DTES, Events!

End bullying, intimidation and harassment in the DTES now!

On Thursday July 11th at 10:00 AM in Pigeon Park, over 15 residents associations, community economic development non-profits, family and cultural service organizations, aboriginal organizations and various other non-profits from the DTES will stand in solidarity to respond to the vandalism, intimidation, harassment and targeted pickets that have taken place lately. This is the statement that we have jointly released.

A Joint Call for respectful community discourse, free from vandalism, intimidation and slander.

Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside is in the midst of dynamic growth and change, facing all the attendant pressures and opportunities that arise in such situations. A renewed interest in the area over the past few years has seen dozens of local entrepreneurs open businesses in what has become some of the most affordable commercial space left in the city while new residents contribute to the neighbourhood’s already vibrant, eclectic mix.

These new developments have often brought conflict and misunderstanding in their wake, particularly as pressures around affordability have increased. Some residents and businesses have been ridiculed or have had their property vandalized and stolen. Some have been threatened or their patrons intimidated and harassed. A number have been portrayed by protesters as heartless villains. Increasingly, protests, personal attacks and bullying have replaced respectful, inclusive discussions.

Protesters raise important issues, saying they speak for this community. While we respect their right to protest and agree with many concerns that are being raised, we cannot support the strategy they have chosen. Picketing individual businesses like Pidgin or Cuchillo, or Cartems, Ranier Provisions, Save On Meats and a number of others before them, while intimidating customers and residents, is misplaced and divisive. We believe everyone is entitled to live in a safe community, particularly the large population of vulnerable women and youth, low-income residents of all ages, and those who need opportunities to break the cycles in which they find themselves.

We are here today to say unequivocally that using personal intimidation and bullying as tactics to raise issues and promote positions is unacceptable and has gained public attention for far too long.

This is a diverse neighbourhood which encompasses diverse opinions. It is also a community that strives for respect — respect for and between those of us who live and work here and others who frequent the area or live elsewhere in the city we share. There are occasions when public demonstrations are appropriate, but they should not be used as substitutes for community planning. Strategies adopted to raise awareness of important issues should not be disrespectful to the aspirations and opinions of others in the neighbourhood. Everyone has a right to have a voice as part of this community and should not have to fear being personally targeted or attacked.

Those of us standing here today live, work, or own businesses in the Downtown Eastside. We want housing for the homeless, better social and affordable housing for those in need, adequate and empowering support for those facing mental health issues, protection for sex trade workers, training and education opportunities for all residents, and a safe community where our children can grow and thrive and our parents and older neighbours can age in peace. We believe that community energy is best spent on creating solutions, not on resorting to intimidation, vandalism or personal attacks against businesses or individuals.

The Downtown Eastside is a mixed community, home to people with various backgrounds and income levels. Too often residents here are defined by our problems and challenges, a strategy which tends to ignore community resiliency and strengths. It is a community where all should thrive. We must create a safer, healthier neighbourhood for all of our residents.

We feel a Place Based approach, one that meets these challenges by utilizing local knowledge, resources and practices is needed here, in order to better connect these issues across sectors or silos and from different perspectives. Division, conflict, negative smear campaigns and intimidation do not support inclusion. They alienate and divide us.

We call on the City of Vancouver, its citizens, and the media to recognize that personal attacks on businesses and individuals are not acceptable no matter what the rationale and should be systematically ignored. Bullying is empowered when the tactic gains attention and we believe that organized bullying and personal intimidation should not be accepted and supported as valid parts of community planning. It is long past time for our planning process and public dialogue to be respectful and inclusive for all.

Signed:

Hastings Crossing Business Improvement Association (HxBIA), Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood Council (DNC) Inner-City Economic Strategy Cooperative (ICES), Fast Track to Employment (FTE), Aboriginal Life In Vancouver Enhancement Society (ALIVE), Crosstown Residents Association, The False Creek Residents Association, The Citygate Inter-tower Group (DTES Thornton Park), Vancouver Eastside Educational Enrichment Society (VEEES), Network of Inner City Social Services Society (NICCSS), Inner-City Safety Society, Eastside Movement for Business & Economic Renewal Society (EMBERS), Thru Haida Eyes, Eastside Artists Company, Ray Cam Community Center, Strathcona Residents Association,

6 Responses to “End bullying, intimidation and harassment in the DTES now!”

  1. July 11, 2013 at 5:38 pm, Downtown Eastside organizations band together to denounce restaurant protests | Globalnews.ca said:

    [...] group, led by the Hastings Crossing Business Improvement Area, issued a statement, calling for activists to stop picketing small businesses in the [...]

