Gena Thompson and Hugh Lampkin used slides to present results of the Carnegie Community Action Project’s mapping project to about 60 local residents and media at a town hall meeting at Carnegie on Sept. 22nd. About 200 low-income Downtown Eastside residents participated in community mapping sessions with CCAP over the last eight months or so. They described the places in the DTES that are most meaningful to them, the best housing and best places to get food and shop, as well as places that made them feel uncomfortable and unsafe.
Then CCAP went through the notes of the mapping process and came up with a list of 10 good things (planners call them assets) about the DTES (see the list in the box on page 4).
After the presentation people talked about what might be missing from the asset list and what would happen if condos keep flooding into the neighbourhood. Some had good ideas about what the neighbourhood needs.
One woman said that artists and the wonderful programming at Carnegie are assets. Lorelei Hawkins said that we need to build housing that meets the needs of the people who live in it—homes not merely buildings. Another woman said the DTES is very pro-active in spite of the negative stereotype, and that’s a huge asset. Responding to the idea that low-income people who live in the DTES should be pushed out into other neighbourhoods, Ian McRae said, “People won’t last very long outside the neighbourhood paying 99 cents a pound for potatoes instead of 29 cents at Sunrise Market.”
One man suggested that a large food co-op would be good for the neighbourhood and might draw in other people to shop here. Other people argued that United We Can is a great enterprise that helps people get money without getting into crime and helps people recycle. “We need a flea market for binners,” said one person.
CCAP’s Wendy Pedersen concluded the meeting by saying that in the next few months we are going to have a process where low-income people can work on a model of what they’d like on Hastings St. from Woodwards to Main. CCAP will also be getting more input on what low-income residents want as a vision for their community and hopes to present a plan to City Council within months. ~JS