Vancouver's 'dirty little secret'


sanctus
#1
By Heather Alexander
BBC News, Vancouver, Canada
Thousands of people visit Vancouver each year. Surrounded by snow-capped mountains, it is described in brochures as one of the world's most spectacular cities.
But mention a trip to the downtown Eastside and you get: "Don't go there."


"Make sure you stay away from alleyways." The area is known as the city's "dirty little secret" - a "hidden ghetto" where drug deals take place openly on the streets.
And dozens of women who worked the streets there were murdered.
Marnie Frey went missing in 1997.
A friend of hers came to the first day of the trial of Robert Pickton, who is accused of murdering 26 women - all prostitutes and drug addicts - who disappeared over a period of more than a decade.
Marnie Frey's friend said Marnie went out one day and never came back.
Police failings
She was one of over 60 women who went missing from the area in the 1980s and 1990s - and it wasn't something that was going unnoticed by the people of Vancouver.
"There have been so many rumours about missing women for so long... it was constantly in the paper," a local called Joanne told me.



In the case of the missing women, we don't have a suspect - in fact we don't have a crime
Police statement in 1999
She was first in line in the court queue that first day, with a friend. Both doubted the police had done their utmost to solve the disappearances when they began.
"The police weren't taking it seriously. I guess in retrospect they were making excuses," the women said.
When officers did start investigating - over a decade after the first women disappeared - they admitted they were baffled.
In 1999, one constable told local channel Citynews: "In the case of the missing women, we don't have a suspect. In fact we don't have a crime."
Two years later they said: "We don't have any leads like crime scenes to help us uncover more facts."
Mental hospitals
The women were nearly all drug-addicted prostitutes.
Many think that is the real reason nothing was done.
Mental health worker Patricia Hanley says she saw many of her clients disappear.
"You'd meet with one and she'd be worried about a missing friend, then she'd go missing herself."
She says the deterioration of Vancouver's downtown Eastside is directly related to the gradual closure of one of the area's mental hospitals.
Riverview used to house more than 4,000 patients. Now the number is in the hundreds.
Ms Hanley says residents ended up living on the streets, getting money for crack through the sex trade.
'People cared'
In his opening statement, prosecutor Derrill Prevett told the jury not to be swayed by the victims' involvement with drugs and prostitution.
"Regardless of their lifestyle... each of the women had people and places that were important to them and people who cared about them."


This is the first of two trials Robert "Willie" Pickton faces over the missing women - he faces six murder charges this time. There is no dispute from defence that their remains did end up at the Pickton farm.
A jawbone is all that is left of Marnie Frey.
But they do say Robert Pickton did not put the bodies there - pointing to the large number of people who had access to the property.
It is likely to be at least a year before the jury decides its verdict.
Patricia Hanley hopes the trial will mean more is done to clean up the Eastside long before that.
 
temperance
#2
If you dont have anything nice to say dont say anything at all --we all know the story ,we know why nothing real was done ,and were not thrilled with this reporter take on it either ,if it was a couple of mayor aides or tim hortons employess it would have been solved long ago ,becuase of certian life events we treat people diffrently ,its sad ,theres no secret ,there is no equal society in this country ,who 's kidding who
 
annabattler
#3
Every major city has its' "area", for those who are homeless or drug-addicted or psychologically challenged. They form their own communities, though they may have quite different boundaries that I might have.
It's nothing new....that community in Vancouver was there when I first lived in Lotusland in 1966....and it was still there when I lived there in the 70"s.
And the newspaper editorials were the same then as they are now.demanding local and provincial governments "do" something.
Don't hold your breath.
 
m_levesque
#4
Quote: Originally Posted by temperance View Post

If you dont have anything nice to say dont say anything at all --we all know the story ,we know why nothing real was done ,and were not thrilled with this reporter take on it either ,if it was a couple of mayor aides or tim hortons employess it would have been solved long ago ,becuase of certian life events we treat people diffrently ,its sad ,theres no secret ,there is no equal society in this country ,who 's kidding who


As someone who has visited Vancouver many times, it dosen't surprise me. Unlike many people, I heartily dislike the city. It is not all it is cracked up to be.
 
Nuggler
#5
Not too many people who can read are not aware of Vancouver's lower East side. It's been written about by every photographer/social worker/cop/author, who decides to write a novel/expose'.

During the years women were disappearing, people in the area were well aware that something was up. Over the years various theories were expounded: One was that women were being "lured" out onto ocean freighters, used, then tossed over when the ship was some days away from port. That's one I remember.

