Pubdate: Tue, 13 Jul 2004
Source: Melfort Journal, The (CN SN)
Copyright: 2004, The Melfort Journal
Author: Colin McGarrigle
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


Four years ago, the Town of Drayton Valley, AB took a bold step to tackle 
the growing problem of crystal meth in their community - they forced the 
issue into the public eye.

Drayton Valley, located 130 kilometres southwest of Edmonton, is a 
community roughly the same size of Melfort with 6,000 residents. After a 
presentation one evening in 2000, similar to the one held in Melfort on 
June 8, 2004 about the dangers and addictive qualities of crystal meth, 
town council asked the local RCMP Sergeant to come to a meeting to gather a 
more specific account of the problem in their town.

After council comprehended that meth use was becoming a grim reality within 
their boundaries and that many of their otherwise 'normal' citizens were 
falling prey to the drug's power, they decided it was time for action.

"What we saw happening in other communities was almost like a denial thing. 
They would say, 'it's not a problem in our community' and that was 
nonsense," explained Drayton Valley Mayor Moe Hamdon.

"It's a problem everywhere, but many communities are just not willing to 
recognize it and face up to it. So one thing was for sure - we were not 
about to take that approach," Hamdon emphasized.

One of the first solutions was to form community groups to learn more about 
the situation, support each other, and help the police in any way they could.

"One of the groups that was formed was the Parent to Parent Group," said 

"It's basically parents communicating with each other. They educate parents 
and help parents that are facing the issue in their home. They teach signs 
to look for, what to do now that you know your child is using or is 
addicted and how to cope. They have been a very strong group within our 
community," said Hamdon.

Besides a few more groups being formed, Drayton Valley council also took a 
significant step towards community safety - they hired four more RCMP officers.

"We added one additional member for just policing duties, one full-time 
community constable that does a lot of the work throughout the schools and 
in the community with education, and we hired two additional officers 
dedicated strictly to caseloads surrounding drugs - all kinds of drugs," 
said Hamdon, who explained that a tax increase was needed to fund the new 

"You have to recognize that there is more than just crystal meth - you 
can't just focus on the one drug. Being the drug of choice, obviously a lot 
of their work is focussed around that," explained Hamdon.

With a cost of approximately $350,000 a year for the four RCMP officers, 
Hamdon said that they have been very successful in gathering intelligence 
on dealers and labs that manufacture the drug.

Drayton Valley garnered national recognition on their efforts when the CBC 
did an extensive documentary on the crystal meth problem in the town, but 
Mayor Hamdon said it was worth it.

"We wanted to bring the issue out to the forefront and we recognized that 
being one of the first communities to do that, we ran the risk of being 
labeled as a drug town. That was a risk we were willing to take. I was more 
concerned with the well-being of the community as opposed to the image and 
I think it came out clear in the CBC documentary that although there may be 
a drug problem, the other image that came out of it was a community that 
was dealing with it."

Asked if Drayton Valley's meth problem has gotten any better over the 
years, Hamdon said that it's hard to put it all into perspective.

"I think it would be pretty hard to say that things have gotten better, but 
I would be pretty confident in saying they haven't gotten worse - and I 
have no doubt that it would have gotten worse. The awareness is definitely 

Even though it's hard to judge the results from their fight against crystal 
meth, Hamdon vowed to continue the struggle.

"You're not going to win this battle, or at least make a dent, unless you 
have armed your residents, your parents, your community and your teachers 
especially, with the information and understanding of the addictive 
qualities and the signs to look for - you have to begin with that and not 
be scared to talk about it."

"If you don't talk about it, you're going to wake up one day and find that 
your child is dealing with a serious addiction. It tears families apart," 
Hamdon finished.
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