Homelessness is up by 12% in Vancouver – now the Mayor is backpedaling on a promise
Originally posted April 20, 2010, in this CityCaucus Redux post we clear up questions about whether the shifting goal posts of Mayor Gregor's promise to end homelessness by 2015...
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 recent 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 you will also find the following statement:
Mayor Gregor Robertson has set 2015 as the goal for ending homelessness 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
- post by Daniel