Halfway through the Olympics on Saturday, February 20, hundreds gathered at the Vancouver Art Gallery to call for a national housing strategy. NDP MP Libby Davies’ private members bill C-304 lives on despite Stephen Harper’s cynical proroguement of parliament. Despite killing all his own pending legislation, the prime minister can’t kill private members bills by proroguing parliament. That gives us room for great action next week!
The rally was upbeat and inspiring, following days of the successful tent village.
Also, the enormous Canadian flag draping over the Hotel Georgia was the scene of some creative blowback: “FU2010”.
The tone of the day was concerned, passionate, upbeat and truly visionary as speakers and the crowd came together to explore a momentous step just days away when parliament re-opens to embark on a new era of social justice in Canada.
John Richardson, Executive Director of Pivot Legal Society spoke of overcoming fear and responsibly planning for the future:
MP Libby Davies spoke about housing being a human right, despite what I consider to be the gross excesses of the Olympics:
She also spoke about Harper’s lack of understanding of poverty and tendency to embrace budget crises as an excuse for inaction:
And she also spoke about what we need to do with her bill when parliament reopens next week:
In the end, when the 1,000 condos in the Olympic Village that cost $1 billion to build [or $1,000,000/unit on average] come on the market over the next few months, Metro Vancouver will experience a housing adjustment. Such a glut on the market will likely depress prices across the region. This can be good for people looking for affordable housing and for renters, despite the fact that few will be able to afford those 1,000 units. The ripple effect will be useful.
But there may be panic, dread, capital flight, or nothing but a different housing climate. In times of flux, there is great opportunity for change. It is within this context that Bill C-304 can make significant strides in addressing the crises of homelessness and affordable housing.
So pay attention to RedTents.org to see what you need to do to make our federal, provincial and municipal politicians do more than toss lip-service to housing issues.