This content was originally sent by email to those on our OneCity email list. Want to sign up for our newsletters? Please do!
Dear Friend --
As British Columbia and Vancouver move towards a tentative re-opening of public and economic life, OneCity organizers and elected officials are reflecting on our priorities for economic and educational renewal in Vancouver, and the principles that will guide our work.
First, we strongly endorse the work of the non-partisan Just Recovery Coalition. We hope all municipal political parties will embrace the principles laid out in the Coalition’s Joint Statement as we work collaboratively to respond to this crisis in ways that lift everyone up.
Moving forward, OneCity’s work will be guided by 3 main principles:
Renewal, not a return: The pandemic has highlighted fissures and vulnerabilities in our society, particularly around housing, safe drug supply, education, economic supports, and precarious work. A “return to normal” is not an option. We cannot go back to the way things were. As OneCity School Board Trustee Jennifer Reddy and former Vancouver Secondary Teachers Association president Rory Brown said in their fantastic op-ed on education in a post-COVID city, “now is the time for advocacy” to address long-standing injustices in our society.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the inequities too many children and families in our city face. Rather than returning to the status quo in education, we need to fight for the funding necessary to ensure schools are places that provide not just education, but also care, connection, nutritious food, and services.
OneCity will push for renewal and transformation, and will resist the efforts of those who would prefer to see a return to the status quo. We will also seize this moment to increase our work on justice-rooted action to address the climate emergency. City renewal efforts should prioritize climate action in ways that respect Indigenous rights and title and reduce poverty and social inequality.
Building a city for everyone: A crucial part of a just response to COVID19, as well as the climate emergency, is ensuring that people have access to housing and schooling for their children close to where they work. We also believe that housing is a human right, and that everyone deserves a safe and affordable place to call home.
In the 2018 election, we called for all kinds of housing options to be built throughout Vancouver’s neighbourhoods. Central to our COVID-19 recovery should be a massive investment in publicly owned, zero-emission rental housing. This will also support Vancouver’s climate justice goals by creating homes close to transit and workplaces, and creating good, green jobs for city workers. Furthermore, the City of Vancouver and VSB needs to work together to create housing that is affordable for teachers and education workers so that they can stay in Vancouver.
The pandemic has also revealed what is possible when there is political will. The introduction of safe supply for drug users is long overdue, and must be maintained and expanded. The recent increase in overdose deaths is unacceptable and completely preventable. We need to house people without homes, and ensure that those who use drugs are able to do so more safely.
A feminist renewal. Women have disproportionately borne the burden of this pandemic. Women - and women of colour in particular - make up the majority of our most at risk frontline workers and are more likely to have lost employment as services have been shuttered. A typical shovels-in-the-ground economic stimulus tends to boost employment in sectors that employ more men, like construction. The mass building of affordable publicly-owned housing will benefit women and families and should be a central part of an economic stimulus plan, but we need to go further. We need to imagine what an economic stimulus could look like that prioritizes women and their work, including improvements to public education. Investments in child- and elder care, healthcare and education, as well as affordable housing and income supports, will benefit women and, by extension, children, families, and communities.
We know these are ambitious goals that will require cooperation across multiple levels of government. Achieving these goals will require all of us, in our own ways, big and small, to keep up the pressure and keep fighting for a more just and equitable city.
We’re grateful to be doing this work alongside you.
You can read and endorse the Just Recovery Coalition’s Joint Statement here.
All the best,
Anna, Laura and the Organizing Committee of OneCity
We've been advocating for responsible drinking in Vancouver parks and beaches since 2017. On May 26th, Christine Boyle will be bringing a motion to legalize responsible alcohol consumption in these public spaces at a City Council meeting. Please sign the petition!
Education in a Post-COVID City by Jennifer Reddy and Rory Brown
Vancouver Sun - May 2, 2020
"Now, more than ever is a time for advocacy. With students learning from home, educators are increasingly aware of the varied and complex home lives that children and youth are sometimes faced with, including parents/guardians working from home, unsafe homes, food insecurity, job loss or precarity, physical distancing, and the unknowns of COVID-19. It is no surprise that kids are being impacted and it’s also no surprise that stress, anxiety, fear and distress are on the rise."
Vancouver School Board votes to affirm UNDRIP
April 28, 2020
Looking for ways to support your community? Consider donating to these organizations doing critical work in Vancouver.
Greater Vancouver Food Bank **
Edited to add: We included the Greater Vancouver Food Bank in this list because we know how vital it is for people to have access to food. However, we also know that their planned roll-out of new ID rules is troubling and we need to advocate against these. The new rules will put up additional barriers, ones that require paperwork and administrative access that will meaningfully diminish the amount of access people will have to this deeply necessary resource. This week, OneCity sent a letter to the Vancouver Food Bank Board of Directors calling for these new rules to be revoked. We invite you to join us in this act. Click here to start an email.
You may also want to consider giving to crowdfunded microgrant funds, which are helping local people with smaller requests to help them get by. Those linked here are just a sampling of available options.
Have you filled out the BC CDC COVID-19 Survey? It's open until May 31!
Looking for support? Want to give direct help to community members? Check out Coming Together Vancouver and explore the ways you can either receive or give assistance.
Did you know you can now order online from the Vancouver Farmer's Markets? Many local businesses have made online shopping and contactless pickup or delivery available. Please continue to support local businesses!
You can use this list from Heritage Vancouver to find local businesses in your neighbourhood that are open and could use your support.