Oppenheimer Park in Vancouver is located in the historic Japantown part of the Downtown Eastside. It was opened in 1902 and for many years has been host to the Powell Street Festival put on by the local Japanese community celebrating their culture.
For the first time this year there will be no Powell Street Festival. It’s too dangerous.
The park you see has been taken over by the homeless, drug addicts, dope dealers, hookers and other various ne’er do wells.
I drove by there last week and you’d be hard pressed to find a patch of grass not covered with a squatter’s tent. The state of the place is shocking.
On Wednesday evening at 10:30, Vancouver Police officers patrolling in the area heard shots fired. They immediately entered the park and found a man suffering from a gunshot wound. The suspect fled on foot and as I write this, has yet to be found by police.
Earlier the same day a female officer was injured trying to protect city workers trying to clean up some of the filth discarded by the inhabitants.
In a press release on the shooting, VPD Sgt. Jason Robillard itemized the number of 9-1-1 calls the police get every day to the park. “We want people in the park to be safe and currently, the environment there is not safe, even for our officers,” said Robillard.
Why is that?
Politics I’m guessing.
The city has had a left-wing Mayor and Council for the past decade. The Mayor is nominally the head of the police board.
The VPD along with a couple of city workers with trucks could clean it up in an afternoon. Officially, the VPD say they are “consulting” with the city about the issue. Translation: they are being handcuffed from doing their job.
Instead of dealing with the problem they are playing whack-a-mole with the problems as they arise.
Robillard said, “In June alone, there were 92 emergency calls for police response in the park, and in May, there were 87. This is up significantly from 2018 when there were 56 calls for service in June and 56 calls in May.”
But Vancouver is not the only place we are seeing this. Yonge Dundas Square in downtown Toronto has declined significantly since it’s launch in 2003 to much fanfare.
Shootings and stabbings are becoming routine in the past few years. Originally conceived to be something like New York’s Time Square, it has all the neon and blinking giant signs, but lacks the police presence prevalent in Times Square.
Drug users and their dealers abound, possibly attracted by the nearby Victoria Street safe injection site, but they are there nonetheless. And they are a blight on the city.
Toronto Police are playing the same game of whack-a-mole as VPD.
The reality is that it is going to take some political mettle to deal with these situations. And I’m not talking on the part of the police. I am talking on the part of the squishy lefty politicians. The police are the professionals. Take the handcuffs off of them and let them do their job.
The solutions to these problems aren’t difficult. But they can be messy. The police know that and they are always prepared to get their hands dirty when needed. The politicians should let them do their job and stop interfering.
The citizens would be very grateful.