Tent Teardowns Just Days Before Cruise Ship Season Starts Should be Questioned!

The tents had to go: no one has the right to just erect a structure on a sidewalk anywhere in any city and declare it their home.

But I’m suspicious about the timing and the suddenness of the evictions.

Vancouver’s Fire Chief and Police Chief have long declared the tent city on Hastings Street a dangerous fire trap, crime-ridden locale.

“More than 400 outdoor fires on East Hastings have occurred over the last eight months. Four people have already been injured this year,” CTV News quoted City officials Wednesday..

“According to (Fire Chief) Fry, Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services has seized 1,600 propane tanks from the encampment, where there have been 16 tent fires so far this year.”

Fry, in fact, issued an ORDER last July that the tents had to go.

“The Downtown Eastside encampment is fraught with serious crime, violence and dangerous weapons, which have proliferated in this neighbourhood. Street-level assaults within the encampment have increased 27 per cent and nearly half of those are being committed by strangers,” CTV quoted Police Chief Palmer.

“Vancouver police say officers have reported an increase of nine per cent in assaults in the DTES since last August with 28 per cent of those occurring in the encampment zone,” Global News reported.

Clearly the situation was terrible.

Yet, it took EIGHT MONTHS AFTER the Fire Chief issued her ORDER for the City and Police to suddenly move in, hand out garbage bins for portable possessions and then pile into garbage trucks the rest of the tents and furnishings of those who had encamped on Hastings.

And despite the long delay, clearly the City had not used that time to find an alternative site well away from hotels, housing, shops or offices, where those pushed away from Hastings could take their tents and relocate.

Instead the evictions were done suddenly, without notice, without a deadline and without any plan to label and store the tents to be reclaimed later.

Remember, we are dealing here with some of the poorest of the poor … many suffering from physical impairments, mental illness and/or drug abuse … and those tents were not only their best protection against the elements but for their meager belongings too.

The timing of the street sweep continues to raise questions.

“We are continuing to work with senior levels of government to secure permanent, quality housing for Vancouver’s most vulnerable residents – the first of the 330 units recently announced by the provincial government are set to come online in the coming days,”  Mayor Ken Sim was quoted by CBC on Wednesday.

So why were the tenters … and their entire lives … uprooted so suddenly if, as the Mayor said, 330 new units are indeed “set to come online in the coming days” ?

Why couldn’t City officials wait? After all, it had been YEARS since the problem began to fester; it had been EIGHT MONTHS since the Fire Chief issued her order.

Why not move in AFTER those 330 units are ready “in the coming days”?

Was it because Vancouver’s 2023 Cruise Ship Season begins this coming week?

The Saphire Princess (2,670 passengers) will arrive Wednesday, followed Thursday by the Holland America Koningsdam (2,650 pax) and Norwegian Bliss (4,000 pax).

All will dock at Canada Place … only blocks away from Gastown, Chinatown … and Hastings Street.

With Covid no longer a major obstacle, vacation travel is “on” again … and cruising is especially experiencing a huge rebound.

According to the Daily Hive, this cruise season could set a new record for Vancouver, with 331 cruise visits and 1.3 million passengers expected. Read the details here: https://dailyhive.com/vancouver/vancouver-cruise-ship-season-2023-canada-place.

Let’s keep it real: the damage done to Vancouver by pictures/videos/stories about Hastings Street’s sidewalk blight, not to mention dazed druggies shooting up in plain site and/or visitors being hassled, harangued, robbed or assaulted, would have been horrendous.

Cruise ships bring big bucks, but when enough passengers complain about a port, poor experiences, robberies, violence, ships are known to move to alternative stops.

News coverage in the US alone of even just a few cruise passengers in Vancouver being robbed, attacked (never mind that crime in the US is worse) could have a multi-million dollar negative impact on Vancouver tourism … convention planning too.

I get it.

But is that why last Wednesday was Tent Eviction Day on Hastings? Did the looming start of the cruise ship season play ANY role in planning and timing of the “action” finally taking place? When exactly was the actual decision made to move in and get rid of the tents? Did tourism officials or downtown/Gastown/Chinatown business groups remind the city the cruise ships were coming …and relate serious concerns?

The tents on Hastings had to go; they should have never been allowed to take root; however, action should have been taken within days or weeks at most of the Fire Chief issuing her Order last July.

