Mayor Robertson should hold HEAT town hall forum - NOW

Post by Daniel Fontaine in


Mayor Robertson, this is what real consultation looks like. It's time you hold a town hall with the residents concerned about the impact of your HEAT shelters. 

He's been pre-occupied with backyard chickens, closing a lane on Burrard Bridge and most recently planting geraniums and marigolds in his new garden at City Hall. Clearly Mayor Gregor Robertson has some spare time on his hands, so why is he still refusing to listen to the citizens of Vancouver concerned over the impact of his new HEAT shelters?

It would appear he's so afraid of a public backlash that his staff snuck him out of City Hall at around midnight to visit the HEAT shelter which opened last December near Beach and Howe Street. According to media reports, the Mayor visited the no-barrier shelter and didn't bother to even let anyone in the neighbourhood know he was coming. He also refused to respond to media queries regarding his visit. His staff said advised the media (yet again) that he was "simply too busy" to do interviews on the subject.

Here is what Lynn Sheffield, an outraged local resident told CKNW radio yesterday:

He snuck in and he snuck right out again. And he has never spoken to this community once.

The Mayor’s office have now confirmed they completely bungled the management of these HEAT shelters. But acknowledging your mistakes is only the first step. Now is the time for Robertson and Co. to stop reading the daily news clippings about President Barack and Michelle Obama, and get down to business listening to local citizens.

Despite his apparent midnight visit to his Feel the HEAT shelter to observe how the patrons are coping, the Mayor has been invisible to local residents concerned about frequent acts of public sex, urination and drug use taking place in their once peaceful neighbourhood.

If you recall, it took a grassroots organization known as the Concerned Citizens for False Creek North to organize their own town hall meeting and petition to help raise awareness regarding their concerns. The City was nowhere to be found.

In fact, in the early stages of this PR and neighbourhood disaster, Mayor Robertson and his Vision colleagues actually denied there was a problem. As someone said to me last week, it was a "suck it up buttercup" attitude. It was only after 300 angry residents expressed outrage did Vision even mildly reverse their position and acknowledge citizens might have a reason or two to be concerned.

The only person from the Vision caucus who bothered to show up to the town hall meeting was Councillor Kerry Jang, one of the weakest members of Robertson’s team. Robertson assigned him to manage this project for him. But that doesn't explain why the Mayor didn’t show up to that event?

The next step for the Mayor , who is sorely lacking leadership skills on this one, is to immediately call a town hall meeting and listen to citizen concerns. This is particularly important when there are so many rumours flying around regarding additional “mega size” no-barrier shelters he’s planning for other neighbourhoods in the downtown and beyond.

If the Mayor believes he messed up with process, piling on more bad process won’t help the situation. He should have the intestinal fortitude to get off his bike for a few minutes and listen to the concerns of local residents.

At the end of the day, I don’t believe the residents living near Beach and Howe will sway Robertson. He will likely ram a few more of his HEAT shelters into several other neighbourhoods without consultation. However, at least if he holds a town hall he can demonstrate to local residents their concerns have been heard - although they may not be acted upon. Simply hiding from the problem and not speaking to the media is not going to help.

The Mayor’s need for for a nice photo-op and feel good news release right after the election regarding his HEAT shelters is clearly landing him in a lot of hot water. I’ve even heard he regrets the decision to brand the no-barrier shelters as HEAT. Especially after all the HEAT he’s taken over his mishandling of this file.

His “act now, consult later” style is beginning to wear thin with an engaged citizenry that simply won’t tolerate it. No matter how morally superior he thinks he is, he still has to listen to citizen concerns and help mitigate the impacts the HEAT shelters are placing on neighbourhoods. More police patrols are simply not going to cut it. If more police were the answer, we’d have solved the problems of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside a decade ago.

As an aside, I need to ask where NPA Councillor Suzanne Anton is in all of this? Sure she attended the town hall forum, but shouldn’t she be providing a voice for the many concerned citizens who are not being listened to or consulted by this Mayor? Why is she not organizing a town hall meeting instead of organizing a heritage garden party this evening with Mayor Robertson as special guest?

