“Alliance Against Displacement” occupies building slated for demolition, demands governments fund non-market affordable housing

Burnaby-protest, photo credit CKNW News 980 11-Jul-2016

Photo credit CKNW AM980

The pressure calling for all levels of government to stop demovictions and to fund non-market affordable housing is being ramped up. Since July 9, 2016, the “Alliance Against Displacement”has had protesters occupying an apartment building owned by developer Amacon in Burnaby that had been cleared of renters for a demolition and new construction — a “demoviction.” They are planning to bring their message to Vancouver City Hall on July 12. A rally is planned in Burnaby also on July 12 (see Facebook).

 

Below are excerpts of coverage by CKNW AM 980, plus text of a media release by the Metrotown Residents’ Association, and an article by Rabble.

Burnaby protesters occupy apartment building on Imperial
News Talk 980 CKNW. July 10, 2016

Excerpt: Protesters in Burnaby and Vancouver are taking a stand on housing. The Alliance Against Displacement have demonstrators occupying an empty apartment building in Burnaby that had been cleared out for so-called ‘demovictions’. … The group is demanding all levels of government work to fund non-market affordable housing.

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Burnaby apartment occupiers holding firm, willing to risk arrest
News Talk 980 CKNW, July 11, 2016

As an occupation of an empty apartment building in Burnaby’s Metrotown neighbourhood is approaching day four, and demonstrators say they have no plan to leave. Protestor Maria Wallstam says she’s willing to get arrested to get the message across to all levels of government.

“This is happening across Metrotown. And this is about 3,000 affordable rental housing that are at risk of demolition.” Wallstam says the building, at Imperial and Nelson, has become a shelter for those already displaced.

… Protestors are planning a rally outside the Burnaby building tomorrow to defend the occupation.

Meanwhile, homeless activists will also be taking their message to Vancouver City Hall tomorrow morning. [July 12]  Organizer Aiyanas Ormand says residents of a tent city at 58 West Hastings have a clear message for Mayor Gregor Robertson. “We want 100 per cent affordable, social housing to be built on this site that is affordable to people on welfare and pension rates that is affordable for people in the community.”

Aiyanas says protestors are calling on the government to prioritize new development for seniors and homeless people in the community…

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Record-high numbers reveal housing and homelessness crisis in B.C.
By Sophia Reuss, 10-June-2016

Excerpt: On June 7, members and allies of Alliance Against Displacement occupied the B.C. Housing office in Vancouver to demand the Liberal government address the city’s homelessness crisis. There are at least an estimated 116,000 people in B.C. in housing crisis, according to Social Housing B.C. Of those an estimated 11,000 are visibly homeless, 40,000 are “hidden homeless” and 65,000 are at risk of homelessness. Alliance Against Displacement is demanding B.C. commit to building 10,000 social housing units yearly and provide “secure and decent homes” for those living in or at risk of homelessness….

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Media Release

Metrotown Residents’ Association Statement on Apartment Occupation by Alliance Against Displacement

Sunday, July 10, 2016

On July 9, 2016, members of the housing advocacy group the Alliance Against  Displacement began an occupation  of a vacant apartment  building at 5025 Imperial Avenue in Metrotown. The building was made vacant by the mass eviction of residents on June 30 by the building’s owner, Amacon Developments. It is slated for demolition, along with neighbouring apartment buildings as part of a luxury high rise development on the property, complete with “expansive views, concierge services and incredible amenities” according to its website. Forty-seven affordable units have been lost with this rezoning, to be replaced with 169 unaffordable suites.  While the Metrotown Residents’ Association was not involved in the planning and execution of this act of peaceful civil disobedience, it is supportive of the occupation.

For years we have been witnessing the deliberate and systematic displacement of vulnerable, taxpaying residents  from their homes in this community. Mayor Corrigan and  City Council, all members of the same political organization, have chosen to put the economic  interests of wealthy developers  ahead of the interests of vulnerable residents in Metrotown. The MRA and the Alliance Against Displacement, as well as many individual residents have repeatedly voiced their concerns at City Hall and in the media, but the municipal government continues to allow the destruction  of affordable rentals without a plan to protect or replace its  affordable housing stock. In the absence of a replacement strategy, it is incumbent upon the City to protect the rentals it has.

The act of occupation of this property is a  peaceful, creative  and public attempt  to bring attention  to the unjust treatment of Burnaby’s vulnerable citizens that rent. We acknowledge that redevelopment  is necessary in an existing community. What makes the situation  in Metrotown different from much of the redevelopment taking place in Metro Vancouver is the unprecedented  scale of displacement  and disruption of people’s  lives.

There are policy choices the City can undertake to moderate the rate of change and protect its  citizens from displacement from their community, but the City is unwilling  to even consider these options. Consequently, Burnaby  is ranked dead last (523 out of 523) in Canada on the Nationally recognized Rental Housing Index which measures affordability and accessibility of rental housing.

The MRA supports the actions of the Alliance Against  Displacement as it is hoped that this latest action  will  bring attention to the issue of demovictions and inspire all residents  in Burnaby to pressure the Mayor and Council to protect the interests of current residents  who are living under the constant and growing threat of eviction in Metrotown and other town centres.

The Metrotown Residents’ Association is an advocacy organization for residents in the Metrotown Regional City Centre. Membership is open and free to anyone residing within the boundaries of the Metrotown Development Plan

Media Inquiries: Contact Rick McGowan, Metrotown Residents’ Association,   rickmcgowan13@gmail.com
Facts

  • City Council recently endorsed a new land use framework that will allow construction of high rises in areas currently zoned for multifamily low rises. These areas include the Maywood  area from Beresford to Imperial, lands from Nelson Ave. to Royal Oak from Dover to Imperial and north of Kingsway to Thurston.
  • Amacon Management Services Corp donated $2500 to the Burnaby Citizens Association in 2011.
  • Amacon Construction Limited and Amacon Management Services Corp  donated $9700 to the Burnaby Citizens’ Association during the reporting period for the 2014 Municipal Election.

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