Pubdate: Mon, 16 Oct 2000
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: The Vancouver Sun 2000
Contact:  200 Granville Street, Ste.#1, Vancouver BC V6C 3N3
Fax: (604) 605-2323
Authors: Mike Tropp, Fred Michael

Don't Forsake Drug Addicts

So Mayor Philip Owen has said No to safe injection sites, as an
integral part of the management of public illegal drug use, for the
Downtown Eastside.  He was not present at the Sept. 16 meeting at the
Cambie Street police building when Werner Schneider, the coordinator
of drug policy for Frankfurt, Germany, detailed his city's efforts and
results with a drug scene comparable to Vancouver's.

Nor was Mayor Owen present the following week for the two-day
conference on the same topic.  Hundreds were in attendance, including
experts from Germany, the U.S., Denmark, The Netherlands and

What the Europeans have accomplished over 10 to 15 years, in getting a
handle on the street scene, with its misery, deaths and costs to the
larger community, we have not even begun - although we were given an
analysis and concepts for management in the LeDain Commission reports
of 1970 and 1972.

That a man so blinkered can decide what services should and shouldn't
be implemented is a conceit of stunning proportion.  Mayor Owen is
neither doctor, policeman, street worker, author, professor, drug user
or coroner.

Councillor Jennifer Clarke was present, participated and seemed to be
sufficiently impressed with the guests' unvarnished detailing of their
situations - and with the statistics flowing from those efforts.  But
her opinion is not good enough for Mayor Owen. Pity.

Mike Tropp

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I support any initiative that will help free Vancouver from the urban
cancer of drug addiction.  People need to wake-up and realize our
Downtown Eastside is populated by some of the sickest people in North
America and that their sickness is not going to cure itself.  These
people need help.

By opposing the opening of a resource centre for drug addicts, the
Gastown Strathcona and Chinatown business leaders are misguided.  As a
businessman, I have sympathy for their plight and , like them, I would
very much want my neighbourhood to be a welcoming one.  However, they
are in denial if they think that, magically, those poor souls will
migrate from their area to "somewhere else" for treatment.  For any
organized treatment plan to have a chance of succeeding, the resources
must be concentrated where the problem lies.

Fred Michael
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