Residents and advocates say Arbutus Mall developer undercuts City of Vancouver’s housing strategy, planning process
Vancouver – Arbutus residents, housing advocates and hospitality workers are urging Vancouver City Council to vote against a new rezoning amendment for Arbutus Centre (2133 Nanton Avenue). The groups want the city to reject the developer’s proposal because it betrays an earlier agreement with residents and falls short of meeting affordable housing targets. The amendment will come before Council at a public hearing next Wednesday, July 18.
The groups urging Council to vote against the amendment include: the Arbutus Ridge Community Association (ARCA), the Vancouver Tenant’s Union, Arbutus Village Strata Association-Strata Plan VR 222, and UNITE HERE Local 40, the hospitality workers union.
At today’s press conference, the groups criticized the developer’s eleventh-hour attempt to squeeze in extra height for two towers at Arbutus Mall. The developer, Larco Investments, is citing the city’s housing crisis as their rationale to add more units to the project, which is already under construction. However, the proposed amendment will undercut a rezoning agreement reached with the community in 2011 that kept building heights low and was intended to retain the public viewpoint from Quilchena Park.
The developer was originally granted approvals to build 500 units, 400 of which were designated strata and 20 percent for social housing in 2011. Larco’s new proposal will add another 127 units at Arbutus Mall. In exchange, Larco is offering the city only 91 secured rentals – out of 627 total units planned under the new amendment – and a small and unspecified number of below-market rentals. The city recently raised the social housing requirement for large development projects to 30 percent, up from 20 percent. Yet, Larco’s social housing contribution at Arbutus Mall – the type of major development project this should apply to – will stay at just above 20%.
“The proposed secured rentals and social housing that Larco is offering is a drop in the bucket considering Vancouver’s housing crisis. We question why the city is willing to settle for so little. Many of these units will be out of reach for Vancouver’s working families. Ironically, Larco – like many local developers – is also a major hotel owner. We represent some of Larco’s hotel employees and question how many of them will be able to afford to live in Larco’s development,” said Octavian Cadabeschi of UNITE HERE Local 40.
One of the groups raised concerns about the sizeable proportion of market strata units in Larco’s Arbutus development.
“The price of these “market rate” units is determined by real estate investment and land speculation, rather than peoples’ incomes. Densifying this area with condos will only lead to another spike in land values, and it will be the renters and seniors living in Arbutus Ridge who will pay the price,” said Sydney Ball, a representative of the Vancouver Tenant’s Union.
Nearby residents say they feel betrayed by Larco’s new proposal which undermines earlier compromises reached after years of consultation and negotiation that led to the original 2011 rezoning.
“The Arbutus Ridge Community Association (ARCA) has been monitoring the Arbutus Centre redevelopment plans since 1992, when Larco bought the property. After years of community consultation, the developer got a very good deal with the 2011 rezoning agreement. It is insulting that Larco would come back for more after all that negotiation, and it is hard to believe that the city would seriously consider their offer,” said Doreen Braverman, past president of ARCA.
The groups are urging Council to demand more from the developer, including serious negotiations with the community and a significant increase in affordable units. Otherwise, Council should vote against Larco’s proposed amendment.
For more information, please contact:
Octavian Cadabeschi, UNITE HERE, 604-813-2105, or [email protected]
Doreen Braverman, ARCA, (604) 263-6051, or [email protected]
Sydney Ball, Vancouver Tenants Union, [email protected]
Tom Hugues, Arbutus Village Strata Association-Strata Plan VR 222, (778) 223-3401, or [email protected]
Local 40 is building a progressive alliance of workers, students and community activists by training, agitating, and inspiring people to fight for justice. We place a lot of emphasis on training and fieldwork. People learn by doing, whether it’s hearing about the real situations of working people in a house visit, doing research on a corporation, speaking truth to power on a delegation, or recruiting friends, family, or coworkers to an action. UNITE HERE is committed to inspiring people of all ages and backgrounds to join our movement.
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To learn more, please contact Mike Biskar: [email protected]
UNITE HERE is a progressive labour union, dedicated to creating greater equality and opportunity for workers in the hospitality industry. Communications Specialists are embedded in local worker campaigns and play a crucial role in designing comprehensive communications strategies using digital platforms, earned media and multi-media tools to raise the visibility of worker struggles. As a Communications Specialist/Digital Campaigner with UNITE HERE, you will be part of a team that empowers people in low-wage service sector jobs to achieve better wages and benefits, dignity and basic rights at work.
