Vancouver streets home to Canada’s homeless, Mayor tells Ottawa

Mayor Sam Sullivan today concluded two-and-a-half days of meetings with federal Ministers, MPs and Senators in Ottawa, where he continued to put Vancouver’s most pressing needs on the federal agenda in advance of the 2007 budget.

Homelessness, drug addiction and public disorder were among the key issues raised by Mayor Sullivan, who has met with elected representatives from all federal political parties in Vancouver and Ottawa over the past week. He was accompanied to Ottawa by Councillor Suzanne Anton and Vancouver Police Inspector Scott Thompson.

“My primary message has been that in 2010, Vancouver will represent Canada to the world; therefore all levels of government have a role to play in developing solutions that will ensure we have a City we can be proud of,” Mayor Sullivan said. “I am very encouraged that senior federal Ministers have opened the door to discussions on how we can work together to address social issues and restore order and civility to the streets of Vancouver.”

Over the course of the trip, the Mayor met with:

  • Minister Lawrence Cannon, Transport
  • Minister Stockwell Day, Public Safety
  • Minister David Emerson, International Trade, Pacific Gateway & the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games
  • Minister Diane Finley, Human Resources & Social Development
  • Minister Gordon O’Connor, Defense
  • Minister Bev Oda, Canadian Heritage
  • Minister Monte Solberg, Citizenship & Immigration
  • Minister Vic Toews, Justice & Attorney General
  • John Baird, President of the Treasury Board of Canada
  • Gilles Duceppe, Leader of the Bloc Québécois
  • MP Stephen Fletcher
  • MP James Moore
  • Senator Larry Campbell
  • Senator Pat Carney
  • The BC Conservative Caucus

This trip, the Mayor’s fourth time in Ottawa this year, follows on his recent announcement of Project Civil City, an initiative that includes aggressive targets for reducing homelessness as well as tackling criminal and nuisance activities such as open drug use and aggressive panhandling. The Mayor met this week with all four federal representatives who have agreed to sit on the Project Civil City Leadership Council.

Project Civil City (““) will be debated by City Council on December 14.

While in Ottawa, Mayor Sullivan also met by phone with London Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco-Best; the two Mayors are Co-Chairs of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Big City Mayors Working Group on Housing, an advocacy committee that addresses issues of housing affordability and access. They discussed strategies for seeking increased federal government support for housing programs in cities.

In addition to homelessness and public disorder, Mayor Sullivan also advanced discussions on other critical issues in his meetings with Ministers. These include:

  • Securing long-term funding from the federal government for additional police officers in Vancouver, as part of the previously-announced commitment to increase funding for the RCMP and municipal forces across Canada;
  • Encouraging the construction of new rental housing in cities by removing the tax disincentive which is preventing developers from building new rental units;
  • Making Deadman’s Island in Stanley Park accessible to the public;
  • Introducing new models for federal infrastructure funding, to reward cities that are reducing their ecological footprint through high-quality residential and industrial densification;
  • Introducing new and more innovative treatment programs for chronic offenders who are addicted to drugs;
  • Considering re-institutionalization of the severely mentally ill in order to prevent them from ending up on the streets;
  • Securing federal funding for an at-grade streetcar system in Vancouver; and,
  • Increasing funding to Vancouver’s immigrant settlement service organizations, and improving settlement and integration opportunities for ESL students.

“I have been very impressed with the willingness of the Ministers to hear our concerns and engage in a productive dialogue about how we may collaborate in addressing these critical issues,” said Councillor Anton. “By bringing Vancouver’s concerns to Ottawa and forging a strong relationship with the federal government, Mayor Sullivan is ensuring that our voice will be heard in the upcoming deliberations on the 2007 budget.”