I’m writing to you today as it is my wish to comment on the occupation of the building slated for demolition on Imperial Street in Burnaby.
It never had to come to this. However, the mayor and council of Burnaby have shown no political goodwill towards the affected renters in affordable buildings in Metrotown: they have declined to write standards of maintenance legislation that would have protected renters; they have not taken the opportunity to create a rent bank like those that exist in Vancouver and Surrey; they absolutely have failed to provide social housing even though they can afford to make a start on it, then invite higher levels of government to be partners. Finally, they have refused to stop the demovictions of affordable housing in the city. In fact, they have increased the pace of social cleansing (gentrification) in the city. Inevitably, homelessness will be created.
So, finally, dedicated and caring housing advocates have stood up to prove that they do cure about renters in this town. These heroes from ground zero are proving a point. When a political problem gets to this level, it is no longer politics as usual. The problem transcends everyday politics and becomes a moral concern. Renters of affordable housing in Metrotown are losing their homes. The occupation on Imperial Street is a simple act of civil disobedience. It is a justified act.
In the social cleansing that we have here, people without a lot of money are being swept out of the way so that the very wealthy can exercise their real estate investment opportunities. Such economic violence cannot be allowed to continue. This is Canada . No one is disposable here.
Ric Erb, co-chair, ACORN Burnaby