Wednesday, February 28, 2007



Here we go again with PIVOT duping the media while projecting shame onto the City of Vancouver. This action, they believe will ensure that poor tenants are kept in substandard accommodations. This time around, their focus is at the Piccadilly Hotel on West Pender Street.

Currently, 12 lower income residents are holed up at the Piccadilly and are facing displacement as a result of the Hotel not meeting necessary and acceptable code standards. These may include and are most likely to include, unacceptable fire, plumbing, electrical and seismic standards.

It has also been brought to the public attention by the Vancouver Police Department that the operators at the Piccadilly are allowing their premises to be used for illegal activities. Of course, this alleged illegal activity would place poor people in danger but this doesn't matter to PIVOT.

PIVOT, is now demanding that the City step in to fix the numerous problems at the Hotel, or purchase this Hotel, which of course would mean spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in bringing the building up to acceptable City standards of maintenance bylaws, plus of course spending $3 million to purchase the property. However, even with out purchasing the land, this doesn't guarantee that the more serious issues of code violations would be fixed. If the City embarked down that route, this would put the City in a legal liability position since the tenants would continue to be placed at extreme risks since certain safety codes cannot be addressed under the standards of maintenance bylaw. But that doesn't seem to matter at all to PIVOT.

It is interesting that the Piccadilly has 39 rooms and 27 of these rooms are uninhabitable, yet PIVOT clamours to have these rooms re-opened, even if it means forcing poor tenants to reside in dangerous conditions.

You see even if the City does a paint job, or patches some holes or replaces broken windows, the owner remains intact and of course, they would have a hefty bill to pay for the City's billable work. But who would ultimately pay the price, is the poor tenants who are vulnerable and at risk, especially with shady operators, according to VPD claims.

While its easy for PIVOT to garner sensational media headlines with their outspokenness which always center around 'oh here is another example of how poor people are being treated by the City in the DTES'. Of course, PIVOT adds fuel to the fire that this is all happening due to the Olympics.

And of course, media are buying this, hook, line and sinker.

The City of Vancouver has the ability through its tenants assistance program to find more suitable and healthier accommodations for the remaining 12 lower income citizens residing at the Piccadilly. In fact, it wouldn't be that difficult to house these 12 tenants elsewhere and I understand that is exactly what the City is now doing and while this doesn't bring headlines, after all, it isn't in the City's interest to engage in squabbles with PIVOT or other poverty enforcers in the DTES.

Instead what the Housing Centre of the City is doing seems more nobler than what PIVOT is doing. Actually finding suitable affordable accommodations for people which guarantee them livable accommodations to me is an acceptable action plan.

But using the 2010 Olympic argument for a moment, I'd say that PIVOT is being used to do the dirty work for the Olympics. After all, as some say, its more digestible to cleanse the streets of the downtrodden, so they are not in full view of the world who will be flocking into Vancouver in time to participate and capitalize on this elite sporting event.

And it seems PIVOT is falling right into line. What they really are doing is working cooperatively to assure the streets are swept clean. While doing this, they continue to push to keep poor people in decrepit and inhumane accommodations. How sincere is that I ask?

In fact, PIVOT has fallen into place regarding the Mayor's Civil City dream. Mayor Sam wants a 50 percent reduction in the disorder, homelessness and other associated ills happening on our City's mean streets. Of course, he wants this in time for the 2010 Olympics.

Realistically this Civil City manifesto of the Mayor's may be impossible to achieve unless real actions are taken. What is probably do-able though is ridding the most visible signs from our City streets.

Yes keep them in substandard SRO's at least than they are not on the streets for all the world to see. right PIVOT?

Jamie Lee Hamilton