Carnegie Community Action Project
401 Main Street, Vancouver, V6A 2T7
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Dear Mayor & Council,
Social mix or gentrification?
Our eyes popped open last week when we looked at this map on the Salient Group’s website, put there to lure buyers for its Gastown Paris Block condos whose prices start at $380,000. CCAP has just finished a community mapping process with low-income DTES residents, where residents drew sites that were meaningful to them on a blank “map”. They also drew the best housing and best places to get food and shop. Talk about two different worlds!
The Salient maps are for the western end of the DTES where over 70% of residents have low incomes, according to Statistics Canada. Salient has one map that shows 28 new developments. On this map there are only three sites that low-income mappers mapped: Woodward’s, Tinseltown, and Portside Park. But the low-income mappers put the new Woodward’s and Tinseltown in the unsafe, uncomfortable category and they called Portside Park by its community name, CRAB Park. CRAB stands for Create a Real Available Beach, the name of the group that squatted on the site of the park to get it turned into a real park.
Portside is the official name, an insult to the low-income community who fought for the park. The other Salient map seems to be mostly businesses serving upscale residents.
Sun Yat Sen Gardens and Save On Meats (which is now closed) are on both the second Salient map and the low-income residents’ maps.
Both are sites of genuine social mixing. But that’s all. The Salient maps and the CCAP maps show that gentrification in the DTES is not creating a “social mix” but what the academics call “social tectonics.”
Where two groups exist in the same space and don’t mix, or when they do mix, the mixing is conflictual. Many of CCAP’s mappers named Gastown as an unsafe or uncomfortable place because its businesses excluded them with prices or security guards who harass them.
Stay tuned for CCAP’s mapping report to be released hopefully by the end of this month.
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