Pubdate: Tue, 22 Jul 2008
Source: Richmond News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2008, Lower Mainland Publishing Group Inc.
Author: Fred Ursel


Re: "Recovery house plan scrapped," News, July 1.

The latest development of events reminded me when Turning Point
applied for the first time to establish a treatment centre on Odlin
Road in early 2000, the opposition to this project was intense. People
demonstrated outside city hall for days.

Reasons offered for opposing this project at council's town hall
meetings were hilarious, if they weren't so sadly misinformed and
misguided. Then, and now, people were led by uninformed individuals
enticing people to believe that having a treatment centre in their
area will certainly result in B&E's, robberies, rapes and attracting
other criminal elements. And to top it off, it was alleged that the
choice of location was racially motivated, since the majority of
people living in that area were of Chinese origin. Children living in
other parts of Richmond spoke at these public hearings that they were
afraid to go outside after 4 p.m. for fear that addicts may do serious
harm to them. Others attending these hearings said that in China
addicts were placed on an island and only could come back when they
were clean, adding that if they had known about this before, they
never would have immigrated to Canada. Talk about understanding
addiction, treatment/ rehabilitation and re-integration into society.

Turning Point eventually received permission to establish a treatment
centre. It is interesting to note that since this reputable
organization started to operate, none of the fear mongering
materialized -- not one incident of rape, B&E's, etc., supposedly to
be caused by addicts, was reported. Turning Point truly became the
proverbial "good neighbour," a fact which to this day is not
acknowledged in Richmond or in the Odlin Road neighbourhood.

Our civic politicians are the ones that approve or deny applications
for rehabilitation centres like Turning Point. Politicians have only
one interest and that is to win the next election. We, the voters,
thought that we could count on them for fair representation and to
deal with such issues justly. Alas, that is becoming more and more a
fable, a "once upon a time" story. Now the reality is that politicians
cater to whomever is providing the most votes in the next election. It
is not so much about humanity that is the issue, it sadly is more
about making money and garnering the most votes to retain or gain
power. After all, addicts don't really count -- do they? We don't
think of them as someone's husband, father, brother, mother, sister,
or neighbour, but as undesirables to be banished out of sight. It is
sad and disturbing when an affluent city turns its back on the
vulnerable in its midst. Compassion, kindness and understanding seem
to be totally lost.

What a sad statement.

Fred Ursel
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