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luxury bob's lux beacon

issue 86 | september 2, 2011


suggested donation


the peanut gallery

stalag 13

mesa luna

richard's on richards


seylynn hall

the @ gallery

the butcher shop

the starfish room

the sweatshop

the what gallery

rock room

quadra club

the emergency room

the windmill hoko's

underwear farm

the meatball

helen pitt gallery



thecosts forcing out renters and artists? unlivable city are high
the cobalt gambado the church of pointless hysteria smilin’ buddha cabaret the sugar refinery lick pantages honey


2 megaphone 86 | September 2, 2011

sell Megaphone

ABOUT Megaphone is a magazine sold on the streets of Vancouver by homeless and low-income vendors. Vendors buy the paper for 75 cents an issue and sell the paper to customers for a suggested donation of $2. All money from the transaction goes into the pocket of the vendor. OUR MISSION Megaphone’s goal is to provide economic opportunities to homeless and low-income people while building grassroots support to end poverty.
CoVer illusTraTion by Will BroWn

If you are homeless or low-income, you can become a Megaphone vendor. Each issue costs 75 cents. New vendors get their first 10 copies for free.

The Unlivable City
6 Food Exchange Quest opens up new grocery store for low-income people 9 Haida Gwaii How island life taught David Suzuki a lesson in respect 10 Vendor Voices Peter finds his vision through photo contest 12 15 Red Alert Red Gate's order to vacate leaves dozens of artists homeless Voices of the Street Is it possible to make Vancouver more affordable for renters?

beCoMe a Vendor, VisiT Megaphone:
7 East Hastings (at Carrall) Monday to Friday, 9 am–4 pm Saturday, 10 am–3 pm

buy Megaphone

100 per cent of the purchase goes directly to the street vendor.

adVerTise in Megaphone

Your ad will be seen by thousands of people in Vancouver and will help support homeless and low-income citizens by helping keep Megaphone going.

ConTribuTe To Megaphone

Megaphone is put together by volunteers and welcomes freelance contributions from writers, photographers and artists.

ConTaCT Megaphone

Post #611, 142-757 West Hastings, Vancouver BC, V6C 1A1 Phone 604 678 2800 Email

18 Apartment Hunting Poetry from our community writing workshops 20 (Way) South of the Border Latin American film fest offers fiery fare

Earn extra cash selling Vancouver’s award-winning street paper.
Meetings for new vendors take place Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 1pm at the Megaphone office located at 7 East Hastings. In this meeting we teach you valuable sales techniques and determine good locations for you to begin selling. You will also receive a copy of our business licence, a Megaphone vendor badge and 10 free copies of Megaphone to get you started.

Thank you supporTers & parTners

4 megaphone 86 | soundoff | ReadeRs' letteRs

Readers' Letters
power To The people
I do not agree with the HST. I believe that it is an unfair tax that continues a trend of shifting the tax burden on the working poor by adding hundreds of essential (previously untaxed) products and services to the tax list. I also think that the way the tax was implemented was incredibly undemocratic. I firmly believe that the Liberals lied about their intentions regarding implementing the tax during the last provincial election because they knew that they would never have won the election if they were honest about their intentions. I shouldn’t have to remind anyone that during the election campaign all Liberal candidates, including our now gone premier Gordon Campbell, explicitly stated that there was no HST on the table for B.C., but then moved to instate it less than a month after their electoral victory. I also believe, however, that removing the HST is a bad idea. The fact that it would result in a $3 billion loss to return all the federal money spent implementing the tax is damning. Indeed, it is enough to have convinced many to keep the HST around. There are also many well-publicized (if not universally agreed upon) reports that the HST would actually be economically beneficial in the long run. However, I had to ask myself, ‘What message does keeping the HST send to our government?’ That bullying the voter by using underhanded, backroom politics can result in political success? Yes, the reversal of the HST will be harmful to B.C. We will lose the $3 billion to the federal government, along with the residual economic benefits that money would have reaped if it were otherwise distributed. However, it is a victory, in my opinion, for democracy. It says that the government cannot fool the public, ravage the poor and succeed because they stick us with the bill for reversing it. It is undeniable that the reversal of the HST will cost the average B.C. taxpayer. To keep the HST would have emboldened politicians to continue using tactics and strategies that will erode our democratic values, widen the gap between the rich and the poor, and strengthen the thought that the constituency is a body to be manipulated and coerced. There was no “right” choice in this referendum. We had two very bad choices. And we had these choices because our ruling political party has no respect for its constituency.
Damon Chen

direCtOr's COrNer MEGAPHONE 086
Megaphone Magazine is published every two weeks by The Street Corner Media Foundation. Post: #611, 142-757 W Hastings, Vancouver, BC V6C 1A1 Email:

exeCuTiVe direCTor
Sean Condon

Managing ediTor
Kevin Hollett

news ediTor
Katie Hyslop

assoCiaTe ediTors
Darren Atwater, Lauren Bercovitch, Sarah Berman, Elecia Chrunik, Amy Juschka, Yvonne Robertson, Jackie Wong

ad sales

arT direCTor
Jo Lee

Will Brown, Kate Moore

Matthew Zylstra Sawatzky

Please send your letters, opinions, rants and raves to ‘Soundoff’, Megaphone Magazine, #611, 142-757 W Hastings, Vancouver BC, V6C 1A1 or ‘’.

wriTing workshop CoordinaTor
Daniel Zomparelli

projeCT CoordinaTor
Kazuho Yamamoto

board of direCTors
Darren Atwater, Sean Condon, Bob Dennis, David Lee, Helesia Luke, Garvin Snider, Peter Wrinch

Victory and Vendors— On Sunday, September 4, Megaphone will kick off our fall fundraising drive with the Victory Square Block Party. It’s the perfect way to showcase what Megaphone does— celebrating community and supporting our vendors. And this fall we need your help to raise $5,000 to keep making this happen.

