In the summer of 2016, while demovicted residents squatted a mass-evicted building apartment building in the Metrotown neighbourhood of Burnaby, NDP leader John Horgan and housing critic David Eby held a news conference a municipality away in Coquitlam. Rather than addressing the civic zoning and gentrification issues at the root of the demovictions crisis (or the shortage of social housing that forces low-income people into precarious market rentals), Horgan and Eby blamed the Residential Tenancy Act, which has nothing to do with demovictions, but which the NDP does plan to reform (in unrelated ways) in their election platform.
BC Liberals policies of social housing cuts and real estate growth-at-any-social-cost are responsible for this week’s high homeless count. The NDP pretends to offer an alternative to this socially destructive twinning of growth and cuts, but their housing policies do not propose any real change. As the 2017 BC election launches, the NDP still doesn’t have a social housing platform, and their support of Burnaby demovictions show that, like the BC Liberals, they too are the party of growth and cuts.
NDP backing BCA’s homeless creating policies
The NDP is silent on demovictions in Burnaby because Burnaby’s governing civic party, the Burnaby Citizen’s Association (BCA), is an NDP municipal affiliate. Over the past two years, as the scope of the Burnaby demovictions crisis became clear, the BC NDP has been able at any time to intervene in their junior affiliate’s policies and reverse Mayor Corrigan’s development at any cost policies. Instead, Horgan and Eby parrot the same misinformation as Burnaby’s demovictor-in-chief, Mayor Corrigan, that Cities don’t have the power to stop rezonings and demolitions.
In the last year, Corrigan and co. have pushed ahead with a region-wide rezoning policy, the “downtown” Metrotown plan, which will guarantee the demolition of 3,000 units of “low-end of market” apartments. In the midst of a housing crisis, this is exactly the housing stock that independent reports call for cities to protect. Yet the NDP has remained silent on demovictions, silent on Corrigan’s “downtown” Metrotown plan, and have stood steadfastly beside their colleague, with their backs to the demovicted.
NDP demovictions housing policy is corporate growth at any social cost
The NDP has chosen Anne Kang as their new legislative candidate in the Metrotown are of Burnaby. As a Burnaby Councillor, Anne Kang has voted to demovict 473 units of low-end of market rental apartments since 2011 and has not raised an objection on the 296 more demovictions currently in process. Kang has greenlit every demoviction rezoning that has come before council. Demoviction rezonings represent a market-driven housing policy that is centred on incentivizing development at all costs. By embracing Anne Kang as the replacement candidate for MLA Kathy Corrigan, Horgan’s NDP is recognizing and affirming BCA’s development at any cost as part of their Provincial housing policy.
Vulnerable tenants made more vulnerable by NDP demovictions
Residents of 105 units of rezoned apartments on Silver Avenue are typical victims of NDP demovictions. They are losing their homes thanks to the NDP/BCA’s free market betrayal of the working class and Indigenous tenants, and BC Liberal austerity governance policies. These tenants, mostly new immigrants, racialized people, young families, and people with disabilities, are “replacement,” temporary tenants, who Anne Kang and the BCA have decided do not count and cannot be protected with Burnaby’s “Tenant Assistance Policy.” Some tenants have experienced mental health crises and hospitalization due to the stress of the impending demoviction. They had nowhere to go but an apartment scheduled to be demolished and now they have nowhere to go at all. They are amongst the most vulnerable to homelessness. They are the ones Kang, the BCA, and the NDP are sacrificing to a demovictions development policy that, if elected, they will continue to deploy Province-wide.
Unless the NDP turns away from demovictions today, we can be sure that tomorrow John Horgan will “grow the economy” at any social cost, just like Christy Clark and Gordon Campbell have for the last 16 years. We call on the NDP to invest Provincial tax dollars to build 10,000 units of new social housing (independent non-market apartments with built-in subsidies down to welfare/pension rates) every year in BC, to use Provincial legislation to freeze rents and implement rent controls between tenancies, and to recognize low-end of market apartments as an emergency housing stock and declare a province-wide moratorium on apartment demolitions until the non-market housing we need is built and available.