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Group 1 will be examining the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. Although the DTES comprises several neighborhoods by civic boundary, we will focus our study to the area surrounding the Woodwards Development. The Issue we will be analyzing is the effects of ongoing gentrification in the area.

The effects of gentrification on the DTES are of significant importance. As one of the poorest postal codes in Canada, DTES residents are especially susceptible to rising property values and subsequent rising rents. The DTES also has special appeal as an area where unconventional artists, shops, and entertainment venues are located. Our study will take an interest on how the new development in the area has affected these features.

Analysis of Issue & Neighbourhood

The Neighbourhood - The Woodward's Block, DTES Vancouver

Woodward's Block


The neighbourhood study area is located in the Downtown Eastside (DTES). More specifically the area around the newly restored/renovated Woodward's building. The Woodward's building occupies the eastern half of the block bordered by Hastings, Cambie, Cordova, and Abbot Streets.

Original Woodward's Building


Vancouver's development grew outward from the community now known as the the Downtown Eastside[1]. It's growth was based upon primary industry and shipping. At the turn of the century the Downtown Eastside contained the Central Business District of the city. The area was also once home to city hall and the main library, which is know Carnegie Center and a visual reminder of the extreme poverty and destitution of the area[2]. Several department stores were once located in the area, including the old Woodwards, built in 1902[3]. At one time the area was a streetcar transit hub, with a station at the old B.C. Electric building[4]. The Central Business District Began to migrate westward beginning with the construction of the Hudson's Bay and Birk's stores in 1913 at Georgia and Granville[5]A loss of streetcar service to the area in 1958, once an important mode of intracity transportation, reduced foot traffic in the area an estimated 10000 people per day[6].In the late 1960's The Eaton's department store closed its Hastings street location and moved to the Pacific Center Mall[7]. De-institutionalization of the mentally ill staring in the 1970's, discussed further below, as well as the introduction of crack cocaine had severely adverse effects on the area[8]. The sum of these factors has created a conception of place at least in the Canadian perspective that is without parallel for its vision of poverty, crime, drug use, prostitution, and homelessness. The Woodward's building celebrated its centennial in 1992. It housed the department store of the same name until the business went bankrupt in 1993. Woodward's was an anchor store in the community; it provided one-stop shopping for its customers through a wide range of goods and services. [9] After the bankruptcy the building lay vacant for a decade. It was purchased from the Province of British Columbia by the City of Vancouver in 2003. [10] In 1971 there was a riot as police removed hippie protesters/squatters from the neighborhood. In 2002 the vacant Woodward's building was once again a protest site. It was occupied by squatters protesting the need for social housing. [11] They were later provided with temporary housing in nearby hotels. [12] Planning for the Woodward's development included extensive community consultation. Some of the guiding principles for the development included: maintaining and enhancing the existing community, incorporate the talents, visions, and desires of the Downtown Eastside community, and provide employment opportunities for local residents in both the construction and operation of the new building. [13]

Census Tract 933059.06


The study area falls within census tract 9330059.06. [14]

The population at the time of the 2006 census was 6,205. This was a 24.3% increase from the 2001 census count of 4,993. Other data of note for this census tract regards the aboriginal population and income. Aboriginals make up 16.5% of the population compared to 1.9% of the Vancouver population and 4.8% of the provincial population. The median earnings are $19,070. Not surprisingly 70.6% of the population are low income before tax and 63.0% are considered low income after tax. These figures are in sharp contrast with those in the table for Vancouver and the Province of British Columbia. In addition the percentage of government transfers makes up 32.0% of the total income for residents. Once again this is in contrast to the city and provincial figures of 8.8% and 10.7%.

Population Counts 0059.06 (CT) Vancouver (CMA) BC (PR)
Population in 2006 6,205 2,116,581 4,113,487
Population in 2001 4,993 1.986,965 3,907,738
2001 to 2006 population change (%) 24.3 6.5 5.3
Aboriginal population
Aboriginal identity population 960 40310 196070
Persons 15 years and over with earnings (counts) 2,415 1,242,245 2,392,805
Median earnings - Persons 15 years and over ($) 19,070 27,596 25,722
Persons 15 years and over with earnings who worked full year, full time (counts) 875 596,500 1,113,365
Median earnings - Persons 15 years and over who worked full year, full time ($) 38,286 43,215 42,230
Income in 2005
Median income - Persons 15 years and over ($) 10,884 25,032 24,867
Median income after tax - Persons 15 years and over ($) 10,884 22,948 22,785
Earnings - As a % of total income 61.0 78.0 75.1
Government transfers - As a % of total income 32.00 8.8 10.7
% in low income before tax - All persons 70.6 20.8 17.3
% in low income after tax - All persons 63.0 16.5 13.1[15]

