May 01, 2004

Well, my last two letters to the Times-Colonist weren't published, so I guess I'll have to self-publish -

Dear Editor,

Re: Safe site's benefits touted at drug forum (4/9/04). The article did a wonderful job of pointing out the many benefits of a safe injection site in Vancouver. What wasn't mentioned was the cost. The Vancouver safe injection site cost 1.2 Million dollars to set up, and has an annual budget of 2 Million dollars, with an additional scientific research component of 1.5 million dollars. First year costs of 4.7 Million dollars. Any site that the city of Victoria might set up will be scaled down from that, but no matter how you look at it, it's a lot of money. With most social service providers budgets frozen, or being reduced, one has to question if this is something we should really even consider before the research in Vancouver is completed. The sad fact is that the money for a safe injection site is coming out of the budget for women's shelters, transitional housing for people getting off drugs, mental health care, community policing, and the gardening for parks and boulevards in our community. There are hard choices to be made. Nobody wants the addicted to die on the streets, but we also want the streets to be safe to walk on, with hanging flower baskets to be admired. Something that has to be addressed is that the citizens who are addicted to drugs are finding the money to buy drugs somehow. Every citizen who has come home to find their home broken into, or their businesses broken into knows at least one way that drugs are paid for. The victims of these crimes are going to have to be acknowledged as stake-holders in any plan to address the problem of addiction in our community.

Dear Editor,
Re: For a cocaine addict, safe sites mean safer streets
When writer Jack Knox talking about addicts supporting themselves through "petty crime", I truly hope he is not referring to the kind of armed robbery that our business suffered at the hands of a pair of local heroin junkies. I hope he isn't being casual about break and entering crimes like the one our store suffered that caused several thousand dollars worth of damage, again by heroin addicts who were known to police. I hope that Alan Lowe and the rest of city council does not think that any of the other crimes that occur on an almost daily basis against the businesspeople of this community are 'petty'. I hope that he doesn't expect someone who comes home to find their home violated by a burglary to think that it's just a petty little thing. They are crimes, nothing petty about them.


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