Monday, 5 October 2015

Canada: Human Rights a la mode!

Membership of the UN Human Rights Council
The Council is made of 47 Member States, which are elected by the majority of (193) members of the General Assembly of the United Nations through direct and secret ballot. The General Assembly takes into account the candidate States' contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights, as well as their voluntary pledges and commitment in this regard.

Canada - by Assembly vote - currently is not a Council member.

Johanna Quigley, spokeswoman for Foreign Affairs Minister Rob Nicholson ..... said: "Canada is the best country in the world. We are proud of our human rights record at home and abroad."
                                      Chris Cobb, Ottawa Citizen
                                     July 23, 2015


The latest data indicate that 19 per cent of Canadian children, nearly 1 in 5, live in poverty. A staggering 40 per cent of Indigenous children live in poverty. A short period in poverty in childhood can lead to more illness throughout life, impair educational attainment and contribute to employment vulnerability.
                                     Oct 5, 2015



Tuesday, 29 September 2015


This follows
The Trouble with All Transienthomelessdruggiemental Panhandlers
23 Sep, 2015
immediately below

While I can see purpose in a bylaw regulating panhandling in Nelson - I find much of the reasoning thus far to substantiate a pressing need for it spurious and driven for/by/with special interests. Content & form clearly point to even just the idea as less than fully gestated!

Proposed: Panhandling Bylaw No. 3321, 2015

The Nelson Police Department (NPD) and Bylaw Enforcement Officers are requesting this regulatory bylaw due to an increase in panhandling within City limits, especially the Downtown core. The bylaw will support and strengthen the Nelson Bylaw Officers ability when interacting with person(s) panhandling.

Cops simply are not seen downtown (unless on their way to/from coffee - really!): we have no foot-patrols there/anywhere. Conventional wisdom has it: a reliably visible police-presence definitively changes the profile of any area it covers. Here - negative aspects of the downtown profile - while supposedly of concern to the cops - ironically - have been created and habitually locked-in directly due to their commonly known absence.

Bylaw Enforcement Officers - the very few we have largely left to their own devices - are spread so thinly throughout Nelson that their observations concerning panhandling have to be very few as well.

Neither group - without consistent presence and accurate record-keeping - is in the position to determine the scope of local panhandling (even less: within its much larger and totally unaddressed context - should that be of interest). They have no (correlated) data-bases of incidents, numbers - facts. If they had: why wouldn't those be the anchor of this proposal?
The motivation behind this bylaw (supposedly) requested by them is specious.

Seeing that the Deputy Police Chief - at least nominally - is in charge of the Bylaw Enforcement Department (BED) as well: he - and not his meter-maids - would have made this bylaw-request for their department. So this proposal stating that the NPD and Bylaw Enforcement Officers are making it - with him solely in charge of both while the Police Chief is very otherwise occupied: as an attempt to give this request more weight - is just so much outside-created fluff.
Why isn't Burkhart mentioned in this proposal?
What's the point of this bylaw if nobody is there there to apply it?


While much is made of increase and increase of aggressive panhandling - with no data provided by City/NPD/BED of either in this REQUEST FOR DECISION, SEP. 14, 2015 - no valid grounds exist for warranting such request! Period!

Which raises the question: where/when/how did the idea of a Panhandling Bylaw become an official Proposal? More to the point: who originated it for whose presumed advantage?

Bylaw officers, when asking person(s) panhandling to move along, believe 50% of the panhandlers they interact with are great and easy but then there is the other 50% who are confrontational, us extreme profanity, and seem to need the extra encouragement or incentive (NPD assistance) to comply.

Is this 50/50 twaddle with extreme profanity a quote of something BED (while not acknowledged as such - it does sound like them); is it a collaborate effort of City Staff and BED; or is it pure City? No matter who: this is the white-sugar/empty calorie energy driving the need for a panhandling bylaw right now this moment not a minute to be wasted oh the peril we're in!!!

Ultimately City Staff is (literally?) responsible for this poorly, embarrassingly official REQUEST. 
It is up to Council to look at its deeply superficial! content closely!

Person(s) panhandling appear to be

approaching pedestrians more frequently

becoming aggressive towards pedestrians causing pedestrians to become uncomfortable walking downtown, even crossing the street to avoid certain areas

more signs being held by panhandlers which are extremely offensive

blocking of the sidewalk passage putting both the pedestrians and panhandlers into a safety/hazardous situations.

