Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC


Oh I know Mr. David Eby is a transplanted figure to my neighborhood and while he has made quite a name for himself around homelessness and the Olympics, he doesn't however, understand the historical significance or geography of the area.

Latest case in point is that Mr. Eby on his blog says the area he lives in-- Strathcona--has traditionally been known as a subsection of the DTES.

Sorry Mr. Eby you are wrong again. Strathcona has always traditionally been known as Strathcona. For as long as I remember Strathcona has had its own neighborhood identity.

The Downtown Eastsiide name came into being in the 70's to earmark an area along Hastings street which was traditionally known as Skid Row.

Former Alderman Mr. Eriksen, one of the co-founders of DERA thought it a demeaning name and the American, Jim Green, who hails from the South suggested the name Downtown Eastside which was a name that resembled the Lower Eastside of New York City where he previously lived.

To be clear here, the overall eastern part of the City was traditionally known as the East End of Vancouver. Those who lived in the East End were very proud of being from the East End. You wore the name like a badge of honour.

The Downtown Eastside Residents Association officially came into being around 1975 and I have a copy of the membership list which includes the early members. My parents actually joined the new organization in 1976 and before them there were perhaps a dozen members.

As DERA gained political power, especially after Mr. Eriksen became Alderman, the name Downtown Eastside kinda stuck.

Mr. Green, even promoted that DERA expand its geographic boundaries which he believed would increase the membership base and make the organization politically stronger.

So Mr. Eby, may I suggest you properly research before you present stuff that is factually incorrect.

For those of us who grew up in the area and are proud of our life-long roots here we find it offensive when a new-comer to the area such as yourself, who presents yourself as an expert in our historic Oldtown area but actually presents distortions of the area, this manifests as being ignorant of our community and sends the message that at times you don't know what the hell you are talking about.

Jamie Lee Hamilton


At 5:28 PM, Blogger David Eby said...

Hi Jamie:

Thanks for keeping me honest, but unlike my Dunsmuir typo, this time I think it's you who have made the error.

If you ask the Strathcona BIA or the Strathcona Residents' Association for their definition of the location of Strathcona, they'll tell you the definition of the Strathcona neighbourhood is Venables (South) to the waterfront or Railway (North) and between Clark (East) and Gore (West). That definition puts some pretty major DTES landmarks (Oppenheimer or Lifeskills anyone?) into play.

Enjoying, as always, your unique style.


At 5:53 PM, Blogger Jamie Lee Hamilton said...

Hi David

Well I'm not sure about Oppenheimer which was originally called Powell Street Grounds and I would say historically it was in the area known as Japantown. Japantown was different than Strathcona and in my opinion still is.

And actually the neighborhood on the other side of the tracks from Glen to Clark was known as Kiwassa. This was due I suppose to Kiwassa Centre being located there on Vernon Drive.

So I'm not sure Strathcona Residents Assn or the BIA have it right either, notwithstanding that they have select boundaries which work to improve their membership numbers.

Would be interesting to know if the City still considers these hoods as unique neighborhoods?

Anyway David thanks for your viewpoints on this. Keep up your good work, whether it be on behalf of the Downtown Eastside, Oldtown, Strathcona, Chinatown or Kiwassa.

At 9:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now that you have the attention of David Eby, a Pivot lawyer, I would like to ask him a question.

How can Pivot collect donations by claiming to be improving the lives of Downtown Eastside residents while you are silent about the civil liberties abuses that go on at Carnegie Center, year after year after year. Pivot lawyers would be aware that I am referring to the banning policy at Carnegie.

Low income people who can't afford lawyers are routinely banned from Carnegie Center for the most trivial reasons (talking back to staff can get a person banned) and then expected to serve their sentences before they have the right to appeal. This happened as recently as last week.

Some of these banned people are the same people Pivot recruits to snap photographs of one another for the Pivot annual fundraising calendar. So why does Pivot stand by while these people are denied basic civil liberties that most Canadians take for granted?

At 9:48 PM, Blogger Jamie Lee Hamilton said...

Hi Anonymous

Really good points but I'm certain David Eby will not respond.

It is tragic that those who purport to assist the downtrodden are some of the biggest abusers of our vulnerable.

Thanks for raising this.

At 1:38 AM, Blogger David Eby said...

There are so many injustices in the DTES, it would take an army of lawyers to solve them. Pivot doesn't have an army of lawyers, which is why we have to take instructions from the community on what the community identifies as priority issues.

Those issues were, at Pivot's founding, and to today: policing, housing, criminalization of sex work, access to addiction services and harm reduction services, and child protection removals for reasons of poverty.

Anonymous is right, the banning policy at Carnegie has been a low priority for Pivot because it has been a low priority for the community given the very pressing list above.


At 6:53 PM, Blogger Jamie Lee Hamilton said...

I eat my words. David responded although I confess I sent him an email relaying that someone had commented about hm on the blog.

Mr. Eby makes a good point about other pressing issues for Pivot but I'm somewhat perplexed since Pivot advocates for those abused by other systems but doesn't think abuse by povertarians is pressing enough to warrant Pivot's engagement.


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