July 28, 2011
City of Vancouver
453 West 12th Avenue
Vancouver, BC V5Y 1V4
Dear Ms. Kwan, Mr. Barker, and Mr. Toderian,
I am writing today to urge you to adopt the recommendations set out in the DTES Community Resolution: Save the Pantages for low income people, recently endorsed by Pivot Legal Society. We oppose the Pantages Theatre owner’s 2011 application to build a condo development on the site with a modest amount of social
housing. The 100 block of East Hastings is an important hub for the Downtown Eastside community. It is home to about 400 single room occupancy residents and a series of specialized services. Most importantly, it is an area where the low-income residents feel comfortable. All of this will be lost if an expensive condo development is installed.
The proposed 80% condo 20% social housing split may be a viable option in other parts of Vancouver, but it is not representative of the demand for social housing in the Downtown Eastside. The adverse effects of this kind of development on the community are significant. The Woodward’s mixed housing development caused
rents in neighbouring hotels to increase, brought in expensive restaurants and boutique stores, and caused an increase in police and private security presence. Residents who depend on welfare and old-age pension were pushed out. The proposed condo development on the site of the Pantages theatre will undoubtedly displace a well-established community for the sake of “revitalization”. Development of a condo building at the Pantages site will drop a “gentrification bomb” in the middle of this community’s sanctuary leading to higher rents and further displacement of low-income people. The impacts to all low-income people, especially those who are Indigenous, racialized, homeless, drug-users, street youth, transgendered people, and women in the sex trade, will be profound.
In contrast, we see the Pantages site as presenting an opportunity for the City to support the community in the Downtown Eastside and to empower the residents who call the DTES “home” by allowing the low-income community to play a role in the planning of a 100% social housing development. Through community input and planning, social housing can be developed at the Pantages site that more appropriately meets the needs of the community.
I hope that you take the time to seriously consider and adopt the proposal and recommendations set out in the DTES Community Resolution before proceeding to approve another condo development in the Downtown Eastside community.
PIVOT LEGAL SOCIETY