Mayor Robertson is feeling the HEAT after another bad week
Last week, I interviewed Lin Sheff, a resident of the embattled south of Pacific neighbourhood, about the ongoing challenges faced by their community as they cope with the consequences of opening no-barrier shelters in this residential area. The big shock since our interview last week is that the consultation that was promised by the City, has not commenced, leaving residents confused and angry.
Lin, we spoke last week just after the Provincial Housing Minister closed the Granville Shelter. How are things in the neighbourhood now?
Erin, I wish I could tell you better news. A reporter from CKNW called yesterday and asked the same question. I went to sleep last night so depressed. And we just received notice today that the City has handed the duty to consult over to Raincity Shelter – the Mayor is completely abdicating responsibility for that which he created.
So closing one of the shelters hasn’t made a difference?
The city says they shut the “troublesome one”, but they are interchangeable. The closure has not changed the make up of the troubles. It hasn’t lessened the number of people in the alley way. We are still seeing criminal activity. We have photos of women urinating 20 feet from the shelter door, people doing heroin.
Last night when we went out, there was a fellow disturbed by drugs or something else, ranting profanity and punching the brick wall. He was kicking stuff in the alley. Some of his friends came out to calm him down and they all started smoking crack, again with 20 feet of the shelter door.
Are there less people around?
No. Now there are mattresses and blue blankets set up in the alley and a bunch of people are sleeping down there. People have been interviewed saying it’s a protest of some sort.
To us, it seems more like blackmail. They won’t accept spots in other shelters and instead are camping in the alley.
What is happening with the consultation promised by the City?
We heard Provincial housing minister, Rich Coleman say that when the shelter was shut down, that we would see immediate consulting. We haven’t heard a single word from the City.
Nothing. There has been nothing except an escalation in community activities. Even our buildings have now been defaced by posters with glue that can’t be removed. Someone seems to be stepping up the assault on our community.
But nothing from the city.
There was a very clear directive from BC Minister when they took the action that the City wouldn’t take that we would have consultion.
And you’ve heard nothing from the City – no calls, emails, meetings?
I’ve been in touch with a lot of people. We walk around the community (not alone) and speak to lots of people. No one is hearing anything from the city.
We received this email from Gregor Robertson on June 29.
We have to ask, what immediate steps have been taken? What is the Mayor’s definition of immediate?
Have there been new community meetings?
Not yet...(At this point during our interview, the loud sound of sirens came over the phone line and suddenly stopped right outside Lin’s building. She looked from the window, but couldn’t see the cause.)
This is the sound of our neighbourhood now. At 1230 last night, police were racing into the alley again. It just stays the same.
And what is the community doing?
Over the past week or so, we have been trying to be patient and waiting to see when the consultation would begin. We haven’t contacted the media directly, we’ve only been responding.
We are just dumbfounded by the lack of city action and consultation.
Other buildings near us have approached us. They are also upset about how nothing is moving forward. Lots of people want to step up the discussion. We’ll need to hold a meeting soon among building residents to decide what to do.
There is a small group reaching out the seniors in the subsidized housing building (nearby). Many of those seniors feel like hostages. We’re going to offer to help them if they need someone to walk with them to the store or other assistance. The city doesn’t seem to be looking out for us.
Do you think there is a plan?
We think that that if there had been a plan, we would have seen it sometime before the shelter went in, during the time the shelters have been here or now. Nothing.
This administration doesn’t consult – they aren’t consulting with Hornby merchants about the impact to them by the bikes lanes.
The city said “we hear your concerns, we are here to act on your concerns” at our community meeting a month ago in June. We are seeing nothing than words. There is a “good neighbour agreement”, the “bad apple plan”. But if they are not going to enforce what they said they are going to do, then it’s not worth paper it is written on.
This mayor put these shelters into a community without a plan and then has the gall to say that “unforeseen trouble” that emerged.
How can you not foresee trouble when no-barrier shelters never before done in the city?