An anti-poverty activist has said her group was invited to be part of Downtown Eastside Connect, a controversial government-run homelessness information centre targeting international media covering the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. But the Carnegie Community Action Project declined to participate because there were restrictions on what it could say at the centre.
In an interview with Public Eye on Sunday, project coordinator Jean Swanson said she met with BC Housing's executive director of corporate communications on January 8 to discuss Downtown Eastside Connect. During that meeting, Ms. Swanson said she asked Susan Thom, "If we participated, would we be able to say things like, 'the BC government has a $250 million housing endowment fund that it's refusing to spend on housing.' And they said, 'no.'"
And that was a show stopper for Ms. Swanson. "This province wins the gold medal for child poverty for six years in a row and has no poverty reduction strategy. And we just felt these are really important messages and we didn't want to have our messages hampered by their censorship."
But not every group involved with the Downtown Eastside feels that way, with 33 signing-up to be involved with the centre.
"I think a lot of the ones that agreed are non-profit housing providers," said Ms. Swanson. "So they're getting their money from the government. So, even though they probably all believe government should be building more housing, they are doing good work and they want to get that message out"
Earlier today, Public Eye placed a request for comment with Ms. Thom, asking for a response by 3:00 this afternoon. When we spoke with her after lunch, she said she would send us an email. At publication time, we hadn't yet received that message.