First, I will explain how Mayor Helps is blackmailing Victoria and The Province with the courthouse homeless. Then, I will show you how she is using similar tactics to blackmail Victoria with pot shops. When I was in business we used to call the moves Lisa Helps is using to put citizens and the government in a bad position, “having game”. Well, Mayor Helps has “game”. Watch her in action as Lisa Helps blackmails Victoria and B.C.
Proactive, Concerned and Effective
Before getting into those two issues though, I would like you to know that a few years back when Lisa Helps was a City Councillor, I needed her help with a matter. I had come to the aid of a group of residents from the Douglas Manor slum/apartments to assist them in fighting a landlord, Jaime Peddle.
Jaime was abusing his authority and trying to evict tenants, en masse. He wanted to renovate his building. At that time, Ms. Helps was proactive, concerned and effective as she assisted with that matter.
I have no personal problem with Mayor Helps
In fact, I tweeted my support for her “mea culpa” on the Topaz Park tent city idea. I compliment her on her efforts to help the disenfranchised. However I believe that Mayor Helps is going about her latest efforts in this regard in the wrong way. Therefore, since my loyalty and the loyalty of this blog is to the residents of Vancouver Island, to the residents of the City of Victoria and to those same disenfranchised whom I have always tried to help, I feel that I must speak out when I think Mayor Helps is headed down a dangerous path.
Here is the danger when Lisa Helps blackmails Victoria and B.C.
When you hit somebody bigger than you, they hit back at some point. The province is bigger than the city. So the city better watch out and prepare to duck. There will come a point whereat the province will flex its muscle. When it does, it will take money from the city coffers.
Power is all about money and Lisa Helps is costing the province money. In turn, the province will cost the city money. That cost might come in relationship to tent city, or it might come on another projects. But it will come.
The new tent city at the Victoria Courthouse Park and the Mayor’s role in ensuring it is a problem for the city and the province
First, an excerpt from an article by the Times Colonist
The provincial government is working with Victoria City Hall to deal with a downtown tent encampment next to the courthouse that has expanded in recent weeks while neighbours watched in horror.
Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said city and provincial bureaucrats met Tuesday to see if something can be done.
“We are now all working hard to find a solution,” Helps said. “This is obviously top of mind and top priority for all of us.”
[The article continues]
In recent weeks, the campsite has gained an all-day foothold on a spot bordered by Courtney Street, Burdett Avenue and Quadra Street. The land, an expanse of park-like, tended lawn, is owned by the province, so it is not subject to the same rules governing tenting in city parks.
At city parks, police and park workers normally wake tenters at 7 a.m. and require them to move on. But because the courthouse land is owned by the province, municipal rules don’t apply and the tents have been staying erected and inhabited all day.
Unhappy neighbours say the courthouse campsite has been growing steadily, from one or two tents in August to the current 20 to 30. As the campsite grows, so do disturbances, refuse, feces, crime and fear, they say.
[Tent city residents speak out]
Manuel, a 42-year-old former concrete finisher who did not give his last name, said he and other campers want to consider themselves at home. They don’t want to be rousted in the morning and forced to pack and move, he said.
He said campers have been given tacit permission by courthouse officials. “We were told by the courthouse that if anybody tried to kick us out, to contact them and they would deal with it,” said Manuel.
The province responded to a request for comment with a statement: “The B.C. government recognizes the importance of keeping the Victoria Courthouse property clear and ensuring safe access by the public. We continue to work closely with the Victoria Police Department and the City of Victoria to find a solution.”
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
- It started with a few homeless people throwing up a tent in the courthouse park.
- When, after a day or two, it became evident that police were not hustling these tenters out of bed at 7:00 in the morning as happened in other parks, more tenters came.
- Then somebody figured out that they weren’t getting rousted out of their tents in the morning for a reason. Finally, they got the message from somewhere that it was because they were in a Provincial Park, not a city park. Therefore city bylaws did not apply, and a few more tenters arrived.
- [Frankly, it is unclear from whom this revelation came. Perhaps it was information initially revealed to the City of Victoria by the Victoria Police Department and then broadcast by Mayor Helps. Perhaps one of the tenters stumbled upon it from other sources. Or although doubtful, possibly the courthouse sheriffs were the first source.]
