Mayor Kennedy Stewart why does your Chief of Staff not want to support us?

Kennedy Stewart value to housing affordability
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Mayor Kennedy Stewart seems happy to shake hands with the devil

No official support from the Mayor! Mayor’s chief of staff said she would not recommend a letter of support.

“A deal is a deal and should be honoured. Tenant relocation policies should be clear, and followed through on, not weakened because of one parties use of ambiguity. And if deals are broken there need to be consequences.”

MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert, February 5, 2020

I am wondering how many Vancouverites are questioning how Mayor Kennedy Stewart is supporting the Vancouver renter? Did you vote for Mayor Kennedy Stewart? I did. Did you get what you were voting for? Did you get the renters champion or Vancouver housing crisis support you were voting for? Mayor Kennedy Stewart why does your Chief of Staff not want to support us?

I know the mayor keeps touting his stance on renters’ rights and affordable housing. But the reality on the ground is he plays hide and seek with the stakeholders unless that is your a Vancouver Property Developer. I have been talking to many of those stakeholders as we get assistance to fight for our homes. From labour unions to legal advocates there is a general disappointment in Mayor Kennedy Stewart especially on his impact on the Vancouver housing crisis.

Personally I have called and tried to reach out over a dozen times. It’s not like he hasn’t seen the news or that he doesn’t know who I am. Our struggle to get Reliance Properties Vancouver to honour our agreement has been very public. Tuesday, February 4th we held a press conference on the steps of city hall. This was deemed necessary because city staff decided to remove the hold on the occupancy permit for 1188 Bidwell. Declaring that Reliance had met an interpretation of the TRP.

The press conference didn’t just get us some media attention. It got us a meeting with the mayors chief of staff (internal) Anita Zaebker. That represented the highest level city hall authority we had yet managed direct contact. We had a constructive conversation and we got to plead our case for clemency. We were able to try and make a case that the mayor could do something to get Reliance Properties to honour the agreement. To take some responsibility for the debacle this TRP has become given the fact that the city did approve it and issue permits based on it. We asked for at least a statement of support from the city. Something that would say what they tell to us at every call, meeting, and email. Something that backed our interpretation of the language and was disappointed that Reliance had violated at least the spirit of the agreement.

Today I was lucky enough to get a phone call from the chief of staff (internal) Anita Zaebker. Sadly we could not seem to find agreement on anything. We are not going to get the statement of support from the mayor. I keep hearing that the mayor is working for us and that he is trying to facilitate some kind of a deal that will see us get something we can accept. However when we ask what the result of this help is we hear nothing that is actionable. We get nothing that feels like reassurance this is getting sorted out and that city will prevail with the implementation of a TRP they approved and gave permits based on. You know basic city governance, implement the agreements you signed off on. Mayor Kennedy Stewart why does your Chief of Staff not want to support us?

The city keeps asking us to seed ground. They say to us in person and in email and on the phone that they support and share our interpretation of the agreement. They tell us that this TRP is not being implemented by Reliance Properties Vancouver as the city had intended or understood it would be. With that said they also say that the hold would be removed on the occupancy permit because Reliance had met some ambiguous interpretation. The city seems scared of something so they refuse to publicly back what they say to us in person. It is disheartening, to say the least. It’s that feeling like that feeling you get when you suspect you’re being cheated on.

I wanna be wrong but then I look at the mayors track record of impact on renovictions and demovictions and I don’t feel inspired. I hear the advice of city management staff and I feel let down. We don’t want to be coached that we need to give up on getting the TRP implemented as the city had originally intended for it to be.

GoFundMe to take on Reliance Properties Vancouver & the City of Vancouver

Mayor Kennedy Stewart seems happy to shake hands with the devil
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Please take a moment to learn about our situation and consider giving us your financial support.

We are in a battle with Reliance Properties Vancouver and the City of Vancouver over the TRP (tenant relocation program) that governs our move back to 1188 Bidwell Street. We feel it is time to start to gather resources for a larger public campaign to alert Vancouverites to the fact that these TRP’s are not enforceable. That developers are using them to raise rents on long term tenants by 100%. That the City of Vancouver and specifically Mayor Kennedy Stewart are doing little to solve this issue facing thousands of people. This is the fight for the very liveability and affordability of Vancouver.

