Squalor will stay for Olympics, says Vancouver’s top cop

Downtown Eastside—arguably Canada’s worst zone of drugs and prostitution—can’t be fixed by 2010

Since Vancouver-Whistler won the right to host the Winter Games, cynics have predicted that government and police would spare the sensibilities of international visitors by driving addicts and homeless people away from the Hastings Street skid row, which lies not far from the city’s most luxurious hotels. Not going to happen, says Jimmy Chu, the city’s outspoken and progressive-minded police chief. “The best we can hope for is that we can tell the world we have a plan, and that we’re trying to do things differently,” he tells the Vancouver Province. Chu’s department has just released a discussion document aimed at improving the squalid neighbourhood, but it recommends long-term remedies. Meantime, tourists who wander beyond Gastown during the Games will learn that—shock!—Canada’s tourist brochures paint an incomplete picture of the country.

The Province