Person(s) panhandling occurs year round within our community with increased activity realized in the summer months.

All this is merely subjective anecdotal wingeing! Coming from where - exactly? Of fundamental concern: This request is about an increase in panhandling - also increased activity realized in the summer months. Question: Is this the same increase - or is the increase during summer an increase of an increase? What about spring, fall, winter? A decrease from what to what? Or what!


means to beg for, or without consideration, ask for money, donations, goods or other things of value whether by spoken, written or printed word or bodily gesture for one's self or for any other person but does not include soliciting where approved by the City;

This definition in/by itself makes clear how little actual on-the-ground experience is behind the City scraping this bylaw together. If this particular definition becomes the bylaw's bottom-line - be still, poor heart! - this bylaw won't be done until it's done!

In this post (and all others) direct quotes are written in italics. I do not make changes to content, syntax, grammar, punctuation - no matter how tempted: particularly here - in every aspect!


Wednesday, 23 September 2015

The Trouble with All Transienthomelessdruggiemental Panhandlers!

This follows
Panhandling for a life!
21 Sep, 2015

We also interchangeably, cyclically refer to them all - for short - as Transients or Homeless or Panhandlers or Undesirables or Drug-Addicts or - very popular for a while with the cops through the Nelson Star but not so now - Mentally Ill.

Although we really haven't looked at whether a transient actually is a homeless; a panhandler actually is a transient; a mental actually is a drug-addict; a drug-addict actually is a drug-addict; a homeless actually is mental; an undesirable actually is a panhandler; an undesirable actually could be desirable and on and on and so on. This is altogether too much to get on top of - could drive one mental, too: so to simplify - everybody is everything all the time!

Who/whatever they may be: we don't want them! I mean - really! - they all dress badly because they just won't shop (big one, that!)! are dirty! rude! in our way! and - very important - not attractive. Like - would you want your daughter (or yourself!) to nudge-nudge wink-wink.....?

It's all very (di)stressing - so we best get rid of them all! Have them all stay rid! Keep it clean! Us only! On guard with a heavy-duty bylaw just in case!

Most of the panhandlers are not homeless, most have expensive bicycles, clothes and cell phones. Most do not want to get a job, they feel they are better than the minimum wage yet refuse to educate themselves and get that better employment or even start their own business. Most are on welfare because of this and "professional" panhandlers make a lot of money just by mooching off hard working people. They do not pay taxes yet live off tax-payers. There are a few, very few at that, that are homeless but they do not won a $4000 bike or cell phone and again, there are very few, very few of them. I think they should go to jail if they violate the by law and the by law is a very good thing for the City of Nelson. If you think it is unfair and making being homeless illegal, open your home to them, feed them, cloth them. They then will no longer be homeless. 
                                               Nelson launches panhandling bylaw
                                               Nelson Star, Sep 17, 2015
                                               Shannon Calhoun
                                               Works at Interior Health Authority

I totally agree with you.
                                               Dirk Jonker
                                               L.V. Rogers Secondary School


So the City wants to institute Panhandling Bylaw No. 3321, 2015. This would be reasonable if they actually had done their field/homework first to determine the (perceived) reason for, size of the problem. Cops and meter-maids are a dubious source at best: they're rarely there here to know. Clearly - while labels like homeless, transients, druggies, panhandlers, mentally-ill have been used very loosely, have become the accepted one-for-all stamp of disapproval: in reality the number of panhandlers-as-such has not been large - is very small right now!

Because with the great flight of tourists back to school - some of these undesirables may have flown the same route. And others may have left because back to school is the definitive signal that summer is about done: now it's time to start squirreling away enough nuts for winter.

In other words: when winter is over and spring comes - so do they! Until fall. Then are mostly gone again. A seasonal thing! 
Instead of the cop-shop's as-usual-over-the-top and unsubstantiated by real-time numbers: increase in panhandling and increase in the aggressive behaviors of panhandlers. While anecdotal all: supposedly the basis for this bylaw!