Chris Dodge, Leanna Greenway, Terri-Lynn Haines, Torey Hampson, Jamie Hansen, Shivani Kaushik, Will Pearson

The Victory Square Block Party brings together people from across Vancouver for a day of music and community building at Victory Square Park (Cambie and W. Hastings) from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. It’s a way for us to reclaim our public space and showcase some of the best musical talent that our city has to offer. Best of all, it’s free and it helps support Megaphone’s mission. Proceeds from the event’s sponsors and raffle draw will go toward Megaphone’s vendor program, which provides an economic opportunity for homeless and low-income people. It’s part of our campaign to raise $5,000 this fall so we can keep providing training to new vendors and additional supports to our existing ones. The vendor you purchased this magazine from is struggling with barriers, whether it’s homelessness, poverty, addiction or a mental or physical illness. By selling Megaphone, they are able to earn a living with dignity while helping create stronger communities. And by buying this magazine

you are making a difference in their life. “I like the fact that I’m actually doing something to earn my money rather than begging,” says Megaphone vendor Joe Kryklywy, who sells by Waterfront Station. “I think that it’s positive, it gives me some self-esteem and it also gives me the chance to interact with people and practice my social skills, which is important for work also.” Selling and buying the magazine is only part of the process. In order to get a vendor to that point and give them the proper training and support, Megaphone relies on donations from supporters like you. With your help we can reach our fundraising goal and provide our vendors with the opportunity they need to succeed. Please turn to page 23 to see how you can make a donation and help support our vendors today!
By Sean Condon Executive Director—Megaphone Photo by Adam Krawesky

6 megaphone 86 | mega-News | quest food exchange

megaphone 86 | veNdOr prOfile | joe kryklywy 7


Affordable food for those who need it most
n August 31, Quest Food Exchange held its grand opening at the new Union Gospel Mission building. Quest, a not-for-profit food exchange program that redistributes excess food to those in need, provides affordable and nutritious groceries to the city’s most vulnerable population. They hope that the move from their previous location three blocks further west on Hastings Street last July will allow for more people to be serviced in a more pleasant environment. “The new space [at 611 East Hastings St.] is larger and laid out differently, creating a more dignified and welcoming atmosphere,” says Lauren McGuire-Wood, Quest Food Exchange Community Relations Coordinator. The organization estimates that 17 per cent of British Columbians experience food insecurity everyday with barriers including income level, mobility and proximity, while one-third of food produced ends up in landfills. Quest’s role is to make this nutritious food available to those who need it before it is wasted in landfills. Quest Food Exchange has served the community through various capacities since 1989, beginning with sandwich deliveries to the homeless before a hot meal program. Eventually, Quest expanded to its present grocery store model in 2006. “Quest Food Exchange is proud to be partnered with Union Gospel Mission to open our signature low-cost grocery store in Vancouver,” they wrote in a fact sheet announcing the grand opening. “We are excited for the opportunity to build this partnership with such an amazing institution in the heart of the Downtown Eastside, a community built on the tenets of respect and acceptance. We hope that this relationship will continue to flourish, with clients eventually using the services of both facilities.” Quest operates three low-cost food stores, including their new East Hastings location and at 2020 Dundas St. in Vancouver and 13890 104th Ave in Surrey. Last year, Quest recorded 140,337 shopping trips to their low-cost food stores.
Story by Kevin Hollet Photos courtesy Quest Food Exchange

veNdOr prOfile
got started with Megaphone when I was panhandling in front of the IGA on Burrard. I was having a tough time looking for work and trying to make ends meet until cheque day. So far I really enjoy it. “I‘ve had numerous people come up to me and say that they appreciate what I’m doing as opposed to just sitting there with a cup and a blanket. They think Megaphone is a positive thing. I’ve also met people from Australia, England and the United States. They told me about similar papers in their countries. “I like the fact that I’m actually doing something to earn my money rather than begging. I think that it’s positive, it gives me some self-esteem and it also gives me the chance to interact with people and practice my social skills, which is important for work also. “I’m originally from Montréal. Although I’m not French, I read, write and speak French. I got divorced and came out here to work in construction back in ’99. Something told me to ‘Go West, young man’. “I was working in the construction industry prior to the Olympics and, unfortunately, since the Olympics and the economy and everything, it’s been a little tight, but hopefully with the weather changing I will be able to secure some full-time employ-



Joe Kryklywy on earning a living

ment soon. But I will still sell Megaphone at night because I enjoy walking around in the evenings and interacting with people that way. “I sell around Waterfront Station and Streamworks. I find it’s a good area. I compete with the panhandlers, but I’m starting to know a lot of the people who

work around there and live there. I’m a people person and I love the feedback that I get. All in all it’s been a positive experience for me.” Joe sells Megaphone around Waterfront station.

