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Pantages Pasted - Social Housing Here

by murray bush - flux photo

Housing activists paste a new marquee on the Pantages Theatre
100% social housing here!
100% social housing here!
Off to work

Press release issued by Social Housing Here:                                                                

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                             January 9, 2011


Housing activists paste a banner on the Pantages Theatre: "100% Social Housing Here!"

            On the night of Sunday January 9th housing activists pasted a banner reading "100% Social Housing Here!" across the top of the empty Pantages Theatre.  The anonymous action was a statement against the Pantages owner's recent application for a condo development on the lot package that covers all the property between the Regent Hotel and the Brandiz Hotel on the 100 block of East Hastings Street.

            The activists that carried out the banner action identified the Pantages Theatre as a priority site for social housing development in the Downtown Eastside. They said, "A condo tower at Main and Hastings would release the demons of real estate speculation in the heart of the Downtown Eastside." A condo development at Pantages would be the first major market condo project in the relatively low-income resident protected Downtown Eastside Oppenheimer District (DEOD).

            The activists explained, "The residents of the privately owned hotels that surround the Pantages will all be placed at risk of homelessness if Pantages is made into condos."

            The owner of the Pantages, Mark Williams, of Worthington Properties, has twice tried to sell this package to City Hall, and the City has twice refused. The anonymous group, referring to themselves only as "Social Housing Here," said they support calls from DTES residents for the City to buy the Pantages property package and build 100% social housing at the site.


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I am energized by this action here in Montreal!!

Thank you for pointing out the importance of social housing in the downtown eastside. That, as a community, it is important to keep pace with the gentrifying jerks who seek to displace us and ruin the great things about the downtown eastside forever. Once it happens we can never go back.


Tami Starlight - VMC.

Time for Theater of the Absurd

I for one am energized by this, especially become I'm away from home in Montreal (with Tami). Makes we want to get back to the hood ASAP, so I can walk the streets with our shit in effect. 

I think the timing of this is perfect. It's time we play the theater of the absurd card and pretend that there is enough space in Vancouver to keep people from dying in the streets, living in black mold conditions as though we need to replace mining and black lung in the poor classes because there isn't enough hard labour anymore (all been mechanized to save the capitalists fuck faces money and not have to deal with actual peasants). 

Great stuff. Thank you soo much,


   This particular


 This particular capitalist fuck face worked with the City for 3 years going to community meetings, hiring some of those actual peasants to help with some clean up, and moving around the Pantages, and worked with BC Housing to get 136 units of social housing at the site. No he's not a hero, and the project had its problems for sure, but as far as developers go he wasn't bad.  If things had gone as planned, there would be social housing on that site right now. I agree there is plenty of space available, just a lack of will to create affordable safe housing. City Staff and City Council kaiboshed the whole Pantages deal, the developer was willing to pay for a good chunk of what happened on the site, in exchange for some density in another neighbrouhood, I know fucked up. He should just pay for the whole thing, actually the city and the province should pay for the whole thing, that's what our  tax dollars are for. Mark Williams is a big boy, attack him if you choose, but there are better and more worthy targets.  Gregor Robertson for bailing out Millenium Properties( money that could have gone to building social housing on the Pantages Site), and nearly every member of Council for being enormous cowards, and liars, Brent Toderian the Director of Planning at the City for trying to turning us into Calgary( his last city), or Sue Harvey who used to be at Cultural Affairs who was one of the main spoilers of the project.  So he is selling it, and were screwed if it goes to somebody who wants to throw in some market housing towers in that block. So if the city is crying poverty, and the province and the feds are hiding, then where do we get the money from? Just a question. Will enough shaming get them to buck up?

Sharon, thanks for the

Sharon, thanks for the insightful backgrounder. 

I wonder if you are totally missing the definition of capitalist. It is people who control vast portions of the means of production which affect whole regions and many peoples. Peoples who are entirely stripped of meaningful say over the stuff of their lives. People having influence proportionate to how much certain things affect them is just a basic human principle (or should be). Although I take your pôint about shaming. I do not shame I just call out. I personally do not care about market systems (included in that is most executivist so-called representative bodies, capitalism and capitalist do not even have control they just have defacto lowest common denominator competition and power-over for limited self-interests), only enough to subsumee them by our own peoples institutions with socialized co-ownership-governance.

I think it is perfectly clear that state-capitalism is perfectly well entrenched. That the state is set up to rationalize and support markets and that the work is to subsume executivist bodies (polities) which reflect executivist capitalism until we have the capacity to move into them and make them truly participatorily-democratic; inclusive of participatory socio-economics - political bodies can not be democratic in a capitalist economic sea. So if you want to use political bodies for tactical purposes to build a peoples-on-the-ground economic capacity, then shaming is not very useful, agreed. But if think we can build without (extra)constitutional bodies like city council or the prov. leg, then go ahead and laugh at the ignoramouses  in those systems who think good (relative to how much systemic change is needed for us and countless other species to have a shot at reasonable life) can be done from within. Laughing at with them (and their so-called rationales) does serve a purpose of creating enough mental dissonance to create space to ascent real rationales that are human, coherent and yes, moral.

