Downtown East August 2013

Downtown East August 2013



The August 2013 issue of the Downtown East is where grassroots efforts to keep the community together and fighting back against gentrification, homelessness, poverty, and racism comes together with a (less than hopeful) glimpse at the twists and turns in the City’s planning process for the City’s designs on the future of the DTES. Of course, there is much more too, scroll through the rich dynamics of community resistance in the heart of Vancouver.

20130812_dtenews_spread.inddOppenheimer Park is the people’s park!

Center image of this issue: Downtown East poster series

social-justice-zone-heartOnly low-income community organizing will make the DTES a Social Justice Zone

By Ivan Drury

For many years low-income community groups and residents in the Downtown Eastside (DTES) have fought for a place at the planning table, mobilizing around slogans like “nothing about us without us.” But after two years of working on the City’s DTES Local Area Planning Process (LAPP) we know that being at the table is not enough. (…)

cuchillos1_130507Cuchillo Restaurant: Robbin’ the ‘hood

By Richard Marquez

Cuchillo is a crime scene. You won’t see yellow police tape or chalked outlines near street sewers, or any evidence of a bloody stabbing in front of Cuchillo — it’s all missing from this sinister spectacle. Instead the heart of Japantown on Powell Street and on unceded Coast Salish soil is wounded. (…)

9387003427_dfa246fe1f_bWho are the real bullies?

By Downtown East editorial collective

The very existence of the low-income communities of the DTES is threatened by rapid condo development and retail gentrification. The area is being invaded by high-end restaurants designed solely for those who reap the benefits of our unequal society. While some enjoy expensive food and fine wines, thousands of residents are homeless, warehoused in shelters, or forced to live in crappy SROs, with too little money to meet their basic needs. (…)

cuchillos2_130507Downtown Eastside residents vow to picket second gentrifying restaurant daily

By Nicholas Ellan

“It’s a knife in the heart of our community,” said Wendy Pedersen, an independent organizer, about the newly opened Cuchillo (means “knife” in Spanish) restaurant at 261 Powell St. “Places like this cause a chain reaction and low-income residents are pushed out, priced out and policed out. We’ll be here daily until this restaurant closes.” (…)

wahrsWAHRS at work on the Farm

By Martin Johnson

[DT East editors] Since 2005 the Vancouver Native Health Society has been developing a Garden Project at the UBC Farm. The Garden Project consists of one acre of land on traditional Musqueam territory and provides urban First Nations, Metis and Inuit from East Vancouver the opportunity to connect with the land and enjoy traditional foods. Members of the Western Aboriginal Harm Reduction Society (WAHRS) are regular participants in the project, and the Downtown East caught up with Martin Johnson to learn more about it. (…)

action-camp-1500x630Unist’ot’en Action Camp: Connecting the struggles

By Herb Varley

The Unist’ot’en camp has been going on for 4 years and is located along the Morice River, which is in Wetsu’wet’en unceded territory. The camp stands in the path of a Pacific Trails Pipeline that would carry natural gas from northeastern BC to Kitimat. This would also pave the way for other projects from the Tar Sands. Grass roots families of the Unist’ot’en said “No” to the project and asserted their sovereignty over the land. (…)

websitelogoQUEST: Putting your money where your mouth is

By Diane Wood

Quest isn’t a food bank; it sells food and household items at reduced prices. It’s specifically for the low-income community. Shoppers must have a referral from a social service organization, so no “walk ins”. What a switch from the way things usually are, where the poor people are usually turned away, not the rich ones! (…)

brandizHousing in the neighbourhood: a view from the street

By Robert Manning

I’ve been in the DTES since 1995.  I lived at Heritage House Hotel. It’s called the Lotus now.  It was renting for $345 back then. Now it’s probably $550, if not more. I used to live in the Main Rooms. In 1998 it was $325.  Now it’s $450. I used to live in the Princess Rooms as well. (…)

balmoralregentEmerging (Mis)Directions: Proposals for DTES plan fails low-income residents

By Jean Swanson and Tamara Herman

850 homeless people.  Four thousand living in crummy SROs.  Over 400 rooms lost last year to rent increases at $425 or more.  That’s the housing crisis in the DTES that low- income folks on the Downtown Eastside Local Area Planning Committee have been trying to get the city to deal with. (…)

BorderlinesBORDERLINES: An interview with Pierre Leichner

By Diane Wood

Pierre Leichner curated the BORDERLINES art exhibition at the Gallery Gachet on Cordova St. from June 14 – July 28, 2013. He chose the name to represent lines being drawn, where you’re in or you’re out. It also refers to the diagnoses of Borderline Personality Disorder.People with BPD resist authority and get angry when told what to do. (…)

kerryporthSex workers challenge the law: Interview with Kerry Porth about the Bedford supreme court challenge

By Shannon Bundock

In August the Downtown East spoke to Kerry Porth (Pivot Legal Society board; former executive director, PACE) to discuss the significance of a Supreme Court challenge to three laws that currently criminalize sex work in Canada. On June 13th, Kerry went to the Supreme Court hearing with a DTES contingent, organized by Sex Workers United Against Violence (SWUAV) and Pivot Legal Society. (…)

srorally“The Hotel Study”: bad scholarship that could further institutionalize low-income people

By Ivan Drury

A UBC psychiatry department report about SRO hotel residents was released in early August. This shocking report, penned by a battalion of doctors and professors, claims that their study applies to 3,000 SRO residents, of which 95% have drug use problems, 74% have mental illnesses, 46% have neurological dysfunction, and 70% have Hepatitis C. If it sounds a bit like shouting fire in the Balmoral bar on cheque day, it’s because it is. (…)

in-our-voices-bannerLife in the Downtown Eastside

By Joan Morelli, Power of Women Group

Life in the Downtown Eastside is very often tinged with violence from strangers, service providers, and the police. We suffer particularly from the cruelty of poverty. Living in poverty erodes one’s feeling of adequacy and diffuses one’s confidence and sense of self-worth. It is a struggle to maintain one’s dignity when one has to tolerate sneers and jeers from the public. The stereotype of poverty is an addicted person who lives in the Downtown Eastside. (…)

canadian-refugee-camp-graphHealth care services near, but still too far

By Byron Cruz, Sanctuary Health

It was 2am, the first week of the spring. The phone rang at home. We knew it was time to get up and go to provide support for a brave young Latin American girl who did not have access to prenatal care from the Canadian health care system. (…)

compass-card-translinkWill Transit changes hurt low-income peoples’ right to move?

By Tamara Herman

There are big changes in the works for Vancouver’s transit system this fall, and they could make it harder for low-income people to use the SkyTrain and city buses. In late 2013, TransLink will replace all bus passes and tickets with electronic “compass cards.” (…)