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The universal solution

Globe and Mail Update

Human settlement expert Aprodicio Laquian looks to the world for ways to solve the problems in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside ...Read the full article

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  1. Paul Howe from Canada writes: I agree with your ideas. The next step is to make them happen. Until then they are nothing but air (or ink on paper).
    Good luck.
  2. Kim Philby from Canada writes: I'm sceptical of seeing one part of the plan come to fruition: integrating social housing with middle-class housing and luxury condos.
  3. Fake Name from Canada writes: Kim Philby hits that nail on the head. People who can afford middle-income or luxury condo's aren't going to want drug-addicts and prostitutes for neighbours.
  4. Broken Record from Victoria, B.C., Canada writes: I have always wondered if the end of the B.C. Electric's Interurban service from the Fraser Valley and Richmond into the terminal at East Hastings and Carrall streets contributed to the downfall of the DES. When the trams were running, people exited the terminal to an area filled with small shops, large stores like Woodwards and Army & Navy and many cafes and restaurants. They didn't have cars so they spent their money in what old films of the era show was a vibrant neighbourhood. When the service stopped in the late 1950s the customers stopped coming, being forced into cars or onto slower trolley buses that mostly bypassed the DES.
    The article is correct in saying that most Vancouverites don't care what happens in the DES as long as it doesn't spread to their neighbourhoods. I lived there for a number of years and admit to feeling this way too. Most Vancouverites pass through with their windows up, doors locked and thinking 'eventually they will all kill themselves off and we will be rid of them.'
  5. GlynnMhor of Skywall from Canada writes: From the article:

    'A comprehensive solution... co-ordinated action... integrated with developments...'

    A whole pile of nice-sounding buzzwords lacking in any actual solutions.
  6. Not the Green Taliban from Vancouver, Canada writes: I don't understand why bleeding heart poverty pimps think its okay for the city or province to buy up hotels and SROs and house mentally ill people or drug addicts in tiny one room apartments like they were rats- all the while patting themselves on the back and saying they know what's best for the DTES. The best thing for people with mental illness is to live in a nice supported house where they can be monitored for their medications so they don't go out and live on the street. It is not their 'human right' to live that way. The best thing for drug addicts is to get out of the DTES to a remote place where they can be rehabillitated for a couple of years if necessary. And the same money for housing these people will go much farther when it is spent in Hope, Chilliwack or Ashcroft than in the most expensive real estate in Canada. Just because people from all across Canada squat in the DTES for easy drugs and crime doesn't mean they have a right to make that part of the city their 'home'. If they need it is cheaper to provide it in smaller towns away from the drug centre. If they can't afford to live there without commiting crimes (many against their own poor people) then they should be sent back to the province they came from. As for NIMBYism if you have kids you don't want them growing up in squalor if you can help it. Why should you be criticized because you don't want to raise your kids in a bad environment??? And I do not believe it is society's fault that some people are addicts. Many people with mental illnesses and from abusive homes did not choose drugs or alcohol. As for people with mental illness - treat them they way you would treat someone with a physical illness - with care and dignity- not living off them and saying its their right to be cold, scared and hungry.
  7. Zarny YYC from Calgary, Canada writes: Here is an idea...come up with an actual plan and strategy before wasting another $1.5 billion over the next 8 years.

    Buzzwords and politically correct jingles don't actually accomplish anything.
  8. Broken Record from Victoria, B.C., Canada writes: Hear, Hear, Not the Green Taliban! And do you know what? If my taxes went up a little bit to pay for it all I would consider it a good investment because that's what taxes do - they pay for civilisation. Unfortunately, that extra dollar or two from people who can easily afford it (pretty much everybody) would be treated as if it were the biggest, most dramatic catastrophe ever to befall mankind. This is B.C., after all, where nobody is personally responsible for anything.
  9. GlynnMhor of Skywall from Canada writes: Broken Record... writes:'... I would consider it a good investment because that's what taxes do...'

    Onloy if the 'investment' worked, though. Apperently BC has spent billions on trying to improve the DTES, and the place has, if anything, deteriorated.
  10. Graham Stanley from Vanderhoof, BC, Canada writes: Working in rural revitalization, I see the issue as one of livelihood, not housing. Where is the cottage industry component in the plan?

