VOTE: General Election Candidate Q&A (Spencer Chandra Herbert BC NDP)

Candidate Name: Spencer Chandra Herbert

Party: BC NDP

Website(s): spencerchandraherbert.bcndp.ca

Social media: Twitter Instagram Facebook

Other Contact Information: campaign office 604-690-8993

  1. Why should West End residents vote for you?

I’ve had the honour of representing the West End for many years and worked hard to make sure the needs of our community were being heard in Victoria. It was a huge change to suddenly be in government instead of opposition as of 3 years ago, and more has been done for the West End and for our Province than was done in the previous 9 years! Some examples are: a new urgent primary health care centre downtown, major reforms to protect renters, new childcare spaces (including at GNH), and real action on homelessness, and support to address mental health challenges (also at GNH!)

There is still so much work to be done and I want to continue working closely with you and a strong government in Victoria. I will continue to be accessible and responsive to folks who get in touch with me at my office or see me out on the street – all of your feedback and suggestions allow me to be a better representative for this community, thank you so much.

2. In a recent survey, Gordon Neighbourhood House members identified housing as their top concern. We applaud the recent acquisition of the Buchan Hotel and other properties in the West End for supportive housing with complimentary supports. Despite these recent openings, we still face a shortage of supportive housing for people experiencing homelessness. Additionally, many millennials and seniors have marginal or fixed incomes that have not kept up with the rising cost of living. How are you committed to housing those in need, and preventing others from becoming homeless?

Affordable housing has been something I’ve worked on for years. I helped found the Vancouver Rent Bank to help folks with unexpected crises, and chaired the Government’s Rental Task Force. Over the last few years I’ve worked to decrease massive rent increases by banning geographic rent increases, and closing loopholes for fixed term leases. I also pushed for an enforcement unit of the Residential Tenancy Branch, which was created recently and has helped people with serious ongoing tenancy disputes.

A re-elected BC NDP government will freeze rents until 2021, including any rent increases you might have received in August or September. We are promising a $1000 COVID-19 benefit for families ($500 for individuals), and a $400 rebate for renters. Home owners get grants, so renters should as well!

We will continue to fund affordable housing, including supportive housing, to bring people indoors and provide them with the support services they need, including by:

  • continuing to build new supportive housing, towards a goal of 5,000 new supportive homes through our 10-year plan;
    • developing new, Complex Care housing, providing an increased level of support   – including more access to nurses and psychiatrists – for the most vulnerable who need more intensive care than supportive housing provides; and
    • investing in rent supplements, to help those who have stabilized in supportive      housing and are ready to move into the private rental market, creating space in existing supportive housing to help more people experiencing homelessness who need on-site supports.

3. The Opioid Crisis has now claimed more than 3,000 lives in BC at a rate of almost 5 people every day. As an organization, we believe that substance use disorder is a public health emergency and not a criminal justice issue. What are you committed to doing to prevent overdose deaths due to illicit drug toxicity, and what will you do to support neighbours struggling with substance use disorder?

Before the pandemic, our efforts to tackle the opioid crisis were making a difference, and we saw the first drop in the rate of overdose deaths since 2012. We had a lot more to do, but things were heading in the right direction. When COVID-19 hit, and the crisis escalated, we responded across the full continuum of care – opening new treatment facilities and doubling youth treatment beds, increasing overdose prevention services, providing more outreach teams, and giving people greater access to prescription medication alternatives.

There is more work to do to tackle these challenges and get more people the treatment and healthcare they need, but continuing our work to help prescribers separate more people from the toxic drug supply through safe prescription alternatives is a key part of our overall efforts.

Our election platform includes many different items to work on this strategy, as there is not a one-size fits all solution. We need to make significant investments in the supports needed to address the impacts of the housing crisis in our communities.

This includes:

  • New Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) teams in communities to provide on-the-ground care for people with severe mental health challenges and help reduce interactions with police.
    • New funding for more mental health and community social service workers to ensure there are more frontline workers to respond to needs in communities, and take pressure off police so they can focus on serious crime; and
    • Providing $100 million in grants for local governments to help support them in responding to community concerns around street disorder and community safety.

