Statement from the Metrotown Demoviction occupation post-eviction

Wednesday July 20, 2016

We began this occupation one week ago as part of a broader day of action for housing justice. In the Downtown Eastside more than 50 people are now seeking shelter against homelessness in a tent city run by and for homeless people. In Abbotsford, a new tent city has sprung up, continuing the Dignity Village legacy of years of fighting anti-homeless hate and daily displacement. In Victoria, homeless people are surviving and resisting by building their power despite the looming court injunction order against Super InTent City. And here in Burnaby, our occupation at 5025 Imperial has brought demovictions into focus as a central part of the housing and homelessness crisis. The overwhelming community support we have received means that the demovicted are emerging as a social group, feeling part of this struggle, and joining the fight against the war on the poor.

Members of Alliance Against Displacement and the Stop Demovictions Burnaby Campaign refused to leave the occupied apartment, violating the court order to vacate the building. We carried out this act of civil disobedience for two reasons:

  1. Because the laws that the city of Burnaby are using to organize the mass demoviction of thousands of vulnerable tenants are criminal laws. Burnaby council is lying when they say they cannot stop demovictions. With the exception of only one development, every single demoviction is done with distinct city permission through rezoning existing zoning and development laws. We demand Burnaby stop rezoning apartment buildings. As Carl, a homeless man who found sanctuary in our squat said: we demand placement before displacement.
  2. We know that the City of Burnaby does not care about the people they are displacing. Mayor Corrigan is disdainful of the existing renter community and has mocked them and their struggles in the media. Our appeals to the City to do the right thing have not been heeded. We are calling on the demovicted to grow our collective power and fight back. When a developer buys our buildings, let us declare that we will not be driven out. The slogan of the next period of struggle in Metrotown will be: Hell no, we won’t go. If they are going to break up this community, we will organize resistance, we are dedicated to supporting people to stay in their homes and refuse to cooperate with orders that convert them from peoples homes to corporate investment properties.

Alongside homeless people who are making safer, community survival spaces without asking permission in tent cities, this occupation is the beginning of an anti-eviction resistance that is moving beyond protest.