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Vancouver Tenants Union looks to expand across BC

(iStock Photo)

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Taking “tenant power” province-wide. The year-old Vancouver Tenants Union is looking at expanding its reach across British Columbia.

That’s one of the topics the group will look at during its July general meeting today (Saturday).

Stephanie Langford handles outreach and advocacy for the union and says there has always been interest outside of Vancouver proper.

“We began to go out to Cloverdale and Surrey and Burnaby, [and] New West,” she tells NEWS 1130. “We just started to go out and meet with tenants on the Lower Mainland realizing that we need to organize a broader formation of tenant power and rights.”

The Vancouver Tenants Union already advocates at the provincial level, be it with the recent BC Rental Housing Task Force or at the Residential Tenancy Branch.

“So it makes sense that we also have a provincial body or tenant union that supports tenants throughout the province.”

Now, Langford says the union is looking at expanding its scope officially.

“We’re hoping at least at probably after the civic elections to meet probably in November, following our AGM, with hopefully various representative tenant organizers from around the province to begin to the lay the foundation for a provincial tenants union.”

Langford says when she first came back to the Lower Mainland after three decades away, she found her right to safe and affordable housing was precarious.

“When I came back four years ago I found Vancouver in particular I can only describe as having a kind of toxic mist of greed hanging over. It all related to the value of land and property,” she explains. “With vacancy rates sitting at nearly zero per cent, I wonder what would happen if I had to leave my apartment for some reason.”

It’s because of this that she says she felt the need to do something to help fight for tenant rights.

Today’s meeting takes place at 4:00 p.m. at the Four Sisters Housing Co-operative on Powell Street in Vancouver.