Vision Vancouver was one of DERA's biggest defenders

Post by Daniel Fontaine in

14 comments


Councillor Tim Stevenson argued nothing immoral or illegal was happening at DERA

Last week we learned the Province of BC had filed an unprecedented lawsuit against the Downtown Residents Association (DERA) located in Vancouver. They allege that DERA conducted a number of inappropriate activities including "Renting to tenants, including past or current DERA employees or board members, without a housing application or appearing on a wait-list, and writing off their rental arrears."

The lawsuit reminded me of a debate that took place at Vancouver Council back in 2007 when the NPA majority decided they wanted to cut funding to DERA for a program they ran in one of their social housing sites. Then Councillor Peter Ladner put forward a motion asking staff to set aside the $31,000 staff had earmarked for DERA and work to see if any other agencies could provide the service instead. Ladner's motion set off a nasty political and legal storm that lasted for months. Both the Vision and COPE officials immediately went on the attack accusing both him and his NPA colleagues of being on a "witch hunt".

Given the recent revelations of the lawsuit against DERA, I thought it might be useful to go back into the video archives to listen to the old debates that took place regarding DERA's funding. In summary...it was nasty, personal and downright vicious - and that was just the first 15 minutes of video I reviewed. One after another, the Vision and COPE elected officials stood up and attacked the NPA while they sat quietly in their chairs and took the pounding.

DERA has been the incubator for a number of well known politicians such as MP Libby Davies and former city councillor Jim Green. It is very high profile and has faced many challenges over its history. Back in 2006 The Province newspaper reported that it was under investigation by BC Housing:

An article in The Province on Dec. 11, 2006 reported B.C. Housing was investigating claims members of an anti-government protest group called the Anti-Poverty Committee had unfairly secured subsidized social housing for its members.

And Jamie Lee Hamilton, a Downtown Eastside activist who used to live in DERA housing, said she wrote a letter three years ago to B.C.’s housing minister detailing a litany of complaints, most reflected in the writ.

When I reviewed the archival tape I was also reminded that it was Hamilton who attended a council meeting on May 3, 2007, whereby she pleaded with the elected officials to take her concerns regarding DERA seriously. At one point during the discussion she turned to Vision Councillor Tim Stevenson and stated:

I am going on the record saying that I allege there is a misuse of funds.

Hamilton's bold accusation was met by a whole lot of cynicism from the Vision/COPE officials who proceeded to grill Jamie Lee like she was on trial. In the end, as The Province points out today, many of Hamilton's allegations were reflected in the writ.

As for the tenor of the debate back in the spring of 2007 when the NPA attempted to cut funding to DERA, here is what former Mayor Sam Sullivan and his team had to endure. Let's first start with Tim Stevenson, one of the more prolific pontificators from the last council:

I can see no reason. I have no reason to deny this [funding] to DERA. From what I know they are doing a good job.

He also hurled a pointed attack at Councillor Kim Capri for her unwillingness to support DERA:

As far as I can see Councillor Capri you may have lost faith with this organization [DERA]. But I don’t think that most people in the Downtown Eastside have lost faith with this extremely important organization. And from what I can see so far this organization has done nothing illegal, nothing immoral, nothing unethical whatsoever.

Vision's Heather Deal, no shrinking violet, piled on with some of her own indignation:

This is being slipped through very quickly with no input from the very people affected by the decision. I find that very troubling. I find it undemocratic. I find it unreasonable. I think it’s as close to backroom as you can get in this room is to slip something in like this that pulls the funding from one of our organizations. An organization that may have issues, but that have been providing a service. And we have heard nothing about that service not being well provided by this organization. Did they know they are getting this yanked? Did they have any opportunity to come speak to us about the service they provide? And to tell us about the good work that they do?

