Independent queer city council candidate Jamie Lee Hamilton has long been an activist in the queer community, most notably working on transsexual and prostitution issues.
Clad in a faux ermine robe and tiara, Hamilton announced her candidacy for council on the steps of city hall two weeks ago.
She says she’s committed to getting a number of changes made to give the queer community a much higher profile at city hall.
Foremost among her concerns is the question of policing. Hamilton wants to see greater accountability from the police board to the community, and is advocating an elected police board. Police board members are currently appointed by the city and the province.
“Certainly I will be pushing, until the time is that we have an elected police board, that we have someone from our community on the police board. That will go a long way to making sure our issues can’t be swept under the carpet.”
And, she says, she will lobby for stronger legislation to deal with hate-motivated attacks.
Vancouver is one of the few cities in Canada that does not collect statistics on hate crimes committed against specific minorities such as queers. Hamilton says those statistics must be collected so the issue can be understood.
“I can’t believe in this day and age that the police don’t acquire statistics on a very large, identifiable population. Our community has had the worst forms of violence perpetrated on us. It’s long overdue for a compilation of data,” she says.
Hamilton also believes a way to help deal with many of the community’s issues is to have a strengthened Centre.
The Centre on Bute St is still looking for a new space or the opportunity to make its existing space more accessible.
Hamilton, who last ran for council in 1999, says The Centre needs more space and the city funds to make it happen.
“With all the city-owned property and the property endowment fund, I can’t believe [The Centre] is still tucked away upstairs in a decrepit building,” she says. If elected, Hamilton says she’ll lobby for a larger space to be provided.
“The city owes it to our community,” she says. “We have the largest cultural festival going that is a significant economic driver for the city.”
The city should also assign a cultural planner to deal specifically with the queer community’s issues, she adds.
The proposal by Providence Health Care to move St Paul’s Hospital to False Creek Flats is also a hot-button issue this election.
“I think it should remain where it is,” says Hamilton. “I think there is a way to maintain that hospital as well as upgrading it to ensure it meets city standards. I know it’s going to be a big battle because the property’s very valuable,” she adds.
Hamilton accuses some politicians of hiding behind the fact that Providence is a private operation and that they have little say in the move.
“I think that’s nonsense,” she says. “Although the Providence board controls the property, the fact of the matter is that the public has always provided the funding. The public should have equal say over what transpires with that hospital. I say no concessions, absolutely none. The hospital stays where it is.”