    Reply

  2. July 11, 2013 at 9:14 pm, Lila Purcell said:

    I agree that bullying tactics serve only negative assumptions which paint most with the same brush. I lived in dtes in times when you could lay something down and it would never be moved until I returned. We shared, not stole. With rampant drug use and economic failures time & time again, the dtes has always risen to the challenge to thrive. It has a promise to again if some would educate themselves to see it will be better to bring $$ in to assist dtes than push it out and allow the city to plow dtes under as an unsustainable ghetto.

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  3. July 11, 2013 at 9:17 pm, mary montgomery said:

    My daughter and grandson live in the east side and too often people are bullied into signing for protesters. I see no problem with people opening up businesses and if my daughter has the money to enter these stores, then she should be able to. It would be better that she can see it, be able to get it without expensive rides, and save for a special meal out. I think it is good that new businesses open up. If there are nice cafe’s and stores, they will eventually enter them. I love the ideal

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  4. July 11, 2013 at 11:39 pm, A Community Unites To Do The Right Thing | The Gastown Gazette said:

    [...] The full text of today’s joint statement is below. End bullying, intimidation and harassment in the DTES now! Date: July 11/13 [...]

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  5. July 12, 2013 at 1:20 am, Erin Newman-Renwick said:

    The BIA and other associated parties hold the money in this situation, and they have the media on their side. I think they grossly and deliberately misunderstand the meaning of the word bully, and have made a point of ignoring the plight of the people who stand to be most negatively affected by their actions.

    What would be a more productive approach is to actually address the concerns of those who are conducting legal protests. Listen to what is being said, instead of crying wolf because poor people are being mean to you.

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    • July 25, 2013 at 6:08 pm, admin said:

      Erin we are a non-profit with a small budget, much of which gets used to remove needles, condoms, and attract cultural events to public spaces, which are free for the public. All income levels. The media has fixated on the point of view of a small handful of activists in the area who raise very important points, many of which if not most of which we agree with. This tactic however, we don’t. It is very aggressive, intimidating and yes it involves harassment. We have gotten media attention because it is a novel thing to see low-income residents, businesses and non-profits sharing a different perspective. From illicit drinkers, to the DNC to the various other residents associations and the BIA. It was newsworthy. We’re not trying to downplay the concerns around gentrification at all. We are working hard to try and mitigate the negative aspects but also recognize that collaboration and healthy dialogue should, and is, playing an important role in this.

      To address these concerns the BIA has been pushing hard for a retail strategy to retain low-income serving business space, support micro-enterprises (including the Street Market, which we have partnered with VANDU to continue growing). We are convening a series of community workshops in partnership with the City, academics from SFU and residents to discuss the needs and aspirations of the low income residents and entrepreneurs. This we hope can be incorporated into the local area plan.

      We have sponsored a new program called Recipes For Success, launched by longtime social enterprise Potluck Cafe and Catering, to help businesses learn how to become more inclusive and safe or inviting establishments and learn how to support the hiring of residents with barriers to employment.

      We have spent the majority of our public spaces budget (nearly $40,000) in such a way that we’ve created meaningful jobs for residents with barriers. This in partnership with Mission Possible and other social enterprises.

      We are currently devoting energy into advancing the creation of a “Good Neighbours” business charter that will encourage existing and new businesses to understand the impact they have, or can have, and to adopt inclusive measures to ensure that low income residents will have affordable options and also feel welcomed and safe in their establishments. It will likely be a decal program for those who are concerned about displacement and the effects of gentrification so that businesses can identify as being good neighbours and residents too can better know their options. We will be engaging numerous residents and non-profits to help craft this program.

      We have listened to what is being said and are working on these issues, which makes it all the more frustrating that we are portrayed simply as a heartless, rich pro-business organization. Thank you for your comments though.

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