SOS! The city is slipping condos through the back door while we guard the front!
Join CCAP, DNC and many others from the DTES low-income community to speak out against a policy that could destroy the low-income community in the name of helping it
TUESDAY MARCH 27 2PM
The City’s Interim Rezoning Policy and Development Management Guidelines for the DTES Local Area Planning Process (LAPP) are supposed to provide some relief to the low-income community from the pressures of market development so that we can do long-term planning. We feared that these policies would be weaker than we needed but we never dreamed that they would sneak a gentrification bomb in the back door of this policy, burying it in a last-minute document that the committee never got a chance to see or comment on before it was sent to council…
The city policy that will streamline 79 units of condos in exchange for only 8 units of social housing at welfare rate on the Pantages site says:
“In the areas governed by the existing Downtown Eastside Oppenheimer Official Development Plan (DEOD ODP), any development permit application for residential development over 1 FSR must include 20% social housing. For the purposes of these Development Management Guidelines and interpretation of the DEOD ODP, “social housing” means residential units that are owned and/or operated by government or a Council-approved non-profit, with at least 50% of these units where the tenant contribution to rent is no more than the shelter component of income assistance for a single individual ($375) and the remaining 50% of units with a maximum monthly rent of 30% of BC Housing’s Housing Income Limits (HILs) or CMHC market rent (whichever is lower).” [This means that the 50% not renting at welfare rate could rent for up to $837.50 to $925 depending on whether they are bachelor or one-bedroom units.]
Stopping this policy change from going is urgent because the DTES Oppenheimer District (DEOD) is the only sub-area of the DTES with special zoning that requires 20% social housing in every project. This policy will cut this 20% requirement in half by defining only half of this social housing at welfare rate. The 20% requirement (which has not yet been defined in terms of rent-costs) has managed to significantly limit condo development in this area. If it is weakened to slide 79 condos onto the 100-block it will also send a signal to developers with speculation properties they have been sitting on in the area: The DEOD is open for business!
City policy expects that, because of depressed land values and development controls, the DEOD must be the main area where SRO hotels are replaced with social housing. The Housing Plan warns that if the DEOD becomes “attractive” to market developers then the city must act to lessen this attraction or the social housing targets will not ever be reached. Now is the time to act to slow development, not encourage it.
CCAP knows of five blocks where significant property combination has already taken place, likely by speculators waiting for the market to be right and the restrictive zoning to change. The first and most urgent of these property combinations / condo-developments in waiting is “Sequel 138,” the condo project at the former Pantages Theatre site on the 100-block of East Hastings. The proposal negotiated with city staff by the developer at Pantages is the model for the policy change around the definition of social housing in the DEOD… though maybe it’s a bit chicken-or-the-egg. The Sequel 138 deal is for 79 condo units at about a-quarter-million-dollars apiece and only 8 or 9 units of social housing at welfare/old-age-pension rate. If approved, Sequel 138 will be the thin edge of the wedge that will open up the DEOD to further gentrification. We can be sure more proposals for market housing will flood in as a result of City approval of this definition of social housing and Sequel. The city must STOP this proposal and we need your support to push them to stop the Pantages sneak!
For more on Sequel 138 condos at the Pantages site:
Downtown Eastside Not for Developers coalition (organizing against Sequel 138 condos)
CCAP’s letter to city council against the new Pantages condos proposal
The nightmare returns: Sequel 138 is back!
And more on the proposed DTES LAPP Interim Development Policies:
Talking points for city council
CCAP Analysis of the city’s DTES LAPP Interim Development Policies
On the “Rate of Change” (gentrification) in the DTES
Market housing surges ahead of social housing construction in the DTES
For more info:
 The four other packages we know of, besides 138–144 E. Hastings include: 121 Main St; 319 Main St; 337, 341, 357 E. Hastings around Flowers restaurant; and the 500-block of Cordova.