The daily seizure and destruction of belongings is part of the systematic decimation of encampments. This violence has happened in cities far and near, including Vancouver and Prince George, but also Toronto, Victoria, Nanaimo, Coquitlam, Maple Ridge, Los Angeles, Boston and many others. Cities aim to “invisiblize” unhoused people rather than create more livable housing.
With Larwill Place set to close and 700 modular housing units at risk the crisis is set to worsen, argues Jean Swanson. “We are [also] losing a lot of low-income units to fires, to rent increases, to demolitions for redevelopment, to scuzzy landlords who take advantage of vulnerable tenants to just lock them out (like at the Melville Rooms just recently), and because leases on the temporary modulars aren’t being renewed.”
This week marks one year since the tragic fire at the Atira-operated Winters Hotel. The fire, which occurred on April 11, 2022, was entirely preventable, displacing 72 residents and claiming the lives of tenants Mary Ann Garlow and Dennis Guay. On Tuesday, survivors of the fire spoke out, marched in the streets, and held a memorial for those lost.
The uniqueness of this new drinkers’ parklet stems from its significance to the people who use it, its permanence, and its relationship to decades of drinker displacement. For over 50 years, public infrastructure in the Downtown Eastside has been targeted for removal at the expense of community residents, especially drinkers. Now, the community considers the Drinkers Lounge parklet to be an act of resistance to policies that have worked for so long to displace many of its most marginalized members.