Skip

A Lot To Live For
February 17, 2010 12:53 PM   Subscribe

An Olympic Tent Village has opened in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, on an empty lot currently being leased by the Vancouver Olympic Committee, in response to increasing homelessness in "Canada's most livable city", in spite of spending more than $6 billion on the 2010 Olympic Games. Mayor Gregor Robertson has stated that they won't be evicted - for now. posted by dinsdale (42 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
What is Canada's stance regarding run-on sentences?
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 12:56 PM on February 17, 2010 [4 favorites]


we're neutral on the issue :-)
posted by dinsdale at 12:59 PM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


I rode by this last night on my way downtown with friends. We went to the Irish House pavilion and people were just fucked, acting like animals, the bouncers were goons, and they wanted 20$ just to get in and spend 9$ per beer. We left without going in, but I found myself wishing I'd gone to hang out at the tent city, which in comparison looked like a chill and fun hobo underpass party with people playing acoustic guitars and such. Really not a bad place, at least from what I saw.
posted by mannequito at 1:04 PM on February 17, 2010


For a lot of info on the olympic resistance you can read Mostly Water -- a leftist anti-authoritarian blog that tends towards American Indigenous issues (more in Canada and Mexico than the US)...

I highly recommend it if you're into that sort of thing.
posted by symbioid at 1:06 PM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


At a press conference Tuesday morning Robertson said he believes the camp is peopled only by protesters, but if there are any actual street-dwellers in tents, the city “will move swiftly to find them housing.”

I thought those tents looked rather nice.

I wonder how much Vancouver is making from the Olympics. Perhaps they might even make enough that they could put extra money towards housing the homeless?
posted by filthy light thief at 1:08 PM on February 17, 2010


A lot of folks, including former Vancouver mayor Larry Campbell, credit the Games with speeding up efforts to provide solutions for homelessness in Vancouver.

Obviously, it's a complicated issue. While it's tempting to paint Vancouver citizens on the affluent side of the divide as being uncaring, on the other hand, drug use is like an unstoppable tsunami or force of nature that feeds on itself.

Ultimately we have Gordon Campbell to thank for continued misery in the DTES: he's a former mayor who knows the issues, and yet his government cut funding for mental health and addiction treatment in 2002, and cancelled all plans to build any new social housing for at least 5 years. Pair him with drug addiction (and the Tories) and you have the mess we have today.

I really hate ad hominem attacks on politicians, but there is something wrong with Campbell. He's the worst thing to happen to this province since Zalm
posted by KokuRyu at 1:09 PM on February 17, 2010 [8 favorites]


a chill and fun hobo underpass party

So is a tent city a place for homeless people to live, or a place for non-homeless people to have a hobo underpass party?
posted by rocket88 at 1:09 PM on February 17, 2010 [4 favorites]


It's a place for non-homeless people to have a hobo underpass party in solidarity with homeless people
posted by ghharr at 1:10 PM on February 17, 2010


Good article on the DTES and what 'homelessness' means in the context of rampant drug addiction.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 1:13 PM on February 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


I would venture to say most of the people in the tents are not even homeless just the local rent a mob
posted by SatansCabanaboy at 1:15 PM on February 17, 2010


I wonder how much Vancouver is making from the Olympics. Perhaps they might even make enough that they could put extra money towards housing the homeless?

I think there will be only red ink on the ledger once these games are over.
posted by vansly at 1:17 PM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wonder how much Vancouver is making from the Olympics.

It takes a few years, I think, to come up with a final profit/loss statement from an Olympic event. For Vancouver it's not looking good, given how much money the city had to sink into the athlete's village and other developments to get them completed on time.

Generally speaking, there's strong movement in Vancouver to create public/low income housing as part of any new development, and a portion of the athlete's village was supposed to be set aside for that. Since the real-estate games that preceded the actual games, though, it's not clear what'll happen since the city recouping its investment in the athlete's village depended on selling those units afterwards.
posted by fatbird at 1:17 PM on February 17, 2010


I wonder how much Vancouver is making from the Olympics.

Governments — ultimately taxpayers — lose from building all the specialized infrastructure for running an Olympics. Funds that would otherwise be used for projects that reap larger and more sustained returns to the public have to be put aside.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:23 PM on February 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


Has their ever been an Olympics that made money, or broke even? No creative accounting allowed.
posted by fixedgear at 1:25 PM on February 17, 2010


Vancouver Olympics one of most challenging ever for journalists

The Vancouver Sun decided that it wasn’t going to sacrifice its journalists on the Olympic podium, but would prefer to sacrifice its independence on one of the most important local issues around. For the Games, the Sun sponsored a B.C. Government “information” centre on homelessness meant to educate Games-time visitors about the wonderful work that the provincial government was doing to solve Vancouver’s homelessness crisis.

