Jim’s work has impacted thousands of Vancouver residents and continues to alter the fabric of the city to this day. These are a few of Jim’s projects which demonstrate a lasting legacy in Vancouver.
Jim Green’s personal legacy of nearly 1,000 social and affordable housing units in the city’s Downtown Eastside stands as an enduring challenge to today’s housing advocates. How does Green’s record look from the perspective of those who live in the buildings he was involved in developing? How important was his philosophy of affordable housing, with planning led and directed by future residents? And what lessons do today’s housing activists need to pursue to make similar gains today?
The Portland Hotel Society is a non-profit that advocates, develops and implements creative and responsive services for persons living with concurrent disorders. Since it was created in 1993, the society has provided advocacy, housing, services, and opportunities for the marginalized citizens of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Jim Green co-founded this organization that continues to operate four hosing facilities and provides professional support for this population.
When the GM Place was being built in 1994, there was a shortage of skilled trades workers. Jim realized that there was also a high percentage of street kids in need of jobs and so started Bladerunners to facilitate these two groups working together. The program now operates throughout the province helping at-risk youth overcome barriers to employment. Participants gain local and meaningful work experience through on the job training with their long-term working prospects.
In 2008, the York Theatre on Commercial Drive was one-step away from being torn down and turned into townhouses. Jim saw the value in the space as a place for the arts and so, as a city councilor, he facilitated its renewal. With the help of Henriquez Partners Architects, Wall Financial Corporation and the City of Vancouver, the York Theatre was restored: the interior upgraded and the facade retuned to its 1937 art-deco appearance. Operation of the theatre was handed off to the Cultch and now the surrounding area benefits from an infusion of theatre.
Humanities 101 is a free tuition program of university-level courses for students from the Downtown Eastside, Downtown South and surrounding areas. September through April, participants head to UBC twice each week for courses in literature, philosophy, architecture, music, gender studies, history, etc. The program is geared for people who have a desire for learning, but who have difficult financial situations. Jim recognized the need for and benefit of learning for everyone, regardless of income, and so in 1998, he helped initiate Humanities 101 in conjunction with UBC.
Jim started working on the redevelopment of the Woodward’s Building in the mid 1980’s, well before the store closed in 1993. The department store had provided a meeting place for all the people of greater Vancouver, irrespective of class or cultural background. There were a number of other proposals to redevelop the space, but Jim convinced the City to redevelop the property with an emphasis in social purpose. The project was completed in September 2010 and it includes 536 market housing units and 200 non-market housing operated by PHS Community Services and Affordable Housing Society.