Gregor Robertson blames rookie cop for homeless ticket

Post by Mike Klassen in

19 comments

Red Tent
Red tent occupant James Oickle must have a laserjet printer inside his portable office

We get a lot of messages from folks who say that when they send emails, letters or leave phone messages for Vancouver's Mayor the line on the other end, in a matter of speaking, goes dead. Whenever there's an inquiry outside of Gregor Robertson's comfort zone there's a perception that he simply ignores it. But one email from a concerned citizen on Tuesday afternoon received a swift response from hizzonner.

The story of James Oickle, a man from New Brunswick who received a ticket for pitching a "red tent" provided by Pivot Legal Society on a sidewalk next to Vancouver’s provincial court several weeks ago, took a strange twist on Tuesday. The VPD had to say "oops" and blame it on a rookie cop's inexperience, and are withdrawing the ticket. You can read the Vancouver Sun and Province's stories, replete with outraged comments from dozens of readers.

In response to the news story which circulated on Monday that Pivot Legal were disputing the ticket on Oickle's behalf, this email from a citizen named Denise Clarke was sent to Mayor Robertson Tuesday at noon:

From: Denise Clarke
Sent: Tuesday, May 04, 2010 12:00 PM

To: Robertson, Gregor

Subject: Temporary Shelters

Mr.Robertson,
 
I would like to express my support of respecting the Charter of Rights of homeless people to protect themselves from the elements by erecting temporary shelters on public property.
 
While I enjoy the priveledge (sic) of a comfortable home many do not have this basic need and it seems cruel to displace them by disallowing them the right to set up a safe place to sleep.
 
Regards,
Denise Clarke

Given that Robertson campaigned on a platform to end "street" homelessness (not actual homelessness), it shouldn't surprise us that he feels politically vulnerable on this subject. What Ms. Clarke got was a very quick response from the Mayor:

From: Robertson, Gregor <Gregor.Robertson@vancouver.ca>
Date: May 4, 2010
Subject: RE: Temporary Shelters
To: Denise Clarke

Thank you for your email.
 
Upon learning of the incident of Mr. Oikle being issued a ticket, I spoke to Chief Jim Chu and as you may have already heard, we were able to determine this morning that it was a VPD officer, not City of Vancouver Engineering staff, that issued the by-law ticket for obstructing the sidewalk. The VPD have followed up with the officer and it appears that it is a case of a brand new officer not completely understanding the VPD policy of deferring the matter of people camping in parks or on sidewalks to the City. The VPD will be cancelling the ticket and will be taking steps to ensure that all new members get refreshers on all current policies.
 
Again, thanks for taking the time to write.
 
Gregor Robertson
Mayor of Vancouver
t. 604.873.7621

Now, excuse me for wondering aloud here for a moment. James Oickle says he must sleep on the street because he was kicked out of his SRO for allowing his daughter from Quebec to crash there with him – perhaps Pivot could have pleaded his case with his landlord instead? Then Oickle shows up sleeping in a red tent provided to him by Pivot Legal Society. Then a rookie cop hands him a fine. Then Pivot Legal represents Oickle as he takes on City Hall – what an amazing coincidence. Pivot's letter describes "harassment" from City officials.

Oickle describes the chain of events to the Sun:

“But when Pivot [Legal Society] gave me a tent to live in, and Wendy from Carnegie [Community Action Committee] offered me her services, I thought I might as well be an activist with these guys, too.”

Gee, isn't that great that he spontaneously decided to become a fellow activist.

Well, at least Wendy Pederson thinks so. Here is Wendy's response to the email from Mayor Gregor Robertson:

From: Wendy Pedersen
Subject: RE: [dnc-members] Fwd: RE: Temporary Shelters
To: dnc-members@povnet.org
Received: Tuesday, May 4, 2010, 6:53 PM

Right ON!!!  This means tents are allowed on sidewalks!  Bring them on.  The sidewalk near the Courthouse is really big. Lots of room. Gotta get that bathroom built across the street again – it was knocked down by a truck a month or so ago.
 
Wendy

So the sequence of events is that Clarke sends an email to the Mayor at noon, and by dinner time we have city policy in writing, as interpreted by one of the city's most notable poverty activists. Nobody can say now that Gregor Robertson isn't quick on his feet when he wants to be!

