Occupy Condos: Take the Pantages!


I’ve been hesitating to endorse this action- the person who setup the Facebook ‘event’ publicly made fun of me for the fact my last relationship weathered poorly through my involvement in the Occupy movement.  That said, I can’t let Harsha Walia’s personal attacks effect my feeling’s on Vancouver’s gentrification issues. And, besides, Lauren Gill is one of this demonstration’s organizers- and she us 100% pure awesome!

So, I’m going to take a chance and dive into the deep-end. On Tuesday between 4pm & 6pm, I will attend “Occupy Condos: Take the Pantages!” at 152 East Hastings.

Here’s an outline from the blog entry:

Condo Developer Marc Williams wants to build expensive market housing at the old Pantages Site in the Downtown Eastside. Condos in the heart of the neighbourhood will cause higher property values, higher rents in single-room occupancies, displacement of current residents, increased policing, and low-income residents feeling unwelcome in their own neighbourhood.

We are tired and angry that the City and real estate developers are being complicit in escalating rents and gentrification instead of building and protecting safe and affordable low-incoming housing. The corporate developers that bankroll City Council are the 1% in our city that hold disproportionate political and economic power and want to make millions of dollars in profit. Meanwhile more people are displaced from low-income housing in the Downtown Eastside and Vancouver’s has become one of the most unaffordable cities for poor, low-income, racialized, seniors, youth, single mothers, and working people in the world.”

There is no mention by the organizers if this is a “Family Friendly” event. Can anyone confirm if it is or isn’t?

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4 responses to “Occupy Condos: Take the Pantages!

  1. I live two blocks from that site. Frankly, by definition an event on that block is non-family-friendly. That said I would take my children there, but I’d talk to them first.

    I’m of two minds. On the one hand, an actual performance space there would have been wonderful, and there were several terrific plans to make it happen; ultimately the parking issue seems to be what killed those.

    On the other hand, condos are preferable to derelict buildings. Occupied housing lowers the crime rate all around it. As well, I’ve experienced a considerable level of class snobbery on the DTES that is a factor in the opposition to this. A good friend of mine actually said, “I don’t want to walk around my neighborhood and see people who are different from me.”

    But should integrated social housing be a mandated part of all development on the DTES? I say why stop there? Make integrated social housing a requirement of all residential high-rise development in Vancouver.

  2. I totally agree with you about integrated social housing. My first experience with it was in Amsterdam, where I lived in a beautiful modern building on the Uilenburg.

    The upper floors, and the waterfront suites were all privately owned, and the lower suites were social housing. Curiously, just Googled the place, and it is currently for-sale! http://www.huizenzoeker.nl/koop/noord-holland/amsterdam/uilenburgerwerf-36/details.html

    Anyhow, if anything, the fact that the building was integrated housing, was a total bonus- not a detraction! In fact, I think I liked the people on the lower floors more than my upper-floor neighbors. They were more genuine…

  3. The fallacy perpetuated by the organizers of this event is that low-income people would prefer to be sequestered in ghettos. It’s a condescending notion that belies the fact that organizers like Harsha Walia, Lauren Gill, Ivan Drury and Wendy Pederson are every much their own “1%” — Indeed, if you dig a little deeper you will find every one of them is in the employ of the “poverty industry”.

    For decades now the DTES has been mined for political capital or personal power. Using classic Marxist playbook tactics, groups like the DNC and CCAP manipulate the “lumpen proletariat” using intimidation and thuggery, false promises, scare tactics and illusions of self-determination; bolstered with “community surveys” which by design preclude views that don’t mesh with their agenda. I have live in this community over 20 years and can tell you with unwavering authority that we are not all insane or addicted down here. I can also tell you that if not for the de facto policy of ghettoizing the DTES the issue of the missing women would not have festered unnoticed as long as it had were it not for the fact that the rest of Vancouver had already consciously considered the people and the area as “throw-away”.

    Vancouver desperately needs integration of mixed communities – not segregation. The DTES specifically needs to bring back the kind of mix we had twenty years ago.. not high end condos, fancy campuses or upmarket grocery stores but affordable shops and safe streets, a community were all people of all ages are safe and welcome. We need a mix of housing, not just low barrier SROs but affordable rentals – and any condo development needs to ensure amenities that alleviate (not exacerbate) some of the suffering in the hood.

    In order to do that though, we need leadership on the issues of affordable housing and find solutions that are not dictated either by political self-interest or developer money.

  4. Jerry, I agree with you but think they mean well. The poverty industry is big business and seen as an end in itself, when it should be a tool to help get people out of poverty. And the DTES is a strange kind of concentration camp where many of the prisoners spend half their time making sure the fences are strong. That the community is unified is good; that it is unified against bettering itself is a crime.