Introducing Vancouver Council's new battle against public disorder: an enviro-friendly hamster-operated ticket shredding machine (hamster not included).
It didn't take long for the blogosphere to explode yesterday after Jeff Lee broke the story that Vision Vancouver is considering ripping up 1000 tickets issued to residents in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. The pledge came from Councillor Kerry Jang (the man Mayor Robertson appointed to lead the HEAT shelter fiasco) and Mayor Meggs after they left the middle of a live council meeting to have a private chat with a group of boisterous protesters who showed up at City Hall yesterday.
Poverty advocates say that the 1000 tickets issued by Vancouver Police should be ripped up due to the fact they were issued mainly to people who were homeless and living in the Downtown Eastside. They are also apparently asking Vancouver's civic politicians to have a chat with the police and get them to lay off the ticket issuing - at least for the time being.
After we posted our story last night we were subsequently contacted by someone within the legal community who was astounded to learn what the Vision Council was about to advocate. They stated the prospect of having politicians meddle in the court system once the tickets have been issued by the police is very problematic.
Over at the Vancouver Sun, over 40 comments have already been posted on a story that did not appear to make the cut for the print edition. Here is a sample of what people are saying about Mayor Robertson and company:
Gregor & his council are simply paying off the poverty industry & other special-interest that got him elected. He intends to grow poverty in Vancouver & thus increase his base support & pay off the industry leaders. Bring on every bum in Canada, Gregor will welcome them all here. - Steve
I agree with" IQ Test For Council" Sometimes a few words says it all. - Frank
I am sick and tired of this municipal government pandering to the moaning and whinging of the the drug addicts, derelicts and the latest group of whiners - the Greenies. Yesterday at 5 pm I was walking on a public path with my two children leading down to Charleson Park (about 150 metres from an elementary school) in False Creek when I nearly stepped on three drug addicts sitting in the middle of the path on the ground with needles hanging out of their arms!!!!!!! How about my rights not to be subjected to this kind of behaviour in broad daylight in a family oriented neighbourhood. For God's sake, Gregor, show some compassion for the people that do fit into society - we're people too!!!!!!! - Sick and Tired
Freakin bleedin hearts, grab some balls. Just because people are down and out means that they don't have to obey basic by laws such as Jay walking? Maybe they should plea guilty and ask for community service? Or would that be too much? If so, then get rid of the police and let the homeless poo and pee where ever they want to, allow them to wander into traffic while the rest of tax paying motorist sit and idle on the road until this waste of humanity ....thanks for reading my rant, I feel better already. - Albertan
Gregor let the police uphold the law, this has nothing to do with the downtown eastside!
Good move by council. I would go farther, though. Why not target wealthy WEst Siders, and lobby to have the fines for jaywalking doubled for rich folks. In the meantime, let's review the rest of the law book, and enact exemptions for homeless, drug abusers, etc., so that they don't have to obey laws against burglary, assault, drug dealing, etc. If we do that, we can make Vancouver a really progressive city. - Tinkindling
Once again, this left wing city council supports anarchy in the DTES. Who elected them anyhow . . . oh right, just about everyone that voted in the last election. - Bob Parker
And of course if I hit one of these people in the middle of the street with my car or on my bike (I wear a helmet - btw), it will be my fault. When will people learn that if you do the crime you have to spend the time. There is to much petty stuff happening in this city & nothing is done about it. Greggie baby and his enablers on city council are back at it again. Maybe while they are at it they can rescind the $50.00 parking ticket I got for stopping in a no stopping zone to put a propane bottle in my trunk.... - GT
So that's how you get your tickets reversed, show up at council and threaten the councilors. Well these people are clearly not held to account for criminal infractions, so makes sense they wouldn't be paying any attention to silly bylaws. Why they're basically above the law, because their addicts. Medical condition you know. - Taxpayer
Let me get this straight. If one is a law-abiding, tax-paying citizen who is not a problem, a threat or a burden to the system, one is expected to obey the law, pay fines for infractions, etc. However, if one is a drug-addicted, indigent, and willing to pay no attention to laws that he or she knows will lead to fines, it's okay for them not to pay. Never mind that nobody forced addicts into addiction (in most cases). Never mind that as adults, unless they're judged incompetent, they are legally and morally obliged to bear the consequences of their actions. Never mind that according to a recently published report, close to a billion and a half dollars has been pumped into the downtown east side over the years, with apparently little effect. The ONLY folks I feel sorry for in this situation are the homeless who are also mentally ill and have no place to go. For the addicts, and for those who'd rather remain on the streets than seek help or do what it takes to get clean, I've no sympathy AT ALL. Break the law ----> pay the fine. If you don't want to pay the fine, stop breaking the law. - Steve
I have a parking ticket, can the Council please cancel that ticket for me? - Monty
As you can see, ripping up these tickets may well solve a problem with 50 protestors who disrupted a council meeting, but it won't sit well with a lot of other law-abiding citizens.
Late on Wednesday morning, the Tyee posted something on their blog which seems to indicate that Vision does not want to rip up the tickets issued by the VPD. They interviewed Jang who clearly stated:
We can not cancel tickets. It’s not in our mandate, we’re not allowed to. That’s what we kept trying to explain.
He goes on to state:
Before they enter the courts they need to understand how the process works. No one is above the law, it applies equally to everyone.
You can expect this issue will continue to simmer as Downtown Eastside advocates increasingly grow impatient with a Council they thought would be on their side. This is a thorny issue that will require a lot of political finesse to solve.