Controversy Over Temporary Modular Housing in Marpole - Alex de Boer, Ryan Patrick Jones, Christina Song - CITR - FM
I am submitting on behalf of CiTR's News Collective. I hold the position of Spoken Word Coordinator at CiTR and directly oversee the station's News Collective. This collective is made up of volunteers who collaboratively produce a weekly, hour-long news show called "Democracy Watch." Democracy Watch provides independent and adversarial coverage of underreported issues in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland.
This episode of Democracy Watch told a story of support and resistance in Vancouver's Marpole neighbourhood. Controversy arose after the City decided to build temporary modular housing units across the street from an elementary school. This modular housing was meant to shelter the homeless — an increasingly serious issue in Vancouver's out-of-control housing crisis.
The mainstream media portrayed this issue as a battle between xenophobic Vancouverites and welcoming City leaders and young people. CiTR's News Collective disrupted this narrative, by staying at the rally for hours after the mainstream media left and by featuring in-depth arguments by rally-goers on both sides of the debate. In our story you will hear the words of poverty advocate and city council candidate, Jean Swanson and a member of the high school student advocacy group; Marpole Students for Modular Housing. Our reporters also spoke at length with local residents opposed to the modular housing project. What they found was an issue more complex than one of blind hate and fear of the homeless. One resident Democracy Watch spoke with discussed having been a refugee himself and knowing what it's like to be homeless. In the same interview, he also expressed an apprehension of perceived drug use among homeless people in Vancouver and criticized the City's weak community consultation process before okaying the temporary housing units.
In the end I believe CiTR's News Collective succeed in humanizing both sides of this debate and highlighting root issues of conflict, which include: a socialized fear of drug users, the City's failed dialogue with the Marpole community and a polarized public opinion, which reflects simplified mainstream media coverage of this topic.