One of the many letters you’ve written

Thanks for all your letters. Lora agreed to put the one below it on our blog. Thanks, Lora!

David McLellan
The Chair, Development Permit Board
c/o Alison Higginson, Project Facilitator, Development Services
453 West 12th Avenue
Vancouver BC
V5Y 1V4

Dear David McLellan,

The Downtown Eastside Housing Plan of 2005 recognized that our neighbourhood is a low income community. It called for revitalization without displacement. I have lived in the Downtown Eastside since September 2002 when the Lore Krill Co-op at 65 West Cordova opened. I have lived in the co-op since then and have seen how a housing initiative that seeks to house income assisted, low income and market renters together is a microcosm of how our society needs to deal with the housing crisis. Everyone has the right to housing under the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights and when everyone has housing they have the opportunity to make choices based on their own security and the benefit of their community. There is no reason there shouldn’t be as strong a race to house respectfully every person living in this city as there is to get as many mortgages as possible approved regardless of the amortization. It should be worth it to every person living in this city that people in this city be treated with dignity.

As this city has seen through colonialist occupation, the internment of Japanese-Canadians, the inaction over the missing women, and now evictions from SRO’s, displacement and poverty result in death. These things touch the daily lives in the histories of the people who live here and in the fact that these histories are remembered. This collective memory gives the community a quality that is palpable through the streets. It can be bitter and angry, it can be loving and nurturing. People fight over their differences and people support each other through the changes in their lives. Could it really be any other way in an integrated community?

The development at 58 West Hastings has not gone through community review and if it did I would ask how could it be a microcosm of the integrated community it is planned to be developed in? Could the units be built and lotteries for one third market, one third shallow subsidy for low- income and one third deep subsidy for income assistance dwellers be held? I would be most happy at this solution.I know some of the condo/artist work live studios have separate entrances for the artists and this is not what I am talking about. People don’t need to be afraid or ignorant about people from different classes than them, but we do need to deal with each others’ realities.

Lora McElhinney.