For Immediate Release: October 8th, 2010

During last night’s Council meeting, Councillors heard from a list of over 20 speakers voicing their support for social housing units above a proposed Strathcona Downtown Eastside Library branch. COPE Councillor Ellen Woodsworth, a long time advocate for the Downtown Eastside community, attempted to move a motion that would guarantee a housing option for the library and it’s city-owned site. Unfortunately, the motion was defeated by the rest of City Council.

"Council spent the night hearing from a range of passionate advocates from the Strathcona and Downtown Eastside communities," said Woodsworth, "And the overwhelming message was to make sure there could be housing as part of this development, but once again neighbourhood appeals have fallen on deaf ears."

Woodsworth’s motion would have called for the proposed design to include housing either as part of the final proposal, or as a future option. Woodsworth said that she understands that the city needs far more financial support from the Provincial and Federal Governments to ramp up the construction of affordable housing, "But all the community was asking for was – at a minimum – to make the project housing-ready. I’m at a loss as to why that couldn’t be done."

Speaker after speaker addressed City Council and spoke about the importance of a library in the area while stressing the critical need for housing to be a part of any development. Councillor Woodsworth says a huge opportunity was lost. "We had a chance to make a tangible step forward in terms of housing in the Downtown Eastside. No one was demanding the housing now, only for it to be kept as an option for the future."

Woodsworth stressed that at the end of the day, solving Vancouver’s homelessness crisis is about priorities. "Council had the chance to send a positive message to the people that came out to speak, and to the entire Downtown Eastside and Strathcona communities. Council had the chance to say ‘Your voice matters, we hear you, we’re going to do the right thing.’ 

"But instead," says Woodsworth, "The message the community got was the exact opposite. I’m very disappointed, we’re all disappointed."

Councillor Woodsworth calls Strathcona Library decision "huge lost opportunity"