Thursday, August 07, 2008


Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC


Park Commissioner Spencer Herbert recently announced he would like to see the City establish a tent city to tackle the homeless issue which has mushroomed out-of-control in our City.

Mr Herbert, aided by City Council candidate David Eby would like our homeless and drug subculture groups to have the constitutional right to erect tents in our parks.

With the Herbert/Eby plan, a question as a Park board candidate which arises for me is whether we should allow our parks to become De-facto homeless shelters. I must state for the record I'm not at all comfortable with this suggestion.

Citizens are not blind and can see our homeless population and drug addicts camping out in our parks. Increasingly we see many youth sleeping in storefront doorways but whether allowing our parks to be set up as campgrounds for these terribly tragic social issues needs vigorous debate.

It is too easy to suggest that tent city's will somehow fix the homeless and drug issues in our city. This is where I think Mr Herbert and Mr Eby are misguided . While this political ploy may win them votes, whether it truly assists the downtrodden and marginalized is suspect. I also note that Mr Eby hasn't stated whether he supports shelters.

I would prefer that citizens and political candidates press our elected representatives to take bold proactive approaches so these social issues do not continue to flourish and become worse. That way, our parks can be used for what they are intended to be used for. This being recreation, festivals, heritage and places to enjoy a nice warm sunny day.

No question we need solutions but I feel those solutions must come from replacing old outdated laws which are a major stumbling block to assisting and improving the lives of our most vulnerable and marginalized citizens.

Homelessness is preventable and we must act now.

Moreover, a fairer, more accountable and democratic electoral system is an absolute necessity to ensure all citizens have representation that they can count on and have access to.

Equally noteworthy, Mr Eby and Mr Herbert have been absolutely silent on the issue of electoral and campaign finance reform. I wonder why?

Jamie Lee Hamilton