“The building has been penetrated.”

“The building has been penetrated.” Those are the words that greeted a crew of CCAP volunteers and friends as a security guard spoke into her walkie talkie at the entrance to the building that houses Concord Pacific offices. It was hard to keep from giggling. I think some of us did.

We had come on June 13, with a giant card for Terry Hui, the head of Concord Pacific, which is building over 200 condos in the DTES. The card suggested that Hui withdraw his project or donate his proposed building at 58 W. Hastings to social housing and name it after Darrell Mikasko, a homeless man who burned to death trying to stay warm.

We also brought a big Welcome Wagon type basket to help Hui understand how to be a good neighbour in the DTES. When the media showed up, Wendy Pedersen, CCAP’s organizer, took out some of the items to show them: The Pivot book, Hope in the Shadows, poems by Sandy Cameron, Sheila Baxter’s book, Death in a Dumpster, a Carnegie Newsletter, and a jar with 2 dead bed bugs with the lable: be part of the solution not the problem.

Before we arrived with our goodies for Hui, two of our fearless reconnoiters briefed us that we wouldn’t be able to get up to the 9th floor because the elevator was locked and security guards were hanging around. All we had done was send out a news release saying that we were going to present Hui with a DTES welcome and bring him some gifts.

CCAP decided on the visit to Hui’s office after he refused to answer numerous messages asking for a meeting.

“Concord made billions off the Expo lands and can afford to give a little back, especially in our neighbourhood where people are going to be pushed out because of new condo development,” said Robert Bonner of CCAP.

Joe Le Blanc, a resident of Vet’s Manor said Concord is “putting their condos between the Portland Social Housing Project and the Grand Union Hotel, between despair and hope. We need more hope and that means more social housing.”

“It would be nice for developers to give back to the community they are making so much money off of us”, said Phoenix Winter, another CCAP member from the community, who is referring to Concord’s condos on Powell Street now under construction.Goody basket is delivered to Concord Pacific

Towards the end of CCA’s caper, we asked a security guard to take the basket of gifts to Hui on the 9th floor. She agreed but later appeared to simply put the basket out the back door. Anna Truong, CCAP’s fearless former practicum student, walked right through all the security guards and retrieved the basket which was later handed to a man who claimed to work for Concord Pacific.

DTES Welcome Wagon to Visit Concord Pacific, Friday June 13

“There’s still time for you to be a good neighbour, Terry.”

This is the message that Downtown Eastside residents and their supporters will bring to the CEO of Concord Pacific at his office today. In the last few weeks, members of the Carnegie Community Action Project (CCAP), tried to get an appointment with Terry Hui, but didn’t succeed. They want the owner to reconsider his application for 1/2 million dollar condos at 58 West Hastings and instead turn over the property for social housing. The group wants the site named after Darrel Mikasko, the homeless man who couldn’t get into a shelter and died in a fire trying to stay warm.

“Concord made billions off the Expo lands and can afford to give a little back, especially in our neighbourhood where people are going to be pushed out because of new condo development,” said Robert Bonner of CCAP.

Joe Le Blanc, a resident of Vet’s Manor said Concord is “putting their condos between the Portland Social Housing Project and the Grand Union Hotel, between despair and hope. We need more hope and that means more social housing.”

“It would be nice for developers to give back to the community they are making so much money off of us”, said Pheonix Winter, another CCAP member from the community, who is referring to Concord’s condos on Powell Street now under construction.

The welcome wagon troupe will bring in some special gifts in a basket to Terry Hui that they hope will inspire him to consider donating his land to Downtown Eastside residents in need. Among the gifts, will be a Hope in the Shadows book, 200 letters calling for social housing on the site, tickets to the premier of the film “The Way Home” about homelessness and a sample of critters that plague the Downtown Eastside.

Time: Friday, June 13 at 1:00 p.m.
Place: 1095 West Pender Street – meet outside front doors.

Update on Proposed Motion

Here’s some of what CCAP has been doing about the motion to stop gentrification in the Downtown Eastside in the last few weeks:

1 – Developed a motion to be introduced at City Council for a moratorium on market housing development. Motion endorsed by 44 groups.

