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Rob Shaw: Leaked VPD report an inflated work of fiction


Army.ca Dinosaur
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Looks like a VPD own goal, sadly....

"The entire affair, including the leak, was clearly an attempt to embarrass Downtown Eastside agencies and various governments. But in the process, the VPD has only embarrassed itself."

If you’re looking to pick up a good work of fiction for your reading list these days, you might consider venturing into the world of fantasy as penned by the Vancouver Police Department.

Its report, titled Vancouver’s Social Safety Net: Rebuilding the Broken, takes the reader through a make-believe world, in which an anonymous author and an overzealous graphic artist weave together a tale of greed, incompetence and bureaucratic bungling in Vancouver and on the city’s Downtown Eastside.

Too bad most of it is misleading nonsense.

The headline figure, as leaked to Global BC this week, was that the public is spending $5 billion a year on the city’s social safety net, despite hundreds of people dying of overdoses, horrendous conditions in single-room occupancy (SRO) hotels, tent cities, worsening poverty and rising crime.

Many of those trends are indeed accurate, especially around the worsening overdose crisis.

But if you drill into that “social safety net” figure, you quickly discover that $2 billion of the $5 billion cited is direct federal transfers that go to all residents of Vancouver in the form of things like the Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security, Employment Insurance and child tax benefits.

Financial assistance for seniors, and pension plans for everyone? Hardly largesse on the Downtown Eastside.

The VPD skips over that kind of accuracy though. By doing so, it allows itself to pen some outright ludicrous statements in the “Did You Know?” section of its summary, which reads: “UBC and SFU have a total combined budget of less than $3.8 billion. This means $5 billion would be more than enough to make post-secondary education tuition-free in Vancouver.”

Or: “As another comparison, C$5 billion roughly equivalent to US$4 billion – more than NASA’s annual budget for the International Space Station (ISS).”

Or: “It is also comparable to the annual operating budget of the entire National Hockey League (NHL).”

None of those comparisons make any sense whatsoever.

But if we’re going to play the game of actively making the reader dumber by contrasting apples to oranges, here’s a couple for you: Did you know that the entire annual budget of the VPD is roughly equivalent to 100 bottles of the world’s most expensive tequila, called Diamond Sterling Tequila by Ley925?

Or, did you know that it is also comparable to 300 gold-plated toilets of the type that Kanye West and Kim Kardashian once installed into their Bel Air mansion?

Think about that for a minute, why don’t you.

Now, back to reality, such as it is.

The VPD summary concludes that $1.1 million is being spent a day on “charitable investments into non-profit organizations based in the Downtown Eastside” while poverty and crime get worse.

Yet, to peel back that unreliable number, you have to open the actual 81-page report the VPD based its summary upon, written by “social technology” company Helpseeker Technologies. And once you do that, you’ll start to see there are major problems there too.

That report was a big steaming pile of dog shit. I have no doubt that the DTES is swimming in taxpayer money not getting to those in need, but the the methodology of this report was completely amateurish. Was it written by an 8th grader?
Way to build your credibility, guys.