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Get out and VOTE in the upcoming municipal elections.  Voting day is October 20th.

Affordable housing is the biggest issue.  CCEC promotes non-market housing development.  Several of the people standing for office (mayors and councilors) have taken supportive positions.  The solution is not to build more high-cost condos and homes. 

Housing Central has assembled a wonderful website with resources for each community.  Check it out.

Community-based housing - co-op, non-profit, and other - takes housing out of the speculative markets and commits the housing stock to ordinary people.  Community-based housing provides affordable housing into the indefinite future.  In some cities over 50% of the housing stock is community owned.  In Vancouver and adjacent municipalities it is under 5%. 

The housing problem is not a 'supply problem', as developers assert.  It is a public policy problem.  It is a housing strategy problem, as Patrick Condon outlines in the Tyee.   Make your vote count on October 20th.     

 

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Hello, everyone,

Meet Poverty Reduction Bill. 39 in 2018, democratic, and personable.

Most specifically; Poverty Reduction Bill likes helping people in need, and is looking to do the best job possible given the circumstances. Many people like Poverty Reduction Bill very much, and have been waiting a long time for someone like this to come along and sweep them off their feet.

But no one is perfect. Like many fellow Bills, Poverty Reduction Bill has some vision issues - mainly in depth perception. Understanding the depth of the issue and taking into account those in the most desperate need of help is not natural for this Bill.

What we can truly be grateful for is the fact Poverty Reduction Bill is willing to listen, and change. Vision correction is not as simple as getting glasses, though. In fact, this is where we can actually be the guide and help ensure the landscape becomes clearer for Poverty Reduction Bill to navigate.

"How?" you might ask. Take it back to the ABC's - tell your MLA, tell mayoral candidates, tell your neighbour. Tell your cat if you must. But get involved!

Do your part for Poverty Reduction Bill, and write in today!

- Denis Flinn

(image courtesy of cnn.com)

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A recent book by Nancy McLean presents an unnerving overview of the 'plot' being pursued by wealthy Americans to permanently install the privileged classes (and undermine traditional democracy) - Democracy in Chains.

This blog post from the Institute for New Economic Thinking provides a quick and stirring overview of the research and the story.  McLean has stumbled upon the work of an obscure, and shadowy economist named James McGill Buchanan who may have been the architect of the libertarian revolution being pursued in the United States over the last quarter century.  Buchanan wrote widely on the interests of those with 'property' and how those interests could and should be preserved.The Koch brothers were keen supporters of Buchanan's work.

The book outlines how the efforts on many fronts, from a biased judiciary to a hobbled legislature, have all been part of a comprehensive vision to preserve the wealth and power of a self-righteous elite.  It challenges progressive people to think bigger, and to reconsider the political landscape.  Those who are committed to the ideal of democracy, and to a socially just world, need stand up. Ordinary people must protect the fundamental institutions and principles of liberal democracy. Buchanan counsels the 1% to re-write constitutions and legislation to the disadvantage of 'everyone else'; to construct a cozy relationship where governments simply serve the interests of the uber wealthy. The extent to which his ideas are being implemented is frightening.    

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So much clamor about taxing those who don't want to pay tax, even though they have won a big prize in our BC Real Estate Lottery.  Indeed, the added tax on higher valued homes is fair and the best way to fund schools and social services. Two excellent pieces appear in the Vancouver Sun this past week.  One by two UBC academics is concise and on point.  Another by Alex Hemingway of the CCPA is also great.

The federal government is government is parading the idea of HOUSING AS A HUMAN RIGHT.  Their consultation has been extended to close June 8th. You can contribute your thoughts.  While the text of their appeal seems heavy on rhetoric and light on action, those of us with a voice should chip in.  Unfortunately, the much hyped National Housing Strategy promises no more federal funds for community housing.  Funding is frozen at the level it has been for almost two decades (@$2B).  Meanwhile, CMHC is extracting fees from middle income Canadians and paying a 'dividend' to government of some two or three times that much.  They boast, "In 2017, we also declared dividends totalling $4.7 billion to our shareholder, the Government of Canada. An additional dividend of $1 billion was approved by CMHC’s Board of Directors on March 22, 2018."

 

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Our 'housing crisis' is not a local issue, it is the result of global capital flows and the rich pursuing their interests.  That is the argument outlined in The Tyee; William Rees puts the case forward - referencing economics and ecological logic. This is a very good analysis.

Rees also also builds links to the growing foreign investment in agricultural land all around the world. The free flow of capital alters local markets and undermines local communities; putting democratic institutions at risk.