Model of Woodward's Development

Built Form:

The current Woodward's site houses: a forty-storey condo tower (536 units market housing), 200 affordable units (social housing), retail space, office space, the SFU School for the Contemporary Arts, and an urban park. The development was completed in 2009 after seven years of failed and stalled attempts at a development plan that included social housing and ten years of property tax breaks. [16][17]. While referencing the former Woodward's building through the large neon W and the New York flatiron building of 1902, the new structure stands in sharp contrast to many of the worn buildings surrounding it. To the north and west is Gastown with its tourist shops, restaurants, sports bars, and upscale urban specialty stores. To the south are two and three storey buildings with vacant ground floor commercial space and decrepit above shop residences and studies spaces. Finally to the east is "the poorest postal code in Canada", the Downtown Eastside. The majority of the buildings were constructed in the early twentieth century. The few exceptions being: Tinseltown movie theatre and shopping complex, and a few condominium developments, which do not occur east of Main Street. The area houses many high-rise hotels. Ten of these have been purchased by the City of Vancouver to serve as Single Room Occupancy (SRO) residences. The remainder of the hotels are still owned by slumlords and see brisk business in both the sex and drug trade. Many of the buildings in the area can be characterized by their lack of maintenance and/or vacancy. A large number of the residents of the DTES are homeless and gatherings of over two hundred people along Hastings Street, between Carrall and Columbia Streets, are not uncommon.

Bike Routes

Transportation Infrastructure:

The roads in this area are well maintained to facilitate the rush hour traffic. Hastings Street in particular as it is a primary east-west arterial road. The Stadium Chinatown Station of the Millenium and Expo Skytrain lines is less than a five-minute walk south from the Woodward's Building. A ten-minute walk to the northwest, Waterfront Station provides access to the Canada Line and the Seabus. There is regular bus service along Hastings Street that also includes a night bus. Biking in this area is also convenient. There is an east-west route along Pender Street, and a north-south route along Beatty Street.

The Issue - Gentrification

Gentrification is a familiar issue in many Vancouver neighbourhoods. Typically, the process of gentrification presents itself in a predictable progression. Artists and students are the first signifiers of gentrification’s demographic shift as they adopt cheap, urban neighbourhoods in search of gritty and diverse surroundings[18]. New retail and commercial offerings follow, with trendy restaurants, bars and boutiques, catering to the neighbourhood’s new clientele[19]. Newly found cache creates a more mainstream interest in the neighbourhood, causing rental increases that tend to displace existing residents and attract developers and those with capital to invest[20].

The gentrification of a neighbourhood can also be monitored statistically through “the movement of middle-class professionals into lower-cost inner-city districts”[21]. Between 1996 and 2006, Vancouver’s Downtown core experienced a median household income increase of almost $30,000[22]. And while the average household size increased by 0.3%, low income households decreased by over 10%[23]. These numbers encompass many diverse downtown neighbourhoods. However, when considering that in 2010 only 12% of private DTES hotels were deemed affordable to welfare recipients, as compared to 29% just one year ago,[24] it is clear that residents are being priced out of their traditional housing. According to the recent report “Pushed Out: Escalating Rents in the Downtown Eastside”, “gentrification of the [Downtown Eastside], spurred by Woodward’s and market housing development, is a major cause of the rent increase”[25].

The Woodward’s development is at the centre of four distinct Downtown Eastside communities (Gastown, Chinatown, Oppenheimer and Victory Square) and takes up close to an entire city block. Since construction on the Woodward’s building began in 2006, there has been a shift in the neighbourhood from a traditional, declining inner-city environment to that of revitalization and massive redevelopment[26]. Along with the creation of modern housing units, the building has also introduced major retailers and boutique service industry outlets to the neighbourhood. The resulting increased cost of living, new inhabitants and business opportunities have all contributed to considerable gentrification.

