24 Hours video: Interview with Streets of Plenty director

Crack 24 Hours reporter Dharm Makwana looks at controversial doc ‘Streets of Plenty’

24 Hours Vancouver newspaper has many readers, but not many know that it is the number one free newspaper in Metro Vancouver in terms of readership. They’ve got plenty to be proud of these days with growing numbers of readers, and great content including video features at their website. As my friends who regularly commute on buses and Skytrain tell me, everyone has a copy of this paper in their hand these days. On Thursday the paper reported that the NADbank 2009 study confirmed the paper as the top free daily, with 238,100 daily readers, and 546,200 readers weekly – that’s practically one in four people in Metro Vancouver!

I credit great reporting from the paper for its success. The work of reporter Bob Mackin around the Olympics is among the most compelling and thorough we’ve seen. Bob’s broken more stories around the Games than I can count. Then there are reporters Matt Kieltyka & Dharm Makwana, also providing great coverage such as Dharm’s feature report on Streets of Plenty documentary director Corey Ogilvie. The filmmaker is featured also in Dharm’s excellent video report shown above.

CityCaucus.com discussed the Streets of Plenty documentary back on March 5th, and we’ve prepared a YouTube playlist that allows you to watch all seven parts of the documentary, which is posted on YouTube, uninterrupted. In the days since, Ogilvie’s doc has generated a fair share of discussion, including from the Globe and Mail’s Margaret Wente. The scene shot within Vancouver’s safe injection site has generated much of the debate, although Portland Hotel Society E.D. Mark Townsend argues the scene misrepresents the facility.

There is no doubt that Streets of Plenty makes for a disturbing and compelling 65 minute viewing. Perhaps most concerning for the citizens of Vancouver is the current Vision Vancouver government’s veritable  abandonment of the Four Pillars program. Mayor Robertson is featured in Streets of Plenty talking about the importance of creating housing, but continues to dodge any real discussion on the matter of drug addiction. The reaction of film subject Misha Kleider to his talk with Robertson is worth watching alone.

You can pick up your copy of 24 Hours newspaper just about anywhere in Metro Vancouver, at your favourite coffee shop, bus stop or Skytrain or Canada Line station near you. You can catch my 24 Hours column every second Thursday.

– post by Mike

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  • Reality Check

    The guy in the film comes across as a self-indulgent idiot. The best scene is when he gets the bottle to head for acting like a complete moron – walking through the back alleys of the Downtown Eastside with a camera, acting like some kind of bastard child of Rick Mercer and Ben Mulroney.
    Its unfortunate that this film is getting any attention whatsoever, because the only thing we learn is that this guy thinks very highly of himself.
    I understand why its getting a reaction. The film is well shot and smartly crafted (he was a dynamic/cocky lead character who kept getting himself in stupid situations). And the film exposes the sensational side of street life (shitty shelters, panhandling, crack smoking, injection).
    But it fails to make any deeper connections beyond the addiction angle – which is pretty much a no-brainer. Walk down Hastings and you should be able to figure out within a few minutes that addiction and poverty/homelessness come hand in hand in the DTES.
    The film doesn’t go any deeper because it just focuses on this narcissistic idiot’s experience and not the people who are actually living on the street and can’t leave after a month is up – hell, this guy didn’t even stay the full month.
    We don’t learn anything by him doing drugs. There’s no point or purpose. He could have simply interviewed the the addicts. But he was smart to know that doing the drugs would make for a better film. It was two moronic scenes that simply fueled this idiot’s own ego.
    Ultimately, it was like Super Size Me meets the Downtown Eastside – but done by someone who had zero understanding of what he was getting into.
    Its one thing to do that sort of documentary with fast food, its another thing to do that with such a complicated social issue as homelessness and addiction. It does a huge disservice to the issue.
    The ending was cringe-worthy. both the interview with the mayor and outro speech (which I suspect he probably had to pay these people to recite).
    While City Caucus has drawn some interesting connections to the Four Pillars Plan, this film does no such thing. The idiot asks Gregor some abrasive and uninformed questions (he has no idea himself what’s going on). Its pretty insulting that he gets off like he’s a hardcore DTES expert because he smoked some crack and spent three weeks homeless.
    Another bottle to the head please.

  • Comeback Salmon

    I can never decide which of the 250 poverty pimping agencies in the DTES disgusts me more but Mark Townsend is as good an example as any. So Mr Townsend says people would rather have their right hand cut off than have another hit of heroin. It seems to me being handless is probably better than being an addict on the east side so why don’t we offer hand cutting off services? Is it really that simple? It isn’t that simple but we have the simple minds of Mark Townsend, Kerry Jang and Gregor Robertson all claiming to know the answer – from Gregor’s HEAT shelter fiasco to Townhend’s hand chopping. NONE of these ‘leaders’ deserve an ounce of power or a dollar of tax money.

  • John

    A government employed nurse offers to help an individual – who she knows is not an addict – to inject heroin into his body.
    Your tax dollars at work.

  • Omoishiroi

    Reality Check – I also agree addiction is a no-brainer – so that being the case why do we rarely hear of funding for recovery programs? And one thing we never ever hear of is funding for prevention programs. We have a mayor who wants to only house and feed and some nutbar societies promoting safe injection sites as a ‘solution’ — as what?? Seems to me all we do is fund ways to stay addicted and stay on the streets keeping people a little warmer and alive a little longer but no plan to get them out of this hell or keep anyone else from falling into hell. To me this film showed very clearly that the welfare system and the agencies funded to help the homeless in fact manufacture and perpetuate the issue like a well oiled machine using our collective guilt to stoke the fires of funding. No one really wants to solve this issue – they want to jump on the bandwagon only as far as it serves their own ends.