Developer dollars, community policing, and cruddy "little SROs": the talk at Carnegie Centre

 Welcome to the Downtown Eastside, the locus of arguments over gentrification, aboriginal rights, addiction, poverty, and who really runs City Hall. In other words, the perfect place for a debate ahead of Vancouver's November 15 civic election.

Audrey Siegl sχɬemtəna:t
Audrey Siegl  sχɬemtəna:t
Audrey Siegl sχɬemtəna:t welcomes us to Carnegie Centre. (Photos by Jordan Yerman)

Andreal Siegl sang us a traditional Musqueam greeting as a siren yowled in the street. Welcome to the Downtown Eastside, the locus of arguments over gentrification, aboriginal rights, addiction, poverty, and who really runs City Hall. In other words, the perfect place for a debate ahead of Vancouver's November 15 civic election; even though no advance polling stations will be found here.

The Carnegie Community Centre Association hosted an All-Candidates' Meeting on DTES community issues. Those seeking office or re-election on November 15 had a chance to answer questions submitted by the community (via paper and envelope: the original DM) at the Carnegie Community Centre itself.

Neither Mayor Gregor Robertson nor opponents Kirk LaPointe and Meena Wong were present, leaving only current and hopeful city counselors to field questions –– and take the occasional shot at NPA and Vision –– at Main and Hastings:

DTES all candidates debate
From left: Anthony Guitar, Nicholas Chernen, Audrey Siegl, Sid Chow Tan, Adriane Carr, Pete Fry, Suzanne Scott, Andrea Reimer, Niki Sharma

That's the sound of the police

Five questions were selected, each to be asked to four parties. After each candidate gave a brief introduction, the debate began in earnest. (Ask these questions of yourself, too: those running for local government are not yet career politicians, and aren't much different from you. What, if elected, would you do?)

The first question was to the NPA, Vision Vancouver, COPE, and the Greens; regarding the expanded police budget, and whether that was appropriate.

Answering for the NPA, Scott said, "I know that crime prevention and safety is paramount for all of us." She added, "The needs of the Downtown Eastside are very unique," and that community policing would benefit the DTES: "We need policing, but in the right way."

Suzanne Scott
Suzanne Scott spoke to this topic as a victim of a home invasion.

Speaking for Vision, Reimer said that the increased budget was mostly as the result of binding salary arbitration, while very few police officers have actually been added to the VPD. She added that the vast majority of police efforts are directed towards the results of poverty, homelessness, mental illness, and addiction; when not enough is done to address the causes, then the results end up getting a police response.

Speaking for COPE, Tan said that the police are actually getting a bad rap, stuck as they are dealing with the result of an "unknowing or ineffective or ignorant government", which, unable or unwilling to tackle the root causes of the DTES' problems, then stick the cops with the task of using force against the neighbourhood's residents.

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