West Broadway residents pepper experts with queries on meth issue, homelessness
'We worry they're our friends, they're our family members, our neighbours'
Trish Coyle is fed up and wants help, but she doesn't know where to turn. The West Broadway resident no longer feels safe leaving her apartment alone.
"I think I've phoned the police more the past six months than I have in my entire 59 years of life," said Coyle Tuesday night.
Coyle, who lives in a housing co-op, said she is regularly asked if she wants to buy Percocet pills or pot.
"Do I look like a person that would take drugs?"
"I'm very concerned about what's happening here. It's getting scary to go out. Even in the afternoon it's scary, to go to McDonald's for a coffee you're seeing arguments and fights, you're seeing people coming in that are obviously high on something."
She and other residents gathered inside a room at Gordon Bell High School to hear from experts about what they can do to take back their community. The goal of the night was to have residents leave feeling empowered, said Greg MacPherson, executive director of the West Broadway Community Organization.
MacPherson, together with representatives from other non-profits as well as a police officer, bylaw officer and health experts, fielded difficult questions from residents about issues facing their community.
Residents seemed eager to come up with solutions. There were questions about a safe-injection site and a common theme was the impact meth use is having on the area.
MacPherson said there has been a rise in petty crime, the use of injection drugs and homelessness in the area over the last two years.
'The community has to come together'
"We worry they're our friends, they're our family members, our neighbours and any time you see folks struggling to that extent it's concerning."
Coyle said she regularly sees people chopping up bikes in the area while others try to make a quick buck by selling them.
"We have people going down the back lane selling stolen bikes out of pickup trucks for $25, $30."
Coyle said she felt reassured after hearing from Winnipeg police officer Réjeanne Caron who encouraged her to call in crime to police. Coyle said she had called so many times she didn't know if she should continue phoning.
Caron said Winnipeg police are seeing some improvements to crime and disorder in the area and noted police made the West Broadway Crossways in Common drop-in, which is frequented by transient folks, a hot spot.
"What I attribute that to is a lot of the community coming together. Everybody sticking together, not blaming each other and really tonight is an attestation to that."
"You can't police your way out of things. We just can't do that anymore. That's just not the way," said Caron, who was speaking in her role as a police officer but is planning to represent the federal Conservatives in Saint-Boniface-Saint-Vital during the federal election next year.