WHAT WILL THE DTES LOOK LIKE IN THE FUTURE?
Right now, the city is making a plan for the DTES for the next 30 years. The plan is called the Local Area Plan (LAP). The plan will decide who will be able to live here in the future and who will be comfortable in the neighbourhood. Will the DTES be like Yaletown? Or will low income people be able to keep living here?
The aim of the Local Area Plan is to improve the future for all DTES residents, especially low income and vulnerable people. For 2 years, a committee of 30 people have been working with the city on the plan. Half of the committee members are low income people. Some meet in a group called the “low income caucus” and are working to make a plan that’s good for low-income people.
So far we only have a draft plan from the city. There’s one good recommendation: To make sure that 60% of all new buildings are social housing and 40% are market rentals in the Oppenheimer area. This would keep condos out of the area and help keep rents in the hotel rooms down. But there is no plan to replace all the SROS with good housing or house all the homeless people.
What’s the LAPP?
Some of you may have heard of the LAPP, which stands for the Local Area Planning Process. The LAPP is the process that the city created to make the plan. Most low income caucus members are LAPP committee
Who is the low income caucus?
The low income caucus is made up of people like Tracey Morrison of Western Aboriginal Harm Reduction Society, Dave Hamm of VANDU, Phoenix Winter of the Carnegie Community Centre Association, Karen Ward of Gallery Gachet, Colleen Boudreau representing sex workers, anti-oppression organizer Tami Starlight, and Victoria Bull, an aboriginal grandmother raising her grandchildren. They are joined by volunteers Harold Lavender, Ian McRae and Herb Varley. CCAP organizes the meetings.
What has the Caucus been doing?
The caucus has been holding Town Hall Meetings and other events to hear what low income residents want in the plan. The caucus has been telling the city what it hears. In June, the Caucus organized a petition drive and a rally for a Social Justice Zone in the DTES. Over 3000 DTES residents signed the Social Justice Zone petition.
Are some people fighting for more condos and less social housing? Yes. Some business groups and developers don’t like the 60/40 plan for the Oppenheimer area. Many are meeting and writing to the City to argue for more condos and less social housing.
What does the low income caucus want in a plan for the DTES?
1. End the DTES housing crisis. Designate land for social housing. Build 5000 units of self-contained housing for DTES residents who are homeless or live in hotel rooms. Make a plan do this within 10 years using city, provincial and federal funds.
2. Define Social Housing. Make sure that people on welfare, with a shelter allowance of $375/month, pensioners and people who can’t afford market rents can afford social housing.
3. Change zoning laws. Support city staff’s plan to require 60% of new buildings in the Oppenheimer area to be social housing, and 40% to be market rentals (no condos allowed). Require one third of all new housing in Thornton Park and the Hastings Corridor to be social housing available to people on welfare and basic pension, and one-third to be social housing available to the working poor.
4. Improve the housing we have. Hold landlords accountable for bad conditions. Stop renovictions and bring in real rent control.
5. Control business gentrification. Create a process directed by low-income people to approve or deny new business (restaurant, liquor, boutique) applications.
6. Quality, living wage jobs for low-income residents. Create job training programs for anyone who wants them. Require local business to hire local residents.
7. Safety for all. Stop criminalizing survival work like sex work and vending. Stop abuse by police and security guards. Create a special office directed by low income and Indigenous residents to receive complaints and direct investigations.
8. Create an Aboriginal Healing and Wellness Centre. Fund a centre designed and operated by Indigenous people, with the consent of people from the local nations. Include resident-run intergenerational housing in the building for Elders, children, youth, young parents and adults.
9. Fund peer run mental health services. Fund and enable mental health services run by people who experience mental health issues themselves and have experience in the system.
10. Fund harm reduction services, detox, and treatment on demand. Empower people who use drugs to design and implement harm reduction services. Make sure that anyone who wants detox or treatment can get it right away.
11. Fund social services that provide safety and choices. Make sure that people with mental illness are given choices that include non pharmaceutical and non institutional options, choices about what kind of support they need and who provides it.
12. End discrimination so everyone can get the services they need. Make sure Indigenous residents, people with disabilities, queer and trans people, women, and people who speak Chinese and Spanish can use services and feel welcome there. Fund services that make the relationship between settlers and Indigenous people equal. Make the DTES a sanctuary zone where all have equal access to health, housing and social services regardless of citizenship status.
HOW CAN WE DEFEND OUR NEIGHBOURHOOD?
We can show City Council that DTES residents want to slow down condos to get more social housing that we can afford.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
- Sign the petition for keeping the DTES a low income neighbourhood
- Come to City Hall when council deals with the plan in the spring.
- Come to a Town Hall Meeting to learn more about the plan and tell us what you think. Keep your eyes open for posters that tell you the date or contact us.