Thursday, 18 April 2013

DAY 28: Hunger Striker “weighs-in” at Vancity headquarters

April 18, 2013

Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories:   At 1pm today, about a dozen DTES residents arrived at Vancity’s head office with formerly “Homeless Dave,” who is on the 28th day of his hunger strike.  Dave carried a sign saying:  “Vancity, be ethical, don’t endorse Sequel 138 condos.”

The delegation was greeted outside in the wind and rain by SVP, Business Development and Community Engagement, Linda Morris.  Residents asked if they could meet inside the lobby and after sizing up the group, Vancity reps decided to let them in, but did not offer a space to meet, so the interaction happened next to the doors in the lobby.

“You can’t say that you are not at fault because other banks are doing this too.  Other banks support the Enbridge Pipeline and you don’t, so it’s no excuse,” said Homeless Dave after Morris explained that Vancity gives mortgages to people who might want to buy a condo at the controversial project that 1000’s of residents have opposed and organized against over the last 2 years.

Therese, a senior who lives in social housing, explained why she won’t support unethical projects like Sequel 138 and Vancity’s condo project at 60 W Cordova.  She said, “I live near the condos (60 W Cordova) and I notice there are stores nearby now that sell $12,000 couches.  The message I get from that is ‘you don’t belong here’.  There is something jaded about how these stores advertise.  It’s like the contrast been rich and poor is charming.”

Dave said that given the state of housing in the area, Vancity shouldn’t write on their website that he should quit his hunger strike.  He said: “If you really cared about me and the community, why didn’t you come down to see me at the picket?  Why aren’t you supporting me?  Not even my doctors are telling me to stop.”

Residents asked if Vancity would help put pressure BC Housing to buy the Sequel 138 condo project (one of Dave’s demands) for 100% social housing.  BC Housing is currently bailing out the Sequel developer with a shocking 1% loan.  Morris did not say yes or no but said Vancity reps would be willing to meet to talk again if we wanted. 

“More talk” is not what’s needed right now.  Dave weighed himself in the lobby of Vancity and as of “Day 28” has lost a total of 21 pounds, 7 pounds more than when he first weighed himself at the Mayor’s office exactly 2 weeks ago today.  Like the beleaguered DTES community, his health is deteriorating but, as he said to the Vancity reps, “I’m strong in mind and in spirit and will continue this struggle.” 

The hunger strike demands are endorsed by every major resident-driven group in the Downtown Eastside, Stewart Phillip of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, Cecilia Point of the Musqueam Nation and the Coalition of Progressive Electors.  The demands are also supported by 1000’s of mostly DTES residents who have signed petitions at the regular picket sites over the last few weeks. 

So far, Police Chief Chu, Councillor Adriane Carr and Former City Councillor Ellen Woodsworth have agreed to meet with Dave.  Dave asked the Mayor to meet with him but so far, this request has been denied. 

History of BC Housing bailout of Sequel 138 condos and more:


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