By Crecien Bencio
Joyce-Collingwood in Vancouver is traditionally known as a working class neighborhood of immigrant communities and thriving Filipino culture. But the neighborhood is under threat due to the Joyce-Collingwood Station Precinct Review by the City of Vancouver and developers such as Westbank who plan to redevelop the area to allow for towers, apartments, and townhomes which will displace the working-class, immigrant families and independent businesses that belong in our neighborhood.
Development is not only a challenge in this neighborhood, but in many neighborhoods of Vancouver that have immigrant roots.
The City of Vancouver and developers need to understand that we have the right to remain. We will not be invisible. We will not be bystanders as our communities are erased. I am deeply disappointed of the lack of genuine community consultation of this precinct review, as the City of Vancouver is more interested in pleasing developers rather than working with the community.
The City of Vancouver has held open houses and provided opportunities to give feedback online or on comment sheets but this process does not fully capture the needs of the neighborhood. The City of Vancouver is not promising any community amenities or affordable housing options; they have only stated that they will “explore” these options.
I have lived in this neighborhood for 10 years and I am fearful of the changes coming to my neighborhood. Youth of different backgrounds, including myself, have organized to form the Joyce Area Residents Association (JARA) to oppose the marginalization of our communities from development and keep the neighborhood affordable so residents can remain in their vibrant communities.
JARA is advocating for meaningful consultation with the City of Vancouver, developers, and neighbors and wants actual policies that increase social housing and community amenities in the neighborhood. We want the City Planners to better understand the neighborhood and conduct an impact assessment study to track the economic, social, and cultural impacts of market development on our community.
JARA is also organizing with the Filipino community to build awareness of how the redevelopment plan will displace Filipino businesses on Joyce who serve the community’s cultural and nutritional needs. These businesses have been established for decades but they will not be able to afford staying with the proposed changes to the community.
My parents worked hard to be in this neighborhood. Through my activism I honour them. JARA will continue to advocate on behalf of the neighborhood and fight for what the residents deserve.
For more information on the Joyce Area Residents Association visit joyceareaRA.wordpress.com or email: joyceareaRA@gmail.com
Crecien Bencio is Filipino-Indigenous of the Ibaloi people. He works as the Community Development Organizer at Collingwood Neighborhood House and is the recipient of the BC Multicultural Award in the youth category.