    It comes down to teaching a person to 'fish' in my view.
  11. true conservative from Canada writes: Fake Name & Kim Philby - for the most part it happens without people realizing it. The Esplanade has the second largest concentration of public housing in Toronto and it still retains a 'luxurious' status. Most builders will offer a portion of the units in large buildings for low-income families in exchange for tax rebates or waivings of municipal levees or better interest rates from banks (who write off the lost interest payments as charitable donations).
  12. true conservative from Canada writes: Fake Name & Kim Philby - contrast this with Regent Park which was a large concentration of low income housing in a smaller area than the Esplanade. That simply created the stereotypical 'ghetto' and the author is right that the crime that originates from this area easily spreads to other neighbourhoods.
  13. thomson gary from Canada writes: Legalize drugs. Dispense them free to certified addicts. Open more rehab beds. Provide social housing. Put the crazies back into care. Roust the ornary homeless. Lock up the habitual criminals. Ta da!
  14. Fake Name from Canada writes: 'Not the Green Taliban from Vancouver, Canada writes: And the same money for housing these people will go much farther when it is spent in Hope, Chilliwack or Ashcroft than in the most expensive real estate in Canada.'

    If you want to see NIMBYism on a scale you wouldn't believe, just try shipping the undesirables detox facilities in small towns.
  15. Bruce Carscadden from Vancouver, Canada writes: Excellent article, well considered content that demonstrates a real understanding of the problems. I am curious as to what the other 'models' from around the world is being referred to in his introduction.
  16. Lesslie Askin from Canada writes: The author of the article writes "if the authorities and the citizens of Vancouver will look at the Olympics as a stimulus for formulating a comprehensive and more lasting solution to the DTES problems, then, the Olympics will have significant positive effects and impact." That's a no-brainer. This issue did not just spring up from nowhere... it's been here for decades. It would not be a subject worthy of such extensive G&M coverage if it were not for powerful factions (politicians, developers, academics, media pundits, and so forth) finally being motivated by their own interests to deal with it as a coordinated force. However if these "movers and shakers" are now so anxious to work toward a real solution, not just a cosmetic one, then a HUMANISTIC approach is required. The perspective of folks who actually live in the area is of fundamental importance, regardless of whether you like it or not ... itís just a basic principle of the "behaviour modification" approach to individual and social change. So on that basis, numerous crucial factors are glaringly absent from this article. 1. AMBIENT CLIMATIC CONDITIONS ON A YEAR ROUND BASIS. It's sufficiently warm outdoors about 10 months of the year in the Lower Mainland of BC to make life bearable on the street without shelter. 2. ACCESS. It's easier to get into Vancouver by mass transit than into other outlying urban areas of BC with a similar climate. 3. OPPORTUNITIES. There are more ways for "street traders" to find clientele for their various services and skills in a major urban environment. [And BTW, for those prissy-minded individuals who have never even visited the DTSE, these folks are not all prostitutes and drug dealers.] This is not an exhaustive list, but it;s certainly sufficient, I think, to seriously question the PRACTICAL credentials of the article's author.
  17. T GrantD from Maple Ridge, Canada writes: Don't forget the municipalities part in creating 'ghettos'. In Maple Ridge we have this disaster called Northumberland Court which could have been brought under control a few years ago if the city would have held the owner accountable and made sure that the buildings were up to the BC building code. Now in 2009, we have one shelled out building and four others so dilapidated that the fire department has written them up 50 times in four years and yet they still remain open as 'low income' suites. Its disgusting how this slumlord is rewarded for abusing an entire community. Bylaw enforcement needs to be stepped up to make it uneconomical to run buildings into the ground, and the provincial government needs to stop funding slumlords directly without checking to see if the tenants are actually still at that building. Ministry of Income Assistance allows this to go on and those who its meant to help live in mold invested rat traps that are a constant fire hazard. Of course it's not the cities fault, or the ministry of social assistance, or ministry of finance, or any other ministry that is supposed to be overseeing these situations. It just happens, and everyone else is left cleaning up the mess so that the various levels of government can say they are providing housing, even though it would never pass building code inspection. www.mrccc.org for more details
  18. Lesslie Askin from Canada writes: And thankyou T GrantD... well written observations!
  19. Lesslie Askin from Canada writes: Ditto Thomson Gary ... excellent recommmendations, which would only require REAL POLITICAL WILL to implement. Maybe we will see some practical action, but only because its beneficial for the power brokers to now focus on this issue at this time. Now that the world's eyes are on us, maybe the Olympics will actually bring some social improvements along with the massive expenditures and financial debt with which we will all be saddled for decades to come.
  20. Lesslie Askin from Canada writes: So much for our wonderful federal and provincial governments, which only PRETEND to consider the welfare of the average citizen. We are continuously inundated with impractical public-relations hogwash.... smoothly-crafted politically-expedient hypocrisy, with its over-arching accountability to the wealthy and powerful, while merely paying lip service to us "middle and lower class" folks. Extremely expensive, not only in dollars, but also in individual human suffering and the massive ripple-effects on our social services.
  21. GlynnMhor of Skywall from Canada writes: T GrantD... writes:"Its disgusting how this slumlord is rewarded for abusing an entire community. Bylaw enforcement needs to be stepped up to make it uneconomical to run buildings into the ground..."