4. As an organization we are committed to supporting the leadership of Indigenous people, and implementing the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. What is your party doing to support Indigenous peoples, and centre Indigenous knowledge and voices in your provincial public policy?

Our government was proud to be the first jurisdiction in Canada to bring the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People into law. The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act is an important step in the journey of reconciliation, but there is much more to do. As our platform lays out, priorities for a re-elected NDP government would include:

  • Moving further towards long-term agreements that provide greater self-determination: The Province’s relationship with Indigenous peoples will continue to move from short-term transactional arrangements to long-term agreements that recognize and support reconciliation, self-determination, and economic independence. We know that land will play an important role in these agreements.
  • Partnering with Indigenous peoples through evolving shared decision making: The 2019 Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act has set the table for more meaningful shared decision making. As we move forward with key decisions on regional land and resource use allocation, we will partner with First Nations, providing a clear, stable and sustainable path for everyone to work together. An example of how this can lead to better outcomes for everyone is the work done with local First Nations around the Broughton Archipelago.

5. What are your specific plans, including actions and timetables, for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by a substantial amount, and how will you fund and implement them?

BC NDP are proud to have brought the CleanBC plan to our province. Developed together with Dr. Andrew Weaver, CleanBC is both a climate action plan and an economic plan. It is about putting British Columbia on the path to a cleaner, better future – with a low carbon economy that creates new, clean-energy jobs and opportunities for all while protecting our clean air, land and water. CleanBC is the strongest climate action plan on the continent. It will reduce our emissions by 40% by 2030 compared to 2007 levels. That is an ambitious target but we know we must go even further. That is why our 2020 platform commits to reaching net zero emissions by 2050. To get there, our platform doubles down on the CleanBC plan with specific measures to strengthen and expand it.

Our 2020 platform expands and strengthens our CleanBC plan to reduce our industrial emissions, including in the oil and gas sector. A re-elected BC NDP government would:

  • Ramp up CleanBC’s industrial emissions strategy: We’ll provide additional funding for our CleanBC industrial emissions strategy so that more mines, pulp mills, oil and gas processing plants, and other industrial facilities can reduce harmful emissions and move to cleaner operations.
  • Expand CleanBC and our zero-emissions vehicle program to industrial vehicles: With heavy vehicles being a large and growing source of harmful emissions, it’s essential we move now to green-up BC industrial transportation. We will expand CleanBC’s SUVI program to get more trucks, buses, ports, airports, and marine vessels off fossil fuels.
  • Employ best-in-the-world emission detection: To make sure our reduction goals are being met, we’ll employ world-leading regulations and technologies to detect and reduce harmful methane emissions.
  • Fast-track our industrial electrification strategy: By working with the federal government and BC Hydro, we can expand electrification infrastructure to make it easier for industries to go green.
  • Reviewing royalties from an environmental lens: We will conduct a comprehensive review of oil and natural gas royalty credits

6. Prior to COVID-19, Gordon Neighbourhood House operated the largest Food Hub on the downtown peninsula, which provided hundreds of neighbours with emergency food access. We recognize that food banks are a temporary solution, and that poverty is one of the main causes of food insecurity. What will you do to address poverty and inequality in our community?

In addition to our investments in housing to help those experiencing homelessness already, our actions to reduce poverty, improve access to employment and education, and increase opportunities for marginalized communities will help to reduce the chances of people ending up homeless in the first place. The effectiveness of the prevention actions taken to date, and the development of additional opportunities to prevent homelessness in the first place, are being guided by team in the new Office of Homelessness Coordination, put in place as part of our poverty reduction strategy, which is responsible for the bi-annual province-wide homelessness count, and is assisting government to identity and address the root causes of homelessness in our province.

7. What is your favorite memory or personal experience in the West End?

One of my most precious memories of the West End for me is when my husband and I brought our almost newborn son out for our first walk as a family through the neighbourhood, and down to Stanley Park. It felt like everyone we passed, no matter if they were a stranger, or a friend was a family member, wanting to meet the newest addition to our community’s family. And offering their support to us as a new family. Even still one of the questions I get most from West Enders is about how our son is doing- (the answer is, great!). Community is one of the most important things we have.


Salt & Harrow Farm

As a part of our food philosophy at Gordon Neighbourhood House, we are committed to sourcing locally whenever possible and we want to share with you all a deep dive into the communities that we work with!

