Friday, June 20, 2008

Ellice Street Park and the Proposed Shelter

I live in Burnside Tillicum neighbourhood and not that far from the proposed shelter site. I know all about the problems we have in this neighbourhood with drugs, homelessness, and crime. I vividly remember the Irma Street house and I see constant problems at the SRO motels along Gorge Road. This is the problem neighbourhood. I have lost several thousands of dollars worth of goods over the last four years to crime. One time there was a break in where the thief must have come within a few feet of my kids. Another time they cleaned my freezer out of meat.

This shelter is not going to make things worse than they are. 80 people having a decent place to kip is not going to make things any worse in this area. 80 people being able to get services dealing with their issues and problems is not going to make things worse.

The bottomline is that the people who will be using this shelter are already here - not having it in this neighbourhood is not going to improve things.

The Burnside Gorge Community Association is organizing a door to door petition to get the signatures needed to put the deletion of the park to a city wide referendum. I was pulled out of the tub to the door by a canvasser today. I was standing their dripping and in a towel and she could not accept the fact that I was not opposed to the plans.

The agruments were as follows:

There will be more crime - I can not see how in the residential areas there will be any increase and given that there will be a police presence at the site and more services for people to deal with the problems, I would see crime dropping

It is too big, there should be a number of them all over the city - 80 beds is hardly big and if there is this sort of a NIMBY reaction where the problem is, imagine trying to build a shelter in Fairfield or near Hillside mall.

This is a provincial responsibility - I am not even certain where this argument is meant to go, I presume meaning the province should deal with the situation - are they not willing to provide the funding?

Why not build it in James Bay? Great idea, but where, how do you deal with the further distance people would have to go for the services, and why is that better than here in the first place?

The city should not be getting rid of Elice Park - I have an advantage on most people in respect to this park, I have been aware of it for the last four years and have wondered why the city never disposed of this vacant lot years ago. I have young kids, I have spent a lot of time in parks and this is not one I would ever consider using. It is an ugly location with a big wall on the south side blocking out the sun. We have a bunch of much better parks in the neighbourhood that people do use. One is at the Selkirk Waterfront, another at the south end of Washington Street, another at Cecelia st, there is a good one at the old Burnside School and one more at Sumas Park a block east of the school.

Slightly further afield, but still a short walk, we have the the trestle Banbury park, a nice small playground on Qu'Appele St and then there is Rudd park.

No where in what I have heard from people opposed to the shelter is anything addresses their values that would be under attack if the shelter is built.

All I ask is that the city guarantee a 24/7 police office at the location for as long as there is a shelter there. Victoria really screwed up when it got rid of the community police stations, they should have beefed them up and not shut them down.
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