Photographic Re-enactment of the 1971 Riot in Woodward's foyer

Gentrification surrounding the Woodward’s development signals a significant change in the DTES. As the first major development in the DTES, policy makers will be looking to see how it succeeds. The building is poised to set a precedent for developments in the neighbourhood. The Woodward’s website boasts the tagline “This is your neighbourhood”, however, one could claim it no longer belongs to those who have traditionally resided in the area. Gentrification causes major dislocation of residents even though many are often reluctant to leave[27]. The old Woodward’s building was the infamous site of mass political protest by activists and homeless people demanding better access to social housing in the neighbourhood[28]. Though social housing is a part of the Woodward’s project, as gentrification intensifies, low-income wage earners are forced out,[29] causing them to relocate to areas where there is perhaps no social structure in place to support them. A quick apartment search on Vancouver’s Craigslist website shows that an average 1 bedroom in the Woodward’s building rents for approximately $1500-1600/month. A similar apartment in the West End rents for approximately $1100-1300/month, while one in Yaletown rents for approximately $1300-1400/month. In this newly minted neighbourhood, not only are existing residents being priced out, so too are other, more fiscally established Vancouverites.

The Woodward’s block deserves attention and analysis because, as was mentioned above, it is an innovative and possibly policy-making development. The building is mixed use and houses residential space (including social housing), retail space, offices (NFB), daycare, university campus, etc. Public concerns have been integrated with private development. And so while gentrification is of concern, this is a project that in many ways has attempted to satisfy community demands while providing opportunities. Mixed use facilities such as the Woodward's block prove that cooperating and working with a variety of special interest groups can result in a successful real estate development for all those involved.

Ultimately, though Woodward’s has the potential to be a great revitalization story, given its location in the heart of the DTES, Vancouver’s most volatile are those who will be considerably affected by its presence. The poor, mentally ill, homeless, addicted residents stand to lose the most in the wake of gentrification. “There are 10,000 Downtown Eastside residents who can ill afford monthly rents of more than $375”,[30] residents who will be forced to search elsewhere for shelter. Without a drastic increase in affordable housing stock or a raise in welfare rates, the neighbourhood may experience a swell in the number of homeless and a more visible income disparity.

Factors Causing Gentrification

When considering a specific location, such as the Woodwards building block in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, it is important to understand that there is no one single factor contributing to the gentrification the the district. There are in fact, many different factors that influence gentrification and the Woodwards District in the DTES is no exception.

One underlying factor is that, many areas that experience gentrification are bordered along districts with a relatively modest level of income. For example the DTES, containing the Woodwards block is located less that one kilometer from Vancouver's Financial District[31]. With a majority of the modest to high level business taking place within close proximity to the DTES, the risk of investing, financially is not as high as the risk of investing in a location surrounded by blue collar neighbourhoods and working manufacturing districts, which are considered deterrents for gentrification[32].

Another factor that plays a role in gentrification is whether the property and the amount of it, is determined acceptable for gentrification[33]. The DTES is considered to be the highest concentration of listed heritage building and because the land values are so low in comparison to other downtown districts the rent gap is large and enticing to the middle class[34]. Property that is considered desirable is often evaluated on the value it holds as a heritage site. Issues such as plumbing, and interior organization of rooms and walls are not large concerns as they can be restructured and renovated, however the integrity of the building, like the original doors, hold the interest of the residents[35]. A building such as the Woodwards building, holds a great deal of historical value wether it be the presence of the 'W' on the Vancouver skyline or the department style Christmas displays. On the City of Vancouver's website there is a page devoted to the Woodwards district project, along with many other guiding principles, to "celebrate the symbolism of the historic building (e.g., the lighted “W”, the façade, Christmas displays, etc.)" is listed. [36].

In addition of the historical and heritage value of the building, the neighbourhood that expands beyond plays an even larger influence on the transformation. Districts that have access to downtown, parks, leafy streets, the waterfront, views, museums, art and culture are more favourable than districts that are isolated [37]. As seen on the map displayed on the Woodwards District website, the Woodwards block is located in downtown Vancouver, it is located within walking distance to 3 different secondary school campuses, the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre, the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Chinese cultural Gardens, Rogers Arena, BC Place, 2 different waterfronts, has views of the Coastal Mountain range and is located close to a variety of eateries, coffee shops and night life. [38]

Finally, factors such as the government play a role in gentrification. The affordable housing movement in Vancouver has been building for decades and although gentrification is not the most supportive institution when affordable housing is concerned, the Provincial government, through the Vancouver Agreement has proposed "revitalization without displacement"[39]. This approach is one that encourages mixed social housing with middle income housing, so in the case of the Woodwards block a percentage of affordable housing will be offered along side that of the desired middle to modest income bracket. Although this type of approach is not one that sets the wheels of gentrification in motion, it is a factor that enables.