Awesome photos!!

Is this right on Hastings?


it's at 152 East Hastings, just west of Carnegie 

Bigger Targets!

Sharon Kravitz is right on about going after bigger perps, and hitlisting Gregor Robertson, almost all of Vancouver City Council, and Brent Toderian. Take a look at the just-released Vancouver Council Votes, and notice how all of Vision Vancouver has consistently voted in a YES-bloc on 28 "planning" issues (many contentious) in 2009-2010. Take a particular look at the unfulfilled mushy concession made one year ago on the issue of Historic Area Height Review.

No, I don't think a certain

No, I don't think a certain amount of shaming will change much for the better. At the end of the day developers and politicians most often change their minds to either appease someone who occupies a similar class in society as themselves or to hold-on to their power. Such as building social housing here and there to get us off their back. Not to say that a certain politician or developer isn't better than another but often I find the difference is more like choosing between different flavours of ice cream. I feel we need much deeper change. Not just putting bandaids on these gapping wounds in our society. And on top of that we can't expect the people who most often benefit from these problems to make them better.

I think much more potential for success lies in trying to solve these problems directly with our friends and neighbours instead of continually demanding that our self-identified leaders fix them for us. The Olympic Tent Village was an inspiring start at this. It would be wonderful to create more projects like this that communicate our feelings and ideas with society (as the pantages banner does) while addressing directly and autonomously our needs.

Pantages is a critical site

Mark Williams tried to sell the Pantages package to the city two separate times. Both times the purchase was recommended by city staff and turned down by council because

1) Williams was asking much more than the property is worth on the market, and
2) It was a political decision. Council is actively pursuing a market / private vision of "development" in the DTES.

Council's development vision is gentrification and it is opposed by the low-income community in the DTES. Their organizations, like the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood Council, are opposing the city's vision building by building, plan by plan, project by project because we must; that's why we're organizing a FIGHT FOR 10 SITES campaign and calling together a coalition for this fight meeting this Thursday, 6pm at the VANDU office for the first time.

The two reasons council refused to buy Pantages are two reasons it is a possible site to fight for: we can pressure Williams to lower his selling price by convincing him that his market development will be opposed by the whole community and we can bring political pressure against the city to buy it and build 100% social housing.

Is is important to oppose it because a market development there would be a disaster for the low-income community, and specifically for the people who live in the privately owned hotels that surround the Pantages site: the Regent, Balmoral, and the Brandiz.

And it is important to oppose it because it would be the first major market development in the Downtown Eastside Oppenheimer District (DEOD). Williams is not *choosing* to build 20% social housing on the site, he is mandated to do so by the zoning laws of the DEOD which do not allow an off-site buy out like every other zone in Vancouver. He is not offering ANYTHING to the low-income community that he is not legally required to. His "affordable" condos plan is an even more watered down version of what Westbank did at 60 W Cordova and, "affordable" or not, any market development will have the same terrible gentrifying effects on the neighbourhood.

There must not be any market development until there is no homelessness or lousy SROs any more.

The statement above mentions supporting the demands from the community for 100% social housing at the Pantages site. This is likely a reference to the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood Council's 10 SITES campaign and the specific actions at the Pantages this week and next:

- Thursday Jan 13, 10 Sites coalition meeting at VANDU, 6pm
- Friday Jan 14, 2pm in front of the Pantages and in the three surrounding hotels, the DNC is organizing a petition drive for city council to buy 10 sites of social housing in the DTES before the fall election
- Monday Jan 17, 10am in front of Pantages DNC will be holding a 10 Sites press conference
- Thursday Jan 20, 2pm to late we will be going to City Hall to speak out against the city's "Historic Area Heights Review" / Condo Towers Plan.

For info:

"The statement above" Are you

"The statement above"

Are you refering to my statement?


If some skinflint developer wants to build some condos, he can fuck himself stiffly. Nobody who buys condos wants to buy one in the DTES. The residents of the DTES need housing projects, and they've needed them since all the hotel residents were evicted prior to Expo'86. If some yuppie wants to buy a condo, there's a few hundred of them sitting on the south side of False Creek. Vancouver staff and council need to wake the fuck up. Their "world-class city" is a bucket of shit and none of them can smell it.

No I'm referring to the

No I'm referring to the statement in the text of the original post, the press release that accompanies the photos.

Great replies

Nice to see so much debate!

What is truly sad is a process that is totally classist and oppressive. Perhaps refer to Greg's reply about crapitalism.

Truly, anything that we, as a community want, like more social housing and keeping our community assets in place, will not get done without a big ass fight! WELL - THEY GOT ONE!

