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DTES Outraged that Pantages Owner’s Calls Neighbourhood a ‘Dead Zone’, Community Calls Marc Williams ‘Offensive and Ignorant Liar’
July 28, Vancouver Coast Salish Territories – Downtown Eastside residents are outraged at Pantages site owner and condo developer Marc William’s recent PR blitz declaring the DTES a “dead zone” with “no activity in the past 30 years except drug dealing.”
According to Wendy Pedersen of the Carnegie Community Action Project “The DTES is an alive community, people live here. How can Williams get away with such poor-bashing statements? Williams is lying when he says that no one will be displaced. Condos displace low income residents by pushing up land values and rents. Williams knows this and the City of Vancouver knows this. The City will be violating their own ‘without displacement’ policy if they allow this development project to proceed.”
“Williams is trying to come across as some philanthropist who will ‘save’ this neighbourhood. In reality, he is erasing the vibrant community of 400 residents who live on the block, the dozens of homeless forced to sleep on the street right in front of the site where he wants to put up condos, and the life-saving services and community hubs all within one block,” says Harsha Walia of the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre.
William has claimed that the condo development will be “affordable” for artists in the Downtown Eastside. Dalannah Gail Bowen, however finds this claim ridiculous. “It might be affordable for an artist who makes $70,000 a year – those are not the artists in the Downtown Eastside. Williams is trying to co-opt and use DTES artists to legitimize his plan as something that will supposedly benefit us. As artists, we don’t want condos, we want social housing and community-driven art spaces for ourselves and our neighbours.”
Williams, who owns Worthington Properties, bought the Pantages site in the heart of the Downtown Eastside and is now proposing a condo and commercial development titled Sequel 138 on the lot. This week, the Sequel 138 proposal was unanimously rejected at the City of Vancouver’s Urban Design Panel.
Over 40 organizations and 1200 DTES residents have signed a DTES Community Resolution opposing condos at the old Pantages Theatre site. The resolution calls on the City to stop the Sequel 138 development permit application, for Marc Williams to sell his lots to the City at the 2010 assessed value of $3.7 million (not the inflated price of $9 million that he had posted), for the City to buy the Pantages parcel and designate it for 100% resident controlled social housing with low-income community space on the ground floor.
Fraser Stuart, recently homeless and board member of the DTES Neighbourhood Council, explains his opposition: “We still have hundreds of homeless people. If social housing were limited to those units renting at the welfare rate, the addition of this project will mean that market housing will outpace social housing by an astounding rate of 11 to 1. We are calling on any potential buyer to boycott this project because it means low-income community destruction. Buying condos in Sequel 138 is unethical, do not do it.”
According to Dave Diewert with Streams of Justice: “Dropping market housing onto this block would be a gentrification bomb in the heart of the Downtown Eastside, setting off a tidal wave of increased rents, land speculation, more condo projects, upscale businesses, and enhanced security and police presence. We have witnessed these impacts on the area due to Woodward’s, and Sequel 138 will unleash similar forces.”
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MEDIA CONTACTS: Wendy Pedersen 604 839 0379; Harsha Walia 778 885 0040; Dave Diewert 604 253 1782. Website: https://dtesnotfordevelopers.wordpress.com