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2010 Olympic tenancy protections don't exist

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Next month, the Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre, the BC Apartment Owners and Managers Association, the City of Vancouver and the provincial Residential Tenancy Branch will launch a campaign to bring public awareness  to tenant and landlord rights and obligations prior to the 2010 Olympics.

Though these organizations should be applauded for taking the initiative to raise awareness of these issues, the information campaign fails to take in to account the extent of the market distortion in the months leading up to February 2010.  The existing public policy framework allows loopholes such as renovations to be used to evict tenants.  Without financial penalties in place and a more advanced public policy framework to protect tenants, an information campaign will simply reinforce the status quo -- an environment where evictions in rental buildings happen on a regular basis in the West End, Commercial Drive and the Downtown Eastside.  There have already been over 1,300 units of SRO housing converted in the inner-city since the Olympics were awarded to Vancouver.

The failure of policy makers both at the bureaucratic and political level to identify the right prescription for this policy challenge is incredibly disappointing.  These concerns were raised as early as August of 2001 during the early stages of the Olympic bid.

Promises of a social housing legacy at the Athletes Village are being eroded.  Evictions continue to take place on a monthly basis.  There has been a lack of resources provided to civil society organizations to engage residents in the inner-city.  It has  been a top-down approach from the very beginning.

The establishment of a funded watchdog group also has not taken place. 

Now that the City of Vancouver has taken over the financing of the Olympic Village project after buying out financier Fortress Credit Corporation at a cost of almost $319.5 million.  Another $690 is still needed to complete the project.

If the rising costs of the diminished social housing legacy are now on the chopping block, without the help of senior levels of government, we will have seen an unprecedented level of incompetence -- publicly subsidized 'market rate' condominiums as Vancouver's Olympic legacy.  Truthfully, you can't make something up as ludicrous as this.  It might just tell us everything we need to know about the 2010 Olympics and the people behind them.

Last year, the Impact on Communities Coalition called for a $1 surcharge on Olympic tickets and merchandising that would be matched by the provincial and federal governments to fund a social legacy for the 2010 Olympics -- unfortunately, that proposal too fell on deaf ears.

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