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Posts from the ‘Victoria’ Category

Don’t donate property in the City of Victoria

Reeson Park is a mess. Every night, the park is filled with a mixture of vagabonds and criminals, activists and agitators.  Every morning, scarce police resources are expended to ensure the tents come down. Tensions with neighbours are rising.

This public disorder can be traced to the dissolution of the Provincial Capital Commission by the BC Liberal government. Say what you will about the PCC, but they had clear signage prohibiting anyone from being in the park at night. Let alone tents.

This latest disaster reminds us of the words of the Honourable Mr. Justice R. D. Wilson.  In Provincial Capital Commission v. Johnston et al, 2005 BCSC 1397, he wrote:

[14] If I understand the speakers correctly, the notion of “tent cities” has entered the lexicon of social discourse. It is a phenomenon for political lobbying.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Look at the February 2014 media release from the BC government:

The four inner harbour properties given to the City are key to inner harbour revitalization and advancing a planned 5 km harbour pathway from Rock Bay to Ogden Point.

Three years has passed since this press release came out. Is this what the provincial government intended when it transferred Reeson Park to the City of Victoria? Is this what “revitalization” looks like?

The status quo dishonours the memory of Gordon Reeson, a person who built hundreds of rental units within the City of Victoria. Here are excerpts from his obituary in the November 17, 2002 edition of the Times-Colonist newspaper:

Gordon Stanley Reeson, a major figure in Victoria’s development industry in the 1960s and 1970s, has died in Arizona.

Born in Winnipeg in 1923, Reeson was a developer in Regina before moving to the West Coast in the 1960s.

His friend, former mayor Peter Pollen, said Reeson retired here from the Prairies, but within three months was busy again with building projects.

With partner Harvey Pinch, he built Fernwood Manor on Begbie Street with 210 apartments. On opening day in the late 1960s, it was the largest apartment building on Vancouver Island.

They put up other major rental projects in city neighbourhoods, including some in James Bay.

Pollen described him as a quiet businessman with tremendous drive who stayed out of the political backrooms and got things done.

 *snip*

Reeson was part of a generation of developers in Victoria’s building boom in those decades, said Denford, who was also starting to put up apartments then.

“They were on a much bigger scale than me,” Denford said.

Reeson is remembered here for Reeson Park, a half-acre on the Victoria waterfront at the bottom of Yates Street. Pollen and Reeson bought the property and donated it for a park in 1980.

 *snip*

I avoided quoting too much of the article as a nod to fair use. But the parts I snipped reflected well on Mr. Reeson’s character. He was generous.  His colleagues and employees liked him. He helped build this city.

The bottom line? Reeson Park is a pocket park in the heart of Victoria. It should have been excluded from the Victoria’s overnight camping bylaw on the same day the property was transferred.  To me it’s a no-brainer. And until that happens, I’m adding a new rule:

  1. Don’t buy property in the City of Victoria.
  2. Don’t donate property in the City of Victoria.

Don’t buy property in the City of Victoria

Mayor Lisa Helps and Councillor Chris Coleman are putting the following motion before the Committee of the Whole on April 6th. It’s Item #16 on the agenda:

Recommendation: That Council amend the Streets and Traffic Bylaw to add Section 84(3) as follows: Section 84(3) An exemption to the provisions of this section shall occur when the CMHC vacancy rate for Victoria is at• 3% or lower. When the exemption is in place, people sleeping in their vehicles must not park their vehicles on any street for the purposes of sleeping before 7pm and must not remain parked on any street for the purposes of sleeping after 7am.

Want to know what this will look like?  Take all the derelict boats from the Gorge waterway, multiply by 100 and put them in Fairfield, Rockland, James Bay, North Park, Oaklands, Vic West and downtown. In a city still healing from the crime and violence of tent city, it is incredible that a proposal would be put forward to enable camping on Burdett Avenue and other city streets. These campers will be even closer to houses and apartment buildings than tent city.

