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Karen Ward @kwardvancouver
, 23 tweets, 9 min read Read on Twitter
"Based on the agenda of the City of Vancouver’s Urban Design Panel on Wednesday (June 27), the development will have 38 housing units as well as 12 micro dwelling units above commercial spaces on ground level." Those are the only details about the 'development'. #dtes #vanpoli
cw: the thread that will undoubtedly ensue may contain various not-exactly-on-topic freak-outs, references to harsh things, bitter yet nuanced literary allusions, & images i spend too much time making (gifs gifs gifs). Because this is worth it. #ThisIsWhy
This 'development', the article does not note, is beside this capital-generating structure, and an important public space. Good thing I checked, because if you read @tlupick's article, I am already pissed off about this!…
I have some facts: "The Applicant, Human Studio Architecture + Urban Design on behalf of the Developer, Millennium Group have applied to the City for permission to restore a 2-storey municipally designated heritage building (McConnell [335 Carrall]), ....
add a 3-storey addition and build a 7-storey infill building on the adjacent lot (333 Carrall).
That was Millenium who is developing this 'site.' That's relevant information…
But as this history of the old building, the Louvre, beautifully woven by @PstTnse reveals, this is about much more, and less, this is about settler-vancouver and the #dtes and what it is.…
For the Panel's attention. I am writing with great concern for the future of 323-335 Carrall Street, the McDonnell Building, once the Louvre Hotel, adjacent to Pigeon Park (Pioneer Square). I will not dwell on the elitist inadequacies of the building design overall;
it is an unimaginative offering at best and does not meet the standards of this area’s past, nor I hope, its better future. But this proposal is, frankly, an affront to our collective #history, and an erasure.
This building is contemporaneous with the Great Fire. It is listed as the “Vancouver Tea &Coffee Co.” in 1889, operated by Won Alexander Cumyow. He was the first person of Chinese descent born in “Canada,” and barred by racist laws from becoming a lawyer...
he served as an interpreter, speaking several dialects very well and perfect 19th century Vancouver english. He was the only person known to have voted both before and after disenfranchisement. [below, voting in 1955.]
A little later the building was the Louvre Saloon, and was the place to go. It became the Louvre Hotel because Prohibition.
This is the oldest “ghost sign” in Vancouver. Beds 20c.
But the building’s first occupant, interestingly, was the Vancouver Drug Co. Among its more recent tenants, were the people who opened the unsanctioned safe injection site that led to Insite, the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users @VANDUpeople - Canada's first drug-user org.
And 327 Carrall was the place where WAHRS, the Western Aboriginal Harm Reduction Society was founded. Lives were saved there. Lives are still being saved today because of things that happened there, words that were said.
Now, I am no nostalgic sentimentalist. This building should be cared for, restored, re-opened. But this, I submit to the Panel, is an important historical site, one which has enabled, through community, the growth of a transformative movement that has become national, and beyond.
The idea of VANDU - a politics of Harm Reduction -has changed many lives, beyond an organization, and beyond simple stereotypes of the “drug user”. Bud Osborne wrote poems on the walls and painted over them later. I met him here. This is our history, everyone’s. Vancouver’s.
We must acknowledge this as a part of who we all are. This historical awareness is part of the knowledge that is required, I believe, to end the overdose crisis. To find roots, foundations, when we have none. Together, we were a forest of raised hands that day
And it is Sacred, too - @cultrsaveslives drums there, often. The Survivor's Totem, raised just 2 years ago, is a spiritual axis for the entire community. We remember our dead there. It is a very important place.…
It is not a concrete triangle, a blank slate.
It is a history that needs no plaque but is not less real. It pursues us all fiercely
It’s said that History is Written by the Winners. I disagree. I think history is what you choose to work to understand. It's what you choose to read, or look squarely at, or finally face. It’s a complicated thing: to really understand the past, I think (and I don’t, yet)
one must prepare oneself to be strong and brave and vulnerable enough to face the present too, and be hurt by both.
Right now, we need this building to be much more than is proposed. I urge you to reject this proposal.
#vanpoli #pigeonpark #dtes
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