A response to Dave Jones…

In today’s Courier, a letter from Dave Jones was published in response to last week’s article about the Downtown Ambassador program funding in which I was quoted.

In his letter, Jones points out that he is a former Vancouver Police Inspector. A more relevant part of his resume that he should have mentioned was his current position with the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Area (DVBIA) as a Security Consultant whose primary role is the administration & management of the Downtown Ambassadors Program.

In fact, he is also the chief salesman for the Ambassador program and has played the leading role in expanding it to other BIA’s (who then pay a fee to the DVBIA) as well as lobbying the City to increase funding for it.

He suggests that I have a ‘dilemma’ to resolve in that Provident stands to benefit financially from the program and that he assumes that I “argued for–as a board member, I believe–on behalf of the Kerrisdale Business Improvement Association (KBIA).”

In fact, as Dave knows, I have been completely consistent in my views and criticisms of this program funding since the very beginning. At a meeting with every BIA at the Roundhouse Community Centre on June 2nd I made my argument very clear. With representatives of every BIA in the City, including Dave Jones, as well as a couple City employees, I stated explicitly that I believe that the money would be better spent on increased community policing hours.

When Councilors Suzanne Anton and Kim Capri came to my office months before, I made the same comments to them.

At KBA Board meetings, I have also been vocal, and completely consistent, on my views about the fact that this money could be better spent. Not that it’s a waste of money, just that it could be better spent.

As a business owner who both works and lives in Kerrisdale, coupled with my roles on the Kerrisdale Business Association and as the community security provider, I believe that I have a very clear duty to act in a way that benefits the neighbourhood… not just my own financial interests. It would surely have been a conflict of interest for me to not make my thoughts on the program very clear.

My point is simply that the money that the city is spending on security for public spaces would be better spent on increased, and focused, community policing hours. I did not say that the KBA didn’t need, deserve or intend to make the very best use of the money available. The money will be put to the best possible use given the circumstances… The simple fact is that cleaning up street disorder is most effectively achieved by a Police Officer who has far fewer restrictions than a security guard.

However, to Dave’s suggestion that I ask for the KBA allocated funds be diverted to Policing… first off, it’s not his suggestion, it was mine. To date, everyone involved has told me that that is not possible.

Private security can offer exceptional value and can be paid for by BIA’s, but public funds should support public policing.

If Kerrisdale can opt to have the Ambassador funds redirected into increased community policing hours in the neighbourhood… I’ll be very happy to support that. That was the point of my post in the first place.

… although, to give Dave some credit, his line “When you see someone on such a high horse you have to wonder about the oxygen intake.”… that was awesome.

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