VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – A 36-day hunger strike by the Downtown Eastside’s Homeless Dave has come to an end.
He wound up his crusade against gentrification Friday evening, surrounded by protesters at Pidgin Restaurant on Carrall Street.
“I’m weak and I’m feeling relief. I’m going to rest for a while, because, to tell you the truth, I’m exhausted,” he says.
He began his fast looking for three things: the conversion of the former police station on Main Street into social housing, a halt to a proposed condo on Hastings, and the transformation of the Downtown Eastside into a social justice zone.
While none of the ‘demands’ were met, he says he succeeded in galvanizing the community around the issue of homelessness and social housing.
During the month, he met with an MP, the head of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs and civic leaders. He’s disappointed in what the mayor of Vancouver had to offer. He says Gregor Robertson will look into whether the city can acquire the property on Hastings, but he says the opportunity to purchase it is likely long gone.
He says contrary to what we’re led to believe, fewer people are finding shelter.
“You had 850 homeless people in the neighbourhood in 2012. That’s a hundred more people than the year before.”
The number of people living on the street in March, 2013 in Vancouver dropped from 2012. But Dave argues the homeless count should be conducted after the winter shelters are closed in April.
He explains why the high-end restaurant on Carrall has become such a flashpoint.
“We are trying to say that commercial gentrification and condo gentrification feed into each other. There is a lot more of this coming in.”
He says he doesn’t expect the protests at the eatery to die down, since it symbolizes how the neighbourhood is changing.