HISTORY OF DTES AND THE NEIGHBORHOODS AND THE PLANS OF THE CITY OF VANCOUVER GOING FORWARD
The Diversity and Reconciliation Parade will be a march that will beautify the neighbourhoods located in the Downtown Eastside Community, which is home to some of Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhoods and the historic heart of the city of Vancouver. The Downtown Eastside is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in the heart of Vancouver, the third largest city in Canada.
There are five very distinct areas that make up the Downtown Eastside: Chinatown; Gastown; Victory Square; Strathcona; and Oppenheimer, plus a park and industrial area.
Among the specific districts that will be highlights of the march are Chinatown, Oppenheimer, Strathcona and Hogan’s Alley.
Founded in the late 19th century, Chinatown expanded after the repealing of the Chinese Immigration Exclusion Act after World War II. It continues to be a vibrant part of the Downtown Eastside.
Strathcona is a diverse area with light industry and many forms of housing (apartments, public housing, converted housing, and rooming houses), with nearly sixty-one percent of residents speaking Chinese as a first language.
Oppenheimer was initially home to many Japanese Canadians. In World War II, the area was devastated when Canada interned the Japanese and moved them to camps in the interior of BC Today Oppenheimer includes a courthouse, a police station, retail businesses, restaurants, a Buddhist temple, a theatre, social services, and some light industrial facilities (City of Vancouver 2003b)
The DTES is also strongly connected to its founding Aboriginal communities--including the Musqueam (xʷməθkʷəy̓əm), Tsleil-Wauthuth (mi ce:p kʷətxʷiləm) and Squamish (Skwxwú7mesh Úxwumixw) First Nation, Japanese-Canadians, Chinese-Canadians and other ethnic and cultural groups. The DTES is located on land that Aboriginal communities consider unceded Coast Salish territory and has been the urban home of many Aboriginal communities for generations.
Many elements of Canadian history are rooted in the diverse communities of the DTES – the Chinese Head Tax, the forced displacement and internment of the Japanese-Canadian community during the Second World War, the displacement of First Nations and the residential school policy.
Vancouver’s Chinatown is one of the last remaining, large historic Chinatowns in North America with a section (Chinatown HA-1) formally recognized as a National Historic Site of Canada in 2011. It is an important cultural and tourist destination, and has long-served as a market district for specialty Asian goods and services.
The City has worked with the Chinatown community on revitalization and neighbourhood planning issues since the early 2000s, including adopting the Chinatown Vision Directions in 2002. To support economic revitalization and residential intensification, Council adopted the Rezoning Policy for Chinatown South in 2011, which allows for consideration of additional height in support of enhancing heritage, culture and affordable housing projects. After over a decade of community engagement and implementation projects, Council also adopted the Chinatown Neighbourhood Plan and Economic Revitalization Strategy in 2012.
1. Accelerate implementation of the Chinatown Economic Revitalization Strategy’s (CERS) three strategic directions: 1. Thriving Business District 2. Historic Neighbourhood Revitalization 3. Vibrant Public Spaces
2. Retain the predominant retail and commercial character with tourist- and resident-oriented goods and services, restaurants, and offices through economic revitalization.
3. Encourage residential intensification through compatible new mixed-use development, while reinforcing the existing scale and character of the area.
4. Pursue the rehabilitation of the heritage buildings owned by Chinatown family and benevolent associations (Chinatown Society Heritage Buildings), as community and cultural anchors critical to the authentic revitalization of Chinatown.
5. Support strategic public realm improvements to enhance and improve public realm quality and amenities and create vibrant public places.
6. Provide strategic support to the community towards the retention and enhancement of key cultural anchors including the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, the Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Vancouver including their museum and archives, as well as the Chinatown Society Heritage buildings.
The Thornton Park area of the DTES is a small mixed-use district flanking Main Street, south of Chinatown and the Georgia and Dunsmuir Viaducts. It is part of a larger area located east of False Creek that includes Pacific Central Station and the large urban Thornton Park. This area is an early example of transit-oriented development in the city that followed Expo 86 and the transition of the area from industrial use to a mixed-use residential and commercial area, with several high-density mixed-use buildings developed around the Main Street-Chinatown SkyTrain Station.
Facilitate compatible new residential and mixed-use development, while reinforcing the existing industrial and commercial uses and the scale and character of the area
Encourage a range of housing types, including social housing and secure market rental housing, and consider rezoning for additional density to create new social housing.
