Thursday, December 15, 2005


Underbelly News
Downtown Eastside


Today I attended the second meeting of Vancouver's new City Council. The NPA seems to be following along the same irresponsible financial path as the last COPE dominated council regarding the funneling of millions of taypayer dollars into the DTES.

Today, Council debated the merits of funding a request from United We Can for a grant of $75,000. This money is requested in order to clean up the litter problem in the Downtown Eastside. Remarkably this group, UWC, could not provide any documented evidence of the usefulness of its cleaning program. In fact, the organization articulated that the litter problem is getting worse but the grant money provides benefit because it keeps the streets and alleyways of the Downtown Eastside clean for 2 hours a day. Moreover, it creates a few jobs for residents of the low income neighborhood.

Council was requested not to approve the request since it would be sending the wrong message of providing cash incentive for bad behavior. According to the UWC group, the litter is being created mainly by discarded needles, condoms and garbage from scavengers looking through the garbage dumpsters for discarded stuff which may have some monetary value, of which they can exchange, and put toward their purchasing power for their illicit drugs.

Even though one new Councillor, Kim Capri expressed concern that there was no evidence to back up whether the program is a success, the council by unanimous vote, nevertheless approved the grant of $75,000.00 for one year. Even Mayor Sam Sullivan, who consistantly claimed during the campaign how his party, the NPA, would be more prudent with the public's finances, appeared asleep at the wheel. In fact, he said nothing.

Citizens, if the Downtown Eastside is ever to have any hope of re-establishing itself as a functioning, safe, secure and financially stable neighborhood, it will need many voices to clamour for fundamental change. Throwing millions of dollars into a community has exacerbated the problems down here. Our municipal politicians today demonstrated there doesn't appear the political will to address the worsening problems of the Downtown Eastside. Simply put, Council lacked the balls to do anything. Instead they positioned themselves as supporting the status quo.

Former City Councillor Jennifer Clarke said during her campaign for Mayor in 2002 that she wasn't willing to be Mayor of a City with a Ghetto. By the Council's inaction today, new Mayor Sam Sullivan and his NPA team appear indifferent to this reality. Sad isn't it?

Please citizens voice your displeasure to council. All you need to do is send an email message to council at

Thank You

Jamie Lee Hamilton


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