This Tuesday come tell City Council:
STOP THE “WOODWARD’S EAST” CONDO PROJECT AT 955 E HASTINGS!
On Tuesday October 16 Vancouver City Council will be considering a rezoning application for a major condo project at 955 E. Hastings, right across the street from Raycam.
Come to a news conference with DTES community speakers
Tuesday October 16
Vancouver City Hall
(south side, on the steps facing 12th Ave)
Sign up to speak at the rezoning hearing starting Tuesday October 16 about 7:30pm
Come with the group leaving from the Downtown Eastside. Meet at Carnegie at 6pm for food and be ready to leave together by bus and van at 6:30pm.
This three-condo-tower development will be to the eastern part of the Downtown Eastside what Woodward’s has been to the west: more condos, higher property values, more upscale stores, and higher rents in nearby hotels. What we learned from Woodward’s is that low income people could be pushed out of nearby hotels and the street level retail area could become another zone of exclusion for low-income people.
But this project doesn’t even offer the good parts of Woodward’s. Woodward’s had about 150 units of welfare rate social housing. This development has only 24 units at welfare rate and no community amenities besides the housing. It will also have 282 condos, and about 70,000 sq/ft of market rate rate and industrial space with no dedicated community or non-profit spaces.
Come to city council to speak out against this major, neighbourhood changing condo project.
(For more information see below)
STOP CONDOS AT 955 E HASTINGS
Originally published as an editorial in the DT EAST Newspaper, October 2012
A massive condo project at 955 East Hastings (across the street from Raycam Community Centre) could soon be approved by the City of Vancouver. A public hearing to approve the necessary zoning changes could begin as early as October 16.
Groups such as the DTES Not for Developers coalition (DNFD), the DNC and CCAP will be organizing to oppose this gentrifying project at the public hearing. The project is based on a model similar to Woodward’s and will have similar negative ripple effect in transforming the character of this neighbourhood.
A low income neighbourhood will be replaced by a so-called mixed neighbourhood. People with the lowest incomes, including those living in SROs in adjacent hotels, will suffer the worst effects of this transformation. Rising land values and rents, new unaffordable retail stores, and less-welcoming new residents will put them at high risk of becoming homeless or being displaced altogether from the DTES.
Two 10 and one 12 storey towers will be jammed into the site. The project is the densest yet proposed in Vancouver and is indicative of what a densified East Vancouver could look like.
The project is on industrial lands and is not covered by the inclusionary zoning provisions which has until now protected the Oppenheimer district from major gentrification.
City staff negotiated an agreement to provide some social housing within the project which is being trumpeted as an important victory. Yet all levels of government are unwilling to invest public funds in low-income housing. As a result, the city’s so-called affordable housing strategy prioritizes making deals with private condo developers.
The condo project will have 352 units of housing, with 70 set aside for social housing. However only 24 of the social housing units will rent at welfare and pension rates. The city wants to make its housing economically self-supporting, so the other social housing units will rent at near market rates, far out of reach to low- income DTES residents.
Social mix projects don’t mean equal treatment for all. Market condo owners at Woodward’s receive special privileges, while social housing residents must use separate entrances. The proposed social housing units at 955 E. Hastings will be in a separate building. The lowest income group will make up approximately 7% of the project and some low-income residents may feel isolated and uncomfortable in their new surroundings.
This project is part of large-scale grab of industrial land by condo developers. The area on East Hastings from Clark Drive to Commercial will become a new prime zone for large-scale condo development.
At 955 E. Hastings there will be lots of light industrial and commercial spaces on the ground level, but it will all be at market prices and the rents will not be cheap. Retail stores will undoubtedly cater to high end consumers.
The social housing portion of the project is considered the developer’s required contribution to the community, so no other community benefits will be offered.
The project has its supporters. Some Strathcona property owners support it. Some organizations and low-income residents may believe they will benefit from the changes this will bring to the neighbourhood. They hope to bring more ‘balance’ to the area and lessen the concentration of ‘high impact’ people and move services and programs, such as harm reduction, away from the area.
Changes could come very fast. Much organizing and mobilizing has gone into blocking condos at the old Pantages site. Much more needs to be done to raise the alarm about other major gentrifying projects.