BC ACORN

#2 - 630B Carnarvon St., New Westminster BC V3M 1E5

***Please enter through the BACK entrance - off Mackenzie St.***

Phone: 604-522-8706

bcacorn@acorncanada.org

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BC ACORN Recap Following Community Change Summit

June saw the largest and longest migration of members in ACORN Canada's 7 year history.  A delegation of 12 British Columbia members flew to Ottawa to represent BC ACORN at ACORN Canada's Community Change Summit.

In true BC style, the delegation was loud and proud.  David Tate MC'd the opening plenary of the Summit, and joined other BC delegates in helping run workshops and sessions with members from around the country.

The highlight of the convention was BC members leading the march and the action at the Finance Ministry, demanding that the Deputy Minister of Finance "Come Down!" and meet with ACORN members regarding the outrageous and predatory rates on remittances and money transfers.  Pascal Apuwa kept the entire crowd lively and motivated with continuous rhythmic chants for over an hour.  After starting a chant of "Deputy Minister Come Down!', the call was heard 14 floors up in the high rise office building on O'Conner in Downtown Ottawa. The press secretary for the Deputy Minister came down, and ACORN Canada delivered its message of Remittance Regulations Now to the highest bureaucrat in Canada.

 

Greening British Columbia

ACORN Canada’s Green Connections program held a brainstorming session at the Guildford Recreation Centre in mid-June.  Members from ACORN Canada and volunteers with the Green Connection Program had a debrief session on how well the engagement on BC Hydro's Energy Savings Kits (ESK) went.  The consensus among the group was that their neighbours that they talked to wanted the free Energy Savings Kits, and wanted to do something to protect the environment.

The conversation then moved into a fascinating discussion on how tenants in North Surrey can become environmentally engaged in their communities. Great ideas came about in the discussion. Ideas ranging from composting and community gardening to recycling organic matter into electricity where discussed; and now comes the challenge of turning ideas into action!


The Province: Trying to flush out change for tenants

Tenants who endure long waits to deal with problems with landlords at the province's Residential Tenancy Branch in Burnaby -without benefit of a public washroom -got some help Wednesday when the advocacy group ACORN Canada delivered a makeshift portable toilet to the branch's Kingsway office.

ACORN said it wanted to make a point to branch executive director Suzanne Bell that she needs to provide facilities for clients.

"We thought we got our point across loud and clear," said ACORN spokesman John Anderson.

Original article available at: http://www.theprovince.com/business/Trying+flush+change+tenants/5063526/story.html

 

Burnaby NewsLeader: ACORN decries lack of public washrooms at Residential Tenancy Branch in Burnaby

Tenants wanting to file a dispute with their landlord are under stress as it is without having to worry about where the nearest public toilet is when visiting the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB).

That's the concern raised by ACORN Canada, an advocacy group for low and moderate income families.

The RTB at 5021 Kingsway in Burnaby is the sole full-service RTB office serving the entire Lower Mainland, said ACORN Canada member Veronica Coreas. Last fall she noticed there were no longer public washrooms available.

People now have to "go from door to door looking for a washroom" outside the building, Coreas said. Many nearby businesses are now restricting washroom access to paying customers, making the nearest public toilets about four blocks away at Metrotown mall.

It's simply unacceptable for a government office that requires significant waits to not have toilet facilities available, she said.

The issue prompted ACORN to hold a protest inside the RTB office Wednesday morning, complete with a mock up of a port-a-potty.

Burnaby gets organized

Our leaders in Burnaby have launched an organizing drive in their neighbourhood, we launched our Healthy Homes Campaign for a standards of maintenance bylaw.   In other words not much is new: We Organize!

First off, Veronica Coreas of Burnaby, BC has been diligently gathering 100's of names and numbers from people in Burnaby frustrated with the poor service and high fares that people get from Translink, BC's public transit system.   She plans to turn this issue into a fight over transit safety, access, and affordability and in the process build a local ACORN chapter in her neighbourhood, near Edmonds St. in Burnaby.  So far the Burnaby group has had two meetings at the Tommy Douglas Public Library in Burnaby and have planned for big actions on the transit issue later in the Summer.

Also in May, ‘Healthy Homes’ was the rallying cry on the corner of 108 Ave and King George Blvd in Surrey. ACORN Canada members in Surrey have been getting organized around tenant issues for years and have decided to take on the lack of enforceable standards for apartments in Canada's 12th largest city.

Many of you may be familiar with Toronto ACORN’s ongoing campaign to win landlord licensing and improved apartment inspections bylaws.  Well, those laws don't even exist in Surrey, but ACORN Canada members have set out to change that.   At the successful launch of the campaign our members showed that healthy homes are a right, not a privilege, and have since won commitments from a City Councilor in Surrey to begin the process of creating a ‘healthy homes bylaw’.

It all can't happen fast enough for ACORN Canada members.

 

Free Income Tax Site Grows Once Again

Our New 2nd floor office in Metro Vancouver has been busy ever since we moved in in early February of this year. That is because, for the 5th year straight, ACORN Canada’s Free Income Tax Site has been busy doing hundreds of tax returns for members and people in our communities. So far, this year we have done more than 800 tax returns which is an increase of over 30% over our 2010 tax site.

In the 5 years ACORN Canada has done Free Income Taxes in Metro Vancouver we have returned over 6 Million Dollars in tax returns, rebates, and benefits! Add to this that we have saved people $400,000 in tax preparation costs and it is clear that ACORN Canada is a major stimulus to the neighbourhoods where we work!

But that is just the beginning. Our free income tax site gives our members a great opportunity to share their campaigns with people who come to get their taxes done. Our new campaign for Remittance Justice is becoming a very popular topic of serious discussion in the office. Many new people coming in to get their taxes done feel the pain of the exorbitant costs of sending money transfers back to their families and friends. And better still, they are getting involved with ACORN Canada’s campaign for regulatory changes to the Money Transfer Industry.

Regulations that will hold banks and companies like Western Union to account for the predatory business practices here in BC.

We like doing your taxes and if you know anyone who has a simple tax return in need of filing just call 604 5221

Georgia Straight: Surrey council should do the right thing and endorse living wage

The time has come for Surrey to follow the lead of New Westminster and endorse a living wage policy.

A “living wage” is meant to reflect the actual income required for a two-earner, two-child household to live above the poverty line. Adopted at the civic level, it would apply to anyone working for the city. As most city staff are all already above this level, the policy is aimed at independent contractors working for the city.

The living wage policy passed unanimously by New Westminster council last year will see workers paid at least $16.74 per hour. Last month, Esquimalt passed a similar policy, and the municipalities of Cowichan, Williams Lake, and Cranbrook are considering it.

Living wage policies are currently being advocated for by ACORN Canada, the B.C. Federation of Labour, and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the latter having recently calculated that a living wage for families is $18.17 an hour in Vancouver and $17.30 in Victoria.

If Surrey were to do the right thing and endorse such a policy, it would not be the first time.

In 1993, Surrey Civic Electors councillor Gary Robinson and then-mayor Bob Bose were successful in implementing a living wage for the city. At the time, Robinson explained that contractors providing flag services for the city were paying substandard wages to their employees, the majority of whom were women.

 

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