A gaggle of protesters, including a few from Occupy Vancouver, paid a visit to the Downtown Eastside last night.
They’re unhappy with the number of condos being built along Hastings Street, and wanted to tell the world that no market housing should be allowed in the Downtown Eastside, so long as there are still people living on the streets and in shelters.
Carrying signs and umbrellas, the group of activists unfurled a banner in the middle of West Hastings, tying up rush hour traffic for a few hours.
Some even climbed the scaffolding of a condo development that’s still under construction next to Save-on-Meats.
I was a little worried it would turn messy, but the protestors proved reasonable and decided to leave after a few hours. I think they realized they’d made their point. Many of the demonstrators thanked myself and other police officers for giving them the opportunity to have their say.
One flipped me the bird and told me to get a real job. Oh well. Can’t please everyone.
One of the projects the group is most upset about it the redevelopment of the old Pantages Theatre, next to the Regent Hotel on East Hastings.
I’ll admit that I, too, have watched with some sadness for the past couple months as that little piece of Vancouver history has been torn down — literally brick by brick.
The Pantages Theatre opened in 1908 as only the second in a chain of theatres built by vaudevillian Alexander Pantages. It was the oldest remaining vaudeville theatre in North America.
Now, most of the structure is reduced to a pile of bricks and rubble, as work crews tear the old theatre to the ground to make way for condos.
Supposedly named Sequel 138, the new project is said to include some affordable market housing and space for artists. It’ll be smack in the middle of skid row, surrounded by three of the most run-down rooming houses on the block and directly across from the supervised injection site.
Though it was never much to look at from the outside, I’m told the interior of the old Pantages was quite something to see.
It’s been mothballed and locked up since I started working here, and though there was some suggestion a few years back that it would be restored as part of a major redevelopment, those designs obviously fell through.
Too bad. It would have been nice to see this place restored to its original glory rather than gutted. I’m sure it would have been a great place for a concert, a play or a town-hall meeting.
Heritage Vancouver Society had been pressuring the City of Vancouver to buy the old landmark and come up with a plan to save it.
Unfortunately, the building had been neglected for too long and was practically beyond repair. A leaky roof had caused a soggy mess inside, and much of the structure was in danger of collapse.
Demolition started months ago, and it seems like it’s taking forever. While poking around the site last week I asked one of the workers why they don’t just take a wrecking ball to it.
He explained that the 100-year-old theatre is being dismantled brick by brick then shipped out to be used in another development project elsewhere in the Lower Mainland. So, at least parts of the old Pantages will live on.
That’s a little comfort for we heritage buffs. Not so much for the housing advocates.
Tweet the Beat: Don’t forget to join me tonight as I make my first foray into the Twittersphere. Starting at 3 p.m. I’ll take readers on a tweet-a-long through the Downtown Eastside, giving regular updates throughout my shift under the hashtag #CstSteve. You can follow along at VPD’s Twitter feed, @Vancouver PD. Be sure to send in your questions and comments. I’ll try to get to them when I have some down time.Share