Another press release from Mayor Robertson is filed in Rich Coleman's office
With his back against the wall from a problem of his own making, Gregor Robertson made a 15-minute speech this afternoon at City Hall that we'll sum up as follows:
"Province, send us money to save our bacon."
Not a whole lot of nuance to this. Gregor's Grief around the HEAT Shelters he and Councillor Jang schemed up without public consultation is reaching the boiling point with neighbours upset and political commentators wondering aloud how this mess will be fixed by Hizonner.
Negotiating via press release any experienced politico can tell you is a dead end. The more you goad senior levels of government, the less responsive they become. What makes it so much worse for Mayor Robertson is that he and his Vision Vancouver party campaigned AGAINST the people they're now asking for help.
Gregor Robertson shilled for Jenn McGinn against now Education Minister Margaret MacDiarmid. Vision Vancouver released their lists to NDP operatives in support of their candidates in Vancouver. And by stubbornly sticking to their "no barrier" philosophy in the shelters they've created a scar on a community that refuses to heal.
Would the Province want to own the Mayor's HEAT problem? Not a chance. So what does Gregor need to do now?
First, stop making public pronouncements about how this is the Province's responsibility. It's your problem, so own it.
Stop sending out press releases, stop asking Allen Garr to write your spin for you, and stop hiding from the problem and call a townhall forum. Your neighbours in Douglas Park would be picketing your house if you brought a no-barrier shelter to that neighbourhood, so respect that you've created more grief for residents in False Creek and you need to deal with that.
And end your threats about how much of a problem homelessness will be during the 2010 Games. Before Gregor Robertson was elected as Mayor, a lot of hard work was already underway to address Vancouver's homelessness challenges. Trying to pretend that you're the only one dealing with this matter is simply false, and does nothing to improve the situation.
In his address to the media today, Mayor Robertson failed to do the one thing that would have improved the situation. He should have apologized to the False Creek neighbourhood. And because of that, we don't expect that relations between him and that community are going to get a whole lot better before 2010, or beyond.