Ain’t​ ​Nobody​ Going​ ​to​ ​Save​ ​Chinatown

Ain’t​ ​Nobody​ Going​ ​to​ ​Save​ ​Chinatown
Oct. 30, 2017

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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.

Photo credit: Lenée Son

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