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City Holler

Trish Kelly explores the issues and challenges that face our growing city.

Vancouverites deserve a seat at the table

City is hosting 500 experts from around the world to discuss housing affordability during the Re:Address conference

Next week Vancouver is hosting an international housing conference called Re:Address.

Jennifer Gauthier/Metro

Next week Vancouver is hosting an international housing conference called Re:Address.

You probably don’t know this, but next week Vancouver is hosting is an international housing summit called Re:Address. The weeklong event is being described as the first time the city will bring together 500 thought leaders and experts from around the world to discuss housing affordability. It’s also intended to inform an updated version of the city’s Homelessness and Housing Strategy.

It’s good that so many international experts will be coming to Re:Address; not only do we need help solving our housing crisis, but we also need them to fill the audience seats, as I’m pretty sure few others will be there.

Details about the event have been very slow coming. Press kits, with important info about dates and speakers were finally available late last week. Though that press kit tells me the opening reception is on Wednesday Oct. 26th at the Museum of Anthropology.

Tickets to the summit are hard to find. I think I’m pretty good at these internets, but in order to get a link for registration, I actually had to tweet to the city. While a companion series of free community events is easy to register for at readdress.ca, to get tickets to the actual summit is not possible from the event website. Once I got the link, I was able to confirm that tickets are $370, more than the monthly welfare shelter rate in our province, and likely more than many Vancouverites, individuals or grassroots housing organizations, could spend on a last minute ticket to a conference on affordable housing.

Via Facebook, the mayor’s office did confirm for me that a number of free tickets have been set aside for grassroots housing organizations or individuals who can’t pay. Unfortunately, there is no info on these subsidized tickets on the event site, and so if you didn’t read this column, or see that facebook message, you wouldn’t know to write to housing@vancouver.ca to express interest in a free ticket.

Organizing big events is a lot of work, and it could be the lack of information is just a matter of the organizers biting off more than they can chew. You could just roll your eyes and write this off as a poorly organized TED Talk rip off and go back to doing what you need to do to pay the rent.

But whether the city intended to exclude local residents and frontline housing groups, or if it was just bad planning, it is a huge miss. Any conversation about affordable housing that doesn’t include the voices of the people who are experiencing the crisis firsthand, is doomed to a flawed result.

Trish Kelly lives and writes in East Vancouver. Follow her on Twitter @trishkellyc