With all carelessly lumped together - a group of similar-like-THAT-looking people just chatting downtown will automatically register in total as panhandlers. This group just being there is a threat to our social habits - while a group of Nelsonites or tourists chatting - blocking the way as is common - is not.
We make people fit our often very prissy assumptions, prejudices. Frequently not doing so well with mindfulness, tolerance, acceptance - no matter how progressive and tree-hugging we claim to be.

We are a pretentious lot!

I can relate: There was a time when friends and I were refused lunch-service in a Toronto restaurant. Money was no problem; we were polite and definitely desirable! But we didn't measure up to suits also frequenting the place: just didn't look/feel right! To them.
That was then - this is now but still then! Could it be that some undesirables here sometimes go into sulk-mode over never-ending unwarranted animosity from the status quo?! And push back a bit!

Eventual adoption of this - literally wall-to-wall - bylaw is not based on an actual threat posed by a small outside-the-accepted-norm group of demi-people to a large group of real-people's safety, well-being and pursuit of happiness - but on the latter group's comfort-level in general and profit-margin in particular.

The recent top multi-group get-together on undesirable mentals/mental undesirables produced no concrete steps forward - except for being the first of its kind: promising more work and more - meetings.

To possibly consider in-depth before locking-in this bylaw:
How many - averages, trends - bottom-line homeless, transients, panhandlers, mentals and drug-addicts do we have permanently, longer-term, short-term/passing through quickly - and why?
Patterns of combinations of labels?
What particularly attracts undesirables - in terms of the environment, social comforts/services not only available but offered?
To what extent is the proposed bylaw initiated by/geared to special interests?

Has anyone actually connected objectively and in-depth with the total of undesirables present? A survey!
How many of those directly involved in putting this bylaw together at City Hall have actually been out there: fighting the good fight in the battlefield of aggressive behaviors?

Are there comprehensive professional stats? (Nothing from the cop-shop, please!)

Now all this is where an outside-consultant could prove useful, be constructive!

Adopting this bylaw now - what with presently unacknowledged, unaddressed circumstances of prejudicial and discriminatory grandstanding - is regressive: our very own apartheid.

Home is where the fence is!


Monday, 21 September 2015

Get a life - somewhere else!

Even more embarrassing than Harper's initial dithering - for me: a non-old-stock Canadian - is his (minimal) generosity now as a campaign-stunt.



Friday, 18 September 2015

Panhandling for a life!

Panhandling Regulatory Bylaw 3321, 2015

Proposed in a Special Council Meeting, 14 Sep, 2015: while ostensibly open to the public - few may have been aware of it.

One-two punch One!
Nelson - with no public- and/or Council-participation in what process - finds out from Kevin Cormack, Chief Admin Officer (CAO) - without official announcement even, going it solo all the way: Cottonwood Market is to be torn-down. With manner of, timing and reasoning an affront to all: clearly an attempt to get rid of transients sometimes sheltering there - with nowhere else to go! don't you get it!

One-two punch Two!
Promptly followed by a proposed Panhandling Regulatory Bylaw, which - in effect - is to make panhandling illegal anywhere in meaning downtown. With such a no-go slew of locations/situations/conditions: prospective panhandlers may have to become certified in their craft of choice.

By Law!
While such bylaw may be helpful in principle - putting it ahead of no serious attempt so far to deal with the nature of the problem makes its intent questionable. It does not come from compassionate concern - but barely disguised downtown-greed and distaste for those who won't satisfy it!

This regulatory bylaw does not stop person(s) from panhandling, it enables person(s) panhandling to know guidelines within the City of Nelson. It protects the safety of everyone involved.

I dare cops/meter-maids to recite these endless guidelines in full from memory. It will be less taxing for them to just quote/apply the proposed all-purpose
2.2 No person shall Panhandle in a manner to cause an obstruction
and be done with it. Entitled shop-keepers present having their backs no matter what.



Public Disconnect!
This bylaw was not on the agenda of the public Committee of the Whole, 14 Sep, 2015 - but dealt with as Reading 1 & 2 in a Special Meeting, same date. While open to the public - left unannounced clearly to outsiders. Who may have concerns over the presence of transients in Nelson one way or the other. Who may have attended the meeting - if.
More sensitivity around this panhandling-issue - so closely on the heels of the Cottonwood announcement - may have created some by now necessary goodwill.