Our Better at Home Food Program is serving weekly frozen meals to seniors at the West End Seniors’ Network. We have been working with Salt & Harrow, an organic farm in the Tsawwassen First Nation Territory and attaining fresh produce to put in our delicious meals. They grow over 50 varieties of fruits and vegetables, legumes and herbs all year-round on their 32-acre farm.

They offer their Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Farm Share Program as a way to connect the growers with their consumers, which runs all year round, and can be purchased in 13-week increments. This program helps the farm with their seed purchasing and materials needed for the farm and in return, Salt & Harrow shares their harvest with each member weekly. Their shares can be paid throughout a few months as a plan or there is also a sliding scale for those who cannot pay the full amount.

Their stands can be found at several farmers markets in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, including two year-round at Riley Park Farmers Market and Lonsdale Farmers Market.

Support your local growers and food system and visit one of the farmers markets for some fresh, seasonal fruits and veggies!


Charity met With Overwhelming Community Support After Loss of Hundreds of Thanksgiving Meals for Local Seniors

Just before the October long weekend, we shared details of the unfortunate theft of a bike packed with hundreds of Thanksgiving meals for local seniors. While we were able to recover the bike from the bottom of a Stanley Park ravine later that day, we unfortunately lost hundreds of turkey dinners destined for vulnerable West End seniors.

The story was amplified by news outlets over the weekend and we started to receive offers of support by midnight on Friday.

Strangers from across the City and across the country, horrified by what they had seen, started pitching in in any ways they could. Some offered to drop off frozen turkeys. Others offered to cook a few additional servings with their own Thanksgiving dinners and drop off the extra meals. Our immediate neighbours offered to help deliver, and we even received offers of a cash donation from a small business in St. James, Ontario, wanting to help out in any way that they could.

One East Vancouver gentleman even offered to take his motorcycle down to a grocery store of our choice and help out with grocery shopping – he said the motorbike would be no good for delivering meals but he could balance bags of groceries on the back pretty well!

Buoyed by the community support, Chef Amanda and Executive Director Siobhan Powlowski went down to the Gordon Neighbourhood House kitchen over the weekend, put on their aprons and roasted six additional turkeys to replace the missing meals. The meals were packed with mashed potatoes, roast veg with extra butter, and lots of gravy. They were sent out for delivery on another electric bike and thankfully made it to our seniors in time for their dinner.

“We extend our utmost, heartfelt gratitude to those who helped amplify the message and those who reached out in support,” said Siobhan Powlowski, Executive Director. “We will be putting any proceeds toward the Christmas packages and meals that we intend to deliver this year to those in isolation. This winter will be difficult for so many of us, and we hope that this situation can serve as a reminder that we will get through by taking care of each other.”

“This Thanksgiving, we celebrated apart for the first time in memory. But here at Gordon House, we have never felt so connected and so cared for by our community as we have this weekend. While one person may have sought fit to take the bike, the vast majority of people around us have responded with overwhelming generosity and kindness. This, collectively, is who we are – we take care of our seniors and those less fortunate than us.”

Gordon Neighbourhood House is aiming to deliver 5,000 nutritious meals by the end of the year. If you would like to support this initiative, please email welcome@gordonhouse.org.


VOTE – general election Oct 24th 2020

Canada has three levels of Government:

  • 1.MUNICIPAL – Vancouver City
  • 2.PROVINCIAL – British Columbia
  • 3.FEDERAL – Canada

Saturday October 24th 2020 there will be a general election in British Columbia to elect the Provincial Government. You have the right to vote if you are a Canadian citizen who has been in BC for the last 6 months and is at least 18 years old. (permanent residents cannot vote).

Elections BC is a good source of information on how to join the register of electors, where to go to vote, how to vote by mail, voting safely during COVID, and more.

PLEASE NOTE: Gordon House will not be used as a polling station this year due to current public health measures. Check you polling card for your polling station!

The Guide to the Elections Act is a good resource for questions on voting in BC this pandemic.

The Provincial Government are responsible for the following areas:

Candidates Vancouver-West End:

At the beginning of October 2020 we asked West Enders to participate in a survey to ascertain what issues are most important to the community at this time. We used these survey responses to create questions for the candidates. Links to their answers are above.

