Saturday, November 26, 2016

The deplorable state of streets and lanes in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside

Last night, on CBC's The National, there was a story on the dramatic increase in fentanyl-related drug overdoses across Canada, but especially in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. The situation is both horrifying and tragic and one can only hope that some solutions can be found before many more people die.

I was also struck by images of the physical condition of a DTES lane shown at minute 6:42 of The National broadcast.

I suspect it was quite horrifying to many Canadians, but probably not to most Vancouverites. Sadly, we seem to have become unfathomably complacent about the state of DTES streets and lanes.

As I watched, I wondered if our mayor and members of Council were watching; and if so, were they as ashamed and disgusted as I was at how our city appeared on the newscast.

I have complained in the past about the appearance of DTES streets in the Huffington Post, The National Post and Vancouver Courier
Often I have been criticized for worrying about the condition of the streets rather than doing something about the lives of the people who live there.

I care about the lives of the people on the streets, and while I spent a year volunteering as a founding director of the Building Community Society, regrettably I do not feel I can do much about this, other than pay taxes to support health care and other needed services.

However, as an architect and planner, I would like to think that I can help improve the physical appearance of the lanes and streets. We need to do this because I believe that in some small way, the deplorable condition of the streets contributes somewhat to the deplorable lives of the people who roam them. I also think it is essential that we 'normalize' to the extent possible, this outlier part of the city.

So please, Mayor Robertson and Council, City Manager Sadhu Johnston and Director of Planning Gil Kelley, I call upon you to lead a concerted effort involving all city departments and the general public, to improve the streets and lanes of the DTES.

Let's bring out the street cleaners, artists, painters, and landscapers and do whatever it takes to regain control of this now derelict part of our city.

For those readers who may not understand what I am writing about, below are just a few of the images off the internet offering a glimpse of the neighbourhood.


Anonymous said...

Give me a break. You are the deplorable one, as an architect you live a life of privilege and are a part of a system which is basically committing a displacement atrocity. That is when by knowingly depriving people of necessary resources the criminal killers exterminate a group of marginalized undesirables. Think trail of tears and marches during the Armenian genocide and what is happening in myanmar. The removal of a so called dirty sro leads to people who have in many occasions just gotten off the streets back on them where they could slide back off maintenance therapy and OD and where they could freeze to death or catch a fatal illness. It also, in the cities plan outlines these policies, 70/30 yuppie/DTES resident. With the goal of connecting east and west van in the same hollow lifeless glass skyscrapers that even youth and the middle class are being renovictes from. Gentrification is often a emergent phenomena but the DTES plan is a document for social cleansing. Removal of shelter rates adds another policy that is deplorable. It is a goal to homogenize Vancouver not normalize it, just like during the Olympics to sweep this eyesore, as they and you view it, away from public view as Gregor having failed so dramatically and with such disrespect for human lives has with his policies driven the homeless population up exponentially instead of ending it by 2015 like he said he would. But really what do you expect from a millionaire chronic liar with a passion for developer payouts and wanting to create a glass facsimile of a city that's a global city. Instead the draft for the DTES outlines policies everyone involved knows will kill, renovictions, forced evictions, planned gentrification and planned removal of the homeless and poor DTES residents from their community, knowing its one of the worlds worst drug crisis ever, knowing social housing is needed, knowing people will die. The continued inaction by BCs two last government (with this coalitions betrayal of us by giving more money to the disreputable VPD who are about as much to blame with the war on drugs as the developer/vision knowingly sending people to die). There needs to be an inquiry into this multilevel human rights atrocity. As an architect and someone privileged your posts about cleaning up the DTES reek of dehumanization and paternalism. Plus you are on their side.

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