Wednesday, October 03, 2007


Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC

Residents Lives Put at Risk

Today at 5pm as I was leaving my home at the Pendera, there were many emergency crews in the 100 block West Pender. These included Fire, Ambulance, Hazmat and Police. The whole block was blocked off and I knew something big was happening. Little did I know at the time, that the emergency response involved something occurring inside my building.

As I walked down the block to catch my ride at the corner, I noticed many Anti Poverty Committee (APC) members outside the Lotus Hotel. These same APC members work at DERA. I observed Aaron Muirhead, daytime manager at the Pendera, David Cunningham, APC Leader, Lily Loncur and Kim Kerr, Executive Director of DERA. I was concerned after seeing the APC and in the pit of my stomach, I knew something was up.

After returning to my building around 7:30pm, I noticed many police and fire officials outside my building and many of the same emergency vehicles were parked outside on Pender street. Upon entering my building, I observed many police standing around, I glanced around and saw a number of APC members sitting in the front foyer. With the APC members who are now DERA staff, was Kim Kerr. Police appeared to be standing watch.

My immediate thoughts is that something terrible was happening and I was struck with a profound fear. This fear though isn't unusual since I believe my safety and security to be severely compromised as a result of so many criminally involved APC members working at DERA and more recently at the Pendera. David Cunningham, who has been charged and plead guilty to uttering threats is now a full-time staff member of my building. This is raising lots of alarm bells in my building.

What I have learned and as I write this post at 9:30pm the Hazmat team are preparing to re-move a very hazardous and explosive chemical which is sitting in the Pendera staff office. The chemical involved is called perchloric acid. I overheard police and fire stating it was highly explosive. This container apparently has crystals forming around the cap and so extreme caution needed to be taken for its removal. In fact, an explosives demolition crew had to be brought in to stabilize the container.

At this time, the Identification squad has just arrived to take photos and dust for any prints. Where I sat observing the unfolding of events, the police are now needing to clear this area for removal of the perchloric acid. I heard the various officials discussing best methods of how to safely remove the chemical. So I know it's very dangerous.

How this highly explosive chemical came to find its resting place inside the Pendera staff office needs answering. I posed this question to Mr. Kim Kerr, who claims that it was found outside at a bus stop on Pender Street and apparently according to Mr. Kerr was moved to a small opening on the front side of the Pendera building and from there, it was brought into the office of the Pendera, where APC members, Aaron Muirhead and David Cunningham are on duty. The police claim, the container was brought into the office by a DERA employee.

Why this explosive material was brought into the Pendera needs immediate answering. I'm certain, the police have already questioned the staff and they would have a few answers in this regard. Another important question is why APC leaders and DERA staff members allowed this container to be brought into the building?

To allow highly explosive chemicals into the DERA building could have had dire consequences for the tenants at the Pendera. It has been suggested this material could have caused an explosion if it came into contact with cloth or wood.

The safety and security of the tenants at the Pendera are paramount and needed answering is whether staff involved in this incident at the Pendera have the necessary skills to ensure the appropriate safety and security of the Pendera residents? Why APC DERA staff members were outside down at the end of the block observing this potentially deadly occurrence while tenants remained inside the Pendera building needs to be answered. Was the safety of Pendera residents seriously compromised when APC/DERA staff abandoned their posts?

An operational review of DERA by BC Housing was initiated a year ago. As of yet, the findings haven't been made public. Issues around livability and safety & security concerns brought forward by tenants residing in DERA buildings, haven't been adequately addressed.

It's long overdue that the BC Government properly address these significant operational problems at DERA. Honorable Rich Coleman, Minister of Housing must now act in the public interest and demand a full accounting of the problems plaguing DERA.

Jamie Lee Hamilton


Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC


In the recent Vancourier edition, columnist Allen Garr writes that popular Vancouver Councillor, Peter Ladner, is set to run for Chair of Metro Vancouver, formerly known as the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD). Mr. Ladner has been Vice-Chair of Metro Vancouver for two years. Mr. Garr goes on to postulate that sitting as Chair of Metro Vancouver, would provide a perch for Councillor Ladner while he pursues the possibility of taking a run in provincial politics.

