Welcome to the 2024 edition of the Richmond PRC information round-up containing useful weekly news and announcements for low-income residents from service providers, various levels of government and our members. If you, or someone you know, would like to join the RPRC please browse our site for more information.
Monday February 19, 2024
Greetings to members and friends of the Richmond Poverty Reduction Coalition (RPRC):
Today is BC Family Day, and we hope that some of you are enjoying the free and fun events hosted by the Richmond’s Children’s Arts Festival. We would also like to highlight and encourage your participation in the Black History Month events hosted by Richmond Public Library, many of which are taking place this week. Our stories in this edition include a full review of the heated debate around a proposed supervised consumption site in Richmond, a petition for universal pharmacare, and the health risks of climate change.
This is our 4th Roundup for 2024. If you have some news, just send it to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com and we will endeavour to spread the word among our members and associates.
->Too Much Too Fast, Say BC Mayors to Eby (Thanks to The Tyee)
Tensions over the province’s new housing laws strained the Union of British Columbia Municipalities summit. At a housing summit that concluded on Valentine’s Day, local governments were working out a new stage of their relationship with senior governments.
Housing announcements have been coming fast and furious since the fall — everything from funding and zoning reforms to new programs targeting different housing needs — pressuring local governments and their staff to pivot from their pre-existing plans.
Housing might have been the central topic of the two-day summit, hosted by the Union of BC Municipalities, but discussion spun off on everything from immigration, transportation and tax to the cost of basic infrastructure like pipes to serve growth. For the complete article, click here: http://tinyurl.com/372sdm9s.
->Unhoused People Struggle with ‘Street Feet’ in Rainy Vancouver (Thanks to The Tyee)
This article is of particular interest to Richmond Homeless Connect (RHC), as this committee has just initiated a pilot project to provide foot care to our unhoused folks in Richmond.
‘Street Feet.’ It can pose a serious danger. How to help those who are vulnerable keep toes warm, dry and clean. In the winter and spring, unhoused people in Vancouver struggle with something known anecdotally as “street feet.” It happens when the rain soaks your socks and shoes and you’re unable to clean and dry your feet regularly, sometimes leaving them damp for months on end.
This leads to a condition that was first identified as “trench foot” and suffered by soldiers during the First World War. In extreme cases, the condition can lead to gangrene and amputation, said Bernice Budz, CEO of the Nurses and Nurse Practitioners of BC. Please see the full article here: http://tinyurl.com/3u36dzfa.
Food Security News
->Federal NDP bill to lower grocery prices passes second reading (Thanks to My Campbell River Now)
A bill introduced by NDP leader Jagmeet Singh to lower grocery prices has made it past second reading and will go to a committee for further review and changes.
Bill C-352 passed with a 178 – 149 vote in favour. It was introduced in September and aims to target corporate greed with various penalties to discourage price fixing, help smaller grocery stores by protecting them from anti-competitive tactics, give the competition bureau more powers to crack down on abuses like price-gouging consumers and stop mergers that decrease competition. More here: http://tinyurl.com/yeysp3vd.
->Richmond Brighouse bus loop to close partially for one month (Thanks to Richmond News)
Some bus stops will be temporarily relocated due to repairs. Richmond commuters will have to plan ahead as a city centre bus loop closes for repairs. TransLink announced Friday the Richmond-Brighouse bus loop will be partially closed between Feb. 12 and March 13 due to essential repairs to the infrastructure.
Some bus stops will be temporarily relocated, including the 402, 404, 408 and 414, which will be moved from Bay 1 to stops on No. 3 and Cook roads. HandyDART buses will stop on the north side of the Canada Line station on Saba and No. 3 roads. Please read the article to see a map of the changes and to learn more: http://tinyurl.com/5a48rmhu.
->Connecting BC – A 10-year vision for public transit throughout BC (Thanks to CCPA)
After years of neglect and privatization, today’s transit system in BC is plagued with overcrowding, delays and big gaps in service. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way.
In collaboration with the BC Federation of Labour, the CCPA published Connecting BC: a 10-year vision for public transit throughout BC. This report is a 10-year transit investment plan that outlines a path to make transit affordable, accessible, inclusive, carbon-zero and a great experience for users across the province. Read the plan and the full report by following the link: http://tinyurl.com/334kanx4.
->HUB Cycling Looking for Volunteers (Thanks to HUB Cycling)
Volunteer at a Winter Celebration Station. We’re hosting a Winter Bike repair station with Lime outside Science World in Vancouver on March 1st to engage with the public about winter riding and hand out cycling resources. We are looking for volunteers to help for a few hours between 12- 7 PM. Email us to learn more and sign up for a shift.
Please check out the HUB Cycling website for more local cycling news and volunteering opportunities: https://bikehub.ca.
