CCAP accuses city of erasing the DTES and the city responds

The last Carnegie Newsletter had a copy of a letter sent by CCAP to the mayor. The title was “Downtown Eastside Erased from City Maps.”
Here are some selections from the CCAP letter:

“This may seem like a small quibbly thing for you, but for Downtown Eastside Residents, it is a big thing. The City has been putting out maps that have erased our neighbourhood. To be specific, page 4 and 5 of the city’s March, 2009 Social Indicators and Trends report had no DTES and has divided the DTES into Strathcona and Downtown. This also happens on pages 31, 35, 40, 44 and 58….The DTES has already been included in this article about children in the Vancouver Sun….Displacement is really happening. In 2009, CCAP’s hotel survey found an additional 800 hotel rooms between 2008 and 2009, lost to rent increases beyond what people under the LICO can afford. The success of Woodwards has driven up land values in the area, which makes it more difficult for DTES residents to secure their tenure here. We hope council will help us take another path, one that recognizes the rights of low-income people to not be displaced from their historical community because land has suddenly it has become more valuable.

We ask you to have your staff put the DTES back into maps about city neighbourhoods. We aren’t gone yet and don’t plan to go!! Thank you.”

Since that letter was sent, the City has responded. Here are a few paragraphs from the letter. To see the full letter go to the CCAP blog:

Dear Wendy, I am writing to address the concerns you raised in correspondence to Mayor and Council dated October 9, 2009, regarding the 2009 Social Indicators Report.
The Social Indicators Report relies on data provided by Statistics Canada census files that are produced every five years as the census is completed. The census data are widely recognized as a key source of statistically valid demographic information and forms the basis for a wide range of planning and social policy work.
Census tracts are the units of data we receive from Statistic Canada, and the tracts have geographic boundaries that are strictly defined by the federal government. These boundaries do not always match what Vancouver citizens and the City view as neighbourhoods. We also use the larger ‘local area’ geographies that the Planning Department has employed since the 1960’s…We recognized that there is often misunderstanding between the terms “local area”, neighbourhood”, and “community” and that this can be confusing to the reader. In response, we highlighted the use of Statistics Canada geographies, our methodology (and the availability of other information on the DTES and other neighbourhoods)…
…You are right to note that the page presents a number of local areas as “communities” which can be confusing. There are also instances where residents refer to local areas as communities (e.g. “the Grandview Woodlands community”) which further blurs lines. We are reviewing the City’s web pages and will consider your feedback.
I very much appreciated the presentation by you and Jean Swanson to City staff on September 15 on the mapping research that CCAP has undertaken. CCAP’s qualitative approach to research and quantitative approaches like the Social Indicators Report are often complementary…

Yours truly,

David McLellan, General Manager,

cc Mayor and Council and Planning Staff.

Look for more DTES erasure, it’s happening.


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