All the while it appears "Willy" was enjoying himself at the pig farm..............allegedly.........let's not forget to add that.......

Totally agree that if these women had been Sunday School teachers or members of the local women's university club, more would have been done sooner.

Ah well................

 
tamarin
#6
Some people make bad choices in their lives. End of story. Most of us are so caught up in our own, trying to keep them together and looking after those in our families that need support that we can sympathize...but we're not on the hook for "dirty little secrets" like this. They'll always be around.
 
#juan
#7
The prostitutes in the "lower east side" are at the bottom rung of the food chain. They are driven by poverty, drugs, and desperation. Their customers are also bottom feeders. We can now read about Picton, but other killers have no doubt trolled those waters as well. Picton claims to have killed 49 women. It is thought that at least 60 women are missing. These women are only "missing" if someone "misses" them. I don't think we know how many women disappeared in that black hole. I think it is time to move everyone out of there and bulldoze the whole place down. To hell with the slumlords.
 
Kreskin
#8
Quote: Originally Posted by #juan View Post

The prostitutes in the "lower east side" are at the bottom rung of the food chain. They are driven by poverty, drugs, and desperation. Their customers are also bottom feeders. We can now read about Picton, but other killers have no doubt trolled those waters as well. Picton claims to have killed 49 women. It is thought that at least 60 women are missing. These women are only "missing" if someone "misses" them. I don't think we know how many women disappeared in that black hole. I think it is time to move everyone out of there and bulldoze the whole place down. To hell with the slumlords.

Ya that place is pitiful. There is no reason anyone should want to live there. Bulldozing it isn't a bad idea.
 
temperance
#9
really is it that bad where can Isee pictures lower east side is there no residential homes what of those people ??
 
Pangloss
#10
Not to be picky folks but it's the DOWNTOWN EASTSIDE.

Also, while a simple, stupid idea like "bulldozing the area" might appeal to those who have never known the joy of sleeping on a sidewalk, could anyone here please tell me where the poor folk who live in these low-income hotel/apartments will live after you raze their neighbourhood?

Advocates for the poor and homeless, like The Downtown Eastdide Residents' Association, fight every day to save the very hotels and neighbourhoods you would so callously destroy.

Maybe they know something you don't.

Pangloss
 
snfu73
#11
Quote: Originally Posted by sanctus View Post

By Heather Alexander
BBC News, Vancouver, Canada
Thousands of people visit Vancouver each year. Surrounded by snow-capped mountains, it is described in brochures as one of the world's most spectacular cities.
But mention a trip to the downtown Eastside and you get: "Don't go there."


"Make sure you stay away from alleyways." The area is known as the city's "dirty little secret" - a "hidden ghetto" where drug deals take place openly on the streets.
And dozens of women who worked the streets there were murdered.
Marnie Frey went missing in 1997.
A friend of hers came to the first day of the trial of Robert Pickton, who is accused of murdering 26 women - all prostitutes and drug addicts - who disappeared over a period of more than a decade.
Marnie Frey's friend said Marnie went out one day and never came back.
Police failings
She was one of over 60 women who went missing from the area in the 1980s and 1990s - and it wasn't something that was going unnoticed by the people of Vancouver.
"There have been so many rumours about missing women for so long... it was constantly in the paper," a local called Joanne told me.



In the case of the missing women, we don't have a suspect - in fact we don't have a crime
Police statement in 1999
She was first in line in the court queue that first day, with a friend. Both doubted the police had done their utmost to solve the disappearances when they began.
"The police weren't taking it seriously. I guess in retrospect they were making excuses," the women said.
When officers did start investigating - over a decade after the first women disappeared - they admitted they were baffled.
In 1999, one constable told local channel Citynews: "In the case of the missing women, we don't have a suspect. In fact we don't have a crime."
Two years later they said: "We don't have any leads like crime scenes to help us uncover more facts."
Mental hospitals
The women were nearly all drug-addicted prostitutes.
Many think that is the real reason nothing was done.
Mental health worker Patricia Hanley says she saw many of her clients disappear.
"You'd meet with one and she'd be worried about a missing friend, then she'd go missing herself."
She says the deterioration of Vancouver's downtown Eastside is directly related to the gradual closure of one of the area's mental hospitals.
Riverview used to house more than 4,000 patients. Now the number is in the hundreds.
Ms Hanley says residents ended up living on the streets, getting money for crack through the sex trade.
'People cared'
In his opening statement, prosecutor Derrill Prevett told the jury not to be swayed by the victims' involvement with drugs and prostitution.
"Regardless of their lifestyle... each of the women had people and places that were important to them and people who cared about them."