The Influence of Neoliberalism

Woodward's Block

Neoliberalism is associated with a reduction of government involvement in economic enterprise, and an accompanying reduction in government provided social services[40]. The reduction of social services associated with Neoliberalism has had an exaggerated impact on the Downtown Eastside, where many residents are dependent on welfare and other forms of social assistance. With the reduction of government services in the Downtown Eastside, NGO's and other groups have moved in to fill the need for services. Community organizations have long lobbied government for increased funding for social programs and improvement for the area's residents. One of the bleakest periods in the history of the Downtown Eastside was during the 1990's when HIV/AIDS caused a devastating loss of life. The concentration of social services in the area has grown so that these groups form a powerful lobby that property developers must negotiate with when wanting to undertake projects in the area[41]. Geographer Katharyne Mitchell has argued that these non-profit agencies are beholden to tax dollars, grant funds, and other funding from private corporations. This influences the direction that the non-profits operate, and can co-opt them into a neoliberal focused agenda. This happens in a larger neoliberal framework that has the state reduce its involvement in providing a social safety net and downloading that responsibility to the voluntary sector.[42]. The Woodwards development forms an interesting case study on how development proceeds in a marginalized area. Property developers grant concessions such as social housing in order to appease concerns from community advocates.

Neoliberalism has also influenced the reduction in Mental Health resources Available in British Columbia. De-Institutionalization, the phasing of mental health patients out of formal mental care facilities and into the community, is one result. While incorporating mental health patients into the community may seem to be a worthy goal, Insufficient funding has resulted in many patients being faced with homelessness, suicide, and contact with police[43]. One study commissioned by the Vancouver Police Department found that 42% of police calls to the Downtown Eastside during the study period involved a mentally ill person[44]. The mentally ill within the Downtown Eastside, along with welfare recipients, form an especially vulnerable group to the rising rents gentrification brings. Downtown Eastside residents who were formerly housed within mental health institutions have less ability to secure new housing when pushed out of a gentrifying community. An increase in public funds for mental healthcare would likely lessen the overall cost of dealing with mental health problems in the Downtown Eastside, As police and primary care facilities often times end up responding to mental health emergencies.

Whereas a community such as Kerrisdale in Vancouver would not likely feel the strain in reduced welfare and employment insurance eligibility, the Downtown Eastside feels considerable strain from these cuts. Cuts to the welfare rates by Gordon Cambell's liberal Government made a large number of people ineligible for welfare in British Columbia. Although a direct causal link may be difficult to prove, it seems likely that the combination of welfare cuts, with the associated rising rents from gentrification caused some residents of the Downtown Eastside to become homeless. For the reason that Downtown Eastside resident may struggle with drug and alcohol addiction problems, as well as mental health problems (sometimes referred to as dual diagnosed), policy initiatives must be taken in order to prevent an expansion of the social problems in the area. As homelessness ends up costing the public purse significantly through primary health care, police, and homeless shleters, a re-evaluation of welfare rates and mental health policy may be in the public's best interest.

Gentrification related to the broader themes of Geography 350

The gentrification of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, exemplified by the Woodward's development, relates to the broader factors and theories of urban change that we are learning about in Geography 350. In this course, we have learned that proximity is an important factor in explaining the value of a property. In particular, the properties with the highest value are those closest to a city's downtown, which the Woodward's building is.[45] Furthermore, the website for the Woodwards District, the new development in the Woodward's building, emphasizes its proximity to amenities such as shopping, fitness, restaurants, and nightlife.[46] Although the Woodward's building is situated in one of Canada's poorest neighbourhoods, it is right on the fringe of Vancouver's vibrant downtown core. For this reason, it is not surprising that it was a target for redevelopment.

The gentrification of the block of the Woodward's building can also be explained by changes in Canada's economy which have led to a renewed desire to live in urban centres. In the mid-20th Century, a high proportion of the workforce in capitalist countries such as Canada was employed in relatively high-paying manufacturing jobs which did not require post-secondary education.[47] Around 35 years ago, in the face of greater worldwide competition and increasing oil prices, however, economies such as Canada's began to suffer. The resulting deindustrialization led to a change in the economic activities that produced the most wealth and created what is known as a knowledge-based economy.[48] Today, many more North Americans are employed in industries requiring education and creativity than was the case 50 years ago;[49] this new “creative class” is more likely to want to live in the city than the suburbs.

