Opinion Column

Money wasted on Vancouver's DTES

Leo Knight Prime Time Crime columnist 24 hours (PHOTO SUBMITTED).

By Leo Knight, Law and Order, 24 hours Vancouver

Vancouver police patrol the Downtown Eastside. (FILE PHOTO/24 HOURS)

Vancouver police patrol the Downtown Eastside. (FILE PHOTO/24 HOURS)

The hand-wringing continues unabated in the Downtown Eastside. The weekend’s Vancouver Sun detailed a laundry list of 260 agencies that provide some form of “service” to the roughly 6,500 residents in need in what we used to call the “Skids.” 

Those 260 agencies collectively spend an estimated million dollars a day in a neighbourhood that plays host to the world’s largest open-air drug bazaar. The DTES also contains North America’s first supervised injection site, where heroin addicts can use to their heart’s content, safe in the knowledge that if they overdo it, a health-care professional paid for by the taxpayer will ensure they are brought back to life and live to stick a needle in a vein another day.

Broken down, that’s a little over $48,000 per year per resident impacted. And that’s before you factor in the money given to them in welfare, housing, the cost of medical care, plus the policing or corrections costs that are all inevitably involved.

Instead, we have a small circle of hand-wringers and poverty pimps trying to convince the rest of us (who actually pay the bills) that salvation is at hand. It isn’t. The vast majority of these folks cannot be fixed, whether it is their addiction issues that caused their mental health issues or vice versa. It’s all related. Let’s at least admit it.

Thirty years ago, junkies didn’t use in the open on the streets or in an alley. They would get arrested. The open-air drug bazaar in the East Hastings area that has been prevalent for the past 15 or 20 years didn’t exist when the Vancouver Police Department had control of the streets.

And there’s the rub. VPD gave up control of the streets when they started hosting community barbecues at Main and Hastings, and calling junkies and dealers “clients.”

Then came the likes of the group Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users, who trotted out the nonsense that drug users were somehow a part of mainstream society. In fact, I was stunned to learn in the Vancouver Sun that Vancouver Coastal Health was, in part, funding VANDU. While it’s true that VCH has to deal with the ramifications of drug use, it should not be funding the enablers who are foisting their ridiculous views on those of us who actually pay the freight for this bafflegab.

The story is not about how much all of this is costing, it should be about how do we stop the nonsense.

And all of this for 6,500 folks. For the record, Riverview used to be home to about 5,000 patients. But that was before we became enlightened.

Leo Knight is a former police officer, security expert and host of primetimecrime.com.



Is the funding for services for Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside money well spent?

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