Video! DTES Paint-In: Local Area Plan and an Aboriginal Healing & Wellness Centre


Thank you to Lucas Meijer for making this video of CCAP and the Low-Income Caucus Paint-In

On March 9, 2014, Downtown Eastside (DTES) residents marched through the streets  and painted messages on an empty building that should be transformed into an Aboriginal Healing and Wellness Centre as part of the Local Area Plan.

“The paint-in today was a chance for low-income residents to send a clear message to City Council: The plan doesn’t go nearly far enough to solve the housing, poverty and health crisis in the DTES, ” said Carnegie Community Action Project (CCAP) volunteer Harold Lavender.  “We’ve told the City before that we want funding for an Aboriginal Healing and Wellness Centre, more social housing at welfare and pension rates, and stronger controls on retail gentrification. Today we wrote our vision and demands on the wall. We will continue to fight for them.”

“The building we painted is owned by Vancouver Coastal Health and has been sitting empty for years”, said Western Aboriginal Harm Reduction Society President Tracey Morrison. “Meanwhile, Downtown Eastside residents need a place to heal and have well-being. We want a Centre that’s run by Aboriginal people, not bureaucrats.”

“With an Aboriginal Healing and Wellness Centre we could have elders involved with the younger generation,” said LAPP Low-Income Caucus member Victoria Bull. “What happens now is that people are sent to treatment centres. An Aboriginal Healing and Wellness Centre would provide a sense of belonging to address past traumatic issues while dealing with addictions and mental health issues.”

The Local Area Plan was criticized today at the “Paint-In” for failing to put in place adequate measures to solve the housing crisis.

“The City is only committing $50 million and three lots over a 30-year period for social housing. That’s much less than the value of its gift to a new Art Gallery,” said Gwin ga’adihl amaa goot, a Nisgaa Nation member and DTES resident.

“We do support the new zoning proposed for the Oppenheimer District because keeping condos out will keep land values lower”, he continued. “This won’t get us housing, but it will keep SRO rents down and land more affordable to build social housing in the future with senior government support. But the LAP only commits to building a maximum of 1,467 new social housing units for people on welfare over a 30-year period. This is completely unacceptable.”

“When you crunch the numbers, only one unit of social housing for people on welfare is being built for every ten unaffordable housing units in the DTES”, added LAPP Low Income caucus member Tami Starlight. “With the rising land values that come from this equation, low-income people will be priced out of the DTES. We will lose our lifelines. We will be pushed into communities that don’t have the services, amenities or community ties we have built and depend on.”