These were the findings of the survey:

Housing & Homelessness

88% of survey respondents are worried about housing with 44% placing it as their number one concern. Many stated that access to affordable housing was out of reach for those with lower paid jobs and asked for “housing co-ops accessible to any range of salaries” and mentioned fears of “rent increases” and “chronic lack of housing”. 64% of survey respondents expressed concerns around a visible increase of homelessness in the West End and a need for supports.

COVID Response

64% of survey respondents are worried about the impacts of this pandemic, with 25% of respondents placing COVID-19 as their number one concern, mentioning “people not taking it seriously enough” the rise in “anti-mask conspiracy” and the fears of “COVID in the schools”.

Environmental Sustainability

Many respondents mentioned concerns on climate change such as “will my community be in a good place to help each other through its impacts”. Respondents asked to use “Indigenous ways of thinking to lead society” and called for “strong regulations to curb the effects of climate change and stand up for Indigenous rights”.

Healthcare

Respondents expressed a strong interest in in increased healthcare supports for our community as we face this pandemic. This included free mental health services “if you’re not well you can’t handle any of the other issues” and supports such as a “safe drug supply” for those using illicit substances which come with a high risk of overdose.

Feeling Safe

One common thread throughout the survey responses was uncertainty about the future and wanting to feel safe. On top of the issues mentioned above, respondents fears ranged from “hate groups marching through the West End” and “racism & intolerance” to uneasiness about “local crimes and vandalism”. Respondents also noted the high cost of living in the neighbourhood and worries about maintaining their jobs and affording food & childcare.


Gordon Neighbourhood House 2020 Annual General Meeting

Syexwaliya of Squamish Nation performing a blanketing ceremony, and
honouring James Kim for six years of service on the Community Advisory Board.


Gordon Neighbourhood House has served as a community hub in Vancouver’s West End since 1942, and has a lengthy history of working alongside our neighbours, members, and partner organizations to facilitate connection, engagement and collaboration, while seizing opportunities for community development.

We invite all Gordon Neighbourhood House Members to join us for our Annual General Meeting to be held virtually through Zoom on Monday, October 19th, 2020 at 6:00pm PST.

Registration will be required to participate. More details will be announced closer to the date.

For more information and accessibility details, please email welcome@gordonhouse.org, or call (604) 683-2554.

Gordon Neighbourhood House (GNH) is a proud Member of the Association of Neighbourhood Houses of British Columbia (ANHBC)

The Association of Neighbourhood Houses BC (ANHBC) is a charitable non-profit organization that delivers community-based social services and focusses on the development of strong neighbourhoods. ANHBC operates seven neighbourhood houses and one outdoor camp in Metro Vancouver.

Society number: S-0000036
Charitable number: 10673 2969 RR0001
Business number: 106732969BC0001


Gordon Neighbourhood House COVID-19 Update

Bees and Sunflowers in Front of Gordon Neighbourhood House, July 2020.


To our friends, volunteers, members, neighbours, and partners:

It’s been a while since we last connected, and it’s good to take this opportunity to bring you up to speed with what has been happening around Gordon Neighbourhood House. Like the rest of the world, we have been shifting, changing and adapting to this new world – and looking for innovative new ways to bring people together.

On March 17th we made a difficult decision to close to the public, citing rising case counts in our neighbourhood. Little did we know at that time about the difficult road that would lie ahead. Like you, we bundled up at home and began learning about the new concepts that would define our lives – social distancing, cough etiquette, flattening the curve, and more.

But while our doors closed, the work never stopped – and I am proud to highlight the hard work of Gordon House staff during the first months of COVID-19. Staff made calls to over 300 members, and in some cases called regularly for weeks. We provided referrals and support to the folks that needed it; we ran socially distanced tax clinics for hundreds of older adults in our neighbourhood; and we began providing online family programs, language classes, yoga classes and more. We distributed over $60,000 in grocery store gift cards (with an average amount of about $150.00), $10,000 in Farmers Market coupons, and we re-opened our community farms. And, as soon as we got the green light from Vancouver Coastal Health, we began distributing meals to seniors and families in need. And I am proud to announce that as of this week, we have distributed over 2500 meals during COVID-19!

