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Local activist Jean Swanson announces Vancouver City Council bid

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DH Vancouver Staff Jun 12, 2018 1:58 pm 326

Saying that she wants to “really end homelessness,” with a plan to do so “within one year,” Jean Swanson announced she’s running for Vancouver City Council with the Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE) in this year’s municipal election.

“One of the main reasons I want to be on council is to try and end homelessness, really really, end it this time,” she said during an announcement on Monday.

On her website, Swanson said she is running this year on what she describes as “the people’s platform,” entitled “The City We Need.”

The starting point for the platform is to address the needs of “actual” Vancouverites, she writes.

“Many people in our city are struggling to pay for rent, tuition, transit, or daycare,” Swanson ‘s website reads. “Wages and social assistance rates are far too low.”

In addition, “many are losing their homes or places of business to soaring rents and gentrification. When we all unite around a strong platform, pushing all levels of government to come through with what we need, only then we can start to win the City We Need.”

During her campaign kickoff, Swanson noted that she ran for council in last year’s byelection on a platform that included calls for a tax on mansions valued at over $5 million.

And it’s partly because of that campaign, she said, “that the province brought in this new progressive property tax.”

However, she continued, “that money just goes into general revenue, and no level of government actually has a plan to end homeless.”

As such, Swanson said she and her supporters are “calling on the province to give the city power to implement its own progressive property tax – a mansion tax.”

With Swanson’s proposed breakdown of how that tax would work, “we would get enough money to build modular housing in one year.”

In the end, she added, “policies like these increase the happiness of everyone.”

Swanson’s platform also includes:

Rent Freezes

  • No rent increases for four years
  • Stop landlords from raising rents between tenancies
  • Ban renovictions
  • Improve rental conditions
  • Moratorium on demolition of all rental buildings
  • Regulate short-term rentals
  • End discrimination against pet-owners
  • Rent freeze for small neighbourhood stores

Housing

  • Rapidly build 2,138 modular homes to end homelessness
  • Protect existing social and cooperative housing, and build 18,000 units to meet current need: priority for singles earning under $50,000/year and families earning under $80,000/year
  • Replace 3,500 SROs with safe, self-contained, beautiful homes
  • Strengthen Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency (VAHA) to own all the city’s public housing
  • Increase the Property Endowment Fund’s land-holdings by leveraging existing assets, use land for city-owned non-market housing
  • End the housing crisis for Indigenous people and start restoring Indigenous land: work with host First Nations to create non-market housing land trusts
  • Stop criminalizing poverty, transfer cost savings from police to community health and social programs
  • End unnecessary building demolitions

Taxing the “mega-rich”

  • “Mansion Tax”: add an extra tax on properties worth over $5 million to generate about $1 billion over four years to end homelessness, fund public housing, and start restoring Indigenous land
  • “Big business” tax: lower commercial property tax rates for small and medium business, higher rate for big corporations
  • Dedicate all new municipal and provincial speculation taxes toward building city-owned non-market housing

Economy

  • Establish a Municipal Minimum Wage for all workers in Vancouver, starting at the current Living Wage of $20.62
  • Use union labour for all city-owned housing construction
  • Ensure that all City of Vancouver employees, contractors, and subcontractors are paid the Living Wage with full union rights
  • Campaign to raise the provincial rates for welfare and disability to $1,600

Democracy

  • Ban corporate donations between elections, disclose all party contributions, and limit 3rd party advertising
  • Implement a “mixed ward system”
  • Reinstate door-to-door registration of all voters
  • Extend voting rights to permanent residents, and lower voting age to 16
  • Provide free transit on voting days and more voting stations
  • Empower and fund community organizations, including in historic communities such as Chinatown, Powell Street, and Hogan’s Alley
  • Harm reduction, not criminalization

“Inclusive City”

  • Make city services accessible to all regardless of immigration status
  • Stop all civic institutions, including the VPD, from sharing information on immigration status with Border Services
  • Apply a gender lens and anti-racism lens to all civic policies
  • Work toward universal free transit passes for all
  • Start with free passes for school children and residents earning under $50,000/year
  • Advocate for Carbon Tax collected in Metro Vancouver to fund necessary Translink service expansion
  • Support low-income car and bike shares
  • Create 7,500 new early child care spaces and 10,000 new after-school care spaces to meet need
  • Prioritize indigenous-centred child care
  • Expand free city-wide Wi-Fi
  • Free community centre pass for residents earning under $50,000/year
  • Expanded meal programs

On the environment

  • Stop the Kinder Morgan pipeline in its tracks
  • Work toward universal transit to reduce carbon emissions
  • Ensure all office lights are turned off at night
  • Ban the use of Styrofoam in takeaway food outlets and disposable plastic water bottles
  • Reduce development permit fees for solar panels

Vancouverites head to the polls on Saturday, October 20.

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DH Vancouver Staff
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