What may interest our readers is the strange bedfellows that Mayor Robertson and the Pivot Legal Society are. Pivot Legal has been sustained by grants for years from several organizations including the Tides Canada Foundation, whose board has Robertson's key political adviser and fundraiser Joel Solomon as Vice-Chair. Pivot were given guidance by Solomon's Renewal Partners, the company that spends Carol "RE" Newell's millions.

Pivot Legal occupies space in the Pivot Legal Society Building, which was purchased with Renewal's help, and money provided by VanCity Credit Union, which now has Vancouver Courier columnist Allen Garr as a director. Pivot Legal also has Joel Solomon's wife, Dana Bass Solomon – CEO of Hollyhock on Cortes Islandon their board of directors.

The Red Tent campaign is an organized political action that was timed to coincide with the 2010 Olympics. What it became was a bit of a media dud, as Olympic partiers (and the world's media) became bored of the folks occupying Concord's property down on Hastings Street. The comments on one account of the action kind of sum up the public cynicism, including one commenter who went out of the way to cite the Tides Foundation's part in the red tent campaign:

Beware of Pivot legal society the sponsors of the red tent campaign. The persons/foundations funding this organization have hidden investment objectives. Follow the online trail and you'll discover the truth behind the tides foundation grants that put people out of work and on the streets.

I'll grant you it's a bit of an obscure statement talking about "hidden investment objectives" and an "online trail", but it certainly has the research staff on the 23rd floor at CityCaucus Tower curious.

So the question we might want to email to gregor.robertson@vancouver.ca is this. Since your top political supporter and his wife are advising and/or giving providing financial support to a group who are agitating for the right for people to pitch tents in public spaces, should we conclude that this is something you are in favour of?

Maybe this is what social change looks like.

- post by Mike

19 Comments

Pivot is a disgusting poverty pimping organization that pretends to help poor people but really just exploits them to fight their marxist ideology war with the successful part of society on the backs of the downtrodden,

A very disgusting bunch of wannbe utopians/marxists.

Pity the poor they exploit, because Pivot won't.

I think Pivot actually does a lot for homeless people. Without them, in fact, I think there would be more people homeless and the media wouldn't even focus on it as an issue. Good work Pivot, keep it up.

I agree with the comment about why not discuss it with the landlord. Well the landlord is BC Housing with its policy of not allowing adult family members to live with a resident. So it is a bit crowded, so what?

Pivot is pathetic and the mayor is spineless.

I was recently told that every PIVOT employees get six weeks paid holiday a year in addition to the statutory holidays. Now I know where the money is coming from. Now I also know why PIVOT is supporting the new Society Act 2012 with its promise to deregulate Societies so that societies become legal monsters.

I 'Googled' James Oickle's name and he is no more homeless than I am.

Take a run through his Facebook page and you will get a pretty good idea of what he is about. (However, I did find his comments about Mark Townsend from InSite rather interesting)

Regardless, this is just ANOTHER sad political stunt by Pivot and their lot, and to see the Mayor lap it up, well.....what can I say.

I have zero respect for any of them.


Let's understand the facts:

1. BC Supreme Court decision holds that municipal bylaws prohibiting people from sleeping in tents on public property when the shelters are full breach Charter rights to life, liberty and security of the person.

2. Court of Appeal upholds this decision.

3. A man is ticketed in Vancouver for sleeping in a tent on public property after being kicked out of public housing.

4. Pivot points out that this may be improper given the above court decisions (the ticket being based on a law that is of questionable validity).

5. Public officials, including the mayor and the chief of police, agree and remedy the problem by rescinding the ticket.

6. CityCaucus.com attacks:

(i) the man that was ticketed (even though he is homeless, he's not "really" homeless, because he said he is an activist);

(ii) the organization that pointed out a potential invalidity of the ticket (they take money from the sworn enemies of this blog; also, they may be part of some vague conspiracy to actually create more homelessness, according to an unattributed blog comment that has intrigued the inquiring minds at CityCaucus.com - btw, I look forward to your in depth coverage of the "hidden investment objectives" of Tides that are intended to put more people on the streets);

(iii) the mayor, for ensuring that tickets not be handed out based on a law that is of questionable validity (this makes him some sort of "fellow traveler" I suppose).

