Putting People First, Politics Second

Excerpted from Heat Shelters: Let’s Put People Before Politics published today on CityCaucus.com:

IMG_7091_2When Tom and I moved back to Vancouver from New York two and half years ago, we landed in a studio apartment at the foot of Howe next to the Granville Street Bridge. It was tiny, but we loved the neighbourhood and walked the seawall every day of the week, come rain, hail or snow.

It’s a quiet corner of the city, with one of the best bakeries in town – Tartine; a pre-school; and a social housing complex for the elderly that maintains one of the most beautiful garden beds on the seawall.

The owner of Tartine’s, Jo-Ann, is a vibrant, big-spirited woman who bakes the best bread, pies and butter tarts in the city. She lived in our building and always laughed at my cheek, because I could never resist stealing a few luscious, red strawberries out of the heaping bowls she sometimes carried up to her apartment in the elevator. Our neighbour on the right, Maria, an inveterate traveler, was a retired stewardess who worked part time for the cruise lines during the summer months to stretch a fixed income.

Real people, in other words, living real lives and dealing with all of the challenges and puzzles modern life presents. They are literally the salt of this Canadian earth we are lucky enough to live upon – hard-working, kind, reliable, good neighbours.

And so, when I hear Councillor Kerry Jang denouncing my former neighbours and friends in The Georgia Straight as “irresponsible” because “they don’t care” about the homeless; when he implies they are reckless and troublesome, I take issue with his remarks – Dr. Jang owes these Vancouverites an apology.

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