I'm hoping that whoever takes over for the executive director -- and for his other cronies who believe in their own sense of righteous importance and entitlement -- will look again at these programs with clearer eyes and sharper minds. I truly hope we will soon see some positive changes in this long-running DTES agency that has served a lot of needy people.
The key issue is whether the heart of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside should remain a low-income precinct with a high concentration of shelters, social housing, and community services -- essentially "walled off" from the rest of the city -- or should it become a more normalized community with a broader range of households and housing choices, including condominiums, restaurants and shops catering to the entire city population?
It's hard to have a conversation about gentrification, with all the baggage around the word. As long as many argue that any level of gentrification is to be absolutely avoided, positive and responsible change remains virtually impossible. Recently urbanist Richard Florida joined others in suggesting we need a new word to replace gentrification, asking "if all economic development and neighbourhood revitalization is gentrification, how do we grow and improve our urban areas?"
This model of development, mixing both non-market and market uses in a self-supported manner is an innovative, yet repeatable approach. We recognize these two projects will not solve the housing or affordability issues that plague Vancouver, but we do believe they are small, positive steps forward towards creating more vibrant mixed communities throughout the city.
"Sing It Fwd is what we call it passion in practice. We had seen and experienced a growing gap in terms of the cultural and arts vision of the city and the province and one of the many issues that really concerned us was youth arts and opportunities for youth to engage in arts in music specifically. So we created our initiative vision — to create an example of the rippling benefits of the power of connecting drivers in the community to take action, mobilize instead of compartmentalize, and hopefully share the story forward to inspire other people to do the same."