Activist says B.C. should be building housing, not Downtown Eastside "propaganda" centre

One homeless person, on average, dies every 11.4 days in B.C., according to housing activist and Olympic critic Am Johal.

Citing figures from the B.C. Coroners Service, Johal said in a news release that 96 homeless individuals have died in the province between 2006 and 2008.

The chair of the Impact on Communities Coalition rolled out these numbers a day after the B.C. Liberal government and the City of Vancouver opened on February 1 a centre in the Downtown Eastside that will provide foreign journalists covering the 2010 Olympics with information about this impoverished part of town.

Called Downtown Eastside Connect, the centre is located in the new Woodward’s development, and its opening day was met with a protest by anti-poverty and housing activists.

Johal dismissed the putting up of the centre as a mere public-relations exercise.

“For the government to be engaging in public relations such as the new information centre they set up is a perfect example of how the Olympics have been an attack on civil society in this province,” Johal said in the release.

Johal also criticized the opportunity costs of one-time Olympic spending. These include $900 million for security, $500,000 for city uniforms, and $300,000 for event tickets.

“The money spent for this propaganda kiosk by B.C. Housing is beyond comprehension since it is the public agency responsible for building housing—they should be building housing, not investing in propaganda,” Johal said.

Johal’s release noted that, based on the figures released by the B.C. Coroners Service, the cities of Vancouver and Victoria had the most deaths, at 21 and 18 respectively. Sixty-two of the 96 deaths over the three year period involved street homeless people.

Of the 96 deaths, 77 were male and 19 were female. The average age of those who died was 45, according to the release.


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Feb 2, 2010 at 1:57pm

Perhaps BC Housing wouldn't have bothered putting up an information centre (propaganda) if it wasn't for the horrifying amount of disinformation put forward by protest movements? Tons of effort has been put into drawing international media attention to the downtown eastside, can you blame them for defending themselves?


Feb 2, 2010 at 3:01pm

What an excellent comment. Every organization should vigorously defend themselves by muddying up the water with half-truths and whitewash they spew out of their 'truth booths'. Brilliant.


Feb 2, 2010 at 3:59pm

The crude death rate for Canada is pretty stable at 7 per thousand. According to the Greater Vancouver Regional Steering Committee on Homelessness the Homeless population of Vancouver is somewhere over 2500. If there are 21 deaths in a population of 2500 over three years that looks like somewhere around 60% lower than average.

15 9Rating: +6


Feb 2, 2010 at 4:01pm

There's an easy way to solve all this: require 'reporters' and 'editors' to have professional ethics standards as well as formal training in statistics - that way when some idiot spews out some useless but possibly legit sounding numbers, like in this case, they don't get re-posted in every article written by a lazy sh*t reporter who doesn't care that there's no meaning at all behind the quoted numbers.

Or, to rephrase (in a sarcastic manner, for all those who have issues with subtlety):

Who the hell cares if a homeless person dies every 11 days? How often do non-homeless people die? I'm fairly certain it's more often than one per eleven days, so by the logic in this article we should say f*ck the homeless, save the senior-citizen cheeseburger choffing fatcats! they're dying way faster than the homeless!



Feb 2, 2010 at 6:43pm

"One homeless person, on average, dies every 11.4 days in B.C., according to housing activist and Olympic critic Am Johal. "

I stopped reading here. Why is it every-time I see an article in this publication that has either Olympics or Activist it is an article filled with half truths?

2010 Homes

Feb 2, 2010 at 7:27pm

The average age of the deaths is 45 - the point is that people are dying prematurely from the health impacts of being homeless. Homelessness has more than doubled since 2002 while we've been pouring money in to a circus that has primarily benefited the development and tourism industry. Even after the Olympics, we're going to be paying for a $600 million roof for BC Place while homelessness continues to increase. It is interesting to the see the contrasts.

14 8Rating: +6


Feb 2, 2010 at 9:05pm

jlavoie if you know nothing about an issue please don't post

14 8Rating: +6


Feb 2, 2010 at 10:43pm

How many of those people dying at 45 are dying of drug overdoses? How much money do you want to throw at homeless people? How hard do I have to work to pay for someone else's continued drug habit??

You can't solve homelessness with more funding. PERIOD. If you give them all the services in the world, you make it OK for more people to become homeless. I know a bunch of these people are mentally challenged... these are the exception. There is also a good chunk of those 2500 who don't want to work a regular job, don't want to do their fair share of the work, they just can't hack it. And if that's the life that you CHOOSE to live... maybe 45 is long enough.


Feb 3, 2010 at 4:43am

Remember people the soft underbelly of this insane party for the rich is transportation so pack a lunch get in your car and drive, drive, drive.

no need to protest or get tasered by some insane cop its safe lawful and will do what needs to be done.


Feb 3, 2010 at 7:43am

Certain people are born to die young and brutally due to bad decisions... housing and catering to every aspect of those types of lives wont change anything.