Pubdate: Wed, 13 Mar 2002
Source: Vancouver Courier (CN BC)
Copyright: 2002 Vancouver Courier
Author: Dale Hofmann


To the editor:

I read with dismay the piece "Chinatown group suing city for disregarding 
zoning bylaw for drug drop-in centre," Feb. 27.

First, let's make it clear-Chinatown does not oppose the Health Contact 
Centre. A handful of business owners and politicians oppose the centre, and 
have taken advantage of residents' fears and concerns about safety in their 
neighbourhoods to make political hay.

What the leaders of the so-called Community Alliance have consistently 
failed to do in their rabid opposition to health services for residents of 
the Downtown Eastside/Strathcona neighbourhoods is put forward any sort of 

We can all agree that the scourge of drug addiction must be stopped, and 
that everyone has a right to live in a safe and secure neighbourhood. The 
only measures being proposed to move towards those goals are precisely the 
ones the Community Alliance politicians would stop by any means possible.

Punishing drug addicts for their illness is as inhumane as would be exiling 
cancer patients or the physically challenged to life on the streets or in 
prison, but as importantly, it simply doesn't work. When faced with a 
course of action that clearly isn't working, the Alliance position is, "Do 
it harder." This position has been rejected by everyone involved, including 
the police and city council.

Absurdly, the excerpt from the Alliance's campaign materials describes 
precisely the problem that the Health Contact Centre is intended to 
address, in conjunction with other changes at the Hastings and Main corner. 
By offering addicts a place to access services off the street, the Centre 
will help to reduce traffic at the corner, while giving them an opportunity 
to access the help they need to make changes.

The four-pillar approach to dealing with drug addiction and the street drug 
trade has worked in in Europe and the U.S., and in those cities, opposition 
groups like the Alliance withered away when faced with the facts. 
Prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and enforcement combined in the 
coordinated approach agreed to by all levels of government and by all 
community groups but the Alliance will save lives and make all our 
neighbourhoods safer and happier places. Let's get on with it.

Dale Hofmann, Vancouver
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