Critics of Pantages development rally in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside

    1 of 2 2 of 2

      More than 100 people rallied against a plan to build a mixed-use development on the site of the demolished Pantages Theatre in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

      A standing-room-only crowd of local residents and community activists filled a room in the Carnegie Centre for the event today (April 10).

      Speakers at the rally complained about Sequel 138, a proposed six-storey development that would be located on the rubble-filled lot in the 100-block of East Hastings Street.

      The developer’s plan calls for 79 units of “affordable home ownership” residential units and 18 units of social housing. It also includes commercial space at the street level.

      Opponents argue the project will open the door to gentrification in the heart of the Downtown Eastside.

      Housing activist Ivan Drury criticized the plan for making only half of the social housing affordable for renters on welfare while the remaining units will be financially out of reach for lower-income residents.

      “It’s really important that that project have a high level of expectation for affordability,” Drury told the Straight.

      “It sets the precedent and the level of expectation of other developers.”

      During the morning rally, a series of speakers read out declarations against the development. They highlighted fears an influx of higher-priced housing will push lower-income people out of the Downtown Eastside neighbourhood.

      “If we lose our homes because of rent increases or our landlord starts renting at a higher cost to people, we will have nowhere else to go,” said Charles Sanford, a resident of the Balmoral Hotel, located across the street from the Pantages site.

      “If the city lets the developer build condos on the 100-block of East Hastings, they will creep into the heart of our community and devour it,” said Tracey Morrison, with the Western Aboriginal Harm Reduction Society.

      Marc Williams, the Pantages site owner, defended the development, noting it does not require rezoning and will bring new amenities to the area.

      Williams told the Straight by phone he thinks there is a lack of understanding about the project.

      “I think they’re fearful of change and I think that with all of the positive things that this project will bring to the area—the art space, the urban gardens, the social housing, and the affordable home ownership—that positive change is getting very confused with keeping things the way they are.”

      The coalition of community groups that organized the rally called on the city to block the Sequel 138 project. They also renewed a demand that the city purchase the property and use it exclusively for social housing.

      A revised application for the project is scheduled to come before a city development permit board hearing on April 23.

      Opponents of the project also plan to protest at the Pantages site on April 17.



      Steve Y

      Apr 10, 2012 at 6:30pm

      No don't clean up the DTES! We like heroin addicted druggies overrunning the city and scaring away tourists!


      Apr 10, 2012 at 7:11pm

      I wonder how those dirty junkies get their heroin. I mean, where does it come from anyway? It's just so baffling that they can't seem to stem the tide of drugs flooding into the country - almost as if it was some kind of huge business and the DTES just collateral damage.

      Maybe some more task forces, probes and panels would get to the bottom of this puzzling decades-old mystery.


      Apr 10, 2012 at 11:17pm

      This is a Development Permit NOT a rezoning. Marc Williams and his team should be applauded for a fantastic vision that meets the DEOD zoning requirements to a "T" and provided multiple forms of housing on the spectrum of non-market housing.

      The Regent Park model of ghettoizing a neighborhood does not work.

      Down with Pantages

      Apr 10, 2012 at 11:48pm

      The COV has been shirking their responsibilities with regards to social housing -- so has BC Housing. We really need to do more to ensure that Vancouver doesn't become completely out of reach for people living under the poverty line. And halting the Pantages development (obviously the developer is going to paint it as a socially beneficial project) is a good place to start.

      Tami Starlight

      Apr 11, 2012 at 12:43am

      Unfortunately the usual misconception and ignorance abounds.

      The downtown eastside is not just characterized by ignorant people like the first 2 postings. It is also characterized by mainstream lying media and apparently they drank the koolaid.

      Gladly those who actually live here and know the facts - are totally thrilled with such events/rallies and the multitude of great things in our awesome and diverse community.

      Yup - I do not go blabbing about how terrible your neighborhood is peeps. Don't plan on anytime soon either. (perhaps with you spouting ignorance on here means you also don't do much of a service to your communities either)

      Rally forward we GO!

      Gentleman Jack

      Apr 11, 2012 at 7:45am

      Vancouver needs more housing, the DTES needs better housing, this is a win-win. Nobody is sleeping in the pantages right now anyway, so arguments about taking away people's homes are spurious. This will do nothing but increase the "diversity" in the "community." by adding some hip condo owners to the mix.


      Apr 11, 2012 at 7:56am

      @Tami - I was being just slightly sarcastic.

      The DTES is a handy emotional pinata for Vancouverites in that it's so easy to look down on and make yourself feel better about your own circumstance. Likewise it's easier to shake one's fist over junkies and homeless people than looking at how the area was allowed to get the way it is.


      Apr 11, 2012 at 10:07am

      Poverty activists like Drury and Starlight, Pedersen and Swanson will fight to see the DTES remain a miserable shithole because that is what gives them their power and raison d'etre. The day the DTES improves is the day they cease to be relevant, so they will fight to maintain the squalor and misery; they will fight to ensure the only housing built is affordable to welfare recipients but not the working poor, and certainly not the middle class.

      A community housing only welfare recipients will be one where no business can flourish, only social services; it's a community of only one socio-economic group, essentially isolated from mainstream society. Let's call it what it is: a reservation, a ghetto, apartheid.

      And if we as a society are to sanction ghettoizing the down and out - why are we doing it in the downtown of one of the most expensive cities on the planet? Its not as if they need to commute to 'work', or easy access to the shopping on Robson. Surely we can build some nice reservation somewhere the land is cheap, the predators and poverty pimps will be sure to follow - and we can get about the important business of ensuring affordable rental housing for the people who actually work and pay taxes in this city.


      Apr 11, 2012 at 10:50am

      It was this same group that killed the plan to save the Pantages Theatre - Canada's last remaining Vaudeville Theatre with one of the most amazing acoustic shells in the country. A plan that would have provided jobs and more social housing. So they get no sympathy or support now that they oppose yet another plan that also offers affordable and social housing.

      It's revolting to watch people work so hard to preserve the rule of violent gangs that harvest the most vulnerable as human ATMs.

      Dtes resident

      Apr 11, 2012 at 11:11am

      Why doesn't the straight do a story on the reality of the getto model and how all the rest of us can see that it is insane too reserve a area for low income people only