British Columbia

'What will happen to me?' Vancouver tenants gather at union convention

Dozens of renters gathered in Vancouver Sunday to voice their concerns and find strategies for more secure and affordable housing.

Convention follows housing strategy announcements from federal and municipal governments

Members of the Vancouver Tenants Union say they hope to create housing policies that better serve renters. (Doug Kerr/CBC)

Dozens of renters gathered in Vancouver on Sunday to voice their concerns and find strategies for more secure and affordable housing. 

They were at the first annual convention for the Vancouver Tenants Union at the Russian Hall. 

The union launched in April with the hope of signing up thousands of members to be a collective voice for residents facing eviction and unfair rent increases.

"We sort of came together to launch the Tenants Union with a few demands," said organizer Kell Gerlings.

"Better eviction protection for tenants, real rent control — so tied to the unit not the tenant — as well as building more actual social housing."

People attending the meeting shared stories about the problems they're facing and concerns about their future.

"My building is facing renoviction and it's trying to evict all of the tenants," said renter Julia Feyrer. 

"I worry about myself too as a senior," said renter Deirdre Kehone. "What will happen to me?"

The convention included several workshops for renters. (Doug Kerr/CBC)

The meeting followed recent announcements from the federal government and the City of Vancouver about their housing strategies, which promise to create more affordable housing. 

Despite the promises, many at the meeting said they felt more confident banding together and getting organized. 

"It's realizing we're not alone and that we can, as a voice, as one voice, we can make something happen," said renter Erica Grant.

Some noted how residents in Chinatown rallied against a new development at 105 Keefer Street, which the city eventually nixed

The event featured workshops and the union's annual general meeting. 

With files from Deborah Goble