Groundbreaking Event at Little Mountain attended by Housing Minister Rich Coleman

Hello Friends,

I finally had a chance to meet and talk to the Minister today. It was a brief encounter and he made it clear that he wasn’t going to add any more words to our conversation as he bristled and walked away from my camera; but nevertheless, it was satisfying to get it done. There are mythologies passed from generation to generation about how difficult it is to capture the fleeting image and words of Rich Coleman.

Coleman meets Steenhuisen and Chang

Ingrid Steenhuisen asks the Honourable Rich Coleman for an opportunity to meet and talk about social housing issues. (Sam Chang in foreground – Ms. Steenhuisen appears partially hidden behind him) Photo by David Vaisbord at the Groundbreaking at the Little Mountain Project, April 11, 2013.

Minister Coleman shook hands with Ingrid Steenhuisen and Sam Chang,(among the last tenants of the last remnant of Little Mountain Housing) and though he did not refuse Ms. Steenhuisen’s suggestion that they meet and talk about social housing concerns, he didn’t exactly set a firm date. Let me guess when that meeting might happen:  When hell freezes over.

There was very little notice given to the press (and none to the community) about when and where the press conference would take place, but in spite of the tight time frame, some key community critics of the project managed to get there on time, including David Chudnovsky and Ned Jacobs. The developer, Joo Kim Tiah; the architect, James Cheng; the head of BC Housing, Shayne Ramsay, and all of their key associates were in attendance. Apparently, they were on the invite list.

Sam Chang performs his own ground breaking ceremony at Little Mountain, April 11, 2013

Sam Chang performs his own ground breaking ceremony at Little Mountain, April 11, 2013

In his speech, Minister Coleman answered many of my questions, so I didn’t have to ask them outright. He explained what he saw when he looked out over the wasteland at Little Mountain, and his rationale for it. I recorded it and will post it asap.

Minister Rich Coleman behind Media Scrum at Little Mountain, April 2013

Minister Rich Coleman behind Media Scrum at Little Mountain, April 2013

BTW, did anybody see any coverage of the event on the evening news? During a media scrum after the main event was over, the subject swiftly changed from Little Mountain to election politics, using the Little Mountain signage as the background. That blue-coloured background was visible in several election reports, but I did not find any coverage of the groundbreaking event on television.

ps: Vote for Little Mountain Stories web project at http://www.connectthedocs.ca/
Deadline for voting is Friday April 12, 2012 @ 9pm Pacific time.

follow me on Twitter @DavidVaisbord

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Housing Minister Rich Coleman to visit Little Mountain Today!

Hello Friends,

11:45 AM this morning (April 11th) is official groundbreaking for one new building at Little Mountain and Rich Coleman will be there! UNBELIEVABLE? Nobody can remember the last time they saw him at the project, if ever.

I’m going to be there by 11am with video camera to record Coleman, the first official appearance of the author of the destruction of Little Mountain Housing. What will he see when he casts his across the landscape. It’s hard to imagine. But not to dwell on negatives, he’s here to tell us the good news, that congratulations are in order for him and his friends, as they break ground on the building that the residents and community fought so hard for.

Yesterday I shot some footage of BC Housing, sprucing up the wasteland for today’s press conference. Here it is:

Sprucing up The Wasteland at Little Mountain from David Vaisbord on Vimeo.

By the way, if you haven’t voted yet for my new web project: Little Mountain Stories, take a second and make a few clicks. If I get enough votes I’ll be able to pitch this project at the Hot Docs documentary festival in Toronto – it’s just a couple of clicks, but could mean a huge difference in getting exposure and FUNDING for this project.

Please vote, and please share!
Vote for little mountain stories web project at http://www.connectthedocs.ca/

More to come
David Vaisbord
Little Mountain Project

follow me on Twitter @DavidVaisbord

BANNER PHOTO: ASSEMBLED PRESS RECORD THE WORDS OF MINISTER RICH COLEMAN AT THE SOD TURNING CEREMONY, APRIL 11, 2013

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Eviction Delayed for Sammy and Joan: New Hearing Date

Eviction delayed for Sammy and Joan and the last 4 families at Little Mountain!

Sam and Joan 2012 in garden

Sammy (Sim) Chang and Joan Chang in their organic garden, soon to be evicted from their home at the Little Mountain Housing project.