Babble, babble, bitch, bitch - more hot air factory - GRRR!

The Ivan writer in this series is personally committed to Civil Resistance to defy the wishes of the SIX major forces arrayed agains us: 1. council and city staff, 2. developers, 3. the provincial government, 4. property owners, the Strathcona residents association and both business associations serving the area (Hastings Cross and Strathcona) 5. the corporate media and 6. by far the biggest and most fiercesome - the majority of Vancouver and BC residents who in their ignorance and apathy are either overtly opposed to the very existence of the DTES or who really couldn't care less.

Faced with such a goliath-list of opponents, sparing the DTES from terminal gentrification is almost impossible. There is at most a 10 percent chance I reckon, and that chance is not served by a continuation of exactly the same kind of political and social opposition that has got us almost nowhere over the past 20 years.

Do not mistake creation of Vandu, Insite, the shelters, free food services and other good things about the DTES with defeat of the opposition - this is different.

Banners on Pantages, petition drives, media conferences, rallies, sloganeering, speaking at council meetings and creation of blogs and endless debate amongst us amount in the end to little more than a fight over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. What has it achieved, especially since neolibs came into open ascendance with the election of Campbell almost ONE DECADE AGO? Almost nothing.

Council does not care what we say - we are outnumbered, and the playing field is far from even thanks to a corporate media that queers the pitch against us. When are you going to tire of betting against the house? When are you going to tire of deference to self-imposed authority? When are you going to tire of playing into the hands of corporate media openly hostile to us? Why are you addicted to the same old bullshit?

Only massive, sustained Civil Resistance offers at least a reasonable prospect of getting our way. Non-Violent Confrontation, real Direct Action - not more hot air and shadow boxing - will get enough attention and send a message that it is game on for real.

Ivan says he has no faith in electoral politics and believes in Civil Resistance, but does not want to assume that for the rank and file in the 'hood. Fair enough, he is a truly honorable man (I mean that, no Shakespearian irony here) and I agree with him. So then why not ask the proles what they want, instead of assuming they are not prepared to get hot and heavy? We are not asking people to consider property damage or personal violence - only no longer cooperating with an abusive system.

When you go to the Height Review this Thursday you are strengthening Robberson's hand - you are endorsing their system. That is dysfunctional. Inviting any organs with the PostMedia Network Incorporated group (Sun, Prov, Courier et al) to the media conference outside the Pantages is endorsing their system. That is blatantly against your own interests - the Sun will turn around and fuck you time and time again and yet you continue to dance in the dark. WHY? 

I challenge you to ask your members and the wider community, as the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood Council at most only represents 10 to 20 percent, if they are prepared to step this up and get in the face of the man - even if only glowering at him eyeball to eyeball.

What might Civil Resistance look like? Well, the System causes physical and mental pain to us - homelessness, hunger, poverty, destroying community, so why not cause physical and mental pain for its devotees? An eye for an eye sort of thang. A transit fare boycott disrupts the buses system-wide and will drive people wild. Good - it should, why should their lives run smoothly when ours do not?

Taking it further and blocking all traffic in the heart of the machine, downtown, will really fuck with their heads. No property is damaged and the only ones physically hurt will be us, as the cops arrest us and beat the shit out of us, you know, the usual.

The way to hurt council, city hall and victoria is to deny them money - no taxes or fees of any kind. They can't put hundreds of us in jail.

Now, every time I discuss this with any Vancouverite all I get is why it will not work. It worked for Rosa Parks, it worked for Mandela and the ANC and it will work for us. Stop with the knee-jerk reaction how it will not work and we have no mandate and and and ...

Find out if there is a mandate, ask the people for christ's sake, you have the reach DNC and CCAP and VanAct and Vandu and ....

After all, your way is not working is it? When will you concede defeat - when the Pantages is developed? When the First United has to move or disallow its residents to smoke outside cos they are disturbing the hood? How much displacement is too much before you say enough and take a real stand, instead of shadow boxing?

Let's make it real.











Pantages Theatre "150 East Hastings"

The old theatre, the Pantages on Vancouver's East Hastings St. is the oldest surviving Pantages in North America.  there were something like 300 such theatres continent wide at one time.  it was built on that site 150 east hastings, 1907-08, during a pre ww1 boom. it was always a simple plan.

    it is sad that there does not appear to be a responsible, heritage minded org or zillionaire who would rebuild that very historical theatre. i for one would promote it for community television productions, because like  many other things that has been all but destroyed by W2 and other psuedo, soically inclined orgs downtown, aided and abetted by city architects and city real estate.

   the city itself is corrupt in that way, having moved into the Woodwards heritage building without making any real concessions or assistance to building a conventional community tv studio open to all residents downtown and all around, without "mentoring" and other nonsense being pumped these days by people who look for an issue to attach to their funding drives and do nothing for the poor, sick, addicted, except further their causes with more rhetoric for grants.


Bud McNeely

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