Key responsibilities include, but are not limited to:
- Developing, in collaboration with union leadership and members, messaging and materials for effective communication with news media, the general public, union members and allies;
- Designing leaflets, newsletters, website- and e-advocacy content, social media posts and other content;
- Maintaining and updating content to Local 40 websites and social media platforms;
- Helping execute the Local’s social media strategy and expand the union’s strategic use of digital communications;
- Ensuring that all communication is consistent and reflects the union’s strategic vision;
- Editing and revising all communications content as necessary;
- Documenting events and actions, including taking photos and video, and posting real-time content to social media platforms;
- Producing multi-media content for communications, such as short videos, is a plus.
- Demonstrated commitment to social justice and the fight for workers’ rights;
- Relevant experience in graphic design, campaign communications or media relations;
- Excellent verbal and written communication skills, including the ability to meaningfully engage with and frame issues for people of diverse backgrounds and life experiences;
- Proficiency in Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Suite. Experience with Canva is a plus;
- Experience with web development, photography and/or video production desirable;
- Ability to work independently and manage a workload with competing priorities and deadlines;
- Ability and willingness to work occasional long or irregular hours during times of critical campaign need.
To apply for this position: please email your resume, cover letter and a sample of your work (or a link to a website portfolio of your work) to [email protected]
(For Chinese language version, see below)
April 20, 2018 (Vancouver, BC) – “This is a historical moment for many Chinese Canadians and especially for family like me who are descendants of Head Tax payers and Canadian railway workers.
“It is important for Vancouverites to understand and acknowledge the history of Chinese segregation and racism in Vancouver. Fairness is essential and that’s what drives my service with the union.
“Many hospitality workers of UNITE HERE Local 40 are immigrants and many of them are from China. They work under challenging and precarious conditions like long hours, heavy workloads and risk of injury yet they earn only minimum pay with no job security. They have endured much hardship to build a life here, and their contribution to the success of Vancouver’s hospitality industry is often unrecognized.
“An apology would only be meaningful if there are actions to bring changes. I long to see changes in the working and living condition of workers in the City. I want to empower them to fight for equitable jobs and respect, not only in our workplaces but also in our communities.”
April 20, 2018 (卑詩省・溫哥華) – 「對於許多華裔加人及尤其像我的家人那樣，作為人頭稅和加拿大鐵路工人的後人，這是一個歷史性時候。
不少UNITE HERE 40 分會會員是移民，當中不少來自中國。他們經常在有挑戰性及危險的環境下長時間辛勞工作，卻只有最低時薪，也沒有就業保障。
For media availability, please contact: Michelle Travis, 778-960-9785
(Prince George, BC) On Thursday, April 19, hotel and food service workers from across the city converged outside the Ramada Prince George Hotel for a demonstration organized by members of UNITE HERE! Local 40. The workers were joined by several Prince George unions, campus groups, and community allies.
Ramada workers, who have been in bargaining for almost a year, protested working conditions at the hotel. They currently earn less than other unionized hotel workers in Prince George. Workers want management to address serious contract violations, a lack of adequate staffing and supplies during busy periods at the hotel, and to resolve basic issues that staff bring forward.
Unite Here Local 40 represents hundreds of workers across Prince George. In addition to the Ramada, Local 40 members are fighting for better working conditions at UNBC and Travelodge and will soon begin bargaining at Coast Inn of the North. As the cost of living continues to increase, hotel and food service workers across Prince George are joining together to build a higher standard of living in their city, one workplace at a time.
“We all face a lot of the same problems where we work, regardless of that being UNBC or the Ramada. All of us need wages that we can live on, respect in the workplace, adequate staffing levels and safe working conditions. This is why we are working together to build a movement of workers standing up for one another. This action is only the beginning of that,” said Stacey Moen, a cook at the Ramada.
Members of several area Prince George unions and local community groups joined today’s demonstration.
“Hotel and hospitality workers add real economic value to our community by providing vital services. They deserve our full support in their struggle for decent wages and benefits, and better working conditions,” said Paul Ewert from Stand Up for the North Committee.
For more information, please contact: Octavian Cadabeschi at 604-813-2105 or [email protected]