In the new knowledge-based economy, living within the city is more desirable and trendy for wealthy professionals than it was among the previous generation for a number of reasons. First, families tend to be smaller today,[50] so fewer want or need the large houses with yards found in suburbs. People are also getting married and having children later in life than in the past, meaning young professionals have more money to spend on going to concerts, dining out, and visiting museums, opportunities for which are concentrated in the city.[51]

In addition, the cost and hassle of commuting between the city and outlying areas has increased. Especially since more families have two members employed outside of the home, commuting costs may be doubled if both partners drive to work.[52] At the same time, increasing population in cities has led to an increase in car traffic, which lengthens commutes.[53] This is not only regarded as a waste of time, but also is a source of stress. Furthermore, commuting by car between home and work is not an acceptable option for an growing number of people who have a concern for the environmental impact of cars and urban sprawl. These factors detract from the attractiveness of the suburban lifestyle that was previously regarded as very desirable.

These changes to our society help to explain the gentrification of the western portion of Vancouver's Downtown East Side. In particular, Woodwards District is clearly marketed to the new creative class. This is evidenced by the website boasting that this building is close to the amenities favoured by new city dwellers, such as cafes, bars, and fitness centres.[54] The inclusion of the Simon Fraser University School for the Contemporary Arts within the development also adds to its attractiveness for the creative class. While it is widely accepted among the general population that developments such as this one are generally positive since they “clean up” the DTES, others point to the issue of gentrification, and how the movement of larger numbers of wealthy professionals into the inner city has the effect of displacing marginalized people.

Possible Solutions

The issue of gentrification has brought another problem to those least equipped to handle it, the inhabitants of the Downtown Eastside. Gentrification brings both positive and negative effects to a neighbourhood. It can be a positive force of renewal. The built environment can be modified or replaced. Gentrification enables a realization of higher capital value for the municipality as a higher land value is achieved through the new and/or improved use.

One of the dangers of gentrification is its success. Municipalities and developers seek to replicate it rather than pursue more innovative paths and this contributes to path dependence.[55] To date gentrification in the Downtown Eastside has taken two paths. Market housing in the area has taken the form of loft style condominiums. This has typically been in isolated single purpose buildings. The Woodward's Building in contrast has been a project dedicated to mixed-use and inclusiveness. It sought to create a living environment where wealthy, urban professionals could live in the same neighbourhood as some of Vancouver's most economically and socially disadvantaged citizens. In the case of the Woodward's building it might be argued that one of the fringe effects of gentrification is the cache it brings to a neighbourhood. This can be seen in the marketing campaign for the development. The Woodward's development was so successfully marketed that all 536 market residential units were sold within a day.[56] It will be interesting to see which path future developments take in the Downtown Eastside.

Non-gentrified alley greets the eastern exit of the Woodward's building

The negative side of gentrification does not renew but rather removes and replaces. This can be true of the built form where there is potential for historical structures important to a neighbourhood to be lost and also true of the residents. These residents are disadvantaged by the very fact that they are living in area that is experiencing gentrification. This neighbourhood around the Woodward's building already suffers from the notoriety of being adjacent to the nation's poorest postal code. They are because of their socio-economic status marginalized members of society. A higher incidence of mental illness, drug abuse, and prostitution all contribute to a portrait of Downtown Eastside residents that rationalizes a political and bureaucratic stance that does not always appear equitable.

It has and will continue to be argued whether the Woodward's development process included dialogue with Downtown Eastside residents and actively sought their opinions and feedback. To the credit of those involved they went to great lengths to involve local residents in the process.[57] There were a series of meetings throughout the Downtown Eastside at various locations and various times to facilitate resident participation.[58] The Co-Design Group ,which implemented the consultation process, described the outcomes of their workshops thus: Conducted a positive forum of public design, to eliminate negative comment;

• Related plans to citizens’ own lives;

• Gave citizens an easy entry into the design dialogue;

• Gave decision-makers a picture of community preferences; and

• Produced design criteria for the planners and architects. [59]

The community consultation process implemented by the Co-Design Group can be understood in greater detail at .The themes that were discussed included: residential use or housing, health, recreational uses, cultural uses, commercial and retail, employment, social, institutional, and general design/linkage. This community input was solicited prior to the awarding of the development contract and was used as a guideline for planning and design. This community consultation process does adhere to one of the Guiding Principles for the Woodward's Project; to incorporate user group involvement in the design process.[60]

