Concerns raised over bid to demolish heritage building for Downtown Eastside street market

Click to play video: 'Concerns grow over Vancouver’s proposal to demolish heritage building for DTES street market'
Concerns grow over Vancouver’s proposal to demolish heritage building for DTES street market
There are renewed concerns about the proposed relocation of a Downtown Eastside street market where the VPD alleges stolen goods are being sold. The city of Vancouver rents the current space from BC Housing but with the lease set to expire, there are plans to potentially demolish a heritage building on private land a block away - to temporarily house the market. Kristen Robinson reports – Mar 19, 2023

There are renewed concerns about a proposal to demolish a more than century-old Vancouver heritage building and use the empty lot to temporarily relocate the Downtown Eastside Market, where police allege some stolen goods are being sold.

The City of Vancouver leases the current street market space at 26 East Hastings but the lease is set to expire at the end of August, and the landlord, BC Housing, needs the site to complete repairs on adjacent buildings.

Story continues below advertisement

If approved, the city’s plan for a new temporary site for the market would require the demolition of a privately-owned 122-year-old building across the street.

With its unique architecture, 123 East Hastings is considered by many to be an important piece of Vancouver’s history.

“There is nothing else like this in Vancouver,” heritage consultant Donald Luxton told Global News in an interview.

Luxton wants the city to reconsider its proposal to tear down the two-storey heritage building to create a temporary home for the Downtown Eastside Market.

“It is truly the only real example of Art Nouveau architecture in Vancouver, possibly western Canada,” said Luxton.

ABC Vancouver councillor Peter Meiszner, who said he could not speak further on the issue at this time, has expressed similar concerns on social media.

“The proposed demolition of this historically significant building is one of several concerns I have about the proposed relocation of the DTES street market; the other being VPD data about the number of stolen goods reportedly sold at the existing market,” Meiszner said in a March 15 tweet.

Story continues below advertisement

The Vancouver Police Department said there are legitimate sales of second hand or salvaged items at the market, but it also claims organized crime groups are using the street venue to move purloined products.

“We know that there are some illegitimate goods being sold there, things that people have stolen to sell there and that’s what we want to work to get away from,” Const. Tania Visintin told Global News.

One street vendor, who identified himself only by the first name pseudonym “Jack”, initially told Global News he didn’t know where the Guess cologne & fragrance he was selling Sunday, had come from – but later said he gets some products online.

“Yeah Amazon, I have [the] receipt,” said “Jack”, who said he arrived in Canada as a refugee from Syria one year ago – and uses his earnings to feed his wife and two children.
Click to play video: 'City of Vancouver proposing to move Downtown Eastside flea market'
City of Vancouver proposing to move Downtown Eastside flea market

Another female vendor, who did not want to be identified, told Global News she did not know where several boxes of Tylenol she was selling came from.

Story continues below advertisement

A 2022 structural review of the potential new street market site at 123 East Hastings, commissioned by its owner Concord Pacific, found “the building has deteriorated to a state that it is in danger of flooring collapse or even building collapse, should a seismic event occur.”

Luxton said he is well aware of the issues with some parts of the building but at the very minimum, any development should retain the façade.

The current proposal he said, would give the private owner a break.

“The city is allowing a developer to get a free pass and tear down a heritage building,” said Luxton.

The City of Vancouver is accepting public input on the development application until March 30. A final decision will be made by the director of planning.

Click to play video: 'East Hastings tent fire impacts residents, businesses on DTES'
East Hastings tent fire impacts residents, businesses on DTES

Sponsored content