Carnegie Community Action Project
401 Main Street, Vancouver, V6A 2T7
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Dear Mayor & Council,
Is the Downtown Eastside a ghetto?
Some people say the DTES will be a ghetto if it doesn’t have more condos so richer people will live there. A ghetto is a slum area occupied by a segregated group. But the DTES has many assets: a great sense of community; social services for people who need them; places where people can gather, socialize and create for free; a feeling of acceptance of all residents; and a rare sense of authenticity. The DTES has many community groups that local residents participate in and control.
Allowing condos to overwhelm the neighbourhood will damage or eliminate these many assets. There are already many examples of condo owners trying to get rid of or prevent low-income services or people in their immediate vicinity. Low income people will feel looked down on in their own community. Upscale stores catering to condo owners will constantly remind them of their poverty. Rents and prices will increase as businesses start serving people with more money. Condo owners, with many more resources than the low-income residents, will start up their own groups to push for their own interests.
Yes, the DTES has problems and they need to be solved. But let’s stabilize the existing community with all of its assets before destroying a place where low income people feel safe and accepted. Some people call it a ghetto. Residents call it a community.
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