7 September 1989 A Russian drug gang was rounded up in Vancouver on charges of conspiring to sell cocaine. More than 25 pounds, valued at $9 million, was seized along with machine guns and luxury cars.

10 September 1898 The entire downtown section of New Westminster was burned in a great fire, including almost all the commercial section. Hundreds were left homeless. 12 September 1902 Charles Woodward (who had opened a small store on Westminster Avenue-Main Street-in 1892) incorporated Woodward’s Department Stores. Three days later excavations began at the northwest corner of Hastings and Abbott Streets for the eventual construction of a four-storey emporium.

By Chuck Davis

8 September 1979 The Vancouver Whitecaps pounded out a dramatic win over the Tampa Bay Rowdies in New York to win the North American Soccer League Championship. Trevor Whymark scored both goals (one off each foot) in Vancouver’s 2-1 victory. One hundred thousand fans greeted the team on its return.

8 megaphone 86 | veNdOr vOiCes | peteR thompson

megaphone 86 | david suzuki | finding out what it means to me 9

fiNdiNg Out what it meaNs tO me
Vendor Voices
Learning the value of respect on Haida Gwaii
spent a week around July 1 in a cabin on one of Haida Gwaii’s remote islands. I was there to celebrate a birthday—not Canada’s, but my grandson’s second. And what a blessed time it was, hanging out with him without the distractions of email, phone calls or television. When I got involved with First Nations communities in remote areas, one of the first lessons I learned was about the importance of respect. Without respect for each other, we don’t listen and we fail to learn. Instead, we try to engage in conversations set within the perspective of our values, beliefs and ideas. It’s what led to the depredation of Europeans in the Americas, Africa and Australia. It’s what led to catastrophic disasters when explorers failed to listen and learn from local people during expeditions to the Arctic, down the Nile and into the Amazon. But respect should extend beyond our fellow humans, to all the green things that capture the sun’s energy and power the rest of life on Earth, to the birds, the fish, the rivers and oceans, the clouds and sky, to all the things that make this planet home and nurture our species. It rained every day but one on Hotsprings Island where we stayed. It’s a rainforest, and that’s to be expected. We dressed for it and went out at low tide to tickle geoduck siphons. My grandson squealed with delight as each clam ejected a jet of water to withdraw into the mud. The jumble of seaweed at water’s edge formed an astonishing collage of colour and shape, and we peered under leaves to find crabs, sculpins and starfish.


I was overwhelmed with the thought that this diverse miniature community of animals and plants had flourished for millennia, co-existing and interacting in ways we have yet to discover. All over the world, life has found ways to survive and thereby enable human beings to exploit the abundance and productivity that developed within diverse ecosystems.

Peter’s road to vending
ue to an injury in my leg (which I broke in five places) I couldn’t work my construction job any more. Around that time, I just happened to walk past this long line of people. I stopped and asked someone what the big line was for and he said, “We’re getting our cameras for the photography contest.” I said okay, but just kept on my way thinking I wouldn’t win anyway. But halfway down the block I turned around and went back. I spoke with someone who gave me a number, then started my wait in that same line for my own camera. Once the wait was over the hard part was next: I had to think of ideas for a photographs. I went over to my sister’s place, taking some pictures of her one eyed cat and her dog together, which won me an honorary prize. From there, I started to sell the Hope in Shadows calendar, where winning photos from the contest were featured.


It was through Hope in Shadows that I learned about Megaphone. Selling every day I get to meet and talk to a lot of great people. Some people miss me or get concerned if I don’t see them for a while. The people I meet are friendly, always smiling and ready to talk. I’ve since submitted photos in two other photo contests. The second year I didn’t make the top-40, but last year, even before we received our cameras, I knew what I was going to take a photo of: my nephew. You can see the result above. Peter Thompson sells Megaphone at Commercial & Broadway and Robson & Howe.
Photo courtesy Globe & Mail

Human beings are a clever animal, able to overcome our deficits in size, speed, strength and sensory abilities with curiosity and inventiveness. We now know we’re not alone as tool makers, but no other species has been blessed with the incredible resourcefulness and creativity to make tools such as ours. I was impressed with my grandson’s response to his first birthday cake. He loved the novelty of the sweetness (his parents restrict his candy intake), but he only took three bites and was sated. If only we were all able to control our appetites so well. As a species, we have developed an insatiable hunger for stuff and the technological power and global economy to fulfill that consumptive demand.