Training and Employment News
->Why Vancouver Should Be a Living Wage Employer (Thanks to The Tyee)
We’ve done it before. But the ABC majority is undermining fair wages for workers. In August 2016, we celebrated with workers, families, unions and colleagues when the City of Vancouver voted to become a living wage employer. After years of organizing, this vote enshrined the right for all those working for the city, including contracted and subcontracted workers, to be compensated for their labour at or above the living wage.
In that moment, the city became the largest living wage employer in Canada, a win for a more livable Vancouver. In a city where it can be hard to find connection and support, people are working together to find livable solutions.
However, in January 2023, Vancouver city council voted in a closed-door meeting to end the City of Vancouver’s certification as a living wage employer, a tremendous loss for every working family across B.C. Read the rest of the story: http://tinyurl.com/546d6b3t.
Health and Community Safety News
We begin this portion of the newsletter with a link to a site dedicated to safe consumption resources in BC:
->Toward the Heart
Now we turn to the events of the much-debated supervised consumption site Richmond. The articles are posted in chronological order, starting with the most recent.
->Letters: Hate speech in Richmond also applies to marginalized groups (Thanks to Richmond News)
A great letter to the editor that calls out hateful speech heard at public meetings at Richmond City Hall this week, by RPRC member Donna Colpitts. Thanks Donna!
I believe that what took place at City Hall on Monday and Tuesday was really an attack against Canadian values. The sheer rudeness and lack of respect for due process was, in itself, not how we were brought up to behave. And then the hateful comments and shouts “let them die, then there’s no problem, they should all be in mental institutions or prison, they are useless zombies.”
There are laws in Canada against hate speech and although there was much evidence of it, they were not prosecuted or even truly called out for it.
It was clear to anyone following this whole process that misinformation was being spread in that particular community.
This stirred up fear and anger and I can empathize with those who truly believed what was being spread — but this does not justify the way they behaved. Please read the rest of the letter here: http://tinyurl.com/3tu7jpt2.
Woman says her racist rant at Richmond city hall ‘incredibly wrong’ (Thanks to Richmond News)
The woman appearing in a video circulating on social media – where she made racists remarks at Richmond City Hall earlier this week – has expressed her regret for what she said.
The woman was at city hall on Monday evening as hundreds of people came out to oppose a motion to explore setting up a supervised consumption site in Richmond. (The Richmond News has chosen to withhold her name.) In the foyer, as people held signs and chanted “No drugs, no drugs,” emotions were running high.
This was when the woman was captured on video claiming China was responsible for tainted drugs and telling those she was arguing with to return to Hong Kong. A short, but fairly nuanced, look at unacceptable racism that came out during the debate: http://tinyurl.com/3ntkdm3d.
->VCH rules out standalone supervised consumption site in Richmond (Thanks to Richmond News)
Richmond local health area has the lowest rate of drug toxicity deaths in B.C.: Health authority
Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) applauded Richmond council for calling for more overdose prevention services in the city, but said it will not move forward with a standalone supervised consumption in the city.
On February 13th , Richmond city council voted 7-2 to explore a supervised drug consumption site after two nights of heated discussion, with around 100 residents voicing their support and opposition to the motion proposed by Couns. Kash Heed and Laura Gillanders.
However, VCH said in a statement on Wednesday that it “will not be moving forward with a stand-alone supervised consumption site.” The health authority will, instead, work with the city to look at other ways to strengthen overdose prevention services in the city. Full story: http://tinyurl.com/2a59jde3.
->Richmond Will Look into Expanding Its Harm Reduction Services (Thanks to The Tyee)
After heated public hearings, the city passed a motion to assess opening its first supervised consumption site. Richmond city council held two rowdy nights of public hearings this week after tabling a motion on whether or not the city should look into bolstering its harm reduction services.
Late last night, council voted eight-two in favour of asking city staff to analyze the potential benefits and challenges of opening a supervised consumption site near Richmond Hospital, and collaborating with Vancouver Coastal Health to fund and provide harm reduction services on site.
On Wednesday VCH released a statement that said “based on the latest public health data, a stand-alone supervised consumption site is not the most appropriate service for those at risk of overdose in Richmond.” Stand-alone sites work best in communities with a high concentration of at-risk people.
There are more than 1,000 people with opioid use disorder and 600 people with stimulant use disorder in Richmond and 172 residents have died from toxic drug overdose since a public health emergency was declared in 2016, the statement added. Complete article here: http://tinyurl.com/29jcer6k.
->Letters: Compassion needed for Richmondites struggling with addiction (Thanks to Richmond News)
Kudos to Kash Heed for putting forward a motion to explore the idea of safe drug consumption site near hospital grounds and to the eight city councillors who voted in favour of same.
There will no doubt be some people who would like to see harm reduction initiatives in B.C. reduced and will say that harm reduction is not working because overdose deaths increased in 2023.
Closing safe-consumption sites in other provinces has led to more deaths, explains letter writer. Read the full story with data here: http://tinyurl.com/2e46nw4h.
