New Year's wishes for Vancouver, Surrey, Burnaby, Richmond, and the North Shore

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Here are some areas in which our largest Lower Mainland local governments can show improvement in 2014:

Vancouver: Bring spending under control. The operating budget is $1.18 billion in 2014, with nearly $500 million going to utilities and police. In 2008 before Vision Vancouver took control of the city, the operating budget was $1.05 billion. That's an increase of 12 percent. The city budgeted $197 million for police protection in 2008; this year, it's reached $234.9 million, even though crime rates continue falling. Will any candidates step forward in the 2014 election and say that enough is enough when it comes to the police budget? Does anyone have the guts to say it's absurd in tough economic times to be paying a city manager $366,009 in annual remuneration?

Surrey: Get serious about harm-reduction efforts to address drug and alcohol addiction. Mayor Dianne Watts is trying to turn Surrey Centre into the next great city in the region, but it will never reach its potential until her Surrey First party pays more attention to the scientific literature around addiction and less heed to Stephen Harper's lock-'em-all-up philosophy. Yes folks, that means embracing a supervised-injection site and providing better services to the homeless.

Burnaby: Why has it taken so long for the third-largest city in the region to allow secondary suites? It's absurd, given the magnitude of the housing crisis and the number of students attending BCIT and SFU. Without a secondary-suite bylaw, students suffer higher housing costs and are more likely to live in dangerous illegal units.

Richmond: For a couple of years, Mayor Malcolm Brodie has been bleating about a regional police force. But his city still signed a 20-year deal with the RCMP in 2012, even though officers looked like amateurs in the tasering of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski at the Vancouver International Airport. Let's hope that this is the year Richmond decides to grow up and have its own police force or persuades others to create a regional force. However, that seems far-fetched in light of the 20-year contract.

North Shore: Everyone on the North Shore knows that the West Vancouver police don't have enough to do, whereas on the North Shore, the Mounties sometimes have their hands full. But the chief in West Van is resistant to bringing the forces together, which means that anytime a criminal crosses Capilano Road, he moves into a different policing jurisdiction. Municipal politicians can do citizens a favour by creating a joint force. It would likely result in better policing at a lower cost to taxpayers.

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Alyssa
So, Surrey's getting a safe injection site ?. Pretty phucking STUPID ! Perpetuating and enabling addiction is the WORST idea EVER !. Not to mention, the innocent old ladies and victims of violent crimes, who's lives will be impacted by a rise in crime, so strung out addicts can shoot their drugs safely at a nice, new and warm injection site, GENIUS :( Bleeding heart oxyMORON BULLCHIT !. Shutting down ALL of the horribly run so called recovery houses in Surrey would be a LOGICAL. Opening ones that are run
C-O-R-R-E-C-T-L-Y, would be a great start in HARM REDUCTION !. I'd REALLY hate to have a SURREY RECOVERY HOUSE as my neighbor or on my block for that matter, compared to ALL of the other REAL recovery houses across the ENTIRE LOWER MAINLAND. By all means go ahead and Google search Surrey recovery houses, key words like: Crime, criminal activity, overdoses, etc.

Mayor Diane Twatts, PLEASE do your d a m n J-O-B !
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Alan Layton
I'm no expert but I have a feeling there might be a correlation to the police budget increases and falling crime statistics. I also understand that, in general, the population of Vancouver was in favour of decreasing crime rates and were willing to pay for it.

Totally agree about Surrey. There is more to growing a city than just letting developers go nuts and amassing people. Part of Surrey's problem is that by being cheaper to live in, they are going to get a much larger share of poverty problems. It'll be interesting to see if Watts can react appropriately. I'm sure she's good at what she does but let's face it, she has one of the easier jobs in the area with plenty of land and virtually no opposition. We'll see if how well she can take care of human problems.
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Adam
While there are many reasons to completely legalize marijuana, let's not fool ourselves into thinking that this is a valid approach for either hard drugs, or prostitution. And there really hasn't been a 'war on drugs,' for crack, meth, and heroin. Thanks to the Chretien government, there is no longer a Ports Police--something which Harper pledged to re-establish, but didn't. This means drugs and weapons flowing through crime-ridden ports. Since the late 1980s, entire crime syndicates were allowed to immigrate to Canada (Google "Sidewinder"). 'Harm reduction' policies mean police are forced to take a hands-off approach to hard drug users, whose purchases support organized crime, and whose purchasing power comes from activities like muggings. Gangs launder drug and other crime money through instruments like real estate holdings and condo developments, and donate to local politicians as legitimate businesses. And rehab clinics, social housing, and other facilities are deliberately concentrated in certain communities as blockbusters, to devalue properties intended for gentrification (note--you NEVER see a rehab facility in a new, tony neighborhood).

It's time to admit that the harm reduction experiments of the last decade really were harm escalation. There needs to be a serious crackdown on hard drugs and prostitution, including re-establishing the Ports Police, cracking down on money laundering, and rehab-or-jail policies for hard drug users, and a complete ban on all sex trafficking (including escort agencies, strip clubs, and rub & tugs). And immigration policies, especially investor visas, need to be reassessed. These are driving housing costs into the realm of unaffordability, thanks to foreign speculators, as well as allowing foreign crime syndicates (drugs, human trafficking) to set up shop here.
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