07/12/2013 01:51 EDT | Updated 07/12/2013 02:06 EDT

Downtown Eastside Gentrification Protests Generate Blowback


Some Downtown Eastside residents and workers are fed up with anti-gentrification protests that they say misrepresent the neighbourhood.

A coalition of residents, entrepreneurs and community groups issued a statement on Thursday criticizing the ongoing protests that have targeted restaurants Pidgin and Cuchillo, arguing that the "personal intimidation and bullying tactics have gone too far," Postmedia News reported.

The statement adds to concerns already expressed in online forums like The Gastown Gazette.

Judy McGuire of the Inner City Safety Society told the news service that bullying tactics have been used against both businesses and individuals as a way to make a point about gentrification, or the trend of new, more expensive businesses and condos moving into the impoverished area.

“It’s no better in high schools than it is in community planning," McGuire said.

Rob Morgan, a former squatter on the Downtown Eastside who now lives in the Woodward's Building, said the picketers are a "bunch of yuppies from out of the neighbourhood because I've never seen them around before," The National Post reported.

Fern Jeffries of the Crosstown Residents Association added to Morgan's concerns, saying the protesters are "middle-class kids from North Van" who are "destroying the personal business aspirations of a few entrepreneurs."

Roland Clark of the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood Council, another group opposing the picketers, said he prefers to take action against developers and governments, parties that he calls the "real villains" in the community, CKNW reported.

But Tami Starlight, a Downtown Eastside resident who is participating in the protests, denies that bullying is taking place, saying that the people opposing the protests have a "vested interest" in the gentrification of the neighbourhood, reported Postmedia News.

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Downtown Eastside, Vancouver