->Richmond council votes 8-1 to explore safe drug consumption site (Thanks to Richmond News)
‘People cannot recover (from drug use) if they’re dead’: Former outreach worker. Eight out of nine Richmond city councillors voted to explore the idea of a site at the hospital grounds where drug users can test their drugs and consume them safely.
After several people spoke on the issue at the General Purposes committee meeting on Feb 5th, – the majority in favour – only Coun. Chak Au voted against the motion initiated by Couns. Kash Heed and Laura Gillanders.
Au claimed the motion wasn’t about asking staff to study whether a safe-consumption site would work in Richmond, rather it was direction to staff to implement a safe-consumption site.
“This is not an open consultation or an open study,” Au said. “It’s really a direction to staff to do it with the cover of a practicality analysis. And that’s why people felt the decision has already been made and people felt they’re not being listened to.” Au further argued that having safe-injection sites hasn’t reduced deaths in the Lower Mainland. See the rest of the story here: http://tinyurl.com/4sk547jw.
->It’s Official. Climate Change Has Brought Deadly Health Risks to BC (Thanks to The Tyee)
Vancouver Coastal Health set out the dangers and offered solutions in a new report warning that we’re not ready for extreme weather caused by climate change.
What “urgent” risks you face depend on where you live, with poorer and racialized neighbourhoods and communities at particular high risk, according to Dr. Patricia Daly, Vancouver Coastal Health’s chief medical health officer. VCH serves a region that includes Vancouver, Squamish, Whistler and the Sunshine Coast, as well as coastal areas farther north, such as Bella Bella and Bella Coola.
In a report released Tuesday, VCH analyzed how hazards such as wildfire smoke, droughts, heat, storms and flooding will affect our health and identified ways to mitigate future harms.
“The existential threat to our population is climate change,” Daly said. Full article can be read here: http://tinyurl.com/uxxf88jt.
->BC Health Coalition
Petition to contact local MPs and target ministers to ask them to support a universal pharmacare program. NATIONAL PHONE ZAP: Click to call your MP to not back down on pharmacare for all
Please take a minute now to call your Member of Parliament, PM Justin Trudeau, and key ministers, with your urgent message of support for public, universal pharmacare. Please read the petition here: http://tinyurl.com/yr5m2ycm.
Local Government News
->Province names new seniors advocate (Thanks to BC Government News)
The Province has appointed Dan Levitt as the new seniors advocate for British Columbia as government continues to support oversight and advocacy toward seniors care and the programs and services seniors need.
“Dan Levitt has championed the rights of seniors for 30 years and with his extensive experience he is an excellent choice for B.C.’s seniors advocate,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “Isobel Mackenzie became the first seniors advocate in Canada and we thank her for being a powerful, impactful voice. With Mr. Levitt, government will continue to work collaboratively to help seniors throughout the province to live their healthiest, happiest lives.”
After an executive search led by the BC Public Service Agency, Levitt accepted the position and will succeed Isobel Mackenzie to become B.C.’s second seniors advocate when she retires on April 5, 2024. Dan Levitt’s family is active through the Jewish Seniors Alliance, and along with the RPRC and RCD, they co-host our All Candidates meetings in Richmond. Full article: http://tinyurl.com/yc2mu7ah.
->Richmond Public Library: Shaping the future of Richmond Public Library starts with you! (Thanks to Let’s Talk Richmond)
Richmond Public Library is engaging the community as part of its 2024-2028 strategic planning process. Your Library, Our Future is an opportunity to share your perspectives on the library’s priorities in the coming years. Anyone interested in or impacted by the library is encouraged to participate. This includes frequent library users, occasional visitors, and people who have not yet used the library.
Visit LetsTalkRichmond.ca to complete the survey by Sun, Feb 25 or register for 1 of 4 upcoming workshops:
- Families workshop | Thu, Feb 15
- Newcomers workshop | Thu, Feb 15
- Youth workshop | Wed, Feb 21
- Seniors workshop | Wed, Feb 21
Thank you in advance for participating.
Strategic Planning Project Team Richmond Public Library
Please click here to learn more and participate: http://tinyurl.com/5afa7rrr.
Monday February 05, 2024
Greetings to members and friends of the Richmond Poverty Reduction Coalition (RPRC):
As signs of an early Spring begin to appear in Richmond, our stories today include responses to the housing crisis, a follow-up to last week’s transit strike, and the impacts of loss of the Steveston Super Grocer store on seniors.
RPRC Members News
->New activities and arrangements with the RCD, starting February 2024! (Thanks to Ella Huang)
RCD will close to public, for staff lunch, every Tuesday from 12 to 12:30 p.m. The team lunch gathering is in fact a Lunch & Learn activity for RCD Staff to build capacity and resilience.