It seems odd though that Councillor Ladner would take a run as Chair, if he plans to run provincially. The provincial election is scheduled for May, 2009, which is six months after the November 2008 Vancouver municipal election. The scenario Mr. Garr presents doesn't make sense since Councillor Ladner would run in the 2008 municipal election and then quite quickly if he chooses to run provincially, be in election mode for another six months after already being in election mode in the run up to the municipal election. Moreover there is no doubt, Mr Ladner would win a council seat again, even though his current political party is in low standing with voters. So there would also be that matter of abandoning a position he won only 6 months previous.

Another likely scenario though could be at play.

It is understood by many political observers that since being elected, Mayor Sam Sullivan hasn't lived up to the expectations many had of him. In fact, although there hasn't been an internal poll conducted by the NPA regarding Mayor Sullivan's support level, many Vancouver citizens and political observers believe it quite low compared to when he was first elected and proudly waving the Olympic flag in Turin, Italy. In the media, Mayor Sullivan has been a frequent target for negative criticism and citizens I talk to are unwilling to vote for him again.

Peter Ladner is a smart politician and in touch with his constituents. He no doubt has heard the same stories that many of us have heard, that the NPA electorally is in grave trouble and quite possibly may be wiped out in the November 2008 election.

Many Vancouver citizens have encouraged Councillor Ladner to challenge for the NPA mayoral nomination, however, the NPA board has chosen instead to grant incumbency protection to its incumbents. This move has created a political dilemma for Councillor Ladner who placed second among ten councillors elected in only his second run for political office. Even while sitting in opposition from 2002-2005, Councillor Ladner has demonstrated the hallmarks of a true leader. He has support across the board from left, centre and right leaning voters. He remains wildly popular even now as his party sinks to new all-time lows.

No doubt, it would be difficult for Councillor Ladner to once again sit in opposition.. After all, most politicians want to win so they can see their ideas and political vision implemented. Peter Ladner is no different.

Councillor Ladner, at least, it seems to me, has always enjoyed municipal politics. This is where the politician is closest to the people. Entering provincial or federal politics is always an option for municipal politicians, but it wouldn't be the same as serving at the civic level. With provincial or federal politics, you must play a second fiddle role to your leader and party, whereby in muncipal politics you really get to represent your constituents.

I think Councillor Ladner as a municipal politician has shown admirable political leadership. His issues resonate with everyday voters. He has a strong small business background and is known to have leading abilities on sustainability, environmental, transportation and transit issues.

As Vice-Chair of Metro Vancouver, Mr. Ladner has done an exemplary job of representing regional issues and I'd really like to see him take on the Chair position since his political integrity and leadership skills would really shine.

At the regional level, the current Chair, Lois Jackson, although I'm certain is a fine politician for Delta, she hasn't in my opinion, demonstrated strong leadership on key regional issues. Peter Ladner seems like a perfect match to this role.

I also believe, Councillor Ladner should not rule out a Vancouver Mayoral run. Even if this means running as an Independent. After all, Mike Harcourt did this in 1980 and won. I think Councillor Ladner is viewed by many voters along the same lines as Mike Harcourt and during the 80's Mike Harcourt was exactly what Vancouver needed. I'd say Peter Ladner now is exactly what Vancouver Metro needs.

In my humble opinion, watching the strengths Mr. Ladner would bring to the table as Chair of Metro Vancouver and Mayor of Vancouver, would showcase what we could have leading us up to 2010 and well beyond.

While some may speculate that it would be risky for Peter Ladner to chance an Independent run for Mayor, I don't share that same belief. All he would need to do is bring enough of the moderate NPA vote over to his side. He already has impressive enough support on the green side, with younger voters, the business community and I'd say progressive folks to make a Mayoral dream a reality.

What about it Peter. Are you ready to really show us what A Metro-Van-Man can do?

Jamie Lee Hamilton