Monday, September 21, 2009

THE STREETS


On Friday, I parked the car on Cordova near Abbott.

I had a meeting with a colleague in his offices on Water Street.

While I was paying for my metered parking with my cell phone, an addict came up beside me saying, "I don't want to interrupt you, sir, but..."

I was listening on my cell phone to the instructions from the robotic voice on which numbers to press and when.

I waved the guy off, as in, "Get away from me."

An hour later, I was returning to my car.

Suddenly, someone was yelling at me. I just about jumped out of my crinkly old skin.

Of course, it was another addict, who also didn't want to bother me but...

Coming up behind people and hollering isn't on this guy's list of Not Great Ways to Start a Productive Negotiation.

When he made his inevitable pitch for money, well, imagine how surprised you'll be when you learn that I said, "No."

It's a wondrous great thing that all these elected officials over the past thirty years have wrought for us with all their grand schemes and solutions to problems and designs for a New World.

The face of so many years of bad public policy is right there for all of us to see - and survive - on our very own streets.

This morning, Rich Coleman announces that he will pass legislation that will empower police and others to take the homeless of the streets in really bad weather.

David Eby, Executive Director of the BC Civil Liberties Association, questions the timing of this initiative, its real life efficacy and its potential clash with our famous Bill of rights.

"Whether we like it or not, staying out on the streets is their right."

Who can say why, after all these years, the BC Liberal government has chosen this moment to care about the homeless.

2010? Very possibly.

It is well nigh impossible to see the Campbell administration doing anything that isn't cravenly political in its intent.

Nevertheless, getting freezing, starving, soaked people of the street for a few nights, even against their will, is not such a terrible bad thing to do...if you can do it without breaking their arms or tasering them dead while you're at it.

On the other hand...Eby's points are all well taken. Taking people off the streets, while it may be what those of us who live in homes find most desirable, is not as easy or as simple as it sounds.

As Will Lohman's wife said, "Attention must be paid."

4 comments:

david said...

as carmela said to her priest "I got a bad feeling"

Anonymous said...

Does David Eby not remember Frank Paul? It was also Mr. Paul's right to stay on the street. How about Curtis Brick? It was also Mr. Brick's right to stay in a park on a scorching summer day. We would not let a dog limp around with a broken leg, yet people like Eby have a mentality that would let people limp and bleed and suffer. He is mistaken. We must rush into the streets, scoop up our hurting brothers and sisters, and rush them to aid and love and support.

Anonymous said...

Waiting for a ride Sunday morning at the CPR station there were three cruise ships embarking passengers at Canada Place. It was a magnet for the beggars coming up from the DTES. In the twenty minutes about a dozen passed on the way to the dock. It was a cold morning and the fellow who asked for 'spare change' was in a decrepit T and thin shorts with no socks, just really old running shoes. Like bees to honey. Thousands of tourists to accost for change. What a greeting to Vancouver. And all the sides pro and con can't come up with a solution except to demand funding to keep the status quo.

Anonymous said...

David, I have about had it with people that want to clean up the homless because they are unsightly.We should all be concerned with the homeless but the police? Surely the police have better things to do than try to determine wether or not someone needs a home. Why not send some of the people from the ministry down to Hastings and Main. Lets load a bunch of concerned poloticians on a bus and drive them to Coquitlam. Take them on a tour of Riverview. Let them see what a world class facility to help homless people looked like. Ask them why the facility was closed. Better still ask the why it cant be reopened.

Sadly this is just a ploy to make the streets look better for a lot of tourists.. Once the olympdicks is over the homeless will no longer be in vogue.