It once took the Haida people months to cut down an immense tree to use for their longhouses, poles or canoes. Today, one man and a chainsaw can achieve the same thing in a matter of minutes. Driven by a thirst for economic growth and profit, without a sense of respect for the forest as an ecosystem, we use our technology to destroy the forest for a small part of its constituents. We justify clear-cutting huge swathes of forest as “proper silvicultural practice” or “imitating naturally occurring fires or blowdowns”. But that’s all rationalization. Think of the incredible technologies in ocean fisheries—radar, sonar, GPS, tough materials for nets and more. We use drift nets, longlines and bottom draggers that take immense numbers of target species and so-called bycatch, species deemed of no value or unintentionally taken (birds, sharks, turtles, dolphins, etc). Now the consequences are apparent, something I would never have dreamed possible when I was a boy: the oceans that cover 71 per cent of Earth’s surface, the oceans that I was taught in high school were a “limitless source of protein”, are a mess, beset not only by overfishing, but dead zones bereft of oxygen, immense islands of plastic debris, and changing pH from carbon dioxide dissolving in the water. These thoughts flowed through my brain as I wondered about the kind of world my grandson will grow up in and how far we could go if we learn that simple word, respect.
By David Suzuki



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artists on the street
in wake of

red gate’s ‘order to vacate’
For seven years the Red Gate has been a local artistic hub, home to artist studios and exhibitions, concerts, film production, recording studios, jam spaces and many other creative ventures. But three months after the landowner and tenants of the century-old Trocadero Building at 152 West Hastings were issued an “order to vacate” by the City of Vancouver, local artists and musicians remain in peril of losing this Downtown Eastside creative creative. The 15,000 square foot multi-level space, located across the street from the Woodwards complex, was found in disrepair when the city performed an inspection in January 2011. On May 24, the city served papers demanding that all tenants “cease occupying the building within 30 days” due to a lack of fire extinguishers, exit signage and a sprinkler system. “I don’t want to be in a dangerous building either,” explains Jim Carrico, who has rented and managed the space on a month-to-month basis since 2004. Following the notice to vacate, Carrico put his own money towards renovations to keep the creative space alive. “What we are in danger of losing is an affordable space to make art.” Carrico says the independent arts community needs more cooperation from the landlord and city officials to keep the building functional. “This is where the young and boundary-pushing artists and musicians concentrate, historically and currently, because it’s affordable,” he explains. “We’ve proven that a group of motivated artists can take over a building that has been abandoned and neglected and turn it into something amazing.” In July—following an outpouring of community support—the Red Gate was granted a 60-day extension to address five key fire and safety concerns. The city also requested a development application. Although the safety renovations have since been completed, the future of the multimedia creative space remains uncertain. “The situation hasn’t changed very much,” says Carrico, adding that landlord Moshe Mastai has refused to cooperate on a development plan. “We’re still holding out for a compromise agreement.” Mastai was reached last week, but would not comment on plans for developing the building. “I don’t want to give any information,” he said. In a letter addressed to concerned petitioners, Mayor Gregor Robertson stated that a revitalization plan is a necessary step forward: “If the building owner puts forward an upgrade plan, and demonstrates a commitment to starting it, the city will reconsider the order to vacate. To date, no such plan has been given to the city.” The city performed its latest building inspection on August 11. The inspection looked for emergency lighting, smoke detectors, railings and other safety necessities.

Red Gate caption caption. Photo by Kevin Hollett

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megaphone 86 | feature | Rental cRunch 15

“The reinspection found the five items were addressed,” confirms Vancouver communications manager Barb Floden. “The one item that is still outstanding is the submission of a building/development permit that would address the continued use of the building. That deadline was August 23.” ‘no Fun city’ The Red Gate isn’t the first Downtown Eastside arts centre to run into trouble with city officials. Just recently, the century-old Pantages Theatre on 144150 East Hastings was demolished after a City of Vancouver inspection deemed it unsafe. Much like the Red Gate, the heritage building changed hands regularly and was not properly maintained over several decades. Even strong recommendations from Heritage Vancouver and nearly 2,000 signatures could not save the oldest theatre in western Canada. As dozens of legal and underground venues face similar threats of closure, the city has earned a reputation among the creative community for being a “No Fun City.” From stringent zoning and liquor regulations to the constant squeeze of condo developers, artists and musicians find it especially difficult to thrive in Vancouver. For John Collins, a bassist and multi-instrumentalist for the New Pornographers, the “No Fun City” label is an apt but oversimplified description. He’s witnessed the rise and fall of hundreds of similar spaces in the city. “Well the short answer is yes, Vancouver is totally ‘No Fun City,’” he says. But the long answer is not so cut and dry. “The fact that Vancouver is such a beautiful city and so many people want to live here makes for an insane price of property. And it’s been that way for decades.” A veteran member of Vancouver’s independent music scene, Collins is co-owner of the revered JC/DC recording studios which, until recently, made its home at the Red Gate. The space regularly hosted local talents, including Destroyer, Nardwuar & the Evaporators, Apollo Ghosts and the Lost Lovers Brigade. Collins says the high-stakes property market allows landowners to “sit on” otherwise viable community spaces. With property values skyrocketing regardless of building maintenance and repair, it is all too easy for landowners to become negligent. “I don’t want to paint Moshe [Mastai] as a villain, but he really is another dispassionate businessman in Vancouver,” Collins says. “Job number one is making money, and job number two is making more money.” As a result, upkeep falls into the hands of underprivileged tenants. “We know the building is badly neglected and needs a lot of work,” Carrico agrees. “But if the owner won’t come to the table, it’s hard for us to raise money to do the repairs.” “It’s a poker game that lots of people play all over the world,” Collins says of the current property market. “When it happens in Vancouver, our cool places are so few and far between they’re often tied up by people who look at them as a poker chip.” “And so the City is sort of being pressed by the economy to look at property in a different way,” says Collins.

