There will be no Downtown Eastside (DTES) in the next five years. A quick walk from Main to Abbott along East Hastings puts things into stark perspective.
There are no less than ten buildings under construction or renovation on this strip, next to an assortment of trendy condominiums, contemporary art galleries, the Carrall Street Greenway, and a new genus of residents soon to enjoy “Vancouver’s new Soho.”
If there are any walls left to write on, the writing is clear. Surrounding neighborhoods should brace themselves for the rising tide.
One development in particular, the Paris Block, exemplifies the trend, which is the name of the game in the DTES. Their website says the Paris Block “is in a position to take advantage of the revitalization of the much anticipated Woodward’s district.”
The website’s photos of the surrounding neighborhood are a pale impression of what the neighborhood currently is. Perspective buyers may be in for quite a shock when they pass Pigeon Park on route to view their new suite. Day-to-day norms, prostitution, open drug use, poverty, and homelessness, are conveniently out of site. But this is all about to change. These photos are contrasted with aesthetically pleasing snapshots of Gastown, the Irish Heather’s Cobblestone walkways, and a host of Vancouver heritage buildings.
For those who thought the free market was void of economic and social planning, think again. As development continues to squeeze available land for social housing, and as rents continue to skyrocket, Canada’s poorest postal code will soon be packing its bags. But where will it go?
The strongest contestants for Vancouver’s Next Top DTES are: Hastings Sunrise, the neighborhood immediately east of the DTES, or Newton/Whalley, Surrey’s new social housing Lebensraum for the City of Vancouver – cast your vote.
The new DTES will be a place of ghosts and legends. Hipsters, artists and professionals will reflect over coffee about the ghetto that once rested at their feet; history will be part of the charm. The old DTES may still visit from time to time, begging for change.