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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Member Profile: Pascal Apuwa

When asked what direction he thought ACORN Canada should go in the coming years, Pascal Apuwa of Burnaby was clear, “I want my organization - ACORN Canada - to be the strongest advocate for our communities on the issues that matter; an affordable housing strategy, higher wages, and childcare for our families”.

Since Pascal joined ACORN Canada, he’s been a steadfast leader - taking leadership roles in campaigns that span everything from improving the apartment complex where he lives, to the campaigns for a National affordable Housing Strategy, Bill C-304 and  to raise the minimum wage in BC.

 

CTV British Columbia: Tenants complain over 'renovictions' underway in B.C.

Sept 10th, 2010 by Leah Hendry, CTV BC

Tenants in Vancouver and New Westminster are complaining that they're being unfairly evicted so that landlords can raise their rents, and they're calling on the provincial government to do more to protect them.

Christine Brandt and her husband Mark Moore have received an eviction notice from the Seafield building on Pendrell Street in Vancouver's West End. The notice says that the couple is being evicted to make room for a new property manager, but Brandt says there's a vacant two-bedroom apartment in the building.

"I feel that this is a ruse to break our tenancy, to get us out so they can double the rent," she said. The family currently pays $1,400 per month for the two-bedroom suite.

"Our landlords have an ongoing campaign of trying to pluck us off, one by one."

The building is owned by Gordon Nelson Investments, and tenants say that since the company bought the building two years ago, it's tried various ways to evict tenants, including an attempt to raise the rent by 73 per cent.

That bid was turned down in court.

Representatives from Gordon Nelson refused to be interviewed, but issued a press release saying that they gave Brandt and her family ample notice, and will not be intimidated by what they say are "extortion tactics" for more compensation.

Brandt says she wants to see the province crack down on landlords carrying out so-called "renovictions" -- evicting tenants to make way for things like renovations in a bid to increase rents.

"At some point, I really feel that our province needs to say, with these types of landlords, ‘Enough is enough,'" she said.

Housing advocates say that B.C.'s Residential Tenancy Act has a loophole that puts the most vulnerable tenants at risk.

"This legislation creates an incentive for landlords to allow suites to go into disrepair and then evict tenants and increase the rent. There is no accountability for the landlords to actually do the renovations," said Amanda Boggan of ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.

It's something that New Westminster resident Catherine Battersby says she's learning firsthand. She received an eviction notice from her property's landlord claiming that the suite is needed for other use.

But Battersby thinks she's being pushed out because she's asked for repairs.

"I am angry, but I'm not ready to pack my bags and move," she said.

Calls to Minister of Housing Rich Coleman were not returned on Friday

Read more: http://www.ctvbc.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20100910/bc_eviction_co...

The Royal City Record: Carnarvon Street tenant claims eviction notice not legal

Sept 13th, 2010 by Alfie Lau, Royal City Record

Catherine Battersby has lived in her Carnarvon Street apartment for six years, has seen three owners come and go, but what she hasn't seen is much maintenance work to her suite or the apartment complex.

Earlier this year, she asked for the mould in her bathroom to be dealt with and the kitchen cupboards to be tightened on the walls and ceiling, but, according to Battersby, nothing was done.

All Battersby says she got for her troubles was an eviction notice, stuffed into her mailbox last Friday (Sept. 3) before the Labour Day long weekend.

The notice states that Battersby is being given two months notice to move out of her large 100-level apartment because the landlord wants to do some major changes and upgrades to the suite.

The owner is extending the notice to Nov. 30, with the proviso that Battersby won't have to pay rent for the month of November.

"That's very nice, isn't it," said Battersby.

Compounding Battersby's woes is the fact she suffers from spinal stenosis, or the deterioration of the disks in her spine, and Battersby is on a waiting list for heart surgery.

"Some days are better than others," she admits. "And getting this notice certainly didn't help."

Also in the notice was a note that the landlord has applied for and received the necessary permits from the city to do the extensive work.

 

24 Hours Vancouver: Protesters want higher minimum wage

Sept 3rd, 2010 by Kristen McKenzie, 24 Hours Vancouver

Labour Day is just around the corner, but some local workers say there’s not much to celebrate this year.

