A “yuppie tour” of Chinatown will take place today, showcasing businesses that are pushing out Vancouver’s low income residents.
The tour comes as a counter-narrative to the “Socially Responsible Vancouver” tours that received backlash for capitalizing on poverty in the Downtown East Side following an article in the travel section of the Toronto Star.
High-priced businesses driving out low-income residents
Karen Ward of the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users says there are several gentrifying vendors in the area that concern her, prompting the group to plan the tour.
“One for example sells ice cream cones for five dollars and seventy-five cents, and we’ve got a pizza place that offers a lunch special for thirteen dollars. These businesses are driving low income residents and our homes out of the neighbourhood.”
Ward says she’d rather see businesses that are more responsive to the local community, or that hire locally and provide job opportunities to those who need them.
Homeless people not there to be stared at
She says she was disgusted by the DTES tour, and feels that people need to be educated on the root causes of poverty. She says that snapping photos of homeless people or gawking at one of the country’s poorest neighbourhoods isn’t a solution, and shouldn’t be a means towards profit.
“We’ve got comments from people that they feel like they’re animals in a zoo. We’re not here to be looked at and commodified as part of someone else’s money making scheme. You’re not going to learn about the structural reasons for poverty, the crisis of homelessness, or the ongoing legacies of colonialism in a 20 minute tour. We don’t appreciate that and we’re going to take action today against it.”
Ward says she hopes people will pay more attention to the ongoing gentrification of low-income neighbourhoods like Chinatown following the tour.