The fight for 58 West Hastings escalates in historic May Day action: “We, the poor and the homeless of the Downtown Eastside will not sit idly as our elected officials deprive us of the housing we need.”
In November 2017, members of the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU) interviewed Vince Tao, organiser with Chinatown Action Group (CAG). They discussed the recent victories of the Chinatown community at 105 Keefer, drawing lessons for the ongoing fight for 100% social housing at welfare rate at 58 West Hastings.
This year there are eight candidates running in the Vancouver city council by-election, including Jean Swanson and Judy Graves. Given their longtime involvement in Downtown Eastside politics, the media has been quick to conflate Graves with Swanson. But are they really so similar, and what exactly are the politics behind Judy Graves and OneCity?
A small media storm emerged last week after a profile of Socially Responsible Vancouver tours appeared in Travel section of the Toronto Star. Since 2014 the tours have charged tourists $185 per person ($195 for two people, and $275 for a group of 10) to view the Downtown Eastside.
Today we took to the streets and reversed the narrative by leading a “yuppie gazing tour.” Our message was that we’re not okay with poverty tourism. We flipped the script and made rich people into the subjects of our gaze, marching through Chinatown while chanting, “Downtown Eastside is not a safari, drive away in your Ferrari”
In 2008, Gregor Robertson built his successful mayoral campaign around the tragic death of Darrel Mikasko, a homeless man who burned to death trying to keep warm after being turned away from a Kitsilano shelter. But while Gregor was campaigning on a soon-broken promise, low income people in the Downtown Eastside were actively fighting against a new threat of displacement posed by Concord Pacific – this time on a property down the street from Woodward’s. The address was 58 W Hastings, evicted and demolished (“demovicted”) by Concord Pacific that same year.
April of this year marks nine years since welfare rates – still frozen at $610 a month for a single person – have gone up. Although the provincial government plans to increase disability rates by $77 a month in September, they also plan to begin charging people who receive the disability pension $669 a year for a bus pass that they now get for $45 a year. This means giving with one hand and taking with the other, and the decision has enraged the many people trying to get by on meagre benefits across this province.