Eastside (DTES) residents marched through the streets today 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.”
event was organized by the Carnegie Community Action Project and
low-income members of the Local Area Planning Process (LAPP) Committee.
The Local Area Plan (LAP) goes before Council on Wednesday, March 12th.
“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.”
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