karen ward Profile picture
Jun 26, 2018 23 tweets 9 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
"Based on the agenda of the City of Vancouver’s Urban Design Panel on Wednesday (June 27), the development will have 38 housing units as well as 12 micro dwelling units above commercial spaces on ground level." Those are the only details about the 'development'. #dtes #vanpoli
cw: the thread that will undoubtedly ensue may contain various not-exactly-on-topic freak-outs, references to harsh things, bitter yet nuanced literary allusions, & images i spend too much time making (gifs gifs gifs). Because this is worth it. #ThisIsWhy
This 'development', the article does not note, is beside this capital-generating structure, and an important public space. Good thing I checked, because if you read @tlupick's article, I am already pissed off about this! straight.com/news/1015846/r…
I have some facts: "The Applicant, Human Studio Architecture + Urban Design on behalf of the Developer, Millennium Group have applied to the City for permission to restore a 2-storey municipally designated heritage building (McConnell [335 Carrall]), ....
add a 3-storey addition and build a 7-storey infill building on the adjacent lot (333 Carrall).
That was Millenium who is developing this 'site.' That's relevant information
But as this history of the old building, the Louvre, beautifully woven by @PstTnse reveals, this is about much more, and less, this is about settler-vancouver and the #dtes and what it is.
For the Panel's attention. I am writing with great concern for the future of 323-335 Carrall Street, the McDonnell Building, once the Louvre Hotel, adjacent to Pigeon Park (Pioneer Square). I will not dwell on the elitist inadequacies of the building design overall;
it is an unimaginative offering at best and does not meet the standards of this area’s past, nor I hope, its better future. But this proposal is, frankly, an affront to our collective #history, and an erasure.
This building is contemporaneous with the Great Fire. It is listed as the “Vancouver Tea &Coffee Co.” in 1889, operated by Won Alexander Cumyow. He was the first person of Chinese descent born in “Canada,” and barred by racist laws from becoming a lawyer...
he served as an interpreter, speaking several dialects very well and perfect 19th century Vancouver english. He was the only person known to have voted both before and after disenfranchisement. [below, voting in 1955.]
A little later the building was the Louvre Saloon, and was the place to go. It became the Louvre Hotel because Prohibition.
This is the oldest “ghost sign” in Vancouver. Beds 20c.
But the building’s first occupant, interestingly, was the Vancouver Drug Co. Among its more recent tenants, were the people who opened the unsanctioned safe injection site that led to Insite, the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users @VANDUpeople - Canada's first drug-user org.
And 327 Carrall was the place where WAHRS, the Western Aboriginal Harm Reduction Society was founded. Lives were saved there. Lives are still being saved today because of things that happened there, words that were said.
Now, I am no nostalgic sentimentalist. This building should be cared for, restored, re-opened. But this, I submit to the Panel, is an important historical site, one which has enabled, through community, the growth of a transformative movement that has become national, and beyond.
The idea of VANDU - a politics of Harm Reduction -has changed many lives, beyond an organization, and beyond simple stereotypes of the “drug user”. Bud Osborne wrote poems on the walls and painted over them later. I met him here. This is our history, everyone’s. Vancouver’s.
We must acknowledge this as a part of who we all are. This historical awareness is part of the knowledge that is required, I believe, to end the overdose crisis. To find roots, foundations, when we have none. Together, we were a forest of raised hands that day
And it is Sacred, too - @cultrsaveslives drums there, often. The Survivor's Totem, raised just 2 years ago, is a spiritual axis for the entire community. We remember our dead there. It is a very important place.
It is not a concrete triangle, a blank slate.
It is a history that needs no plaque but is not less real. It pursues us all fiercely
It’s said that History is Written by the Winners. I disagree. I think history is what you choose to work to understand. It's what you choose to read, or look squarely at, or finally face. It’s a complicated thing: to really understand the past, I think (and I don’t, yet)
one must prepare oneself to be strong and brave and vulnerable enough to face the present too, and be hurt by both.
Right now, we need this building to be much more than is proposed. I urge you to reject this proposal.
#vanpoli #pigeonpark #dtes
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More from @kwardvancouver

Jul 18, 2018
Thanks for the call @bctoday appreciate the time to talk about the @BCCSU report on "Strategies to Strengthen the Recovery System in BC." An overall review is long overdue, given the situation - #overdose #bcpoli #harmreduction
and there is much to be encouraged by in the report. Dr. Wood states clearly that recovery is a process, by definition long-term, so more is needed beyond harm reduction and acute care. bccsu.ca/news-release/n…
This is the bit that troubles me. I read the report closely and remember seeing a very early version of it well over a year ago. It's about "Therapeutic Communities":
Read 16 tweets
Jul 15, 2018
Identifying as a 'person w/ lived experience' has become a route for marginalized ppl to be, in some ways, 'on the inside', of policy processes that are about us. the example of a formal process that springs to mind is the task force on mental health & addictions, 2013 onwards.
at the time, it was nearing the end of the DTES planning process, therefore terrible. i was the rep from gallery gachet, the token out nutcase on the committee. but the whole point for many of us there was that the diversity of our collective experiences, as low-income
and marginalized residents, had given us knowledge & insight that would improve the planning process, and so plan would centre low-income residents. but the danger is that while you might be in the room, you simply don't have the resources & capacity to participate meaningfully.
Read 16 tweets
Jul 14, 2018
Delightful! note that the province committed over 30mil. the nonprofit developer, vancouver chinatown foundation, raising the same. city contributing land, & more, & headaches. #vanpoli after oct, pls ask why the gov't won't meet w/ you. (can't wait.) #homeless ppl need homes,
idiots,. they can't live in your millitant post-post-modern dissent. you're using people you've coerced to be there as props. and none of you read the RZ report or attended subsequent meetings. you are not actually interested in housing at #58WHastings. clearly. #HousingJustice
you'll weaponize the whole project, and THIRTLY MILLION DOLLARS from the province, they are willing to try something here. you do this shit, do you think they'll spend another dime in the #DTES? its ok for you, b/c then you can Fight the Government! so hardcore radical.
Read 7 tweets
Jul 4, 2018
@andreareimer i don't think such a definition would do nothing, or provoke the developent of 231 units of nothing. both senior levels of government have significantly shifted gears on housing since the last instance of re-definition that you cited
@andreareimer i guess it's a legit debate - eg 10 units at shelter rate in a 100 unit building, 50% condos = gentrification/displacement, therefore "no building at all," which is the local position. i don't want to get stuck in the past, i hope that is the past.
@andreareimer unlikely there are perfect actions. 100%/375 has become an ideologically-driven ideal; it is a terrible way to live in reality. and "social housing" that includes $962/mth provokes confusion, anger, cynicism... the hopelessness emoji
Read 6 tweets
Jul 4, 2018
Thank you Kathy Shimizu (of @WePress_YVR) for introducing that idea about a new definition of social housing! appropriately doing so in the context of this #ChinatownYVR session at council. i can explain #vanpoli
(i was hoping to be there today, but i'm still really sick.) 1/..
at present "social housing" can include a rental range from $375/mth (the "shelter rate" portion of bc social assistance) to 30% of income at the HiLs rate - for one person, that's an annual income of $38,500. @BC_Housing @selinarobinson bchousing.org/housing-assist…
which would mean rent for a studio would max out at $962/mth. world of difference between $375 and $962. i understand that HILs represents the low end of average incomes - but how is that measured? $962/mth doesn't feel like "social housing"
Read 13 tweets

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