Packing uP, moving out Just over a month after the New Pornographers headlined a free concert in Stanley Park celebrating Vancouver’s 125th birthday, the band’s recording studio and rehearsal space— located on the third floor of the Red Gate—has packed up and left permanently. “We’re almost entirely moved out, sadly, but we’ve been there over six years,” says Collins. “When Jim [Carrico] found the place we were the first people to get in there—before there was any electricity or water.”  It was an extraordinarily difficult decision for Collins and his bandmates given their history with the space. “We’ve done a lot of practicing there, and made our third record, Twin Cinema,” recalls Collins. “The colour theme of that record is actually taken from the yellow and green checkered linoleum on the floor of our studio.” The band was on tour when they found out about the eviction. “I was in Connecticut with the Pornographers when I got a call from Dave [Carswell, producer and co-owner of JC/ DC],” Collins explains. “It was sad news, but we didn’t know what was really going to come of it at that point.” When the 60-day extension expired on August 24, Collins and his bandmates decided to leave. “The Red Gate was great—the building’s got a huge history,” Collins says. “That address has had a lot of heydays. It’s been record stores, theatres … I went to a gig once in the basement.” “I think that building could hold another Red Gate at any time in the future as long as a miracle happens,” he adds. catch-22 The city does offer grants to cultural facilities like the Red Gate. In 2008, the cultural infrastructure grant program was rolled out to aid non-profit cultural organizations in renovations, covering up to 50 per cent of total project cost. For Carrico, there lies the Catch-22: a development permit requires landlord consent and to access municipal grant dollars Mastai would have to agree to sign a lease; both the city and landlord pass responsibility to the other. “We know there’s city grant money waiting for us,” he says, “but it doesn’t do us much good when we’re still renting month-to-month and could be kicked out at any time.” Still, despite an unclear future and standing order to vacate, dozens of visual artists are continuing to use the Red Gate studio space to develop their creative practice. Carrico says he is withholding August rent until Mastai is willing to meet at the bargaining table. “We hope to reach some compromise,” explains Carrico. “We’d like the owner to give us a one year lease, and the city to further our extension. “That would allow us the opportunity to approach possible investors and come up with a business plan.” A plan that will, hopefully, continue Red Gate’s legacy as a welcoming home for local artists.
Story by Sarah Berman Photo by Kevin Hollett

rentalthat won’t fix itself crunch ideas for a market

More than a third of Metro Vancouver’s households are renters and urban planners say the region needs some 6,000 new rental units a year to keep up with the number of people moving here. Jackie Wong explores what veterans of the rental wars say needs to change to make sure Vancouver’s renters and landlords both get a fair shake. When I meet Martha Lewis in the downtown office of the Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre (TRAC), her exhaustion is obvious. “I’m feeling fed up today,” she sighs. Adding to her weariness, she’s just heard about federal budget estimates that predictably project a further drop in federal investment in housing and homelessness programs. TRAC distributes free information on residential tenancy law in 18 languages. Its staff holds regular legal education workshops and advocacy training sessions. Lewis herself is a practicing lawyer and trained economist. As TRAC’s executive director, she consults regularly with municipal, provincial and international governments as well as other housing organizations, always looking for ways to expand the stock of affordable rental housing. She has no trouble fixing the blame for Vancouver’s razor-thin apartment vacancy rate and seething landlordtenant conflicts. “Housing patterns are a result of government policy,” she says. “They’re not random outcomes.” But government policy, she adds, has encouraged a subtle but significant shift in views about rental property—from social good to capital gain opportunity. Property investors who buy older buildings, refurbish suites and return them to the market at higher rents, Lewis says, “are taking affordable units out of the housing stock, and that’s part of their business plan.” “People with money are putting their money into property because they don’t trust the stock market anymore,” she says. “You’ve got property values shooting up because there’s people with money, and the people without money just being left behind.” Lewis left her six-year post at TRAC two months after I sat down with her in March. That day, she told me every other executive director at TRAC left the job due to exhaustion. They burnt

16 megaphone 86 | feature | Rental cRunch

megaphone 86 | feature | Rental cRunch 17

out from the constant hardship of sourcing funding and juggling advocacy work with directorial duties, she said. Nicky Dunlop, a TRAC staffer who had been working there part-time for six months, stepped into the executive director position in May 2011. ‘like turning oFF a taP’ Advocates for rental-market reform say only one thing can put a check on those market forces. “The most fundamental, significant change that can be done, is [to] change federal tax policy,” says Maureen Enser. She’s the 30-year executive director of the Urban Development Institute, a research and policy group focusing on land use, planning, and development issues. New rental construction dried up in Vancouver after the federal government began winding down tax-breaks allowed under the Trudeau-era Multiple Unit Rental Building Program (MURP) in the mid-1970s. “It was just like turning off a tap,” Enser says. “And we’ve never been able to get back there.” Now many buildings constructed with MURP assistance are aging and in need of maintenance, but landlords are unable to finance repairs. Efforts to protect tenants from steep rent increases meanwhile, have come at the expense of the same investors needed to kick-start more construction. “The rental cap, without having a renovation grant or credit or some other tax policies, is really harsh,” says Enser. “No other business suffers as greatly as the rental housing sector in that way.” Tax provisions put in place after the Second World War considered the fact that new apartment buildings, like other new business, typically operate at a loss in their early years. They let taxpayers deduct their losses from operating rental properties against earned income. There were generous write-offs for new construction. Investors responded by funding a rapid expansion in purpose-built rental housing. Between 1951 and 1973, the number of rental households in Vancouver more