If Mayor Robertson refuses to announce his own town hall forum, I’d encourage the good citizens of Vnacouver to organize one of their own. If he refuses to show up, I’d leave a blank cardboard cut out in the place assigned for Vancouver’s new invisible mayor. What do you think? Have your say on our online poll.


only in lotus land can we forget that the shelters were set up to save people from dying of exposure. yes they have screwed up. lets fix it i would hope that the mayor realizes the first step to a happy planet is a happy community. the song i went to a garden pary is now playing in my head

NPA councillor Suzanne Anton? She voted along with Vision in favour of Vision Councillor Kerry Jang's motion to attempt to extend the opening of the HEAT shelters until April 30, 2010 during the May 5th, 2009 City council meeting.

Yes, Harry....much more socially acceptable to let people die from drugs than from exposure.
HEAT shelters are a disaster and it enables addicts, period.
Addiction is a disease....but 80% of people can quit smoking and that's an addiction.
Just wait until the city gets sued by the family of someone killed in a HEAT shelter by an out of control junkie.
Somehow a homeowner is liable when a guest leaves their house drunk and kills someone, but the city thinks that they will be untouchable.
Stop enabling addicts. Spend the money (province, feds) and locked them up until they are clean, preferably outside of the prison system. Drug jail. It's comfy, it has TV's, but you are locked up 23hrs a day on your own until you are clean. (say 6 months?) Then start treatment.

Counting the days (878 to be exact) until the next municipal election on November 19, 2011 when Garden boy and his merry band can be sent on their way.

The shelters were never set up to save people from dying of exposure. They were set up in Yaletown with the express intent of exposing the neighbourhood residents to the misery and madness of the downtown east-side, so that they would then cause a stink and thereby perhaps put pressure on Victoria and/or Ottawa to cough up funds for cheap housing and more social 'beds'.

The crack, meth and heroin junkies are merely pawns in this Vision Vancouver ploy.

misery knows no geographical lines. surrey is looking good now harry l

I think you can do better than jcause more grief to the poor. The answer was there three ago when Storyeum became empty and I think it is still empty. No one seemed to be opposed to a hotel-style shelter being set up there. It would have ended the street homeless problem. Scattering of homeless shelters was not the idea of the homeless or the DTES; only well-being middle class liberals.

The quality of civic leadership in BC has declined remarkably over the years. I think Art Phillips and his TEAM organization was the pinnacle of civic leaders' integrity and intelligence, and delivered results. Why is it that the good people with leadership experience are avoiding the political scene?

Who are the real victims in all this mess?? - the homeless. I don't mean the whacked out on heroin criminals and crackheads that are plundering FalseCreek at Gregor's invitation but the truly homeless - those that need a roof and a set of programs to get them stable again and back on their feet. Gregor and the HEAT team trying to buy their way into heaven by allowing 2 no barrier shelters in FCN with such inexcusable lack of forethought and common sense that they did not see that 'no barriers' means those whom other shelters would not take because they are violent, armed, criminal, stoned on crack, heroin or whatever, dealers, hookers and all round bad elements. Then he tells Doctor Jang to tell the world the residents of FCN are 'irresponsible' in the Georgia Straight and to go on CKNW to say the HEAT team was surprised that with the warm weather the nasty folks at the shelter are still there. DUUHHHHH!!!!
But now here is what we are left with - Gregor trying to solve the homeless problem has ignited a powder keg of opposition - those folks across Vancouver that have seen and heard the ruining of a once lovely neighborhood not by the homeless but by the slimy people Gregor invited in. No one wants that in ANY neighborhood - not even the homeless who feel unsafe in the Gregor Crack Houses on Howe and Granville. Well guess what folks - the Mayor's ego has his brain in a choker hold - he can't see it and the folks at Happy Planet are probably thanking their lucky stars this idiot is now our problem - not theirs.

And the good Mayor still has not once consulted the residents of False Creek except a chance encounter as he skulked through the 'hood late one night. Yet he claims too busy to comment as he works feverishly behind the scenes to secure funding. Give it up Mr Happy - the best you can do now is disappear before you are remembered as the one who ruined not only False Creek but any hope the citizens of Vancouver - homeless and otherwise - had that the homeless problem could be solved.

Check out!

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