Last week, on Tuesday September 18th, at their HEARING (by teleconference) with the RENTAL TENANCY BRANCH, the tenants with David Chudnovsky acting as their advocate, won the right to have an adjuication IN PERSON.

The date of that NEW hearing was announced YESTERDAY, and has been set for:
October 29, 2012 at 10am
at the RTB office in Metrotown.
Suite 400 – 5021 Kingsway Burnaby, BC.

There is a RALLY AGAINST THE EVICTION planned for that date, infront of the RTB office.

No eviction may take place until a final decision is made by the RTB, so in effect, the tenants won their first battle against BC Housing and the Holborn Group. Lawyers for BC Housing will, without a doubt, seek a definitive eviction date at the next meeting.

Meanwhile, in a recent interview in the Vancouver Sun of September 25, 2012, the Holborn Group’s Joo Kim Tiah, Holborn Group's Joo Kim Tiah at the Jan 2012 Little Mountain Open Housemade some very vague promises that construction could begin in May of 2013. This claim is NOT supported by REALITY.

The tag-team of the Holborn Group and the Ministry of Housing/BC Housing do not have the authority to over-ride the legitimate powers of The City of Vancouver to manage its own rezoning processes. The Vancouver planning department has re-iterated several times, that the process of rezoning at Little Mountain will take at least 18 months, and considering the length of time the site has already remained empty, far longer.

My interpretation is that the accelerated demolition process at Little Mountain has but one purpose:
To close the sale of the Little Mountain lands to The Holborn Group prior to the Provincial Elections of May 2013. BC Liberal Housing Minister Rich Coleman - wants to see Little Mountain cleared for the developer, the Holborn GroupThe BC Liberals are desperate for one piece of good news, and are willing displace vulnerable people (the very people they claim to protect) for short-term political gain.

This is how I predict it will go down:

With the tenants successfully evicted, the sale will go through, and the Liberal Government will announce the success of their strategy. They’ll exhume their promise to build the 14 housing sites, and trumpet their holiness! And then… NO SHOVEL will break ground, NO HOUSING CONSTRUCTION will begin, and the site will remain EMPTY for at least another year.

Amen.

David Vaisbord
Filmmaker
Neighbour – Little Mountain Community

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How to support the remaining tenants of Little Mountain

FOUR WAYS TO SUPPORT THE REMAINING TENANTS OF LITTLE MOUNTAIN

1. Sign and circulate the petition.
Find the petition here

2. Watch and share this short film about two of the tenants who are fighting the current eviction:
“The Eviction of Sammy and Joan” by David Vaisbord

3. Make your voice heard by local media:

letters@globeandmail.com
sunletters@png.canwest.com
provletters@png.canwest.com
letters@straight.com
blink@vancourier.com

CBC radio talkback number: 604-662-6690
CKNW radio comment line: 604-331-2784

4. Make you voice heard by officials:

Provincial Government and BC Housing
Premier Christy Clark: premier@gov.bc.ca
Minister Responsible for Housing, Rich Coleman: rich.coleman.mla@leg.bc.ca
Shayne Ramsay, CEO, BC Housing: sramsay@bchousing.org
Dale McMann, ED for Lower Mainland, BC Housing: dmcmann@bchousing.org

Development team
Joo-Kim Tiah, President, Holborn Group: info@holborn.ca
James Cheng & Associates, Architectural Consultants: info@jamescheng.com

City of Vancouver
Mayor Gregor Robertson: gregor.robertson@vancouver.ca
Councillor George Affleck: clraffleck@vancouver.ca
Councillor Elizabeth Ball: clrball@vancouver.ca
Councillor Adrienne Carr: clrcarr@vancouver.ca
Councillor Heather Deal: clrdeal@vancouver.ca
Councillor Kerry Jang: clrjang@vancouver.ca
Councillor Raymond Louie: clrlouie@vancouver.ca
Councillor Geoff Meggs: clrmeggs@vancouver.ca
Councillor Andrea Reimer: clrreimer@vancouver.ca
Councillor Tim Stevenson: clrstevenson@vancouver.ca
Councillor Tony Tang: clrtang@vancouver.ca
CoV’s City Manager Penny Ballem: penny.ballem@vancouver.ca
CoV’s General Manager of Planning and Development: brian.jackson@vancouver.ca
CoV’s City Planning Staff: matt.shillito@vancouver.ca; patricia.st.michel@vancouver.ca; ben.johnson@vancouver.ca; graham.winterbottom@vancouver.ca

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Thinking about wildflowers and Machiavelli at Little Mountain

It is Machiavellian, how BC Housing choses the end of summer to evict its last tenants at Little Mountain. It’s so obvious and disheartening that they chose a time when everyone is on vacation, to deliver mean-spirited information to their most vulnerable clients, when critics and neighbourhood supporters are on vacation, and aren’t ready or capable of reacting quickly to the news.

