The Week — April 14

This week: Market gets tough on thieves, and environmental advocates say no to urban sprawl

Market kerfuffle

Homeless advocates have taken note, as of late, that management at the Victoria favourite Market on Yates seems to have a new policy in place: get tough(er) on crime.

Last week marked one of the more notable incidents in a series of takedowns, where market staff wrestled one man to the ground after an alleged theft incident. The story could be as simple as that: Vic PD confirmed the theft and detainment happened regularly enough. But one civil liberties rights activist stopped to watch and photograph what was going on, and what he saw he didn’t like.

“I heard the man yelling and resisting arrest, but I was concerned because the staff were being quite rough with him, and were they trained for this kind of thing?” asks Kym “Hothead” Hines. “I said, ‘This is looking kind of embarrassing, guys.’”

Hines stayed around long enough to grab a few shots and check to see if the man was breathing alright. He was. Hines then questioned market staff about the incident and was told he was “acting aggressively” toward staff and was now banned from entering the market.

“I could not believe my ears. These people know me, and know who I am. I do hang around with a lot of homeless people and people who do steal, so now I guess that makes me guilty by association,” Hines says. “I’m not happy with what’s gone on here.”

Market on Yates refused to comment on the issue. However, Vic PD Sgt. Penny Durant says the market was in the right.

“Staff did and do have the authority and right to arrest [an individual] for theft,” she says. “The subject did resist arrest, but there’s nothing unusual about the file.”

City councillor Philippe Lucas says that, in general, the city does see a lot of stigmatic action against homeless people, especially among businesses. And while Lucas is quick to emphasize that all businesses have the absolute right to defend their stores from theft, he says it’s important to consider the level of proportionality.

“Responses should always be proportional,” Lucas says. “I wasn’t there to see [the market incident], but I would be worried if there was a perception that six or seven people were involved in a takedown of one person. That seems extreme.”

Hines says he may seek legal or political action.

Banning together for land

By Mark Worthing

Commuters on Highway 17 may have been surprised on their Monday morning cummute when a banner unraveled off the Royal Oak overpass with the words “FARMS NOT SPRAWL.” The move is just one more call for a moratorium on urban sprawl and the aggressive development of farm land in the Central Regional District (CRD).

“It’s becoming increasingly obvious that we need to be growing our food locally and sustainably, but developers are constantly paving over farmland for more subdivisions, malls and luxury estates,” says FarmHereHow spokesperson Nick Montgomery.

One of the targets of the banner drop was to catch people in time for the April 13 CRD meeting, which will cover ways to enforce the Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) in the Saanich Peninsula and surrounding areas.

Issues such as the proposed resort development of the Juan De Fuca trail area, and the Peninsula Co-op’s aim to build a big box store on six acres of arable land are a couple of the key issues that have many community members and farmers up in arms.

“Real estate speculation, and reckless development is the biggest threat to local food production,” said Gordon O’Connor of the Dogwood Initiative, who was involved with the banner drop. “People on Vancouver Island have a long and proud history of fighting for their island and … against urban sprawl.”

Check out farmherehow.com to add a voice to the moratorium on urban sprawl. M

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