The People's Library of Occupy Vancouver

Equity, Access and Openness (@OccVanLibrary)

Tag Archives: environment

Why Occupy Vancouver became a Tent City and Lost the 99%

The following is a personal statement by one of the Librarians. The views expressed herein do not represent those of The People’s Library or Occupy Vancouver.

One Occupier takes a mid-day rest at The Library while another browses the collection

Occupy Vancouver has gotten a lot of flack for its tent city, but don’t blame us for that. Five thousand people descended on the Vancouver Art Gallery on October 15th because they were fed up with the status-quo. They consisted of young, old, students and trade unionists. They all had one thing in common: the growing economy has left them behind.

That’s because our economy is entirely based on unsustainable development. Vancouver’s celebrated urban policy is based on building and tearing down glass curtain condos that last 5-25 years. This is not a model of development worth exporting, and its bound to collapse. It’s also only a matter of time until anaemia from open-net fish farms will collapse Pacific salmon stocks, and tar sands tankers destroy the natural beauty and ecological wealth we have in Western Canada. These projects are negative-sum games that benefit a few large developers and corporations, (Canada’s and Hong  Kong’s 1%) while causing ecological and economic devastation for the multitude of small businesses and communities dealing with the externalities! (Our 99%)

It’s an economy that has created what Vancouver Magazine calls “Generation F”: a mass exodus of talented, educated young people on the losing end of Vancouver’s housing bubble. Its an economy that has deprived our First Nations of their traditional lifestyles, forcing them off their reserves. It’s also an economy that has put thousands of people out on the street.

It may be true that a number of homeless took advantage of the free food, medical services and security that came with the Occupy Vancouver site–but what do you expect in the homeless capital of Canada?  What do you expect from the city that tears down more social housing than it builds? What do you expect from a city whose government has reduced its social housing mandate for mega-developments to 0%?

The tent city wasn’t a creation of Occupy Vancouver’s organisers. I think more than anything, it speaks to the selflessness of the hundreds of volunteers that put their own pet projects on hold to advocate for the desperate need of the angry, bitter and hurt people that showed up at our protest and demanded a piece of our public space to inarticulately air their grievances.

Our critics tell us that the system isn’t broken, that you can still get things done by writing an email to your MLA. Explain that to the guy washing the windows at your favourite coffee shop some time. I’m sure he’ll be relieved to hear it. And unless you count the window washers who shine the “glass city” day after day, I think you’ll find, as we have, that the wealth has not “trickled down.”

Why did Occupy Vancouver get taken over by homeless? Don’t blame the city for scaling back social housing. It must have been the anarchists.

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Peak Oil and the 99%: Pat Gerber and Ben West

Peak Oil: No Tarsands, No Pipelines, No Tankers with Pat Gerber and Ben West
San Francisco Energy Analyst Pat Gerber and Local Activist Ben West discuss the Canada’s Tarsands-first energy policy and why it doesn’t work for the 99%.

David Suzuki speaks to Occupy Vancouver

Speech made on October 22, 2011 at Occupy Vancouver, VAG