Instead, there are LOTS of questions remaining about the way the whole thing was handled … and the timing of the evictions …. in conjunction with cruise ships being on their way as well.

The public deserves the whole story!

Harv Oberfeld

(Follow @harveyoberfeld on Twitter for FREE First Alerts to all new postings on this BC-based Blog. No spam … just Alerts to new topics up for discussion.)

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23 Responses to Tent Teardowns Just Days Before Cruise Ship Season Starts Should be Questioned!

  1. LPSM says:

    I agree the tents should have been removed months ago. But at least they are going/gone now (I hope!). I don’t care if it is just before tourist season, etc. At least something is FINALLY being done; if it is because the cruise ships , etc. are coming it; so be it!

    (Response: As I indicated, I’m happy they are gone and they should have never have been allowed to take hold by the previous extremist lefty Council. But something smells about the sudden way they were uprooted, without any other area/site designated for them to set up if they didn’t want to go into SROs. And if the action finally took place because the cruise ships will start arriving this week … that’s terrible. h.o)

  2. e.a.f. says:

    Just before Sims made the annoucement there had been a fire in a buiding in the DTES. There were tents in front of the building. when the fire deparment arrived to deal with the fire, the occupants of the tents refused to move out of the way. The fire department phoned the police department who then had to move the people in the tents and then the fire fighters were able to deal with the fire in the building.’

    When it happened we were discussing the situation and wondered if Sims would finally do something. he did. It is doubtful it was a case of the ships coming in, it was the tent dwellers who caused the problem themselves. Refusing to move so fire fighters can deal with a fire behind them and requiring the police is just too much.

    There is no need to start questioning or have an inquiry. It would be a waste of time and money. As to not having sufficient SROs, one person advised a camera crew they had been living on the streets for 30 years. In thirty years they couldn’t get on a waiting list, etc. Some have said clearly they don’t want to go into shelterss or SROs or other indoor living accomodatioons because there are rules which they don’t want to follow. Well excuse me, if you don’t want to follow the rules when living in a city, it might be best if you head into the bush and set your tent up there and build yourself some sort of shelter.

    Tent cities in parks has to end. Those parks were created for every one to use them and enjoy them. They are not camping grounds. While people having been living in parks now for some time, it has to end because no one else gets to use those parks. I recall when Crab park was opened. people in the area were very pleased because there is a lack of parks in the area and they finally had a park. Not so much now.

    This problem has been building since the mid 1980s and just getting worse. Its rather rich to see Kevin falcon up on his pins complaining about the NDP not providing adequate housing. He seems to forget the B.C. Lieberals were in office prior to that, along with him and there was little to nothing done during that time. When the medical officeer declared an emergency, Christy clark did nothing and neither did Kevin falcon. For most of my life the Socreds//b.C., Lieberals/B.C. United have been in office. Just what did they ever do tto improve life for those who needed adequate housing. Lets not forget that for 14 out of 15 years while the .B.C. Lieberals were in office B.C. had the highest rate of child poverty in Canada. They didn’t care about kids, they didn’t care about people in need. The problems started when they were in office and did nothing. Oh, right Christy Clark clawed back child support for children’s whose custodial parents were in receipt of disability payments. She said the province needed the money. Yes all $14 Million. Kids lived at 50% of the poverty level. What I’ve always wondered how many of those children are living in tents today or have drug problems. In some school board areas teaching assistants were removed–el gordo said no money for that. What happened to all the children with disabilities, autism, mentally delayed, etc. Nobody wakes up one morning and winds up in a tent on Hasting St or Crab park. Its a long process and some it begins in child hood.

    The tent cities were hubs for drug dealing, stolen goods, sexual assaults, the list goes on. Ah lets not forget the weapons in the camps either. Those in the camps stole from stores in the area, broke windows, etc. creating a ton of problems for small business. Now perhaps the rest of the population can get back to a reasonable life.

    City side walks are for walking on, not setting up light housekeeping and a drug wonderland.

