Breton Crellin, Stonemason, Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Briefly describe the situation in your area.
The houses that I and other tradespeople build are being marketed to the highest global bidder. They get left empty to appreciate in value, flipped and used to clean drug money. Housing has become a disposable, investable commodity. The taxpaying locals are being left in the dust. There is nothing for us in Vancouver. The family homes are being torn down, their tenants evicted so more high-end luxury homes can be built.
What are you working to protect?
I am fighting to protect our dwindling supply of affordable family homes—and to protect the right of my children to be raised within a few hours’ drive of my parents. My parents deserve to watch their grandchildren grow up. My wife deserves to have her mother help her raise her first child.
What is the biggest obstacle you face?
I can't find any work where I live, and can't find anywhere to live where I work. I live on the edge of the Metro Vancouver [regional district] because it’s the only place where I can afford the room I will need to start a family. It's a one-hour drive into the upper-class neighborhoods where I work, and a one-and-a-half-hour drive home. I drive 100 kilometers a day and spend 10% of my income on gas. The only way I can make rent is to participate in a luxury building boom that is gentrifying the whole province.
Is there a leader of your group or is it led by committee?
Our group, ProVancouver (provancouver.ca), is a political organization that acts as an umbrella for independents to run under. While we do have a leader, our mayoral candidate David Chen, we make decisions based on a democratic vote by all members.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned since you started working on this issue?
The most important thing I've learned is how to deal with politically motivated social media trolls who seek to discredit and distract any who question the status quo or those who uphold it. They will go after voters and candidates alike. We have adopted a three-strike policy. This is not a baseball analogy; it means that you must learn to win an argument in debate in just three moves.,