VANDU declaration against displacement and “Sequel 138” condos


We want equality.

People who live at the Gastown Hotel don’t even like to go out at night because they feel put down so much by the higher income white people who come in to use our neighbourhood as an entertainment and drinking district. We shouldn’t be afraid to go out in our own neighbourhood.

One of our members said, “I asked to rent a place at the Burns Block, the hotel converted into ‘micro-lofts’, and they laughed at me. They said I don’t have enough money. And they said I don’t belong.” We should feel like we belong in our own community.The people in fancy cafes look at us like we’re an art project, like we’re something to watch from their cafe window.

We are not second class-citizens. We are not junkie criminals. No body is more important than us. The Downtown Eastside is our community, it is our home, and our voice is the most important one to decide what kind of development we want here. And we say no condos until we have all the housing we need.

We need social justice and community controlled health care, not cops

Marc Williams, the Pantages site owner and Sequel 138 condo developer, is presenting his proposal as anti-drug user. He has compared drug users to vermin, claiming that his project will not displace anyone except “drug dealers and rats.” And he has put up posters mocking VANDU and bragging that he will displace drug users. They said, “Vancouver Association of Drug Dealers opposes Sequel 138 because we like all our customers to be in the same place.”

Harm reduction is closer to justice than charity. Insite and harm reduction saves lives. It gets people off the street and gives them access to make a change.

Gentrification destabilizes the drug market and that makes it more unsafe for the most vulnerable people on the street. When the cops do sweeps and clear streets for condo projects and boutiques, that’s when Aboriginal women get thrown out of hotel windows, that’s when women have to do more sex acts to line up new dealers, that’s when the lowest end men in the drug trade get beaten or killed over new turf wars.

If the city gives Sequel 138 a permit our health care will be interrupted and displaced and people will die. Sequel 138 condos are an arm of the Harper anti-harm reduction agenda dropped in the heart of the Downtown Eastside. Sequel 138 condos are against the city’s Vancouver Agreement and the 4 Pillars harm reduction strategy. Quarter-million-dollar condos will make the 100-block intimidating and threatening to drug users who need to access Insite, Onsite, and the Washington Needle Exchange. Sequel 138 condos will be a barrier to our access to necessary harm reduction.

What the city should do

Protect and expand the harm reduction resources we have.

Protect the low-income community’s sense of belonging.

Respect existing residents before permitting condo developments.

The only housing built on the 100-block should be welfare rate social housing.

Work with the province to raise welfare and get housing.

Seriously work on a national housing strategy.

We feel like the city and the developers are trying to get rid of us. They are trying to push us out of our own community… and it really hurts us. They have taken so much from us already. It’s time to come together and say NO. Now, to keep from being displaced we have to bring our community together and fight to stop Sequel 138 and get the housing we need!


4 responses to “VANDU declaration against displacement and “Sequel 138” condos

  1. Pingback: Downtown Eastside residents sound the DISPLACEMENT alarm | The DTES is not for Condo Developers

  2. Pingback: Downtown Eastside residents sound the DISPLACEMENT alarm | The Mainlander

  3. itsgonna smellbetter inthedtes

    you are a bunch of fucking idiots

  4. Great post.
    Protect and expand the harm reduction resources
    Agree. We should not criminalize addiction, but rather treated as a health issue and a high-priority community concern.
    Protect the low-income community’s sense of belonging.
    I don’t agree. The community creates its on sense of belonging, its sense of place. It is one of the strongest characteristics of the DTES. Don’t pass this off to local government, local people can do it better for themselves.
    Respect existing residents before permitting condo developments.
    I agree with the spirit of this statement, but not with the letter of its writing. We are mixing apples with oranges: Respecting existing residents (people) is different from building condos (real estate).
    On the real estate side of the issue, new construction should respect the historic traditions only found in the DTES. Having new buildings reflect existing traditions of place will strengthen the neighbourhoods. Yeah, this sounds like a ‘Rising Tide Will Lift All Boats’ theory, but it has worked in other Canadian neighbourhoods.
    On the human side of the issue, the way to respect low income residents is to provide housing and supports. Let’s deal with that below…
    The only housing built on the 100-block should be welfare rate social housing.
    I don’t agree. Housing built in the historic district (DTES) should reflect the character and tradition of place. As far as providing housing, the LAPP must identify the total number of housing units needed for housing the homeless and for full SRO replacement. Then, a quota of that number should be assigned to each project. Developers should have the choice between mixing non-market units in their project, or contributing to the construction of non-market units on their block.
    Grappling with this problem and how to solve it in a real-world manner we came up with the following local example on the unit block Alexander:
    I’d be interested to get feedback on this proposal.
    Work with the province to raise welfare and get housing.
    I agree.
    Seriously work on a national housing strategy.
    I agree. An initiative that links directly to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) is needed in Canada to deal with issues that cut across provincial jurisdictions and affect all Canadian cities in similar ways. A National Housing Strategy, funded in part by new development, seems like a necessary tool to fight homelessness in Canada.
    The challenge for the LAPP is to find a way to specify in quantifiable terms a consensus vision for the future of the area.
    In my view, that must be a vision for change—the fight should be about what kind of change is the right change for the DTES going forward. I’m not crazy about the way things are, and though I feel proud as a citizen for what I have seen taking place since Expo ’86, I also feel that a LOT MORE could have been done, and should be accomplished now over the next 5 and 10 years.
    What kind of change will make the DTES social mix look and feel more like the social mix found in other Vancouver neighbourhoods? Can we have the DTES mix fell more like, say, Mount Pleasant or Granview-Woodland, while preserving the present population with its cultural history and traditions?
    There is a good reason for DTES population today to welcome new residents. A larger population base can attract more jobs, and support better local businesses and services.
    The trend as we have it today is to inject social housing and supports in a warehouse district (the DEOD), surround it with tourism boutiques, and treat historic Hastings Street like a regional artery rather than the neighbourhoods’s urban spine. The results speak for themselves.
    I sense that there is a better way, a middle ground, that grows neighbourhood institutions and services, combined with a social and housing mix that brings a fresh outlook to the cradle of our city. A new future that is not only respectful of difference and diversity, but that thrives on it and celebrates it.
    A revitalization of Hastings Street with the addition of Bus Rapid Transit, wider sidewalks and tree medians should be part of the LAPP. A streetcar should run on the Raymur Spur and turn on Powell Street, as it heads into Gastown and beyond, helping to revitalize Japantown. Along with Chinatown, the LAPP should call for these proud historic places to be revitalized to the same level as Water Street in the 1970s.
    And the LAPP should specify the location and number of non-market units. If it can’t be done on a lot-by-lot basis, then it should be attempted on a block-by-block basis. We need a no-nonsense approach to quantifying change that is supportive and respectful of people of the place.
    To achieve this, we don’t need to build higher than 4 stories in the historic area (DTES) main streets, and 3.5 stories on the neighbourhood streets, to achieve all this.
    The new housing does not have to be condos. In fact, the historic precedent is cottage lots (like Strathcona) mixed with zero-lot-line houses with individual suites, front doors on the street, and rear gardens.
    The DTES is not for Condo Developers, it is for a mixed and thriving community. The LAPP is the opportunity to spell that out in black and white, with lots of plans, models and pictures.

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