DTES resident searches for some crack cocaine - Flickr photo by Patrick Doheny
Recently CityCaucus.com received a note from Downtown Eastside business person Carlos Herbst asking our help in promoting the open letter written by him and signed by fellow business owners in that vicinity. We provide here below in its entirety with Herbst's follow-up comments.
This is an open letter and responses from policy makers, government officials and law enforcement.
This is our city. We hire these people at the voting booth and we have the power to fire them if they fail to do their jobs or lie to us.
I will not comment on the responses on-line although I may or may not comment to the individuals themselves. This is not about my opinion. It is about the responses provided by those who have the power, authority and political clout to instill change in policy. I feel if comments are posted they may be used as "ammunition" in future political promises. In other words we will be assisting those seeking re-election or reinstatement by providing them with the words and solutions that we want to hear.
If however enough of you feel that it is important to include a comment box, I will consider and respect your wishes.
The following is Mr. Herbst's open letter...
- The Honourable Gordon Campbell, Premier of British Columbia
- Mayor Gregor Robertson
- Jenny Kwan - MLA Vancouver - Mount Pleasant
- Chief Constable Jim Chu
This is unfortunately the third time that I have had to take the time out of my very busy schedule to voice, on behalf of myself and the business owners whose signatures are included, our collective and utter helplessness and disgust, in regards to the situation presented to us on a daily basis on the 200 block of the DTES.
I have personally run a business on the 200 block for six years, a relatively short period of time as compared to some of my neighbors but it sometimes seems as if I've actually been here for sixteen years. It is hard to describe the frustration that one feels when confronted with the daily chores of sweeping condoms, syringes and piles of refuse which have been discarded by the nocturnal drug culture which gathers in front of my and every other business to traffic in and abuse illegal narcotics.
Perhaps if it was cleaned up before I got to work everything would be fine, correct? Out of sight, out of mind, right? Wrong!
This "criminal" behaviour continues throughout the day, every day, 365 days of the year and it is getting worse since the conclusion of the 2010 games.
It is quite well known and understood that small businesses are the cornerstone of economic sustainability and growth. It is also well known that these are economically troubled times and It takes a lot of discipline, determination and hard work to continue operations and to grow a company.
l ask you then why, with everything that we, as proud and hard working business owners, entrepreneurs and tax payers have to put up with, should we be also subjected to the dally abuse, threats of physical harm and constant confrontation with people openly trafficking in illegal drugs, smoking crack, injecting drugs and lining the sidewalks with salvaged as well as stolen wares in front of our doorways and storefronts.
Frankly the excuse of "we don't have enough police officers, we don't have enough jails, we believe in catch and release and rehabilitation, our sentencing standards are too lax", just don't cut it. To the local and provincial leaders, we elected you because WE trusted and believed in your integrity, competence and ability to confront and resolve this blight on the City of Vancouver and its reputation as a world class city. Do your job!
To the outstanding men and women of the VPD, we fully realize that you are understaffed and recognize the frustration that you must experience as a result of our dysfunctional legal system which seems to treat criminals, whether they be foreigners who have found their way here under the guise of political, or persecuted refugee status as well as homegrown criminals to a different standard. The fact remains though that it is your job to "serve and protect" us and it is not our responsibility to enforce the laws of the land. This puts us DIRECTLY in harm's way and results in unnecessary stress, vandalism and often threats of personal injury or even worse.
At fifty-seven years old I didn't feel that I and my fellow business owners and citizens should be subjected to this responsibility and the repercussions that we experience on a daily basis. Please don't tell us to call 911 or the non emergency line as this offers NO positive results whatsoever.
Smoking pot, crack and meth on the street and injecting drugs on the street is illegal. Selling drugs is illegal. Possessing illicit drugs is illegal and until the persons who blatantly involve themselves in this behaviour and who openly distribute illegal drugs that our poisoning an entire generation are held responsible for their actions, then none of you are doing the jobs WE pay you to do! Enabling drug use is not and never will be a solution yet this seems to be the pattern. The fact that when society makes it more difficult to indulge in a product, even a highly addictive product like nicotine, the less people continue using it is obvious as well as documented.
Does it not occur to you that the same would hold true with drugs?
For six years now I have seen the same leaders of the street level crack and heroin trade overseeing their crews. I know who they are and the police know who they are as does everyone else who spends any time here. It is quite obvious. They strut around as if they are untouchable. To them our legal system is a joke and they are right, it is! Why are they still here? What are they doing in this country?
It is time for change and we do not mean temporary change but positive progression to a system which works for ALL citizens. If this means that those sitting on the bench who are hindering this positive progression must be removed then let us know how to accomplish this and we will make our voices and our concerns heard.
Consider your response to this letter and this petition carefully as prior to the next election we will collectively pay to have this letter as well as your responses published in the local print media as well as online. Copies will also be made available to any local television media that expresses interest so that all citizens can draw their own conclusions and can then react accordingly at the voting booth.
Enough is enough!
Charles "Carlos" Herbst
Downtown Eastside business owner
This petition is signed by EVERY business owner on both sides of the 200 block with the exception of a few isolated locations whom we know are actively involved in some aspect of trafficking.
The business owners have ask me to not divulge their names publicly. Do you understand that politicians!
Hard working, tax paying Canadian business owners who are AFRAID to divulge their names for fear of repercussions from criminals and addicts. This is 2010 in Vancouver BC. Does this seem right to you?
- post by Carlos Herbst. See Herbst's web page set up for his open letter, the petition and the responses from politicians and the Chief of Police at http://www.serftosurf.com/DTES.htm.