DTES Community Resolution: Save Chinatown!

    A City Council motion to raise heights restrictions in the Chinatown sub-district of the Downtown Eastside (DTES), will soon go forward to public hearing. This heights increase will increase profits for some developers at the cost of increased gentrification and, ultimately, homelessness for the DTES low-income community. This motion is one part of a city staff report that Council amended on January 20th. The other part of the motion promises to restrain tower heights and protect low-income housing in 7 out of 8 sub-districts of the DTES -- everywhere except Chinatown.

DTES Community Resolution to stop Vancouver City's condo towers plan in Chinatown / Salt Water City

January 27, 2011

Dear Mayor and Council members,

            As individuals, resident groups and agencies we believe the low-income community of families, seniors and singles in hotel rooms make up the majority population of Chinatown and are an essential part of the fabric of Chinatown and the Downtown Eastside as a whole; and we are concerned about:

·      Hotel room rent increases (only 12% of privately owned rooms now rent for the welfare shelter allowance or less) not tracked by the city and rent increases for businesses serving low income residents;

·      Hotel closures and “renovictions;”

·      The ripple effects of gentrification which will include the displacement of low-income residents from the Downtown Eastside, including Chinatown, contrary to city policy;

·      Increased homelessness measured in the last city survey;

·      More harassment of low-income residents by security guards and police;

·      The erosion of unique and authentic community assets such as a strong sense of community, feeling accepted and at home, empathy with people who have health and addiction issues, connection to our cultural heritage, a strong commitment to volunteering, cheap or free necessities that are close by, needed health and social services;

·      A Local Area Plan that does not include residents in Chinatown will not be able to guarantee the rights, assets, and tenure of the low-income community as a whole,

We call on City Council to:

  • Replace all Chinatown SROs with social housing for all current residents, especially Chinese seniors, singles and families; and
  • Support the designation of Chinatown / Salt Water City as a UNESCO world heritage site by preserving the heritage buildings and culture of Chinatown, upholding those critical parts of the Chinatown plan, while ensuring low-income residents and their shops and services are not displaced by the higher rents caused by condos and fancy restaurants; and
  • Make Chinatown part of the Local Area Plan (LAP) and actively involve low-income residents of Chinatown in the LAP committee; and
  • Buy 10 sites for low income resident-controlled social housing within the Downtown Eastside before the next municipal election; and
  • Vote against adding any new density for condos within the Downtown Eastside, including Chinatown until the assets and tenure of low-income residents are secured and until the Social Impact Study and DTES Strategy are complete.

We also call on city staff and Council to respond to the hateful poor bashing articles that are appearing in local newspapers and affirm that it is not Council policy to "destroy" the DTES (which Ethan Baron called for in The Province on January 21), and that the low-income community and its organizations are not "outsiders" in the Chinatown sub-district of the DTES (as claimed by Frances Bula in the Globe and Mail on January 24).

 *Send endorsements of this statement to dtescouncil@gmail.com with the name of your group and "Endorsement" in the subject line.

Organizational endorsers of this statement:

ACCESS: Association of Chinese Canadians for Equality and Solidarity Society
All Nations Cultural Circle Society
BC Elders Family Cultural Circle
BC Persons with AIDS Society
Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 391 (CUPE 391)
Carnegie Community Action Project
Carnegie Community Centre Association
Citywide Housing Coalition
Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood Council (DNC)
Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House
Franciscan Sisters of the Atonement
Gallery Gachet
God's House of Many Faces
Impact on Communities Coalition
Indigenous Action Movement
Jackson Avenue Housing Co-op
Jacob's Well Staff
Lazara Press

Lifeskills Film and Video Group
Longhouse Council of Native Ministry
LUMS -- Lutheran Urban Mission Society
Mau Dan Housing Co-op
Oppenheimer Park Ladies Tea Party
PACE: Providing Alternatives Counseling and Education Society
Pivot Legal Society
Power of Women to Women Group
The Purple Thistle Collective
Teaching Support Staff Union Social Justice Committee
St. James' Anglican Church Social Justice Group
Streams of Justice
Urban Subjects (Sabine Bitter, Jeff Derksen, Helmut Weber)
Vancouver Action (VanAct!)
Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU)

Vancouver Catholic Worker
Vancouver and District Labour Council (VDLC)
W2: Community Media Arts

Downtown Eastside Businesses:

Blim (115 E. Pender, Chinatown)
Dunlevy Snackbar (433 Dunlevy)
Jet Grrrl Bike Shop (247 Union St, Chinatown)
Radio Station Cafe (101 E. Hastings St, DTES)
Shop Task Skate Shop (245 Union St, Chinatown)
Solder and Sons Bookstore (247 Main St, DTES)
Spartacus Books (684 E. Hastings, DTES)
Super Cycle Champion Bike Shop (245 Main St, DTES)
Union Market (810 Union St, Strathcona DTES)

DTES Neighbourhood Council,
Jan 29, 2011, 9:04 PM