Welcome to Gordonville – Coming Soon to a Park Near You

Posted on October 19, 2008


Welcome to Gordonville.

Welcome to Gordonville.



You have no doubt heard about the court case in Victoria in regard to the establishment of tent cities in City of Victoria parks.  The BC Supreme Court ruled that homeless people are entitled to erect tents in parks and public land owing to the lack of available shelter beds.  The basis of the judgement is that homeless people are entitled to life, liberty and security of the person under Canada’s constitution, and that the right to erect shelters on public lands, given the lack of alternatives, addresses issues such as hypothermia and other life-threatening conditions which face the homeless.

The Pivot Legal Society is bringing a similar case to address the vagrancy laws in the City of Vancouver, which, like Victoria’s similar laws, have the function of chasing the homeless out of the parks.  Shelter beds in Vancouver at the present time can only accommodate half (or less) of the city’s homeless on a given night, so the same conditions that applied in Victoria’s case also apply in Vancouver.  Therefore, if all goes as expected, legally speaking, we can look forward to tent cities here too.

And about time.  The issue of homelessness has a much better chance of being addressed if it affects the lives of people who are not homeless as well.  While many people are quite tolerant of the homelessness of others when they can’t see these others, they change their minds quite quickly when homelessness comes out into the open and starts camping on the local playground.

Which brings up the important issue of what to name these new additions to our world-class community.

I suggest Gordonvilles.

During the Great Depression there were many impromptu communities set up all over the landscape by the homeless and the destitute.  They were called Hoovervilles after Herbert Hoover, the U.S. president who preceded the great Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and who, unlike the latter, was not known for his sympathetic understanding of the poor or the working class.  In British Columbia, our own homegrown Herbert Hoover is Gordon Campbell, the Premier, during whose term homelessness in the province, owing to draconian welfare policies, low welfare rates, cancellation of social housing programs, refusal to protect low income housing, and so on, has increased dramatically.  For instance, between 2002 and 2007, street homelessness went up more than 200%, and has continued to increase by better than 10% a year.

It is fitting therefore that Gordon Campbell be memorialized in a way similar to Herbert Hoover.

Wherever tent cities spring up, let’s erect a sign.  WELCOME TO GORDONVILLE.


I’m sure Gordon Campbell will be glad to go down in history for the one thing he does best of all, poor-bashing.  If poor bashing were an Olympic event, Gordo would get a gold, I don’t doubt it at all.


Posted in: politics