Blog Entry One, Election Campaign 2013

(VANCOUVER) Lights, cameras, coffee, muffins! What better way to kicking off the CHF BC’s “You Hold the Key” election campaign? We’re at Lakewood Terrace Housing Co-op in the riding of Vancouver-Hastings and there’s a great crowd of co-op members, media, a politician or two and Executive Director Thom Armstrong acting as Host/MC. The common room is packed. We’ve got the Vancouver Sun, the Province, CityTV, Sing Tao and the World News out to hear our key messages. Rather fitting since Thom and the other speakers (like CHF Canada’s Anne Davidson and Vancouver City Councillor Geoff Meggs) are here to remind the party candidates that they hold the key to the future of affordable, quality housing in their hands.

Thom and Anne give the big picture of how thousands of co-ops across the country (many of them right here in B.C.) face the end of rent-geared-to-income (RGI) support programs as their operating agreements with the federal government expire. That’s going to have a drastic effect on low-income families, seniors and mobility-challenged co-op members who need that support. We want the province to step up to the plate and make sure that support continues when the feds walk away. Meggs pledges the City’s support in working with us. Shane Simpson (Vancouver-Hastings MLA – at least until Tuesday, when he becomes a candidate) says the issue is on his party’s radar.

But for me, the highlight is when two co-op members come up and tell their stories about how the end of rent assistance will impact their lives. Yuri Artibise and Haruko Okano speak eloquently from different ends of the chronological spectrum. Yuri’s young and talks about the families who need help in Canada’s most expensive housing market. Haruko, a senior, speaks movingly about wanting to stay in her home to the end of her days. Both are Shadow Candidates – co-op members who have agreed to join the CHF BC campaign to get commitments from the party candidates running in their ridings to support our goal of maintaining RGI programs and using the co-op model to build more affordable housing. Any party candidate who pledges to do so will be presented with the “Key to the Co-op” and a CHF BC “You Hold the Key” pin. Meggs is the first to get pinned – no, he’s not running, but he’s a partner and supporter and he deserves it. We’re off to a great start.

And that’s not all – we have another event going on in Victoria, where CHF BC Government Relations Director Darren Kitchen, Island Director Patty Shaw and co-op member Lorraine Murray are meeting with the Legislative Press Gallery. I wonder how Darren’s doing? I’ll let him speak for himself. Over to you, Darren...

- Don Hauka, CHF BC Election Campaign Coordinator, 2013 (April 15, 2013)

(photo L to R: Geoff Meggs, City of Vancouver councillor, Shane Simpson, MLA (and candidate), Vancouver-Hastings, Thom Armstrong, CHF BC executive director, Anne Davidson, CHF Canada director.)