‘You should be ashamed’: Concerns around safe drug site aired at emotional city hall meeting

23
158
‘You should be ashamed’: Concerns around safe drug site aired at emotional city hall meeting




Security around the Sheldon M. Chumir Health Centre has stepped up after numerous complaints from the community in Calgary on Tuesday January 29, 2019. Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia


Desperate and angry residents who live near the city’s only safe drug-consumption site queued at city hall Wednesday to vent their concerns about rising violence and crime around the Safeworks facility at the Sheldon Chumir Centre.

“We’re basically at war right now,” said Murray Shuturma, president of the Park 300 condo. Shuturma said his building, which looks over Memorial Park across the street from the Chumir centre, is broken into on a daily basis. “Nobody is protecting us.

“We’ve had somebody chased with a shotgun in the building,” Shuturma said. “We have people shooting up (in) the vestibule of our building. People are afraid to come in and people are afraid to go out.”

Story after story at the emotionally charged meeting saw neighbours and business owners — some of them initially supportive of the supervised consumption site — describe increasing frustration with a perceived lack of concern from authorities.

Residents told stories about finding overdose victims in the street, aggressive encounters outside their homes and repeated thefts from vehicles and storage sheds. Several neighbours said their messages and phone calls to AHS have gone unanswered.


Shelf Life Books can be found on 4th Street SW.

Jager & Kokemor /

Swerve

Will Lawrence, an owner of Shelf Life Books — kitty-corner from the Chumir — said his staff don’t feel equipped to handle some of the people and problems that arrive on their doorstep, including people coming in to use drugs in the store.

One incident required the replacement of a large double-pane window for $1,400: “They walked across the street, broke a window with a club that they took out of their jacket (and) grabbed a book and walked away,” Lawrence said, adding the store has since spent $7,000 on security cameras.

“This is no way to live your life,” said Coun. Evan Woolley, following an unsettling story about residents coming upon a woman in the throes of a psychotic episode in a blood-stained condo stairwell. “This is nerve-racking stuff.”

Woolley, who is councillor for the area, said a sharp increase in meth use across the city has contributed to a spike in violent crime in the area.

A January police report showed that within a 250-metre zone of the Chumir, there has been a 276 per cent increase in drug-related calls to police. Violence in the area is up nearly 50 per cent, while vehicle crime has increased 63 per cent.

The committee also heard from people working on all sides of the drug crisis, including a panel of health officials and law enforcement.

AHS provided updated statistics pointing out that there have been 850 overdose reversals since the supervised consumption site opened in 2017.

One woman, who previously used meth and now works as a peer support worker at the Chumir, criticized the city for not including someone with lived experience of drug addiction on the panel.

Jessica McEachern slammed one councillor for describing drug dealers as “scumbags” and suggested a lot of criminal activity can be attributed to the fact there isn’t a reliable, safe supply of drugs available.

“It’s $114,000 to put a person in jail for a year. If you were to put just a third of that into support for a person, you would never see that person in trouble again,” McEachern said.

Committee members heard a number of potential suggestions to mitigate the effects of the crisis, from creative strategies to incentivize needle and drug debris cleanup, to requests to create “lockers” to allow homeless people a place to keep their belongings safe.

At least one councillor was not convinced.

Coun. Sean Chu said he doesn’t agree that drug use should be equated with disease, calling it “a choice” and calling for increased emphasis on individual responsibility.

“Who would love to have this shooting gallery move to your neighbourhood? Anybody? Raise your hand,” said Chu.

A furious Woolley — who lost his own brother to an accidental overdose in 2018 — slapped down his colleague: “I think you should be ashamed of some of the things that come out of your mouth,” he said.

Details presented at Wednesday’s hearing will be brought forward to the next council meeting.

The Feb. 25 meeting will see elected officials vote on a 12-point proposal to implement short-term measures to address rising crime and social disorder around the Chumir.

[email protected]

Twitter: @mpotkins

23 COMMENTS

  1. I have been browsing on-line greater than 3 hours nowadays, yet I by no means found any interesting article like yours. It¦s pretty price enough for me. Personally, if all webmasters and bloggers made good content as you did, the web shall be a lot more helpful than ever before.

  2. Thanks for sharing superb informations. Your web site is so cool. I am impressed by the details that you have on this web site. It reveals how nicely you perceive this subject. Bookmarked this web page, will come back for extra articles. You, my pal, ROCK! I found just the info I already searched everywhere and simply could not come across. What an ideal site.

  3. Can I just say what a relief to find someone who actually knows what theyre talking about on the internet. You definitely know how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people need to read this and understand this side of the story. I cant believe youre not more popular because you definitely have the gift.

  4. Currently it seems like Movable Type is the best blogging platform available right now. (from what I’ve read) Is that what you’re using on your blog?

  5. What i do not understood is actually how you are not actually much more well-liked than you may be now. You’re very intelligent. You realize thus considerably relating to this subject, produced me personally consider it from so many varied angles. Its like men and women aren’t fascinated unless it is one thing to accomplish with Lady gaga! Your own stuffs great. Always maintain it up!

  6. Hiya, I’m really glad I have found this info. Today bloggers publish only about gossips and web and this is actually frustrating. A good blog with interesting content, that’s what I need. Thank you for keeping this web-site, I will be visiting it. Do you do newsletters? Cant find it.

  7. hello there and thank you in your information – I have definitely picked up anything new from right here. I did on the other hand experience some technical points the usage of this web site, since I skilled to reload the website many occasions previous to I may get it to load correctly. I had been pondering if your hosting is OK? No longer that I’m complaining, however slow loading circumstances occasions will sometimes have an effect on your placement in google and can damage your high quality rating if ads and ***********|advertising|advertising|advertising and *********** with Adwords. Well I am including this RSS to my email and could glance out for a lot extra of your respective fascinating content. Ensure that you replace this again soon..

  8. With havin so much content and articles do you ever run into any problems of plagorism or copyright violation? My website has a lot of unique content I’ve either written myself or outsourced but it appears a lot of it is popping it up all over the internet without my agreement. Do you know any solutions to help stop content from being stolen? I’d truly appreciate it.

  9. I think this is among the most important information for me. And i’m glad reading your article. But wanna remark on some general things, The site style is ideal, the articles is really nice : D. Good job, cheers

  10. I’ve read a few good stuff here. Certainly worth bookmarking for revisiting. I wonder how much effort you put to create such a wonderful informative site.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here