than doubled from 37,445 to 78,985. Beginning in 1974 however, a succession of federal governments either tightened or eliminated those tax provisions. And in 1993 a deficit-busting Liberal government withdrew federal funding for social housing as well. But we can’t go back in time. The City of Vancouver’s Rental Housing Synthesis Report-a blueprint for changes it would like to see-concedes that reverting to pre-1973 tax policy won’t help in today’s environment. Instead, it calls for partnerships with senior governments in targeted programs with measurable outcomes. Some of the ideas it suggests: • Provide green incentives to support rental building retrofits. • Provide GST exemption for goods and services required to operate and update rental housing. • Increase depreciation rates for rental housing assets. • Help smaller landlords qualify for small business taxation rates. • Institute a rollover provision so landlords can defer payment of their capital gains tax when they re-invest in rental housing assets. • Modify eligibility criteria for landlords to make use of the Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program (RRAP). Many Vancouver buildings are currently disqualified from this program. ‘this is not rocket science’ For her part, the Urban Development Institute’s Enser would like to see a renovation tax credit for landlords who update older properties. She agrees with many landlords that rental caps should be lifted completely from new units to stimulate more building. Last October, with New Westminster Mayor Wayne Wright, Enser helped start the Metro Vancouver Rental Housing Supply Coalition, to call on senior governments to devise a national housing strategy. Fiddling with provincial residential

tenancy legislation is no solution, Enser believes. And while more professionalism among landlords would help, she says it’s more important to give developers incentive to build more rental housing. “The solution is to make it easier to revitalize the housing stock and make it more readily available,” Enser says. “When there’s more competition, the market has a great way of levelling those price points.” “This is not rocket science. There is a whole range of solutions. Everybody is aware of them. What we need is political will,” she says. give rental investment a (tax) break John Dickie is another economistturned-lawyer who now specializes in residential tenancy law and tax matters. As president of the Canadian Federation of Apartment Associations (CFAA), the Ottawa-based lobbyist has spent the last seven years trying to get the federal government to reform its tax policy for rental housing. Dickie advocates for the same kind of ‘rollover’ tax deferral the City of Vancouver Synthesis Report envisions for property owners who sell an apartment but immediately reinvest in another. “You’ll have the naysayers who will say ‘No, these rich, greedy landlords will just hog the money.’ But it’s not true,” Dickie says. “Even if we wanted to, the competitive market will not let landlords do that.” Also contributing to Vancouver’s lack of affordable housing, Dickie says, are political decisions to restrict land supply and levy development charges that drive up land prices: “That drives up the price of new housing, and there’s a ripple effect through the whole housing market.” Vancouver, surrounded by mountains and water, could produce more affordable rental housing if municipal governments allowed developers to build higher, the industry lobbyist adds. City of Vancouver senior housing planner Dan Garrison says its ShortTerm Incentives for Rental Program (STIR) has been “relatively effective”

at encouraging just such high-density high-rise rental construction. Developed during the economic downturn in 2009, STIR gives rental-housing developers breaks on rental property assessment, the development cost levy and the number of parking units required. The incentive package also allows discretion on unit size, increased density and expedited permit processing. “A number of projects,” he says, “are in development now, under construction.” But both renters and owners from neighbourhood associations across the city have vocally criticized spot rezonings under STIR. The program does not guarantee affordable rentals, they say, and STIR’s incentives for developers outweigh benefits for citizens. Meanwhile, the City’s Rate of Change bylaw protects existing rental housing from demolition. “That’s extremely important for two reasons,” Garrison says. “One is that we’re not building a lot of new rental housing, so holding onto the stock you’ve got becomes more important. The other reason is that [older] stock tends to be more affordable than new rental housing.” is there a strategy in the house? Both the City of Vancouver and Dickie’s CFAA expressed support for Bill C-304, a private member’s bill introduced by NDP MP Libby Davies in 2009, calling for a national housing strategy. Such a strategy, the Vancouver MP says, would establish long-term funding for housing. But while the last election may have advanced the NDP to Official Opposition status, the party that won a majority in Parliament seems to believe it already has a housing plan. “The Government is fulfilling its commitment to help those seeking to break free from the cycles of homelessness and poverty,” Diane Finley, Conservative Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development wrote in February in a letter to supporters of Davies’ call for a national housing strategy. Finley cited the government’s “investment of more than $1.9 billion in

