#2 - 630B Carnarvon St., New Westminster BC V3M 1E5
***Please enter through the BACK entrance - off Mackenzie St.***
Dec 29th - New Westminster's Royal City Record gave ACORN Canada a mention in their year end piece on the biggest news stories of the year. Check it out below:
WAGE POLICY - A FIRST
In April, the City of New Westminster adopted a living wage policy.
Considered a first in Canada, the policy drew accolades from health and poverty groups from across the country. 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.
"New Westminster is the first city in Western Canada - why not be the first city in other things as well," said Coun. Jaimie McEvoy, who proposed the policy. "The pioneers would be proud."
While the details of the living wage rate were still being debated at year-end, council unanimously supported the policy.
The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN Canada), which lobbied council to adopt a living wage bylaw, said a living wage policy brings benefits, including workers spending more money locally and businesses having less turnover and more productivity.
October 12th by Michael McQuillan in the New Westminster Newsleader
A landlord who is evicting a 63-year-old woman from her New Westminster apartment did not meet an order from the city and the Fraser Health Authority to make the woman’s suite safer.
According to Fraser Health, the landlord was unable to comply because they could not get access to Catherine Battersby’s suite. But the woman’s son, Sean Neilson, says the landlord never contacted her before the deadline.
Van-East Investors Inc. of Vancouver was given until Sept. 30 to have a pest control company deal with a mouse infestation and correct sanitation problems in Battersby’s Carnarvon Street apartment.
After an inspection by Fraser Health and a City of New Westminster bylaw officer, the property owner was issued the compliance order Sept. 16.
“My mother has had to deal with mice and black mould since the day she moved in here,” said Neilson. “And all those times we’ve complained and nothing has been done.”
The pest control company finally got into Battersby’s apartment and other problem suites in early October. The company is using traps and bait to rid the apartments of the rodents, says Fraser Health.
“That won’t do much good if the mice are living in the walls,” said Neilson, who is now paying his mother’s $690 monthly rent.
Neilson says he is also going to fight his mother’s eviction notice and already has an Oct. 18 date scheduled for a Residential Tenancy Branch arbitration meeting.
Battersby, who suffers from spinal stenosis—a gradual narrowing of the spinal canal that can cause pain and weakness—enlisted the help of ACORN Canada in early September. ACORN has fought for low income tenants in New Westminster in the past.
The group staged a rally Sept. 10 on her behalf—after she was given the eviction notice so the landlord could renovate the suite.
ACORN spokesperson Amanda Boggan said Battersby’s situation highlights the need for policy change at both the municipal and provincial levels.
“We want to see the city create policies that will not give permits to landlords to take on renovations that will result in a tenant’s eviction,” said Boggan.
“And the province needs to put a cap on the increases a landlord can put on a vacant suite. Currently, there are no regulations in place for this.”
— With files from Sean Kolenko
Original article available at: http://www.bclocalnews.com/greater_vancouver/newwestminsternewsleader/news/104780924.html
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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) email@example.com
There are currently a number of campaigns underway across the country aimed at enacting living wage bylaws including one being spearheaded by Ottawa ACORN.