My neighbourhood of Gastown and the Vancouver Downtown Eastside is again in the hotseat.
As a new restaurant called Pigdin just opened up across the street from Pigeon Park, a busy gathering space in the poverty-sticken Downtown Eastside within the astronomically pricey Vancouver downtown, demonstrators have been often lingering out front with signs shouting things like, “Feed the hungry, eat the rich.”
These “anti-poverty activists” surely have every reason to demonstrate peacefully (if you can ignore claimed shining flashlights into patrons eyes). And yes, this neighbourhood has had long lasting debate about its population and support for those living there. Here, they are crying gentrification. Thankfully, the restaurant management has acted with remarkable constraint.
But there’s a problem. Gastown is becoming one of the hottest neighbourhoods in an increasingly expensive city. Here comes a financially backed restaurant to bring business (and perhaps taste and culinary attention) into the area. Just because you can’t afford to rent in the same place as you’ve always lived, doesn’t mean you have a right to stay.
If you’re hard working, middle or upper middle class family looking to buy in Vancouver, you’re probably getting on the highway driving away from the downtown core until you can afford something you like. Now, are these people protesting?
As for me, I’m looking forward to trying it out for dinner sometime soon.
That’s the argument. Embrace business and culture in your neighbourhood. Don’t cry gentrification. And let me have your best debate.