Vancouver Mayoral Debate: Round 3, Vancouver's Homeless

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With the upcoming Vancouver mayoral election in November, the focus on the homeless has been substantial, as the first two debates illustrated. The attention is warranted as no one wants the “housing challenged” to pitch a tent in their community parks. Especially those like activist David Johnstonwho choose to be homeless. I say the hell with him, I don’t want my tax dollars going to individuals like him. What kind of cheap chicanery is this? I want my tax dollars going to those who have become homeless through illness or misfortune and not to asshats like David Johnston. Egregious.With respect to the two candidates I believe that neither has perfect solution. I don’t even know if there is such a thing? However, I do agree with Ladner and his assertion not to “ghettoize” the Downtown Eastside through concentrated social housing in the DTES. Other than that the platforms aren’t all that different.

Tonight’s debate at St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church will be on affordable housing and the homelessness. The debate is scheduled for 7pm to 9pm.

So to continue this discussion (as it will be the central issue), this past weekend there was another rally for the homeless that took place, this time outside city hall. At least there wasn’t any hooliganism and thuggery this time around, I guess no little children were present. Regardless, Vancouverites will see an increasing presence of activism as 2010 nears. They will know doubt attempt to steal the spotlight from this illustrious sporting event in which athletes train their asses off for. Lets just hope they do so in a peaceful manner like this past weekend. I ask you this, at this point has the general public become desensitized to these street dwellers?The purpose of the rally was to highlight the plight of the homeless, In short here is what they want:

1. Keep public lands for public use
2. Invest in the Property Endowment Fund to develop social housing
3. Ensure 20 percent of new developments are for low income families
4. Build more social housing in the DTES
5. Enforce maintenance bylaws for social housing

I agree that these are measures that we must take. The only one I don’t agree with is more social housing in the DTES. The location alone requires more market housing. However, the city could give incentives to developers to integrate a portion of social and below market housing similar to the Woodwards project. However, people must realize that in order for developers to make money (after all it is a business) they need to allocate significant density to market housing. Our building height restrictions and view cones place limitations on developers though.

We need to spread out social housing throughout the city, however the city will run into the problem of NIMBY’s, of course. That is why it makes sense to build them outside of the urban core, where land and housing costs are far less and the impact to the ignorant urbanite is minimal.

Moreover, those five demands will not solve the homeless issue alone. More needs to be done to educate, train and care for these individuals. Then they will be able to get a job and not be a perpetual drain on taxes and society (mentally ill not included as I realize they are not capable of working).

So why hasn’t the public thrown their support for this cause.? The problem is that the general public does not understand the plight of the poor person, because well they aren’t poor or they work two jobs to survive and they simply can’t relate. That isn’t what groups like the APC (who are anarchists, not activists) would lead you to believe though. Nope, apparently the city is infested with poor people. Actually there are some 600,000 people in the city that aren’t in the streets last time I checked. But I digress, every time these social anarchists terrorize, disrupt and vandalize, all it does is give the media ammunition to make them look like a bunch of thugs. Peaceful methods must be deployed to garner more public support. Disrupting the Olympics will also backfire, riot 2010!

In the end the Olympics are coming and now its time to embrace them. The money allocated is not a money pit, as all facilities will be used by the public long after the Olympics have come and gone.

At the same time the homeless problem I believe is at the very least a provincial matter, if not a federal one (although the many French speaking hobos around town would indicate otherwise) and not solely a municipal one. Its time for Gordo to step up to the plate and deliver a homerun and defeat homelessness.

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