Tuesday, May 10, 2005


Underbelly News
Downtown Eastside


The Mayor is off to Turin, Italy for one week in May to review the Olympics and its impacts on the city. While not unusual for politicians to make special trips like this one, of particular concern is that this city-taxpayer funded junket is going to cost Vancouver citizens at least $20,000 to send friends and insiders of the Mayor along with him to Italy. These friends include Ken Lyotier and Councillor Jim Green among others.

What is really surprising is that Ken Lyotier (good friend of Jim Green) heads up (and gets paid handsomely) the United We Can bottle bottle depot on East Hastings. Most of the 'binners' (as Ken Lyotier refers to them) rely heavily on United We Can as a source of income. They often live measly existences. Many are either drug addicted and or homeless.

Often crawling around in other peoples garbage, or stealing from their back porches to find that special reward such as a discarded bottle or two is their source of income in feeding their drug habits. Mr Lyotier calls binning 'sustainable work' and now wants the scavengers to be registered/licensed with the City. He believes that somehow this will improve their quality of life.

And as one who purportedly identifies with the poor, Mr Lyotier, hasn't looked at how bad the optics of him going on a taxpayer funded junket are. It appears even more galling since those he purportedly represents live in such dire straits and extreme poverty.

Just thinking of optics for a moment, I pose these questions. Would any parent want their child growing up knowing that 'binning' is considered acceptable employment (as Ken Lyotier believes) and that scavenging is being touted (again by Mr Lyotier) as honorable work because it mistakenly claims--that scavengers are saving the environment? Would any parent not have concerns that scavenging or being a thief enables their child to remain trapped in a behavior (drug addiction) which provides only for their drug needs and nothing else? Would any parent truly want their child to continue in an endless cycle of drug addiction, poverty and homelessness? Finally would any parent claim to be proud of their child supporting themselves through digging through garbage?

Do individuals have concern that someone like Mr Lyotier is making money off of their child's misery? And now he is going to be rewarded with a free trip to the Olympics, all on your dime and moreover on the backs of those living a life of despair and hopelessness? Is this acceptable, just or fair? Should someone like Mr Lyotier who enjoys a higher quality of life standard, do so at the expense of others by creation/fabrication of some untold benefits? Regarding his ability to organize scavengers, should he be allowed carte blanche to improve his lot off of their misery?

If anyone has these same concerns, perhaps its time to say enough is enough around this mentality which sadly and increasingly permeates the Downtown Eastside. We see this same stench running through the corridors of City Hall. The main culprits of course being Councillor Jim Green and Mayor Larry Campbell.

Folks you have an opportunity to express yourself. It comes on the third Saturday of November when you exercise your vote. Make it count and throw out the parasites who are creating untold harm.

Jamie Lee Hamilton