Raymond Louie even accused the NPA of a witch hunt:

DERA provides a service to the community and has been doing so for a period of time. Perhaps just to enlighten the public slightly, there are perhaps some issues, but perhaps they are not currently as I understand it formalized in terms of what the challenge is. So I’ll leave it to Councillor Ladner to say exactly what it is and what motivates his motion. Absent proof I’m fearful that we are going down a witch hunt’s path that perhaps won’t yield something substantive. It’s truly a matter of making sure that people are in fact guilty before you take away their funding or throw them in jail. Whichever that be the case. I still don’t see Councillor Ladner coming on stream here. So it concerns me that perhaps now we’re having a trial absent the opportunity for the defendant to actually be able to defend themselves against whatever charges are perhaps being levied.

Even the normally reserved George Chow couldn't resist throwing a jab or two and he leapt to DERA's defence:

I would also like to ask Councillor Ladner regarding his reason for not having any confidence in DERA being able to deliver this service. He certainly hasn’t said anything that to my satisfaction that why he would think DERA is not suitable to deliver this senior’s service which they have done in past years.

How's this quote from Stevenson who clearly wanted to everyone to know how he voted:

I do not want to see my name in the records going down in the future as one of those that voted in favour of the termination of this [DERA] grant.

Stevenson even lectured the NPA officials and warned them not to let their own personal feelings or political points of view "pollute the process":

Have you had any sense of anything illegal, immoral or unethical going on with this organization [DERA]? I want to know if there is any hint of any problem at all of any kind that would warrant this?...

I just hope that the press is hearing this. I really hope the press is hearing this. Because we may not like particular organizations. We may find them repugnant even, but we have a staff that vets all of these things for us so that our own personal feelings and our own personal political points of view don’t pollute the process.

The two meetings where all these humdinger quotes came from took place on April 3 and May 3, 2007. During the May meeting, Stevenson proposed the following motion:

THAT Council approve a six-month grant of $15,600 to the Downtown Eastside Residents’ Association. Source of funding is the 2007 Community Services Grants budget; and

FURTHER THAT Council request staff to review and report back on the success of the program over the six-month period with a view of continuation into the future.

There was simply no way that Vision/COPE wanted council to cut off funding to DERA. In fact, COPE's David Cadman didn't think that Vision went far enough and he proposed the following motion instead:

THAT the Motion be amended by striking out the words “approve a six-month grant of $15,600 to the Downtown Eastside Residents’ Association” and replacing with the words “grant the Downtown Eastside Residents’ Association the full $31,200, as recommended by staff.

So there you have it, a little travel back in time during a debate that helped to define all three political parties and what they believed in.

- post by Daniel

14 Comments

Thanks for jogging our memories on this. You get the feeling some days that if Vision could start all over whether Louie, Deal or Stevenson would have made the cut for their council slate. Their rants in favor of DERA show that they all put politics before principle.

This crap with DERA has been going on for years.

Let's really roll back the veil...

The grant in question was for a community service program that was not under the DERAHS umbrella - they're two separate societies. Ladner wanted it pulled because he didn't like DERA's politics, not because he believed there had been an abuse of funds. City staff recommended continuing the grant - it was a good program, properly run, and there was no issue with how the funds were used. Council objected to Ladner undermining the staff process because he had a personal hate-on for the organization - which he made good on when he backed up Elizabeth Ball's utterly ridiculous claim that Kerr had threatened her at Council. (I know Kerr. I do not like Kerr. But I know that there is not a hope in hell that he made the comment Ball and Ladner pinned on him.)

I have no love for DERA, and some of what's been alleged is true (whether Hamilton has clean hands, however, is another matter). A lot of it, though, is a bunch of mismanagement on the housing side, and not the pocket-lining scandal it's being made out to be.

Where is Vision and Tim Stevenson now? Eerily silent on the allegations made by the province of BC. Even Jim Green was on the news saying he wasn't surprised by the lawsuit. So if he wasn't surprised, why am I reading what I'm reading in this post. I checked out the video clips you referred to just to make sure there was no truth stretching and they are all legit. You could have put so much more in this story. It was sad to see Stevenon in his full glory. He should be ashamed of himself for his behaviour.

Looking back at that council video, Robertson should have called his party Vicious Vancouver. Ouch, some nasty politics going on there.

