Meet Vancouver’s newest (and boldest) advocacy group

Why a group of local renters is actively rooting for a natural disaster to hit their city

It’s one thing to hope for a real estate crash. It’s quite another to try and make it happen yourself. But that’s exactly what a new Vancouver advocacy group says it’s trying to do. A 26-year-old PhD student named Eric Blair is the driving force behind VAST—that stands for Vancouverites Against Seismic Tranquility—and he says that his group, which meets every Wednesday at Spanish Banks, is trying to channel the power of transcendental meditation towards the fault lines that lie to the city’s southwest. “Look, we’re not saying that we’re in favour of an earthquake happening any time soon,” Blair says. “But we’re not exactly opposed to it either. It’s the only way we’ll ever be able to buy something on the west side of the city.”Blair doesn’t want to give away how many people have joined him in his cause, but he says it numbers in the “dozens.” “We’re tired of sitting around and waiting for things to get better here, and if you look at the market the only way we’re going to be able to afford a house is if something truly bad happens—like an earthquake.” If this sounds a bit crazy, well, Blair understands. He knows that they almost certainly can’t shift the region’s tectonic plates with their minds—and that, if they could, the consequences would be catastrophic. But, he says, it’s better than just waiting for things to get better. “Some of my friends have left the city. But I thought I might as well do something—anything—while I’m still here. It’s better than doing nothing.”