Karl Rove would be proud.

Jeff:

1. BC Supreme Court decision holds that municipal bylaws prohibiting people from sleeping in tents on public property when the shelters are full breach Charter rights to life, liberty and security of the person.

**
Are the 'shelters' currently at capacity? From what I read, he was housed - not homeless. (And as per his Facebook page, he is currently writing a book so I am guessing this is good fodder.)

When Pivot ran this same 'red tent' stunt during the Olympics, the Salvation Army questioned their tactics as the 'shelters' were not full.

For a great many of us, Pivot has lost any respect they once held. I quit volunteering in the DTES because of these immature stunts.

Sad for those that hang their hat in the Pivot corner.

"Pivot Legal also has Joel Solomon's wife, Dana Bass Solomon – CEO of Hollyhock on Cortes Island – on their board of directors."


Ding ding ding! We have a winner!

I've seen mentioned numerous times that Vision and Gregor Robertson are trying to claim they only promised to "solve" STREET homelessness. While it's convenient for them to not fulfill an election promise based on a technicality of words, I've yet to find any evidence of this in their election materials, which all simply stated "Solve Homelessness." There was no "Street" anywhere in there. Same with any of the forums I attended during the election. The mantra was "We will solve homelessness." Period.

Even on Vision's own website, they simply say "Solve Homelessness" with no clarification or mention that in actuality they meant to say "reduce the number of people living on the streets." Have a look for yourself:

http://visionvancouver.ca/solving-homelessness

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

Even COPE's website doesn't make any claims to solve homelessness.

Why the media accepted such a ridiculous promise to begin with is perplexing, but, they've also accepted this reVisionist history that they only meant Street homelessness. Case closed.

Warehousing the poor and homeless in shelters does not solve homelessness of any kind. Based on Vision's own numbers, homelessness has actually increased since Vision took over City Hall. Yet mostly silence from the media and not a single protest from Wendy Pederson. Can you image if this was announced while the NPA was in power? The torches and pitchforks would be out in force in front of City Hall every single day.

Gregor could care less if the sidewalks on the DTES are full of people living in tents, he won't see them from his million-dollar home.

Tom we were all sold a bill of goods by vision about ending homelessness. It was a big fraud. They see shoveling people off the streets and onto church pews as the solution. They NEVER campaigned on this. They said they were going to END HOMELESSNESS. No fine print. We've all been hoodwinked. As you point out, the vision friendly media are all silent on this big FAT LIE to the people of Vancouver. Trust me, if Larry Campbell and COPE or Sam Sullivan and the NPA had made this promise then backtracked, there would be calls for a public inquiry.

Actually the only people that were hoodwinked were those stupid enough to believe them and to switch their vote.

Right from the get go when they made that promise I had commented on numerous sites that it wasn't possible and that their goal of 2015 was only so that they could say in 2011 that they haven't finished their work yet and need another term.

I hate to say it but I told you so.

it seems outrageous that a shop owner can't put a display outside his store window without a paid permit, but a person can set up a tent and sleep there simply because they feel like it.

Is Pivot going to protect the rights of shop keepers who find their store entrances blocked by someone wanting a 'safe' place to pitch their red tent?

This whole thing smells like an attempt to keep the advocates employed.

Glen,

Total agreement here. I did the same. Too bad people in Vancouver read only the tabloids. See they are more interested of what Brangelina's are doing. In conclusion...the people of Vancouver are the biggest "mark" in the West. Stupidity, apathy, self interest and plain ignorance.

Max:

I don't suggest that the Vancouver bylaw that the ticket was based on is clearly invalid, but it is at least of questionable validity given the court decisions, whether or not emergency shelters are full. That is why the law is not generally enforced by the police in the wake of the court decisions.

And I have no idea what the distinction between "housed" (i.e. formerly, as he was kicked out of housing) and "homeless" is - do you suggest that he is not homeless? Do you suggest this is the case based on more than a glance at his facebook page and a claim that he is writing a book? I don't get it.

I need not speak one way or the other about 'stunts' - my point is that citycaucus.com, true to form, chose to tell this story through innuendo - pivot conspiracy, that Oickle may meet citycaucus' definition of a 'genunine' homeless person.