This summer, we began running in-person programming again in the parks and plazas of the West End. These socially distanced, masked-up, six-person gatherings have been a great chance for us all of us to build confidence being in community again – and it has been wonderful to see you again.

As we look to the fall, I think we are all a little uncertain about what is to come. Our Management team is making contingency plans to ensure uninterrupted service regardless of what happens with COVID-19. Here is a little bit of what you can expect – and of course, like everything during COVID-19, these plans are subject to change!

· In the event of a lockdown: Social programs move online and staff will check in with members regularly. Meals will continue via delivery; childcare will remain open unless otherwise directed.

· In the event of local community transmission, but no lockdown: Social programs will be provided online or outdoors. In the event of inclement weather, we are seeking to provide seniors programs indoors with strict safety protocols in place. If all goes as planned, we will look at opening Family Place indoors. Meals will continue via delivery and childcare will remain open.

Unfortunately, we are not able to re-open the Attic Thrift Store for the foreseeable future or re-open our facility to the general public. We will be sure to update our members once this changes.

This brings me to my final point – we need your help. With the loss of revenue from both Thrift Stores and our lunch program, and a decline in donations, we need your help. We are currently receiving 1/1500th of the community financial support that existed pre-COVID-19. The best way to give is by signing up to become a monthly donor. You can sign up at the following link.


30th September is Orange Shirt Day – Every Child Matters

This week at our staff team meeting we were fortunate to welcome Eddy Charlie and Kristin Spray. This was an opportunity for our team to learn more about Orange Shirt Day, the destructive impact that the residential schools system had on Indigenous communities, and the work that Eddy and Kirstin are doing to further awareness and promote healing.

“I want to release what is inside of me. All that fear. All that anger. All that pain. I want all of Canada to know why we are the way we are today.” – Eddy Charlie

We strongly encourage all of our community to take part in this movement by educating themselves on the violent history of these institutions, listening to the stories of survivors, and wearing an orange shirt on September 30th.

Accounts of survivors are valuable records as many children did not make it home from residential schools and many survivors have since passed away. The National Center for Truth and Reconciliation is an important resource as it permanently holds the collection of resources produced by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission itself.

Due to errors made while collecting survivors stories The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that the survivors accounts that they collected during the compensation process will be destroyed by 2027 except in cases where a survivor comes forward to ask for their records to be preserved.

The National Center for Truth and Reconciliation is ensuring that there will continue to be a body of records.

We are so grateful for the generosity that Eddy has shown to us in sharing his story and experiences so that we can sit with the truth.


1,500 Meals Delivered!

To combat hunger in our community, we have partnered with the West End Seniors Network and United Way to cook and deliver meals to isolated seniors and families during COVID-19. This week marks our 1,500th meal delivery! Our dedicated chef Amanda has been busy cooking delicious and nutritious meals with coordination support from Linda, Jessy, Jenn, and Doris. The balanced menus are developed with love and care, and then delivered using sustainable bicycle couriers. Past meals have included: Tuscan chicken pasta; garlic chicken and vegetables with rice; Salmon and Dill creamy gratin; and a Coconut vegetable bowl with lentils. United Way of the Lower Mainland is partnering with Gordon Neighbourhood House so that everyone has access to the food they need right in their neighbourhood.

Through partnerships with local organizations, the United Way Local Love Food Hub and Better at Home program provide groceries, food hampers, prepared meals, and other essential goods at no cost to people in the community who are facing food insecurity, during this very challenging time. For more information about this program, contact Jenn Mason at (604) 683-2554 ext. 204 or jenn@gordonhouse.org


Virtual Art Class Connects Strangers

For over 20 years, the Neighbourhood Small Grants program has brought people together and made communities more resilient. The grassroots initiative provides grants up to $500 to fund small projects that connect neighbours, share skills, celebrate diversity, and foster a stronger sense of belonging. This year however, as the seriousness of COVID-19 became more clear, the feasibility of hosting the much-loved program came into question. Equally troubling, public health orders to physically distance from others has had the unintended impact of creating more social isolation and disconnection.

Rather than cancel the grants, the Vancouver Foundation (which funds the program) boldly decided to create a new granting stream called Responsive Neighbourhood Small Grants to support virtual projects with no physical gathering component.

