This got issued earlier today, but got a bit lost in the flurry today over Rich Coleman’s proposed new homelessness law. I haven’t had a chance to call Pivot, so don’t know what their side of the story is. But I thought this news release would be of interest to readers here, given the passionate debate there has been about the Downtown Ambassadors on this site.
Pivot and VANDU Fail to Produce Evidence Against Downtown Ambassadors®
(Vancouver – September 21, 2009) – Pivot Legal Society and the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU) have failed to disclose any documentary evidence to substantiate their Complaint against the Downtown Ambassadors®.
In July 2008, Pivot and VANDU filed a claim of systemic discrimination against the Downtown Ambassador® program alleging Ambassadors deny homeless people the right to access and enjoy public space.
Last week, after being directed in July 2009 by the Tribunal to disclose any documents which
they have or intend to rely upon to support the Complaint, both indicated in a letter to the Tribunal “that the complainants do not have any documents to disclose in this matter.” In the Complaint filed in July of last year, Pivot described itself as “in a unique position to…effectively…coordinate the accumulation of and presentation of evidence” to support the claims Pivot and VANDU advanced.
The DVBIA has maintained from the outset that the Complaint is unfounded.
Charles Gauthier, Executive Director of the DVBIA, expressed concern that Pivot and VANDU appear to be abusing the Tribunal’s processes solely for political purposes and at the expense of the Ambassador program’s reputation.
“The DVBIA will have to consider its next steps in light of this remarkable admission by Pivot that it has no documented proof of any of the claims which it has sought to advance over the past 15 months,” says Gauthier.
“We are thoroughly frustrated, as our members should be, that they and other BC taxpayers are funding this ill-conceived and unsubstantiated Tribunal hearing while scarce resources are being diverted away from ending homelessness and other pressing priorities,” says Gauthier.
To date, this case has cost the DVBIA and its members in excess of $30,000.
Downtown Ambassadors are paid, trained, staff who provide hospitality and safety & security services within the 90-blocks of the DVBIA area, as well as in Yaletown, the West End, Gastown and South Granville. The Ambassadors are funded solely by BIA members and operate up to 16 hours/day, 7 days a week. The program has been in operation since 2000 and is the highest rated program by members.
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604-685-7811 ext. 203