St. Andrews parents rally against needle exchange

March 13, 2008 at 8:08 am Leave a comment

I attended the meeting the community meeting Wednesday night at St. Andrews elementary regarding the proposed relocation of the needle exchange to the 900 block of Pandora. The Times-Colonist’s Judith Lavoie writes about it here.

There was a large turnout and the vast majority were very vocal in their opposition. Most didn’t seem to oppose the presence of other VIHA planned facilities at St. John House, like the offices of the ACT/FACT teams and some of the other 40-50 planned healthcare workers–it was the needle exchange they felt was unacceptable.

One person pointed out the City has strict bylaws regarding the distance a liquor store can be from an elementary school but none on a needle exchange (St. John House is little over 200 feet away from St. Andrews).

Most of the speakers who addressed the VIHA reps, acting police chief Naughton and Councillor Charlayne Thornton-Joe were respectful but a few of the speakers who spoke to the panel were downright abusive. One loud man tried to bully Thornton-Joe into saying she would consider putting forth a motion to halt the process while a zoning loophole was found. She refused to play into his hand, saying she would thoughtfully consider the opinions of everyone who spoke, to which the man sneeringly threw a back-handed comment about her wearing a Teflon suit, a heated exchange that left the Councillor visibly shaken and upset.

I asked acting chief Naughton what their plans were to deal with the drug trade that is associated with needle exchanges and he said it would primarily consist of patrols and undercover “buy and bust” operations. The new police officers that have been requested will help the situation (two recruits were hired yesterday).

I also asked VIHA president Howard Waldner if he would he like to see a safe injection/consumption site at the Pandora site (if it were allowed by the federal government) and he said they have not come to a decision on using St. John House for that, although they support the concept of safe consumption sites as part of a harm-reduction policy.

Entry filed under: Harris Green, needle exhange, social issues.

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