Robert Matas’s story in the Globe this morning gets on the record the Vision Vancouver council’s discomfort with the idea of having a czar for the Downtown Eastside, a constantly recurring idea that had been floated again recently.
The Vision mayor and council didn’t criticize the idea at first, but behind the scenes, they were expressing some puzzlement about how anything like that could actually work. The issue with the Downtown Eastside is that there are a huge number of players at work, some funded by the federal government, some funded by the province, some funded by foundations, some funded by Vancouver Coastal Health. The city is also in operation there in various forms (fire, building permit inspectors; homeless outreach workers; planners).
So the question was — how would this czar even operate? To be a czar, you need to have not just a mandate, but people and money. Unless the czar were miraculously given power over city, provincial, Coastal Health and federal agencies working down there, it would be more a job of herding cats.