This was the same crisis that had led to two years in a row of homeless people burning themselves to death on local streets trying to stay warm. The same crisis that had been the major issue in Vancouver’s election just one year earlier.

posted by KokuRyu at 1:30 PM on February 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


From the $6 billion link:

the billion-dollar Sea to Sky Highway improvements, the near-billion-dollar trade and convention centre expansion and the $2-billion Canada Line

Wow what a waste. None of those things will ever be used again after the Olympics leaves town.
posted by IanMorr at 1:33 PM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


how much Vancouver is making from the Olympics

Paraphrasing something I heard on the CBC (The Debaters, I think):

Montréal's Olympic debt lasted longer than many of the countries that participated in it.
posted by Shepherd at 1:34 PM on February 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


Has their ever been an Olympics that made money, or broke even? No creative accounting allowed.

Calgary '88 is widely reported to have turned a modest profit, and its long-term impact on the city is generally considered to be without any significant downside. Among other things, it's given credit with creating a culture of voluntarism in the city that never existed before.
posted by gompa at 1:35 PM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


fixie- You'd have to do "creative accounting," like only claiming the cost of building its venues and ignoring the billions of dollars they've generated since then, to argue that the Calgary games LOST money.

If we hadn't had the 88 olympics, we'd have none the McMahon Stadium, the Saddledome, Canada Olympic Park, Olympic Plaza, the Oval... even the C-Train, the most successful LRT system in the world... the legacy for this city has been nothing but "profit."
posted by ethnomethodologist at 1:37 PM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


This was the same crisis that had led to two years in a row of homeless people burning themselves to death on local streets trying to stay warm.

This is sensationalist and inaccurate. It refers to a single episode in which a woman, on the street in front of the 7-11 on Davie, burned to death in a fire started by candles in her shopping cart. However, throughout the earlier portion of that night, she had repeatedly refused pleas by police constables to allow them to take her to a shelter, and they could not legally force her to move.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 1:40 PM on February 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


>>the billion-dollar Sea to Sky Highway improvements, the near-billion-dollar trade and convention centre expansion and the $2-billion Canada Line

Wow what a waste. None of those things will ever be used again after the Olympics leaves town.


I assume you're being sarcastic, because at the very least the Canada Line will provide an easy link between airport and downtown.

The real problem is that British Columbia is small in terms of population, but large in terms of area. 50% of the population will never get to regularly use either of the improvements you mention, but 100% of the population is paying for it. And the $7B or $8B the province alone has spent on Vancouver means that there are far fewer dollars for other parts of the province.

It's like Campbell (and I hate to attack politicians like this) said "fuck you" to the rest of the province, especially Vancouver Island.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:40 PM on February 17, 2010


This is sensationalist and inaccurate.

These are journalists, after all.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:41 PM on February 17, 2010


RE: the problem of the Downtown Eastside in general.

I've made this point before here but it bears repeating. The vast majority of the homeless, drug-addicted, otherwise afflicted "residents" of the Downtown Eastside are not from Vancouver, but rather have been drawn to Vancouver from all over the province (and country, and continent) for various reasons, among them:

- looking for work
- escaping dead-end small towns etc
- looking for more and cheaper drugs
- looking for warmer, more survivable winters

So though Vancouver hosts the problem and as such must deal with it (and it is, to its credit), Vancouver alone will not solve it. Only a full-on municipal, provincial, FEDERAL commitment will accomplish that. In this light, I am completely in favor of the various protests (as long as they stay peaceful) and anything else that keeps this issue ON THE RADAR throughout this ongoing athletic circus.
posted by philip-random at 1:59 PM on February 17, 2010 [2 favorites]



0% of the population will never get to regularly use either of the improvements you mention, but 100% of the population is paying for it


While I understand the frustration, it's pretty short sighted to think that investments to improvements to Vancouver isn't something that could benefit all British Columbians in the future. Tax revenue has to come from somewhere, a rising tide lifts all shipts, etc. etc.

Note: I say this from the perspective of a Chicagoan who still has relatives in downstate Illinois and who grew up with Illinoisians (neighbors, not family thank God) who'd never been north of Interstate 80. The bitterness over any Chicago-based spending is still palatable when I mention to my parent's neighbors where I live. My non-witty-but-still-shuts-them-up response is "Okay, then maybe Cook County should start its own state and see where that leave the rest of the state."

