Letters to The Sun: the real scandal is the tens of thousands living in substandard conditions

Opinion: Letters to The Vancouver Sun.

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Re: Looking inside the Atira-BC Housing scandal with staff, tenants and critics.

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I have met and interacted with Janice Abbott on multiple occasions. I have found her to be passionate, dedicated to her work and understanding of the needs of the inner city. I only have good things to say about our work with the staff at the Atira buildings. I have found them to be valuable collaborators, dedicated to the difficult tasks at hand, putting the interests of their residents first.

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The group I lead signed a memorandum of understanding with Atira to reflect a desire to collaborate on initiatives to improve the provision of health care and the living conditions of the residents of Atira’s buildings.

To be clear, I have no direct knowledge of or involvement in Atira’s fundraising, BC Housing contracts, or anything else that is part of the current scandal.

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Important questions are being asked about how Atira secured the funding and whether due process was respected. These are important questions. If conflict of interest guidelines were not followed, there should be accountability for this.

However, I am not aware of any facts to suggest that the allocated funds were not used for their stated purpose. Atira’s funding is double that of any other organization in this field, but it manages twice as many beds.

Additionally, to help address homelessness and unstable housing, Atira allows “guests” to stay permanently with registered tenants, adding up to 2,000 dependents beyond what has been reported.

However, my greatest concern is that some may conclude that the deplorable situation of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside is perpetuated by the alleged wrongdoing of BC Housing and Atira. Could not be farther from the truth.

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I have the impression, and lived experience, that most operators are doing the best they can with the resources they have.

The real scandal is that we are asking tens of thousands of people to live in substandard conditions, without offering them the services they need and deserve, with some concluding that “we are doing the best we can”.

Hopefully, as we try to streamline the operation of BC Housing and the non-profit housing sector, we will find a way to provide decent housing and state-of-the-art services to all British Columbians, including our brothers and sisters who they live in the inner city

Brian Conway MD, FRCPC, President and Medical Director, Vancouver Center for Infectious Diseases

The government must consider the problem of transportation

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Re: These 10 BC municipalities must now meet housing targets.

I hope the BC government is also considering the issue of transportation in communities before setting targets.

In particular, on the North Shore, with growth along the Sea to Sky corridor and extraordinary growth in North Vancouver City, both the Lions Gate Bridge and the Second Narrows Bridge cannot handle the existing traffic.

Traveling to and from the North Shore and Vancouver is bad because of the bridge backups. Some days, we can’t even travel within our own community.

Why not build a third crossing first and see if this eases traffic congestion or provides better transit for people to get out of their cars?

Why not build the infrastructure before determining “growth targets” in communities?

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Cindy Lee, West Vancouver

Re: Strong demand for BC electric bike rebate program crashes website

I’ve switched to an EV and am 100 percent on board to reduce greenhouse gases, but I wonder how much thought has gone into further subsidizing electric bikes?

The vast proliferation of unregulated, unlicensed, and uninsured motorized bicycles may be a disaster in the making. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels unsafe sharing the sidewalk with them, weaving in and out among pedestrians.

All existing and new electric bicycles must be registered, licensed and insured. Operators must be educated on proper road etiquette and given incentives to comply with the rules.

Dr Frederick Kwong, Vancouver


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