 

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October 19th is International Credit Union Day, a day to celebrate the positive 'self-help' story of citizen based financial institutions. In many ways the story in BC is a very good one, but the consolidation trend of the last 25 years has a less optimistic face.

Ross Gentleman's OpEd piece in today's Vancouver Sun sets that out for all BC credit union members to consider. http://vancouversun.com/opinion/opinion-small-credit-unions-threatened-by-consolidation

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A research project is underway to consult Canadians about how human rights are to be incorporated into trade agreements.  Towards a Socially Responsible Trade Policy is organized by a team from the University of Montreal and the project is seeking input from all Canadians on how we see NAFTA and other trade deals.  There is an online survey, and a day of hearings on Sept 22nd in Vancouver.  

This is an independent, non-government project.  It uses a social justice framework, in a way similar to the approach of all community developers, and the Solidarity Economy activists in Montreal. Community level organizing always features human rights, this research pushes us to apply the same principles more effectively in the realm of international trade. 

Take part!

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  Recently, Matt Hern has had a book published, it is called What a City Is For; the Politics of Displacement. The author is attached to SFU and well-known in East Vancouver as an activist. The book is excellent exposé on how our property ownership system works to the advantage of some while squeezing out many.

This week there is a great overview of the book published in the Georgia Straight, Charlie Smith provides a good description of the essential arguments put forward in the book. Those of us who live in East Vancouver should pay attention. The current approach to real estate has divorced our city from our residents. Increasingly real estate is seen as an investment, it is not seen primarily as a residential resource.The home ownership markets tend to chase lower income people out, enabling gentrification.

Those interested affordable housing should review the both the case studies from other cities and the proposals that Matt Horne brings forward. They will appear radical. They challenge the status quo. But our fascination with home ownership, in particular, is at the heart of the problem.  We need to reconsider both our cultural assumptions relative to home ownership and our way of taxing real estate holdings.  A good case is made for non-market housing, and removing the incentives to speculate on this resource.

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The Britannia Community Centre renewal project is underway. Funds have been earmarked to revitalize the 18-acre Britannia site that includes the High School, a swimming pool, ice rink, seniors centre, library, family centre and more.

Community consultation is the first step.  Get involved. Come to the meetings.  Make your voice heard.  Britannia Community Centre complex is the heart and soul of the Grandview Woodland neighbourhood, is close to CCEC Credit Union and a number of our members live in this area and use the facility.  

Planning and Development Committee meetings are held on the 3rd Tuesday of the month from 7-9pm in the Britannia Info Centre and are open to the public. (Next meeting: Tuesday, August 15th, 7-9pm in the Info Centre)

The Housing Subcommittee is exploring possibilities for public housing on the Britannia site.  Email info@britanniarenewal.org for more information or to get involved. (Next meeting: Tuesday, July 18th, 5-7pm in the Info Centre- a light dinner will be provided)

Check out our website for past meeting minutes, upcoming agendas, news, updates, and more!

www.britanniarenewal.org  | info@britanniarenewal.org

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Naomi Klein

Naomi Klein's newest book is called NO IS NOT ENOUGH, and it is a call out to communities, thinking people, and progressive politicians. She sat down with Charlie Demers at a Writers Festival event on June 24th and laid out the essential arguments for constructive change - environmentally, socially, and economically. 

At the core, she emphasizes that resistance, saying no and protesting, is not going to be enough.  She contends that 'reacting' to a rapacious agenda the degrades the planet and consigns millions of people to poverty, or worse, is only a first step.  She sees the need for progressives to fashion a strong, fresh, and vital agenda that can contest the field in democracies, especially the USA. And also, she sees the need for communities, municipalities, and local governments to pick up the bigger challenges - and not wait for 'big government' to take action. 

The book largely pivots on the new directions, statements, and behavior of the new leader of the free world.  She entertainingly and succinctly lays out the 'brand management' tactics of the new president.  There are echoes of her previous books No Logo, and This Changes Everything. But she also includes observations on the recent BC election and the UK election.  In those cases she was heartened by the championing of truly progressive and exciting policies, broadening the discussion of what can be done by government. She noted that these visions were supported by voters.

The argument goes further than electoral politics, however. Ordinary people and community-based initiatives are also needed - both to effect action and to hold governments accountable.  Naomi Klein was referencing the Women's March and other events that are prompting people to get involved and take greater responsibility for a whole host of issues; immigration and refugees, housing, health services, education, transportation... In this context, CCEC and the many community groups we bring together are primary examples.

The challenge to the hundreds in the audience that evening was simple, 'It is up to you, us, to develop a vigorous, positive plan for the future; and put it in place.'

 

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