The Rob Ford saga shows no signs of dissipating. Is this the end of Mayor Rob Ford’s bumpy tenure at Toronto City Hall? On the podcast, rabble.ca contributor Michael Laxer weighs in on the ongoing Rob Ford saga. He provides a critical and progressive analysis of the Rob Ford affair in a recent article.
And in the second half of the show, we hear about the Engaging Women, Transforming Cities Conference from Associate Professor Margot Young (UBC Law). The inaugural national conference is designed to facilitate discussion about transforming our cities into places where women are more involved in electoral processes, and municipal governments are responsive to the priorities of women and girls in Canada’s urban centres. The conference applies an equity lens to a variety of urban issues, ranging from housing justice to environmental sustainability.
MUSIC // Japandroids / Celebration Rock / Younger Us // Mother Mother / Sticks / Business Man
In 2011, Simon Fraser University’s Department of History hosted a lecture series, Think you know Vancouver? Think Again. On January 27th, local authors Matt Hern and Charlie Demers addressed the question of whether Vancouver, as it is often branded, is indeed the best place on earth.
Their humorous discussion provides a critical take on Vancouver, its history (or perceived lack of history), and why we need to think about Vancouver with a bit more honesty.
In a March podcast, we heard from local author and comedian Charlie Demers (Vancouver Special; CBC’s The Debaters). In this podcast, Matt Hern (Common Ground in a Liquid City: Essays in Defense of an Urban Future; Purple Thistle Centre co-director) provides a short commentary on Vancouver and then Charlie Demers joins him in discussion.
Thank you to the SFU History Department for permission to broadcast this content.
Vancouver City Council, under the direction of the ruling Vision Vancouver party, wants to remove two remnants of the never fully realized inner city highway system in the downtown core. But, in the process, two long-standing community gardens are threatened with demolition. In this documentary, Green for All or Green for Some, Peter Driftmier explores the debate around the removal of the viaduct through the twin lenses of gentrification and environmental sustainability.
City staff have yet to come back to council with final recommendations on the removal of the viaducts. In recent months, the Strathcona Residents Association has expressed serious concerns about the possibility of increased traffic volume on Prior Street, and community groups in the Downtown Eastside have also expressed similar concerns regarding increased traffic along Hastings Street. The Vancouver Courier reported in an April 11th article that the staff report on the viaducts future is expected in June 2013.
This documentary was originally produced for Redeye on Vancouver’s Coop Radio 100.5 FM and aired in Fall 2012. Peter Driftmier is a producer with the Redeye Collective, and we are pleased to bring you this documentary. Thank you to Peter Driftmier and Redeye for permission to rebroadcast.
UBC geography professor David Ley and geographer Nicholas Lynch co-authored a recent study, Divisions and Disparities in Lotus Land: Socio-Spatial Income Polarization in Greater Vancouver, 1970-2005. Nicholas Lynch presents the worrisome findings of the study, as we see an increasingly divided Vancouver and a disappearing middle class. He discusses the social geography of polarization across the region, the implications, and possible policy solutions.
Social mix is a euphemism for destroying low-income communities. This is a community that fought for – and won – the only safe injection site in North America. This is a community that had to occupy a Police Board meeting in order to get the Police Board to put out the same reward for the missing women that it put out for garage robberies on the Westside. This is a community that had to fight for seven years to get a community centre like other people have. This is a community that had to camp out on a beach for a whole summer in order to get a waterfront park like other communities have. This community has a history of fighting for human rights, and the City destroys that by condo-fying the whole [neighbourhood] and displacing low income people – that will be destroying one of the most valuable assets it has.
–Jean Swanson, Carnegie Community Action Project
Vancouver’s Chinatown is undergoing increasingly rapid gentrification. The Carnegie Community Action Project’s Jean Swanson (author, Poorbashing: The Politics of Exclusion) discusses why a significant influx of condominiums and high-end retail are threatening to displace the neighbourhood’s low-income residents – and why the city is approving these major developments before the completion of the Downtown Eastside local area plan. You can check out a past podcast, From Poor to Yuppie: Artists, Boutiques, and Neighbourhood Change, if you are interested in hearing more about gentrification and social dislocation in the Downtown Eastside.
On the second half of the program, we hear why the independently-owned Festival Cinemas has been sold to Cineplex. We talk with co-owner Leonard Schein about why he is calling it quits, the challenge to operate cinemas independently, and what he believes the City and province should do to help arts and culture thrive/survive in Vancouver.
Highlights from the report include the following:
While the city brags about its housing accomplishments, the housing crisis in the DTES got worse in 2012. Not only were there about 850 homeless people, up from 700 last year, thousands of people are still living in crummy SRO hotel rooms with no bathroom or kitchen, and often cockroaches, bedbugs and poor conditions… which they increasingly cannot afford.
