He won't eat – he hates everything!
As much as we'd love to move on to other issues, Vision Vancouver's clumsy handling of the HEAT shelter issue just keeps coming back into the headlines. We've heard about how the Mayor's office has decided to hold public consultations after the shelters are dropped into a variety of communities. Here is what Councillor Kerry Jang stated to 24 Hours yesterday:
"As soon as the [shelters] are ready we'll have the open house, you know what I mean?" Jang said. Asked to clarify, Jang responded, "After people move in."
Today has to be a new milestone for this bunch, however. Instead of owning this issue the Mayor's office have been desperately for days trying to pin the blame on Housing Minister Rich Coleman. For example, in his column last Friday Vision publicist Allen Garr pointed the finger at Victoria, and suggested that he would turn off the taps for funding after the Games are over.
If Rich Coleman stops giving money for emergency shelters to Vancouver, it will simply be Vision's fault.
This morning popular Vancouver-West End NDP MLA Spencer Herbert used the opening of a new shelter in the Coal Harbour neighbourhood to bash the government and Minster Coleman. Herbert said that the lack of public consultation for the HEAT shelters was due to the slowness of funding from the Province, which he said "was a shame."
Really? Did someone in the Mayor's office forget that winter was coming? Robertson's number one issue is homelessness – full stop. He took a massive beating from the public during the summer for the HEAT snafu, yet he entirely failed to prepare for the second round of shelter openings.
How can anyone on Vision possibly blame Rich Coleman for dragging his heals? The Province matched the city's funds, giving $500,000 in addition to Vancouver's $500,000. Vancouver city council was prepared to spend as much as it took to provide emergency shelters, regardless of the BC government's involvement. The re-opening of HEAT shelters was inevitable, so how does Rich Coleman factor in any of this?
When it comes to public consultation, Vision Vancouver are terrified of their own shadows. They're so concerned about losing control of the issue that they refuse to involve the public in the discussion. Sending today's announcement over to a member of the oppositions was a huge slap in the face to Rich Coleman. It's like that 1970s commercial for Life cereal where the kids won't eat it, so they give it to their little brother to watch him eat it up.
In today's HEAT headlines, Spencer Herbert is eating up the attention, and Coleman is left with the scraps.
In our interview with Rich Coleman last month, the Minister was very clear about the nature of the "partnership" between cities and the BC government. Coleman was also clear about his terms for that support, which was that the public be informed of the city's intentions.
Rich Coleman said that it requires leadership (his emphasis) to stare down the critics, and get these facilities up and running. When it comes to Mayor Robertson, who slinked in under the cover of darkness last July to one of his troubled shelters to avoid the public gaze, there's no leadership.
Sending the announcement of the newest HEAT shelter off to Spencer Herbert was a stupid tactic by Robertson's chief of staff Mike Magee to deflect controversy from Vancouver's teflon mayor. Well, it didn't work.
By embarrassing the Housing Minister at this critical juncture and failing to consult the public, Vision are risking everything they've invested into the homelessness issue. Coleman was clear in our interview published earlier this week. He has money for shelters and social housing, but he wants to work with cities who are prepared to be constructive and offer something back in return. He's already had to rescue Vision once, and my guess is that he won't do it again.
Vision have sandbagged Coleman by using third party critics to attack him, and deflecting responsibility from themselves. This is not going to end well, folks.
- post by Mike