HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Fox Warns Americans About 'Vansterdam'
Pubdate: Fri, 18 Jun 2004
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2004 The Vancouver Sun
Author: Nicholas Read and Yvonne Zacharias, ,Vancouver Sun


Vancouver Board Of Trade More Concerned About Property Crime Than Drug 

VANCOUVER - "U.S. wary of Van-sterdam," reads the outraged headline on the 
Fox News website.

"There's a street in Vancouver that makes San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury 
look G-rated," continues the story. "One bar's motto is 'This is a 
respectable joint.' Many bars even have a 'munchies' menu for post 
pot-smoking eating binges."

The street is Hastings, and Fox News, the ultra-right-wing champion of 
George W. Bush, big tax cuts and the war in Iraq, has discovered it. And it 
doesn't like what it sees.

"It's because of this nickname that Vancouver has been named 'Vansterdam'. 
Vancouver's mayor wants to legalize marijuana, but wants the governor [sic] 
to grow, sell and tax it to keep it out of the hands of criminals and to 
raise money for drug treatment programs."

A TV report to the same effect was broadcast to Fox New viewers across the 
U.S. on Wednesday. Spokesman Rob Zimmerman says during any 24-hour period, 
800,000 people watch the channel at any time of the day.

It's not the first time Vancouver has been referred to as Vansterdam, a 
play on Amsterdam, one of the most liberal of European cities.

The New York Times used the moniker because of our comparatively lax laws 
on drugs and sex. For example, it said, Vancouver exotic dancers, male and 
female, need not wear nipple tassels, pasties or G-strings here, the way 
they do in U.S. cities.

The Fox report came only a day before incoming Vancouver Board of Trade 
chairman Graeme Stamp said high rates of property crime, panhandling and 
squeegee kids are damaging the city's international reputation.

"If we really want to see how great this city and region can be, we need to 
fix these problems," said Stamp, who is also executive vice-president of 
Fairmont Developments Ltd. "We need to keep demanding answers from our 

Pointing out that Vancouver has a higher property crime rate than any city 
in Canada or the U.S., Stamp said the city doesn't have enough police 
officers to deal with the problem.

"Less than 10 per cent of property crimes are solved and even more 
frustrating, the repeat offenders continually get weak sentences." The cost 
of property crime in the city in 2002 was $128 million which was borne 
mostly by individual households.

But for Simon Fraser University urban geographer Warren Gill, the 
Vansterdam tag is evidence of what he believes is the desirable reputation 
Vancouver has as a place to live and let live.

While not condoning drug use, Gill says Vancouver's high population of 
"bohemians" makes it a "liberal, edgy kind of place," and that liberalism 
translates into the city's success as a tolerant and socially progressive 
place to live.

"I take it as a positive because Amsterdam's a very positive city," Gill 
said. "It has a wonderful urban character, so I think that's admirable. 
Whether it will alienate right-wing Americans, I don't think so."

None of the U.S. tourists interviewed by The Vancouver Sun on Thursday said 
it deterred them.

In fact, Tim Pasquarello of Boston said it was one of the main reasons he 
wanted to visit.

"I think it has a reputation of being more environmentally aware and 
socially just," he said.

Jeff Hardy, from Puyallup, Wash., also said he knew that Vancouver laws 
regarding marijuana are more liberal than they are where he lives -- a 
place he described as "much more conservative" -- but it had no effect on 
his decision to bring his family here for a holiday.

Rosemarie Bayless of Colorado Springs said she had heard someone say 
Vancouver had a reputation for being socially liberal.

As far as she and her husband, Chuck, are concerned, "It's a really nice 
city," she said. "Beautiful."

Representatives of Tourism Vancouver say the city's liberal attitudes are 
not something they use to market the place. Nor is it something they try to 

Instead, they focus on the basics -- "the beauty, the proximity to the 
Pacific, the friendliness," says Stephen Pearce, vice-president of leisure 
travel and destination management.

"When [Americans] come here, they're always amazed by the destination 
itself and the way they're treated."

They also appreciate Vancouver's diverse ethnic mix, he says.

"When they actually see the ethnic richness of the city, it really blows 
them away." 
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jo-D