Historic Vancouver mission falls victim to city's real estate boom
Gentrification pushing residents from Downtown Eastside neighbourhood, says pastor
By Cathy Kearney, CBC Posted: Mar 24, 2018 7:46 PM PT Last Updated: Mar 25, 2018 1:59 PM PT
One of the city's oldest missions in the Downtown Eastside, which has been serving the needs of the neighbourhood's most impoverished and addicted for decades, has been sold.
The building has been standing on Carrall Street since 1889. The Gospel Mission Society moved in during the 1940s and has since been offering religious day services, meals, movie nights, and warm showers and welcomes some of the city's most vulnerable residents.
"Everything you read about, everything you hear about the Downtown Eastside, this is core central for that," says board member Randall Andrus.
Next door to the Gospel Mission, another building was also sold, and is in the process of being demolished. Staff at the mission believe a condo tower is set to replace it.
A year ago, the demolition work next door to the Gospel Mission damaged its foundation, causing the mission to temporarily shut down the community shower area that had served 11,000 area residents.
Community showers rebuilt
Pastor Wesley Chadwick spent six months doing repairs and renovating the four shower stalls. The grand reopening was Saturday morning.
"It's somewhere to get clean, to shower and to feel human and to be treated with dignity in an environment that is welcoming," Chadwick said.
But the pastor's efforts will soon be for naught, because the building will eventually be demolished and the mission will need a new home.
"We've been advised anything from six months to two years. Whatever we have, we'll take and we'll make the best of it," said Chadwick.
Chadwick said the Downtown Eastside area is shifting from one of dire poverty — it encompasses Canada's poorest postal code — to a gentrified neighbourhood.
DTES on the move
In the meantime, the mission is searching for new rental space in the same neighborhood. Where will they go?
"I have no idea. I'm not worried about it, as people get to know and support us more, something will come up," said the pastor.
"I have faith in that much."
With files from Deborah Goble
A previous version of this story provided incorrect information on the amount of time Pastor Chadwick spent repairing the building's shower stalls.Mar 25, 2018 1:01 PM PT