Last chance to make your voice heard at the Development Permit Board against Sequel 138 condos!

(reposted from the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood Council website)

Check out these 11nth hour actions and statements against Sequel 138 condos… Monday April 23 at 3pm is the Development Permit Board hearing at city hall!

1) 30 academics come out against Sequel 138 condos!

2) ARTICLE: Don’t let one man’s property rights outweigh the needs and will of an entire community

3) LAST CHANCE TO RALLY AND SPEAK OUT AGAINST SEQUEL 138 CONDOS BEFORE THE CITY VOTE!

Jean Swanson responds to Province editorial “The sooner the DTES is fixed up the better”

Poor bashing editorial published by the Province Newspaper
“The best thing that could happen to the DTES is already happening — it’s being cleaned up….[with] the most expensive real estate in Canada.”

Consider writing a response: provletters@png.canwest.com

Fri, Apr 20, 2012 at 1:49 PM
Subject: letter to the editor
To: provletters

Dear Editor,

Re: your editorial on “cleaning up” the Downtown Eastside

Coming from the Downtown Eastside where caring and working for social justice are fundamental community values, it is hard to comprehend your editorial.

No one in the DTES is arguing for the status quo. DTES residents desperately want and need social housing, more treatment facilities, and policies about drug use that are based on health and human rights principles.

The Sequel condo proposal will promote gentrification that will push out current residents from the neighbourhood where they do have some services and housing (much of it deplorable, true) and a community that cares about them. No one knows where they will be able to go. The city has promised “no displacement” of current residents. The low income community is working extremely long hours to try to make this happen. Sensationalist editorials that stereotype neighbourhood residents don’t contribute to a rational outcome.

Yours truly,

Jean Swanson

30 professors against DTES gentrification speak out against Pantages/Sequel 138

Letter sent on Friday, April 20th to Development Permit Board in advance of hearing Monday, April 23rd 3pm:

Vicki Potter
Director, Development Services
Chair, Development Permit Board
City of Vancouver, 453 West 12th Avenue
Vancouver, BC V5Y 1V4
vicki.potter@vancouver.ca

April 20 2012

Re: Development permit request for Sequel 138 project, 138 East Hastings St.

Dear Ms. Potter:

We, the undersigned, are professors and instructors at local universities and colleges. We write to you because we share a deep interest in the future of Vancouver. More specifically, we write to you in your capacity as Chair of the City’s Development Permit Board to express our concern about the development permit application for the Sequel 138 project at 138 East Hastings St. and its likely negative impacts on the low-income population of the city’s Downtown Eastside.

We commend the City of Vancouver for its support of the Downtown Eastside Local Area Plan (DTES LAP) process and continued adherence to the principles of the Downtown Eastside Housing Plan (2005). Given the City’s supportive stance in these areas, we strongly urge the Development Permit Board to deny the request for a development permit for 138 East Hastings St. when it comes to the Board on April 23. We ask that you deny the permit request at least until the completion of the DTES LAP process and until after a study of the social impacts of gentrification in the neighbourhood has been undertaken.

Reviews of development permit applications tend to focus on technical and legal matters, yet these foci do not necessarily address the social impacts of a development like Sequel 138. However in this case, part of the Development Permit Board’s role will be to assess the development application in the context of the Downtown Eastside Oppenheimer Official Development Plan (DEOD ODP). This ODP outlines the “goals and policies addressing [DEOD’s] social, physical, historical and economic issues” (ibid., p.4, our emphasis). Therefore, we believe that the Development Permit Board must consider the wider social and economic implications of the Sequel 138 permit request.

Furthermore, the DEOD ODP is intended to “provide a decision-making process which permits greater citizen involvement, while recognizing the significance and uniqueness of the area in the overall City context” (ibid., p.4) and to ensure “that Downtown-Eastside/Oppenheimer area residents, property owners, merchants and workers are consulted on local planning and development matters and on the implementation of capital improvement projects” (ibid., p.6). We believe that the DTES LAP is exactly this sort of inclusive decision-making process. To permit the development of 138 East Hastings St. before the LAP process has concluded would be counter to the spirit of the DEOD ODP. The Development Permit Board can decide to stop the development until the DTES LAP is completed. This, we believe, would be the sensible planning approach.

The negative effects of gentrification are well documented in the academic literature and are already being seen vividly on the Downtown Eastside landscape. We are convinced that neighbourhood change of any sort must only happen through careful planning that takes account of the social impacts of development. Without the sort of careful, coordinated, and comprehensive planning that the DTES LAP promises, the ripple effects of gentrification – including increased property values and taxes, real estate speculation, rent inflation, ‘renovictions,’ spatial and social exclusion, dispossession, and the displacement of low-income residents – will severely impact what the Downtown Eastside Housing Plan (2005, p.58) calls the neighbourhood’s “role [as] the core neighbourhood for low income” people in Vancouver.