This is the first of two trials Robert "Willie" Pickton faces over the missing women - he faces six murder charges this time. There is no dispute from defence that their remains did end up at the Pickton farm.
A jawbone is all that is left of Marnie Frey.
But they do say Robert Pickton did not put the bodies there - pointing to the large number of people who had access to the property.
It is likely to be at least a year before the jury decides its verdict.
Patricia Hanley hopes the trial will mean more is done to clean up the Eastside long before that.

I don't think that area is exactly a secret. But, in terms of the Pickton case, it's a pretty interesting one to follow...very disturbing, very bizarre. It will be interesting to see how it all wraps up.

Anyway, I have walked down hastings street and that area, and I think it's made out to be far scarier than it is. I wouldn't NOT walk there.
 
Dexter Sinister
#12
"Dirty little secret?" Dirty yes, but little and secret, no. I've been in the neighbourhood once, by accident, and in the space of a few blocks I was offered a variety of drugs and access to prostitutes of both sexes several times. I wasn't afraid, it was full daylight, I'm a pretty big guy, and I was a lot younger and in better shape than I am now, but I was disgusted and saddened. I know where there's a similar neighbourhood in Regina, where I live, and in Saskatoon, where I used to live, and in Edmonton, where I also used to live, and in Winnipeg, Calgary, Victoria, Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal, which I've visited many times. The cities I mean, not the scummy neighbourhoods. Every city of any size has at least one such zone, and the bigger the city the worse it seems to be, in general, which is probably just a reflection of absolute numbers: if one person in 5000 is a drug addict, for instance, there'll be more of them in bigger cities. I've seen them in Rotterdam and Amsterdam and Cairo too; they're everywhere. Vancouver's climate also makes it possible to sleep in the streets without freezing to death most nights, which you certainly couldn't do in a Canadian prairie winter, so maybe there are relatively more of them in warmer places.

I wish I knew how to fix it. But I don't.
 
talloola
#13
Robert Pickton is a sickening monster, and everything he has done will be remembered forever, and
there are many cities that could tell an awful story of a monstrous crime in their history.

But, let's not convict the city of Vancouver for what Pickton did, he doesn't even live there, came there
to do his dirty deeds, took the women, and left for his pig farm. It's true that the investigations
dragged and the police were very slow to do anything concrete in this case, and that is sad.

Every city has there undesireable area, and Vancouver is no different. It is a beautiful city, I know
it well,I grew up in New Westminster, just a few miles away, and now that we live on Vancouver Island, we travel there from time to time. It has so many wonderful areas and events to offer, the
natural beauty of the city and the surrounding areas are second to none.
Don't let any "overkill" story convince you of anything, come see it for yourself.
 
Dexter Sinister
#14
Quote: Originally Posted by talloola View Post

... come see it for yourself.

I did, I have, I will again, and you're absolutely right. There's beauty everywhere, and excrement everywhere. Clean up what you can, and enjoy the rest. Vancouver's a fabulous city, I love it, and no tale of the horrors of the downtown east side will stop me from visiting it again.
 
talloola
#15
Quote: Originally Posted by Dexter Sinister View Post

I did, I have, I will again, and you're absolutely right. There's beauty everywhere, and excrement everywhere. Clean up what you can, and enjoy the rest. Vancouver's a fabulous city, I love it, and no tale of the horrors of the downtown east side will stop me from visiting it again.

Yes, I have mentioned in other posts some time ago, that ,because of Vancouver's climate, it is very obvious that more of 'these' types will be there, as, I wouldn't like to be the person to count dead
bodies in Regina, Saskatoon, or many other cities going east, in the winter, after a n ight sleeping on the street.

The drug and alchohol problem, all over the world is a very sad and dibilitating problem, and it just
gets worse and worse. I can never understand why governments can't get rid of the source, and
stop it from coming into the country, I guess I just don't understand how the criminal element
operates, and how far they will go for money, at the expense of the lives of 'weak' people.
 
Curiosity
#16
All large cities have two sides - their beauty and their ugliness. All cities have 'secrets'.

To blame it on the geographical locale - the city itself - is misrepresenting the problem.

Blame the people within the cities. They are the broken ones - not the land or the buildings.
These can be rebuilt and replaced and gentrified and dignified.... man can also do this.

Whether man wants to rebuild his or her own life is up to the individual, not the city.