housing and homelessness over five years to March 31, 2014. This includes the renewal of funding for the Affordable Housing Initiative (AHI), and renovation programs including the Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program (RRAP), and the Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS).” Groups like the Federation of Canadian Municipalities raised concerns that funding for AHI and RRAP expired on April 1, 2011. The federal, provincial, and territorial ministers responsible for housing officially announced continued funding for those programs on July 4, when they announced a $1.4 billion investment under a new Affordable Housing Framework for 2011 to 2014. To Davies, long-term, stable federal assistance is necessary when the private market fails to provide housing people can afford. “The reality is that the marketplace, even when it’s operating at full tilt, even when it’s doing everything that it’s meant to be doing cannot meet 100 per cent of the need that there is for housing,” she says. Unitarian Church Reverend Steven Epperson says Finley’s response to his congregation’s letter-writing campaign in support of Davies’ Bill emphasizes the lack of a comprehensive federal strategy for affordable housing. “It’s an ad-hoc policy, an ad-hoc program,” he says. “The federal government just keeps not stepping up to the responsibility the way most industrialized nations do.” Epperson worries about his children, aged 23 and 26, who live at home with him because they can’t afford to rent in Vancouver. The Unitarian pastor believes the lack of affordable housing contributes to a spiritual and emotional crisis in Canada. “I think we’ve become a more divided, and in some ways, a more hardened people and country,” he says. “Hardened by the fact that we’ve got so many people who can’t make it.” a ‘most livable’ city, but not For all After being evicted twice from two dif-

ferent Kitsilano apartments, Carolyn Ali has moved back in with her parents in southeast Vancouver. She and her husband are spending the summer exploring alternatives to the rental market and documenting their experiences on a blog. “We’ve been applying to co-ops, so that is an alternative,” she says. But the system is slow, and it could be years before a space opens up for them. The couple has also considered laneway housing. Ali’s parents, however, weren’t amenable to their daughter’s suggestion to build a laneway home on their property. With few immediately viable alternatives to renting in the city, the only other option for Ali might be to leave the city where she was born, raised,and continues to put down roots. She’s weighing the costs and benefits of buying a home in another province. “I don’t know if it’s sustainable to live in Vancouver anymore under these circumstances,” she says. “With the insecurity of rentals and the high cost of housing, maybe there’s a point where you have to say Vancouver just isn’t a city that you can afford to live in.”
Story by Jackie Wong Photo by David Jones

This story originally appeared in The Tyee as part of the Tyee fellowship series entitled “Renovictions and the Quest for Affordable Rentals in Vancouver”. Visit

18 megaphone 86 | Writing Workshop | saRah oullette

megaphone 86 | Writing Workshop | melanie 19

A City Minute Sitting atop the Lux, With my view from above, the east end seems quiet. traffic flows in the distance, the sun sets and the street Lights begin to glow. the bars fill up, the streets Get louder. then the alleys Come alive. Sirens blaring, red and blues Flash. the crowd scrambles to get away. the pizza place closes. the sidewalks clear. the street sweeper passes by. By Sarah Oullette

Photo by autowitch

i Walk all alone there’s nothing i can see the feeling of loneliness over takes me i look to the left then the right Me

Sarah is a participant in Megaphone’s community writing program.

By Melanie

Melanie is a participant in Megaphone’s community writing program at the Rainier Hotel.

20 megaphone 86 | arts | vlaff

megaphone 86 | arts | mega-aRts 21

films ameriCaNa

Latin American Film Fest brings heat to local screens


Megaphone approved arts and culture happenings about town
The end of summer sure is depressing, but there are plenty of arts events to get you through. Start with HapaPalooza: a celebration of mixed roots arts and ideas. The event runs from September 7 to 10. The festival is packed with panel discussions, dialogues and great talent. If you’re interested in some easy listening, head to the Sir James Douglas Mix-a-lot Cabaret on Friday. There’s also a great panel of poets, including the very talented Fred Wah, at the Mixed Voices Raised event on Wednesday. Finish the week off with the open fair on Saturday in Robson Square. For more information on these events and more check out New Forms Festival is back for its 11th year and will be an amazing spread of great work. With full-room instalments, three performance spaces and art being projected around the Waldorf Hotel, this event should not be missed. The lineup is hefty, with amazing artists from around Vancouver. The exhibitions are free to the public, but for the events make sure to pick up your weekend pass for just $35. The festival runs from September 9 to 11. For more information visit


n the past nine years the Vancouver Latin American Film Festival has grown into one of the major Canadian celebrations of Latin American film. The films showcased over the years have maintained a window to issues at the centre of Latin American culture which are both unique to and parallel with those in Canadian culture. Despite the vast distances, different languages and varied histories of colonization, families, communities and organizations throughout the Americas share many of the same struggles and triumphs. The opportunity to share experiences through film media at this festival every year is an amazing one. Ever growing and changing as it expands, the VLAFF has exciting and innovative new programming this year. One new project highlights the similarity in experience amongst indigenous people of our colonized continents. Indigenous Film from BC and Beyond is a program of short films that will draw connections between the cinematic views of B.C. First Nations filmmakers and Mayan filmmakers from Mexico and Guatemala. This project highlights struggle and resistance, alienation and solidarity across

the continent from the time of colonization to the current struggles in the ongoing process of decolonization. This year’s festival also marks the first time the VLAFF has introduced competition to the program. Seven challenging documentaries, illuminating topics from the cultural significance of Samba dancing in Rio de Janeiro to the atrocities of paramilitary armies in Columbia, will compete for the Al Jazeera Documentary Award. One of these, Agnus Dei: Cordero de Dios (Agnus Dei: Lamb of God), tackles the disturbing issue of child abuse by clergy members through the eyes of Jesus Romano, a Mexican boy whose faith and fascination with the ceremony of Mexican Catholicism brought him to years of degradation and abuse at the hands of his parish priest. Both a narrative of personal tragedy and an exposé of a structural travesty, this film is both visually stunning and deeply moving. The non-competitive program includes fictional films in Spanish and Portuguese (all with English subtitles) from countries all around Latin America. Casa Vieja, a play adaptation from Cuba, sticks closely to its theatre

