29 SFU and UBC Professors

January 19, 2011

Mayor Gregor Robertson and City Councillors, City of Vancouver,
453 West 12th Avenue,

Dear Mayor Robertson and Councillors:

Re: January 20, 2011 Council Meeting on the Historic Area Height Review Update.

 We, the undersigned, are professors at Simon Fraser University and the University of British Columbia with an interest in the fate and well being of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside neighbourhood.

We therefore note with concern the recommendation before Council to change the allowable heights in the ‘Historic Area’, which includes much of the Downtown Eastside. The effect of this will be to increase permitted heights on several sites. Assuming, as seems inevitable, that this facilitates market housing, we fear that this will lead to a further reduction of affordable housing in the surrounding area, particularly that of the residential hotels. This will have a devastating effect on low-income residents and the continued vitality and viability of the neighbourhood as a whole. We believe that planning in the Downtown Eastside should have at its centre the interests of the most vulnerable, rather than risk further destabilizing a community that is already facing intensifying pressures.

Market development, if wisely managed with the insights of the low-income community, can bring benefits to the Downtown Eastside. However, it can, and has, also led to increasing rents, conversions and displacement. We encourage Council not to proceed with the Height Review until a more thorough community based planning process is conducted, a cornerstone of which should be the improvement and protection of the affordable housing stock of the Downtown Eastside.

Yours sincerely,


Nicholas Blomley, Ph.D.

Professor, Geography, SFU


Elvin Wyly, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Geography;

Chair, Urban Studies Program, UBC


David Ley, Ph.D.

Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada,

Canada Research Chair,

Professor and Head of Department, Geography, UBC


Samir Gandesha, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Humanities, SFU


Eugene McCann, Ph.D.,

Associate Professor, Geography, SFU


Jeff Derksen, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, English, SFU


Nicolas Kenny, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, History, SFU


Dara Culhane, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Anthropology, UBC


Jamie Peck, Ph.D.

Canada Research Chair in Urban & Regional Economy

Professor, Geography, UBC


Donald Grayston, PhD, former director, Institute for the Humanities, SFU; theologian and public educator


Derek Gregory, Ph.D., Professor, Geography, UBC

Fellow of the British Academy; Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada; Dr. h.c (Heidelberg); Dr. h.c. (Roskilde)


Steve Collis, Ph.D.,

Associate Professor; Associate Chair, English, SFU


Mónica Escudero, Ph.D., Senior Lecturer

Spanish Language Program, Language Training Institute

Humanities Department SFU


Graham Riches, Ph.D.,

Emeritus Professor, Social Work, UBC


Elise Chenier, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, History, SFU


Janice Matsumura, Ph.D.,

Associate Professor, History, SFU


Paige Raibmon, Ph.D.,

Associate Professor, History, UBC


Endar Brophy, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Communications, SFU


Gary Teeple, Ph.D,

Professor, Sociology;

Director of Labour Studies, Morgan Centre for Labour Studies.


Clint Burnham, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, English, SFU


Thomas Kemple, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Sociology, UBC


Sunera Thobani, Ph.D.,

Associate Professor, Women's and Gender Studies, UBC


Willeen Keough, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of History, SFU


Karen Ferguson, Ph.D.,

Associate Professor, Urban Studies/History, SFU


Pilar Riano-Alcala

Associate Professor, Liu Institute/Social Work, UBC


Mark Leier, Ph.D.,

Professor, History, SFU


Valerie Raoul, Ph.D.,

Emerita Professor, Women's Studies and French, UBC


Catherine Murray, Ph.D.,

Professor, Chair, Gender, Sexuality & Women’s Studies, SFU


Shauna Butterwick, Ph.D.,

Associate Professor, Department of Educational Studies, UBC