Wildflowers at Little Mountain

And what I had really wanted to write about was wildflowers and wildlife at Little Mountain. If there was any good news to report about Little Mountain over the summer of 2012, is that the site had become a place of rebirth, if not for housing then for nature and urban wildlife.

A Field of Dandelions at Little Mountain

It was only two months ago, on June 27th, that all interested parties convened at City Hall to hash out a Policy Statement on redevelopment. And then the BC Liberal Government through its housing organ — British Columbia Housing — lifted its iron fist once again and brought it down at Little Mountain and it was “eviction time” again. But this time, instead of the threat of aesbestos in the buildings, it’s residues of heating oil in the ground water.

Bulrushes at Little Mountain push back up after meeting BC Housing's machete.

But before I go into greater detail on the groundwater testing (in a future blog) can anyone from the City of Vancouver, or BC Housing, or the engineering firm tell me why they had to cut down all the wildflowers? Including a tiny stand of bullrushes – the week after?

David V
The Little Mountain Project, in late summer, 2012.

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Oil tank removal at Little Mountain

The last of 3 heating oil tanks were lifted out of the ground last week at Little Mountain, completing the sold remediation process at Little Mountain. This was routine business. Thousands of tanks are removed by Vancouver home owners each year in accordance with environmental regulations.

Watch the short video here:

Oil Tank Removal at Little Mountain – August 2012 from David Vaisbord on Vimeo.

All three were removed in a day without incident.
Environmental testing of the soil samples takes 2 weeks.

Drilling machinery was seen on site this week. Groundwater testing is the next phenomenon to occur at Little Mountain – a full 18 months early – if necessary at all. (which is doubtful)

Following the logic of the BC Ministry of Housing, it must pay somehow, to destroy communities earlier, rather than later. One must assume that if the deal between Holborn and the BC Liberals can be finalized early, and Holborn can be forced to PAY UP, then the Liberals will have some cash to throw at the debt, or other social housing committments they have reneged upon etc. etc. prior to the rapidly approaching B.C. ELECTIONS.

David Vaisbord
Little Mountain Project

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Recent Media on New EVICTIONS at Little Mountain

BC Housing performs routine Oil Tank Removal at Little Mountain Housing

The first of three oil tanks is lifted from the ground at Little Mountain Housing

Here are a few links to articles on what promises to be a new eviction fiasco at Little Mountain Housing. The Vancouver Courier article of August 1st communicates a few important points by Ingrid Steenhuisen, one of the last and most important voices at Little Mountain, but wastes the second half rehashing old information from the developer regarding numbers of replacement housing. Most of this could be researched on line, and had nothing to do with the urgent and timely eviction issue. The Georgia Straight article which is much better than the Courier article, includes a bizarre comment by Vision councillor Kerry Jang who refers to the last remaining townhouse in plural (“those buildings”) while arguing that it will be difficult to perform remediation tasks around them. Really, Councillor Jang? As of Monday August 13th, all remaining and offending oil tanks adjacent to the townhouse were removed and samples will be sent for testing. There were no “difficulties”. Routine testing of the removal usually takes no more than a couple of weeks. FOOTAGE OF THE OIL TANK REMOVAL WILL BE UPLOADED TO THIS SITE, NEXT WEEK.

This is the final stage of routine remediation at Little Mountain

Oil Tank Removal at Little Mountain on August 13, 2012

Soil Sample Jars at Little Mountain Housing

Workers use jars at Little Mountain to select soil samples from three areas below the old oil tanks.

Final Stage of Little Mountain Remediation accomplished in a day.

Final Stage of Little Mountain Remediation accomplished in a day.

According to the workers at the site, the old tanks were filled with sand over 50 years ago. The sand absorbed most of the oil, rendering the excavation task easy and without incident. What about the claims that other forms of remediation are necessary, and that they necessitate the removal of the last building and the eviction of its tenants, 18 months prior to construction? More to come on this important subject. Important, because it involves the lives of three families who have managed to create a tiny supportive community out of the ruins of the old.

David Vaisbord
The Little Mountain Project.

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