Meditative Drawing is an extension of RCD’s popular Relaxation class, where a new art form – ZENTANGLE Art is introduced as a distraction method for relaxation. As one uses the Zentangle method to create beautiful images, it is likely to bring increased focus, creativity, self-confidence, and an increased sense of well-being. We start by trying out 4 sessions, on Fridays from Feb. 16 to Mar. 8, free for all participants. The sessions are for in-person participation and also on Zoom. Depending on its popularity, we may continue the activity. Come and find out more!
This is the first year RCD is joining the BMO Vancouver Marathon – RUN4HOPE, as a Silver Charity, with a goal to bring our team to the forefront and to heighten the awareness of community participations of persons with disabilities, also to raise fund for our unexpected interim relocation.
You have many ways to support us, including join the RCD Team as a Charity Runner to fundraise from your network; or make a donation to our team or to a specific team member.
We need your support to make this meaningful event more relevant to people with disabilities and to the RCD. Thank you for your support!
Affordable Housing News
->New B.C. rules will make it harder to evict tenants from supportive housing, providers fear (Thanks to Richmond News via Globe and Mail)
New policy could make it more difficult to find and keep staff, say operators of supportive housing units.
New changes to British Columbia’s tenancy policies will make it more difficult for operators of supportive housing units to remove tenants who are putting other residents and staff at risk, say non-profit housing providers who maintain the change will make them more reluctant to take on difficult people with mental-health and addiction issues.
->Prevention Matters! A New Expert Panel Series Hosted by the COH (thanks to Homeless Hub)
The homelessness sector already knows that the only way to truly solve the problem of homelessness is to shift towards preventing it before it happens. In fact, in our recent Youth Homelessness Prevention Needs Assessment survey, the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness found that 90% of people working in the sector are very supportive of prevention. However, many people still need more clarity about what prevention entails and how to do it.
What are the systems changes and structural shifts which reduce the likelihood that someone will experience homelessness? What are the intervention strategies that can support people who are at high risk of homelessness or who have recently become homeless? How can we ensure that people who have experienced homelessness—and who are now housed—do not experience homelessness again?
->Child poverty is on the rise in Canada, putting over 1 million kids at risk of life-long negative effects (Thanks to The Conversation)
At first glance, Canada ranks among the top third of countries for its work in addressing child poverty. But that isn’t the whole story.
Based on current rates of and overall progress in reducing child poverty, the latest UNICEF report card ranks Canada 11th out of 39 of the world’s wealthiest countries. Initially, it seems Canada is doing well; between 2012 and 2021, child poverty fell by 23 per cent.
In reality, since 2021, the number of children living in monetary poverty has sharply risen from 15.2 per cent in 2020 to 17.8 per cent in 2021, and more than one million Canadian children live in poverty today.
->Housing support offered for Richmond young adults with mental health needs (Thanks to Richmond News)
Housing assistance can help relieve stress for those struggling with mental illness or substance use, says VCH therapist. A housing support program is hoping to offer personalized help to young adults in Richmond who are struggling with mental health and substance use issues.
“Many (young adults) suffer from not only mental health issues and addictions, but when they’re homeless or precariously housed, they really are in need of some tailored services to assist them, to give them a brighter future into their adult life,” said Andrew Neale, VCH’s occupational therapist for mental health housing services.
The Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions announced Friday a $1.57 million investment over three years to expand Richmond’s complex-care housing program for young adults.
->B.C. government invests $11 million in provincial rent bank (Thanks to BC CTV News)
The British Columbia government announced Wednesday it will provide $11 million in additional funding to the provincial rent bank to help people who are struggling to make rental payments. The money could support as many as 20,000 renters who are facing financial challenges, according to Melissa Giles, the managing director at BC Rent Bank. “It’s there to help people at a time of need and make sure they do stay housed,” said Giles. “It’s the end of the month, people are facing a crisis, they’re stressed.”
->Letters: Unhoused Richmondites need a place to store belongings (Thanks to Richmond News)
Richmond News reader acknowledges efforts to help homeless, but thinks there is still work to be done.
I am writing to bring your attention to a pressing issue that requires immediate action: the need for storage space for the homeless population in Richmond.
As a concerned resident of this community and someone who works directly with the homeless, I witness firsthand the true struggle they face on a daily basis. As a proud citizen of Richmond for the last 35 years and a support worker in various fields, I have had the privilege of growing up with and working closely with Richmond’s most vulnerable, which includes the homeless population.
Through my interactions, I have come to understand the immense challenges they encounter, including the lack of secure storage facilities for their personal belongings. This absence of storage options exacerbates their already difficult circumstances, impeding their ability to seek employment, access social services or find stable housing.
->1,000+ units proposed for first part of Lansdowne redevelopment (Thanks to Vancouver City News)
When fully built out, there will be about 8,000 homes on the shopping mall’s 50 acres. More than 1,000 units of housing are being proposed in the first phase of the redevelopment of Lansdowne Shopping Centre.
