Saturday, November 15, 2008

Audrey Laferierre Watches Michael Geller Do a Back Flip

Photo: All Candidates meeting at Carnegie (left to right) Audrey Laferriere, R.H. Maxwell N Bur, Raj Hundal, Andrea Reimer, Michael Geller, Leanore Copeland

Creating shelters for Vancouver’s homeless population until permanent housing is built was a central theme of Monday’s All Candidates meeting at Carnegie Center in Vancouver’s low income Downtown Eastside neighborhood.

Getting Storyeum, a Gastown business that went belly up, turned into a shelter for the homeless is the prime reason Audrey Laferriere decided to run for Vancouver City Council as an Independent.

Wilf Reimer from the audience said he had decided to support Laferriere after emailing both mayoral candidates, Peter Lader and Gregor Robertson, to ask “why they didn’t support a shelter system” for the homeless while they work on permanent housing. “Audrey was the only one who seemed to have some sort of a germ of a concrete plan with Storyeum.”

Michael Geller of the NPA said he had opposed the shelter system because not only the Housing Department but people in the community had told him that what they wanted was permanent housing, not shelters. At this point Laferrierre shouted something at him that I didn’t catch and he responded in a placating tone, “Audrey, I was just about to say, ‘You’ve convinced me’.” He continued, ”She did convince me we should be looking at Storyeum as a shelter.” Geller cautioned Audrey not to be too quick to assume he was her enemy, that she just might find he could work with her as an “ally”.

But Lafrrierre’s real ally may prove to be Independent mayoral candidate, RH. Maxwell N Bur, who announced loudly, “If I’m sworn in as Mayor of Vancouver, you get the keys to Storyeum!”

Photo: (from left to right) Audrey Laferriere, RH. Maxwell N Bur, Raj Hundal, Andrea Reimer, Michael Geller, Leanore Copeland

Andrea Reimer of Vision said she also supported shelters as an interim solution, that her “first and highest priority is getting people off the streets.” She said more than once during the meeting that there isn’t “a” solution to most problems but multiple solutions.

Wilf Reimer — apparently no relation to Andrea – expressed amazement to the audience that neither the Vision or NPA mayoral candidate had shown up for this meeting. When he heard them debate at the Vancouver Public Library, ”Both said homelessness was “their #1 issue”, but they’re not here where homelessness is such a big issue.”


wilfr said...

Had I been better prepared, I would have asked Audrey to explain her plan for Storyeum, and then asked Andrea Reimer (you're right - no relation) and Michael Geller to address whether or not they would support Audrey's idea. Maybe then we could have at least gotten some clarity about Storyeum.

As I was waiting in line, I heard something from Reimer and Geller refering to some kind of plan they now had to deal with the immediate needs of the street homeless. This was news to me, and I wasn't able to adjust my question accordingly, or I could have tried to nail down some details. Not that it would matter, anyway, as this all has the feel of jumping on Audrey's bandwagon with no serious intentions.

I've heard something with respect to the NPA about small cabins plunked down on vacant lots in the city, and I heard something about a 90 day task force from the Vision people, but nothing about either on their websites.

On the NPA website's front page, under the heading "Action Plan", there are four points, none of which says anything about homelessness. At the debate held by CBC at SFU recently, I could have sworn I heard Ladner state that Crime was his number one issue, and sure enough, the first point of the four is "Safe City". I could hardly find anything entitled "Homelessness".

Vision clearly has more to say on the issue, but nothing about how this 90 day task force will get the people on the streets a roof over their heads, temporary or not, Storyeum or not.

Let's face it, if they were serious about addressing what Audrey has been working at, there would have been a plan. There's no plan.

Good work Audrey Laferriere, on doing the best she could to bring the issue the attention it deserves without any organization behind her. My impression from the meeting at the all candidates meeting at the Carnegie, was that her efforts were well-recognized. I believe her name and work were referenced, more than any of the other candidates, for what they had done in the Downtown Eastside to address steet homelessness in this election.

I'm off to vote for Audrey... and who knows who else ;-\. Thanks for your reporting on the Carnegie meeting, RS.

reliable sources said...


"I could have sworn that I heard Ladner state that crime was his #1 issue..."

I could have sworn that too. I had read in the Province or Sun that Ladner announced that he had moved Crime to the #1 priority on his list, ahead of homelessness, although he was still saying that homelessness was an important issue. So it smelled fishy to me when, at the All Candidates meeting at Carnegie, Rolph Auer asked the NPA to state whether their #1 issue was crime or homelessness and the NPA's Michael Geller responded that it was homelessness.

Audrey stated in her campaign literature that anyone voting for her was messaging the City that they wanted Storyeum to be turned into a shelter. She got well over 4,000 sending that message. So I think her campaign was a success.

Homeless Bill Simpson says he doesn't agree with Audrey but he would have voted for her just because he's impressed by her "tenacity".