The redevelopment process to date has considered two main groups: long-term Downtown Eastside residents and the affluent new condo owners. Much attention has been given, and rightfully so, to attaining some form of equity for the residents of the poorest neighbourhood in Canada. As a result of community advocacy, and NIMBYism in other areas of the Lower mainland, a very large number of social services and homeless shelters exist in the area. Although it may not reduce the overall amount of homelessness, distributing the social services concentrated in the area to other areas of the Lower Mainland may be one way of addressing the social malaise afflicting the area. Care and consideration has been given to the process of introducing this development for wealthy professionals to this neighbourhood. But neither of these groups provides an accurate sampling of society. A broader representation of society in the demographics of this neighbourhood might alleviate the negative effects of gentrification. Incorporating a mix of housing types into the area, as has been done by the new Woodward's development, could have a normalizing effect on the area. Community advocate Jim Green recommends incorporating family housing into the area[61]. This may serve to allay the perception of the area as the domain of the down and out. It has been argued that it is beneficial for neighbourhoods to have a social mix and thus be better balanced. [62] The housing stock on the Woodward's building may be able to house a broader demographic of people but can the surrounding social services and infrastructure support it? Currently the answer is no. The Woodward's building does contain a daycare and is designed to contain family housing in some of its social housing units. However children and the elderly are noticeably absent in marketing campaigns for the Woodward's Building. These two groups should be represented more actively if a meaningful attempt at restoring community in this area is to be achieved.

Vacant buildings south of the Woodward's Building

The urban core, of which this site was once part of, has been traditionally considered not a 'place' for seniors or children. Society tends to imagine these groups in more idyllic surroundings. This traditional view should not be allowed to interfere with reality. As the City of Vancouver website clearly states, "The city is effectively built out, so population growth is accommodated by increasing density in many different ways throughout the city."[63] The city contains 27% of Metro Vancouver's population within only 4% of its' land area (2006)[64] While other opportunities may present themselves some thought should be given to a built environment that is more inclusive of children and seniors. The Stats Canada data compiled on the City of Vancouver website [65] shows that the percentage of seniors in the population has stayed roughly the same in this ares even though there are 22,700 more seniors in 2006 than in 1961. It is well within the powers of the City of Vancouver and its' zoning tools to facilitate the creation of places for children and seniors. The physical space for such development does exist: there are several 4-storey buildings to the southwest that are currently underutilized, and to the east there is an empty lot and a car rental agency. These sites could be redeveloped to not only realize greater land value but a greater social value.

A final suggestion for ameliorating the effects of gentrification in this neighbourhood pertains to the issue of mental health. The Downtown Eastside contains the disadvantaged of whom a large percentage are mentally ill. The development of a medical building whose primary focus was the treatment of the mentally ill could ease some of the displacement of previous residents. A medical facility located within an area undergoing gentrification could realize greater long-term value for the community. Recognizing and treating the mentally ill in the Downtown Eastside would provide wider social benefits in the form of reduction of crime, reduced strain on emergency healthcare services, and reduced stigma surrounding mental affliction. When viewed in the context of the Downtown Eastside it is easy to forget mental illness is not a class-related condition. Poverty and social isolation simply reduce the ability to conceal it.

Southeastern view of the Woodward's Development

The architect for the Woodward's project, Gregory Henriquez, stated: "The architecture of this site is really fundamentally about programming. It's about a mixed-use program trying to posit an inclusive form of community".[66] He further states that no one was displaced by the rebuilding of the Woodward's building. This is a little disingenuous. It might be more accurate to say no one lost their home. The facts are that 536 market housing units in addition to 200 units of social housing were built on a single block that previously held a derelict department store. Increasing density will certainly affect those living in the area whether they have a home or not.

It will take time to see if the ideals Henriquez professes in his design have a positive effect on the neighbourhood. Of more importance is whether subsequent developments in the Downtown Eastside will incorporate a similar vision of inclusivity. The developer, Ian Gillespie, absorbed the cost of creating additional public space in the social housing. BC Housing would not contribute enough money to create social housing beyond the basics.[67]

These suggestions have been made with an awareness of the temporal and historical setting of the Woodward's development in the Downtown Eastside. This project was undertaken at the beginning of the current Liberal government's reign. As we enter their tenth year in power it seems unlikely that there will be any future provincial support for such progressive housing initiatives. In the greater context of the neo-Liberal reduction of the welfare state both provincially and nationally support for developments like the Woodward's Building seem highly unlikely. The success of future mixed-use projects will be most dependent on the initiative and sense of civic responsibility held by developers.


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