"Who'll trust the Mayor after shelter freak show?" asks Michael Smyth

Post by Daniel Fontaine in

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After permanently settling in Vancouver about five years ago, Mayor Robertson wants you to trust that his utopian plans for your neighbourhood are sound

Over the last several weeks, I've had the opportunity to work with Province columnist Michael Smyth as he's played guest host on the top-rated Bill Good Show on CKNW.  Smyth is a guy I've really enjoyed reading over the last decade or so, even if I haven't always agreed with him on every issue.

Early this morning over my first cup of java, I stumbled upon an excellent column he wrote about Vision Vancouver Mayor Robertson and his major bungling of the HEAT shelter issue in Vancouver. The Province newspaper calls it a "fiasco" and says "it won't be easy to get people on side" after the way this file was so badly mishandled. In yesterday's Globe and Mail, even BC Housing Minister Rich Coleman told Frances Bula this was amateur hour at City Hall. Although Coleman has subsequently apologized for that remark.

Michael Smyth's column is a must read but here are a few of the best lines:

The False Creek North shelters were so thoroughly botched by city hall that it's hard to imagine any neighbourhood that would now be willing to co-operate with Robertson on his housing agenda.

And he goes on to state:

I hear lots of grumbling that Robertson simply doesn't have the backbone to stand up to the raving left-wing idealogues inside his own party.

I'm sure there are some Vision Vancouver types who thought it was deliciously subversive to stick a bunch of junkies and crackheads into a smug cocoon of latte-sipping condo-dwellers and watch the ensuing mayhem.

I think Robertson has tremendous potential as a politician, but he must get a grip on his own agenda. The next "bold idea" that could go sideways on him: the bicycle-only lane on the Burrard Street bridge.

Then Province readers had a chance to weigh in with their comments:

And this is the guy has almost become the heir apparent to 'lead' the BC NDP. Ray Graham, I'll applaude the Gregor with my cojones. 'Guts and initiative'...as Smyth says, 'it's execution that matters'. The Gregor's timing and execution is off...community gardens at city hall, homeless shelters in False Creek...chickens in your yards... - Bill B

Why don't they have the shelters in Robertson's or Jang's neighbourhood? Maybe they should have NIMBY experience too! - Ann

Did the NDP win Vancouver city hall last Nov election with majority of the lousy 16% who showed up to bother voting ? Think about turning out to vote next time. The NDP/socialists are "not fit to run a lemonaid stand" [WACB] ....that advice still rings true. Those mentally ill drug taking people need to be picked up and taken to a hospital for help,forceably. Not pretend that putting them amongst the sane will work. Smarten up, go vote next time. and Have a nice day!! - Dothe math

Yesterday Gregor looked like a kid after being spanked by Rich Coleman. Only 48 hours ago he was wearing his cape flying over Beach ave giving the residences the finger thinking he had Coleman up against the ropes  for funding his pet project. Unforrtuantely (sic) Coleman calling his bluff and Gregor was left with only his shorts.. To Coleman's credit he did not kick Gregor when he was down, helping him save his face by giving the other pig pen a 30 day reprieve. Gregor better be on his best behavior or he's going to get smacked again. - GGS

The second shelter in the neighbourhood has 30 days to shape up, or it too will be closed. I expect it is on life support and won't live much past that deadline if residents keep up the HEAT.

What the Mayor should do in the coming days is to demonstrate some real leadership and shuffle councillor Kerry Jang out of his municipal cabinet. Jang is one of the weaker members of the Mayor's inner-circle and it's time he appoint someone like veteran Heather Deal or Tim Stevenson on this file pronto.

Politically, he can ill afford to keep Jang on this file for much longer. Perhaps the good councillor might be interested in becoming Robertson's new Minister for Sewers and Water? Has a good ring to it doesn't it?

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I agree with Smyth's points. This has done more damage for the whole program of social housing than good. What neighbourhood will be willing to co-operate? There were many flaws in the heat program. Insulting the community by totally discounting what was actually happening until it caught the attention of a wider audience, was the nail in the coffin. Councilor Jang just hammered in the nail further. The idiotic idea that you could solve the issues by implementing a good neighbour agreement, respect classes and the green vest syringe neighbourhoood syringe collectors were beyond belief.

It was the sheer arrogance and higher moral standing of city council, lead by the Mayor that ultimately brought down any chance of success of this project. It will make future projects just that much harder to attain community buy in. The question is, who loses?

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