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Downtown Eastside Endgame

Inside City Hall 27 February 2014

by Joseph Jones

Andrea Reimer Touts DTES Plan
Andrea Reimer Touts DTES Plan
Brian Jackson Says City Plans
Brian Jackson Says City Plans
30 Years of Vision? Yikes!
30 Years of Vision? Yikes!
Do Not Register to Speak. Yet.
Do Not Register to Speak. Yet.

Also posted by Joseph Jones:

Starting at 1:00 pm on 27 February 2014, City of Vancouver honchos held a “technical briefing” for media in Committee Room #1 on the third floor at City Hall. (Yours truly attended as a tentacle of Vancouver Media Co-op.)

It was made painfully clear through mantra-like repetition that a "no attribution" rule intended that presenters and question-responders not be identifiably or directly quoted. What a pity. They had quite a few frightful things to say.

No confidences will be broken by extracting a few items from the Executionary … er … Executive Summary that provided the framework for this afternoon’s presentation.

The summary from officialdom describes today’s Downtown Eastside as having

      18,500 residents

      Up to 67% low-income

      $13,691 median income

      10% urban Aboriginals

One item blinks through the fog. It could be the biggie that beacons shipwreck for a low-income neighbourhood that has a long history of offering refuge from the burgeoning costs of a wannabe world-class city.

A slide titled Towards the 30-Year Vision (reproduced as image with this story) bar-graphs an intention to rejig Downtown Eastside housing unit numbers over a period of 30 years:

Eliminate 2/3 of existing SRO

Almost double social housing

Octuple ownership / market rental

Never heard of octuple? That means multiply by eight.

Source the next and corollary item to two almost instantaneous tweets by corporate media darling Frances Bula, who got the ugly picture real fast:

City's commitment to providing housing for 10,000 low-income residents IN the DTES remains same; # of units projected to 12,000 in 30 yrs

Of the 10,000 residents in DTES now homeless, at risk, city plan is to find/build low-cost housing for them OUTSIDE the area

How does this math add up? First, the City of Vancouver aims to freeze the low-income Downtown Eastside population component at around current levels.

Second, the policy going forward amounts to saying: "No new low-income residents wanted in DTES. It's time to export them to … somewhere else."

The City of Vancouver wants everything to grow grow grow. Well, maybe not the low-income-resident population. Just everything else.

If the corporatocracy can pull this one off, they’ll use the growth in higher-income residents to dilute, and then to swamp, and eventually to disappear the low-income ingredient from their notorious social mix recipe. Whatever line they spout, the deal-makers are aiming to toss that constituent right out of their gentrification mixing bowl as fast as they can.

In case you haven't heard, the Downtown Eastside Local Area Plan is headed to Council on 12 March 2014. But that doesn't mean you can register to speak yet. See a screenshot (image accompanies this story) of what the Downtown Eastside Local Area Plan web site says on the evening of 27 February 2014:

The updated draft DTES Local Area Plan and Staff Report to Council is anticipated to go to Council on March 12, 2014, subject to confirmation by the City Clerk's office. … You can comment directly to Council or sign up to speak to Council after the Staff report presentation.

One way of manipulating a situation is to overwhelm. The DTES plan's 320 page report to Council was released only two weeks ahead of time. Another cute move — yank down as hard as possible on the window for registering to speak to Council. Top it all off with timing the session for just ahead of spring break to cut down on the turnout as much as possible. Lots of nasty tricks are tumbling out of the City Hall playbook in this particular endgame.

Oh, almost overlooked — a “Public Benefits Strategy” snuck in right at the end of the Executive Summary. The bottom line total for that is $1.05 billion. No, politicians and bureaucrats are not planning to liquidate their fabled Property Endowment Fund that they wish you didn’t even know about. No no. Somehow half of that humongous wad is supposed to materialize from unspecified “partners.” If you don’t think that hope is faint, dig this one: another 30% is supposed to come from developers. Can’t you already see those sharks lining up to fork over their one-third?

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