Wednesday, May 02, 2007


Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC


As a defender of free speech, I was probably one of the few people who publicly defended Vancouver Courier, commentator and Republic News owner, Kevin Potvin. I actually even stated how decent this man is and I would not hesitate to vote for him if he ran again in municipal politics.

However, his latest column in the Vancouver Courier, when I read it, made my heart sink. I couldn't believe my eyes. Surely, this couldn't be the same Kevin Potvin, who I have the utmost respect for, now taking a cheap shot at my neighborhood. Well far worse than taking a few cheap shots, Kevin was actually smearing my community.

In his story telling, he frames, Mayor Sullivan as a piano lesson-taking child as the backdrop. He claims, the Downtown Eastside is not much different today than when Sullivan was a child.

Whoa c'mon Kevin, do your research friend. Its way way different.

During my childhood there and which I suspect is around the same era as Mayor Sullivan's childhood, we actually had a stable economy in Oldtown. One which wasn't built around drug trafficking and poverty, but rather around small businesses which catered to the neighborhood's needs. Kids in the inner city, could actually play in the parks without tripping over zoned out junkies or small time traffickers .

Sure we had heroin addicts, but mainly they were indoors in the various bars in the neighborhood. Moreover, they were from our community and not the scary types you see today, roaming, out-of-control, in our hood. And the petty criminals were the heroin addicts themselves and not the ones we see now, the ones imported from third world countries, who instead of selling heroin, now sell poison.

Your claim though that statistics on violent crime bear out the truth, that Hastings Oldtown in Sullivan's youth was more dangerous than it is today, besides being pure hogwash, is factually incorrect.

In that time period, violence against sex trade workers was almost unheard of. This may have to do with the fact, that three public steambaths in the area catered to the girls and their customers needs. Also, the working girls primarily operated out of the numerous cabarets in the area, including the Smilin Buddha, New Delhi, Kublai Khan, Kit Kat Club, Strattford, the Unicorn and a few others. Oh yes, those same clubs that provided union jobs to workers in the neighborhood. Surely, you must have heard about those clubs that a certain left-leaning politician pushed to have closed down.

Today, how many women have gone missing Kevin? How many women have been violated and brutalized? Compare murders of women today to those in the 50's 60's and 70's. You will see that gendered violence has gone way way up.

And we all know it's because of economics, poverty and drugs . These same elements that you claim should remain in place and not be dispersed, because they are now as you state, the new economy. Excuse me Kevin, while you may think its ok to maintain people living in those conditions, I don't. When I was growing up, my neighborhood in O town had far greater purchasing capacity. Poverty only maintains poverty. Your a smart guy and I know you understand this.

Let me be very clear here. Restoring my hood does not mean transforming it. I want children and youth, of which there are many in my neighborhood to have equal opportunity. I want them to be free to walk the street, play in their parks and attend their inner schools without fear of being targeted by a pimp or crazed out junkie seeing them as an means to an end. Yes, I even want them if possible to walk down the street to a Mrs Smith who is providing singing or piano lessons. Perhaps Mrs Smith may even live in one of the new condo's and what is so wrong with that?

Like everyone else, I too want to see services for the mentally ill and drug addicted but again ALL those services do not need to be concentrated in Oldtown. We actually need to bite the bullet and re-open a facility or two which has a continuum of services for the mentally ill and drug addicted. But sorry, we have no more land in Oldtown so its gonna have to go elsewhere since it has to be large enough to accommodate those tortured and troubled souls that gravitated to my neighborhood. That to me is acceptable dispossessing and I am unapologetic about it.

So Kevin, next time you want to gain some advantage by sticking it to Mayor Sullivan, please don't use or smear my neighborhood in the process.


Jamie Lee Hamilton


Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC


Tomorrow, City Council will hear the reconsideration appeal from DERA, of the Chinese Seniors grant which was discontinued as a result of many factors, the least of which is inexcusable behavior of DERA executive director, Kim Kerr.

I will be speaking at Council tomorrow and of course, will request that DERA not receive this grant.

My speaking out is not a result to get even with Dera for attempting to evict me from my home. Instead, my concern rests with the many grants and funding which goes into the Oldtown area with seemingly intangible results.

Dera is just one of many groups who receive public funds without any public scrutiny or accountability. In fact, there needs to be proper audits of the millions of dollars going into the Oldtown area, yet the area remains a mess.

I'll provide documentation and statistics to Council, which I allege, shows Dera to be mis-using the Chinese Seniors funds.

I hope, that all levels of government begin to seriously look at the extravagance they shower on the DTES. If the public only knew how their hard earned tax dollars goes to the same 1000 or so 'clients' of the many various agencies of the DTES, I suspect they would be mortified.

Its long overdue to open up the books of many DTES service providers. Tomorrow is a good start.

Jamie Lee Hamilton