Proposed development in Downtown Eastside receives mixed reactions

The development proposal for 288 E. Hastings Street has received different reviews, with some fears of gentrification, but the city says the development will enhance the character of the Downtown Eastside.

Documents from the project say “it’s a unique opportunity to provide much needed affordable non-market and market residential housing,” despite worries of the neighbourhood being gentrified and pushing local businesses out.

Abigail Bond, assistant director of social housing, said the plan has received mixed reviews so far, but many support it.

“There’s been lots of people saying the project isn’t delivering enough,” she said.

The 12-storey  rental building will house 172 units, 104 will be residential, while 68 will be for businesses. Bond added one-third of the units are required to be rented out at a shelter rate.

A group of people outside E 50 Pender Street, where the open house for the proposed development was held, take a stand against the project. Photo: Sid Chow Tan, Facebook

A group of people outside E. 50 Pender Street, where the open house for the proposed development was held, take a stand against the project. Photo: Sid Chow Tan, Facebook

Fears of gentrification

A Facebook group called “Stop Gentrification of 288 E Hastings!”, created by the Carnegie Community Action Plan Project, was generated to rally people together to meet outside the entrance of E. 50 Pender Street, where the open house was held by the city to gather feedback. According to their Facebook page, the group intended to “hear from low-income DTES residents of how the development will impact the neighborhood,” and march into the open house to show their opposition, which they did.

“This is sad this is happening to our community,” wrote Michael Goat in a Nov. 11 Facebook comment on the page.

Controversial concerns

The 288 E. Hastings Street development is the first building being being proposed under a plan adopted by the city in 2014. The 30-year plan had a goal of revamping the neighbourhood without pushing its residents out with a $1 billion budget, but had many residents and business owners raising concerns.

Yet, the plan says it’s consistent with the official development plan and vision of the 2005 housing pan for the Downtown Eastside. According to the Carnegie Community Action Project, between 2005 and 2012, nearly 3,000 condos were built or were under application, with less than 1,000 of them at the welfare-rate of housing.

A development permit board meeting is scheduled for the application on Jan. 25, 2016.

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