What are the dangers? Disposal of human feces, for starters. Noise complaints. Fire hazards (open flame) from candles and portable stoves. Vehicle engines left running all night. Use of loud generators in residential neighbourhoods. Carbon monoxide poisoning. Consumption of alcohol and drugs inside cars. Care and control of a vehicle while impaired. Drug trafficking in and around vehicles. Fatal drug overdoses.  Hoarders and other people with serious mental health problems living inside cars. Car cities – the new “tent city” – popping up throughout Victoria. CarBnB. Extra wake-ups for bylaw and police. A national incentive for every predatory criminal with a vehicle to travel here.  Those are a few concerns off the top of my head. But none of these issues are mentioned in the report from Mayor Helps and Councillor Coleman.

The proposal is based on a Facebook poll with eight responses.  Look at the response from “male 05”:

Oh yeah- my buddy [name removed] was sleeping in his truck-camper (the carry-along kind in the box of the truck), in the parking lot of [name removed] after hosting the Thursday night jam they have there. He was woken up by the cops at 1am as well and told that he had to move along- difficult to do when you’ve been hosting a jam for free beer essentially. He had to go into the hotel lobby with the cops to confirm that he had been working there, and that they knew he was sleeping in the parking lot and were ok with it. He was informed by the cops that if they found him there again he would be ticketed and possibly towed for ‘drinking and driving’ Again, in spite of the fact that the hotel was ok with him being there

Taking this third-hand account at face value, a drunk musician parked overnight on private property.  Police used discretion, issued a warning, and did not investigate him for care and control of a vehicle while impaired by alcohol. Is this truly a good reason to allow anyone to live in cars on public streets?

This proposal reinforces the uncertainty that has been felt by residents and businesses for a long time. No one in Victoria knows what will happen to the streets, parks and schools in their neighbourhoods. It is completely unpredictable.  Not just on a five year timeline, or a one year timeline, but even on a month-to-month basis.

And this is why I always say to anyone who asks: “Don’t buy property in the City of Victoria.”

Seeking pro bono legal assistance

For several years now, I have been experiencing significant problems at work regarding my off-duty volunteer advocacy with Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). I tried to resolve these problems in a number of ways but I was not successful in these efforts. Unfortunately, the situation became so bad that I felt I had no choice but to submit a complaint to the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal. The complaint alleges discrimination in the area of employment on the ground of political belief, contrary to Section 13 of the BC Human Rights Code.

Yesterday, the BCHRT released its first decision about the case. It is a preliminary decision, focused on the issue of timeliness. The decision itself can be read here. The Vancouver Sun also has a writeup.  Because this matter is before the Tribunal, I will refrain from commenting publicly on the actual details of my complaint. The BCHRT is a quasi-judicial body and it is really important for me to respect the legal process underway.

I am seeking pro bono legal assistance. If you have experience in BC human rights law, and you feel the principles raised in this case are important, please contact me. I am not necessarily looking for someone to take over the whole case as that would be a huge commitment. That said, there are a couple of specific areas where I could use some help as the case moves forward.

A big “thank you” to the friends, family and colleagues who are supporting me during a very difficult time in my life. I am also grateful for past and current support from LEAP, Stop the Violence BC and the BC Civil Liberties Association.

TEDxVictoria now accepting speaker applications

Applications are now open to become a speaker with TEDxVictoria. This is an amazing local event, put together by an incredible group of volunteers. If you are interested, submit a proposal soon because applications close on June 28th.

The theme this year is emergence.

Essay in Victoria News about police regionalization

This is a well-written essay by Deputy Chief Ducker. Even if you disagree with police regionalization, it raises some interesting facts and anecdotes that many people throughout the CRD probably did not know about or may not have considered:

It’s no secret to VicPD members that many of the region’s hardcore drug dealers, organized criminals and party crowd live in the outlying areas, which most certainly includes Saanich.

The criminal element of these groups ply their trade on the streets of our downtown core and often retire to the bedroom communities, where not enough attention is paid to them. After 34 years I could fill a police notebook with instances where outlying agencies have either declined outright or simply don’t have the true capacity to deal with serious criminal elements living in their communities, leaving it to VicPD to handle or simply allow the problem to be ignored.