Town Halls are a bit like AA meetings: you sit on hard plastic chairs with a bunch of people you don’t know who all have the same problem.
Before the Oct 22 West End Residents Association (WERA) meeting on affordable housing, the last Town Hall I had been to was to save St Paul’s. That meeting almost changed my mind about Lorne Mayencourt. He was articulate and convincing, like someone who, I don’t know, had started a non-profit.
“I like this Lorne,” I told myself. “Can we trade him for the other one?”
Ashamed as I am to admit this, I still didn’t volunteer in the campaign to save St Paul’s because Mayencourt is involved. I figured I was just setting myself up for disappointment. The Oct 22 WERA meeting proved I was right.
Having gone through an eviction, I can empathize with the tenants of the Bay Tower. Evictions are nasty things; it’s like getting fired from your home. If you fight it, you live with one foot out the door as you both mount a legal defense and keep an eye out for an apartment–one that allows dogs in my case.
I got evicted from an apartment that I had begged and borrowed to get into. At that point in my life every dime I made went towards housing. I was living on day-old sandwiches, cigarettes, and payday advances from Money Mart.
Then, without my consent, the management company of my building added a $50 fine to my rent that was automatically withdrawn from my account, bouncing my rent cheque.
When you get evicted, time is of the essence. I had to re-arrange my minimum wage schedule to trek to out to the Burnaby Residential Tenancy Office (RTO).
No word of a lie, I could barely afford the two-zone fare. On the trip to the hearing, I ended up standing one person away on the crowded SkyTrain from my landlord.
I thought about that trip when, pressed to increase the number of RTOs in all of BC from two, Mayencourt held up a blank application for arbitration form and said, “All I have to say is: here’s the form, there’s more at the back of the room.”
In other words: take a number.
The irony of the two WERA meetings is that the people Lorne is trying to help by saving St Paul’s are the very same people who are losing their apartments.
Maybe that’s why he proposed an act to make it easier for corporations and governments to apologize without accountability–so that when we lose St Paul’s and then the community he can use it.