2 – Met with Cameron Gray, head of City’s Housing Centre. Gray said a moratorium wouldn’t fly with council but maybe something else would and made some suggestions which CCAP turned into Plan B as follows:

Plan B: Control conflict in the DTES by controlling the rate of change, building social housing and preserving SROs

1) The city buys 12 more sites and gets an MOU with the province to build social housing on them.
2) The city starts a DTES visioning process to evolve after 1.5 years into implementation.
3) The city tries to slow soft conversions by getting the province to provide incentives to landlords (Plant and Forbes-Roberts evidently already working on this).
4) The city implements holding measures to dampen speculation until visioning is done, land is purchased and MOUs are signed:
a) 20 % social housing requirement extended to whole DTES;
b) Stop heritage density banking until implementation plan is complete;
c) Increase development cost levies on DTES to suppress land values, discourage speculation, and pay for amenities;
d) Introduce a rate of change for rental housing;
e) No towers.

3 – Met with Peter Ladner, NPA councilor and Brent Toderian, Director of Planning, re Plan B. Brent said he would defer to Cameron’s recommendation on housing, talk to the DTES planner, Jessica Chen, about visioning, and said he wouldn’t support the mechanisms we listed to slow down speculation.
Ladner said they were short of money to buy land, he could maybe go for a 6 month vision process, and he didn’t like the 20% social housing requirement if it was a code for a moratorium. He said he’d take something to the NPA caucus this week (week of June 9) and put some kind of motion on the City’s website on June 16. We asked for meetings with Vision and one is hopefully being set up. We have been emailing Cadman and keeping him up to date.

4 – Met with Jill Davidson and Andrea (Housing Centre) and Jessica Chen (DTES planner). City staff showed us a new report on DTES housing that claims we’re on track replacing the lost hotel rooms. They do this by including provincially owned hotels as NEW social housing and by NOT counting soft conversions of hotel rooms to tourist hotels and higher rents. But they did indicate that they could support some sort of visioning and developing some mechanisms of dealing with the pace of development if Council asks them to.

5 – Meanwhile we are trying to pressure Concord Pacific to hold off on their plan for 154 condos at 58 W. Hastings by generating 201 letters to the Development Permit Board opposing the development; organizing speakers at the Development Permit Board on June 23rd, getting folks to send letters to the head of Concord Pacific, Terry Hui, and, starting this week, organizing actions focused on the site, office and presentation centre.

6 – What you can do:

(a) Write a letter to Hui. Tell him to stop his development at 58 W. Hastings until the community can get a vision together and the city comes up with tools to implement the vision. Alternatively, he could build the development and then turn it over to a non profit group to run as social housing.

(b) Visit Hui in his office at 9th floor 1095 W. Pender (near Thurlow). Give him the above message.

(c) Email the Development Permit Board, c/o Alison Higginson at Alison.Higginson@vancouver.ca. Tell them not to approve the Concord Pacific condos at 58 W. Hastings until we get social housing for SRO residents and homeless people and a vision for the Downtown Eastside.

(d) Sign up to speak at the Development Permit board by emailing lorna.harvey@vancouver.ca.

(e) Be in touch with Carnegie Community Action Project for more information (604) 839.0379

Proposed MOTION on Downtown Eastside redevelopment

Urgent Request – Please endorse by June 13, 2008

Thank you to those of you who provided the amazing flood of letters calling for social housing to be built at the 58 West Hastings Concord Pacific development site, calling for a moratorium on condo development until plans to secure existing and new low-income housing are in place. Carnegie Community Action Project (CCAP) hand delivered 95 email letters and 130 hand written letters to Vancouver City Council on your behalf. (COV = City of Vancouver)

Here is the next step.

Please approach people/organizations you know asking them to publicly endorse and write letters of support for our Motion to City Council (Motion pasted below). Here are reminders of groups to approach:

  • organizations
  • associations
  • spiritual groups
  • housing co-operatives
  • businesses
  • baseball teams
  • other groups
  • Note: support from those outside of the DTES/Vancouver is relevant and important.

It can come from provincial, national or international individuals or groups. Please contact everyone – anywhere, who you think might support us.

Endorsements

Let us know if we can publicly add your name or your group’s name to the motion.

E-mail wpedersen@look.ca to add your/your group’s name.

The State of Affairs Now:

Condos are currently being built at a rate of 3 condos to every 1 unit of social housing in the Downtown Eastside (DTES). This is a disaster. Condos take up space that could be used to replace the 4000 residential hotel rooms that are now the last stop before homelessness for thousands of people and for room to build some housing for homeless and families. The condos also contribute to the real estate speculation which is increasing land prices, thereby making social housing less affordable. To make matters worse, unless the condos are stopped current low-income residents will be pushed out – often into the streets.

If we can first get the housing we need, plus some tools to manage this change, then perhaps the neighbourhood could tolerate a few more condos.