    (Response: No doubt the tents had to go, but suggesting the decision to move in NOW because of the most recent fire is a total red herring… political spin. Remember, Fire Chief Karen Fry ORDERED the tent clearout last July and said this at THAT time “We are seeing a large amount of fires in that area,” Fry told CBC’s The Early Edition on Tuesday. “We have an increase since 2018 of over 103 per cent, so we’re sitting at about 840 fires in that downtown area this year alone.” So why didn’t they move them out THEN??? I submit the reason was that Vancouver had an extreme leftist Council that, because of their wacko ideology and their management incompetence, aided the growth of the problem, instead of solving it. But why didn’t Sim and the new Council move as soon as they took power? Why suddenly this week when alternative permanent housing (which should be only for homeless from Vancouver) isn’t yet ready? Because the Cruise ships are arriving??? In view of the chaotic way it was handled, that deserves an answer. h.o)

  3. nonconfidencevote says:

    I suspect that last Nov’s election had more to do with the 8 months of delays.
    Kennedy Stewart wasn’t going to do anything.
    Ken Lim took a few months to get things in order before acting.
    I’m actually surprised they have stuck to their guns and repeatedly removed pop up sites.
    Three cheers for the new mayor for doing something that should have been done YEARS ago.

    And as for all those big govt Unions that are expressing “shock and dismay” at the tent removals.
    Perhaps the City of Van could bring the tents, the garbage, the drug addicts, the muggers, and the thieves over to the front of YOUR offices and unload the problem where you “live”.
    Careful to not get stabbed walking in the front door.

    Time for the total anarchy to end and get back to reality.
    Arrest, jail and hold people that are career criminals with hundreds of previous charges and convictions.
    They will not change and drugs only make it worse.

    (Response: Glad to see the tents gone, although I question the sudden action timing, and I hope Crab Park is next …then let’s restore Granville Street back to shoppers, diners and tourists. The City has to take on the activists, agitators and anarchists who the previous extreme lefties/incompetents running City Hall pandered to so frequently. I support society providing shelter for those needing it, but it is not the job of Vancouver taxpayers to provide FREE HOUSING to anyone from anywhere who just show up here and demand it. h.o)

    • Nonconfidencevote says:

      The old saying, “If you build it, they will come….”
      Has a new meaning in the downtown east side, endless welfare, drug cesspool.
      The Poverty pimps slagging everyone and everything while waiting for more govt money to rain from the sky.
      And spineless politicians only too willing to oblige.
      The four pillars have achieved nothing.
      Homelessness is worse, drug overdose deaths are through the roof.
      Fires, assaults, stabbings and murders……enough.
      Time for some of these hardcore people to be removed from society for a few years….or for decades.

  4. Gilbert says:

    I’m glad the tents have been removed, even though it took so long. Many of the homeless are mentally ill. They shouldn’t be on the street.

    (Response: Think of how many care beds in a secure facility the BC government could provide by redirecting just a quarter of the BILLION DOLLARS a year now being spent on the downtown eastside! h.o)

  5. D. M. Johnston says:

    Tent city had to go, not only was it a fire hazard, it became a major health hazard.

    The failure of the province to deal with the homeless is one of the NDP’s major faults, as the fix is very expensive and not good for photo-ops or ten second sound bites on the evening news.

    The City of Vancouver also let the situation spiral out of control by doing nothing, oh yes, the NDP mayor of Vancouver I should say.

    On my many travels to Europe I was with my German girl friend at the time, she had to register in the town before she could get a job. This gave the the town a record of who is a legitimate resident or not, for benefits. She told me that to claim benefits, you had to be registered in the town and if not you had to go back to the last town you were registered in to claim benefits.

    This makes me wonder, how many of the tenters are actually from Vancouver? How many have come to Vancouver to “hang out”?

    I think that serious questions must be asked and if I had any say, those who were not from BC, would be sent back to their province of origin to receive benefits and it is up to the federal government to provide a national standard for those receiving benefits.

    It is all very well for the provincial NDP and the Federal Liberals, to spend billions of dollars in “vote buying” but they must also deal with the less fortunate, which is growing at a rapid rate.

    All we have now is massive spending on programs to get re-elected but hardly a penny, oh sorry a nickle, dealing with the ever growing social ills of the country.

    Both Eby and Trudeau “talk the talk, but they do not walk the walk” as all we get are well choreographed photo-ops and well rehearsed 10 second sound bites.

