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More Trouble for the York Rooms

Manager Assaults Community Activists



More trouble for the York Rooms: manager assaults community

VANCOUVER, UNCEDED COAST SALISH TERRITORIES — On Wednesday August 28th, Dave Rouleau, the building manager of the York Rooms, assaulted housing advocate Wendy Pedersen and her colleagues at a Downtown Eastside cafe. The incident occurred less than a week after she spoke out about inhumane conditions at the York at a press conference organized by PIVOT Legal Society.

Geoffrey Howes, spokesperson for Living Balance International Trading, the firm that owns the York and employs Rouleau, originally responded to allegations of tenant abuse with denial, telling the Globe and Mail "We're trying to create an environment where it's safe and secure for the tenants."

The incident occurred on Wednesday afternoon at the Bean Around the World coffee shop on 255 Powell, adjacent to the York Rooms. Pedersen and three female colleagues had just finished a photo-shoot for the Carnegie Newsletter, celebrating a victorious campaign to return TransLink bus service to Powell Street, originally scheduled to be suspended for one year.

The four women were having lunch at the cafe when Rouleau stormed in and forcibly took one of the signs from the photo-shoot. When Ms. Pedersen resisted he ripped it from her, destroyed it and threw it across the street. He then shoved her colleague (who uses a cane to walk and declined to be identified) to get a second sign which he crumpled and threw down before storming out.

Police attended the scene to receive eyewitness accounts from cafe staff, who were disturbed by the unprovoked assault. They warned Rouleau and the four women to refrain from future contact, but declined to bring any charges.

"This was a targeted attack," says a shaken Pedersen. "This isn't the first time this person has tried to intimidate me and it is definitely escalating." Pedersen is pursuing a restraining order to ensure that she can continue to live in the area without fear of further harassment. Other activists have reported similar harassment and intimidation. On Saturday, resident and housing activist Fraser Stuart was confronted by Mr. Rouleau and another man, who told him to "watch his back."

A solidarity rally was held outside the York last Thursday by a group of anti-gentrification picketers. Picketer Nicholas Ellan said there is a clear trend of men targeting women protesters, while police stand by and do nothing.

"There is a long history of this kind of targeted violence being tolerated by police in the DTES," says Ellan. He's calling on the VPD to treat activists' allegations as seriously as any other resident's.

"It's very hard for people who live in the area to speak out. And when they are assaulted for speaking out, the police's choice to ignore these assaults is very political," said Ellan. "It's open season on protesters and low-income residents alike. And everyone who lives here deserves to feel safe, not just those who own land."

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Nicholas Ellan
604 729 5140

Wendy Pedersen
604 839 0379

Esther Hsieh
604 802 5939

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York Rooms

Wendy needs to take some big guys, haul Dave Rouleau out of there, and make a citizens arrest.

She's got all the facts and witnesses on her side. Probably video too.

No bullshit. Just arrest him.

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