Gregor Robertson backpedals on pledge to end homelessness by 2015

Post by Daniel Fontaine in

16 comments

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Homelessness is up by 12% in Vancouver – now the Mayor is backpedaling on a promise

During the last civic election, Mayor Gregor Robertson and his Vision Vancouver caucus were elected on a commitment to end homelessness by 2015. In fact, Robertson quit his job as a provincial MLA (triggering a half million dollar by-election) in order to solve homelessness from his new perch at 12th and Cambie. If you don't believe me, here is what the Mayor said in his inaugural speech:

I’m told that ending homelessness is an audacious goal. And that’s true. But for someone who’s sleeping under a bridge tonight, 2015 can’t come soon enough.

The Mayor's own numbers demonstrate that homelessness has actually gone up by 12% since the year he got elected. No matter how much spin the Mayor's Office staff would like to fabricate, the bottom line is there are more people sleeping on Vancouver’s streets and in shelters today than two years ago. So how does this square with Robertson's commitment to end homelessness by 2015? Well, perhaps the Mayor's campaign pledge was not quite as air tight as we were all led to believe.

During my weekly appearance on the Bill Good Show, development consultant, fellow panelist and former Vision mayoral candidate Jim Green admitted that Gregor Robertson won't be ending homelessness by 2015 after all. Yes, you read that correctly. Despite publicly committing that he would end homelessness by 2015, we now find that Robertson is backpedaling from his original commitment. Still don't believe me? Surely fellow CKNW panelist and Globe and Mail contributor Frances Bula has her facts straight on this one when she told the CKNW listening audience:

Daniel's right when he says the City has backed off on trying to end homelessness by 2015. They sort of vaguely said that during the campaign and now they are very scrupulous about saying "street" homelessness.

If you scan the Vision Vancouver website today you will also find the following statement:

Mayor Gregor Robertson has set 2015 as the goal for ending homlessness in Vancouver.

If you think that I was the only one duped into thinking Vision Vancouver would end homelessness by 2015, think again. I'm in very good company. Here is a headline from Megaphone, the newspaper run by Vancouver's street people:

During Gregor Robertson’s victory speech, Vancouver’s new mayor didn’t shy away from his commitment to end homelessness by 2015. Promising to put together an emergency task force and an action plan within 90 days, Robertson boldly claimed, “We are going to end homelessness in Vancouver.

It’s a promise that helped Robertson defeat the NPA’s Peter Ladner, who insisted homelessness was the provincial government’s responsibility. But is it a promise Robertson can keep?

Even the Vision friendly Vancouver Observer run by Linda Solomon (the sister of Joel Solomon, one of the Mayor's key advisors) ran this headline:

City Hopes Count Will Help End Homelessness by 2015

The mainstream media also appear to have been duped. Here is what The Province wrote:

Mayor kick-starts 'clear plan' to end city homelessness - 2015 goal to begin with 2010 deadlines for 'city-specific' count, ideas; Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson wants city staff to get serious about ending homelessness in the city by 2015.

And the Financial Post:

Robertson, who made a campaign pledge to end homelessness by 2015, said officials are reviewing all city-controlled facilities to see which would be suitable for emergency shelters.

And Metro News:

The city, which has a goal of ending homelessness by 2015, is updating its homeless action plan and wants a baseline against which to judge its efforts.

And the good folks over at GlobalTV reported:

The mayor made an election promise to end homelessness in Vancouver by 2015.

BC's largest newspaper wrote:

Candidates sparred over who could house them the fastest, news conferences were held on their figurative doorsteps, and when newly minted mayor Gregor Robertson proclaimed to supporters at the Hotel Vancouver that “we are going to end homelessness in Vancouver,” the well-heeled crowd went wild.

Canada's public broadcaster reported on Robertson's commitments by writing:

Other promises included eliminating homelessness by 2015

Even someone who declares he's been a personal friend of the Mayor for 10 years thought he was going to end homelessness by 2015:

Secondly, I found the platform he ran and won on downright inspiring: Working collaboratively to end homelessness by 2015 - Jason Mogus, Communicopia

There you have it, folks. If you're feeling like Gregor Robertson's commitment to end homelessness has holes big enough to drive a hybrid truck through it...you've got good reason to believe that. Now back to regularly scheduled spinning programming.

16 Comments

Oh, for God's sake. You didn't really believe him when he said that, did you? It was just an election promise, a way to look exciting, ambitious and interesting.

The future always looks bright when you're wearing a pair of rose-coloured cycling glasses!

If you look at Vision's 2008 election platform (http://www.votevision.ca/sites/all/files/vision_platform_web.pdf), it becomes obvious that the Mayor has not backpedaled and nobody was 'duped' to believe anyting other than what was actualy promised:

page 3:
Gregor Robertson and the Vision Team have set a clear goal: we will end street (sic) homelessness by 2015.

page 4:
End street (sic) homelessness by 2015: While the only real solution to homelessness is a home, no one should be forced to live on the streets. We will work to end the homelessness crisis, with a clear goal of zero street (sic) homelessness by 2015.

As clever AGT said of our Mayor "Yes he looks like a model. Unfortunately he sounds like one too."