When I think of Vancouver I skim past her amazing beauty, her glamor, her cosmopolitan flavor....
and spend time remembering my home....always safe, comfortable, welcoming. A place like
heaven on earth to have grown up in.
 
Kreskin
#17
Hi Curio, what part of Vancouver did you grow up in? I grew up in New Westminster. Whenever I go back to the Vancouver area I can't believe the changes since I was a kid.
 
Curiosity
#18
Morning Kreskin

I grew up in a large neighborhood called Kerrisdale - Marine and 37th Ave. It's main cross streets are 41st and Arbutus..... It was near a golf course which had been built on Indian Land overlooking the Fraser River. I also lived downtown in a West End apartment when I left home. Loved it there
but it was also very noisy - they were constantly building new high rises and tearing down some of
the beautiful old houses... I think it's called 'progress and growth'.... but when I was young I didn't think about those things - only all the great food and coffee and beaches .... hehe...

New West..... Michael J. Fox! All the Lower Mainland was a fabulous place to grow up in....so much to see and do.
 
tbud
#19
Quote: Originally Posted by talloola View Post

The drug and alchohol problem, all over the world is a very sad and dibilitating problem, and it just
gets worse and worse. I can never understand why governments can't get rid of the source, and
stop it from coming into the country, I guess I just don't understand how the criminal element
operates, and how far they will go for money, at the expense of the lives of 'weak' people.


Because the government is in bed with these same criminal types, they are afraid to do anything substantial and the because the war on drugs from USA is a multi-billion dollar industry. They don't want it to stop. Even the CIA is involved in the illicit trade of drugs for guns.

If they were to remove the prosecutorial approach to the problem, which has utterly failed to do anything useful, take a more humane approach and treat drug abusers as people with addiction, a medical problem, THEN we would see some real progress on the whole problem.
 
Kreskin
#20
Quote: Originally Posted by Curiosity View Post

Morning Kreskin

I grew up in a large neighborhood called Kerrisdale - Marine and 37th Ave. It's main cross streets are 41st and Arbutus..... It was near a golf course which had been built on Indian Land overlooking the Fraser River. I also lived downtown in a West End apartment when I left home. Loved it there
but it was also very noisy - they were constantly building new high rises and tearing down some of
the beautiful old houses... I think it's called 'progress and growth'.... but when I was young I didn't think about those things - only all the great food and coffee and beaches .... hehe...

New West..... Michael J. Fox! All the Lower Mainland was a fabulous place to grow up in....so much to see and do.

Kerrisdale is a beautiful part of Vancouver. I may have walked by your old house when I did the walk for cancer last year. It seems 41st and Arbutus rings a bell with that route. You were pretty brave being in the West End.

Michael J Fox, didn't really know him personally except I played lacrosse against him. We're the same age. He played for Burnaby. I remember hitting him hard one time. Hope I didn't cause any long term medical problems .
 
tamarin
#21
I've never been west of Ontario. I will some day. Maybe. Never felt the draw. But I have heard of its sin capitals. Vancouver and Winnipeg have been in the news since - as some hippie chick once chirped -"forever!" I love small town Ontario. There are problems there but nothing blatant and numbing as found out west.
 
Curiosity
#22
Kreskin

Did Michael J. Fox grow up in Burnaby? I wonder why I thought it was NW....His dad was an RCMP I think in one of the outlying areas...

Marine Drive is the main drag out to the University of B.C. Endowment lands....and 41st Avenue is the street where all the stores are....we used to soap the windows on Halowe-en...lord knows what they do now to that little place...and Arbutus is where the tracks are for that little feeder rail they are always fighting about....the land along E & W Boulevard (parallel to Arbutus) is a prime transportation corridor and the people in the residential neighborhoods are playing NIMBY (or were)...maybe they've lost by now...

There is a website on the internet Vancouver Chronology .... can't remember the exact address, but every once in a while I visit it.... and the webcams showing the beaches, etc. My family keep me
updated on most of the stuff, but they have scattered to smaller areas too not all of them like the big city...
 
Kreskin
#23
New West high school is literally located one block from Burnaby.

Would your old neighbourhood be officially in South Vancouver? When we did that walk we ended up all over the place. 60k in Vancouver meant seeing a lot of neighbourhoods. We were in that area, crossing back over Granville into Shaughnessy and Kits. Marine Way has become a very busy area. Following it into the Burnaby area there's a ton of commercial development going on.
 