Mayor Helps knew what she was doing
- In any event, Mayor Helps was certainly aware of the legal dilemma. So, she proceeded to talk to any news media that would listen. This effectively got the word out to all these tenters that this was a provincial problem. They then knew they were safe in the park unless and until the Province might intervene. Consequently, tent city grew even more.
- With the courthouse park population having grown to an unmanageable degree because of the extensive publicity, Mayor Helps reinserted herself back into the mix.
- Next, applying even more pressure on the provincial and city governments, Mayor Helps started talking to the news media. She offered to help the tenters find housing. She then raised the possibility of the City of Victoria and the Province of B.C. subsidizing rent for them. This move ensured that there would be a mass migration to the park. After all, there was a free “money grab” in the offing.
- To make certain that the word of this possible subsidy was heard by everybody, Mayor Helps then arranged to bring the topic up at a City Council meeting. She announced the agenda and invited the press, ensuring her message was heard by all.
Whether you think Mayor Helps simply handled this courthouse situation incompetently in the beginning, or whether you believe that she purposely engineered it, the facts are that she, at least, intentionally exacerbated part of it through her publicity campaign. For a city to blackmail a province in the manner in which Lisa Helps is doing, is not a smart. In the long run it creates a rift between the city and the province.
I cannot help but note the similarities in the handling by Lisa Helps of the courthouse park situation [detailed above] and the pot store situation [detailed below]. In the case of the pot shops, it is clear that it is a problem created by Mayor Helps. She allowed them in the first place. Additionally, she refused to take a stand against them. Therefore, it is clear her refusal to take a stand has encouraged the opening of even more. Finally, it is clear, Mayor Helps has put the Victoria city government under extreme pressure to vote for her obviously desired outcome of legalizing the sale of both medicinal and recreational pot in Victoria. This is despite federal laws forbidding such sales. Read on and see if you agree.
Now, let’s fully explain the pot shop situation and start by revealing how Lisa Helps is blackmailing Victoria with them. To do so, I will reference quotes from Mayor Helps
The Times Colonist recently quoted Mayor Helps as saying, “…One of the risks we run is if we do nothing [referring to legalizing pot shops], then more and more dispensaries can keep popping up…” and “…there’s a risk they could become grandfathered…” [How could they be “grandfathered” without Lisa Helps being part of that process. In fact, as mayor, how could they be “grandfathered” without Lisa Helps leading the process?]
Mayor Helps “game” on these pot shops has created an untenable, alarming and violent situation. It’s a situation that she even admitted was out of control in her statement, quoted above. She did so when she talked about her fear that “more and more” pot shops would keep “popping up“.
With VicPd saying it knows of four more on the way, please consider the following.
- Since selling pot is currently illegal, then owning/running a pot shop is a criminal activity under federal law, making all existing pot shops illegal. Therefore, “grandfathering” existing pot shops would guarantee that all pot shops in Victoria would be owned by the criminals who currently own them. It was Lisa Helps that brought up “grandfathering” them when she said, “…there’s a risk they could become grandfathered…”
- How many pot shops can Victoria allow before it is a dope destination, not a legitimate tourist destination? Have we reached that number already?
- If Mayor Helps makes some arbitrary decision about a specific number of pot shops to be allowed, based on whatever criteria she dreams up, how many pot shops will be “grandfathered” on what basis will she decide which ones are to be “grandfathered” and which ones are not?
- It is already bad enough that most pot is controlled by motorcycle gangs. But Mayor Helps wants to guarantee that pot in Victoria is controlled from top to bottom by criminals? After all, the pot shops will be owned by criminals and supplied by criminals.
- Have these pot shops not already brought Victoria enough trouble in the form of armed robberies and home invasions?
- How does Mayor Helps think that she can control crime by bringing more crime to Victoria?
The facts are that the longer Lisa Helps refuses to seriously deal with this pot shop issue, the worse the problems are going to get. Having created these problems in the first place by refusing to do anything, Mayor Helps is intentionally allowing this situation to fester and grow. She is doing so through her “less than clever” silence and inactivity. Essentially, Lisa Helps is blackmailing Victoria, as she creates armed violence in downtown Victoria
Lisa Helps blackmails Victoria and B.C.
