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New police crackdown spreads in Downtown Eastside generates protest

February 12th, 2009 · 9 Comments

Vancouver police brought out their 2009 business plan a few weeks ago, which was unusual in the numbers it attached to some of its efforts. Among them, police set a target of increasing ticketing for bylaw infractions in the Downtown Eastside by 20 per cent, ticketing for Safe Streets Act offences by 10 per cent, and stopping people randomly for street checks at four per block per officer per shift.

That sparked concern from various groups, as you can read in my Globe story here.

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  • Len B

    Personally I’d like to see more tickets given out in Kitsilano, where I live.

    People don’t park properly (ANYWHERE), it is alarming how many speed recklessly down 4th avenue and my personal favorite, buses driving down 4th drive in two lanes at once. If a bus driver isn’t eligible for tickets they damn well should be?

    I’m sure that tickets given in other parts of the city would have a higher rate of being paid, and based on the recklessness and type, I would think be of greater value thus negating the quantity versus price – ratio.

    Surely there are other ways of improving the DTES that do not include writing more tickets!

  • Stephanie

    When the peer-run safer injection site that was Insite’s precursor was running on Carrall St., the police turned the parking spot outside into a “police zone” and issued jaywalking tickets to people who were crossing Carrall to use the site. This, of course, diverted people from the site and back into the alleys. The connection HIV/AIDS organizations are making between the VPD’s plan and an increase in seroconversion rates is valid and should be a matter of deep concern to anyone who cares about the survival of this neighbourhood’s most vulnerable residents.

    And, of course, I will not be surprised if tickets are not being issued to the club-goers who routinely wander drunkenly into traffic on Cordova, Carrall, Abbott and Water.

  • urb anwriter

    Ah, guys, if you can’t see them, the drug dealers are over there… on the corner. They were there six years ago. They are still there. If you can’t find them, call me, I’ll show you who they are. But, go on, ticket the jaywalkers. Including all the jaywalkers that wandered in to 312 Main St. this morning, ignoring, in their dozens, the ‘Don’t Walk’ sign.

    And, as Stephanie notes, there really doesn’t seem to be a lot of enforcement when the perps are from Kerrisdale, Kits, W. Point Grey.

  • As a fellow resident of Kits, I agree with Len that more enforcement against aggressive driving in this neighbourhood would be a good thing.

    As for random street checks, I don’t know exactly what those entail but they sure sound intimidating. But I guess it goes along with the command and control attitude that’s in vogue with city services, from aggressive Translink police to unregulated data collection through the BarSafe program, and now to random street checks for lucky neighbourhoods. All part of making a spic-and-span Vancouver for 2010, right?

  • urb anwriter


    No doubt that you’re correct about 2010, but if experience is any guide whatever, not one of the agencies involved will give up an iota of political power, legal and territorial jurisdiction, or parking spots when the charade is finished near the end of the ‘game’ in 2010.

    And, really briefly, how many transit fares could be given away free for the cost of hiring, supervising, pensioning, arming, and equipping all those armed guards over at Transit?

  • A Dave

    “I just feel like I get targeted because it’s something they can hold over my head so they can get me off the street when they need to, like the Olympics.”

    Doug’s quote above has to be the real reason for the DES crackdown, for I have always found, and I’m sure the Vancouver Police would agree, that the drug dealing that takes place in the streets around the Main Street Police Station is usually conducted in a very orderly and civil manner. And as Urb points out, it has been happily operating there for years, decades actually, regardless of the yearly swelling of VDP ranks. Similarly, the open-air flea market outside United We Can is surely a model for flea markets everywhere: friendly vendors, good variety, open daily, and many cheap finds. Glass Pipe Alley off Carrall St. has faster and more efficient service than McDonalds, and probably serves more people each day (it is always packed). And every month there are Mardi Gras celebrations on the DES that feature truly Olympian feats of stamina and willpower, surely one of the most successful and long-standing Public-Private Partnerships the Provincial Government has ever entered into, and the model that the Cultural Olympiad should have been based on.

    There is nothing chaotic or disorderly about any of this. In fact, it is so incredibly well organized and transparent that maybe the failed investment banks, VANOC, and the Vancouver Board of Trade could learn a thing or two about how to conduct successful enterprises, and the VDP could reconsider its new business plan, which is surely doomed to controversy and failure. The white collar types are the ones who are really causing chaos in this city (Millenium, Millenium, Millenium), while the DES culture just keeps on keeping on; churning out ever higher returns for shareholders and topping the list of GDP contributors year after year.

    I hear, though, that there are rival gangs of jaywalkers who have been shooting people dead lately for infringing on their turf, so maybe these new ticket patrols will help prevent more murders. Maybe the REAL answer is to decriminalize jaywalking? I’m sure this would make the streets safer for everyone knowing for certain who has the right of way, and finally force the dangerous drivers in Kits to slow down, too.

  • tommi

    ADave, are you seriously saying that the real problems in Vancouver all stem from Developers, not gangs, drug pushers and the ridiculous prohibition on marijuana? If so, you might want to notify Gregor and Vision, they’ve created entire committees full of those Evil Developers!

  • A Dave

    tommi, you rascal, are you seriously saying we should decriminalize drugs, and not jaywalking? That sounds so utterly absurd that it might actually work! But I still don’t think it would help in the fight against those murderous jaywalking gangs, which is what the VDP business plan says they so desperately need all that extra taxpayers’ money and manpower to combat. And those Evil Developers you refer to, well, they choose to live the lifestyle they are leading. Sure, they have mental problems and serious addictions and are so utterly impoverished after five boom years the likes of which Vancouver hasn’t seen since the railway came to town, but I still have zero sympathy for them — they could have chosen a less destructive path in life if they had any self control at all or one whit of business acumen. Why on earth should taxpayers have to bail out the less fortunate of our society when they make dumb decisions? Thankfully for them, the new mayor is a little more compassionate than me, and has decided to take them under his wing.

  • Jer

    The only thing I have a problem with here is ‘random street checks’ – which seems at best a violation of our charter rights – at worst, a small step towards police state.

    But let’s be perfectly clear here – the majority of people living in the DTES are not mentally ill or drug addicts or dealers or thieves – we’re just normal law-abiding people struggling to live our lives. The DTES is made considerably less safe by the general anarchy and lawlessness that has been allowed to fester and grow.

    If scofflaws in the DTES feel they are somehow being victimized – they can always choose to not break the law.

    Clearly the policy of appeasement in the DTES that we’ve favoured at the behest of the Dave Ebys, the Mark Townsends and the assorted well paid DTES ‘advocates’ for the last 15 years is not working.

    Time for a new tack.