Nov 16 2008
Gregor Robertson’s election in Vancouver has a faint parallel with Obama’s election in the USA, in that the new boss has some huge problems to fix, and a fairly strong mandate for change in terms of voting percentage (despite the poor voter turnout overall).
Robertson has stated his first priority is homelessness, as it should be, but the way he is tackling it should raise some eyebrows. In his own words:
“Job number one is calling together an emergency task force on homelessness and working on solutions to getting people off the street into a safe place to live as quickly as possible.” (Vancouver Sun)
Emergency task force? The homelessness issue has already been studied to death by the outgoing mayor and council. There is already a plan — actually, it’s called the Vancouver Homeless Action Plan (naturally). We don’t need more planning sessions to come up with ideas: We need implementation.
How about this? The cops escort social workers and medical health professionals into the downtown eastside and other affected areas of Vancouver, conducting a census of the mentally ill and the hopelessly addicted. Empower these teams to take these people off the streets for a more thorough mental health evaluation. Those found to be suffering from mental disorders making them useful only for the predators and criminals stalking their neighborhood are hospitalized and given therapy and a roof over their head. These people are to be released back into society only when they can demonstrate the ability to function without posing a threat to themselves or others.
That would be a start. Until the criminal justice system in this country allows local judges to harshly sentence the predators in our city that prey on the defenseless, that may be all we can hope for in the short term. But it would be a start.