    (Response: I don’t think, under our Charter of Rights, any government could force people to register when they arrive in a city. (Although probably Quebec could do it, and the federal government would do and say nothing!) I would not support that idea … government has no right to keep such close tabs on citizens. However, I believe you are right that many of the tenters are from outside of the Vancouver area. The word no doubt got out far and wide over the past three years, that if you got to Vancouver and lived in a tent for a while, the wacko extreme lefty city hall would provide you with a free apartment. Times … and City Hall has thankfully changed … time to send the outsiders packing… Literally. h.o)

    • Nonconfidencevote says:

      Remember when the Premier of Alberta Ralph Klein gave one way bus tickets to all those “Creeps and Bums” from back East?

      Perhaps the availability of Welfare or subsidized housing should be placed upon the shoulders of the communities that were the last places they lived.

      To expect Vancouver or other communities in the Lower Mainland to fund all the drug addicts, criminals and homeless is ridiculous.
      Working people here cant find a home .
      Why should we be spending millions to build shelters for people that are incapable of contributing ANYTHING to society.
      Case in point 6pm news last night.
      A motor inn that the govt purchased for 10 million and spent another 25 million reno-ing …its value today? 5 million….for the land.
      The Red Fish Society housing was $165 million dollars….for 105 rooms.
      $1.6 million dollars…..per room….. with free food, laundry, games rooms, on and on and on.
      When do I get a piece of the pie?
      The amazing thing is it seems like almost a nightly event that we are announcing millions more for “Drug addicts”, the homeless” ,etc etc etc.
      While our vaunted “Free Health Care” implodes.

      The taxpayers I speak to on a daily basis……..have had enough.
      Jail them, deport them, send them packing.

      (Response: Maybe the NDP government is trying to repeat what they did to Vancouver’s downtown (in conjunction with the extreme lefties who ran City Hall) … that is, destroy Granville Street as a shopping, dining, entertainment hub by buying up several tourist-class hotels and filling them with homeless, druggies and the mentally ill. And then, of course, establish and fund many ancillary services all around the area to cater to their needs. Now I wouldn’t even walk down Granville from Robson to the bridge during the day or night!! h.o.)

  6. John's Aghast says:

    There’s a perfect solution to this problem, and it solves another one too!
    There is a 4,000 person camp outside of Fort St. John, in central BC. Site C, the BC Hydro abomination uses it to house the many workers building the useless dam, at a cost to BC taxpayers of (the latest public figure) 24 BILLION dollars!
    Move the homeless up to the 4,000 person camp. teach them to farm on the class 1 agricultural land. Let them meld into productive society. Let them gain some self respect.
    Solve the Vancouver Homeless Industry before it self destructs!

    (Response:One of Canadians’ Charter rights is the right of mobility You cannot force people to locate in any particular community or, for that matter, keep them out. However, it’s about time that urban communities… and the media… started to raise hell about people who just come from anywhere outside their area, or other provinces, or anywhere in the country, and then just demand that they get free housing. Shelter yes, in dangerous weather conditions, but free housing to outsiders, NO! h.o)

  7. Keith says:

    Meanwhile, Tuesday 11 April 5 o’clock on an Island t.v. news the lead story is a masterpiece of timing; tents being dismantled in downtown Victoria, same M.O. as Vancouver, 5 minutes later, the newscaster, business and tourism boosters giddy with excitement and gushing about the docking of the first cruise ship of the season and how great it will be. Cut to wide eyed tourists in front of a microphone can’t wait to visit the city.

    No-one has told them that the the locals are somewhere between concerned and fearful for their safety if or when visiting downtown Victoria, or avoid it altogether as often noted in letters in the Times Colonist. Many of the businesses the tourists are visiting are contemplating moving out of the downtown due to the absolute mayhem that is a 24/7 event.

    I’m very much in agreement with Nonconfidencevote’s ( third comment) comment regarding the timing of the Vancouver dismantling probably had more to do with the civic election. Kennedy Stewart doing nothing despite the fire chief’s report in July who knows if it cost him the mayors seat.? By acting on the report he would have had complete justification and political cover to do so. Again following Nonconfidencevote I believe Mayor Sim got to it when he could, doubtful if Kennedy Stewart had left a detailed how to plan. Had he got to it sooner then there would be a hue and cry from the usual suspects about dismantling peoples homes in the middle of winter. Clearly it was a hazardous situation that had to be dealt with, and Mayor Sim dealt with it.

    Recent comments by Kennedy Stewart include after the dismantling “ Vancouver is losing it’s humanity”.


