Will South Vancouver become home to Mayor Robertson's new pre-trial centre? Mum's the word on which location he's recommended to the Province
Mayor Gregor Robertson and his Vision team have been getting hit from all sides over the last few weeks. The Mayor's so-called media savvy whiz kids who work for him at 12th and Cambie appear overwhelmed with it all. They don't seem to know how to stop the bleeding and are probably realizing that Twitter and Facebook can't cure everything.
Perhaps that might explain why there are so many people complaining about of a lack of consultation from this Mayor (aka Bubble Boy) who fancies himself as Canada's version of Obama. They're so busy putting out fires, is it any wonder they don't have time to listen to the "little" people. I predict the next issue to hit the fan is the likelihood a new remand centre is going to be built somewhere in Vancouver.
If you recall, the Province of BC announced it wanted to build a new pre-trial centre in Burnaby a while ago, but that was quashed when over 1000 residents showed up to a town hall forum just prior to the last provincial election. Residents were concerned about what might happen if some of the criminals escaped and walked into their local neighbourhood. The neighbourhood campaign against the centre was successfully led by Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan. The Minister then decided he would back away from the plan and ask Metro Mayors to decide amongst themselves where the new high security prisoner facility should go.
It now appears three cities are in the running to get the centre with Vancouver and Delta the likely front runners. However, unlike Delta Mayor Lois Jackson or Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts, both of whom have consulted with their local community and made public the details regarding a possible location, Mayor Robertson is keeping Vancouverites in the dark. Thankfully, the Delta Optimist newspaper is now reporting they know where Robertson plans to put the remand centre in Vancouver (and no, it's not near Beach and Howe Street):
Vancouver says it wants the remand centre to be built on a 16.2-acre property near the Fraser River, a property currently owned by the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority, which purchased the land for $12 million in 2005.
When asked by CKNW last evening whether he would confirm this is in fact the location he's put on the table for the new remand centre, Robertson was ambiguous. He told them he was still looking at a couple of sites, but hadn't made up his mind where it should go.
At what point is the Mayor going to let local residents know they've been selected to house a remand centre? When will he reveal which properties he's putting on the table? When will he actually do a bit of consultation?
If Robertson wants to avoid another "lack of consultation" outcry from the community, it might be prudent for him to be as open and transparent as possible regarding the possibility of a new prisoner facility in Vancouver. This is especially true if he expects buy-in from local residents and wants to avoid another political crisis.
Vancouver Council recently passed a motion letting the Province know they wanted the new prisoner facility within their borders, but didn't specify where. It didn't get much media attention at the time, but the motion read as follows:
1. the Province maintained a remand centre in the City of Vancouver for many
2. the Province is looking for a site to build a new remand centre;
3. the remand centre will employ 175 people in well-paid positions;
4. it may be desirable to build the new remand centre in Vancouver;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED
A. THAT this Council support a new remand centre being built in Vancouver; and
B. THAT staff be requested to work with Provincial staff to find a site for the
According to the Province, the new remand centre will create 200 jobs and $3 million in supply contracts as well as provide some desperately needed cash to city coffers by way of a grant in lieu of property taxes.
If the Province does in fact award the new remand centre in Vancouver and local residents have not been consulted, you can expect another firestorm of protest.
It's time the Mayor release the details on which two pieces of property he is looking at for his new remand centre and let citizens weigh in on how to make this facility as safe and community-friendly as possible.