Supposedly the Nelson Police Department (NPD) and Bylaw Enforcement Officers are requesting this regulatory bylaw due to an increase in panhandling within the City limits, especially the downtown core.

Not so much in Rosemont. I say supposedly because the few meter-maids we have are rarely seen - cops on-the-hoof never! So one does question why they would be the ones requesting this regulatory bylaw. Looks righteous, though.

Bylaw Officers, when asking person(s) panhandling to move along, believe 50% of the panhandlers they interact with are great and easy but then there is the other 50% who are confrontational, use extreme profanity, and seem to need the extra encouragement or incentive (NPD assistance) to comply.

How simplistic can this get: confirming impressions many have of our overpaid meter-maids. How would exactly-50%-are-these and exactly-50%-are-those translate into reality-based numbers - if? Regardless of this hooey: seeing that the few meter-maids we have are spread thinly - even when not on who's to know breaks - and cops have much better things to do with their (over)time: enforcement won't be enforceable. But if it does happen - how could it go past running the endless list of guidelines by panhandlers. Who just won't know the science of it all.


I have never felt obstructed, threatened by a panhandler - and I'm downtown almost daily. Very few ask. I admit - though: I consistently feel uncomfortable passing one.

I don't want them there because they shouldn't have to be there - marginalized, made to feel less than! A fine of 500 bucks for engaging with a meter-maid? Get a loan! How long would it take them to make even just 25 for a basic wrong-place wrong-time wrong-life fine - sitting on their cold butt and waiting .....!

But then - making money on this is not the issue for City Hall. Rather it is to keep these unattractive misfits moving all day all the time: and soon they'll move right out of NIMBY-Nelson altogether. 

What with the recent multi-group (including cop-shop) hand-wringing with what to do! what to do! about the increase in mental-health issued - when the smoke cleared, for the City it came down to: let's just pass a bylaw to simply get rid of them out-of-sight out-of-mind. From wringing their hands to washing them of the problem.


I do resent the downtown-business money-at-any-cost ways: feeling uncomfortably obstructed (by guilt: one hopes) on their way to make a bank-deposit. If feelings are an option.
First the amenities-redo, then the Cottonwood attempt - now this! And if this won't do the trick: how about water-cannons! Multi-purpose once-and-for-all water-cannons!
Flush 'em! Flush 'em good!

 Shop local? Shop Castlegar!


Monday, 14 September 2015

Too many holes in this donut!

This follows post

Cop Conviction? Non-Issue!
3 Sep, 2015

I couldn't understand why Constable Drew Turner - although convicted - was still on active duty at the cop-shop. Even if (only?) desk-duty: duty with pay, benefits and probable contact with members of the public there in various capacities.
In the same post I ask why the Nelson Star had not allowed comments from the capital-C Community on its coverage of trial/conviction.

In its 

EDITORIAL: Disgraced cop must go
13 Sep, 2015

the Star - 2 weeks after its conviction report - finally takes a stand on the issue: wanting Turner to get the sack. To be commended - particularly as it also brings up 4 cases of Nelson cops at best very sloppy/at worst out-of-control - between 2008 and 2011: all cops involved getting a bit of boys-will-be- boys tut-tutting in the backroom. We weren't told any of it.

In the same editorial
The police board should adopt a policy where the public is immediately advised when an officer is under investigation - and certainly if a criminal charge is approved.
Common practice out there.


While the Nelson Police Board (NPB) claims to be accountable to the Nelson community and its Strategy 2011-2015 planned to increase community awareness: in my memory it has not ever communicated anything to the community. This intention was deleted from its website subsequent to my Committee-of-the-Whole presentation and several blog-posts, raising this point and others, Apr/Jun, 2013. Like: after the boys got Tasers - an additional option on their tool-belt (shades of the Village People) - Chief Holland assured us that there is less risk of injury from them than if officers use their batons or fists to restrain. I raised these issues again extensively in an NPB meeting with

NPD - NPB Accountability
30 Jul, 2013

but received no response then or since.

Comments on the Star's editorial above are not accepted either. In my memory: these 3 are the only instances ever of the Star not allowing comments. Another Black day in the Community!

A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal.
                                                  Oscar Wilde


Friday, 4 September 2015

The Cottonwood Market Bust (Up)!

