By Kelly Bond
Sixty-one families who currently reside securely and peacefully in Emery Village, a beautiful, centrally located albeit grandfatherly purpose-built rental complex in Lynn Valley, North Vancouver, could soon be kicked to the curb by a municipal council who completely abandons the SOCIAL obligations they themselves adopted in Bylaw 7900, the Official Community Plan, in favour of the almighty dollar.
Alas, and so it has been, and so it ever shall be.
The rights of one group of hard-working everyday citizens—those who drive your buses, cut your hair, design the interior of your homes, volunteer at your child’s School Spring Carnival, wire your homes, foster BC’s children in need, sell your family clothes, coffee and hockey gear, connect internet access for your wireless ‘stuff,’ coach your child’s soccer team, rehabilitate you after an injury or service your pool —are trumped in favour of another.
People who dwell, pay taxes, and dedicate their time, talent and treasure in the community have no right to say anything about it.
Sure! They’ll be “patched up” by the playground first-aid offerings of the Residential Tenant Relocation Assistance Policy to the tune of a grand or three (depending on tenure), and sent on their merry way with a proverbial lollipop.
The monies may assist with the ‘affordability gap’ demovictees will experience in finding a new place to call home for a couple months, but then they will become cost-burdened, livability will decline and some may even have to turn to draw on our province’s social services.
Because there are NO rentals to house them: affordable, market, below-market—whichever.
The “wound” of displacement is gaping, and it takes more than a band-aid of cash to stop the blood from gushing again and again.
(There are 1267 purpose-built rentals located in district proposed town-centres so the epic tragedy will continue unless immediate solutions are found and the directive to preserve existing affordable units is honoured in the meantime).
What our community needed, well before now, were elected municipal officials who made efforts to legislate, solicit assistance from senior governments, and mandate affordable, purpose-built rental housing—part of that diverse continuum of housing promised seven years ago in the OCP—into EVERY development application instead of favouring the approval of thousands of market purchase condos in the district.
Alas, the housing climate for renters remains disastrous and there IS nowhere to go but out and away from North Vancouver. Mosaic is obligated by the aforementioned Relocation Policy to find places for their tenants—homes within the community and no more than 10 per cent of what renters pay now.
What happens when they fail to do that? Can they draw water from a rock?
Over two years, 5000 residents created the commendable vision of our community’s OCP. The vision falls absolutely flat when the practice of demoviction is allowed to continue and rental security is compromised:
The OCP Vision: “Our neighbourhoods are to include people of all ages, cultures and incomes. All are equally welcomed, valued and actively engaged in community life. Our young have safe and healthy environments in which to grow and succeed; our seniors can remain in the community with their needs met in a dignified way.”
That dream has been fulfilled already in Emery Village, a well-knit, established and thriving community, for several decades. But, ultimately, it is not the true vision that council has.
They prefer to offer Emery residents as sacrificial lambs for another class of citizen that can afford to purchase 330 market condominiums and townhomes.
It’s beyond disappointing and disheartening, and reveals what little value DNV renters hold in the hearts of certain elected officials whom we voted to office almost four years ago. To be sure, those renters will remember this at the ballot box.