    That entire 'community' should simply be turfed out so the apartments can be sold to people who'll take better care of the places.

    As to 'bylaw enforcement', it's more revenue that's needed to keep the buildings from being run into the ground by the tenants.
  22. Denise Reed from Rural B.C., Canada writes: A number of years ago in B.C. there was a provincial residential facility for patients suffering from chronic mental illness. It was called Essondale. Mental Health theorists convinced the government of the time that these patients needed to join their communities. They lived on their own with minimal supervision.
    Almost immediately it became apparent this system of treatment was not meeting the needs of the patients and had a huge impact on society. The cost of the fragmented care system, individual homes and crime resulting from their behavior, I would think, exceeded the cost of residential care. Many of these people are now residing in the DTES.
  23. west slope from Canada writes: ---

    Will the demand on the part of dysfunctional Canadians to party, binge and self-medicate on a regular basis in a relatively warm, inexpensive environment change?

    I don't see anything that will change the supply of people looking for this type of lifestyle. Just the opposite.

    Most Canadians seem to think that is just another poverty problem. Some really smart people with Ph.Ds and 'Doctor' in front of their name compare the DTES to the 3rd world. It ain't. Not by a long shot.

    There's some data in the USA indicating that 15 times as many users of heroin are casual users, not addicts. I would be that most Canadians believe they are staring at the bulk of heroin and other narcotic addiction problems in messy street scenes. Wrong again.

    At best, massive amounts of public money will simply push this problem around from area to another. The focal point for the party may ultimately shift. Less noticeable does not mean 'problem solved'.

    ---
  24. GlynnMhor of Skywall from Canada writes: west slope... writes: "Less noticeable does not mean 'problem solved'."

    That depends on what the problem is. If the problem is the visibility of the druggies and criminals, then less visible IS 'problem solved'.
  25. inside view from Canada writes: I was totaly shocked as a teen from Ontario who toured Vancouver, decades go, by the reaction of locals to unconscious people lying in the streets. They simply ignored them. Apparently BC never had a temperance movement so while other provinces put an end to public inebriation more than 50 years ago, BC merely ignored the problem. It's not conscience but the onslaught of Olympic tourism that motivates BC now. But I think they need to grow a heart to fix this problem and to save the hundreds if not thousands of lives claimed annually. Child abuse, police brutality, poor medical care, failed child protection, poor social planning, greedy government and idiotic government that imagines it is cheaper to let things slide, all combine to create the East End problem. These shattered souls were unforgiveably let down.
  26. bc JJ from Houston, BC, Canada writes: I read somewhere that, throughout North America, there is 70% of the populations of each community is addicted to something. Let us ponder this: narcotics, over-the-counter (OTC), prescription meds, computering (17 hrs /day), electronic gaming (Wii, Xbox, etc), alcohol, glue sniffing, etc. Or, we can add the mental illnesses that are on the increase such as obsessive compulsive behaviour (OC), kleptomania, etc. The point: A tear in the Social fabric at it's most base level. We've forgotten compassion, manners, etiquette, God's Will...when we lost that in schools, our children were left with no spiritual guidance. Two-thirds of the world aspires to religion, or a Higher Being, or Beings. To me, that means that Mankind, at it's heart, sees itself as only "man." That is a good thing because we would be naive or arrogant not to cater to those numbers IN OUR SCHOOLS! Let the Laws go back to God. Even the Bible says, "All things are acceptable, but all things are not beneficial." Consequences. Responsibility. Self-respect, Respect, Godliness, Manners, Etiquette...NOT prudishness. Instead, restraint with respect and compassion. Anyone can be a troglodite. I challenge everyone to be a "Human Being" everyday. It would be the beginning of the end of this back-step into the Dark Ages that we, Mankind, have ascribed to. If we implemented these base concepts into the Global Education System, hope would create different Personal Paradigms. The pre-school, Primary grades, Middle School, and finally High School systems education system can implement an evolving program to account for their growing years of learning. Crime statistics might be affected during our lifetime with this new way of learning, non?

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