Asked to what degree the purpose of the demolition is to discourage transients from sleeping there, Cormack (Kevin Cormack, City Manager) said," I don't think that is the driver at all, but it is public safety. It is difficult to monitor what is going on there. The (structures) attract people to be sleeping there and doing other things. But the biggest reason is that they are an eyesore and past their life."
                                              Cottonwood Market stalls to be demolished
                                              Nelson Star, Sep 4, 2015

He doesn't think transients are the driver at all - like he doesn't know? Promptly launching into yes they are - and doing other things too - unspeakable "things"! To flip-flop again into the biggest reason - now public safety not as much as: these structures are an eyesore double-ew! And past their life would be where? Multiple-choice incoherence.
If transients now do use this place for shelter: the problem won't go away with demolishing it!

To Nelsonites and tourists alike these wooden structures give the market its unique appeal. Leaky roof or not.
A Nelson thing! Profitable, too!

Recently, city engineers have said the buildings and electrical system are not up to standard.

City engineers would not suddenly go and evaluate the site thoroughly - they are not inspectors! - unless given a work-order after funding-request/approval. Who gave that order? Cormack? Was the Nelson Fire Department involved? Has Council seen the detailed report on how these conclusions were arrived at? 
Is there a report? 

Some time ago the two amenities in the 400 Baker block were largely torn-down to - ostensibly - allow for more user-friendly open spaces: to be used for more socializing, performances, exhibits. This according to Cormack: he also singlehanded making all arrangements (bypassing Council), having a reporter from the Star there on the day to record (t)his feat-in-action in word/picture for posterity and ego. A surprise to all, including his boss - Council!
Word on the street had it at the time that this was really done to get rid of undesirables-then/transients-now to please merchants on the block. Substantiated by Justin Pelant, jeweler right there - but emphatically denied by Cormack then and since.

So - are we now looking at deja voo all over again?


These social-whatever spaces never materialized as such: much of them just like that or even earlier leased to restaurants more surprise surprise. So much of them - in fact - that one of the only two benches after the redo on the north-side was pulled recently to convenience a (part-time and during summer only) restaurant there. So now - the wildly popular Wednesday Market on the same block can't provide even a modicum of seating to tired shoppers and those who buy market-food to eat right there. And - market or not - how many can socialize on a single bench?

The Wednesday/Cottonwood Markets and MarketFest - all very successfully run by the EcoSociety - offer three of the too few reasons for Nelson-as-such to be alive during summer.

Tearing down the Cottonwood structures - without readiness to replace them as soon as - may mean the end of one of these attractions. How dumb would that be!

Flash Forward
Clearly - a cohesive definitive plan for the future Railtown has to be worked towards. This will take time, focus and mustn't be routinely, predictably left to the usual: Cultural Development Committee (CDC), David Dobie + now Kevin Cormack's Design Review Committee, comprising himself(!), David Dobie (again), Joy Barrett (CDC again) and Megan Squires, Senior Planner. 
Neither can it be left to a consultant from out-of-town. Nelson has a long pointless-and-pricey history with hiring outside-experts: unfamiliar with Nelson - they bring their uber-urban google, cash the check, leave - and the report is shelved with all the others.

An urban planner - not a consultant! - will be necessary later to join essentials seamlessly - but first we - Nelson! - have to come-up with these essentials and a possible vision we want them to be part of.

For now - don't break stuff if it ain't broke!

Railtown needs a core. Once that has manifested - the rest follows naturally. The pebble in the pond! Simple! 

Automatically making the glitzed-up CP Station Railtown's center would be a mistake: after all - how many locals/tourists will be drawn more than once to these mainly (oversized) Chamber of Commerce digs in faux-heritage Benjamin Moore color-combos.

An imaginatively out-of-the-box space with flexibility - home to the Cottonwood Market and other groups - could become the people-space - cultural center - we need. Architect Thomas Loh and Councillor Kim Charlesworth gave a strong presentation towards that vision to Council, Oct. 2010: what happened to it?

Council needs to become pro-actively involved here from the beginning: consulted and aware of every step to be taken - just signing the check won't do! I mean - look at the Hall thing! The Stores to Shores concept turning into an uncomfortable joke: an infra-structure project with concrete forever - more parking than vaguely conceptualized park.

Images based on:
Der Wanderer ueber dem Nebelmeer
Caspar David Friedrich