Curiosity
#24
Kreskin

We were SW - at least that is how the streets were designated. South to Kits and west to UBC. I think East started at Granville. Yup Marine going to Burnaby used to terrify me when I was a new driver. I would avoid that route at any cost of time..

Kerrisdale has some beautiful old craftsman style homes which many of the people have chosen to preserve and improve upon even though when the relocation of many Hong Kong people happened, they would tear down homes and build brand new ones - which were lovely - but a lot of history was lost.

My mother stopped answering the door because someone was always asking if she 'wanted to sell'....

It has settled down now. Did I read somewhere you are a planner? As in land planning?
 
Kreskin
#25
Quote: Originally Posted by Curiosity View Post

Kreskin

We were SW - at least that is how the streets were designated. South to Kits and west to UBC. I think East started at Granville. Yup Marine going to Burnaby used to terrify me when I was a new driver. I would avoid that route at any cost of time..

Kerrisdale has some beautiful old craftsman style homes which many of the people have chosen to preserve and improve upon even though when the relocation of many Hong Kong people happened, they would tear down homes and build brand new ones - which were lovely - but a lot of history was lost.

My mother stopped answering the door because someone was always asking if she 'wanted to sell'....

It has settled down now. Did I read somewhere you are a planner? As in land planning?

Marine way is still a little nerve racking. It's a semi-highway in the middle of a lot of stuff.

I'm a personal financial planner. I work for a great organization and I enjoy working closely with people. Within the organization I'm quite independent. The work is fun, flexible and quite satisfying overall.
 
talloola
#26
[quote=Curiosity;821136]Morning Kreskin

I grew up in a large neighborhood called Kerrisdale - Marine and 37th Ave. It's main cross streets are 41st and Arbutus..... It was near a golf course which had been built on Indian Land overlooking the Fraser River. I also lived downtown in a West End apartment when I left home. Loved it there
but it was also very noisy - they were constantly building new high rises and tearing down some of
the beautiful old houses... I think it's called 'progress and growth'.... but when I was young I didn't think about those things - only all the great food and coffee and beaches .... hehe...

I have been in that area many times, all during the years my daughter attended UBC, and
also the many times we went to Spanish Banks, or took the beautiful drive all around
Point Grey and on through to Marpole.
A lady named Clem Tache, made my wedding dress many years ago, her little shop was
on 4th avenue in that general area. That's really going back in time.
 
L Gilbert
#27
.......... and avoid. (replying to whoever said so much to see and do at the coast).
 
dirtylinder
#28
I know the cops screwed up on this one, however, I have to say, if one of my sisters who are all law abiding, contributories to society, and hard working ladies went missing, I'd hope their disappearance would take precedence over a missing hooker who has chose a life that takes from society and doesn't add to it. I know a life is a life, but, some people are more valuable to society than others. Just my opinion.....the cops have lots to do with all of the home invasions where the elderly are beaten, the purse nabbings, the beatings at skytrain stations, and the stolen vehicles, it must be hard to find the time to protect the ladies of the evening.
 
bluecollarguy
#29
Quote: Originally Posted by dirtylinder View Post

I know the cops screwed up on this one, however, I have to say, if one of my sisters who are all law abiding, contributories to society, and hard working ladies went missing, I'd hope their disappearance would take precedence over a missing hooker who has chose a life that takes from society and doesn't add to it. I know a life is a life, but, some people are more valuable to society than others. Just my opinion.....the cops have lots to do with all of the home invasions where the elderly are beaten, the purse nabbings, the beatings at skytrain stations, and the stolen vehicles, it must be hard to find the time to protect the ladies of the evening.


It is attitudes and ideas like this that helped drive some of these people to were they are.
Not all the people down there are there by choice. Many institutions have been closed and the residents removed with no way to help themselves and very little support system.
And as for the drugs. All it can take is one bad choice in life and things change forever.
These people may or may not have chosen this live but they still deserve our help and protection if they want or need it.
Just my $.02
 
Dreadful Nonsense
#30
Man toronto has not one but a few seedy neighboroohds...But Toronto has a way of really covering this stuff up....It always paints a pic of itself as the centre of the known universe and the cleanest and safeset blah blah....It's not. Every day almost there are knifings and shootings...

I've wandered round east hastings and to be honest i wasn't scared...It sort of a small area as well compared to the rest of Vancouver...and the rest is sheer beauty and joy...even east hastings has character though...as far as seedy goes it's a nice seedy....

Dirty little secret is more like something one would say of Totronto....they are masters of the cover up....
 

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