"[Vancouver's Downtown East Side] is an international embarrassment and has been for decades. Despite hundreds of studies, dozens of plans and the best efforts of thousands of people, the situation there remains horrible. It attracts people with addiction and mental-health problems from across the province and country, making it a cesspool that exacerbates the troubles of those living there.
In other words, the biggest problem with the DTES is the DTES itself.
[At a recent mayoral debate, candidate Peter Ladner of the centre-right Non-Partisan Association] said the city needs to "normalize" the neighbourhood, a term his opponent was quick to seize on. But what Mr. Ladner meant by the term - and I checked with him later - was make the DTES look and feel like the kind of safe, healthy neighbourhoods we expect in Canada. And you do this by mixing in different kinds of housing and retail and infusing the neighbourhood with social capital - residents who have a stake in making sure it's clean and safe. [H]e wasn't talking about booting all the poor people out and making room for rich yuppies. He was saying: Make the neighbourhood something we can all be proud of, while looking after low-income residents at the same time."