    Humanity, understanding, compassion doesn’t mean allowing the status quo. to continue unabated ad. infinitum.

    (Response: Wait until the first cruise ship passenger suffers an act of random violence like residents of Vancouver, Victoria, and other communities have had to deal with for more than a year now! When the hit hits the fan in news media across North America, you’ll see how fast the provincial government, police and courts will take action to make sure that violent offenders get locked up and stay locked up … until at least the end of the cruise ship season! h.o)

    • nonconfidencevote says:

      Ahhh yes.
      Kennedy Stewart.
      Spewing his useless , socialist, apologist, “genocide” tripe.
      Can these hand wringing apologists buy a new record?
      The endless blaming of everyone but themselves for their refuseal to make any hard decisions is epic.
      Here’s and idea Mr former Mayor.
      Hire more police, hire more Crown Council, hire more judges, build more jails .
      And when a violent , repeat offender stabs, beats or rapes and victim…..we will actually have somewhere to send them instead of immediately releasing them on bail.
      News story last night
      A drug seizure in Richmond. .
      Guns, thousands in cash, and enough fentanyl to drop a herd of elephants…. suspects were arrested and… of course…..immediately released on bail.
      Quite a message we send to the criminal element that look upon a drug bust and cash seizure as “the cost of doing business”.
      Perhaps they might have second thoughts if there was no bail for fentanyl dealers, they spent the next 2 years in jail awaiting arraignment, and a costly trial with a minimum sentence for fentanyl of 10 years.

    • D. M. Johnston says:

      Just a note on tourism in Metro Vancouver and tents.

      Yesterday I had chat with an old school chum (I am part of our high school 50 year reunion committee) and he still works in the tourism industry and he said that Vancouver is not a major tourist destination anymore. Vancouver is merely a “hub” for cruise ships and hotel trains but the city itself is fading fast as being a tourist destination.

      That being said, the tourist industry has long lobbied the city to clean up the streets, but to no av ail but (this being 2nd hand news) he said that, “it was more than rumor that cruise ship lines wanted to pull out of Vancouver”.

      I would imagine that tent cities; drifter/beggar types the addicted and the mentally ill roaming Gastown and on into the more posh areas of the downtown had rebooted the idea that cruise ships curtail their desire of Vancouver being a “home port”.

      And, Mr. H., I believe you are correct that the tens had to go from Hastings before the first cruise ships arrive, but for the bigger problem of homeless, mental illness, and the addicted living in tent cities, i think we have well passed the point of no return.

  8. e.a.f. says:

    found it rather entertaining that the police removed a squatter from quite a bit of land on Belmont. oh, right it is worth millions and the neighbours, well there homes are worth millions upon millions also. Would appear the rest of the city will just have to take its lumps.

    (Response: Removing the tents from Hastings Street, should be only the beginning: the city should also get rid of squatters from every city park and along any city sidewalk wherever they are located. However, it is also societies duty to provide shelters for people who need it… But it is not Vancouver or any city’s responsibility to provide free housing for anyone who just shows up from anywhere in Canada and just demands it.h.o)

  9. RIsaak says:

    What should be questioned is the sorry lack of results obtained by the horde of govt. funded poverty pimps & addiction workers.

    What also requires severe questioning is the notion that legalizing small amounts of poison in BC (not nationwide) will do anything other than attract more addicts & the associated mayhem & petty crime which seems impossible to steer clear of with the addicted folks.

    A conversation with a RCMP officer in the Shuswaps yesterday worries me. The officer said they work very hard to fulfill all the prerequisite requirements for charges to be laid only to see many never acted upon by prosecution, and when successful the bad actors seem to be released almost instantly.

    We as a society face a tough choice going forward, are the rights of an addict able to eclipse the rights of citizens to a crime free existence? Society is not safe with the current laws & procedures, when will our govt. address the concerns & fears of law abiding citizens? Do not forget our Premier was head of the BCCLA & at one point was attempting to unionize prison inmates, those leanings are probably still in Eby’s mind, things which made most rational folks scratch their heads in disbelief.

    Still waiting to hear of fresh concepts on curtailing the manufacturing & distribution of these damaging substances, all I hear is crickets from both top levels of govt. & all our safety bureaucrats. Word salads, excuses, deflection and indifference seem to be the script they are following, none offer any relief to society at large.