Demovictions & Renovictions

Demovictions and renovictions are being used by developers like Reliance to raise rents on tenants. They say they are just trying to increase density in Vancouver. And truly that is a positive affect. Vancouver has a very low vacancy rate and that is a major issue. It has been for all the time I’ve lived in Vancouver. However, this is not the battle of long term tenancy vs. density the developers frame it as. I personally support increasing density in the Vancouver housing market. I went to city hall and spoke on behalf of the 1188 Bidwell project that saw my home demolished and the new 22 story building replace it. I want to see all people able to live in Vancouver, enjoy Vancouver, enrich Vancouver. I simply do not believe that honouring a signed agreement is at odds with increasing housing supply.

What we want to accomplish

With the funds from the GoFunMe campaign, we intend to put our a large PSA on billboards targetted at Reliance Properties Vancouver and the City of Vancouver. Reliance is the 3rd largest property developer in Vancouver and the have tentacles reaching into Victoria, New Westminster, & Surry and very likely elsewhere. They have a lot of developments that are already on the books and have TRP’s they will likely implement in the same bad-faith manner as they have tried to do to us. The city of Vancouver and Mayor Kennedy Stewart are complicit in these acts of bad-faith because they enable them and do nothing to stop them. We will make this extremely public and alert Vancouverites to this immanent situation facing the liveability and affordability of this amazing city. We will use the funds to fight to keep these agreements clear and enforceable. We will also use the funds to fight a legal battle that will have ripple effects across Vancouver and the lower mainland.

Mayor Kennedy Stewart seems happy to shake hands with the devil
Mayor Kennedy Stewart shakes hands with the devil and hurts Vancouver renters!

Juan, You Agree With Us!

Juan Agrees with Us!
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Hello Juan, Project Manager, Reliance Properties Vancouver.

So you agree with us…. At least you send us signed documents that illuminate our understanding of the agreement. Attached here you will find a 1188 Bidwell Tenant Update. It clearly sets out a Q&A of what our agreement is. It goes on the read as the last clarifying point of the last Q&A “right of first refusal to move back into an equivalent/similar unit in the New Building. upon completion, for the same rent amount during a two (2) years term.”

We stand ready, willing, & able to move to the new building 1188 Bidwell as soon as you can come back to the agreement you drafted. However we find ourselves blocked. We are being forced to defend our signed agreement and to resist the new and warped reading that will allow Reliance to charge us a 90% $1100 rent increase.

So lets analyze the term “same rent amount during a two (2) years term”. Seems clear enough. It reads that we would pay the same rent amount for two years. So maybe the question is what constitutes the term “same rent”. For me that is as clear as anything else. We would pay the same rent and that would last 2 years. So let’s break that down even further….
*RENT* Is the amount listed on your lease. A legally enforceable document that in this case is governed by the RTB of British Columbia

*AMOUNT* In this case the amount of rent listed on the lease, also the amount taken from your bank account each month by your land-lord for rent.

With that wording we have the understanding that we would be charged the same rent amount as we were paying at 1170 Bidwell in the new building at 1188 Bidwell. That is the understanding as it pertains to the agreement being discussed here. We further state that the rent amount is defined by what is listed on the signed and legally enforceable lease, also that it is the amount withdrawn from the tenants bank monthly.

So what if there is a disagreement in the interoperation of an agreement. What if two parties covered in the agreement disagree on the wording that might seem a little ambiguous? At that point an interesting and critical bit of contract law comes into place, contra proferentem:
” jurisprudence recognizes that tenancy agreements are drafted by a landlord and that ambiguities in those agreements must be resolved in favour of the tenant because of the contract interpretation rule of contra proferentum”
Which basically sets out that the party who did not draft the questionable term in the agreement is not responsible for the ambiguity, and should not have to suffer from it.” So if there is a question because of ambiguity of what the term of “same rent” or even “same rent value” that goes to us the tenants not to Reliance Properties Vancouver.

In a recently aired news video of our situation with Reliance Properties Vancouver there is a quote from Jon Stovell that speaks to the heart of contra proferentum. Mr. Stovell gave a written statement that reads: “Though we are disappointed that some tenants interpreted our offer differently than it was intended, we can understand how that may have occurred.” With that Jon Stovell of Reliance is admitting there is ambiguity in the language. While we would state emphatically that there really is no room for ambiguity, for us it clearly says same rent, the fact that there is or could be means that it goes in our favour not theirs. The interoperation of that section of the agreement is to the tenant not the landlord.