A plan to build 749 market units, 141 affordable rentals and 151 market rental units in the northeast section of the 50-acre shopping centre lot – on Alderbridge Way and Kwantlen Street – is coming to next week’s planning meeting.
Stay informed about more proposed changes to Lansdowne.
->Last-Minute Deal Ends Threat of Weekend Transit Strike (Thanks to The Tyee)
A three-day walkout scheduled for Saturday is on hold. A last-ditch negotiation has averted a strike that could have shut down Metro Vancouver’s public transportation system.
Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 4500 and Coast Mountain Bus Co. have reached a tentative deal ending a bitter weeks-long dispute that included a two-day strike that paralyzed the region’s bus system. Another three-day strike had been set to start Saturday.
The union, which represents about 180 striking workers at Coast Mountain, said Thursday that it had accepted recommendations put forward by Vince Ready, a special mediator appointed by the provincial government.
->Learn How to Cycle Year-Round with HUB’s Free Winter Cycling Webinar (Thanks to HUB Cycling)
Unlike many other Canadian cities, Metro Vancouver has a climate that makes year-round cycling possible most days. With some preparation and knowledge, commuting by bike can still be a safe, comfortable, and affordable transportation option, even in colder, darker weather.
To help folks prepare for winter riding, HUB Cycling is hosting a free Winter Cycling Webinar on International Winter Bike Day (Friday, February 9) from 12 -1 PM to inspire and educate people on the joys and practicalities of cycling year-round. Participants will learn about:
- Outfitting their bikes and themselves for winter riding,
- Advanced cycling safety, cold-weather care for their bikes, and
- Route planning considerations.
An experienced HUB Cycling bike education instructor will teach the webinar. Participants can register for free.
->After Super Grocer burned down, some Steveston seniors say they’re struggling with their groceries (Thanks to CBC)
Mobility issues, fixed incomes among challenges facing seniors after prized store went up in flames.
Gerald Lindsay wheels down the sidewalk outside his Steveston home, making the trek towards a Save-on-Foods. Along the way, he has to maneuver his wheelchair over a fire hose strewn across the sidewalk.
Just days ago, his favourite supermarket — Super Grocer — was destroyed in a fire. It’s since been demolished. “It sort of changed my life,” he said. “That was the only place I could get to because it was just across the street.”
->Eight Ways to Support Disability Justice and Counter Ableism (Thanks to The Tyee)
And what not to do, from two experts.
When we met each other in Grade 11 in Alberta, we were far from the typical high school success story. Heidi has cerebral palsy and was seen as too disabled for regular schools, and Michelle was a chronic truant and an activist. Soon, we became friends and made a pact to get our doctorates, which we did. Over the past three decades, we have researched, taught classes and given talks on disability and ableism.
Throughout the course of our careers and lived experiences, we have seen the daily ableism people living with disabilities contend with. As professors of education and disability ethics, we have put together the following list of dos and don’ts.
->‘It’s about saving lives’: Supervised drug consumption site proposed for Richmond (Thanks to Vancouver City News)
A Richmond city councilor is tabling a motion next week to look into establishing a supervised drug consumption site to help address the ongoing unregulated toxic drug crisis. in 2023, 26 Richmond residents died from poisoned supply.
The motion, heading to council today at 4 pm, says supervised consumption sites provide a safe and controlled environment for people to use drugs, reducing overdose and risk of death. It explains health officials are stationed at the sites to provide medical assistance, and they are also trained with naloxone to help reverse opioid overdoses.
The province is almost eight years into a public health emergency, with the BC Coroners Service saying at least 13,794 people have died since the drug crisis was declared in April 2016.
See this proposal to address the toxic drug crisis here.
Monday January 22, 2024
Greetings to members and friends of the Richmond Poverty Reduction Coalition (RPRC):
After a week of snow and cold weather, Richmond and the lower mainland continues to face challenges as we enter a 48 hour transit strike beginning today. Please see the CBC article linked in the transportation section of this letter for further details.
Affordable Housing News
->Two Richmond warming Centres open for unhoused during Arctic cold snap (Thanks to Richmond News)
On January 11th, the Richmond News wrote about the Arctic outflow warning in effect for Metro Vancouver.
Flurries and sub-zero temperatures are in the forecast for the rest of the week and Richmond’s warming centres will remain open to those who don’t have shelter.
Environment Canada has issued an Arctic outflow warning for Metro Vancouver and nearby regions, warning of wind chill of up to -20C from tonight until Saturday afternoon.
->RPRC submission to City Council re: Homelessness in Richmond” city staff report (Thanks to RPRC Directors)
After discussion and consensus at the last RPRC members network meeting, the RPRC made a submission and recommendations to Richmond City Council in response to a Dec 19, 2023 city staff report “Homelessness in Richmond” (Note: CNCL73-78).
