Updated on April 10, 2009
Cernetig to non-rich: “butt out”
Vancouver Sun columnist Miro Cernetig is dumbfounded, as I am, by the cost overruns for affordable housing at the Olympic Village. He discerns a watershed moment in Gregor Robertson’s administration, not yet 90 days old.
The whole problem, Cernetig feels, is the idea that anybody but rich people should enjoy waterfront views. In the real world, poor folk don’t get such amenities. He thinks Mayor Robertson should tell the non-rich there’s no room for them on the water, but it won’t be easy. Cernetig writes:
“How does Mayor Robertson sell that hardball without creating a revolt within the hard-left elements of his coalition? They are the vocal minority who so often spout the nostrum that the poor must have the right to live on the waterfront, just like the rich.
“Perhaps by showing he understands that such mushy, utopian thinking — and the past politicians of the left and right who felt pressured to put green-plated public housing in a high-end waterfront development — is what got us into this hobbling financial mess.”
Of course, back in the 1930s, False Creek waterfront was reserved for the poor, who worked in polluted industrial facilities or squatted in shacks or boats. That was then, this is now. As Cernetig sees it, everyone should give their heads a shake and realize that today’s poor people must stick to realistic, low-end housing goals, well back from the beach.
It’s a fitting bookend to the view that only those on income assistance should live in the Downtown Eastside, based on “social housing only” redevelopment. To hear these folks tell it, if everyone stuck to their own neighbourhoods, this city would be a better place.