The daily markets in the Downtown Eastside are in jeopardy because of a lack of funding from the city, says the person in charge of organizing them.
“City staff has known that the funding is going to run out for a long time, I’ve been trying since September to have a budget conversation with them [and] they’ve consistently refused,” says Roland Clarke, the coordinator of the DTES Street Market Society.
In July, the market opened on Powell Street, one of three operated by the DTES Street Market Society. They replaced the longtime unsanctioned market at Pigeon Park, and the City of Vancouver provided funding, with the idea that having a secure area for the homeless to sell goods would reduce stolen merchandise.
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Clarke says the market has been a success, with revenue of $1.6 million. But he says the cost of running the three markets – which includes security, porta potties, and $5/hour honorariums for volunteers – is $4600 a week, and the city has only offered $3350 going forward.
“Either we should be allowed to close several days a week, or they should offer us the right amount of money to run seven days a week, but neither is happening,” he said.
In an email to Global News, Managing Director of Social Policy Mark Zak says they’re hopeful for a resolution.
“City staff are currently working with the Society to determine whether it has the capacity to operate or whether alternative options, such as partnerships, or other operators, need to be considered,” she wrote.
While those details are being worked out, Clarke says it’s possible some markets will be canceled.