City of Vancouver approves Downtown Eastside community plan
The City of Vancouver voted to approve their local area plan with several amendments for the Downtown Eastside Saturday.
The city hopes the plan will guide change and development in the area over the next 30 years and improve quality of life for its low-income residents and community members.
— Van Mayor’s Office (@VanMayorsOffice) March 15, 2014
“In recent years, the Downtown Eastside has struggled with many complex challenges including drug use, crime, homelessness, housing issues, unemployment, and loss of businesses in the community,” the city said in a statement.
The new plan will be developed in partnership with the DTES Neighbourhood Council, Building Community Society and the Local Area Planning committee.
“The Downtown Eastside Local Area Plan represents a thoughtful, balanced, and resident-driven vision for Vancouver’s oldest and most diverse neighbourhood,” said Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson. “This plan reflects residents’ aspirations for a community with safer and more stable housing, protections for low-income residents, stronger support for mental health and addictions, and a more vibrant local economy.”
Amendments to Saturday’s motion included a strategy to engage partners and funding for an Aboriginal Health and Wellness Centre, ensure a third of new units rent at a shelter rate and increased protection for SRO residents.
Thousands of people, including Downtown Eastside residents, participated in the public consultation process to design the plan.
The plan will include affordable housing options both in and outside of the neighbourhood, including 3,350 social housing units over the next three decades. It will also add new rental and ownership housing for middle-income families without displacing existing residents, the city said in a release.
The city also hopes to attract new retailers, jobs and economic development to the area. The city said the plan will create 3,500 new jobs and reduce empty storefronts.
Under the plan, Hastings Street will be revitalized as an economic engine, the city said, while offering community facilities and services for every age and income.
Strathcona, Gastown and Japantown will not be rezoned in order to preserve heritage buildings and new developments will be placed near Clark and Hastings hubs.
“After three years of community input, the approval of this plan marks a historic opportunity to protect the best of the Downtown Eastside and to shape a more hopeful future for the neighbourhood and its residents,” said Robertson.
The Downtown Eastside is currently home to approximately 18,500 residents, 67 per cent who are considered low-income. 6,300 of those residents are on social assistance.
The median household income in the area is only $13,691, compared to $47,299 citywide.
City of Vancouver infographs: