Lack of HEAT shelter consultation is deja Vusion all over again

Post by Daniel Fontaine in

7 comments

pointing
Mayor Robertson points fingers at Victoria for the reason the City of Vancouver couldn't consult

It was another day and another media announcement at Vancouver City Hall yesterday. This time Mayor Robertson was behind his presidential podium to announce he was going to open three new HEAT shelters in Vancouver. The first one to re-open is the infamous Granville street location which helped to generate a ton of controversy last spring after many of its patrons were caught fornicating, defecating and taking drugs in the adjacent areas near the shelter. Two additional HEAT shelters are expected to open in the coming days in trendy Kitsilano and the West End.

You’d think after the PR fiasco he encountered with the initial roll-out (some residents argue roll over) of his HEAT shelters, Vision Mayor Gregor Robertson would have learned his lesson regarding a lack of consultation. It would appear not.

Last spring the Mayor and councillor Kerry Jang, his hapless Minister of Social Services and Community Development, were accused of arrogance and heavy-handedness when it came to their mismanagement of these “no barrier” shelters. Even the Mayor grudgingly admitted that much of that criticism was warranted as the City did virtually nothing to consult local neighbhourhoods before installing the open for business sign. This after the City built up a stellar reputation over the last several decades as one of the most consultative local government's in Canada.

With yesterday’s pronouncement, things appear to be déjà vu all over again. In the news conference yesterday, Robertson indicated he simply didn’t have time to consult with neighbourhoods regarding the opening of these new HEAT shelters. Rather than personally taking the HEAT for this decision not to consult (something he is loathe to do), Robertson pointed fingers at the Province of BC. He told the media he simply didn't have the time so speak with local residents as he only received word of the funding from Housing Minister Rich Coleman in mid-December.

Clearly the Mayor’s spinmeisters must have stayed up late preparing his HEAT shelter speaking notes. Does he really want us to believe that over the last six months he couldn’t find a few hours to consult with local residents in advance of the funding confirmation? What sheer and utter poppycock.

In our interview with Minister Rich Coleman last month on this subject he told CityCaucus.com:

When the City asked us for support this year, we asked them for a plan for what the community engagement would be between now and the time they would open. They've shown us that plan, they're going to go out to the community, they're going to have the discussion with them. So they're going to have a bit more of a process around it. That's to try to mitigate the concerns of the community around security, and [shelter] activity and the timing, because they're only going to open for a short period of time, if they're used. And that means we'll have to have the need for them.

The bottom line is regardless of when the funding was approved, the Mayor and Jang should have been planning for the opening of these shelters months ago. Government’s all around the world plan projects in advance of funding being secured (hello...can you say Evergreen line), therefore, why is this any different? To blame the Province for the City’s lack of consultation is not only lame, it’s completely disingenuous and puts at risk what to date has been a relatively good working relationship between the two levels of government on this file.

After Robertson initially felt the HEAT over the HEAT shelters, he should have shown some leadership skills and immediately directed his staff to do their job. By now, they should have developed a robust and effective communication and consultation plan to engage local citizens. They should have been planning for the possible opening of 3-5 shelters and consulted with local residents last fall. That obviously didn’t happen. Perhaps the Mayor and his staff were simply too busy courting Richard Branson, launching expensive logos and attending conferences in Europe to pay any attention to these types of meat and potato issues?

Robertson indicated yesterday that the long-awaited community consultations regarding the HEAT shelters will come only once the shelters have been opened. In the famous words of Marie Antoinette, this sounds a tad like “let them eat cake”. Unfortunately, this pattern of act now consult later has become all too commonplace with this administration.

I'll leave you with this quote from Vision councillor Kerry Jang in response to angry residents upset about a lack of consultation prior to the HEAT shelter being opened in their neighbhourhood:

That’s where we’re now getting the push back from South Granville people saying, “You didn’t talk to us beforehand.” And quite frankly, if we’d talked to them beforehand, they would have said, “We don’t want this in our neighbourhood.”

- post by Daniel

7 Comments

Look,it's far more important to be burning tons of fossil fuels to hobnob with billionaires in Copenhagen than it is to consort with the riff-raff condo-owners on False Creek.Let them eat sushi...Quit picking on our poor innocent Mayor and councillors!!!

This is bang on. What a load of hor$e$hit that he has no time to consult us. This is the most arrogant government I've seen in decades. We the little people must suffer under those who think Father Knows Best. I agree with Louie. The mayor should spend a bit more time at home tending to local issues rather than hanging out with rich millionaires like himself. Otherwise, he will get turfed out in the next election. And I actually voted Vision in the last election! What a mistake that was.

Here is the consultation. The city opens the shelter and sends a letter to the neighbourhood telling us about the lessons they have learned from last year. There are essentially 3 problems in my view.

1. Ego - it seems that the Egos of Jang and Roberston have been bruised and they are determined to prove to the world that they are high and mighty - fighting for the homeless. Therefore, the shelter will go ahead again at Granville Street.

2. No understanding of what consultation is. When you consult, you usually talk and LISTEN and RESPOND. Consultation to these bright lights appears to be- we sent you a letter. They do not wish to listen or HEAR anything other than what they want to hear. Should you voice concerns, they call you names. (how very mature!)

3. Winter happens every year. Surprise. Surprise. "Oh, we didn't have time to consult because it is a surprise to us that it is cold again. We didn't see it coming."

In my view homelessness, is a symptom of many things. It could be you are homeless because of an addiction, loss of job, mental illness..many possible reasons.

Real solutions to being homeless is complicated. I have no faith that this City Council run has any real compassion for homelessness - I feel addressing the issue of homelessness draws media attention, which then strokes the Ego of our dearly beloved leader. So, if a neighbourhood has to suffer to fondle to Ego of the heralded anoited one, then..well friends...too bad..He has spoken ..therefore..it is...CONSULTATION has taken place.

I notice Vision's "unofficial" blogster is attacking local residents as being NIMBYS. Is this also Robertson's view of us too? The Vision blog says "Like I suggested on Sunday, this is one of those issues that the Mayor needs to stand up for regardless of the political hits he takes from the NIMBY front - he won an election on ending homelessness, and this initial upset by the minority should be considered as little more than minor potholes in the broader path ahead"

WHAT SHEER ARROGANCE FROM THIS VISION MOUTHPIECE. To refer to us as a "minority" and "potholes". I could say the author of this blog is another kind of a hole. As for Robertson taking a hit???? the coward showed up in our neighbourhood in the middle of night to survey what was going on. You call that courageous?

The Vision blog also states "I can already hear the future complaints about how the city should have engaged in far more consultation before moving ahead with such a plan. I say BS."

More arrogance from Vision and their cronies. They treat us like we're just something they can run over. Like a pothole. Hard to belive the media are giving them such a free ride. 2011 can't come soon enough. These guys are going to be given the boot.

What a bunch of Bozos! It's the typical "ready, shoot, aim" approach by Silly Hall. Their idea of public consultation is to open the shelters, tell the public what they've done and then call it consultation. What an joke. These clowns couldn't organize a two-car funeral!

Some people think capitalism is best for them, they try to get rich fast on the backs of the masses. Some people think communism is best for them, therefore appoint themselves and their friends in positions of power. Some people think dictatorship is best for them, they kill the opposition, freedom of expression becomes an exercise in futility or who shouts the loudest for no reason. Some people, like myself, think that all the above are crap.
Some people, let's call them Vancouver Vision people, think that Capitommunistorship suits them the best.
Do you concur?

The City keeps opening shelters in NIMBY neighborhoods - that is the problem. False Creek is full of NIMBYs and now Mt Pleasant is too if you read Jang's comments in the Globe. Apparently Kits residents are NIMBYs too. Maybe the city should try Coal Harbour? Or Kerrisdale or South Vancouver? Maybe Douglas Park?
It seems everywhere the City opens these no barrier no holds barred shelters people get up in arms. Why not place them in 'hoods where folks don't care about their safety? Places where fornicating, defecating and urinating in public are considered socially acceptable behaviors? Places where open drug use, prostitution and drug dealing are the norm. If the City would stop opening these shelters in uptight hoods like FCN, places where people expect their voice to be heard over the noise from the likes of the Pivot Legal Society and the Homeless Nation - then the problem would go away.

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