Vision uses media again to secure shelter funding from Province

Post by Mike Klassen in

22 comments

Not just lying around at home and stuffing my own face
Jang on CTV: Not just lying around at home and stuffing my own face

(Face in hands) Ugh!

I honestly hoped for better this time around, folks, but alas it would not be so.

You may recall the well-worn tactic by the Mayor's office to try and publicly embarrass Housing Minister Rich Coleman into funding the City's homeless shelter program. They did this back in the summer of 2009 during the HEAT shelter debacle, where the Mayor's office made their requests for funding via media announcements. Well, it appears that Robertson's people are using the same script, but only the dates are changed.

On Sunday The Province published Damian Inwood's interview with Gregor Robertson where the Mayor was able to repeat his spin that he's cut the numbers in half when in fact homelessness went up by 12% on his watch. Our readers may recall that the City of Vancouver spent $75,000 on an extraordinary homelessness count last spring when a federally-funded comprehensive regional count is taking place next year.

Minister Rich Coleman has tried to keep the focus on funding permanent housing, which is the reason why the Streetohome Foundation – the private funding brainchild of former City Manager Judy Rogers and Ken Dobell made possible through the Project Civil City initiative – have backed off from paying for temporary shelters.

Coleman has blinked in the past – handing over shelter funding last June. Robertson & Vision thanked the Provincial government by voting for an anti-HST petition booth right in City Hall. But just a few weeks ago the Minister appeared to send City Hall a pretty clear message he's not playing ball with them on one front, after he leaked to Frances Bula that he was denying all three applications from non-profits for the Olympic Village social housing.

Robertson uses homelessness tragedies as part of his personal political narrative with great effect. You may recall that Gregor Robertson used the death of a homeless person as his February 2008 motivation to quit as MLA and run for the Mayor's job. Here is what he said when announcing his candidacy:

I reached a turning point [and decided to run] a few weeks back, on hearing news about a tragedy… A homeless man named Darrell Mickasko burned to death trying to keep from freezing on an icy cold night on the streets

Robertson even mentioned Mickasko in his December 8, 2008 inaugural speech:

a man named Darrell Mickasko, after being turned away from a full shelter, burns to death in a sleeping bag, trying to stay warm with his camping stove on a freezing night. If our vision of Vancouver is to become a reality, homelessness must end – and I tell you today that it will end

In the Province story Robertson makes reference to another person who died under similar tragic circumstances

...when a homeless woman known as “Tracey” burned to death in her shopping cart after lighting a candle to try to keep warm.

“It was only days after I got into office that Tracey died on Davie Street because she couldn’t access a shelter,” said Robertson on the eve of Homeless Action Week. “A shelter opened, literally, a few days after that, just a few blocks away. We weren’t in time to save her.”

Like last year, Robertson said that he was only reminding Coleman that it was the Province's job to pay for his shelters.

“You wonder if pointing fingers about who’s going to pay for this looks destructive and petty,” he admitted. “And yet we need to count on the governments that have been charged with these responsibilities to honour them.”

Inwood catches up with Rich Coleman, who once again emphasizes the creation of permanent housing solutions. Two hundred more units are coming online this winter in Vancouver, says Coleman. As for Robertson's request the Minister says:

They usually ask for more . . . while not necessarily remembering what we’ve done

In recent months the Vision Vancouver government have raised eyebrows with controversial expenditures such as $3.2 million for the Hornby bike lane trial, over $300,000 for a study to tear down the Georgia & Dunsmuir viaducts, $114,000 on contracts with FD Element to promote Gregor Robertson's public image, $260,000 to renovate Gregor Robertson's office, and nearly $200,000 on a sole-sourced contract with Linda Oglov to market Vancouver and Gregor Robertson during the 2010 Games.

+++

If you happened to catch CTV News on Monday night you would have seen Councillor Kerry Jang out at Union Gospel Mission doling out turkey meals. Reporter Peter Grainger's story was about what most of us do during this weekend where most of us spend time with loved ones. The exchange with Jang went as follows:

Reporter: What are you thankful for on this Thanksgiving?

Jang: That I'm standing here and I'm here and able to do something. Not just lying around at home and stuffing my own face, but actually helping someone else to get better.

I have to wonder what families watching at home, no doubt loosening their belts from too much stuffing and mashed potatoes, must have thought about Jang's remark.