At least 426 hotel rooms that were accessible to low-income tenants in 2011 were lost to rent increases in 2012. That’s one finding of the Carnegie Community Action Project’s (CCAP) latest annual hotel report, called “We’re trying to get rid of the welfare people.”
“For decades, residential hotel rooms in the Downtown Eastside have been low-income people’s last resort before homelessness,” said Fraser Stuart. “People on welfare and disability and seniors with a basic pension have only about $375 a month for rent. This year we lost at least 426 rooms to rent increases above $425.”
Many hotels are now consciously trying to get rid of people on welfare and disability in favour of young workers and students, says the report, which quotes statements like the one in the report’s title that a desk clerk made to CCAP surveyors posing as prospective tenants.
There is a free screening of “My Brooklyn” scheduled for Wednesday, February 20th at SFU Woodward’s. Find the details on the Facebook event page. These very processes are occurring throughout Vancouver’s neighbourhoods, especially in Chinatown and the Downtown Eastside. A large number of rezonings for large condominium developments (by large developers) have been approved for the predominantly low-income Chinatown and Downtown Eastside area.
Tune in for more about this on the week’s radio program and podcast, airing live February 19th at 5pm on CiTR 101.9 FM.
On the program, we hear from a number of commentators on the possible loss of the Waldorf Hotel, an East Vancouver music hub, to condo development and the City’s response, as well as the impending eviction of the W2 Community Media Arts Society. We discuss more broadly the growing cultural deficit in the city and loss of arts and cultural venues and organizations. We also address the lack of all-ages venues and how this should be remedied.
- Ryan McCormick has been involved in the Vancouver music community for over ten years. He is one of the founding members of the Safe Amplification Site Society and serves as the organization’s Secretary. Formerly of the bands They Shoot Horses Don’t They?, Greenbelt Collective and The Role Mach Electric Band, Ryan currently focuses his musical and artistic practice on Collapsing Opposites.
- Tristan Markle is a founder and editor at The Mainlander and recently co-authored an article which situates the Waldorf Hotel within a broader context of condo development, speculation, and gentrification.
- Ellen Woodsworth is a community activist, former COPE City Councillor, and a founding member of Women Transforming Cities.
- Ned Jacobs is a community activist and development critic.
Check out the past podcast featuring the City of Vancouver’s Managing Director of Cultural Services, Richard Newirth, discussing the challenges facing the city, and especially the lack of affordable arts spaces.
Cities like New York have embraced the global city moniker as central to their identity and have fostered those economic sectors that city leaders understand as being congruent with this designation. Financial and producer services and the arts economy, signals of global cityhood, have become vital to New York’s self-image. Economic sectors that do not fit with the image of a global city suffer through a policy of malign neglect.
–Professors Winifred Curran and Susan Hanson
In the first podcast of an ongoing series exploring urban economies, The City talks with urban geographer Winifred Curran about industrial displacement in New York City, the future of economic development in North American cities, and the assumed inevitability of deindustrialization and the post-industrial urban economy.
What type of industries prosper in particular places? Why? And what are some of the pressures industries face in a globalized economy and in so-called global cities?
Dr. Winifred Curran is associate professor of geography at DePaul University in Chicago. She is an urban geographer focusing on gentrification and urban change, labor geographies, and race and gender. Her dissertation work looked at the effect of gentrification on small scale manufacturers in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn. Her current research looks at the connections between gentrification and environmentalism. She has been published in the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Local Environment, Urban Geography, and Urban Studies, among others.
On October 25th, 2012, the Province of BC and the City of Vancouver announced that the four remaining tenant-households at the Little Mountain social housing development would not be evicted, and that up to 50 social housing units would be fast-tracked and built on a portion of the site. Previously, the existing tenants (in the remaining townhouse who refused to be displaced) were served eviction notices, despite the fact that site redevelopment had not even reached the rezoning stage (and construction completion was still years away).
On the podcast, The City evaluates the recent social housing victory at Vancouver’s Little Mountain and we reflect on the history of the struggle. We begin with an excerpt from UBC Geography graduate student Tommy Thompson, who conducted extensive research on Little Mountain and found that “through an analysis of the distribution of benefits and losses of redevelopment to various relevant groups, Little Mountain tenants are being squeezed out of the benefits of redevelopment while bearing significant losses.”
We then hear from David Vaisbond, a documentary filmmaker, who has thoroughly and intimately documented the history of the Little Mountain housing struggle. We ask him to reflect on some of the most profound moments of documenting this struggle. Finally, former MLA and Little Mountain advocate David Chudnovsky reflects on this victory and provides a history of the proposed Little Mountain privatization and redevelopment.