    (Response:I believe BC courts are responsible for many of the problems facing our communities today: they fail miserably to protect the citizenry when they release, over and over again repeat recidivists, even violent criminals, before the ink is even dry on the police paperwork that brought them in. Judges blame the bail laws saying their hands are tied… But I do not believe that in the case of violent criminals, they have to release them while awaiting trial on their myriad of cases. h.o)

  10. G. Barry Stewart says:

    The timing of the cruise ship arrivals surely has everything to do with the timing of our spring blossoms and (slightly) better weather. It so happened that it was also a more compassionate time to clean up the streets.

    Destroying the homeless sidewalk encampments would have been exceedingly cruel in the middle of winter… and it would have been terrible optics to herd them all into the cattle barns at the PNE grounds, as was done to Japanese-Canadians in 1942.

    I’ve got nothing else.

    (Response: As I’ve stated, glad the City is cracking down on ANYONE who just decides they can set up a tent on a sidewalk or in a park and just take up residence. And it’s not Vancouver taxpayers’ duty to supply free housing to anyone from anywhere else. But the problem has been serious for a very long time and if, as the Mayor said, housing will be available for Vancouver’s own homeless “in the coming days”, they should have waited until those were ready. Or are the “coming days” really months away? h.o)

  11. Chuck B says:

    Response to John Aghast opinion on Site C dam.
    Shut down Site C dam, and then where would you get your electricity from for your electric cars etc. May be a big cost, but we will require the damn and the electricity ….

  12. Edgar says:

    Today I went by a large food bank line up in my smaller lower mainland community and wondered how many people are a pay cheque, or rent increase, or illness away from being on the street.
    It was my experience on the downtown eastside, that contrary to the prevailing beliefs that Vancouver attracts people because of easy money. easy drugs or better winters, they come looking for a fresh start. I heard countless stories how it did not work out in an eastern city and then it was on to the next city, where it again failed, and then finally on to Vancouver. Vancouver in most cases was the end of the road and the last stop. We had reasonable success in a project we worked on because we had social supports and paying jobs on commercial construction sites at the training program. But foremost participants were in a recovery mode for an addiction or were taking their medications and had a hope at recovery and had hopes for a better life. The lasting success was among those who left “the community.” Those who could not break from the community slid back into addictions or off their medications within year’s time.
    A sad situation, a situation we all want resolved, and an indictment of our political and economic elite who cannot provide us with the leadership to get out of this mess.

    (Response: I’m glad we have food banks to help the poor and/or those facing tough times. But there’s something really wrong when working middle class people have to go there! And for the federal Liberals and BC NDP to keep raising taxes upon taxes even at that stage of even millions of middle class people struggling shows how out of touch the Liberals and NDP have become with the realities facing the middle class. h.o)

  13. nonconfidencevote says:

    I’m quite sure that Site C will take care of itself.
    An earthen dam, built on clay, in an earthquake/fracking zone…. as the embankments immediately below the dam slide away……
    What could possibly go wrong besides the endless, horrendous cost overuns already incurred?

  14. JC says:

    I noticed Global had a story last night about the start of the Cruise Ship Season and the potential effects of homelessness and crime on the Tourism industry. Maybe someone on staff read this blog entry!

    I agree that the start of the Cruise Ship Season had to be a major factor in the cleanup on Hastings. Though another factor might be the two serious fires on the DTES in March. The Imperial Room Nightclub had propane tanks explode right in front of the building (the owners suspended operations last year due to deteriorating conditions in the area, so luckily there were no injuries). A few days later another serious fire broke out in a social housing building near 40 East Hastings. Vancouver Fire had a very difficult time moving people out of the encampment on the street to get the Fire Trucks close enough to put out the blaze. Luckily there were no serious injuries or fatalities but it was a close call. I think those two serious fires might have been an additional incentive to start the cleanup.

    As an aside, I’d be curious to see what happens in the rest of the City, now the tents are (mostly) gone. I know someone who lives in a newer rental building at Main and East 49th. The building has an all night Tim Horton’s at ground level and since the tents have been removed, a new type of ‘clientele’ (that you never saw in the neighbourhood before) have taken over the shop in the early morning hours.

