Ain’t Nobody Going to Save Chinatown
Oct. 30, 2017
Hey, I’m Vince Tao, speaking on behalf of Chinatown Action Group.
You know why we’re here today. Beedie is attempting to push through its latest, and likely last, development application to build on the 105 Keefer site. For the last four years, the Chinatown community has come together in opposition to Beedie’s designs to construct a tower of market-rate, luxury condos that would cast a long shadow over the Chinese Worker’s Memorial and the Sun-yat Sen Garden. If built, the condos on 105 Keefer will accelerate the destruction and displacement of Chinatown as we know it — where communities of workers, immigrants, and the marginalized, of all backgrounds, have laboured to make homes in their image.
This is Beedie’s fifth application. We’ve beaten them back four times now. They’ve seen our strength. The community has spoken. No Beedie at 105 Keefer.
You would think after four years of mounting community resentment and four rejections from the city, billionaire developer Ryan Beedie would have the sense and dignity to cut his losses and crawl back to the gilded cave he came from. But he’s bitter. He can’t stand that the poor, the working, the youth, and the elders of Chinatown have banded together to run him out of city hall. He wants revenge. Beedie’s last failed application promised 12 storeys of market-rate condos with 25 units of social housing. We called his bullshit; 25 is a drop in the bucket in this city, and only 7 of those units were actually affordable to seniors living on welfare and pensions. Today: Beedie wants to railroad through a 9-storey tower with zero units of social housing. Zero units. This is the cruel last resort of a man vindictive of the community that has grown stronger than ever together in struggle and opposition.
But Ryan Beedie will do as Ryan Beedie does. He is a pathetic, greedy little man — his contempt for the poor should not surprise us in the least. The city, however, had a rare opportunity to buy the land back from Beedie and, with BC Housing, build 100% social housing on the site. Just three days ago, we were notified that this negotiation had ended, and the latest application, featuring a stunning 0% units of social housing, will proceed to be reviewed by the Development Permit board, not city council. The cowardice of the city and BC Housing on this matter, at a time when the homelessness crisis has reached unimaginable heights, at a time when the homes and livelihoods of Chinatown’s most marginalized hang dangerously at the brink of disappearance, their failure to seize this opportunity is nothing more than a crime by the rich against the poor, the violence of profit over people.
Ain’t nobody going to save Chinatown. Not the developers, not the non-profits, not Chinatown “stakeholders”, not even the city. Chinatown doesn’t need to be saved. United, the working and the poor of Chinatown have the power to determine what happens to their homes, and we’re going to fight like hell for our right to live and prosper in the neighbourhood.
They have the money, but we have the power.
Vince Tao is an organizer with Chinatown Action Group.