Note to self: Never take time off again during November because it’s way too much work to get caught up on all the news I missed.
So consider this entry a for-the-record digest of some of what you needed to know about the city between Nov. 12 and 23 but were too busy raking leaves, getting the kids to school and watching late-night TV to keep up with.
I’ve got space for three items.
- I’ll start with news that should have dominated every newscast, front page, etc. — sorry, editorializing here — but didn’t: the child poverty rate.
First Call B.C., a child and youth advocacy coalition of more than 90 provincial organizations, released its annual report card showing B.C. has the second highest rate of child poverty in Canada.
Manitoba ranked first, a spot B.C. held previously for eight consecutive years. The coalition’s findings were collected in 2010 and found 119,000 poor children in B.C. That’s about one of every seven children in the province.
The findings caught the attention — again — of Vision Vancouver Coun. Andrea Reimer, who was to introduce a motion at council Tuesday in another attempt to apply political pressure to the crisis.
As Reimer pointed out in her motion, council is on record in June 2010 of endorsing the B.C. Poverty Reduction Coalition’s call for a plan to reduce poverty. Her latest motion calls for council to reaffirm its position.
B.C. is one of only three Canadian provinces that does not have a plan to reduce poverty, according to Reimer, although I’m sure Premier Christy “Families First” Clark would beg to differ; call me, Madam Premier, we’ll talk.
One other stat on this: The percentage of people living in poverty in Vancouver, as defined by Stats Can as an income below the “low income cutoff line,” is the highest of any city in Canada at 17.8 per cent; call me, Madam Premier, we’ll talk.
- Some good news, sort of, on the homelessness front — “being homeless is not a crime,” according to a statement from Mayor Gregor Robertson.
The mayor issued the statement after 57-year-old Clarence Taylor, a former homeless man, filed a lawsuit against the city regarding portions of bylaws. Taylor claims police and city workers issued him several tickets between 2009 and 2012 for constructing structures on the street.
“I have asked the city manager and chief of police, once they have reviewed the details of the lawsuit, to provide me with current information on bylaw tickets issued to people who may be homeless,” the mayor added. “The city is committed to ensuring that our bylaws are enforced appropriately and are not punishing those who are homeless.”
- Ever had your place burglarized? Not only does it leave you feeling vulnerable but try getting a cop to show up at your door to investigate the crime.
On average, a resident can expect to wait upwards of six hours for a cop to answer a report of a break-and-enter — that’s, of course, with no suspect on scene.
So what’s the Vancouver Police Department going to do about it?
Create a team of 30 full-time, unarmed “community safety personnel” to show up sooner to your door after a break-in and conduct other duties such as traffic control, provide security at crime scenes, picking up documents — essentially tasks that keep frontline officers from showing up at your door.
A lot more to come on this, including whether council will approve the $6.5 million to implement what is billed as a three-year experiment.
The Vancouver Police Union, not surprisingly, hasn’t signed off on this either. City council was to get a first look Tuesday at a report on the proposed community safety program.