Issue & article index

August 2014, Special issue about tent citiesDT East_August2014_COVER

This special issue of the Downtown East is focused on the summer of 2014 as the summer of tent cities. In this issue Jean Swanson explains how these tent cities lay bare the housing and homelessness crisis in the Lower Mainland as it really exists. The Dignity Village tent city in Abbotsford has been up and running in different places for nearly a year and a half. As Dave Diewert explains, and campers affirm in their own words, Dignity Village asserts the existence and rights of homeless people in Abbotsford against a poor bashing city council. The Oppenheimer Tent City has sprung up and continues growing and challenging the city and provincial governments. As Natalie Knight explains, and Herb Varley captures in the words of Oppenheimer campers, this tent city challenges the limits of Vancouver City’s recent acknowledgement of the unceded Indigenous territories Vancouver occupies.

Voices from the Oppenheimer Tent City, by Herb Varley

Voices from the Abbotsford Dignity Village, by Ivan Drury

Homelessness is Still a Huge Problem, by Jean Swanson

“Displace and Disperse”: Abbotsford’s Solution to the Homeless Problem, by Dave Diewert

Asserting Our Rights: Oppenheimer tent city challenges the limits of government talk on First Nations legal rights, by Natalie Knight


Past issues——————————————

May 2014
Anti-gentrification centre spread poster: Lippmanopoloy! By Kathy Shimizu, with articles from Blair Hewitt and Jean Swanson
Bud Osborn, DTES poet, prophet, and activist (1947-2014) By Editors
Housing and displacement strugglesmay_2014_DRAFT_3rd-1
A perfect storm: why the homeless count is no surprise
By Tamara Herman
SROs emptied for hip housing, DTES residents left in the cold By DJ Larkin
No new social housing from the Province (3 community views) By Harold Lavender, Jean Swanson, and Andrea Craddock
What do resource pipelines & building cranes have in common? By Seb Bonet
Victory at Chau Luen Tower! By King-Mong Chan
Community and city planning
DTES Local Area Plan: What did we get? What did we lose? By Jean Swanson and Harold Lavender
Sun Tzu (The Art of War) & the DTES Local Area Plan By Herb Varley
Aboriginal Healing Centre: we’re a person, not an addiction By Tracey Morrison
Inequality & injustice
The funding cut & displacement agenda behind the PHS scandal By Ivan Drury
We are poor because they are rich By Bill Hopwood

February 2014 issue: see full article listing here
Downtown East poster series: The social housing we fight for, the crappy housing we have, by Kathy Shimizu and Jean Swanson
Year After Year: marching for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, by Cecily Nicholson
Women’s Action Group: Women supporting women in the Downtown Eastside, by Dave DiewertFeb_2014_DTEast_COVER
The Rebel Queen
, by Diane Wood
In memory of Lucia Varga Jimenez, by Dave Diewert
Plans and profiteers: the scoop on the draft DTES Local Area Plan, by Tamara Herman
We want an Aboriginal Healing and Wellness Centre…. Now! by Jean Swanson
Consultation is not consent: reflecting on community participation in a city planning process, by Harold Lavender
DTES Low-Income Caucues demands versus the City’s Local Area Plan (a quick view), by DTES Local Area Plan Low-Income Caucus
How a definition can displace a community: defining ‘social housing’ in the DTES planning process, by Jean Swanson
Gentrification and the DTES Chinese community, by King-mong Chan
華人社群在市中心東端與昂貴化的關連, by King-mong Chan
The Abbotsford Shuffle: Homeless people pushed from park to railway tracks, by Dave Diewert
Responding to the government apology for historic wrongs against Chinese British Columbians, speeches by Sid Chow Tan and Anushka Najii

November 2013 issue. See all articles from the issue here
Downtown East art poster, November 2013: Home Sweet Home… but for how long?Nov_2013_DTEast_DRAFT-1_Page_1
Displacement: Past, Present, Future
, by Dave Diewert & Mercedes Eng
Managing the Homeless in a well-manicured neighbourhood, by Phoenix
Hungry for a Welfare Raise: The 2nd Annual Welfare Food Challenge, by Bill Hopwood
Mayor’s Meeting on Mental Health and Addictions, by Phoenix
Mental Health Crisis! by Karen Ward
My Thoughts on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, by Robert Bonner
Park-a-palooza and artists at Oppenheimer Park, by Diane Wood
Pushed out – Pressure is building against low-income residents in the DTES, by DJ Larkin
Homeless in the DTES, by Wendy Pedersen
After the Olympics homelessness in Vancouver is back on the rise
Homelessness and the Drug War in Abbotsford: Interview with Barry Shantz, by Dave Diewert
Storm Brewing: Local Area Plan and the Future of the DTES, by Jean Swanson and Harold Lavender
Condos flood into Oppenheimer area while City stalls on planning process, by Jean Swanson
City Hall gives developers $71 Million, they cry for more, by Ivan Drury
7th Annual Women’s Housing march, photograph collection
“My activism goes beyond the personal”: an Interview with Japanese Canadian activist Lily Shinde, by Mercedes Eng
Japanese Canadian elder Grace Eiko Thomson speaks to Mayor and Council, by Grace Eiko Thomson