We believe there is some support for this or a version of this among City of Vancouver planning staff. There seems to be some support from the sector of progressive developers. CCAP met with NPA Councilor Peter Ladner and he will likely put something forward in this regard by June 16 that will appear on the City of Vancouver council meeting website. The motion will likely be discussed at the June 24 council meeting. If the motion or a version of it is seconded at this meeting, the public will likely be invited to come and speak to it on June 26. Stay tuned for more updates on the progress of our request.

Thanks to all the groups who have endorsed. They are listed at the bottom of this email.

Most Sincerely – Wendy of CCAP

CCAP Condo Moratorium Motion to City of Vancouver Council – 22nd May 2008

Proposed MOTION on Downtown Eastside redevelopment To Vancouver Mayor and City Council Prepared by the Carnegie Community Action Project (Phone 604 / 839-0379)

WHEREAS the Downtown Eastside is a vital and historic low income community with intelligent, creative, caring, volunteering residents who consider the area the their home; and

WHEREAS there are hundreds of sites throughout the DTES that are ready for redevelopment; and

WHEREAS developers, now short of development opportunities in other parts of the central city, are seeking sites; and

WHEREAS developers have been encouraged by the City to “go east” and are hungrily speculating across the DTES; and

WHEREAS there is no vision or mechanism to guide inevitable change and development; and

WHEREAS current zoning regulations permit redevelopment to a certain height and density to occur with minimal opportunity for review either by staff or by the community; and

WHEREAS unlimited condo development in the DTES could displace up to 4000 low income hotel residents from the area because it will take up land that could be used for social housing and create pressure to convert or raise rents in SROs; and

WHEREAS the City’s DTES Housing Plan calls for market and social housing to “proceed together for the DTES to be sustainable;”

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that City Council immediately (by June 21, 2008 at the latest) place a one year moratorium on market housing development in the DTES to give the current community a chance to prepare a vision for the future of this historic and vital low income community, the soul of Vancouver, and to give the City time to prepare mechanisms to control development so the current low income community will not be driven out by market forces.

Ahavat Olam Synagogue
Battered Women’s Support Services
BC Coalition of People with Disabilities
BC Persons with AIDS Society [BCPWA]
BC Women’s Housing Coalition
Canadians for Reconciliation
Carnegie Community Action Project [CCAP]
Carnegie Community Centre Association
Citywide Housing Coalition [CHC]
Civil Society Development Project
Community Advocates for Little Mountain [CALM]
Desmedia
Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House [DTES NH]
Downtown Eastside Residents Association [DERA]
Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre [DEWC] Power of Women
Eastside Story – Co-op Radio 102.7 FM
Fairview Baptist Church
Faith Communities Called to Solidarity with the Poor
Gallery Gachet Society
Grandview Woodlands Area Council
Impact on Communities Coalition [IOCC]
Jenny Kwan MLA
Libby Davies MP
Life Is Not Enough Society [LINES]
Lord Strathcona Elementary School
Low Income Land Use and Housing Coalition [LILAHC]
Lutheran Urban Missions Society [LUMS]
Magdalene Recovery Society
PIVOT Legal Society
Positive Women’s Network
Prostitution Alternatives Counseling & Education [PACE] Staff
Raise the Rates
Social Justice Committee of the Unitarian Church of Vancouver
South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy
St. James’ Social Gospel Coordinating Group, St. James’ Anglican Church
Streams of Justice
Tenth Avenue Church
United Native Nations [UNN]
University of British Columbia [UBC] School of Social Work
Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users [VANDU]
Vancouver Catholic Worker
Vancouver-Langara British Columbia New Democratic Party
Western Aboriginal Harm Reduction Society [WAHRS]
YouthCO AIDS Society
614 Vancouver, Salvation Army

COMMUNITY MEETING JUNE 10

OPEN COMMUNITY MEETING Number 4
TUESDAY, June 10
2 PM – 4 PM @ VANDU
(380 E. Hastings)

PLAN A FUNERAL MARCH FOR DEATH OF A COMMUNITY
TENANT’S UNION
MEDIA STRATEGY
STOP CONDOS, BUILD SOCIAL HOUSING
For more information please contact:   604-839-0379

OPEN COMMUNITY MEETING


OPEN COMMUNITY MEETING
TUESDAY, MAY 27
2 PM – 4 PM @ VANDU
(380 E. Hastings)
ALL ARE WELCOME!

Solidarity is powerful and can create change. Come strategize about what we can to do together about the housing crisis in the Downtown Eastside. Light snack will be provided. We’ll build upon ideas from 2 previous well- attended open community meetings.

Community demands: Defend park and public spaces Immediate rent controls Defend hotels from closing More social housing Stop Condo development

community