Sunday, October 12, 1997
Drive's denizens happy despite high crime ratePolice survey finds tolerant residents enjoy variety in their community
Denizens of Commercial Drive prefer public pot-smoking to public drinking, enjoy the drummers in Grandview Park and aren't even that upset about "squeegee people" at the neighborhood's busiest intersection.
That, at least, is the impression conveyed in a survey conducted for the Britannia community police office by Eileen Mosca and Valerie Spicer, a volunteer and a part-time employee, respectively.
With help from CPO volunteers, Simon Fraser University criminology professor Patricia Brantingham and her students, the pair polled people living, working or visiting the Commercial Drive area, dropping off copies at businesses and personally interviewing scores of individuals. Of 1,100 surveys distributed, 720 were completed.
"We just figured it would be interesting for our office to present to the police department some information about what the community wants," said Spicer, adding that the results will also come in handy when dealing with city hall.
They found that 79 per cent of respondents greatly enjoy living in Grandview-Woodland, even though "an astonishing 43 per cent have been victims of property crime.
Respondents were asked to rate various elements of the neighborhood on a scale of one to five: Completely unacceptable, unacceptable, tolerable, acceptable or completely acceptable.
They were also asked if they had seen the activity in the area in the previous six months.
For example, prostitutes (described as "sex trade workers") working in residential areas or near schools were rated completely unacceptable by 76 per cent, unacceptable by 14 per cent, tolerable by five per cent, acceptable by three per cent and completely acceptable by two per cent.
Fifty-nine per cent of those polled had seen this activity in the previous six months.
But, the Drive being the Drive, some pollees were angry that the question was asked at all. Some said police should leave hookers alone and arrest the johns.
One commented: Legalize prostitution, stop revictimizing the women by criminalizing them. Punish and drive away the rapist johns. Make them clean up the needles and condoms."
Drinking in public and pot-smoking in public were both rated tolerable by about one in five respondents. However, pot-smoking was rated unacceptable or completely unacceptable by 44 per cent and acceptable or completely acceptable by 35 per cent.
The comparable figures for drinking were 54 per cent and 24 per cent, respectively.
"Someone who is drunk is a little more threatening than someone who is strung out on pot," Spicer explained.
Young people who hover at intersections, offering to clean windshields for small change, are cited as a nuisance by many Vancouverites, but Drive habitueés seem surprisingly tolerant of the "squeegee people" at First and Commercial.
Only 39 per cent rated the practice unacceptable, 32 per cent rated tolerable and 29 per cent acceptable.
Respondents were fairly evenly divided on unleashed dogs in parks and passive panhandlers.
But the survey showed strong support for outdoor cafe seating, street musicians, public art, community festivals and needle exchange programs.
There was also widespread disapproval of aggressive panhandlers, litter, and discarded needles and condoms.
Copies of the survey may be examined at the CPO office in the Britannia Information Centre, 1661 Napier, or at the Britannia branch of the Vancouver Public Library.
NOTABLE QUOTES:Sample comments from the Commercial Drive survey:
Created: October 13, 1997|
Last modified: June 19, 1999
Commercial Sex Information Service|
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