A few weeks ago, there was a celebration at Helmcken and Seymour for the 20th anniversary of the Gathering Place:

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Gathering Place

The Gathering Place Community Centre offers programs and services to the Downtown South community. We primarily serve vulnerable populations, including people on lower income, people with disabilities, seniors, people of diverse ethnic backgrounds, the LGBTQ community, youth, and people who are homeless.

It’s rather like the Carnegie Centre of Downtown South (map here) – a facility designed into the neighbourhood even as it was rezoned, meant to serve those already there in the SROs on nearby Granville or who would otherwise be swept away in the massive redevelopment that occurred in the next 15 years. The Gathering Place is housed in the podium of the non-market housing tower built by the City of Vancouver.

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Seymour and Helmcken

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In the sometimes overwhelming tide of cynicism that accompanies debate over housing, the homeless and social services, it’s easy to forget or dismiss the successes.  The Gathering Place is one of those  – the result of a committed staff, provided with a mandate and the resources by unanimous votes of Council (led at that time by Gordon Campbell, Philip Owen and the NPA, of which I was a councillor).   Key to its viability was the availability of senior-government programs, the purchase of land before the development boom started, and construction before, frankly, any opposition could emerge to its presence.  It was the pioneer.

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Gathering Place 2

Click to enlarge

Diane

Diane Mackenzie, the Gathering Place’s first director

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