We are NOT opposed to helping the homeless. We are opposed to being kept in the dark about upcoming changes to our community. Also, is the best place for a shelter really right across from an elementary school? We also think that a public report of VPD risk assessment a is extremely important, because Olympic Village social housing had 729 police incidents in the first 16 months of its operation. (source: vancourier.com)
Most of the homeless are harmless neighbours that we will help, but the above fact is just one example showing that a small subset of the homeless will show negative behavior and poses a safety risk to children. This elevated risk is why we oppose the current location of the homeless shelter. For example, since Onni owns the entire lot from Heather to Cambie, why not put the shelter on the Cambie side of the lot where it’s farthest away from the school? What’s their logic for picking the side closest to the schools (other than they can’t build a high-rise condo next to the school, so that plot of land is worth less to Onni)?
Onni owns the entire lot from Heather to Cambie, why not put the shelter on the Cambie side of the lot where it’s farthest away from the school? City planners had 10 years to come up with plans and locations – and they took that long to pick a location that’s right across from a school? Are you satisfied with that?
If we build TMH at the current location (25m across from the schools), then we MUST have proper screening to ensure only VAT Level 1 individuals (those who don’t have criminal history nor substance abuse) are permitted to reside in close proximity to young children. However, that is something that the City Council has been unwilling to guarantee, and therefore they are putting children at risk.
Yes it’s impossible to find a location that is not part of a school catchment. But, it IS possible to find a location that minimizes the risk exposure to school children and teenagers. Liquor stores and Marijuana dispensaries require a minimum buffer distance from schools – isn’t it common sense to do the same for any social housing that would house high-risk individuals?
Mayor Robertson and City Council members repeated said in the media that the TMH tenants will be screened and carefully selected, so what’s the worry?
They declined to state any details on the selection and screening criteria during all the info sessions – unqualified “careful screening” is an empty promise. Would you trust your kid’s safety to a politician’s unqualified statement? It was only later discovered that the City’s stated tenanting policy is to fill the TMH with AT LEAST 20% with “VAT Service Level 3” individuals, who are defined as:
- extensive criminal history indicating high risk to re-offend
- can create security problems through aggressive and intimidating behavior
- problematic behavior due to substance abuse
(*Source: council.vancouver.ca, pages 17-18)
When pressed with these facts, the politicians deflected with “the TMH will be properly and professionally managed, and we’ll ensure all tenants have the proper support to meet their complex needs.” Again, sounds good on the surface like before, but there is nothing concrete or measurable with that statement.
There are about 20-30 existing homeless folks in Marpole, which means the majority of the TMH residents will be “shipped in” from elsewhere. The City Council and Mayor Robertson repeatedly avoided our requests to have proper criminal checks, or to exclude those who will pose danger to children. We want to help the homeless, but a shelter steps away from vulnerable children is not the right location especially when the city refuses to own up to basic safety standards.
Have an open and honest dialog with us. Consult us. Respect the children, residents, and parents of these 3 schools (keep in mind that a number of the high school students come from other parts of the lower mainland, to attend IB and French programs). Locate modular homes more appropriately, instead of 25 steps from a school with vulnerable children.
Most importantly, don’t just tell us “it’s a done deal, you can’t do anything about it”; don’t sneak in bylaw changes so they can bypass the voices of affected residents; don’t hold “info sessions” 3 weeks before construction starts.
Some flaming comments claim that the protesters are just greedy and only care about property values – what do you say to that?
The protesters are a diverse group – we come from Marpole, Sunset, Burnaby, Richmond; we live in apartments, houses, basements; we own, we rent, we have 3 generations in one household; but we are ALL parents, and we don’t want ANY schools to be located right next to TMH. Not at Laurier/Churchill/IDEAL, and not anywhere in Vancouver.
Also, the Onni Group owns the entire lot from Heather to Cambie, why did they pick the side closest to the schools? Is it because they want to profit from condo development on the Cambie side? Corporate greed and collusion with the government is the only possibility here worth accusing.
Again, the protesters are a diverse group – we come from Marpole, Sunset, Burnaby, Richmond… This is not about your neighbourhood or mine, it’s about making logical decisions. If the City owns a plot of land next to YOUR school, and chose to put the shelter on the side abutting the school instead of farthest away from it, then we WOULD protest on your behalf too.