Poverty advocates fear amalgamation

Despite the still-healing wounds from last year’s brawl with the Municipality of Esquimalt, recent weeks have seen...

Despite the still-healing wounds from last year’s brawl with the Municipality of Esquimalt, recent weeks have seen Victoria’s much-maligned chief of police hitting the streets to trumpet once again for the cause of regional police amalgamation. If only — the argument seems to go — we could amass all law and order under the shining banner of the VicPD, streets would be safer, taxes would fall and kittens would cease getting stuck in trees.

While it’s becoming increasingly difficult to avoid facing the music when it comes to the efficiencies and regional coherence that amalgamation could bring, not everyone seems happy with Chief Jamie Graham’s tune.

It’s been just over a year since the Vancouver Island Public Interest Resource Group (VIPIRG) released Out of Sight — a report detailing the selective enforcement of the street community by the Victoria Police Department — and member Seb Bonet says racial and social profiling is as much a problem today.

Bonet is helping to collect affidavits from members of the street community who are willing to share their stories in the hopes that the City of Victoria will alter two bylaws which enable police to target transients.

The bylaws — named unassumingly Streets and Traffic 10-061 and 09-079 — prohibit  “squatting, kneeling, sitting, or lying down” on traffic medians like Pandora Green, or leaving “an object, obstruction or other thing that is or is likely to be a nuisance” in any public space, severely limiting the mobility of anyone living on the street and inviting fines, citations and impounded possessions.

After only a month of searching, VIPIRG has uncovered a enlightening array of experiences. One woman had an encounter with the police that cost her a job after officers violated her privacy by calling her employer.

Another man was hounded with tickets and citations for weeks on end after provoking the attentions of one particular officer. The latter, says Bonet, is “one instance where bylaws are giving cops the means to move people along and to criminalize their means for survival.”

Police amalgamation is a tempting thought for some in The Capital, but for the members of our community whose interactions with the police lack a degree of compassion, standing up under Chief Graham’s banner may be too much to bear. M

Just Posted

Madcap British farce comes to Langham Court Theatre

Communty theatre company winds up successful season with Noises Off

BEHIND BARS: Nothing common about this place

Commons bartender Geneviéve Turgeon makes what’s old fashioned new again

Victoria Drum Fest continues to attract topnotch international talent

Festival founder Murray Creed expects 10th anniversary event May 26 will be the best yet

MATHIEU POIRIER: New Island brewery tour book a great resource for beer fans

Learn some of the background of local breweries in Island Craft, by Jon C. Stott

Choir offers a capella take on Beatles hits

Soundings will perform concerts in Oak Bay and Sidney May 24 and 25

WATCH: Maya mixes the ancient with the contemporary at the RBCM

New ‘world-leading’ exhibit offers many pieces not seen before by the public

Mamma Mia! poised to be biggest Chemainus Theatre show ever

Plenty of buzz as Island dinner theatre schedules ABBA-fueled romp

Special Report: Front line work by caring emergency doctors

Dr. Jason Wale uses unique program to help people with addictions in Greater Victoria

Action on climate change a moral commitment: author

Dahr Jamail to speak in Sooke on June 4

Put your love of reading to good use June 1

Bolen Books hosting Summer Readathon to help the Victoria Literacy Connection

Most Read