The Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood Council’s (DNC) last co-chair of the DTES Local Area Planning Process committee was Wendy Pedersen. Wendy went off on sick leave in September and Ivan Drury was unilaterally thrown off the LAPP Committee by the city manager soon after. Herb Varley, who had been volunteering as Wendy’s alternate since the process began, was unanimously supported by the DNC to lead the committee on behalf of the low-income community.
Herb is a young Nisga’a and Nuu-chah-nulth man who lives in the York Rooms hotel and is the co-president of the DNC and on the board of the Urban Native Youth Association. Both his parents live in the DTES and he grew up all over East Vancouver.
Herb is already known at city council for standing up and announcing himself powerfully with his Nisga’a name, Gwin gaatl aamet goot. At the development permit board hearing for condos at Pantages Herb distinguished himself by standing and facing down the panel of developers and planners in complete silence for his full given five minute speech time. Some people said his silence was the most powerful presentation of many strong speeches that day.
The co-chair position for the DTES LAPP Committee is a challenging and thankless job that includes meeting at times almost daily with city staff and the other co-chairs, Building Community society to set up meetings and coordinate work. As co-chair Herb also meets with low-income people and groups who are on the committee and in the community to help them understand what’s going on in the work of the committee and bring their concerns about the future of the DTES forward through the planning process.
As part of involving the community in the work of the DTES LAPP Herb and some other members of the LAPP will be organizing monthly townhalls about the Planning Process from a low-income community perspective. The first one will be Thursday November 8th, 3pm in the Carnegie theatre.