August 2013 issue – the struggle against gentrification continues. See all article here
Oppenheimer Park is the people’s park! Downtown East poster seriesAugust 2013_DowntownEast_COVER_Page_1
Only low-income community organizing will make the DTES a Social Justice Zone,
By Ivan Drury
Cuchillo Restaurant: Robbin’ the ‘hood, by Richard Marquez
Who are the real bullies? by Downtown East editorial collective
Downtown Eastside residents vow to picket second gentrifying restaurant daily, by Nicholas Ellan
WAHRS at work on the Farm, by Martin Johnson
Unist’ot’en Action Camp: Connecting the struggles, by Herb Varley
QUEST: Putting your money where your mouth is, by Diane Wood
Housing in the neighbourhood: a view from the street, by Robert Manning
Emerging (Mis)Directions: Proposals for DTES plan fails low-income residents, by Jean Swanson & Tamara Herman
BORDERLINES: An interview with Pierre Leichner, by Diane Wood
Sex workers challenge the law: Interview with Kerry Porth about the Bedford supreme court challenge, by Shannon Bundock
“The Hotel Study”: bad scholarship that could further institutionalize low-income people, by Ivan Drury
Life in the Downtown Eastside, by Joan Morelli, Power of Women Group
Health care services near, but still too far, by Byron Cruz, Sanctuary Health
Will Transit changes hurt low-income peoples’ right to move? by Tamara Herman

June 2013 – Gentrification by community plan? See all articles from the issue here
Under pressure of gentrification
, By Downtown East editorial collectivejune2013_DTEast_PAGE1
A 5-point plan to make the DTES a Social Justice Zone
, By the Anti-Gentrification Caucus of the DTES LAPP Committee
The struggle continues after the BC election, By Harold Lavender
Home Turf: A sex workers speaks out against gentrification, By Lulu Bordeaux and Shannon Bundock
DTES Community Plan challenges City Hall’s pro-developer planning process, By Ivan Drury
Homes or an art palace? Which would you choose?, By Jean Swanson
A Chinese elders commitment to the DTES community, By Mercedes Eng
Good Neighbour, Bad Neighbour: Learning from experiences with ‘Good Neighbour’ agreements in Victoria, By Tamara Herman
A housing crisis in Canadian fields, (en espanol) By Agricultural Workers’ Alliance
Film review: My Brooklyn, By Harold Lavender
The Bottle Depot is home, By Ivan Drury
Why I Love the Downtown Eastside, Poem by Stephen Lytton
Amalia lives on, By Byron Cruz

April 2013, With a focus on government attacks and the BC electionapr_2013_DTEast_page1
See full April issue here. Articles include:
Standing, Walking, and Flying for Social Justice, Harold Lavender
Hunger Strike for Social Housing and Against Gentrification, Tami Starlight
Myths and Facts About the Downtown Eastside and Pidgin, Diane Wood and Jean Swanson
Immigration officers are unwanted visitors in the Downtown Eastside, Byron Cruz
Fighting the Injustice of By-Law Tickets and “Proactive” Policing, Dave Hamm
For the Love of Our Community, Tracey Morrison
Gentrification and Hipsters, Karen Ward
Tenant Power and Rent Control, Connor Donegan
Idle No More: A radical two-spirited Indigenous view, Tami Starlight

Web-only special publication: March 23, 2013
Proposed condos next door to Oppenheimer Park already hurting low-income residents, Ivan Drury.
mar2013_front page

March 2013, special issue on the Pidgin Picket
See all with authors and descriptions here
- Why Picket the Pidgin restaurant
How do we know gentrification is pushing up hotel rents?
We need homes
- Ada Dennis, evicted & replaced with condos and Pidgin restaurant
Pigeon: a recent peoples’ history of a peoples’ park
Questions and Answers about Pidgin Picket
Displaced and then replaced

