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Downtown Eastside Plan update highlights ongoing progress for the community

April 6 2017

Aerial view of Woodwards building in DTES

Three years after Council adopted the Downtown Eastside (DTES) Plan, we've made significant progress on targets set to improve quality of life and support the community, including delivering 1,700 new jobs and 789 units of new social housing in the neighbourhood.  

At the same time, the neighbourhood continues to face difficult challenges such as the opioid crisis, poverty, and homelessness.

Staff will present an update to City Council on April 11 to review how we continue to carry out the DTES Plan.

Highlights so far in delivering the plan

The plan was developed in partnership with members of the community and provides a vision, policies, and strategies for the DTES which focus on ways to improve the lives of low-income residents and all members of the community. It was the first community plan in our history to include an economic development strategy component.

Since 2014, there have been $15.9 million of City investments made in the DTES, including $9.1 million in direct infrastructure investments and $6.8 million in grants. While the plan lays out 30-year targets for the DTES, the area is already experiencing positive changes in many areas.

Local economic progress

  • There has been an almost 5% growth in businesses with more than 1,700 job opportunities added to the community.
  • The Community Economic Development Strategy was approved and aims to create job opportunities and reduce poverty across all spectrums of the local economy.
  • A dedicated site for local vendors was secured as the DTES Street Market relocated to 501 Powell Street, operating on weekends, with additional market space at 62 East Hastings on weekdays.
  • The Low Barrier Employment and Income Generating Hub at the Lux Hotel was established to help provide and connect low-income DTES residents with services and opportunities.
  • The Community Impact Real Estate Society (CIRES) was formed, with partners BC Housing and Vancity Community Foundation, as a social enterprise that operates a mix of market and non-market rental spaces. So far, 57 commercial units have been designated for low-income-serving retail.

 Community and cultural progress

  • Almost $1 million in DTES Capital Grants were awarded to 37 projects to improve community assets, including the Vancouver Japanese Language School and Hall, PACE Society, and YWCA Crabtree Corner.
  • 60 school-age care spaces will be part of the new Crosstown Elementary School, and 37 childcare spaces will be built at the Gastown Parkade.
  • The new nə́c̓aʔmat ct Strathcona library branch will open in 2017.
  • New artists’ studios, maker spaces, and performance spaces will be included in the 312 Main project, and 50,000 square feet of community arts space is being developed by BC Artscape.
  • The Chinese Society Legacy Program was established to help rehabilitate 12 society heritage buildings, with the City committing $3.6 million in start-up funding.
  • The Survivors’ Pigeon Park Totem Pole was installed in November 2016, as a symbol of survival and healing from social and racial injustice.

Housing

The following housing is approved, under construction, or complete.

  • 789 new social housing units
  • 535 new secured market-rental units
  • 1,028 upgraded single room occupancy units

The first new "60% social housing, 40% rental housing" project was started at 288 East Hastings Street.

Improvements to public spaces

  • Multiple upgrades for crossings, curb ramps, bike lanes, crosswalks, surface treatment, and lighting were completed to improve safety and movement in the area.
  • The redesign of Blood Alley Square is underway, with a final design to be presented in summer 2017 that will help support the Square as a vibrant, inclusive community space.

Follow our work to deliver the DTES Plan