This is incredible. I was not following city politics back then so this is shocking. Is there any way you can link to the video of the clips? I hope there is no more city money going to these guys - and there should be an audit of all the money Vancouver poured into these guys over the years. Did these people help Vision get elected? Is that why they were defending them? The people who knew about this and stayed silent are just as bad. Great research work.

Why does Stevenson keep pretending like all was okay with dera when the province newspaper reported well before then they were under investigation by BC housing? Seems to me like reverand Stevenson wanted to keep the blinders on so he could score a few political points. I agree the city should do an audit of it's own. But don't count on vision doing anything.

Ha, now that doesn't surprise me.

Just like I wouldn't be surprised if it ends up Tim Stevenson is pushing for rezoning and construction of an apartment building at 1401 Comox under the Vision Vancouver STIR program as a new place for him to live.

Tim Stevenson should be investigated.

It's too bad that when Jamie Lee Hamilton was a DERA director three years ago she didn't take her whistle blowing as far as Board director Audrey Laferriere did. They were both illegally thrown out, but Jaimie Lee rolled over where as Audrey took it to the courts. If Jaimie Lee weren't living in DERA housing then she might not have been rolling so easil y and perhaps Mz. Hamilton could have cleared all this up then.

Now the people in charge have let the corruption go on so long, they have the opportunity to shut the whole thing down or take it over instead of clearing it up. Was this deliberate negligence on their part? Maybe.

It is very hard for directors to do something about corruption in their Society, even if they don't have a vested interest like housing, when they bring things to the attention of their fellow directors they just become the victims of a witch hunt. The Registrar of Societies is no help at all, and the only thing to do is go to the courts, which hardly anyone has the stomach or resources to do, especially in the DTES. And the DTES is run by Societies

They are re-writing the Society act to make it even more like the BC Corporations Act. For instance, only having one director and one member. If things can easily get this bad now, imagine how hog-wild things could get under that system. They want your input to re-write this act. Let them know that the Society Act needs changes, but not to make it more like a private business!
Write to Joann Cain at : FCSP@gov.bc.ca


The housing co-ordinator for which the NPA voted against was for a Chinese co-ordinator for seniors in DERAH. The only problem with that was that the gent who was hired by DERA to be the co-ordinator did not speak Chinese.

To the individual who claimed that I rolled over, that is so far from the truth that I can't believe you would resort to such nastiness. I even supported you when Carnegie was trying to get rid of you off the board.

For the record, I continued probing into DERA affairs, staff trusted me and brought me information. I dug hard for information and posted all the info on my blog. Moreover, I wrrote a lengthy letter to the Minister of Housing and the CEO of BC Housing. To attack my efforts is so distatasteful and while you want to assist your friend, I don't think you need to slag me in the process. As I recall your friend was up at City Hall when I spoke up and she was supporting APC and DERA at that time. I even received threats and DERA tried to evict me and I challenged them and won. I mught be many things but I never roll over.

..illegal, immoral or unethical..."?The Councillors you quote have known what was going on at DERA for three years.
http://www.canada.com/theprovince/news/story.html?id=dfdec437-0cc6-4c24-9cd7-11111aecc5c1

Note the last line of the story : "Cunningham, Muirhead, Hunter, Kerr and Schneider have all been arrested over the past year during APC protests.

"What we plan on doing is targeting each and every member of the VANOC board and holding them individually responsible for what they have done to hundreds of people in the Downtown Eastside. We have found where their offices are and we have found where their homes are . . . When they feel safe in their . . . palaces, we're going to show up and we're going to bring the class war to their offices and their doorsteps." - David Cunningham, Member, DERA Board of Directors, May/17/2007.

bc housing v dera go to website...voiceofgoneballistic.blogspot.com for more updated news on this fiasco.

DERA themselves are the ones politicizing everything they do...The rant about forcing "class war" on folks just tells you you're dealing with; Communists who want a Red revolution. People like myself who once needed DERA services don't need or care about their raving Communism. They can't get any normal work; they are unemployables; who work out their revolutionary fantasies on the backs of the poor in the DTES. DERA should be flushed down the nearest toilet; & a new bunch of non-Communists should be in charge of services to the DTES.

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