VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – A townhall scheduled for tonight with Vancouver-Point Grey MLA David Eby has been abruptly cancelled over security concerns.
It’s all because of a protest planned for the event, which was supposed to be a community forum at St. James Community Square on the new school tax announced by the NDP.
He isn’t just blaming community organizers — he’s also calling out Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson.
“A couple real estate firms decided to advertise that people without tickets should show up to the event. The leader of the opposition BC Liberals, Andrew Wilkinson, flyered — I don’t know how broadly — advising people without tickets to show up,” he claims.
“Clearly, it was the intention of the leader of the Opposition. I’m not quite sure why. He could have held his own townhall. But in any event, that’s the outcome and so, we’ll have to re-schedule and find a way to do it.”
Eby says security is the reason for his cancellation of the event.
“With people potentially marching into the event, past our high school students and senior volunteers that are working at the door, obviously, that is not a secure or safe environment for anyone,” says Eby.
He adds he considered the number of people who may end up crowding a narrow sidewalk outside, saying “the final straw” was that the timing of the protest was moved up.
“That protest was initially scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. when the event started — which was okay. It gave us some time to set up and secure the event and ensure only people could get in who had tickets. But they moved the protest to 5 o’clock, which would mean we would have to ferry people with tickets past presumably unhappy people and in addition, people whose intention was apparently to come in even if they didn’t have tickets.”
NEWS 1130 spoke with Wilkinson, who says people have a right to be there, with or without a ticket.
“When hundreds of my constituents approached me and said, ‘What [should I] do?’ I said, ‘You should go and talk to David Eby.'”
When asked if he believes Eby’s claim that there are security concerns about this evening, Wilkinson said, “These are pensioners. Most of these people are well into their sixties, seventies, and eighties. It’s a bit perplexing to say that David Eby is being intimidated by pensioners.”
The school tax, which was supposed to be the subject of tonight’s townhall, would be applied to properties valued at higher than $3 million to generate more funding for education — many of those high-valued homes can be found in Eby’s riding, and there have been more than a few angry voices about the new levy.
Some homeowners in the area argue just because their homes are worth a lot, that doesn’t mean they have the liquid cash to keep up with tax increases.
“There’s definitely opposition to the tax, among a number of people who are being asked to pay more,” Eby acknowledges.
“The appreciation in real estate values in our community has been profound — 400 per cent for most detached homes over the last 10 years. And I understand there are community members out there [who say] they didn’t ask for this, they didn’t want it, it’s ruined the communities that they love, and now they have to pay an additional tax. It was a chance for them to provide that feedback to me, as their MLA. And that can’t go ahead now.”