Chinatown Concern Group: No Condo Pink 拒絕公寓紅: #ebd1d6

Other Colours Chinatown Concern Group: No Condo Pink 拒絕公寓紅: #ebd1d6

In 2014, real estate development corporation Beedie Living proposed to build a twelve-storey condominium at 105 Keefer Street in Vancouver’s Chinatown. If built, the condominium would cast a long shadow over a memorial to Chinese workers and accelerate the displacement of low-income residents from the neighbourhood. A coalition of Chinatown seniors and youth have waged a battle at City Council to stop Beedie Living’s development of the site, yielding a series of unprecedented victories of people power over corporate interest. In November 2017, Beedie Living’s latest proposal to build on the site was rejected by Vancouver's Development Permit Board as a result of community pressure. This was the corporation’s fifth rejected application for the site in four years.

The fight to have 105 Keefer developed as 100% non-market, welfare- and pension-rate housing has been led by Chinatown Concern Group (CCG). The colour swatch is taken from a protest banner painted by CCG volunteer Beverly Ho.

The following text is a transcription of a speech made by Chinatown organizer Vincent Tao at a rally for the National Housing Day of Action on November 25, 2017.

“This lot behind me has sat empty for as long as I’ve lived here in Vancouver. From the look of it, you may not be able to tell that this lot has been the beating heart of Chinatown for the last four years. It is because of this empty lot that the people of Chinatown—its elders, its youth, its poor, its working people—have forged a new solidarity in the heat of collective struggle. This empty lot holds the dreams and aspirations of a community that believes that a better city—where the once-powerless can determine how they live, and live with dignity— this city is not only possible, but can be fought for, can be won. This empty lot has been the battleground where billionaire developer Ryan Beedie has been humiliated, not once, but five times, by a coalition of the city’s most marginalized. Yes: we may have beat Beedie—and boy did we beat him good—but this empty lot is not our victory. We have not won until this lot becomes a home for Vancouver’s poor and working people.

“The rich and their bureaucrat cronies want us to question ourselves, want us to think that they know what’s best for the rest of us. We know we see the lines that divide our society as clear as day. They call it a housing crisis. We call it class war. They try to sell us more market housing as a “solution.” We know a scam when we see it. They say we don’t want progress. They say we just want things to stay the same. They must not be very good listeners. Maybe we need to remind them what progress is. What do we want? [SOCIAL HOUSING!] When do we want it? [NOW!]

“We don’t think you fight fire with fire best; we think you fight fire with water best. We’re going to fight a crisis in the housing market not with “market solutions,” but we’re going to fight with social housing. Is that right? [YES!] Together, we can take what’s ours. 105 Keefer is just the beginning.

“I want to thank you, the communities here and across Turtle Island who have struggled together to realize the dream of a just society. It is you who make life worth living for those crushed by the greed of the rich and the negligence of those that serve them. Without collective struggle, life has no heat. And yes, Beedie may have got his ass handed to him in the last round, but the fight’s not over, neither here in this empty lot behind me, nor in the rest of Vancouver. They may have the money, but together we have the power to take this city. Because we dare to struggle, and we dare to win.”

Other Colours

Other Colours was conceived in response to the Vancouver Heritage Foundation’s True Colours, a program that offers grants to incentivize homeowners to restore heritage homes to their ‘true’ Victorian, Edwardian and War Time era (1880–1930) colours, with paint swatches such as “Oxford Bluff” and “Edwardian Pewter”. Canada’s colonial history is a violent history that must be questioned, not ceremoniously replicated. The True Colours program has been deployed largely in support of the gentrification of inner city neighbourhoods, particularly those with a history of immigrant struggle where homes were painted colours that represented diverse cultural backgrounds and experiences of the city. 221A led a Research Initiative with 10 contributors who were asked to provide a swatch for an “Other Colours palette” that would offer alternatives to the True Colours program based on the contributors’ lived experience, cultural traditions and artistic practices. Each Other Colours palette selection is detailed by the contributor with an original text or artwork. This collection of short prose, poetry and social history, printed by Brick Press as an Artist’s Book, offers a more pluralistic account of the city’s built environment and identity.