The College of Family Physicians of Canada is awarding former Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan an Honourary Membership, citing his work on behalf of “… the needs of the homeless and inner-city populations and programs for those battling drug and substance abuse”. The College states that “Mr. Sullivan has demonstrated courageous leadership in introducing and supporting programs for inner-city populations in need”.
This recognition marks the first time a former Mayor receives this award and he is one of only three “outstanding Canadians” being recognized in 2010.
As Vancouver City Councillor he was a supporter of the establishment of North America’s only supervised injection site for people with drug addictions. As Mayor he raised the $175,000 required to develop the SALOME project proposal which has now received several million dollars of government and private funding commitments. The project will see hundreds of people with drug addictions in Vancouver transitioned from illegal street drugs to legal medications as a way of reducing crime, medical and other societal costs and improving health.
Mayor Sam Sullivan oversaw the largest commitment to social and supportive housing in the City of Vancouver in over 30 years. He received provincial support for 12 new supportive housing projects on city-owned land for more than 1000 hard to house people. He also supported the provincial government purchase of 18 low-income hotels with a $5 million contribution. He lent his personal support to the establishment of the Street to Home Foundation and worked with the federal government and Senator Michael Kirby on getting $20 million to support those with mental illnesses in Vancouver.
Sam Sullivan advocates for those with mental illness and drug addiction through his Global Civic Policy Society. In 2009 he hosted a forum on these issues attended by 250 people. On November 3 at the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre he will host a Public Salon featuring former City Drug Policy Coordinator Donald MacPherson among others. As Mayor, Sullivan was heavily criticized for his position on drug addiction, mental illness and homelessness and narrowly lost the opportunity to run for Mayor in the 2008 election.
Sam Sullivan said, “I am very honoured that the professionals who are most knowledgeable about the needs of our most vulnerable have chosen to recognize my efforts. I hope this will remind people that these issues require our continued support”.
Sam Sullivan has received the Order of Canada, Christopher Reeves Award and Terry Fox Award for supporting Canadians with disabilities. He has received the Peter F Drucker Award for non-profit innovation. His EcoDensity Initiative won the 2009 Canadian Planners Institute highest award for City Planning. This latest award marks the first time a prestigious national body has recognized his work on addiction, mental illness and homelessness issues.