Summer heats up, planning process heats up too

First meeting of the LAPP Committee

Summer is here and some of us Dtes residents continue to go to 3 or 4 meetings a month to make a plan for the future of our neighbourhood with the city. As you probably know, Wendy and Ivan (CCAP staff), along with Herb from the Dtes Neighbourhood Council (DNC) were elected by the DNC to be co-chairs of the Local Area Planning (LAPP) Committee. CCAP’s goal is to use this city process, plus research and direct actions to get more housing and other improvements for the majority of residents who are low-income.

As you may recall, a few months ago the city tried to remove Ivan from the LAPP Committee for leading a loud chant against the police blockade at the Pantages condo hearing inside city hall. Many are obviously upset by the city’s actions and see the attempt to remove him from the committee as a move to “muzzle dissent” of others. As it stands, Ivan is still on the committee and the LAPP committee looks like it is taking control over the matter. Will this conflict emerge again because of future protests? Time will tell.

In June, the LAPP Committee had a workshop on housing. We sorted out about 50 points that the LAPP Committee and the city can agree on. The main points of agreement that we can work on is the principle that the DTES needs 5,000 units of self-contained social housing to replace the SRO hotels. There were, of course, some points that need more discussion too. Some of the most important ones had to do with how to get that housing funded and built, and what to do about market development in the meantime.

It looks like the committee will be organizing some discussions about protecting privately owned low-income housing against gentrification, and about income mix and keeping the DTES a predominately low-income neighbourhood.

We’re not sure what the next steps will be or what outcomes of the housing discussion will be in the final plan. We do hope the key points of agreement can get acted on right away and the points that need more discussion can be sorted out and turned into agreements so we can act on them too.

In July, the LAPP Committee had another workshop on “livelihoods” which is a fancy way of saying: “the ways that you included a lot of discussion about things like “green development zones” and questions like “what businesses do you want in the Dtes?”, “what role should our neighbourhood play in Vancouver’s overall economy?” and “what people in the neighbourhood need to meet basic needs.” CCAP reps talked a lot about the need to increase welfare and secure housing so people can be more secure and buy things in low-income stores. Next, we’ll go through a process similar to the housing workshop and figure out agreements and disagreements on this topic.

In August, the LAPP Committee will discuss “places” which is probably about the physical environment and in September, we discuss “well being” or health. Likely in September, the LAPP committee will organize round tables for residents (and other “stakeholders”) to give input on the results of these workshops and to identify the areas where more work needs to be done.

Part of the LAPP includes a study of community assets and impacts of development on low-income people. The city calls this study a “Social Impact Assessment” or “SIA”. Questions asked in the workshops are: What do you love about the Dtes community? What do you want to see changed? What are your hopes and fears about Dtes development?

The goals of this study are:

1) To maintain places and spaces important residents
2) To plan for where gaps exist and;
3) To monitor and measure progress and impacts of development.

CCAP hopes the results of this study will support residents’ concerns about rent increases, displacement, losing low-income community assets and not gloss over them as a way to justify more gentrification. ~wp