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.