The RPRC recommends that ‘first time homeless’ (eg seniors, single parents) be housed in the planned rapid housing initiative (modular housing), and that the city needs four after-hours street outreach workers to connect our unhoused people to services and resources.
->Court Calls for Clarity on Tenants’ Rights in Transitional Housing (Thanks to The Tyee)
The B.C. Court of Appeal has called on the province’s Residential Tenancy Branch to address “inconsistencies” in its approach to defining the rights of people in transitional housing. The case is important, say advocates, because tenants who live in transitional housing are currently not protected by legislation that upholds their rights as tenants.
That means they have nowhere to turn if they’re evicted or believe policies like guest restrictions are being applied unfairly. In many cases, tenants in transitional housing don’t know whether their housing falls under B.C.’s Residential Tenancy Act. Some residents have been successful in arguing the act should apply to them, winning the right to basic renter rights like having a key to the front door of their building. Learn more.
->Brace Yourself for Housing Reforms (Thanks to The Tyee)
Zoning, densification, permitting — this is the traditional work of municipalities. But if you ask today’s provincial and federal governments, they’ll say local development is happening too slowly. So they’ve decided to step in. In the past few months, the senior governments have flexed their powers with new policy and programs to push cities to grow. “It is a significant shift,” BC NDP Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon told The Tyee. “The housing system as we have it now is not working.”
Kahlon mentioned the long delays to approve needed homes in many communities, referencing the District of North Vancouver, where residents recently debated a six-storey supportive housing project to be managed by the Lu’ma Native Housing Society. The public hearing for that project became the longest in the community’s history.
->Unaffordable housing and discrimination stand in the way of BC children’s right to housing (Thanks to First Call BC)
A Failure to Protect, The Denial of Children’s Right to Housing in British Columbia reveals that despite commitments to protect children’s right to housing in international, national and provincial treaties, legislation and policies, many families are unable to access adequate housing due to unaffordability, overcrowding, waiting lists and discrimination, among other issues. Shockingly, in the sample of parent survey respondents and listening circle participants, an astounding 37% and 40% respectively, reported being denied rental housing BECAUSE they had children.
“The increased cost of housing in recent years has put an increased burden on families, particularly those in poverty. It has given rogue landlords more of an opportunity to discriminate against families with children, to disregard the existing tenancy laws and violate their human rights,” said Adrienne Montani, Executive Director of First Call.
It also means that there are more and more families on the waiting lists for housing through BC Housing and other subsidized housing operators.
->Systemic Barriers for First Nations People: Security of Tenure in Canada
This report attempts to offer a concise rendering of the history of the Crown’s relationship with First Nations in order to provide context for the problems and barriers which continue to the present.
First Nations people’s experiences with housing vary based on a number of factors, from geographic and jurisdictional location within Canada to the severity of impact of colonialism on an individual’s home community. However, the existence of many common systemic barriers continues to limit the options First Nations people have to access safe, affordable housing, whether on or off First Nation reserves.
->Atlantic, federal housing ministers agree factory-produced homes offer way forward (Thanks to CBC via The Canadian Press)
Officials believe move could accelerate housing construction
The federal and Atlantic provinces’ housing ministers say they’re looking at ways to boost more factory-built housing for the East Coast, as the region’s population keeps rising at a rapid pace.
The ministers said Monday after a meeting in Halifax that one chapter in the federal housing design catalogue will be specifically aimed at the Atlantic region, with pre-approved designs taking into account regulations, climate and available materials in the region.
Federal Housing Minister Sean Fraser has been promoting the housing catalogue and more factory-built homes as a modernized version of efforts from the post-Second World War era, when the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. developed simple blueprints to accelerate housing construction.
The housing ministers told journalists after their meeting they’re also eager to see an increase in production of modular housing — homes built in segments in factories and transported to a building site for completion.
->Metro Vancouver seeks to charge big buildings for excess carbon pollution (Thanks to Richmond News)
Proposed regulations would charge large buildings a $500 administrative fee and $350 for every tonne of carbon pollution they emit beyond a set threshold.
Metro Vancouver staff is calling on the regional body to endorse a plan that would track and penalize existing large buildings that produce greenhouse gas emissions through the burning of natural gas.
The regulatory proposal, set to be heard at Metro’s Climate Action Committee Thursday, seeks to charge buildings $350 for every tonne of carbon pollution a building produces above its emissions limit. The plan would apply to buildings that have 25,000 square feet (2,322 square metres) or more of floor space. Putting a price on excess carbon emissions in the building sector is intended to incentivize owners “to take advantage of supports” and reduce building emissions before the limits and fees take effect, staff said.
->Court Calls for Clarity on Tenants’ Rights in Transitional Housing (Thanks to the Tyee)
Inconsistent arbitrators’ decisions leave people in limbo, advocates argue.
The B.C. Court of Appeal has called on the province’s Residential Tenancy Branch to address “inconsistencies” in its approach to defining the rights of people in transitional housing.