Members of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, Canada (ACORN Canada) rallied outside Liberal MLA Harry Bloy’s Burnaby office Thursday protesting the province’s $8 an hour minimum wage.

“What do we want? Higher minimum wage!” the protesters chanted in unison before trying to enter the office, which they found locked.

“We were told yesterday Harry Bloy would be in his office,” said ACORN Canada member Amanda Boggan. “I guess we maybe scared him off or something … we were hoping to convince him that it’s really important for the Liberals to raise the minimum wage right now because people are really suffering. We were hoping he would hear our stories so he could be better informed about the issue.”

“The $8 an hour minimum wage is appallingly low,” the post-secondary student added. “As a mother, people can’t afford to feed their families, feed their children on that low a wage … people are stuck in these [minimum wage] jobs. They really can’t escape them.”

ACORN member Pearl Davis who works at a donut shop, knows all too well the struggles associated with earning a lower wage.

“I’m having a hard time making ends meet,” the New Westminster resident said. “The rent’s always going up, the bills are going up. I can’t go out and do anything. I can’t go on vacation because I can’t afford it. I don’t have any fun. I just sit at home.”

ACORN is advocating an immediate increase in the minimum wage to $10 an hour, a change Davis believes would be a step in the right direction.

“At least it’s a start,” she said.

Bloy wasn’t available for comment.

 

Original article at: http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/News/local/2010/09/02/15229011.html

Metro Vancouver ACORN & Vancity: Partners in Poverty Reduction

An innovative partnership between Metro Vancouver ACORN and Vancity Credit Union is reducing poverty and strengthening communities across Metro Vancouver.

The program creates an integrated approach that couples' free income tax preparation, financial literacy training, leadership development and involvement in community campaigns.  The program works by using free income tax preparation as an intake tool to find community members who could benefit from advanced financial literacy or leadership development training - then engaging them in these services.

The program’s results speak for themselves: 1612 taxes prepared and over $2,250,000.00 in returns filled for low and moderate income families.  Even more impressive is that 23% of the returns were back-year taxes done community members that our outreach staff and organizers engaged. This has resulted in over $500,000 that otherwise would not have been returned to the local economies - and families struggling to make ends meet.

Many of the individuals who came through the tax site also became active participants in BC ACORN’s campaigns, in particular the ground breaking Living Wage Policy that was recently adopted in New Westminster, BC.  Participants also become involved in campaigns for improved childcare and disability support programs and have benefited from Financial  Literacy Courses that were also delivered in partnership with Vancity Credit Union.

Making History

April 26th - Today, the City Council of New Westminster British Columbia made history by voting to pass Canada's first living wage policy. 

BC ACORN members are ecstatic that New Westminster has taken the lead among Canadian municipalities and set a new national precedent for the municipal role in establishing wage floors above the provincial minimum wage. The Chair of New Westminster ACORN, and National Board Member Dave Tate had this to say:

"New Westminster has taken a stand for working families today by setting this powerful precedent.  This gives working people hope that the tide of stagnant wages is receding in Canada and that New Westminster is the first of many cities across the region, province and country to pass a living wage bylaw.”

BC ACORN worked with a broad coalition of over 40 organizations under the banner of  "A Living Wages for Families" in pushing for the policy.

Recently BC ACORN members turned in 1200 petition signatures of residents of New Westminster in support of the campaign and held a well attended forum on the subject to build public support.

Members of the press are encouraged to contact John Anderson, Head Organizer BC ACORN for comment from an ACORN member or more background on the campaign:

c) 778.385.43.85
o) 604.522.8707
e) bcacornva@acorncanada.org

There are currently a number of campaigns underway across the country aimed at enacting living wage bylaws including one being spearheaded by Ottawa ACORN.

The Tyee: New West enacts Canada's first living wage law

April 27th, 2010 by Monte Paulsen - The Tyee Blog

New Westminster has become the first city in Canada to pass a "living wage" bylaw, effectively raising the minimum wage paid by the municipality.

"New Westminster has taken a stand for working families today by setting this powerful precedent,” said Dave Tate of BC ACORN, one of 40 organizations that lobbied for the bylaw.

Living wage bylaws set a wage "floor" above the minimum wage for workers who work directly for the city, for firms that receive contracts from the city, and firms that receive economic development money from the city.