February 2013, Idle No More, BC Election, Gentrification. See all article here
Making BC’s housing crisis an issue
, Harold Lavender
Idle? Know More!  Learning about Indigenous Sovereignty and Land-based Resurgence,
Jean Swansonfeb2013_DTeast_pg1_Page_1
Idle No More! Voices from Indigenous people in the DTES, Interviews
A Very Chilling & Alarming Contrast! Therese Lulf
“Save the Waldorf”? A letter to Change.Org, Gena Thompson
Cops must be accountable for all police violence, Jen Allan
Accountability and law enforcement: First Nations Perspectives from Northern BC, Preston Guno – Nisga’a Nation, Carrier Sekani Family Services
Collective Habitat, Diane Wood
Do we want a Social Justice Zone in the Downtown Eastside?, Jean Swanson
The Myth of the Wealthy Asian Invader, Sozan Savehilag
Power Hour: Shelter Hopping with My Son, Pearly May – DTES Power of Women Group


  1. Rolf Auer

    I’m trying to think how to involve the citizens who patronize PiDGiN. Obviously, handing one copy of this paper to each one is a possibility. However, how to engage them? What about a raffle? After filling out the (priced to sell) ticket, the vendor could attempt to hand an issue of the paper over, or at least ask if the customer would like one. I would roll up the intended issue and put an elastic around it. If they customer were to ask what they were getting, I might say, “It’s more information on what the raffle is about,” or something; perhaps not that, because at some point customers might stop asking. In effect, the raffle ticket is the door crasher, while the information is the hard sell. I’m certain others can come up with more, better ideas. Of course, Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle (physics) which states that to observe something is to change the observed (and I don’t care what anybody says, the theory is current (to me, at least; that’s just the way I am)) might kick in now that I’ve written this; however, it could well be worth the effort.

  2. dave

    Very pricey pidgin is not, in fact it is on the more affordable side compared to others in the area. 28 dollar entree’s is totally wrong and misleading. For people who are always complaining about how the media lies, they sure like to participate by creating their own lies. A quick check of the pidgin menu reveals that out of 20 items one is above $20, one is at $20, two at $17, the rest are all under $15.

    Picketing a restaurant is going about things all the wrong way when the issue is about housing, a couple blocks away alibi room has been charging the exact same prices for years and has never encountered a picket, so to with a half dozen other restaurants within a block. Each one of these for years has co-habited with the type of housing that according to the protesters pigin is now threatening, why pigin and why not these others, why not bitter, or the donut shop, both of which are in view of pidgeon park.

    The article got one thing right, picketing pidgin is giving people the wrong view about those in the neighbourhood. Places like pigin who are willing to work with the community are needed, who else is willing to set up a business in the neighborhood that could provide sustainable jobs for years to come. A community needs to work together withnew business to help the people of the neighbourhood, not work against it.

    The more opposition instead of cooperation there is the worse the displacement efforts will become, and instead of being given an opportunity to participate they will be left out. Change will happen, in a city where there is very little room to expand, it’s a given. The choice is to work with it so it benefits everyone or else it will only benefit one side not both.

    • Ivan

      From the Georgia Straight review: “Dinner for two with two cocktails, a glass of wine, a non-alcoholic beverage, and two desserts came to $114 before tax and tip.”
      This place is marketed towards others than the existing low-income residents and is priced at what many people live on for an entire month in a single meal. It is only “affordable” for the elite (or maybe upper-middle-elite) in this city.

  3. Marc

    You WILL NOT close down a restaurant that has a world renound chef – He has worked all over the world. Pidgin was the wrong restaurant to chose and you are only getting more and more people going to the restaurant (there were 3 others that opened around the same time. Pidgin will be in the top 3 if not the top restaurant in Vancouver (if not Canada) for 2013.

  4. Joe Barnes

    I’ve lived in Vancouver for 20 years. Never before have I seen public opinion be so against the activists – so much so that the vast majority now ridicules you. I applaud your motives, but your tactics need to change before the rest of society and all levels of government completely ignore you.

  5. Michael McQuillan

    No doubt gentrification is going on as developers seek out cheap real estate in an unaffordable city. People are being displaced as a result.
    But lost in all of this is government commitments to build affordable housing in the DTES are not being followed through on. There is this believe that warehousing the homeless and poor in SROs is solving things. We need affordable housing that people can call a home.

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