While the plan argues that this role should be maintained, and that “at least 1-for-1 replacement of SROs” (ibid, our emphasis) should be the policy goal in the neighbourhood, its authors worried that if “land values get to a point where market development is attractive despite having to incorporate a 20% social housing component, it is unlikely that 1-for-1 replacement of the existing 2,000 SRO units will be possible in the DEOD” (ibid.). We believe that the Sequel 138 permit application indicates that we have now reached the point where development is attractive in the neighbourhood despite the 20% requirement. We suggest that the Development Permit Board should take the Downtown Eastside Housing Plan’s warning seriously when considering the Sequel 138 application. We also argue that piecemeal approval of development applications on technical grounds without addressing the wider social impacts of these sorts of developments and without allowing the DTES LAP to run its course is counter to the City’s longstanding commitments to excellence and leadership in urban planning and to the welfare and maintenance of the low-income community of the Downtown Eastside.

We are not alone in our concern about the dangers of approving the development permit for 138 East Hastings. There seems to be a broad neighbourhood consensus in the Downtown Eastside that Sequel 138, once completed, will result in the displacement and exclusion of the very low-income residents who the City’s Downtown Eastside Housing Plan acknowledges are the heart and soul of the neighbourhood. Indeed, an indication of the level of neighbourhood concern is the fact that over 2000 individuals and 45 organizations have signed a community resolution calling for the property to be sold to the City for 100% community controlled social housing and amenity space.

It is clear, then, that many residents of the neighbourhood, among others, are concerned about the implications of approving the Sequel 138 development permit. And the vision for the future of the Downtown Eastside that Council charged the DTES LAP committee with creating has yet to be formed. Therefore, we ask you to deny the development permit request at least until the DTES LAP has been completed.

Sincerely,

Eugene McCann
Associate Professor
Department of Geography
Simon Fraser University

Kirsten E. McAllister
Associate Professor
School of Communication
Simon Fraser University

Elvin Wyly
Associate Professor
Department of Geography
University of British Columbia

Jeff Derksen
Associate Professor
Department of English
Simon Fraser University

Nicholas Blomley
Professor and Department Chair
Department of Geography
Simon Fraser University

Glen Coulthard
Assistant Professor
Department of Political Science and First
Nations Studies
University of British Columbia

Willeen G. Keough
Associate Professor
Department of History
Simon Fraser University

Elise Chenier
Associate Professor
Department of History
Simon Fraser University

Trevor Barnes
Professor
Department of Geography
University of British Columbia

Shauna Butterwick
Associate Professor
Department of Educational Studies
University of British Columbia

Mark Leier
Professor and Chair
Department of History
Simon Fraser University

Mary-Ellen Kelm
Associate Professor
Canada Research Chair, Aboriginal Studies,
Medicine, and Health
Simon Fraser University

Adrienne L. Burk
Teaching Fellow
Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology
Simon Fraser University

Steven Ng
Instructor
School of Energy
British Columbia Institute of Technology

Christiana Miewald
Adjunct Professor
Centre for Sustainable Community
Development
Simon Fraser University

Gary Teeple
Professor
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Simon Fraser University

Jamie Peck
Professor
Department of Geography
University of British Columbia

Peter Hall
Associate Professor
Urban Studies Program
Simon Fraser University

Matt Hern
Instructor
Urban Studies Program
Simon Fraser University

Clint Burnham
Associate Professor
Department of English
Simon Fraser University

Enda Brophy
Assistant Professor, School of
Communication
Simon Fraser University

Dara Culhane
Associate Professor
Department of Anthropology
Simon Fraser University

Samir Gandesha
Associate Professor
Director, Institute for the Humanities
Simon Fraser University

Geoff Mann
Assistant Professor
Department of Geography
Simon Fraser University

Jerry Zaslove
Simons Chair of Graduate Liberal Studies
Simon Fraser University

Sarah Walshaw
Sessional Instructor
Departments of History and Archaeology
Simon Fraser University

Glen Lowry
Associate Professor
Emily Carr University of Art + Design

M. Simon Levin
Sessional Faculty
Faculty of Visual Art + Material Practice
Emily Carr University of Art + Design

Tom Nesbit
Continuing Studies
Simon Fraser University

Henry Tsang
Associate Professor
Faculty of Culture + Community
Emily Carr University of Art + Design

Cc:
Lorna Harvey, Assistant to the Development Permit Board
lorna.harvey@vancouver.ca
Mayor Gregor Robertson and City Councilors
City of Vancouver, 453 West 12th Avenue
Vancouver, BC
mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca

Kevin McNaney
Assistant Director of Planning, City of Vancouver
kevin.mcnaney@vancouver.ca

David Autiero
Project Facilitator, Development Services, City of Vancouver
david.autiero@vancouver.ca

Brenda Prosken
General Manager, Community Services, City of Vancouver
brenda.prosken@vancouver.ca