Good for the tent folks though. (I agree with their stand, even if I don't agree with the logic behind their arguments.) The Olympic stage is the perfect opportunity to raise attention to your cause because of the bright, bright spotlight and the good will its supposed to inspire. I often mentioned this to anti-Olympics folks when Chicago was in the running recently, but alas, it wasn't meant to be.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:07 PM on February 17, 2010


I assume you're being sarcastic

Usually. Bit of a character flaw I think.

50% of the population will never get to regularly use either of the improvements you mention, but 100% of the population is paying for it.


Sure, but all of B.C. benefits from major events being attracted by things like easy transportation from the airport and a spacious, eco-friendly, convention centre
posted by IanMorr at 2:20 PM on February 17, 2010


Olympic Tent Village looks like it has better facilities and accessibility than the ridiculously inappropriate Olympic venues at Cypress Mountain.
posted by grounded at 2:26 PM on February 17, 2010


Unfortunately the federal government is dedicated to the obliteration of what social programs remain in the DTES (such as Insite), rather than providing any assistance to the city. Not much help from Alberta, either, whose premier has caused multiple "incidents" in homeless shelters, and famously suggested buying homeless people one-way bus tickets to Vancouver.

We remain the only G8 nation without a national housing strategy or national transportation strategy. Our current government structure is sick. The vast majority of tax income is collected and controlled by federal and provincial governments. As a result, municipalities shoulder the burden of providing social nets while the others squander money on bread and circuses. The province slashes health services to maintain its $300mil/year oil and gas subsidy. The feds fight tooth and nail to destroy Insite, and are trying to establish a regressive mandatory-minimum policy for drug crimes, the exact model which has caused hyperincarceration in the USA. They do this while providing billions of dollars to the tar sands, and then pretending to end the subsidy while actually shifting it to the Mackenzie Pipeline. Harper's entire national strategy appears to be to exploit conventional resources as fast as possible with no regard to quality of life.

The DTES is not Vancouver's fault, but a symptom of a much greater problem. It is a sign of things to come.
posted by mek at 2:44 PM on February 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


Given that the Olympics has resulted in massive education cutbacks in the North — one-third of the schools in PG being closed, hundreds of teachers to be axed in the Vancouver area — and cutbacks in healthcare, and cutbacks in employement programs, I fail to see any possible way for the games to not have a greater negative social impact than positive.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:31 PM on February 17, 2010


hey, I saw this on Da Vinci.
posted by ovvl at 4:11 PM on February 17, 2010


it's pretty short sighted to think that investments to improvements to Vancouver isn't something that could benefit all British Columbians in the future. Tax revenue has to come from somewhere, a rising tide lifts all shipts, etc. etc.

It's not quite the same as Chicago. It's bad economic policy to have a primate city dominate a rural hinterland, and this is the fundamental reason why Vancouver will never be "world class".

The town is dominated by shipping and coal and mining, plus a bunch of real estate speculators and lawyers. That's it. Hardly a bunch of visionaries.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:12 PM on February 17, 2010


I would venture to say most of the people in the tents are not even homeless just the local rent a mob

and on what evidence would you venture this opinion? "rent a mob"? what the hell are you talking about?
posted by dinsdale at 4:13 PM on February 17, 2010


And the majority of BC's tax revenues come from oil and gas royalties, and forest products. These are not produced in Vancouver.

Not that I hate Vancouver at all, it's just that these Games have funneled spending into the Lower Mainland.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:14 PM on February 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


Now, I am all for "helping the homeless", but Vancouver's "homeless" are more than just people without a roof over their heads. They are unemployable, mentally ill, substance addicted and completely unable to function lawfully in an organized society. Worse still, Vancouver has been enabling the problem to the point where they have been woven into the identity of the city. Their way of life is being 'protected' by all of the misguided activists. The police and politicians are damned if they do, damned if they don't.

What we need is an unpopular, heavy-handed solution, because all the half-baked, feel-good ideas are impotent. (a la Giuliani cleaning up NYC)
posted by weezy at 4:32 PM on February 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


I have so little sympathy for 99% of the Olympic protesters. Not because I think that the money is being spent well, but because the alternatives proposed by the "homes not games" people are mostly awful.

There are so many things wrong with the traditional social housing model as practiced in BC. It significantly restricts labour mobility for the poor (Want a job somewhere other than your immediate area? You probably won't apply if it means leaving a subsidized apartment). It's also essentially a lottery. Some people get in, most people don't.

