Downtown Eastside activists promise more protests after meeting with mayor

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      Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson blew his chance to stop the antigentrification protests from continuing in the Downtown Eastside.

      This was how antipoverty activist Wendy Pedersen characterized the outcome of the meeting she, hunger-striking “Homeless Dave”, and other Downtown Eastside residents had with Robertson and Vision Vancouver councillor Andrea Reimer on April 23.

      According to Pedersen, this means pickets at Pidgin restaurant and demonstrations at condo development sites will go on in the neighbourhood.

      “We told him that if he agreed to the demands, it would help calm things down in the community in terms of the street actions, referring to Pidgin and other places,” Pedersen told the Straight in a phone interview. “And we told him that the people in the community are paying more attention to the fact that Downtown Eastside developers have given so much money to Vision Vancouver.”

      Pedersen cited the example of 955 East Hastings Street. Its developer, Wall Financial Corp., donated $80,901 to Vision in the 2011 election. “Then Gregor said, ‘Well, that wasn’t for me’. And we said, ‘Yes we know. It went to Vision Vancouver’,” Pedersen claimed.

      The residents have three demands. One is to have the Sequel 138 condo site at 138 East Hastings devoted to social housing. They also want 100-percent social housing for the former police station at Main and Cordova streets, a property owned by the city. Their third demand is that the city declare the Downtown Eastside a “social justice zone”.

      “We’re at this tipping point because the city is about to rezone the whole Downtown Eastside,” Pedersen said. “They’re going to rezone everything from Carrall [Street] all the way to Clark Drive.”

      According to Pedersen, the residents’ demands weren’t impossible. “No, we weren’t happy at all,” she said of the results of the meeting with Robertson. “So the mayor has condemned the community to just doing more actions in the streets.”

      Reimer told the Straight she and Robertson encouraged the residents make their demands known to provincial politicians, especially with the B.C. election underway.

      “A significant majority of the issues that they’re bringing up are very critically located in provincial jurisdiction,” Reimer said by phone.

      Downtown Eastside residents will express their disappointment with Robertson at a rally on Friday (April 26) outside Pidgin starting at 6 p.m.



      WHOA !

      Apr 24, 2013 at 5:06pm

      You people with your entitlement issues seem to think you can mooch off the City of Vancouver, hardworking individuals and the Government while enjoying the perks of an above average lifestyle. Aside from the occasional exception, you people don't deserve it.


      Apr 24, 2013 at 7:09pm

      O my goodness I cant afford to live in the affluent area so I am also going to demonstrate.Move to where you can live get a job or two(I did )so maybe later you can live there.The key point is get a job not a picket sign.

      Vexed Vancouverite

      Apr 24, 2013 at 7:31pm

      It is causing serious damage to Vancouver's reputation as a liveable city that the local government is not providing sufficient, quality social housing. Downtown Eastside residents have turned to protest because they have been continually ignored and marginalized when they voice the need for social housing. We need a local government that is responsive to people, not developers.


      Apr 24, 2013 at 7:34pm

      Why don't they just move to North Korea instead? They got all the social justice and housing these morons need!


      Apr 24, 2013 at 7:36pm

      the us against them approach is not going to work. especially when you want "us" to pay for "them".


      Apr 24, 2013 at 9:49pm

      By the logic of "WHOA!" above, it should really be the indigenous populations that enjoy to the fullest of "Vancouver", cause y'know - they've been maintaining the land for hundreds of years long before any "hardworking [Western] individuals" showed up, and booted them from it. It's almost like white people have an entitlement attitude and think they can just mooch off of Native land, or something? (I mean, really, in terms of parasitism, that's the best place to look, cause there's a reason why Europeans make up the wealthiest demographic in Vancouver, and First Nations the poorest. Whities just don't deserve what they take, no?)

      Get a job...

      Apr 24, 2013 at 9:53pm

      ...working at a high-end restaurant serving up overpriced drinks to trust fund kids. Not everything in society is determined by "hard work", and not all work is equally valid & worth doing.

      Rian Harrison

      Apr 24, 2013 at 10:12pm

      If you ask me, commentators should stow the "get a job" rhetoric until such time as they're offering one.


      Apr 24, 2013 at 10:20pm


      I think if they could work they would be working. You've been down there, right? It's not a thriving scene of healthy limber people brimming with skills and aptitudes.

      On the other hand, what is needed are more mental health beds, stronger Mental Health Act provisions to get them in there until they are clean, and their drug dealers shot.

      As for the area, obviously it isn't theirs per se. Moreover, it is waterview downtown property - they are getting gentrified out of there, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind.

      But where should they go? Should we care? (Answer: Yes. They are our neighbors, friends, family members.)


      Apr 24, 2013 at 10:26pm


      Above average wha?

      You are totally entitled to your opinion but, come on. An enviable lifestyle? Like, you would switch places with them in a heartbeat?

      I 100% disagree with the scapegoating of Pidgin, it is a stupid and counterproductive act that is begging for repression, frankly. But the motivation, the fear and discontent is not. Emotion is not right or wrong. And it is not being expressed as laziness. It is in fact being expressed as diligent protesting, which I respect although it also makes me angry.