Tickets not perfect DTES solution: police board and advocates agree 0
The Vancouver Police Board, which includes Mayor Gregor Robertson (far left), sat down with Downtown Eastside advocates Tuesday to discuss pedestrian bylaw enforcement. (MICHAEL MUI/ 24 HOURS)
Ticketing Downtown Eastside residents for bylaw infractions is not a perfect solution, and there’s a need to increase dialogue and traffic safety infrastructure.
Vancouver’s police board and DTES advocates managed to agree on those points after several dozen members of Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users and Pivot Legal Society swarmed the department’s Cambie detachment on Tuesday.
Pedestrian crossing timers, an additional crosswalk, reduced traffic speeds and other initiatives have already been finished in the DTES Hastings corridor, where pedestrians are about 30 times more likely to be struck by cars than anywhere else in Vancouver.
Mayor Gregor Robertson said that as dangerous winter conditions approach, the city will investigate additional traffic safety infrastructure.
“We’ll be asking questions of city engineers about what next steps we should take, whether it’s flashing lights, speed limit changes, to address the hotspots going into winter.”
Vancouver Police Board has now dismissed the advocates’ complaint that those in the DTES have been unfairly targeted for such bylaw violations as jaywalking, vending and panhandling.
According to the statistics, the majority of tickets for jaywalking and vending — but not panhandling — have been issued the DTES.
VANDU has vowed to take up the issue with the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner. They’ve also asked for evidence that ticketing those who can’t afford to pay improves public safety, and demanded to know why at-fault drivers zooming along the 30 km/h stretch of East Hastings aren’t aggressively enforced.
Chief Jim Chu acknowledged a department report that cars are often recorded going 45 km/h in the DTES — 15 km/h over limit.
However, he pointed out other areas of the city routinely see drivers exceeding the limit — such as on Marine where speeds up to 125 km/h are recorded — and those spots also require police attention.
Police deputy chief Doug LePard called ticketing a “last resort” and promised that the department is happy to meet with the advocates to discuss whether enforcement impacts pedestrian behaviour.
Additionally, according to traffic section head Insp. Les Yeo, the VPD was just focusing on drivers not respecting pedestrians’ right-of-way in August.
On Wednesday, he said, the department also aims to announce a media campaign to crack down on distracted drivers.