Herb Varley’s speech at city council

According to the laws and customs of Canada my name is Herb Varley.  But according to the laws and customs of the Nisga’a, my name is Gwin ga’adihl amaa goot.  I’m the President of the Board of Directors for the Downtown Eastside Neighborhood Council.  I currently live in the DEOD, in the York Hotel, which is in the process of being gentrified.  I hear that the plan is to turn the downstairs area into a restaurant with valet service.  That doesn’t bode well for us – those of us living upstairs.  The rent is already increasing.  I hear its going to go up another fifty bucks within the next couple of years.  And another thing that has changed since this new person has bought the hotel is that this is my front door key.  This is going to cost me fifty dollars if I lose it.  It’s a little fob.  Now I pay four and a quarter for rent.  So I only live off a hundred and eighty five bucks a month.  Or so.  So if I lose this key and I’ve gotta replace it that means I’ve gotta live off a hundred and thirty bucks for that month.  And if they increase the rent, that’s going to decrease my support.  Now actually I overstepped myself.  First and foremost I want to acknowledge the Coast Salish, the Tseil-watuth, the Musqueam, the Burrard Nation for allowing every single person in here including myself, that is not from one of those territories, to live in their land.  I say that because I don’t believe that they are the owners of the land.  The crown isn’t the owner of the land.  The province isn’t the owner of the land.  We all borrow it – we borrow it from our great grandchildren.  And if we continue at the pace that we’re going right now, we’re going to run out of resources.  And we cannot continue to to overmine our resources.  We cannot continue to displace people.  It is the same…you know…if you think of the Downtown Eastside as a reservation, you know, originally people got put there because it wasn’t deemed valuable enough.  Because that’s what they did to us in the reservations.  They put us in the shittiest tracts of land where you could not do any farming.  Now people are realizing that in some of those reservations there’s gold, there’s uranium, there’s oil sands.  So now we’re getting kicked out because they want our resources.  That is not right.  You know I have no problem with providing young students and young workers with housing.  Because when I get back on the workforce I’m going to be a young worker myself.  But you know I do have a problem with taking it from people who are one step away from homelessness.  We cannot do that.  When we ask for help from the city, the city cries “poverty!”  Mr Mayor, if you’ve got money for hockey you’ve got money to help the poor.  Straight up.  I recently have, I’ve been courting a lady-friend.  For a while.  She’s leaving for the very same reason that I’m down here.  The city’s too expensive to live in.  Now that might not matter to you, but it matters a lot to me.  I do a lot of volunteer work with youth.  With the DNC.  Typically with people that are either a lot younger than me or a lot older than me.  So I don’t really meet too many people my age.  So any connection that I lose is devastating.  And if you send people – if you force people out to Surrey, if you force people out to New West with this gentrification, without the support that they have down here, people are gonna die.  And they’re gonna die horribly.  People are gonna die and people are gonna go to jail.  But I guess that that’s already been taken into consideration because in Burnaby they are building a two hundred and fifty unit remand center.  Remand is just where you wait to go to trail!  Why do we need a two hundred and fifty unit remand center?  You know…just a ten percent guarantee of social housing?  You know…if we have sixty units, fifty of them are condos.  I mean forty of them are condos.  Ten are social housing, ten are at welfare rate.  We have a hundred and fifty people a night sleeping in First United Church.  Ten units is not enough.  And that’s just the people in First United Church.  For every one person in there there’s probably three out on the street.  So what is that?  Four hundred and fifty people?  You know…that is not right.  You know you, myself included, every single one person in here that is not Coast Salish is a guest in this land.  It is about time that we start acting like it.  You know I don’t acknowledge that because it makes me feel good, you know, but I don’t go into another person’s house and reach in the fridge without introducing myself.  I view this Pantages project as a Trojan Horse.  You are doing it under the guise of a gift.  You’re gifting it to the low-income community.  But the social mix that my friend Karen was already talking about has tremendous psychological and emotional effects on us.  If we lose our connection to the community it makes it that much easier for me to Rob and Steal from my neighbor.  It makes it that much easier to pass by a native man who is passed out on the street.  You know, whether he is drunk or not that does not matter, that is a human being passed out on the street.  And you do not walk past a human being and let them die.  You don’t.  Every single one of you in here should be ashamed of yourselves.  You should be ashamed of yourselves.  You know if I got my full – my full support check, I’m supposed to live off of seven and some change a day.  That’s the price of a coffee and a Scone at Starbucks.  How many of you do that every day?  How many of you do that every day?  Right?  That’s what I’m supposed to live off of for an entire month.  That’s supposed to clean me, clothe me, bathe me transport me, and I don’t even have a kitchen in my room.  So I’ve got to eat out and that takes a lot of money.  And you know, when I go do temp labor and I earn, you know, fifty sixty bucks here and there and the ministry wants to take that back penny for penny that’s stealing!  You know, that’s not helping me, that’s stealing! People portray the Downtown East as a violent community and I would agree.  But not in the way that you think.  When I walk down the street and the police harass me just because I’m young and I’m brown, that is an act of violence.

Displacement is an act of violence.

Silencing and marginalizing people is an act of violence.

I hope you were listening.  I hope you were listening.