Review the Thornton Park area of the Downtown Eastside as part of the planning work program for the Georgia and Dunsmuir Viaducts and the False Creek Flats areas, and pursue opportunities for improved public open or green space and improved connectivity with adjacent neighbourhoods.
Oppenheimer District (DEOD) The Downtown Eastside Oppenheimer District (DEOD) is a central neighbourhood of the DTES and is the heart of the low-income community. With its origins dating back to pre-settler history as the site of seasonal trading camps of the Coast Salish aboriginal communities, the area has been home to numerous immigrant groups over the past 120 years. One of its most notable early associations is with the Japanese-Canadian community. It also has long-standing linkages to industry and the labour movement. Significant community gathering places in the area include the Carnegie Community Centre, which offers various programs and services, a library reading room and an affordable cafeteria. It's a place where low-income residents feel safe, included and accepted. Oppenheimer Park is another of the most important places in the DTES. Its field house is an important gathering and activity space for community members, and the park’s washrooms, basketball court, playground, benches and baseball diamond are valued and used by all.
1. Prioritize the area for affordable rental housing for low and moderate income and for the provision of 60 per cent social housing units and 40 per cent secured market rental housing units.
2. Facilitate compatible new residential and mixed-use development, while reinforcing the existing scale and character of the area.
3. Support developments with social housing or significant heritage assets by offering additional height and related bonus density.
4. Pending the completion of a comprehensive parking strategy for the area, consider parking relaxation policy for the DEOD for social housing and secured market rental housing projects where: (a) all of the residential units are social housing; or (b) 60 per cent of the residential units are social housing and 40 per cent of the residential units are secured market rental housing.
5. Prioritize the area for implementation of actions and strategies related to social housing, local economic development, community health and well-being needs and issues (see 18.0 Implementation). 6.5.6 Support strategic public realm improvements to improve public realm safety, quality, and amenity, particularly for vulnerable populations.
6. Support Japanese-Canadian and Aboriginal culture and heritage through public realm improvements, public art, events and programming and strategic development and heritage rehabilitation opportunities
7. Support the expansion of local business by offering a moderate amount of bonus density (0.5 FSR) to existing commercial and industrial uses for the expansion of floor space, without requiring the delivery of social housing.
8. Review retail continuity requirements, with the goal of increasing pedestrian activity, commercial and service uses, and general vitality to Hastings Street, Main Street, and Powell Street.
STRATHCONA AND KIWASSA
Strathcona is a primarily residential neighbourhood that forms a significant portion of the DTES, with Kiwassa being a smaller sub-area within Strathcona. It is a diverse neighbourhood with a mix of residential homes, including single family, co-ops, apartments, and several medium density social housing developments. Some areas of Strathcona also include light industrial uses, wholesaling and commercial activities. There is a rich history to this area, not only in the characteristic heritage homes and buildings, but also in the people and places that have called Strathcona home over the years. The neighbourhood underwent a comprehensive planning program in the early 1990s, which resulted in several initiatives to protect and strengthen the residential character of the area.
1. Preserve and enhance the existing residential heritage character of the Strathcona residential area.
2. Encourage new development to include a range of housing types with an emphasis on family housing.
3. Encourage a special creative precinct focusing on artists, light-industrial, and related production activities.
4. Seek to improve and expand pedestrian and bicycle connectivity between Strathcona, Kiwassa, and other neighbourhoods, to ensure safety, comfort, and amenity.
5. Work with the community to prepare a “Kiwassa Urban Design Framework”, including developing Urban Design Guidelines and a Public Realm Plan.
GEORGIA AND DUNSMUIR VIADUCTS (HOGAN'S ALLEY)
The City reviewed the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts land as part of a larger strategic planning review of the area called the Eastern Core, which includes portions of Northeast False Creek and the False Creek Flats. The viaducts, which are two elevated roadways connecting the Eastern Core area to downtown Vancouver, are the remnants of a 1960s freeway system that was abandoned after significant public opposition, much of it from the Strathcona and Chinatown communities. Through their construction, the viaducts had significant impact on the DTES including the loss of the physical and social heart of Vancouver’s Black community, known as ‘Hogan’s Alley’. Through their continued existence, they also cut off many neighbourhoods from the False Creek waterfront and each other, including Chinatown, Strathcona, and Thornton Park.
1. Support development of a mixed use neighbourhood in the lands made available by the replacement of the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts with a range of housing types, parks, and public amenities.
2. Recognize and honour the former Black community of Hogan’s Alley that existed prior to the viaducts construction.
3. Maximize opportunities to deliver on-site social and affordable housing for families and singles