    It all sort of reminds me of the summer of 2002, when Jamie Graham became Chief of the VPD. On orders from City Hall to ‘clean up the East End’, he started a crackdown in the DTES: more possession arrests, tickets for jaywalking, open liquor etc. After a couple of weeks of this, I remember jogging early one morning at Slocan Park (next to the 29th Avenue Skytrain station, a reasonable distance from Main and Hastings) and seeing half a dozen people in sleeping bags. Small camps began popping up in other parts of the city and by early September, the VPD operation ceased (due to public backlash) and things went back to ‘normal’ (i.e. everyone went back to Main and Hastings). It’ll be interesting to see what happens this time around.

    (Response:Good to see Global at least raising the question about whether the removal of the tents had anything to do with the start of the cruise ship season. Yes, people there and at other media outlets, read this blog. We need a lot more questionning of politicians’ moves at all levels: municipal and provincial especially. My hope is that all the media get back to being the people’s messenger to government, instead of the other way round …which we now sufferingly endure so much! No wonder so many have turned them off!! h.o)

  15. e.a.f. says:

    If some one has not broken a law we can’t force them to go where they don’t want to., However the idea of placing people waiting for trial and have addiction and mental health problems, in something like the housing we have seen at dam building sites for workers it would actually solve a number of problems. The government would not be buying prime real estate for millions and if the “residences” were in rural areas, they wouldn’t be in major urban centers wandering the streets and breaking windows.

    When people are sent to jail, they don’t get to decide which jail, so it would be easy to send people to a major facility in a rural area,
    If people are repeat (not just a few offences but prolific offenders perhaps the way to get around waiting for trial with no bail and out on the streets is to fast track these offenders and be sentenced to jail. The housing for dam builders wasn’t bad, so with each person having their own room and not looking like jail, medical support, and the ability to go outside and work if they wanted or just play sports, life would be better and some might even get well That would rrequire additional prosecutors and judges, but it still would be less expensive than another fire at the Chinese Cultural Center or having windows broken at a Nanaimo Barber Shop.

    The law can not force people into treatment but they can hold people who are a danger tothemselves or others. Having watched the news on a regular basis, I’d suggest many of the campers are a danger to others At least people would have accomodations and it wouldn’t cost tens of millions.

    The news reported many of the street people do not have any identifcation and without tiahey can not access government services. There is now a small organization who works with people to assist them in obtaining things such as a birth certificate and other identifications. Its a start and a good one. The people with out identification can’t apply for social assistance or much of anything. Its a way of starting people to once again develop an identity and access other government benefits. Some of the people without income and homes may infact, if they had worked, qualify for Canada Pension Disability benefits.

    We will always have people coming to B.C. Its always been the end of the line. If you are poor or homeless or both,m living in Greater Vancouver or Vancouver Island is a much better gig than freezing in the east or the praires. People have the right of movement in Canada, so people coming to avoid freezing in 40 below weather makes sense.

    The fent. crisis started during the reign of error of the B.C. Lieberals, who did nothing and the problem grew until the provincial medical officer declared it a health emergency and still nothing was done by the B.C. Lieberals. Its rather entertaining to now watch the B.C. United party demanding the NDP fix it all.
    The homeless problem started decades ago. I remember when one winter the Minister at First United opened the Church so the homeless could come in and sleep on the pews, to prevent them from freezing to death outside. We started seeing more homelessness in the mid 80s and it just got worse as time went by.

    • D. M. Johnston says:

      Er………..No, Mr. E, our current ills did not start with Chrisiti Clark’s BC Liberals and as many wish to despise her, our current problems can be traced to Expo 86, where we opened to the world how politically naive BC people were and how malleable BC politician were.

      Our politicians, supported by a decaying mainstream media, openly welcomed foreign money to flood the province. Our politicians allowed good paying jobs to be exported from BC for the newly invented Neo-Liberal economy or should I say religion.

      Both the NDP and the Campbell’s Liberals supported this pipe dream.

      The problem was, those who grew up in a BC economy, paying BC wages had now to compete against a global economy and against tens of millions of people who had money to invest.

      It was easy to predict the dystopian future we are now entering.

      Money laundering expanded as did the drug culture, the last resort of the disposed.

      All politcal parties turned a blind eye and still do, including the NDP.

      We are now in a vicious circle of the extreme poor and addicted, living in micro villages of tents, poking the eye of authority and still it is all talk but no firm solution.

