Former ABC Vancouver chief of workers apologizes: ‘I made a robust assertion’


Kareem Allam advised the nonprofits that leaving the Downtown Eastside encampment will not occur if there is not a housing plan.

Mayor Ken Sim’s former chief of workers says he desires to publicly apologize for failing to comply with via on a dedication he made final fall to a bunch of Downtown Eastside nonprofits that the council wouldn’t help eradicating the East Hastings Avenue encampment and not using a housing plan for the location.

Kareem Allam mentioned he made the dedication at a gathering hosted by Trade Internal Metropolis on the former Vancouver police station at 312 Foremost St. a couple of week earlier than the ABC Vancouver-dominated council is sworn in on November 7, 2022.

“They believed me, they believed me, after which it turned out to not be true,” Allam advised Glacier Media Friday. “So I felt a private ethical obligation to simply accept that remark and apologize to them.”

Allam was ABC Vancouver’s marketing campaign supervisor earlier than accepting the function of Sim’s chief of workers. Allam resigned in early February after explaining that it was by no means his intention to serve within the mayor’s workplace, citing the workload and tasks of the job.

He made it clear Friday that his public apology was not meant as a criticism of the escalated motion town took on April 5 to take away homeless individuals, their tents and buildings from the sidewalks on East Hastings Avenue.

“That is about me proudly owning my feedback,” mentioned Allam, who continues to work for communications agency Fairview Technique. “I merely consider that in politics, in case you make such a robust assertion, you won’t be able to flee from it. I express regret. I ask individuals to simply accept my apology.”

89 non permanent modular housing models

Allam mentioned he was not conscious of the data or conversations that occurred with Sim, Metropolis Supervisor Paul Mochrie, Police Chief Adam Palmer and Fireplace Chief Karen Fry that led to dozens of cops, many firefighters and a convoy of metropolis employees and rubbish vehicles to focus on the camp. April 5.

On the similar time, he mentioned, he would elevate questions in regards to the housing plan and why town could not wait till the 89 non permanent modular housing models opened at areas in the primary and terminal stations and subsequent to the Canada Line Olympic Village station.

Prime Minister David Eby has promised that the locations will probably be open in March.

As Glacier Media reported on April 14, the location at Foremost and Terminal is now slated to open someday this month, and one other close to the Canada Line station in June, in accordance with BC Housing, which cited “unexpected delays.”

Allam mentioned that almost all of ABC councilors and representatives of non-profit and enterprise associations participated within the assembly in query. The Internal Metropolis Trade organized a gathering that Allam remembers passed off in late October or early November 2022.

“We had been requested a direct query: ‘Are you simply going to ship 100 police to depart Hastings?’ And I simply particularly mentioned no, till correct housing is constructed,” he mentioned.

Dozens of cops had been readily available on East Hastings Avenue on April 5 to safe metropolis crews and area employees tasked with ending the homeless encampment. Photograph by Mike Howell

‘One thing needed to be achieved’

Allam acknowledged public security considerations raised by the fireplace chief in July 2022 that prompted her to difficulty the order to clear the sidewalks. He mentioned he’s additionally properly conscious of police considerations about violence and weapons.

“One thing needed to be achieved,” he mentioned. “However did it need to be achieved with out the neighborhood? Did it need to be achieved and not using a main heads-up to the province and [Vancouver] Coastal well being? May they’ve waited…till these modular housing models had been open and prepared?”

Added Allam: “Possibly the reply is, ‘No, we actually cannot wait any longer.’ So that you simply cannot be crucial of a call until you may have the solutions to these questions. And then you definately simply need to steadiness all the data that I haven’t got.”

Michelle Lackie, government director of Trade Internal Metropolis, mentioned Friday that she appreciated Allam’s apology and that it spoke to considerations she and others on the assembly had in regards to the new council’s strategy to weak individuals within the Downtown Eastside.

“Message [from Allam and ABC] is that the neighborhood is most vital and the neighborhood has the data and the experience and we will work with the neighborhood first and that is the way in which we will strategy issues,” Lackie recalled.

“After which I really feel like leaving the camp [on April 5] went precisely the other of that. There was no outreach to the neighborhood to determine how finest to do that. All of us agree that there are actually safety points. That is the method and what truly occurred, which is in stark distinction to what Kareem represented, what the council represented.”

On April 5, officers shaped a shifting motorcade on East Hastings Avenue because the sidewalks had been cleared of homeless individuals and tents. Photograph by Mike Howell

‘A lot safer, cleaner’

Sim and metropolis officers had been clear throughout an April 5 press convention in regards to the causes for the escalation on the camp, and the mayor has repeatedly advised reporters since that motion that the scenario in East Hastings has reached a tipping level and is unsustainable.

“Whenever you have a look at the removing of buildings, each one that raised their hand and needed housing, obtained housing or shelter,” Sim mentioned at an unrelated information convention Tuesday in Gastown.

“Whenever you have a look at the roads, they’re much safer. We eliminated greater than 2,000 propane tanks from these buildings, together with 100-pounders. I do not know if everybody is aware of this, but when the protection options fail on a type of 100-pound containers they usually explode, they will destroy a complete metropolis block.”

Sim mentioned East Hastings is “a lot safer, cleaner, and we’re listening to tales of residents for the primary time in eight months with the ability to get out of their Downtown Eastside lodging and go see docs and get their prescriptions.”

The variety of fires has additionally decreased considerably, he mentioned.

“Can we nonetheless have so much to do? Completely – mentioned the mayor. “Will it final? Completely. Are we happy with the progress we have now made up to now? Completely.”

ABC Vancouver has launched funding to rent 100 cops and 100 psychological well being employees over the following few years to handle public questions of safety and higher reply to individuals dwelling with psychological sickness.

Mayor’s reply

ABC Councilors Sarah Kirby-Yung and Lisa Dominato had been contacted Friday by Glacier Media for touch upon Allam’s apology and had been advised to contact the mayor’s workplace.

A written assertion issued by the mayor’s director of communications, Taylor Verrall, mentioned: “Mr. Allam made these feedback of his personal volition and didn’t accomplish that in session with elected members. As he’s now not a member of the workers of the mayor’s workplace, Mr. Allam was not aware of the briefings or updates on the escalating scenario on the East Hastings camp.

“All those that requested shelter in the course of the marketing campaign obtained it, and for the reason that starting of the marketing campaign, there have been free locations for shelter within the system each evening.

“Because the mayor has beforehand said, the trouble in early April was undertaken as a matter of public security as a matter of urgency – the each day camp fires posed a major danger of lack of life and threatened a lot of the prevailing provide of reasonably priced housing locally.”

Allam, in the meantime, mentioned he is seen extra homeless individuals on Granville Avenue and in Yaletown for the reason that April 5 East Hastings sidewalk sweep.

“Hastings appears to be like higher cosmetically, Chinatown is best, however all we have achieved is simply transfer it to a different neighborhood the place there aren’t any companies, no help and no elevated police presence,” he mentioned.

Lackie agreed.

“They’re simply shifting the tents to a different location, and that does not change the protection points,” she mentioned. “It is simply altering the place there are these safety points. And that is the issue — and shelters aren’t enough, appropriate housing.”

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