From Jon Stovell statement to CTV News we would take acceptation to another point: “though we are disappointed that some tenants”. Lets be clear here Jon! All the tenants of 1170 bidwell read it the same way. The fact is that Reliance Properties Vancouver scared away several of the original tenants with pressure tactics, lies, and rudeness. Some of our fellow neighbours just wanted to have a life that did not include this battle for a housing rights in Vancouver and did not want to battle a billion dollar developer for the right to keep a singed agreement. They did not agree with you they just didn’t want to deal with you. They wanted a peaceful life. Those of us that remain understand their POV and respect their feelings. They are still friends and always will be. But you really can’t count on them to be allies or party to your understanding of the agreement.

So it all becomes clear. According to our signed agreement, an agreement drafted by Reliance Properties Vancouver, and with witch they secured our support for the building permit, we are entitled to pay the same rent as at 1170 Bidwell. We benefit from any ambiguous language and so if there are different interpretations of that aspect of our signed agreement it is us that would benefit, the understanding would rest on our side.

Politicians once elected get weak.

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Juan Agrees with Us!
Juan Agrees with Us! We have the right to move back “for the same rent amount during a two (2) years term”

Don’t get me wrong here! I have voted for and would continue to vote for MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert. However I would also have to admit that I am getting more than a little upset with politicians that seem soft on issues they once found little room for debate on. Say like a 90% $1100 rent increase.

***UPDATE*** below find a tweet from MLA Chandra Herbert

I have had no luck so far in getting a letter of support from MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert or from Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart. And both of these politicians should be natural allies of ours. Both have made extensive comments and statements of support on housing and affordable housing in the past. While I have not gotten support of any tangible kind from either of these two politicians I can at least say the MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert did call me and gave me time to discuss our situation. He also asked for related documents and looked them over then providing his interpretation of our lease. This is far more than the Mayor has done!

Mayor Kennedy Stewart has yet to call me back or directly respond in anyway to all of my contact attempts.

I’ve called 13 times as of today and at best I have received a few call backs by Mayor Stewart’s support staff but nothing from the big man himself. I find this difficult to accept. I voted for him. Now like so many other Vancouverites and other natural allies of the common person we find ourselves wondering what happened. Where did the mayor we thought we were getting go? Why has he gone soft on issues of affordable housing? Sure he makes grand statements about it in general but where did the prospective mayor that was giving on camera statements of support like:

That mayor Stewart is gone! No support no contact no access. Seems if you want his attention you had better be a Vancouver City property developer like Reliance Properties Vancouver his new best friend. Mayor Kennedy Stewart has given in on protecting the average person in favour of the powerful boardroom. Perhaps this is just his short term solution to reelection next term with donations from his 1%er buddies like Jon?

Reliance Properties Vancouver and Jon Stovell have showered local and Provincial politics with cash to further their goals. Mayor Kennedy Stewart got none of it, so far. Here are publicly available reports on the campaign donations: Reliance Provincial Campaign Donations  Reliance Municipal Campaign Donations Jon Stovell Municipal Campaign Donations

Go for it mayor. Claim your cash. Get some of that Reliance money. Don’t mind the fact that as you buddy up to them for the dollar they crush us the people who voted for you. Don’t lose sleep over the fact that my bed might be gone. Just get the cash and get re-elected.

MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert has at least called me. The conversation was nice. He provided a kind ear and listened to me recount the pressures Reliance is putting us under. He offered some words. However it wasn’t anything we hadn’t heard before or didn’t already know. I asked for a public statement of support like what he was very well known for in the past. Support he offered back in the says when he was an opposition MLA:

However we have been offered no public support. Even on my request for a simple statement of support on the rental affordability crisis in Vancouver in general. Surly anyone could give support to the general idea that Vancouver needs affordable rental apartments. I know that the MLA would support that. But no public letter of support. At least not yet.

So it seems that when an opposition member of government gets to the other side and forms government they become soft on issues once dear to their hearts. If that is the case let any dreams I may have had about running for any kind of elected office die now. I would not be able to face myself as a sellout unable to voice the position I hold to heart.

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