Low-income participants in City of Vancouver planning process launch alternative plan for housing crisis
June 11, 2013 – Over 300 Downtown Eastside (DTES) residents marched through the streets to demand a “Social Justice Zone” in the heart of the City of Vancouver. DTES community members and representatives from local organizations spoke at key locations along the march route, including the BC Housing office, Pidgin Park and the Woodwards Building.
The rally was organized by members of the Local Area Planning Process (LAPP) low-income caucus, which has spent two years in consultation with the City of Vancouver to draft the development future of yet-unplanned parts of the Downtown Eastside.
“The zoning and the plans will have far-reaching effects for the next 30 years”, said LAPP low-income caucus and Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU) president David Hamm. “We are here to call on the City of Vancouver to adopt the plan proposed by low-income DTES residents to protect the low-income community.”
The Anti-Gentrification Caucus of the DTES LAPP Committee has gathered 3,000 signatures from Downtown Eastside residents in support of an alternative “Social Justice Zone” plan for the DTES. The “Social Justice Zone” plan calls on the city to use zoning laws to stop condos in the Oppenheimer subdistrict of the DTES and to promote social housing that people on welfare/pensions can afford in the Thornton Park and Hastings Corridor subareas. The plan calls for the city to protect land in the DTES for social housing and to advocate for senior government housing programs. It also calls on the city to stop renovictions in SRO hotel rooms and to create a social impact assessment so low income residents can approve or deny applications for new business licenses (See attached Social Justice Zone plan).
“The 3,000 signatures we collected send the City of Vancouver a clear message”, said LAPP Committee Member Victoria Bull. “We need a plan for the DTES that really will house homeless people and replace SROs with self-contained housing. The city needs to get behind its low income residents and make our housing crisis a priority.”
“The city has let applications for over 1000 condos go through while we have been planning the neighbourhood,” said LAPP committee member Herb Varley. “These condos will push up rents in hotels and stores and push low income people out of the neighbourhood they feel comfortable in. We desperately need a sign that the city really wants to deal with our housing crisis.”