If Mike Klassen thinks that folks who are sleeping in tents on public property because they are homeless ought to be ticketed, then he should just say so.

What a mix up! This Oickle really has city hall in a Pickle.

Then again, I'm sure we can all agree that it's time to stop avoiding the elephant in the room. Yes, that's right: HOMELESSNESS IN VANCOUVER.

Some things are impossible to avoid, and remain in the dark, hidden from curious eyes, while other things need to be dragged out into the light of day so everyone can inspect them and see them for what they really are: sad and boring, while at the same time frightening and urgent.

HOMELESSNESS IN VANCOUVER.

It's perilous to point one's finger in the daylight; in all that brightness your target will clearly catch you pointing at them whilst they are pointing back at you. Meanwhile, the onlookers quickly realize the bitter truth: that no one wants to take any responsibility at all. How sad.

Indeed, this case opens up the debate - in a BIG way, but this case is just the tip of the iceberg.

Gee, who woulda thunk? Who would have thought that the idea of giving the homeless little red tents and advising them that they're good to go to just set them up anywhere they deem fit on public property might be a contentious one?

Let's take one giant step back for a sec. Define public property. Any park will do? Any sidewalk? City Hall lawn? How about right on the street? Sounds crazy, but that's public property. And how about pitching a little red tent in the middle of a bicycle path?

GOD FORBID.

My point is, these are treacherous waters. Anyone with half a brain should understand that. Yet, who is at the helm of this ship? Please don't tell me it's Joseph Hazelwood.

And the significance at this point of the actual meaning of Vision's declaration that they would "end homelessness"? Nada. That's ancient history. If you believed that line when you voted, congratulations, you believed something that no one at city hall even believed.

Time to move on.

The most significant realities now are: A threefold increase in Vancouver's homelessness since the host announcement for the 2010 Games, an economy that continues to struggle and falter, a city hall slowly but surely losing its mojo and, probably most important, no leadership (never mind understanding) of what to do about the homeless problems in Vancouver.

You almost have to just throw your hands up and say: Maybe it's time. Let's just do it. Let's set aside 20% of every city park, fill it with little red tents, portable toilets and cooking stoves and consider homelessness history in Vancouver.

Isn't homelessness up by 15% since Vision took office? What a disgrace from a party that campaigned to end homelessness only 18 months ago. If the NPA (or whatever they're called) can get their act together, these guys are going to take a mighty tumble.

Jeff:

Mike Klassen and citycaucus.com do not stand alone in their thoughts surrounding this issues.

I volunteered at a shelter in the DTES for a period of 2 years and quit due to the antics, such as this one, of many of the groups operating in the area. In other words, I have personal knowledge and experience.

As for this person being 'homeless'; it was reported he left the place he was staying in as they would not allow his 21 year old daughter to join him. And an FYI - according to his Facebook page - his son is coming for a visit as well.

This is nothing more than an orchestrated stunt - just as the 'red tents' during the Olympics were. What was the number... out of 40 people 'squatting' in the vacant lot, and I will use that term as they were on privately owned property, 14 were actually 'homeless'. The other interesting fact - and again this was reported in mainstream media, the 'orchestrators' would not allow Housing BC on the property to 'help' those that actually were homeless.

What seems to get lost on these 'activists' is that after awhile, people see them exactly for what they are and they loose support/interest for what they are trying to achieve.
They are there own worst enemies.

So when I and others take aim at Pivot, Carnegie, DERA, etc. - we have reason.

And here is a tidbit for you - there is a man in my neighborhood who is homeless but does not want to be housed. He has his shopping cart of goodies parked in the alleyway behind a set of apartments and retail shops. He helps out in the area and in turn we all watch out for him. The other morning I am heading to work and don't see his cart anywhere which is odd as he never moves it. That night I come home - same thing, no cart and I don't see him. Last night he is in the back alley and I ask him what happened to his stuff and he states that the city took it two days ago. They took all of his things. This man is 60 years old and bothers no one. He has lived in the area for as long as I can remember. We, the neighbors, make sure he is clothed and fed. Never once has he ever asked anyone for anything. Not a penny. He is a far cry from those that DEMAND everything and give nothing.

See the difference?

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