Strathcona residents, businesses, decry consultation on supervised injection sites
Residents' association, BIA, say not enough consultation; they have worries about increase in crime
Residents in Strathcona are concerned about the choice of location for two supervised injection sites proposed by Vancouver Coastal Health.
Vancouver Coastal Health announced it has submitted applications to Health Canada for two locations in the neighbourhood, at 528 Powell Street and 330 Heatley Street.
But Pete Fry, former executive member of the Strathcona Residents' Association, says the community wasn't adequately consulted.
"It was never really communicated adequately and I think therein lies some of the larger concerns about how it's going to be managed," Fry told On The Coast host Stephen Quinn.
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Fry says harm reduction needs to be looked at more "holistically," which includes the needs of local businesses and residents.
He says crime aspects of the ongoing fentanyl and overdose crisis need to be considered and worries two supervised injection sites only a block apart will increase local drug dealing.
"Most people [in Strathcona] are saying we need more harm-reduction sites, but we also need to spread it throughout the city," Fry said. "We can't keep siloing it all in one small, 10-block radius."
Approval expected to take months
Fry's concerns were echoed by the Strathcona Business Improvement Association, whose president, Joji Kumagai, penned an open letter criticizing Vancouver Coastal Health.
"Rubber stamping policies that address one issue, albeit a critical one, will not solve the broader problems communities will encounter, and could easily create new ones," the letter read.
"Strathcona business owners already cite safety as a primary concern due to an increase in homelessness, open substance use, and often, misinformation about the issues at hand."
The SBIA raised concerns about a lack of police resources for a community they say has many of the same problems the nearby Downtown Eastside faces.
The Health Canada approval process for the proposed sites is expected to take a number of months.
Vancouver Coastal Health reports that through September, Vancouver has seen 110 drug overdose deaths in 2016.
With files from CBC Radio One's On The Coast
To hear the full interview with Pete Fry, click the audio labelled: Strathcona residents, businesses, decry consultation on supervised injection sites