- post by Mike

22 Comments

The absurdness of this all is that the mayor is basing his homeless tragedies this winter on some weather forecasts that say this winter will be the worst in 50 years.

Weather forecasters on the west coast of Canada cant get the forecast right longer than a couple of days let alone 2-3 months down the road.

As well where were these weather forecasters 2 years ago when we had the coldest winter in 40 years? They should be quiet and quit alarming people. Including the mayor.


I'm surprised that Councilor Jang was at the Union Gospel Mission. He made his disdain for smelly dishes and food sitting around very clear after the City Council decided to give themselves a new dining room, as well as Gregor's fancy new office.

Gregor can show up at a feel good photo op for the homeless soccer team, but can't face the taxpaying public with the truth about where he is spending city monies.

Lets start with where the money came from to finance FD Element contracts,for attack blogs, or the inappropriate twitters by his staff during office hours, on our dime.

Gregor is the master of manipulation of the media. He needs to realize that he isn't in High School anymore, grow up man up and do the job we expect you to do. Pop quiz Gregor what was Tracy's last name?

I've heard everything except what he plans to do to shelter the homeless. The people that he claims inspired him to leave his MLA job creating the need for a very expensive bi-election to run for Mayor....

What are your plans to take care of the most vulnerable people in our City Mr. Mayor? Don't count on the Provincial Government to bail your butt out of this one... there are other cities,and towns with homeless in this province that need funding as well. We have a large tax base, where is the shelter allotment?
Aren't you the least bit embarrassed for the hypocrisy you spew?

Winter is coming. Perhaps we can build container housing in the bike lanes that won't be used by cyclists after the snow falls.

One last thing, is there any money in the account for snow removal this time, just in case the weather predictions are correct. Or have you thought about that at all?

Sorry for the rant Mike, but watching the news tonight angered me to my limit.

Chickens and Gardens and Bikes, Oh My! The homeless? Oh, Hell No!

You should've seen Marisa Taylor show up at the UGM and grill Mayor Moonbeam himself over a DTES charity that's not getting $95,000 from the City because it's strapped for cash, while she asks Hizzonner, they're spending money on chickens, gardens and bike lanes and asks why this charity isn't a priority? His answer (to paraphrase): "We're spending hundreds of millions of dollars on social housing and we're now passing the buck." Instead, while they've got some of the money ($35,000) they're hoping to win a Pepsi sponsored contest to get the funding to sustain the service.

As for Councillor Jang, he's a putz. I wonder if he shows up to the UGM or any other agencies when the cameras aren't there? My guess is probably not.

Link to Global BC story:
http://www.globaltvbc.com/video/index.html?releasePID=cypF7Gr5jfaV4DHFl7VIgCIZm19Al6Ym

What millions of dollars spent on housing is he referring to in that news clip?
Is Gregor trying to take credit for the money spent last year by provincial government!

That's all he said. He doesn't get into specifics, but you're probably exactly right.

A politican trying to take credit for something they didn't do?! My God! Next thing you're going to tell me that the Earth is indeed round and you need oxygen to breathe!

As one of those people who was "stuffing my face" yesterday for Thanksgiving, I am furious over Jang's condescending remarks. He insulted every family who sat down for dinner and gave thanks for what we have.

Robertson is also shameless in that he never misses a photo op with the city's downtrodden. He used them to get elected, and now that he's in trouble, he's running back to them again.

Gregor, how about your commitment to end homelessness? It's up by 12%.

Yes I stuffed my face and I am thankful there is only 12 months left of this arrogant administration.

after viewing that tape again Gregor said he's spent "hundreds of millions" of dollars housing the homeless...Careful Gregor your nose is going to grow.

OMG. He did say he spent hundreds of millions of dollars on housing. I wouldn't have believed it unless there was tape to back it up. Yes his nose is going to grow after that one. What was he thinking? Did he not know the camera was rolling? I think Robertson owes Minister Coleman an apology this morning.

Norman,
even the first name is wrong! I heard this woman's name was Dawn. I read stories that she once lead a fairly normal life (kids, hubby, job) but got heavy into drugs. She fell into a desperate state and was convicted of breaking into an elderly man's home and assaulting him to get a few bucks for drugs. (this is my third hand understanding and my apologies to her family if this is inaccurate and if anyone can confirm please do so) but my point -- how does a 'shelter' help any of this?? Seems it helps VISION by giving them a nice marketable anecdotal story to divert attention from the summer of hell.

