Can You Tell These Elders To Their Face That Beedie’s Profit Is More Important Than Their Lives?

Can you tell these elders to their face that Beedie’s profit is more important than their lives?
Oct. 30, 2017


My name is Jannie Leung and I’m also known as 梁泳詩. I’m an organizer with the Chinatown Action Group.

I grew up here on unceded Coast Salish territories, and Chinatown has always been an important part of my identity, culture, and community. I am indebted to the elders of Chinatown — many of whom you’ve met today — who teach me my language and history, and teach me to speak up for what is right.

I’m here today to ask you to do the right thing and reject Beedie’s application at 105 Keefer on the grounds that it will cause devastating social and economic harm to the neighbourhood.

Building condos at the Keefer triangle will not only disrespect a culturally and historically important site in Chinatown, it will further threaten the livelihoods of the neighbourhood’s most marginalized residents. In the neighbouring 189 Keefer building, we have seen 1 bedroom condos being sold for just under half a million dollars. In a neighbourhood where the median household income of the area is $27,000 and social housing waitlists are years long, and with over 2000 homeless people in Vancouver, it would be completely inappropriate to allow more condos to be built instead of affordable social housing.

Since 2014, Beedie’s previous 4 attempts to build on this site were unsuccessful because of overwhelming community opposition. We have voiced again and again that this community does not need more condos, but what we desperately need is affordable social housing. Yet, this developer has demonstrated that their sole interest is in making profit, and they do not care about or respect the Chinatown community. They especially do not care about the low-income people in this neighbourhood who struggle daily to meet even their basic needs. It is a selfish and greedy act that their current application has 111 units of market condos that will be completely unaffordable for these residents, and zero units of affordable social housing.

In this current version of their development application, 78% of community members giving feedback oppose this development. It is not appropriate to allow a building into a neighbourhood that will cause harm to the community and where the majority have rejected it.

And while I have your attention here, I also need to speak on the discrimination and exclusion I have seen within this Development Permit process. We know that a very high proportion of residents in Chinatown are unilingual Chinese speakers. And it is inexcusable that many of its residents can’t participate equally in these city processes about their neighbourhood because they speak a different language. Language accessibility is something that can be so easily addressed with appropriate interpretation services.

As we have seen today, the Chinese speakers only get half the time to speak as everyone else because they need English interpretation. There has been no interpretation of the proceedings into Cantonese and Mandarin for them, so they watch other people talk about their community and make decisions about it, but they cannot understand what is happening.

Chinatown has a long history of the city making decisions about them, for them, and enforcing regulations that threaten their livelihoods without their consultation. Even today, I commonly hear from Chinatown residents and businesses that they feel like their voices do not matter, and even when they participate in city processes, the city does not listen to their needs.

This is unacceptable.

As the City of Vancouver is making efforts towards reconciliation for historical discrimination against Chinese people, it is appalling to me that there continues to be systemic racism to this day. It is appalling that you discredit the community members telling you the very real and harmful impacts on their lives. It is appalling that you think you can ignore social impacts in assessing this development.

And despite the accessibility barriers, some of our courageous Chinatown elders have come here to speak their truth to you. Can you tell these elders to their face that Beedie’s profit is more important than their lives? Can you, in good conscience, approve a development that the Chinatown community has so definitively opposed?

I ask you to show us that these city processes are not a sham. I ask you to show us that we no longer live in a time when Chinese voices are silenced and our needs ignored. I ask you respect what the Chinatown community has so clearly asked for and do your duty to protect the community against a development that will cause irreparable harm to the community. I ask you to reject Beedie’s development application.

I also ask that you undertake a review of your procedures to end these discriminatory practices and ensure that community members have equal opportunities to participate and their accessibility needs are addressed. You can do better. You must do better.

Jannie Leung 梁泳詩 is an organizer with Chinatown Action Group.

Photo credit: Lenée Son

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

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.

Photo credit: Lenée Son

Stop the Discrimination Against Chinese Working-Class People

Stop the Discrimination Against Chinese Working-Class People
Oct. 30, 2017

King-mong 1200x630

Good afternoon everyone. My name is King-mong Chan and I am an organizer with the Chinatown Concern Group and Chinatown Action Group.  I acknowledge that we are on the unceded Coast Salish territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh nations.  I am asking the Board to reject the development application.

At tomorrow’s City Council meeting, the General Manager of Community Services will be recommending to City Council to acknowledge past discrimination against Chinese people and to offer a formal apology.  This discrimination however has not passed and is actually the point of discussion today.  105 Keefer is situated by the Chinatown Memorial Square within Chinatown, a working-class Chinese neighbourhood whose livelihoods are being threatened by gentrification, caused by market housing projects such as 105 Keefer and zoning polices that allow these projects to be built.

To approve this project is to continue this history of racism against Chinese people by saying Mr. Beedie’s profits are more important than the lives of the Chinese working-class residents.  To approve this project will go against Council’s motion on May 27, 2014 that directs staff to recommend steps and actions in support of reconciliation.  But the Chinatown Historic Area Planning Committee voted to not support this project on Oct. 12th.  The permit staff committee report for this application indicates that 78% of respondents were opposed to this application.  Close to 3,000 people have signed a petition rejecting market housing at this site.  Since 2014, the community has loudly vocalized opposition to Beedie’s market housing applications at this site.  To approve this project is not supporting reconciliation! Instead it means you are deciding to escalate hostility against the Chinese community!

And so Development Permit Board members, I call on you to stop the discrimination against Chinese people. Reject Beedie’s application, recommend to City Council a zoning policy at 105 Keefer that support justice and reconciliation such as no market housing and put people before profit!

King-mong Chan 陳敬望, is an organizer with Chinatown Action Group and Chinatown Concern Group.
Photo credit:  Lenée Son