Rising Tide – Vancouver, Coast Salish Territorries stands in solidarity with Homeless Dave and the residents of the DTES as they resist gentrification.
Statement of Solidarity
With the Downtown Eastside gentrification project once again we see profit being placed before people, we see conspicuous consumption portrayed as the ultimate source of happiness, and we see disregard for, and displacement of, those most screwed over by the system and most in need of society’s support. ‘The high-end developers, who control municipal politics with their massive election donations, are developing high-end stores, restaurants and condo developments from Carrall St to Clark Drive. Last year, the DTES saw only 24 new social housing units open up, while there were 170 condos built and over 400 low-income housing units lost to rent increases. Join us outside the Pidgin Restaurant (350 Carrall Street, between Cordova and Hastings) on Saturday 6th April at 6-8PM.
Enough is Enough
In recent years, there have been numerous attempts by local DTES residents and allies to bring attention to the displacement of DTES residents. Residents have presented their concerns at city council meetings and have been continually shut out. They have participated in the Local Area Planning process which turned out to be yet another betrayal of the people most impacted by the changes occurring in their neighbourhood. They have picketed construction sites and occupied condo developments. None of these strategies have yet resulted in substantial change. The gentrification and displacement continues.
Finally, on March 22nd 2013 a former Vancouver homeless DTES resident, Homeless Dave, started a hunger strike. In his words, “Gentrification is intensifying; the housing crisis is deepening, and the health of the people and the land are under serious threat. Desperate times call for desperate measures.” His demands are clear, reasonable and obtainable:
1) 100% community-directed social housing at the Sequel 138 condo site with a healing and wellness centre;
2) 100% social housing at the former police station on Main Street with a community-directed space focused on women and aboriginal people in recognition of the horrific damage done over the years by the Vancouver Police;
3) The City declares the Downtown Eastside a “Social Justice Zone” along with the policies to make it happen.
Rising Tide Coast: Salish Territorries stands in solidarity with Homeless Dave and the residents of the DTES as they resist gentrification. We will be picketing outside the newly opened Pidgin Restaurant on Saturday 6th April, 6PM to 8PM, and we invite you to join us.
The Pigeon Restaurant (as in ‘pidgin English’ – a means of communication for trading purposes under British imperialism) is located across from Pigeon Park, historically a gathering location for low income residents including many indigenous people who live in the surrounding SR0 hotels.
With the increasing gentrification of the area, Pigeon Park is being systematically emptied of low income folks due to increased police harassment, the creation of yet another new condo development, and now, the opening of two brand restaurants which cater to amuch wealthier crowd. Instead of a home for the community the block is in danger of being transformed into a new zone of exclusion.
We are witnessing a modern day land grab, not unlike the historic process of colonization in which land was seized from Indigenous peoples. Those with the money and power to buy elections, backed by Vision Vancouver and city council, are buying up land to create ‘trendy’ and expensive restaurants and fancy boutiques, while low income residents have no say in this rapid transformation.
DTES residents are in danger of being involuntarily displaced from the community they call home by soaring property values, rents far beyond what people on welfare and pensions can afford, renovictions, and a dramatic drop in the availability of low income housing stock. Many are at severe risk of homelessness or are being forced to move out of the city of Vancouver to places where there are few services available for the much more widely dispersed pockets of low income people.
The Pidgin Restaurant has become the symbolic heart of the fight to preserve the street and retail spaces that serve the low income community and its needs, not those of the wealthy who aspire to control the neighbourhood.
Joining the Dots…
It is the same oppressive dysfunctional capitalist system that is pushing low income residents out of the DTES that is trampling indigenous rights in the Alberta tar sands and the proposed BC carbon corridor, displacing hundreds of thousands around the world through fossil fuel extraction and processing and ultimately threatening life on earth itself through catastrophic climate change. Rising Tide feel that it is vitally important that we connect the dots between these struggles for these battles cannot be won in isolation.
For us the DTES is one of our front line communities, a community being stripped of its most fundamental of resources, its land. We resist the onslaught of capitalism and colonialism from restaurants in Pigeon Park to proposed oil and gas pipelines in the interior of BC, from the oil fields of Iraq and the Niger Delta to the low lying island nations set to disappear into the rising seas.
We fight for social and climate justice locally and globally.
Join us outside the Pidgin Restaurant on Saturday 6th April at 6PM.