Saturday, January 24, 2009


Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC


OK I realize Jenny Kwan, the MLA for Vancouver-Mount Pleasant is busy being a new Mom but her ongoing ineffectiveness in serving Mt Pleasant residents, I'm certain can't be chalked up to her other duties.

In this week's online edition of the Georgia Straight, 'staff' there printed a letter from Ms Kwan that she fired off to the new Police Chief Jim Chu and Mayor Robertson and Council.

Kwan has come out of her slumber to complain that the City of Vancouver's Engineering department is sweeping up belongings of the drug addicted and placing these discarded items in a steel container which is apparently whisked off to the City's work yard for disposal.

MLA Kwan goes on to chastise the City Police for ticketing illegal street vendors and then she blasts the Engineering department for rousing the drug addicted who are sleeping in storefront entrances and shooing them along before the stores open in the morning.

This missive is so typical of Ms Kwan's distorted reality of the area.

If Ms Kwan was properly informed, she would know the rampant drug use in the area has scared off legitimate businesses that once lined the streets of Oldtown. In fact, one of the last few remaining businesses in the Hastings Oldtown area, the legendary Save-On Meats, has decided after 52 years of operating to pack it in. The store is set for closure in March. The Hastings corridor under Ms Kwan's watch has become a ghetto and longtime inhabitants of the Downtown Eastside district are fed up with Ms Kwan's indifference to our concerns.

Ms Kwan appears more interested in supporting drug trafficking than the plight of law abiding lower-income, seniors, disabled residents. Sadly, the children & youth of the DTES see no hope for their futures.

Ms Kwan's political positioning goes further. Her support of the unsustainable Povertarian industry is notoriously known. Her friends, bottom-feeding off the poorer residents, are more important to her politically than the livelihoods of the areas long-time residents.

Ms Kwan has never spoken up against the endless gravy train down here in Oldtown. Why should she since she receives incredible political support and political capital from these poverty industry providers who have been known to threaten their 'clients' who rely on them for measly hand-outs.

Why hasn't Ms Kwan spoken up about Quest, the supposed non-profit food store, who in 2007, had an annual income of $ 9 million dollars yet it continues to sell crap food well beyond its best before expiry date. Often the prices are higher than prices in real stores.

In a recent comparison shop, Bicks pickles made in Canada could be purchased cheaper at Army and Navy than the pickles made in India on sale at Quest. Ditto for tomato juice and no dented cans at Army and Navy either. And forget trying to get fresh healthy produce or fruit at Quest. Candy though is on rampant display, just what poor citizens with rotting teeth really need.

Other friends of Ms Kwan's include the non-profit Atira Women's Resource Society, which had its base of operations in White Rock before metamorphosing into the Downtown Eastside, becoming one of the largest housing providers in the Downtown Eastside.

In 2007, Atira had an annual budget of $3.7 million dollars and I'm certain their 2008 Revenue Canada statements will show significant increase as they have been given numerous contracts to manage slum buildings. Under Atira management, it is really questionable whether these slum properties have improved. As an advocate I receive numerous complaints about Atira operated housing from both residents and former staff who have quit in disgust. Atira hasn't shown itself to be a good neighbor either. After securing a provincially purchased SRO to manage, they evicted a long-term Artist tenant who operated an affordable Art gallery in one of the two street-level storefronts.

Ms Kwan hasn't to my knowledge ever demanded a change in government policy which would put an end to the practice of direct shelter payments to the rampant slumlords operating in the DTES. Many of whom as I mentioned are also non-profits.

A question Ms Kwan should be concerned about is this. Why is the province paying directly to these slumlords the welfare shelter portions to run such shoddy operations? Why is the public expected to compensate substandard housing which only benefits the landlords?

While the troubles of the DTES seem insurmountable, nothing will change though until there is a fundamental shift in thinking and a change in leadership.

We can start by calling homelessness for what it really is. It's drug addiction and we need to start naming it this.

Ms Kwan better wake up to the fact that business operators also have rights. They are trying to provide for themselves and their families and drug addicted individuals sleeping in their doorways are a hindrance. So to complain about the Engineering department waking them up and moving them along in the early morning is crass politicking.

Ms Kwan can continue to call drug addiction homelessness all she wants and she can continue to shift blame onto the Vancouver police and Engineering departments for all its worth but she needs to look at her own culpability regarding this monster created by governmental policies and inaction.

Jenny Kwan isn't helping the residents and voters of Vancouver-Mt Pleasant by her political stances. In fact, it seems Ms Kwan is more interested in funneling funds into the rampant poverty industry rather than allocating resources and demanding funding for treatment and health programs. Moreover, Ms Kwan has totally abdicated any responsibility in demanding transparency and accountability from the numerous non-profits which riddle her riding.

It needs to be stated that Ms Kwan gains enormous political benefit as does her Povertarian friends who benefit by keeping the drug addicted, affirm and weak imprisoned in Canada's worst ghetto.

There is a small measure of hope though with the provincial election coming in May.

At least the voters will be given its once in four years opportunity to voice our displeasure regarding Ms Kwan's lack of leadership in the riding she has held since 1996.

Jamie Lee Hamilton