Gregor hasn't had a genuine, thought-out plan on this since Day One; only feeble attempts at societal experiments (gone bad). Mats thrown on floors are no permanent solution and I think it's shameful how he's using these folk for his political spin & gain.

Remember, his bandaids of mats + food + staff cost over $2000 PER person PER month at his winter shelters compared to $500 pp/mo. actual social housing. How is THAT math solving anything long term?

What is scary is that we are getting a very expensive preview of what the next provincial government is going to look like. With thease weasel words, the chicken shelters, subsidized housing at False Creek and Hollyhock it is time the Mayor found some adult super-vision - and fast.

The Thought Of The Day

"Homelessness under the Vision watch have become a Vaudeville side show known as The Puppetry of the Penny’s”

Take their homelessness “hide and seek” action plan and “vision” for example.
There is no question in my mind that the year 2015, as their target year to end homelessness, was not an accident. Think about it. Was that year picked out of thin air? I think not!
Vancouver Vision is a Party made out of double faced, ship jumping, backstabbing members. Remember COPE? Deceiving, lying and betraying are VV Modus Operandi.
And as any respectable, true apparatchiks, they compile their list of “lies and answers” ahead of time, before, during and after the election. Not a biggie! That’s why, what I think they brainstormed behind closed doors was something like… ‘IF we can sucker the Vancouverites (yeah, fat chance with that now) into a second term in office (2011-2014), a perfect deadline to “end homelessness” would be right after the end of the second term …(2015). On the other hand, IF they get onto our racket, by the end of the second term, so be it, we’ll leave the “our legacy” for the next administration.’

QED

We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

I'll believe Vision's godmother (Frances)before I believe you buddy. You sound like a vision staffer. Did you write that weasely platform document in the first place? Just admit that Vision used a weasel word "street" in some of their materials to give themselves some "wriggle" room in case homelessness actaully went up. Which it has. Not only is this mayor intellectually challenged, now we find out he's manipulative as well. a lethal combo.

Ah, the fine print. Don't you love the caveats Vision seem to be adding to their promises lately? Meggs had the gall to say on CBC radio that the city never promised 250 social housing units, and that the plan was for half that all along.

@mary. I heard that too. They are backtracking on a series of commitments and pretending like they never made them. I need to ask, why has COPE been so silent as Vision continues to erode our social fabric. Cadman is a no show while Woodsworth is making a feeble attempt at saying something. Hard to believe, but vision could well become a one term wonder.

It seems Mayor Moonbeam is just another story spinner. I even thought there was hope that he would be the leader of the NDP. He is making Sammy look good. Maybe he should stick to planting carrot patches.

No one I know believed the mayor when he said he'd end homelessness. We all laughed when we heard him make this promise. Now we don't just laugh at his phony promises, we laugh at him.

According to Bula, his performance at yesterday's news conference was typically abysmal. Thankfully most of the MSM cleaned up his verbiage to help him look good to the electorate. Good on Bula for pointing out that Ballem is actually running city hall, not him.

Massey,

I think Glissando resumed it best in his thought of the day.
"Homelessness under the Vision watch have become a Vaudeville side show known as The Puppetry of the Penny’s” How sad,
gregor the puppet.

There is something very cynical and dispiriting in the Mayor's failure to propose a detailed plan to match the central bedrock plank in his election campaign to end homelessness by 2015.

He only has 4 years to go, and still no plan, no metrics, no partnerships, no funding, no goals ... just pushing people into shelters and out of sight and mind.

I personally wish them every success in the effort to end homelessness - the whole city would benefit. But the lack of seriousness and intellectual honesty is deeply disappointing.

Something is wrong with the math here. $2000/person/per month for emergency shelters...vs $500/person/month for actual social housing.

So lets get apples compared to apples.

Social housing might be $500/month for a roof...but did it include the heat? How about food?
How about safety and security? Cleaning supplies and cleaners? Lighting?
Administrator to coordinate all of the above?

If $500/month is all it takes to house and feed a homeless person and look after all the other things that need to be done then it sounds pretty easy. But I know that my kids can't find housing for that price...let alone live in secure, clean and warm homes as well as eat. Homeless people need more than just a box to sleep in ... and its the total cost that needs to be concidered. Many homeless are not prepared to live in such structured environments (personal choice does not mean that they shouldn't be allowed to live on the street if they want to) and many others have physical, mental or behavioral issues including extreme addictions that make condensed social housing with managed care providers impractical.

I suspect next years budget is going to be another dusey. @ least this year Vision appears to be recognizing the folly of their 'kids in a candy shop' spending spree [in spite of the huge cuts in programmes, jobs & facilities] & are attempting to reign in. But, it's to little to late. The Mayor seems to have to learn the hard way, which in the past year & a half means @ taxpayers expense.

Peter Ladner was right. Social housing is a provincial responsibility. The Vision has gotten itself into a game they don't have the chips to play with. So spin, spin, spin.

Wow! So Gregor Robertson has finally realized that you can't just spit out nice sounding ideas without any real plan in place to back them up. What a goofball.

Looks like ending the plight of Homeless Chickens is a higher priority for Mayor Moonbeam and his Hollyhock Visionless party.

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