Omoishiroi,

Her name was Tracey, I don't now anything of her past....not important to me, but I would like the Mayor to be able to remember her last name!!

Considering it changed his life and helped him decide to run for Mayor, on the backs of the poor. Just like his buddy Jim Green.

Dr. Kerry Jang. (Burp).

Perhaps he needs to seek treatment for "foot in mouth" disease. Again.

Physician, heal thyself! Or shut the f**k up!

I think that CC needs to start a list of "Kerry's Greatest Hit's". Just in time for Christmas. It would make for much merriment around that groaning Christmas dinner table that we shall all be sitting 'round, stuffing our faces with gold dusted turkey, goose, pheasant, and foie gras todbits.

Perhpas a good point to start the magical mystery tour of Dr. jang's mind might be his startling comment during Vision's own nomination debate at the JCC regarding drug centres, like Insite, being built in neighbourhoods around the city. "Uhmm, well it must work with a neighborhood. It (InSite style centre) wouldn't really work in Collingwood". (Well, golly gee, that neighborhood is in Kerry's riding! Fancy that!).

Though WHY it wouldn't work in Collinghood was never explained.
I eagerly await a more fulsome explanation from the good doc on that subject.

I thought the guy had to take a Hypocratic oath? Fail on that...

Need to clarify..
Tracey's past is important, but I don't need to know the personal intimate details of her life...without her here to tell me herself... :-)

'As well where were these weather forecasters 2 years ago when we had the coldest winter in 40 years? They should be quiet and quit alarming people. Including the mayor.'
****

Gregor won't be alarmed, he will be sunning himself on a beach in Mexico while the rest of us dig out.

What Gregor also failed to mention is that it was reported after the fact that the HEAT Shelters were already a done deal prior to the tragic death of Tracy.

I believe it was decided two weeks prior - but when the HEAT shelters hit controversy with the public, they bandied her name about as to why they needed the no-barrier shelters.

They used her death to benefit themselves, push the shelters and play on the sympathies of all.

Shameful.

Norman,
my point is shelters are visible bandaids to a HUGE problem that begins years earlier. Homelessness is the end manifestation of a hundred other issues that get no attention or funding from VISION - because prevention is not sexy or vote getting.

totally agree with you, I just wanted to make it clear that I wasn't dissing Tracey.

About 1 month ago, Jang told CKNW that the funding of the emergency shelters were not the city's problem - that it was up to the Province.

It seems Vision has abandon the homeless ship they rode in on.

Max,
Would you be able to find/ post that link for us? :)

Hi SC - that is the correct link, thank you!

Max

Gregor Robertson gave his usual catch phrases and bumper sticker lines about how he was going to set up all these winter shelters for the homeless. He then goes and blows the budget on some stupid bike lanes and in the end finds himself grovelling to Gordon Campbell asking for Provincial funds as he can't seem to figure out where the money went.

Take some business economics classes Gregor.

I suspect I am a lot further to the left than many of the commentators on here, but I agree with the comments made by many that Vision Vancouver and its unctuous mayor in particular have been extremely duplicitous on the issue of ending homelessness.

Robertson repeatedly said during his election campaign he would end homelessness - he mostly omitted the word "street" in front of it. There is obviously a huge difference.

While it is true that most of the funding for actual land purchase and development of social housing should come from the federal and provincial governments, and both of those have failed Vancouver in that regard, Vision promised that it would tackle the problem regardless.

Robertson did not say "I will end street homelessness by 2015 IF I GET A TON OF DOUGH FROM VICTORIA" - he said he would end it, period.

For that reason Vision's decision to spend so much money on other issues, rather than shelters, is shameful. Further, Vision's latest vote not to design the new Downtown Eastside library in readiness for housing on top of it is simply breathtaking.

Coleman and Campbell are even more culpable for the easily avoidable suffering of thousands of people in this city and in the DTES in particular, but they are so right-wing we expect no better.

The same is not true of Robertson and VV. If they really wanted to they could come up with creative solutions and raise money for development of social housing. They could not be bothered.

They misled thousands of genuine progressives before the election and I dearly hope they pay dearly at the polls next year.

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