keefer (and Main). No social housing.

• 633 Main St. 15 storey condo tower will go to hearing in the fall. Will go to hearing at city council in October 2012.

• 138 E Hastings St. Sequel 138 – 9 storey condo tower with 10% Affordable rental and 10% welfare rate social housing approved by the director of planning in 2012

• PLUS: 955 E Hastings (across from Raycam) likely with 20% affordaBULL? housing in the proposal. Hearing likely in the fall.

• PLUS: 1000 new condos and affordaBULL? units possibly on the 2 city owned blocks under the viaduct??? First hearing to approve demolition of viaducts likely in September 2012.

These condo projects could go ahead and bring more rent increases and gentrifying displacement, despite the Interim Zoning Policy passed by council on March 21, 2012.

Some background info about the Interim Rezoning Policy:

http://ccapvancouver.wordpress.com/2012/03/21/1671/

http://vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20120327/documents/cfsc3DowntownEastsideLocalAreaRezoningPolicyandInterimDevelopmentManagementGuidelines.pdf

http://ccapvancouver.wordpress.com/2012/03/29/smallvic/