If someone started chanting "vouchers or cash transfers not games" I'd be all for that, but I suppose that's not quite as catchy.
posted by ripley_ at 4:58 PM on February 17, 2010


He's the worst thing to happen to this province since Zalm

You're my new best friend.
posted by klanawa at 6:08 PM on February 17, 2010


This is sensationalist and inaccurate. It refers to a single episode in which a woman, on the street in front of the 7-11 on Davie, burned to death in a fire started by candles in her shopping cart. However, throughout the earlier portion of that night, she had repeatedly refused pleas by police constables to allow them to take her to a shelter, and they could not legally force her to move.

The reason she refused to be relocated was because Vancouver emergency shelters generally don't allow people to bring their shopping carts, and this woman did not want to sacrifice all her personal belongings. The previous incident occurred a year earlier after a man was turned away from a shelter that was full to capacity. See here for info about the first death, and here for info about the second.
posted by Dr. Send at 10:29 PM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


They are unemployable, mentally ill, substance addicted and completely unable to function lawfully in an organized society.

Please prove this statement.
posted by kaspen at 11:52 PM on February 17, 2010



I live in San Francisco, and I assume that, like San Francisco, Vancouver is a magnet for its country's homeless population because of the temperate climate and because of the generous social services it offers to the homeless. The only way we are going to be able to help minimize the homeless populations in these cities are if other cities step up to help their homeless population so that there's no need for them to migrate to cities like Vancouver that are relatively friendlier to the homeless population compared with other cities.
posted by gyc at 12:38 AM on February 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


Its also important to note that the homeless population here in Vancouver is smaller than would appear to the average tourist taking an afternoon walk down East Hastings, ie. just because a guy is pushing a shopping cart it doesn't necessarily mean he lives out of it.

In regards to my comment at the beginning of the thread, I didn't mean to imply that the tent city is a magnate for those looking to try an evening of 'slumming', but rather that the people gathering in there seemed to be behaving much more civilized than the Games supporters downtown.
posted by mannequito at 2:15 AM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


emergency shelters generally don't allow people to bring their shopping carts, and this woman did not want to sacrifice all her personal belongings

Fair enough, Dr. Send. There was a reason this woman chose to stay outside on what, if I remember correctly, was a freezing cold night in Vancouver rather. But my point, as regards the statement "homeless people burning themselves to death on local streets trying to stay warm," stands. This phrasing suggests that the homeless have been given no other option but to freeze on the streets or, by your extension, enter an emergency shelter and risk having their possessions stolen by other residents.

This is, of course, not true. Social assistance would provide this woman with an SRO apartment, if she wished to accept it. Note in the article I linked in my first comment that many of these apartments given by Welfare were 'sold' back to the hotel so the money could be used to buy booze or drugs. The first comment in the CBC article you linked indicates that the woman in question could have accepted help in from people she knew before going on the street in Vancouver:
I'm sorry to say it but here's the truth about her. She went by the name, Dawn in Abby. Yes, I knew her personally. She was extremely stubborn and very tough. Nobody could help her. She refused anything that wasn't alcohol or crack cocaine. I'm not being cold I'm just telling you the truth.

I was very saddened when I heard this was her so don't think I'm being heartless. She was also involved in dealing crack on a very small level mind you, but it makes me wonder why she left Abbotsford in the first place to go live like that in Vancouver. There were enough of us out here willing to help her and she knew that.

I'm not minimizing the tragedy of this woman's situation and this event. But dealing effectively with this 'homeless' problem will require a clear-eyed acceptance for what it is. And a lack of homes, it is not. Long-term treatment of the mentally ill, custodial if necessary, would help. We can make attempts at treating the levels of drug addiction on the street--I'm in favour of Insite, for example, as it not only makes existing drug use safer but brings people closer to a system that might be able to help them.

And at the end of all this, there will still be people who choose to continue their drug habit by living on the street and committing property crime. "Homeless," maybe, but it ain't for a lack of offers.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 6:05 AM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


on the subject of choices and options: Dr. Gabor Mate (youtube interview) has been working with drug addicts in the DTES for many years -

"..the major cause of severe substance abuse is always childhood trauma.... I don't know a single addict in the downtown eastside who wasn't abused as a child - and all the women were sexually abused as well..."

it's not a coincidence that cocaine and heroin are both consummate painkillers - we need to start asking why these people are in so much pain...
posted by dinsdale at 9:21 AM on February 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


it's not a coincidence that cocaine and heroin are both consummate painkillers - we need to start asking why these people are in so much pain...

Or we could just kill them all. (sarcasm)

This is what I despise about notions such as those espoused by weezy above, particularly the bit about needing an ...

unpopular, heavy-handed solution, because all the half-baked, feel-good ideas are impotent.

You know who else believed in heavy-handed solutions?
posted by philip-random at 10:59 AM on February 18, 2010


« Older From Mountain View to Vladivostok   |   All the Documentaries You Can Handle Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post