West Broadway residents worry about spike in drug use, discarded needles
Police suspect new form of meth from B.C., Mexico making its way through Winnipeg
Residents living in Winnipeg's West Broadway area are growing increasingly concerned after an apparent spike in drug use and loose hypodermic needles found throughout the community this summer.
"It's a great neighbourhood, it's a very safe place to live, but in the past few months we've noted there has been an increase in some addictions issues," said Greg MacPherson, executive director of the West Broadway Community Organization.
In 20 years living in the West End, MacPherson said he can only remember one period about 10 years ago when things were as bad as they are now.
That's an indicator that there's more folks struggling with addiction in our neighbourhood.- Greg MacPherson
Last summer, the organization found about 20 such hypodermic needles around the community. By MacPherson's estimates, this summer they've come across 100 to 150.
"We're finding dozens, which [is] concerning again because I think where there's smoke there's fire," he said. "That's an indicator that there's more folks struggling with addiction in our neighbourhood."
He isn't sure what has caused the perceived rise in needle drug use in his neighbourhood but he believes it could have something to do with a new drug or drugs on the market.
The Winnipeg Police Service believes there is a new form of meth from Mexican and British Columbia labs working its way through Winnipeg that could be contributing to what MacPherson and others are noticing.
"The WPS is aware of meth making its way into the city and recently made a proactive, large seizure of meth," police told CBC News.
"We have reason to believe that the sale of crack cocaine is being replaced with meth because it is cheaper and more profitable. The one bottle method has been around for a long time but is not widely used in Winnipeg."
MacPherson said the public health concerns go beyond a potential increase in drug use in the area. People in the community also run the risk of stepping on or being pricked by needles that aren't disposed of safely.
The elevated drug use also seems to have coincided with a spike in vehicle thefts, sex trade and gang activity too, MacPherson said.
"There are addictions issues for reasons. Some of them are socioeconomic, some of them are mental health issues," he said. "I don't know if this is an easy world to be in sometimes, so people turn to the resources they have at their disposal."
The organization is scheduled to meet with Street Connections and police next week to come up with an integrated response to issues surrounding drug use in the neighbourhood.
"They're going to come and help us try and target responses that will make the best sense in terms of how do we support people who are struggling with this addiction right now," he said.
"How do we protect ourselves when people aren't disposing [needles] properly?"
With files from Marcy Markusa