Sunday August 30, 1998

Staff Reporter

p. A6.

Community fair brightens grim downtown neighborhood

Most days, the streets of Vancouver's downtown east side are the meanest streets in Canada.

the parade of drug deals and drug deaths, alcoholism, disease and prostitution can add up to a frightening gauntlet of urban misery.

Yesterday, the streets were reclaimed for a celebration of the diverse and rewarding community life that thrives just below the often unappealing surface.

The Downtown Eastside Residents Association celebrated its 25th annniversary by bringing people into the streets for all reasons: A fair of diverse music and food, crafts, corny speeches and even a dunk tank for co-operative authority figures in need of a good soaking.

Susan Christink, housing manager for DERA, said there was unanimous executive support for the street fair, and that the current street climate was not going to intimidate the community group from showcasing the positive side of downtown life.

"There are troubles on the streets, but it is still a community and people live here," said Christink. "That [negative image] is not holding us back at all."

The city facilitated the celebration by closing a block of Columbia Street between Hastings and Cordova to street traffic.

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Created: August 31, 1998
Last modified: August 31, 1998

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