beginnings while using beautiful and unusual cinematography to capture small town Cuba’s built and natural environment. The narrative follows Estaban, returning to Cuba from Madrid to say goodbye to his terminally ill father. With his father too ill to have the conversation he needs, Estaban becomes ensnared in his family’s web of secrets and scandals and forces his own identity into the open. Chicogrande, a historical saga of the failed American search for General Pancho Villa, is a chilling depiction of violence and deception set against a magnificently stark Mexican landscape. Set in 1916, the film hinges around the atrocities committed by both Carranza’s Mexican Army and the US Cavalry on the Villistas, rebels committed to improving the lot of Mexican peasants. VLAFF runs from September 1-11 throughout downtown Vancouver, including SFU’s Harbour Centre Campus and the Djavad Mowafaghian Cinema located in the new SFU Woodwards building. For more information on films and showtimes visit
Story by Kate Neville

The Literary Death Match is back and more action-packed than ever. Head over to the W2 Media Café to enjoy comedy and literature smashed together in Tonka truck-style fashion. Watch as talented and hilarious judges Darren Barefoot, Chris Gilpin and Sara Bynoe comment and judge the literary readings of Kaitlin Fontana, Kevin Chong, Kevin Spenst and Dina Del Bucchia. The readers will have just a few short minutes to win over the crowd, and then judgement will decide whether they move forward. Join the literary fun on September 10.

Tread the boards with the folks at the Vancouver International Fringe Festival, from September 8 to 18. Can’t decide on show? Try The Illumination of the Grumpy Guitarist, an all-ages musical comedy about bridging differences through the power of play.  Ten per cent of ticket sales go to the Food Bank. Check out the program guide for all the great plays at

22 megaphone 86 | mega-fun | if will doesn't know about it then it doesn't exist

by Poncho ‘Party’ Sanchez
aries (MarCh 21 – april 19)
Your home may seem lonely this week, Aries, and love may seem to be absent. Try meeting people at bars. Oh wait, this is Vancouver, so no one will talk to you and most of the people will give you dirty looks.

Support Megaphone's Vendor Project
With homelessness and unemployment numbers rising in Vancouver, Megaphone provides a solution to these problems. By selling the magazine to their customers, our homeless and lowincome vendors are able to earn an income and change their lives. But in order for Megaphone to continue to provide employment opportunities for our vendors, we need your support. We are asking our readers to help us raise $5,000 this fall so we can keep creating jobs for marginalized people. By making a donation to Megaphone’s vendor program, you will be helping Megaphone give our vendors the opportunity they need to succeed. Your donation will help: • Vendors improve their sales (with Megaphone hats, T-shirts, bags and badges that make vendors easier to identify) • New vendors get trained and employed • Megaphone Magazine get printed Donating is easy: Please take a moment to fill out the form below or go to and make a donation online. “I like the fact that I’m actually doing something to earn my money rather than begging. I think that it’s positive and it gives me some self-esteem.” – Joe Kryklywy, Megaphone vendor Send in the form below or donate online at:

leo (july 23 – aug 22)
Are you picking up on some unsettling feelings from a friend who lives far away? You are amazing ... Spiderman.

sagiTTarius (noV 22 – deC 21)
Feelings of love for a romantic partner could be so overwhelming that you might be moved to tears. Which will make everyone around you throw up in their mouths.

Virgo (aug 23 – sepT 22)
Is the stock market taking a nosedive again? Is this causing you to worry about your investments? Relax! Being broke was fun in college right? Right?!?!

Taurus (april 20 – May 20)
Are you preoccupied this week? Something that means a lot to you could require some careful consideration, but you’ll probably just download a new game on your iPhone and forget about it anyways.

CapriCorn (deC 22 – jan 19)
This week the walls may seem to be closing in around you, and you’re anxious to get out for a while. Run, Forrest, run!

libra (sepT 23 – oCT 22)
Your love partner may be experiencing some minor conflicts with colleagues and may seem distant and preoccupied. Check their phone messages, Facebook and invade their privacy. It’s the only way to find out for sure.

aquarius (jan 20 – feb 18)
Some wonderful news may come to you, and this could send you into such excitement that it’s difficult to concentrate on the situation at hand. Because you’re a Care Bear and good news makes you f#%$ing excited.

geMini (May 21 – june 20)
Money worries may plague you. There might not be any real reason, because you’re Beyoncé and you run the world.

CanCer (june 21 – july 22)
A friend could seem distant and probably won’t be communicating with you much. Poke them on Facebook. That’s non-committal enough.

sCorpio (oCT 23 – noV 21)
Recent overindulgence may have you feeling a bit under the weather in the morning, Scorpio. It’s called a hangover, and that other feeling is called guilt. Check your text messages.

pisCes (feb 19 – Mar 20)
A friend or colleague may pay you back a small sum of money that’s owed to you. Because you threatened them. Never mess with the Mafia.

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