In a recent interview, again from the Times Colonist article referenced above, Mayor Helps said,
“It shouldn’t be a municipal issue. We’ve got lots of other things to do. I’m happy to have a federal government that’s going to take it seriously and work with municipalities. But, in the meantime, if we do nothing we’ll just see more dispensaries without any city control.”
Mayor Helps also said that the City of Victoria does not intend to take up this issue until “at least next year“. Thus, she knows that doing nothing exacerbates the problem while she promises to continue to do nothing. Hmmm! [Does that not sound to you as though we are being blackmailed?]
Mayor, as you are fully aware, the reason we will see more dispensaries opening without municipal control is because you allowed them in the first place, intentionally creating and losing control of a dangerous and critical situation due to your refusal to take a decisive action early on and your continuing “do nothing” position. You didn’t lead us. Instead, you just happily followed the criminals without doing a thing about it.
Why not, among other organizations, seek the opinions of:
- The Downtown Victoria Business Association– It can best speak to the ideal mix of different stores.
- The Victoria Police Department – It will be responsible for policing whatever crime occurs around these pot stores.
- Tourism Victoria– It can best predict the reaction of tourists to seeing all of these pot stores.
I just don’t see the value of seeking citizen input when there is no verification process to determine where those giving input might live. This is especially true since no other municipality on the lower island allows pot sales. Accordingly, every pot smoker from whatever city in which they reside will be in favor of pot shops in Victoria. This will skew the results to appear that Victoria residents favor pot. In other words, Lisa Helps is scamming us.
What is the solution to this disaster?
It must be corrected the opposite way it came into being. It requires action on the part of the City of Victoria, rather than the blind eye that created it and allows it to grow.
I do not know the protocol of how the City of Victoria interfaces with the Victoria Police Department. For that matter I don’t know the protocol for interfacing with the RCMP or with the Federal Crown Counsel either. I do know that federal laws are being broken. Therefore it falls on one or more of those four organizations to take actions to correct it.
Nanaimo seems to be getting some sort of a handle on a similar situation with its announcement of RCMP action against ten pot stores. Therefore, I know it can be done within the confines of the Laws of Canada and of British Columbia. In the case of the Nanaimo RCMP, it consulted with the Federal Crown prior to delivering “Cease and Desist” letters to Nanaimo’s pot shops.
Here is what needs to happen to end this current situation.
- These shops need to be shut down immediately. They are illegal under current law and most have no business license. Additionally, they run a healthcare scam with their pot and prescriptions.
- The owners/operators of these shops need to be prosecuted for their intentional violations of the law.
- The BC Office of Civil Forfeiture needs to bring forfeiture proceedings against the owners who are allowing their property to be used to commit an ongoing crime. [This could be a huge financial benefit. It would also send landlords a message that continuing to allow these illegal businesses to operate out of their buildings can create significant risks.]
- Allow me to give landlords a special warning. I know people who have had civil forfeiture proceeding brought against them. They just got served out of the blue with no inkling that it was going to occur. As these lawsuits are civil in nature, they have a much lower “standard of proof” when compared to criminal proceedings. If I was a landlord renting to a pot shop, I would talk to my lawyer to understand my risks. These types of civil actions can be very expensive to defend, and of course, even more expensive should you lose.
Now, let’s look at what needs to happen if the City of Victoria still wants in the pot business. First, it needs to get control of the pot store situation in the only way possible, by closing all current pot shops down. Only then can it begin to exercise control.
The city should
- Determine how many shops will be allowed.
- Established a required criteria to submit an application to establish a pot store. Then perhaps have a “license award” process that is done by lottery once any application has been approved for inclusion in that lottery.
- Look seriously at the real costs to the city of overseeing these pot shops. I guarantee you those costs have been severely underestimated.
- Forbid current pot shop owners and employees from entering that lottery. Current owners have already proven that they have zero regard for the federal laws about marijuana. Therefore, there is no reason to believe that they will have any regard for whatever guidelines the City of Victoria might impose.
- Look seriously at the costs to the city in overseeing these pot shops.
- Establish rules and guidelines as to the storefront advertising that is allowed.
- Require criminal record checks on owners and all employees.
- Consult with the Victoria Police Department on all security guidelines.
- Create a list of acceptable suppliers.
Do you agree or disagree? Start or join a discussion below. Share this article on social media with one of the links below. Make yourself heard!
Like me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/breakingthecodecanada
Follow me on Twitter @hannonhal