City Hall liveblog: Downtown Eastside Local Area Plan debate

Live from Vancouver City Hall: Deciding the fate of the DTES.

It might get loud.

(Page 9 of 12)

731 people homeless on the DTES. That's around half of the city's homeless population, says Bond. 6,650 households are at critical risk of becoming homeless. These are households spending 50% of their incomes on housing alone. [<-- Remember this statistic, please.] 2,000 will soon fall into core need.

DEOD (Downtown Eastsie Oppenheimer District), the heart of downtown, will be maintained as a rental neighbourhood. Everything over 1FSR (floorspace ratio) will require 50% secured housing. "We know the social assets are there, we know they're extremely important to the community."

2:07pm Some of the goals of the DTES Local Area Plan

  • Improved well-being for all: i.e. Create opportunities for affordable childcare, senior programs. Increase acess to healthy, affordable food.
  • Celebration of Heritage (They misspelled "heritage" in the report), i.e. better heritage awareness and conservation
  • Community place-making, i.e. social-impact approach to manage how development affects people [Vancouver is historically weak here], manage neighbourhood change to enhance affordability [ditto].
  • Improved safe and accessible open space, i.e. expanded parks, improved commercial streets, new plazas and pocket-parks.
  • Vibrant, inclusive economy, i.e. attract and retain local business, enhance local-serving retail, encourage inclusive local employment.
  • Arts and culture opportunities, i.e. art in public spaces, increased opportunities for creative economy
  • Improved transportation, i.e. expanded cycling, improved transit, efficient goods movement/loading facilities.
  • Well-managed growth and development, i.e. reflect the diversity of neighbourhoods, mixed building and accomodation type

2pm: The 'hood has "non-physical assets", like a sense of community and inclusion. One of the biggest fears, says Zak, was getting priced out of their neighbourhood. Also availability of affordable food, social services, and jobs: locals don't believe that new businesses will actually hire locals. "Have some respect for us, give us a place to be, ... and the bottom line, I don't wanna become a statistic."

"Change is positive, when it's guided by the community." In a word cloud from the discussions, "housing" is by far the biggest, followed by "people" and "community".

Development can affect housing affordability and conditions, as well as job availability. Also the survival of heritage structures and green spaces. "DTES residents very much value their strong network."

SIA and LAPP will report back to Council in three years if this plan is passed.

[This, like any community plan, is an experiment; but this one has so, so many variables.]

1:53pm: One-year process just to get the planning started. Over 5,000 people involved, sitting through 335 meetings. "Division and polarity around things like housing and social policy," says McNaney.

Mary Clare Zak speaking on Social Impact Assessment (SIA): "Increase in development has brought new, higher-income households" to a primarily low-income neighbourhood. SIA ran parallel to LAPP. New businesses have been catering to higher incomes. However, also high rates of food insecurity, matching the social-assistance numbers: over 60%. People are living longer, but with "more chronic conditions".

Income vs expenses: once housing and very basic needs are paid for, the average DTES male has little left for anything else. So, no organic groceries, then.

1:45pm See top of article for map of affected area. This is the soul of Vancouver, and the wellspring of its history. Over 18,000 people in the DTES, with 67% classified as low-income. Median income is under $14k per year. Double the city average in terms of unemployment. Over 1/3 are on social assistance.

1:39pm "This is not the end of the process for the DTES; it's just the beginning."

Now a PowerPoint presentation from Kevin McNaney. [Putting"Public Benefit Strategy" in the title was a great idea.]

1:30pm Item #5: Downtown Eastside Local Area Plan.
City Council: Mayor Robertson; Clrs. Reimer, Tang, Ball, Carr, Louie, Deal.
Presenters: Richard Cunningham and Ian Chang (Co-Chairs, DTES LAPP).
Staff: Kevin McNaney (Asst. Director of Planning, Downtown Division), Abigail Bond (Asst. Director, Housing Centre), Mary Clare Zak (Managing Director, Social Policy).

DTES Local Area Plan presentation

1:30pm

The Joker: &quot;And here we go!&quot;

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