British Columbia

Vancouver rally points to housing crisis

Housing advocates called for a national housing policy during a rally and federal all-candidates meeting on housing and poverty in Vancouver Saturday.

Advocates called for a national housing policy during a rally and federal all-candidates meeting on housing and poverty in Vancouver Saturday.

The event was part of a provincewide "Stand for housing" campaign, in which advocates in communities throughout B.C. staged protests to call attention to what they say is a housing crisis in Canada.

In Vancouver, advocates from the Citywide Housing Coalition, Streams of Justice and Community Advocates for Little Mountain lined the sidewalks at Main Street and 36th Avenue in the hopes of making their voices heard.

"We're here because we don't have a national housing program," said Wendy Pedersen with the Citywide Housing Coalition. "It's shocking. It's disrespectful. It's beyond belief."

"I think you and I have to pressure the politicians and have to get it onto the agenda," said one protester, Ray Norgren.

With the federal election less than two weeks away, most politicians were eager to tell voters how their parties will deal with the issues of poverty and homelessness.

"I can tell you right now it's an important core of the Liberal platform," said Hedy Fry, the Liberal candidate for Vancouver-Centre. "As a Liberal and as a person who grew up in social housing, I know that housing is fundamental to everyone's ability to live a dignified life."

Adrienne Carr, the Green party candidate for Vancouver-Centre, said she took her party leader, Elizabeth May, to the Downtown Eastside to highlight the housing and poverty issues there.

"Only by putting this issue in the public face and putting attention on it are we going to get action," Carr said.

Don Davies, the NDP candidate for Vancouver-Kingsway, said housing needed to be addressed in this federal election.

"It's not an issue. It's a crisis facing Canadian housing …Canada has one of the lowest rates of social housing in the developed world."

The Conservatives were the only party missing from Saturday's rally. Lorne Mayencourt, the party's candidate for Vancouver-Centre, cancelled his appearance less than 24 hours before the rally.

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