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Statement from Mayor Robertson on VPD Hostage Rescue

“Last night, a very disturbing and rare event took place with a hostage incident at Ray-Cam Co-operative Centre. I’m sure I speak for everyone in the city when I say how relieved we are that the young boy was rescued.

“I want to recognize and thank the men and women of the VPD who dealt with this extremely dangerous and stressful event. I can’t imagine the pressure they were under. The VPD’s poise ensured that a tragic and frightening outcome was avoided, and that the young boy was reunited with his family.

“I also want to thank and acknowledge the response of staff at Ray-Cam to this incident. Their quick action and support of the VDP contributed to the positive outcome. This was an incredibly traumatic event for them and I want to let them know that their work is invaluable to our citizens.

“The incident last night raises some tough questions about the state of mental health prevention and care in Vancouver and throughout the Province. This man had a history of mental health issues and involvement in violent incidents, which raises serious questions about why he was in a community centre.

“The VPD very clearly identified the burden that mental illness places on public safety resources in Vancouver in their 2008 report Lost in Transition.  They have also identified solutions, such as the creation of an Urgent Care Centre, where people experiencing severe mental health issues can be taken for immediate assessment and treatment.

“The City’s public facilities like libraries and community centres provide safe, warm places for people to come inside during the cold weather. But let’s be clear – they are not equipped to handle people with serious mental illnesses.

“The City will be asking Provincial authorities for answers on why this man was out on the street. There are several outstanding questions that we need answered, both to understand how this happened and how to prevent it from happening again.

“On a final note, the young boy who went through this ordeal was extremely brave and his parents should be very proud of him. He showed a level of courage and calm well beyond his years, and all of us at the City are so relieved that he is back with his family.”

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