People on welfare are starving: Raise the Rates welfare food challenge report

What if everyone on welfare had a Masters degree in human nutrition and ten years experience as a professional cook?  Would they be able to buy and cook enough food for a nutritious diet?

The answer is no, according to Gerry Kasten a registered dietitian to took the Welfare Food Challenge that ended October

All the food that $26 buys you

23rd. Kasten told a news conference at the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House that, after buying $26 worth of food for a week, he was short 17 servings of fruits and veggies, and 17 servings of dairy.  “It’s not a matter of budgeting, said Kasten.  “ I was short on many nutrients including vitamins, zinc and iron. We know that iron shortages can damage children’s development for the rest of their lives.”  One thing that would make a welfare diet more nutritious, said Kasten, is “more money.” Continue reading

Meet the new DTES Neighbourhood Council co-chair of the Local Area Planning Process

Herb Varley speaking to Vancouver city council

The Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood Council’s (DNC) last co-chair of the DTES Local Area Planning Process committee was Wendy Pedersen. Wendy went off on sick leave in September and Ivan Drury was unilaterally thrown off the LAPP Committee by the city manager soon after. Herb Varley, who had been volunteering as Wendy’s alternate since the process began, was unanimously supported by the DNC to lead the committee on behalf of the low-income community. Continue reading

How the LAPP Committee failed the test of the condo rezoning proposal at 955 E Hastings

How the LAPP Committee failed the test of the condo rezoning proposal at 955 E Hastings

Ivan Drury

Low-income members of the DTES Local Area Planning Process (LAPP) committee met with city staff about the rezoning proposal for condos at 955 E Hastings Street three separate times; an information meeting with lead planners, a discussion and letter drafting meeting in committee, a follow-up meeting redrafting the statement, and a discussion in a full LAPP Committee meeting. Does that sound like a lot of meetings? Well, welcome to the LAPP.

It is important to meet with staff and make sure that our voices are heard, our groups and members justify, because the LAPP Committee has special power to make recommendations on condo proposals. It was part of the agreement we made with council.

The block across from Raycam where “Woodward’s East” is slated

And we need City Hall to take the LAPP Committee seriously because our low-income community is investing massive amounts of time, energy and precious volunteer resources into the LAPP Committee. Instead of using our time and energy to organize townhall forums, protests and delegations to city hall with Downtown Eastside residents, we are relying on a city-process to amplify the voices of a community that has never felt heard or understood by City Hall. That requires a pretty serious leap of faith and also some evidence that our faith is not misplaced.

So did the LAPP help low-income residents speak and be heard in the planning of the DTES? Continue reading

955 E Hastings condo rezoning hearing results

City Council ignored the voices of many Downtown Eastside residents and approved a rezoning for a condo megaproject across the street from Raycam in the Downtown Eastside.  The vote came on Oct, 30th. The project will have 282 condos, 24 units of welfare rate social housing, and 46 units of social housing with higher rents.

DTES residents sitting through the 955 E Hastings condo rezoning hearing

Many Downtown Eastside residents spoke against the project on two nights of public hearing, October 16th and 18th.  Herb Varley and Michael Clague, co-chairs of the DTES Local Area Planning committee asked council to defer the project until after the Plan is finished.  They said the Hastings Corridor needs to be preserved for social housing, that there are no regulations in place to protect hotels close to the new development from rent increases, and that this project will set a precedent for the type of development in that area.

  Continue reading

“Woodward’s East” condos rezoning decision Tuesday at City Hall

The public hearing for the proposed condo project at 955 E Hastings finished last week. Nearly forty people came out and spoke about the project, the majority were low-income residents and their supporters speaking against the project.

The council decision about the project was put off until this week, Tuesday October 30, 2012 at City Hall. The meeting starts at 9:30am but there is one discussion point on ahead of the decision, listed under “unfinished business”, so we don’t know what time the decision might be made.

Downtown Eastside residents will be meeting in front of Carnegie Centre at 9am sharp to go up to city hall together and be present for this decision which, no matter which way it goes, will play a central role in shaping the future of the community. Everyone who opposes this mega project is welcome to come join us.

CCAP Gentrification Borderlands walking tour Saturday Oct 27 – Heart of the City Festival

Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival

with Carnegie Community Action Project

Saturday October 27
11:30am (approx. 2 hours)
Meet at steps of Carnegie Community Centre

Join CCAP on a walking tour of “gentrification borderlands” to highlight new pressures upon the DTES Oppenheimer District (DEOD) that threaten displacement of low-income housing in the area.

High end condos and shops are part of a gentrification drive that is causing increased rent and food costs and changing the culture of the neighbourhood in a way that can feel overwhelming for low-income local residents walking through the Victory Square and Gastown areas.

But residents are strong and want to protect their homes and neighbourhood in the DTES Oppenheimer District where it is still possible to slow gentrification, preserve good things about our community, and work for more social housing.

Learn for yourself how gentrification contributes to homelessness in the Downtown Eastside; chalk the existing zoning borderlands of gentrification and see what could be lost and what is still possible.

$10 for non-residents, free for local residents