"Once the policy is implemented, all direct and indirect workers (contract workers, etc.) performing work on City premises will earn a wage no lower than $16.74," Tate said in an email.

BC ACORN presented a petition with 1,200 signatures in support of the bylaw. The New Westminster campaign was just one of many underway across the country. A similar bylaw was recently rejected by the City of Calgary.

"This gives working people hope that the tide of stagnant wages is receding in Canada," Tate said.

Original article at: http://thetyee.ca/Blogs/TheHook/Labour-Industry/2010/04/28/New-West-enac...

 

New Westminster Record: First in the nation

April 30th, 2010 by Theresa Mcmanus - New Westminster's The Record

The City of New Westminster is taking action to become the first Canadian municipality to adopt a living wage policy.


A living wage is often defined as being the minimum hourly wage that's necessary for a family of four, with two parents working full-time, to pay for food, shelter and other daily needs. City council voted unanimously to establish a living wage policy.

"I am very pleased," said Coun. Jaimie McEvoy, who encouraged council to adopt a living wage policy.

McEvoy said the policy would apply not just to unionized city employees but to people who work at city properties on a contract basis. This includes people working in security at the library and the cafeteria at city hall.

While the city doesn't yet know exactly how many people the policy will affect, McEvoy said it won't bankrupt the city.

"We still have work to do to clearly identify those who are involved and the potential costs," he said. "The finality of the details still needs to be worked on. We have made a decision in principle that this is our principle and our goal.

"At this point, we don't know for sure how many people it will affect," he said.

McEvoy said New Westminster is a small city of 66,000 people so the policy has to be something that's manageable and is something that people can understand.

New West Newsleader: New West city council adopts living wage bylaw

April 28th, 2010 by A Flemming - New Westminster Newsleader

The Royal City notched up one for the history books on Monday by becoming the first city in Canada to adopt a living wage bylaw.

In a unanimous city council vote, a motion passed that will direct both city employees and contract employees to be paid at or above an hourly wage substantially higher than the current provincial minimum wage.

The term “living wage” is used to describe the minimum hourly wage necessary for a family of four with two parents working full-time to meet the necessities of life. In Metro Vancouver, it is currently calculated to be $16.74 per hour.

Coun. Jaimie McEvoy, who initially brought forward the motion, said the city was especially concerned about child poverty.

“In British Columbia, half of children who are currently living below the poverty line have a parent working full-time,” said McEvoy. “We don’t want to be like Scrooge and have employees struggling to take care of their families. It is the right thing to do.”

“We live in a city that has the lowest average income in the GVRD,” said Coun. Bill Harper. “What we’re doing is setting an example and maybe other cities and corporations will do the same.”

The new bylaw is similar to those taken up in over 140 American cities after a recent campaign by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), whose local chapter turned in a petition to city hall with the signatures of 1200 New West residents supporting the initiative.

Maple Ridge News: Municipalities to look at living wage

March 4st, 2010 by Phil Malnychuk - Maple Ridge News

Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows soon could have their own versions of the living wage bylaw, adopted for the first time in Canada last week by New Westminster.

The bylaw, passed unanimously by New Westminster council, requires all workers, either those directly employed, or working for a company contracted out by the city, be paid $16.74 an hour.

The term “living wage” is used to describe the minimum hourly wage necessary for a family of four with two parents working full-time to meet the necessities of life. In Metro Vancouver, it is currently calculated to be $16.74 per hour.

That’s well above the $8 an hour minimum wage that’s been in place in B.C. for the past decade.

The topic is on its way to Maple Ridge’s social planning advisory committee, said Coun. Linda King, while Pitt Meadows Coun. Bruce Bell will raise it with his councillors.

Coun. Craig Speirs wants the item discussed.

“I intend to bring this up. I’m not sure how far it would go.

“I think we should be talking about what a living wage looks like. “It also needs a broader discussion, about a society that’s obsessed with the bottom line. He cited the ongoing labour dispute involving Extra Foods on Dewdney Trunk Road as an example.

“I think $16 for anybody who works for the District of Maple Ridge is not an onerous amount.”

Pitt Meadows Mayor Don MacLean was not keen on the idea.

 

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