Mayor and Council
City of Vancouver
Dear Mayor Robertson and Councillors:
Re: Development of the Pantages Properties
The Community Arts Council has for some time supported the efforts of the
Pantages Theatre Arts Society and others to restore the theatre and to add non-
market housing to these properties in the 100 block East Hastings Street. It is too late to save the theatre but the vision remains: to have a facility for arts and
culture and thereby honour and renew the heritage of arts, cultural and
entertainment on this block; and to provide badly needed housing.
The CACV is extensively involved in the Downtown Eastside in supporting local organizations and residents in community arts programs. These include opportunities for local voices to express their experiences and dreams for the future, for building bridges amongst groups within the community and with the city as a whole. It is encouraging that additional non-market housing is coming on-line and that a local area planning program is planned for the Downtown Eastside. However the issues facing the community and in particular those who are most marginalized remain extraordinary. They require extraordinary responses with vision and with actions to match. Low income residents and the DTES as a whole remain at risk of losing what they have and the community they have. We have learned that key to the health of this community and for the health of Vancouver as a whole is to place the first priority on housing for those who are most marginalized and most at risk. The second priority is to support people through the local area planning program to ensure that the neighbourhoods of the Downtown Eastside retain a sense of “home” in the future and not only a place to live. Community arts and culture have a strong role to play here.
Like many of the community, faith, health and social service, education and arts organizations who oppose the current proposal for the Pantages site, the Community Arts Council of Vancouver is very concerned that low income residents of the Downtown Eastside remain at risk of losing what they have and the strong sense of community they built over many decades. In our view, the creativity and compassion of the area’s low income community is why the Downtown Eastside is truly the Heart of our City and a cornerstone of our heritage assets and cultural identity.
(original signed and sent via postal mail)
Nathan Edelson, Vice-President and Dara Culhane, Board Member Community Arts Council of Vancouver