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To Save This Community We Must Destroy the Property that Destroys this Community

by Otto Black



Historically, the     areas of Vancouver populated with working class and homeless folks have had cheap property value. For years now, rich developers buy up this cheap property to build expensive businesses and condos. At first these businesses do not service the communities of which they are a part. Over time the yuppies that previously dined and shopped at these businesses move into the newly built condos, which only they can afford. They start to become part of the neighbourhood and then the businesses gain legitimacy as being “involved” in the community. Seeing the increasing flow of money entering into these historically poor spaces, landlords want to make a profit and so increase rent. With more expensive shops, bars, grocery stores, and increasing rent, few can afford to live in their communities. Working class people are driven out of their homes in areas like EastVan and already marginalized people can no longer stay in the diminishing number of Single Room Occupancy Hotels and shelters in the DTES.

All land in Vancouver is stolen unceded indigenous land. From the pipelines to condos, the ongoing theft of this land for venture capitalists is a continuation of the colonial project. The difference this time is that non-native people are beginning to understand what indigenous folks have known since the beginning of settler-colonialism: the drive for profit destroys the peoples’ voices! Make no mistake; politicians do not prioritize social justice in Vancouver.  Canada is the only industrialized country in the world without a national housing strategy and it has been clear for decades now that Vancouver’s political parties are not interested in creating more affordable housing or respecting indigenous land claims.


Vancouver is becoming unsafe for an increasing number of people. With pipelines flowing, homeless shelters closing, and rents increasing, who among us can be sure that they will be able live in their homes next year?


How can we reverse this trend? Its simple:    Destroy the Property that Destroys You!

When you damage the property of businesses that are not economically accessible to the communities they invade, these areas are then seen as risky investments for developers. As a result, property value decreases because of increased investment risk. With lowered property value, landlords have less incentive to increase rent. Small businesses can continue to afford their rent and homeowners can continue to afford their neighbourhood’s services. Property destruction ensures that you will still be able to live in your community.


So what do I do? Take a brick and smash the window of that inaccessible restaurant or café in your neighbourhood. Light the ends of a rag tied around a gasoline-filled bottle and throw it at that new condo project. Be creative in arming your desire! Property destruction creates symbolic and material impacts. It ensures that those of us who have homes can continue to live in them and indicates to politicians that we want to re-arrange our priorities:    Housing Over Profit!    Community Over Capital!


For many in Vancouver, this is not our land.

But when we struggle together, we flourish together.

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