project would fuel 'class hatred,' activists say
Fearing it would hurt the poor, demonstrators want proposed development
June 25, 2008
-- As Vancouver activists battle a proposal to plunk high-priced
condominiums on the city's skid row, another debate is humming in
the background: whether such developments could help revitalize
the neighbourhood without displacing low-income residents.
the position taken by the city, which says developer Concord Pacific's
proposed Greenwich condominium project at 58 West Hastings is consistent
with policies that call for a mix of housing types in the Downtown
Eastside, and require any low-income units lost as a result of development
to be replaced on a one-to-one basis.
private development won't necessarily protect low-income housing
or its most vulnerable residents, heritage consultant Donald Luxton
we really want it as an unbalanced area of nothing but social housing?
I don't think there's even a lot of housing advocates that would
say that," Mr. Luxton said, adding that even at prices of $400,000
or higher, the new condos would be affordable to some.
supportive of a mix of housing types in the neighbourhood, Mr. Luxton
echoed activists in pointing to a dire shortage of affordable housing
in the Downtown Eastside and the pressure that soaring land values
and property speculation has placed on the neighbourhood.
Carnegie Community Action Project and other groups are calling on
the city to block Concord's proposal for a seven-storey, 160-unit
condominium development on a stretch of West Hastings near several
social housing projects.
say the project would drive up rents in the Downtown Eastside and
is part of a trend that saw new market housing being built three
times as fast as social housing between 2003 and 2008. As well,
hundreds of single-occupancy rooms have been lost to "soft
conversions" of hotels to student-only accommodation or daily
or weekly rentals.
city maintains the one-to-one replacement policy is being met, but
housing activists say the city is fudging the numbers by including
rooms in hotels bought by the province as new, non-market housing.
protest signs spring up around the Concord site, billboards are
appearing for Downtown Eastside developments, some on blocks that
would have been considered out of bounds for condominiums a few
lot of more established developers are looking to the Downtown Eastside
with a great deal of interest," said Nick Bromley, a geography
professor at Simon Fraser University who studies gentrification
and property issues.
eastward push by Concord and other large development companies does
not bode well for low-income residents, he said.
real development controls and absent real money for [low-income]
housing, I think it signals a process of gentrification and attendant
issues of displacement."