Speakers from the Downtown Eastside Women Centre Power to Women Group, DTES Neighbourhood House, Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users, Carnegie Community Action Project, as well as lawyers David Eby and Douglas King of Pivot spoke on the issue at a news conference at Pigeon Park.
The changes to the police plan include removal of the provisions to increase the number of tickets as well as removal of the specific targets of street checks in the Downtown Eastside. The revised plan was adopted by the police board on Wednesday March 18th.
“While these changes have come about as a direct result of all the pressure and protest by groups such as ours, we are not at all satisfied.
These are cosmetic changes that do little to change the wave of street sweeps and police harassment that DTES residents have been unfairly subjected to,” said Karen Lahay, member of the DTES Women Centre Power to Women Group.
According to Harsha Walia, Project Coordinator at the Downtown Eastside Womens’ Centre, “The plan still solely and disproportionately targets The DTES with explicit plans to eliminate street vending, to continue with a ticketing campaign, and to increase police presence. These are still street sweeps fuelled by the 2010 Olympics. They are cleverly word-smithing in light of the outrage, but nothing in the plan suggests an actual change in overall strategy and practice.”
“Removing language without changing the offensive policies the language describes is an insult to those who want better for our homeless population,” said David Eby, acting Executive Director of the BC Civil Liberties Association. It’s not enough to simply pretend in the Business plan that this crackdown is not continuing.”
In the year 2008, over 1,100 city bylaw tickets and over 800 provincial statute tickets were issued in the Downtown Eastside.