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New shelter opens in Mount Pleasant

December 23rd, 2009 · 3 Comments

The new round of shelter openings began yesterday, starting with the first one in my neighbourhood. I hope this will mean that people no longer have to sleep on the strip of grass behind my back fence — and according to Councillor Kerry Jang, that’s the response from local business people he talked to, as per my story in the Globe today.

I’m expecting there to be community opposition to this, as I’ve been getting copious emails from the local neighbourhood group that is unhappy about the planned 100-bed social-housing project in the same block.

I’ve been hearing for weeks about the negotiations for these shelter spaces and couldn’t understand why it was taking so long. Kerry explained to me yesterday that it’s because the new shelters are not on city property, but are all being leased from private landowners and so there are more issues to resolve. The other three shelters are expected early to mid January.

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  • Stephanie

    One of the things that has puzzled me about the HEAT shelters is Jang’s persistently tone-deaf responses to community concerns about the problems that can happen in the vicinity.

    I live on the same block as the New Fountain shelter, in a co-op with a membership constituted primarily of folks with low incomes. A lot of them are long-term DTES residents. Support for the shelter was nonetheless running pretty thin here for quite some time – not because folks didn’t want a shelter on the block, but because they objected to the dealers who moved in shortly after the shelter opened.

    Shelters and supportive housing are amazingly good things, but they can also create convenient pools of victims (and profit) for predators – dealers, pimps and the like. And some of those predators are reasonably perceived as a threat by other people in the neighbourhood, particularly those who are marginalized or otherwise at risk.

    But Jang persists in acting as though objections to some of the street problems are a function of nothing more than class anxiety. It’s true that a lot of the objections to social housing and shelters in communities come from NIMBYism. But not all of them do.

    I don’t think it’s NIMBYism when you don’t want people using in your backyard. It’s not NIMBYism to be afraid of the guy with the hatchet and the jail tats who’s showing up to collect debts (and who is definitely *not* a carver, as Jang once ridiculously alleged).

    Low-income residents of the DTES have been trying to talk about this for a long time, but nobody listens. Everyone – and that includes DTES organizations that purport to represent those residents – is too invested in their competing ideological projects to pay attention.

    We need to engage honestly with these issues if we’re going to get anywhere at all. I hoped we would see some of that from this council, but I have been sorely disappointed.

  • Lin

    Well-put Stephanie – I couldn’t agree with you more. The constant refusal by Jang, the City et al to SINCERELY engage and enable sensitive/difficult/realisitic dialogue with affected communities is precisely the reason future projects will continue to have trouble earning support.

    Ms. Bula’s Globe article quickly illustrates how Jang and ilk claim to have “learned” from the past yet in the next breath jumps to denounce any “untrue” (aka unwanted) concerns presented from community groups. It’s all extremely discouraging and all the more so after Vision Vancouver campaigned on a promise to engage and consult with citizens.

  • Phil

    I guess it is time to ‘demonize’ the good people of Mount Pleasant. As a resident of False Creek North I’d like to welcome you to my world. The dealers follow the users, the pimps follow the users, the users break into your house, your car and threaten your life while Judy Graves and the Pivot legal society spews out rhetoric about these peoples rights – of course there are no obligations only rights and by the way Mt Pleasant any mention of your rights to a safe neighborhood will be thrown back in your face as cold hearted NIMBYism.
    The shelters are re-opening in False Creek North this week – zero consultation and zero notification except to those who hounded the City for answers. History repeating and expanding – when will we learn?