The case is important, say advocates, because tenants who live in transitional housing are currently not protected by legislation that upholds their rights as tenants. That means they have nowhere to turn if they’re evicted or believe policies like guest restrictions are being applied unfairly.
->Buses halted in Metro Vancouver as transit workers go on strike (Thanks to CBC)
Buses and SeaBus service will be stalled until Wednesday as part of job action by CUPE Local 4500 workers.
Buses will not run Monday in Metro Vancouver after more than 180 workers represented by CUPE Local 4500 walked off the job.
The job action, which began at 3 a.m. PT, comes three weeks after the workers began refusing overtime. The union represents transit supervisors, communications supervisors and a range of other roles.
Talks between the union and the Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC), the workers’ employer, conducted with the assistance of veteran labour mediator Vince Ready, failed to produce a new collective agreement over the weekend.
CMBC is a subsidiary of TransLink, the regional transit authority for Metro Vancouver.
->Feds must help 4.4 million people left out of new dental program (Thanks to Canadian Health Coaltion)
The report released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives titled, “Missing Teeth: Who’s left out of Canada’s dental care plan,” raises alarming questions about barriers imposed by the federal government’s new Canadian Dental Care Plan (CDCP).
The Canadian Health Coalition has been raising concerns that the CDCP’s income cut-off will leave out unfairly many of the 12.9 million Canadians without dental coverage because the program does not mirror Canadian Medicare which provides universal coverage for everyone.
The report’s author, economist David Macdonald, calculated this gap for the first time. When fully implemented in 2025, he found the CDCP will benefit 9.8 million people but will leave another 4.4 million out of the system due to the income restriction.
See the article.
->British Columbians living with disabilities are begging to be heard (Thanks to the Straight)
December 2023 marked the first December in three years that I have not spent languishing in pain in a hospital bed, recounts Kat Wong-Perrotta, administrative consultant for Disability Without Poverty’s BC branch, in a piece for The Georgia Strait. Since 2020, I have suffered from an inconceivably painful back injury that included torn ligaments, arthritis, and three herniated discs in my spine. It has kept me from going to work full-time, rendering me an ostensible prisoner in my own home.
And over the last three years, I have sought help from my doctor, from specialists, from hospital emergency staff—and received little to no care. I waited to speak to a neurosurgeon for over a year, only to be told that I was not, in fact, a good candidate for surgery (as I stood standing in his office, leaning desperately on a walker for support, since I could not walk without a mobility aid). He said I should try losing weight instead.
Income Security News
->Inequality Inc.: Oxfam’s Call to Address the Widening Wealth Gap (Thanks to Oxfam Canada)
Four of the five wealthiest Canadians have seen their wealth increase by two-thirds since 2020. Additionally, the richest 0.02% of Canadians now possess more wealth than the bottom 80%. No matter how you do the math, the answer is always the same: the rich keep getting richer, and the rest of us, poorer. But make no mistake: inequality is no accident.
Runaway corporate and monopoly power is an inequality-generating machine: through squeezing workers, dodging tax, privatizing the state, and spurring climate breakdown, corporations are funnelling endless wealth to their ultra-rich owners. But they’re also funneling power, undermining our democracies and our rights.
Community Safety News
->Inflation has increased the cost of fixing the Caring Place, a building that houses 12 non-profits (Thanks to Richmond News)
The roof of the Caring Place needs work – and its cost has almost doubled from original pre-pandemic estimates to about $500,000. And this is not the only repair bill the non-profit building – that houses 12 agencies serving Richmond residents – is facing.
Another $1.5 million is needed to fix the cracks in the balconies. And building envelope work also needs to be done. Facing all these mounting costs, the Caring Place board has launched a fundraising campaign, the Caring Forever Fund, through the Vancouver Foundation.
Click here for more info.
Monday January 8, 2024
Greetings to members and friends of the Richmond Poverty Reduction Coalition (RPRC):
I would like to introduce myself as a new contributor for the round-up newsletter. My name is Laina (she/her- firstname.lastname@example.org). I have recently been involved in the RPRC’s LEMR campaign, as well as the Vision Zero RASC group, and I am excited to assist the RPRC in continuing with this newsletter.
This is our 1st Roundup for 2024. This email is filled with information from our RPRC organization members and allies, local news, and all levels of government. If you have some news, just send it to email@example.com and we will endeavour to spread the word among our members and associates.
RPRC Members News:
->RCD Rings in the New Year! (Thanks to Ella Huang)
Welcome to the RCD 2024 new term! Come join our activities and events, and pay attention to some of the new programs. If you’re interested in joining any of our activities, please register or renew your participant’s status, the annual registration fee is $10 and $5 respectively; subsidy is available to members with financial hardship.
