Is this really about protecting the homeless – or protecting the Olympic image ?
In a move that Coast Mountain and Translink will surely claim as altruistic, Transit police have been given the authority to identify,and move homeless people to shelters during extreme weather. They will even call in a shuttle bus and driver to transport them to the closest shelter. Now, that doesn’t seem all that bad, does it?
However, those same police have also been given the authority to identify anyone else who they deem to be a problem and move them to a shelter themselves : “Any person that could potentially be disruptive on CMBC’s services will be transported to a shelter by the Transit Police.”
Now that, to me, is a pretty loaded statement that could encompass pretty much anyone and any behavior. And how do the shelters feel about this development of becoming a dumping ground for potentially disruptive people?
Interestingly enough, I watched the full story on this new development on Global BC this weekend, which, in my opinion, slipped the news by most people on the January 2nd, evening news final, which aired at 11 pm Saturday night! Unfortunately, despite searching high and low on the Global site, the video or the newscast from that evening doesn’t seem to be posted. Big surprise there. I’ve emailed looking for a link or file to that story, and will post it if it becomes available to me.
After watching Ken Hardie explain this all away during the segment, where talk of bad rain also joined the cold, extreme weather definition, I laughed. He said that taking a bus ride might be less threatening than a police car for some people. True, but I still laughed, long and hard, really, because I doubt very much this is all about saving the homeless.In fact, it screams Olympic 2010 agenda. More like another last-ditch effort at moving the unsavoury element out of view in time for 2010 games.
Sure, some of you might think I’m nuts for saying this is about the Olympics, but come on. Look at the timing! And more importantly, look at the press release:
Transit Police – Coast Mountain Bus to help homeless find shelter
Transit Police and Coast Mountain Bus will team up to help the homeless and others who need access to shelter in extreme cold weather.
Transit Police Constables who identify someone who needs shelter and transport to it will be able to request a bus/shuttle driver from Coast Mountain, who will provide free passage for the person to the nearest shelter location.
Any person that could potentially be disruptive on CMBC’s services will be transported to a shelter by the Transit Police.
CMBC President Denis Clements and Transit Police Chief Officer Ward Clapham said the joint effort is aimed at helping those who would be at high risk for injury or death from exposure in a cold snap. They said that the program highlighted the social mandate of both public transit and the police to help people in need.
Coast Mountain routinely supports the police and firefighters with ‘shelter buses’ for people forced from their homes by police incidents and fires.
Perhaps if that one line I highlighted for you wasn’t actually in that release, I wouldn’t be so disbelieving, but it is, and I am.
Transit police will have the sole authority to determine who needs help, and who doesn’t, and who might potentially be disruptive, and who would not. I emailed this to David Eby to see what he thinks of it, and will update on his reply.
I find it laughably ironic how far this government has gone to try to clean up the streets for 2010, all under the guise of selfless concern for those who inhabit the sidewalks and allies around us,and yet they continue to stall putting the same effort into real solutions that address the issue in the first place. I would like to think the extreme weather legislation had good roots of intention, but how can one be so accepting when it gives police authority to force people into shelters? Even the VPD could see how wrong that was and subsequently backed off.
Trouncing on the rights of people who may not have anyone to stand up for them, is clearly the biggest problem I see in all of this. Perhaps the funny thing( if one can be found) about all of this is that the all this effort to remove the homeless relies on the cooperation of mother nature. Somehow I don’t see any “extreme weather” showing up for the Olympics, in fact, it is quite the opposite – with a predicted El Nino pattern bringing mild and dry weather to the region…..