Photo: All Candidates meeting at Carnegie (left to right) Audrey Laferriere, R.H. Maxwell N Bur, Raj Hundal, Andrea Reimer, Michael Geller, Leanore Copeland

Creating shelters for Vancouver’s homeless population until permanent housing is built was a central theme of Monday’s All Candidates meeting at Carnegie Center in Vancouver’s low income Downtown Eastside neighborhood.

Getting Storyeum, a Gastown business that went belly up, turned into a shelter for the homeless is the prime reason Audrey Laferriere decided to run for Vancouver City Council as an Independent.

Wilf Reimer from the audience said he had decided to support Laferriere after emailing both mayoral candidates, Peter Lader and Gregor Robertson, to ask “why they didn’t support a shelter system” for the homeless while they work on permanent housing. “Audrey was the only one who seemed to have some sort of a germ of a concrete plan with Storyeum.”

Michael Geller of the NPA said he had opposed the shelter system because not only the Housing Department but people in the community had told him that what they wanted was permanent housing, not shelters. At this point Laferrierre shouted something at him that I didn’t catch and he responded in a placating tone, “Audrey, I was just about to say, ‘You’ve convinced me’.”  He continued, “She did convince me we should be looking at Storyeum as a shelter.”  Geller cautioned Audrey not to be too quick to assume he was her enemy, that she just might find he could work with her as an “ally”.

But Lafrrierre’s real ally may prove to be Independent mayoral candidate, RH. Maxwell N Bur, who announced loudly, “If I’m sworn in as Mayor of Vancouver, you get the keys to Storyeum!”

Photo: (from left to right) Audrey Laferriere, RH. Maxwell N Bur, Raj Hundal, Andrea Reimer, Michael Gellar, Leanore Copeland

Andrea Reimer of Vision said she also supported shelters as an interim solution, that her “first and highest priority is getting people off the streets.”  She said more than once during the meeting that there isn’t “a” solution to most problems but multiple solutions.

Wilf Reimer — apparently no relation to Andrea – expressed amazement to the audience that neither the Vision or NPA mayoral candidate had shown up for this meeting.  When he heard them debate at the Vancouver Public Library, “Both said homelessness was “their #1 issue”, but they’re not here where homelessness is such a big issue.” 

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