You can complete the membership form for 2024 or do it in-person at the RCD. For more information see https://www.rcdrichmond.org/index.php
Affordable Housing News
->City is hiring two homeless outreach workers (Thanks to Richmond News)
The City of Richmond will hire two outreach workers in 2024 to work with its homeless population. The Homeless Count, done in March, showed an increase from 85 people in 2020 to 162 in 2023, a doubling over three years of people who are homeless in Richmond. In the meantime, tents have appeared in Brighouse Park, something city staff told city council in November was a “political statement” made by some homeless people to address the need for permanent housing or shelters. Read the article.
->Column: Trifecta of crises create opportunities for action (Thanks to Richmond News)
Instead of an end to the opioid crisis, or even an abatement, this month there was dire news – deaths from toxic drugs are increasing, now up to seven a day in Metro Vancouver.
And another tragic report came out last week, related to the housing crisis and homelessness. There’s been a sharp rise in deaths among people who are homeless, including 342 deaths in 2022, the province said in a news release. That’s significantly higher than an average of 183 deaths of homeless people for the seven previous years and the number will undoubtedly be higher again in 2023, if the number of people living in tents is any indication.
Homelessness is no small problem in our province. About 12,000 British Columbians were homeless on average each month in 2021, an increase over the previous year, the B.C. government recently reported.
Here’s a reflection on the opioid, housing, and climate change crises.
->Letters: I got lectured on the housing crisis when complaining about suites (Thanks to Richmond News)
Thank to Richmond News reader Mike Bishop, who wrote in to say that bylaws being ignored may make rentals unsafe for future tenants. He asks:
When will the city start enforcing building permits and bylaws in regards to secondary suites? Last summer there were two houses in my cul-de-sac that had secondary suites built with no plumbing or electrical permits issued. I personally saw major plumbing, electrical and structural work being performed.
When I called the city to inquire, I was lectured about the housing crisis. Not only does this put neighbouring structures at risk, it also puts unsuspecting renters in a precarious position. I call on city staff and council to create a housing strategy that doesn’t pit neighbour against neighbour! Keep reading.
->BC Government introduces a raft of legislation for more housing (Thanks to Richmond News)
The housing crisis has been chipping away at British Columbians for decades. But it appears 2023 might be the year officials from all levels of government have coalesced to ramp up initiatives aimed at tackling these persistent challenges.
Housing policy this past year has taken on a more systemic approach in addition to focusing more heavily on challenges such as low supply, slow approval processes and an insufficient provincial framework to build density, according to industry experts.
However, experts say issues remain when it comes to a lack of collaboration between local governments and the province, and more protection for renters and rental stock. This year is also notably different due to this policy being created under the leadership of B.C.’s first dedicated minister of housing since the 1970s. “We haven’t seen this level of systems-wide thinking in previous years because housing has always been attached to another ministry,” said Marika Albert, policy director at the BC Non-Profit Housing Association.
->Delta council approves more density (Thanks to Delta Optimist)
At its last meeting of 2023 Delta Council gave final consideration and approval of a zoning amendment to allow a property on Milsom Wynd to be subdivided into two lots, each to have a new house. By next summer, new Official Community Plan (OCP) amendments will likely result in even more housing units allowed on such lots, without having to go through a rezoning process. The provincial government last year gave Delta a housing target of 3,607 units over the next five years.
Income Security News
->CEO’s make 246 times more than the average Canadian in a year (Thanks to CCPA)
As income disparity widens across Canada, the Globe and Mail reports that Canada’s 100 highest-paid chief executive officers broke records with their compensation in 2022, according to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. “The data this year is breaking new all-time highs,” said senior economist David Macdonald.
The organization’s annual report found that the CEOs, most of them men, were paid an average of $14.9-million, up from an average of $14.3-million in 2021. That’s $7,162 an hour, 246 times more than what the average Canadian worker makes. Before the second day of the new year is over, the average CEO has already made the average worker’s yearly salary, the report said.
In response, Lead Now has created a petition to create a corporate profiteering tax.
->Demand surged for Richmond charities this holiday season (Thanks to Richmond News)
RPRC member Richmond Care Richmond Gives (RCRG) experienced a much higher uptake of their Christmas fund than in previous year. The rising cost of living in Richmond and lower donations has strained charities’ resources. “I don’t think it’ll come as a surprise to anyone with the economy the way that it is that people are struggling this year. From our standpoint as a charity in Richmond, it’s affected us on both fronts,” said Ed Gavsie, president and CEO of RCRG.
->Translink unveils its new, faster bus service for the busy Delta-Surrey corridor (Thanks to Delta Optimist)
The much-talked-about R6 Scott Road RapidBus began serving commuters on the service that is to speed up bus trips on Scott Road by up to 10 minutes in each direction, while providing up to 20 % more customer capacity on the busiest bus corridor in both cities. Learn more.
Meanwhile the Richmond City Council turned down the proposal of a rapid bus (BRT) to Burnaby in November–though City of Richmond staff have asked the elected officials to reconsider (Thanks to Daily Hive).