PiDGiN protest attracts notice from Vancouver-Mount Pleasant candidates

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      Except for B.C. Liberal Celyna Sia Sherst, the rest of the candidates in Vancouver-Mount Pleasant have something to say about the protests outside PiDGiN restaurant.

      Picketed regularly by antigentrification activists since February 5, the Downtown Eastside establishment is in the electoral district that B.C. NDP MLA Jenny Kwan has represented since 1996.

      The Straight asked Kwan and her challengers by phone what they think about the pickets. “Since 2001, British Columbia has not had a permanent affordable-housing program in place and people are feeling very pressured,” Kwan said. “There’s no question about that, and people are expressing this point of view by way of protest.”

      It’s a complicated issue, according to Barinder Hans of the Green Party of B.C. “I’m a small-business owner and I always encourage other business and development in the community, especially if it can bring money into the Downtown Eastside,” Hans said. “But at the same time, I think the PiDGiN protests are indicative of a larger frustration with gentrification.”

      Peter Marcus of the Communist Party of B.C. said that the protests are misplaced: “The restaurant is not the issue. It’s the class cleansing that’s going on in that area.”

      PiDGiN prices are affordable, much like in a Denny’s, William Austin of the B.C. Marijuana Party noted. “I don’t think they’re a big evil,” Austin said about the restaurant. “So the short answer is that they [protesters] should stop.”

      Jeremy Gustafson, an independent, said: “I support the philosophy of what they’re [protesters are] trying to say. But I don’t think they’re going about it correctly.”




      May 9, 2013 at 9:16am

      Absolutely disgraceful that Jenny Kwan didn't condemn the harassment of this legal, socially responsible small business.


      May 9, 2013 at 10:02am


      I don't agree with the scapegoating of Pidgin either, but Jenny Kwan was probably not wanting to inflame the situation. She has gone to bat for the safe injection site, has spoken at CCAP, has talked about homelessness action week in the House - basically she is a friend of the social justice peeps, not the gentrifiers. And you'll note she didn't say that she thought that the restaurant deserved it, which is the politician in her.


      May 9, 2013 at 10:04am

      I'll tell you who we should be remembering for this debacle: COPE. Nicholas Ellan and Kim Hearty are congratulating the protests in the guise of writers for the Mainlander, while also acknowledging that they in fact participating in perpetuating it.

      Rolf Auer

      May 9, 2013 at 6:22pm

      By ignoring the necessity of building social housing, people in Vancouver--usually well-off people in Vancouver, that is--are saying they don't care about low-income people. That's class warfare.


      May 9, 2013 at 7:44pm

      No MLA should be 'condemning' the protest. It's not their job to condemn freedom of protest and tell us what to do. It's their job to govern the province under the mandate we elect, in a totally transparent and non corrupt fashion without interfering with our rights.

      I wouldn't trust any candidate who used this protest as a media showcase for their campaign so they can easily ride the conservative populist bandwagon and condemn the protest. Who knows what they are liable to do once they get into office.

      This is a community protest that doesn't need to defer to authority they can work it out themselves, if not cops will deal with it should any laws get broken.

      There's plenty of new hipster bars around 000 block hastings to cater to film school students that don't have any protesters. But then again they aren't named 'Derelicte' or 'Skid Row Tapas' and they didn't open directly across from "The People's Pidgin Park", a well known festering slum and community advocacy area, and name themselves after it to be poverty chic.


      May 9, 2013 at 8:39pm

      meanwhile spartacus books just got an eviction letter, building was sold to real estate speculators who want to flip it into million dollar condos. dans brewing also evicted.

      there will be no artist centers or community forums or anything left in vancouver. just mega corporations until that bubble bursts and we repeat the cycle all over again.

      i was in montreal a few years ago and asked a friend how his rent was so cheap for such an awesome area that he lived in. simple response: no foreign real estate speculation allowed. that prevents all the land from becoming impossible for locals to access

      Brandon Grossutti

      May 9, 2013 at 10:37pm

      No one's disputing the need for social housing. We serve food not policy

      Danielle LaFrance

      May 14, 2013 at 1:59pm

      Completely missing the point Brandon. By serving food in an area where people have been strategically displaced from their community for decades only lends itself to this process. Hiding behind the poor-business-person motif only means you're unwillingness to acknowledge your complicity. Maybe take a moment to set aside your ego and come to terms with how new business ventures in the DTES do effect policy and do impact the lives of people who have been living there for years.