Can a city-run gentrification study help us?

A year ago CCAP was worried that the Downtown Eastside (DTES) had taken a serious blow from pro-developer forces at City Hall. City Council wanted more condos built in the DTES. CCAP wanted the City do a study on the effect of gentrification on the low-income community first. Council voted to give the developers a go-ahead. It was bad news but it wasn’t completely bad: City council was barreling on ahead with their development plans, but they agreed to the study. That study is starting this month; it’s called a “Social Impact Assessment” (SIA) and CCAP is taking part in it.

The SIA is supposed to figure out what happens to low-income people when the city lets (or helps) developers build condo towers and other market developments in the DTES. And yes, you’re right, we already know what happens when new condo projects are built: rents go up, students take over hotel rooms, fancy boutiques take the storefronts where cheap stores used to be, more security guards roam the streets. Our community explained all this and wrote it out together through CCAP’s Community Vision report writing process. But city planners are determined to redo all this work.

So, Ivan from CCAP is participating in the SIA observer committee, along with nine other low-income DTES residents. The observer committee is working with Vancouver city planners to set up workshops where low-income residents are comfortable showing up and talking about what we think and how we feel. We think a city-run gentrification study can help us, but we know that we have to work hard to be sure that there is space at these workshops for low-income residents to explain all the experiences, ideas, feelings, and worries that come from life amongst the condo towers… and we need your help.

The first workshop will be at First United Church, probably sometime in early March. Stay tuned for more updates and information: the city needs to hear your voice!