On October 25th, 2012, the Province of BC and the City of Vancouver announced that the four remaining tenant-households at the Little Mountain social housing development would not be evicted, and that up to 50 social housing units would be fast-tracked and built on a portion of the site. Previously, the existing tenants (in the remaining townhouse who refused to be displaced) were served eviction notices, despite the fact that site redevelopment had not even reached the rezoning stage (and construction completion was still years away).
On the podcast, The City evaluates the recent social housing victory at Vancouver’s Little Mountain and we reflect on the history of the struggle. We begin with an excerpt from UBC Geography graduate student Tommy Thompson, who conducted extensive research on Little Mountain and found that “through an analysis of the distribution of benefits and losses of redevelopment to various relevant groups, Little Mountain tenants are being squeezed out of the benefits of redevelopment while bearing significant losses.”
We then hear from David Vaisbond, a documentary filmmaker, who has thoroughly and intimately documented the history of the Little Mountain housing struggle. We ask him to reflect on some of the most profound moments of documenting this struggle. Finally, former MLA and Little Mountain advocate David Chudnovsky reflects on this victory and provides a history of the proposed Little Mountain privatization and redevelopment.
Dispossession and displacement as active projects are very much about land as property. Property is both the point of these struggles and the medium. Struggles over the meanings and moralities of property have been central. Law, in this sense, must be conceived not simply as an instrument of colonial domination but as a means through which colonialism has itself been produced. In order to understand the historic dynamics of colonialism and its contemporary echoes, it helps if we attend to the geographies of land. The meanings and practices associated with land as property have proved critical, yet are inseparable from its spatialities.–Nick Blomley (Professor of Geography, SFU)
In this edition of The City, we reflect upon the Musqueam’s ongoing struggle to protect their ancestral village site and burial grounds of c̓əsnaʔəm (pronounced cusnaum) from condo development. Friday, August 10th marked 100 days of the Musqueam keeping an around-the-clock vigil and occupation of at the site in the 1300-block of SW Marine Drive, which is under threat of development. Musqueam marked 100 days with a march from Granville and W 70th to c̓əsnaʔəm and a rally with other First Nations from around the province, as well as many non-Musqueam supporters and organizations.
The owners of the site are planning to have Century Group, the developer, build condominiums on the site despite over 4,000-year-old Musqueam ancestral remains have been discovered and c̓əsnaʔəm has been recognized as a National Historic Site since the 1930s. The BC government has continued to okay the site for development based on their archaeological assessment, with the city then issuing the necessary development permit. By keeping an ongoing vigil, the Musqueam have prevented further development and desecration. Musqueam have proposed a land swap to ensure the future protection and recognition of c̓əsnaʔəm. The provincial government has been unwilling to move this proposal forward. The BC Liberal government has suggested that they will expedite payment of cash that is already owed to the band, so the band can then buy back the land from the owners/developer. The irony of buying back your own land is not lost on many. You can follow the struggle for c̓əsnaʔəm on Twitter and Facebook.
ON THE PODCAST | We hear from Musqueam’s Cecilia Point and elder Delbert Guerin, provincial NDP MLAs Jenny Kwan and Scott Fraser (Aboriginal Relations Critic), former COPE City Councillor Ellen Woodsworth, BC Nurses’ Union President Debra MacPherson and Lisa Walker. Additionally, The City speaks with Tristan Markle, co-founder and editor of The Mainlander, about the city’s role and responsibility in the matter, specifically on why a development permit was issued. In the first part of the podcast, host Andy Longhurst reads excerpts from Nick Blomley’s (Professor of Geography, SFU) 2003 book Unsettling the City: Urban Land the Politics of Property.
The town also emerged as a vital economic and political node in a broader colonial network, directing flows of capital and command that opened up resource frontiers in the colonial interiors. All of this, of course, was pivotal to the process of colonial dispossession. But colonial towns also quickly emerged as speculative spaces. Layout was designed so as to facilitate the acquisition and transfer of urban land. Vancouver’s initial expansion, it has been argued, was largely a product of land speculation, rather than expansion in the production of goods and services. Boosterist publications marveled at the leapfrogging of prices, and the fact that areas of “wild land” could become “first-class property” in a matter of months. Vancouver “is a purely business town,” noted one observer, “a land of speculation…above all, in city lots.”
Today, August 10th, marked 100 days of the Musqueam Band protecting their ancestral burial grounds of c̓əsnaʔəm in the Marpole neighbourhood of south Vancouver. They have kept an around-the-clock presence at a site in the 1300-block of Southwest Marine Drive which is intended to be developed into luxury condominiums by Century Group. Over 4,000-year-old intact Musqueam ancestral remains are buried on the site. The Musqueam have called for a land swap to ensure that the ancestral burial grounds of c̓əsnaʔəm are protected.
Below are photos from the march starting from Granville Street and West 70th and ending at c̓əsnaʔəm in the 1300-block of SW Marine Drive. The march ended with a rally and speeches. NDP MLAs Jenny Kwan and Scott Fraser (Aboriginal Relations Critic), former COPE City Councillor Ellen Woodsworth, BC Nurses Union President Debra MacPherson, and Musqueam spokesperson Cecilia Point, among other Musqueam representatives, addressed the crowd. Following the speeches, Musqueam runners left to deliver the petition signed by over 3,000 people to Premier Christy Clark’s West 4th Avenue constituency office.
LONDON PLAYS GAMES: THE REMAKING OF EAST LONDON
To go back to this thing about the ‘deprivation’ of East London … The problem here is that this is again used against East London because … East London is the poor part, it’s the smelly part [and this] means that it then gets treated as the part that needs to be ‘rescued’. So this is where all this language about deprivation and regeneration comes in, and therefore East London is very vulnerable because it means that not only is it valuable because the land is valuable, but it’s also a place that people make out that they’re doing you some kind of favour by coming along and kicking you out.
SECOND IN A SERIES | On the podcast, we hear from Julian Cheyne (Counter Olympics Network) on the relationships between the London Games, property (re)development, gentrification, and remaking of working class East London boroughs into (upper) middle class urban space. Goldman Sachs and CBRE (the world’s larger commercial development firm) provide perspectives from the elites who trumpet gentrification, redevelopment, and the displacement of working class housing and jobs. These processes of urban class transformation are made possible and underwritten, in part, by celebration capitalism-style mega-events like the Olympic Games.
London Plays Games (Part I): Olympics History, Civil Liberties, and the Militarization of Public Space is available here.
A city and, more generally, any locality, is conceived as the areal expression of the interests of some land-based elite. Such an elite is seen to profit through the increasing intensification of the land use of the area in which its members hold a common interest. Conditions of community life are largely a consequence of the social, economic, and political forces embodied in this growth machine.
–Harvey Molotch in The City as a Growth Machine
In this episode, I discuss the urban growth machine, urban social movements, and environmentalism with renowned urban sociologist Harvey Molotch (Professor of Sociology and Metropolitan Studies, New York University). Dr. Molotch and Dr. Logan’s work on urban growth machines provides a very useful analytic tool to help us understand how cities develop, who is involved, and why cities are the way they are.
Dr. Harvey Molotch is the author of many books and articles, including Urban Fortunes: The Political Economy of Place (with John Logan), Where Stuff Comes From: How Toasters, Toilets, Cars, Computers and Many Other Things Come to Be as They Are, and a co-edited (with Laura Noren) volume Toilet: Restrooms and the Politics of Sharing.
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