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City councillors to request city support for inquiry

Vancouver city councillors are calling on the city to support the recommendation of a coroner’s inquest into the death of Curtis Brick this summer.

“The main things that were asking for is that council endorse the Union of BC Indian Chiefs and the various groups who are asking for a coroners inquest. So we’re asking that we endorse that call,” city councillor Kerry Jang told the Tyee.

Last week the UBCIC held a press conference demanding the coroner hold an inquest into the response by emergency officials surrounding the death of the homeless First Nations man on July 29 in Grandview Park near Commercial Drive.

An inquest would investigate claims witnesses have made that emergency officials took to long to respond to a call which came after Brick had been laying in the park for up to eight hours, that they made racist remarks, and did not perform immediate treatment or use their sirens. It would also investigate an alleged 45-minute gap between when the ambulance left the park, and arrived at the hospital where Brick died later that night.

Jang, along with fellow councillor Andrea Reimer will put the motion to city council at their first meeting back from summer break on September 8.

The motion will further request the Mayor write a letter on behalf of the Mayor and Council, also encouraging the coroner to hold an inquest, and suggest that the city review its emergency services for extreme weather to see if there are any ways to enhance those services.

Jang said while the city has taken some good steps this summer, setting up shade tents, and handing out water on the Downtown Eastside, there is room for improvement. We can’t just assume that the homelessness population is going to get by on its own, he said.

“That’s the thing that bothers me the most, that we’ve become so complacent about the homeless population. We’re just so used to it that we don’t care anymore.”

Jang, coming from a medical background, said one improvement would be to ensure street workers and emergency service providers are trained with common language to avoid confusion that may have lead to officials treating the situation without the proper urgency.

First and foremost however, he said, the details of the incident need to be clear.

“There are a lot of witness statements and a lot of different groups involved with this now, and I think from the city’s perspective, we’re certainly not pre-judging, and if we simply let the inquest happen, and if it does happen just let it do it’s work.”

Reimer and Jang will put the motion forward to city council at their first meeting back from summer break on Tuesday, September 8.

Christine McLaren reports for The Tyee.

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