One such project was Art for Heart project led by Geetanjali Joshi. Geetanjali recently moved to Vancouver in December of 2019. Prior to arriving in Canada, Geetanjali lived in India and had only left the country twice to visit the United States on a cultural exchange program. The Responsive Neighbourhood Small Grants program provided Geetanjali “with the opportunity to serve my new home and its people.”

Professionally trained as a teacher and a lifelong artist, Geetanjali applied to host an online art class. “I live alone in Vancouver and am eager to connect with other people who might be alone and are in need of support and mental escape in this tough time,” she explained, “I find art to be therapeutic, and want to share it.”

A committee of neighbours reviewed her application, and awarded her $500 in funding. Geetanjali then advertised the project on a facebook community page. Eight West End neighbours quickly signed up, and she arranged to have art supplies safely distributed to all participants.

Over Zoom video chat sessions the participants bonded and painted together. “It was a wonderful experience connecting with them and doing some amazing art,” she remarked. “We had three zoom sessions on three Sundays. What started out as 8 strangers who are now friends and fellow artists. it was a great experience for all.”

Gordon Neighbourhood House coordinates the Neighbourhood Small Grants program for all residents on the downtown peninsula. Learn more about program and Responsive Neighbourhood Small Grants online. For more information, email jim@gordonhouse.org.


Gordon Neighbourhood House Distributes $60,000 in Emergency Food Aid in the Wake of COVID-19

Good Food Access Fund Grant will help neighbours improve food security.

Vancouver, BC, July 24th, 2020—Gordon Neighbourhood House is pleased to announce it has received a grant of $60,000 from Community Food Centres Canada’s Good Food Access Fund. The grant will enable Gordon Neighbourhood House to support hundreds of neighbours in need so they can access nutritious food during these challenging times. Funding is provided in part by the Government of Canada’s Local Food Infrastructure Fund, as part of the Food Policy for Canada. The Fund aims to strengthen food systems and facilitate access to safe and nutritious food for at-risk populations. Gordon Neighbourhood House staff identified gaps in existing COVID-19 emergency programs, and distributed grocery store gift cards directly to West End families and neighbours.

“This is an outstanding initiative,” said Gordon Neighbourhood House Executive Director Siobhan Powlowski, “We’re very grateful to receive The Good Food Access Fund Grant, and amplify our food security work in the neighbourhood. As a result of this funding, hundreds of West End neighbours and families will be able to choose the food they need in a safe, and dignified way.”

“Food insecurity was already an urgent problem before the COVID-19 crisis, with one in 8 Canadians struggling to put food on the table. In a time of national crisis, it is in our nature as Canadians to do what we can for our most vulnerable neighbours. We are grateful to the Government of Canada for their quick response, as well as the many corporate partners and generous donors who have stepped forward” says Nick Saul, CEO of Community Food Centres Canada. “The Good Food Access Fund aims to make sure that as many people as possible will be able to get the food that they need. And while we must deal with the current circumstances, CFCC remains committed to advancing policy change that addresses the underlying causes of food insecurity and poverty in Canada. We can’t forget that structural inequity is at the core of so many of the challenges that Canadians face, a fact which painfully confronts us when an emergency like this occurs.”

Gordon Neighbourhood House has served as a community hub in Vancouver’s West End since 1942. As a place-based community organization, we work alongside neighbours and partners to foster a dynamic and diverse neighbourhood where everyone is empowered to play a role in their community. Learn more at gordonhouse.org, and follow us at @gordonnhouse on Instagram and @GordonNeighbourhoodHouse on Facebook.

Media Contact: Siobhan Powlowski, Executive Director; siobhan@gordonhouse.org or (604) 683-2554

Community Food Centres Canada Community Food Centres Canada (CFCC) builds health, belonging and social justice in low-income communities through the power of food. We work with 13 Community Food Centres and 183 Good Food Organizations in 175 communities across Canada. Our Good Food Access Fund was established to provide emergency relief during this time of national crisis to our most vulnerable neighbours. Learn more at cfccanada.ca or follow @aplaceforfood.

Media contact: Juniper Locilento, Chief Development & Communications Officer; juniper@cfccanada.ca or (416) 576-2561