      Today, our politicians know that for the majority (those who own land and houses) are good for new taxes because they do not revolt, so this carousel of despair will continue.

      So, when the thought of unpleasant news about tenters, the poor, the addicted, the mentally ill getting more news coverage of Cruise Ship Tourists with assaults and other unfriendly acts, the tents had to go, but the big question is, go where?

      We are still sweeping the problem under the carpet because the thought of tourist dollars outweighs the plight of the ultra poor.

      The vision of Vancouver being a North American Monaco, still burns bright with the current lot of Vancouver boosters, of all politcal stripes, running the show.

      • Nonconfidencevote says:

        I remember during Expo86 when the new “owners/investors” of the Expo lands were announced.
        Li Kai Shing from Hong Kong.
        Then the terms of the deal were announced.
        BC taxpayers would be responsible for the cleaning of the soil in False Creek after 100 years of pollution.
        BC Taxpayers would also loan the buyers the money to buy the land INTEREST FREE for 25 years….

        As one local wag opined after the sale.
        “It was the biggest prime land give away in North America since Native Americans sold Manhattan for glass beads……”

        It started long before Christy Clark’s taxpayer funded junkets to China for more money…..she just kept the ball rolling.

  16. Keith says:

    12 April In Nanaimo ground zero for destruction, violence and mayhem, Eby and Farnworth show up for a photo op. with associated back slappers. Make an announcement that will tackle the repeat offenders, and throw in 75 thousand for some sort of security initiative, in total a complete dud.

    The onlookers included the chap that was shot trying to get his stolen property back from an encampment told Farnworth enough talking and get something done. This was also the message conveyed to Eby and the minister of hot air and high hopes in clear terms from the crowd, they aren’t buying it. Waiting for the feds to change the laws is getting a bit tiresome for these long suffering people.

    Not sure what the 75 thousand was for, but should just about cover the cost of the downtown Nanaimo store windows smashed the next night and the increased insurance premiums for those businesses.

    This is a problem right across the country to one degree or another, so we aren’t the only communities dealing with this homeless/drug/mental health crime etc. issues. So a few random thoughts;

    Is this a problem to the same degree in any of the other G20 countries.?

    From what I can glean from the info. available and correct me if I’m wrong, I don’t see folks with South Asians/East Indians, Philippine, Oriental heritage, Middle Eastern refugees where their lives and family have been literally blown to pieces, and other minority or immigrant groups in the mix. Separate out the first nation folks who have their own unique set of circumstances and the remainder will be mostly white.

    If this is the case, what is it about our society that creates this ongoing issue with no end or solution in sight.? If this is part of the overall picture, is this something that should be considered and add to the mix when trying to figure out what to do and how to do it which every level of government trying to tackle, with much of the work falling on the municipal governments that are least able to deal with it. Ask the excellent and long suffering Mayor Leonard Krog in Nanaimo.

    (Response: I get the impression most of the homeless suffer from drug and mental health problems … and, yes, seem to be heavily white or First Nation, more than the other groups you mention, although of course no one is exempt. We need more/better facilities to assist them and, although we cannot force treatment on all those who refuse, we need laws/powers to CONFINE and hopefully there offer treatment to those who steal/rob or assault innocent people. h.o.)

    • D. M. Johnston says:

      I watched that dud on TV and I would guess that Farnsworth and Eby wished that photo-op/media sound bite did not air. The anger was there to see and the politcal soft shoe was nauseating.

      The problem is that housing and dealing with the mentally ill are not big vote getters, unlike subways, tourism and tunnels.

      Farnsworth is facing a double whammy because the cancerous police fiasco is going to land with a big thus no matter what he decides. Why did he kow-tow to a mayor who had so little of the public’s support (about 20% of the total electorate)?

      The tent cites are nothing more than the result of decades of government neglect. Blame who you want, the result is the same.

      Cruise ships are the big public positive and the air time on the nightly news (or is is advert?) concerning cruise ship is disproportionate to that of major problems in Metro Vancouver.

      The tent cities are just a harbinger of things to come as it is now reported that 50% of workers in BC work in the “gig” economy and that means they will not make enough money to live, let alone pay for accommodation.

      I think we will soon see a tidal wave of tent cities and shanty towns, brought to us by government who spent hard earned tax monies on friends and politcal insiders and paid lip service for those in need.

      Not going to end well.

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