Victoria: You step in it and then scrape it off of your shoe.

I pulled the following off of the Vibrant Victoria forum. This comes as the third act of life in Victoria. Act One: crippling high cost-of-living and housing prices-- the 13th highest in the world. Gordon Campbell's goons in the Liberal government has done a crypto anti-downloading by handling out huge assessment spikes so that municipal governments can tax homeowners that much more rather than go hat-in-hand to the provincial government. What do we get for the third act of life in Victoria? Shit. Literally.
Thank you liberal government policies, thank you. We have now entered the days of law-abiding citizens being second in line to notorious law-breaking citizens. For the latter are sick and should be cared for not punished by the man for their repetitive wrongdoings.

It’s time to take back our streets
Pack of hardcore drug users making Cormorant Street neighbourhood unlivable
This is a copy of a letter distributed by lawyer Stewart Johnston, who has a law office on Cormorant Street.

Today, I stepped in a turd. What made it all the more disgusting was that this was not a dog turd, but a big human turd. Going out the back door of my office, after shooing away the junkie rooting for bottles in my locked recycled-paper bin, I stepped in it.

As I cleaned this revolting mess off my shoe, wondering what exotic diseases it contained, I questioned my move to the Cormorant Street neighbourhood. I also thought of my conversation with my next-door neighbour who, as he picked up human feces and other trash deposited by the lawless band of junkies, asked, “For this I went to medical school?”

He and I looked around at the high barbed-wire fences sprouting up in our heritage-zoned neighbourhood and shared the thought that it would be sad to have to fence in our beautiful old brick houses.

My residential neighbour came by today to warn my staff to be cautious throwing out the garbage and shredded paper because she had seen the junkies poking something into the handles of the bins.

The junkies party on my back doorstep each night, chipping out the bricks, digging up the flowerbed, and depositing their needles. My neighbour phoned the police twice last night.

On her suggestion, I have removed the light bulb from my back door in hope that they will find a source of light elsewhere to aid in their search for veins.

There is a serious health issue here. Human feces and used syringes can be dangerous to those coming into contact with them. It is at least a hundred years since we stopped dumping our chamber pots in the streets.

Is Victoria reverting to this quaint old custom which led to gentlemen walking on the outside of the sidewalk to spare their ladies? Vancouver Island Health Authority is funding the needle exchange for valid health reasons. What about the effluent that flows from its users?

My truck has been vandalized twice in broad daylight while parked behind my office — once by the insertion of a hypodermic needle in the sidewall of the tire, ruining the tire. On phoning the police it was suggested I park elsewhere.

I complained about the needles and trash to city councillors, one of whom told me I was “not following the proper protocol for safe disposal of syringes.”

Why will the city officials do nothing about this? Why can my neighbours and I not have the protection of property, health and safety other citizens of this community take for granted?

Instead, the mayor and council say they are powerless, that it is a social problem, or that the senior governments should fund the solution.

Yes, the province and the feds have offloaded the problem and should fund the solution, but so should the city act on it. It is this same attitude that brings about penalties for the victims of graffiti instead of increased efforts to eliminate vandalism.

Our downtown is sadly demonstrating the decay that results from the abuses of a few outweighing the rights of the rest of us to live in a safe and healthy city. It is costing us tourists, conventioneers and shoppers.

I have publicly pointed this out as chairman of both Tourism Victoria and the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority. I have also advocated the need for treatment programs, facilities and shelters and I continue to do so.

The problem I am experiencing in the Cormorant Street neighbourhood is not with the homeless. I have gotten to know my homeless neighbours. I greet J. who lives in the alley and is trying to get his life back on track; I chat with D. who has HIV and lacks the energy to hold down a job just as I greet and visit with my neighbours on the street where I live.

They cause me no harm. I am saddened by their plight and heartened by their brave attitude.

The problem is the pack of 45 hardcore intravenous users who live in a homeless tribal culture, migrating from the blue bridge to the needle exchange and onward to my backyard to shoot up, defecate, vandalize my property and disturb my residential neighbours.

The police have reported about them to city council. Yet they are permitted to continue this behaviour, violating numerous laws including criminal laws.

If I were to carry on in this way I expect I would be arrested. If my dog were repeatedly to defecate on the doorstep of City Hall, action would be taken. Why, then, is nothing being done to stop the lawless activities of this tribe of urban nomads?

Why are my neighbours and I expected to clean up the disgusting droppings of this “social problem,” following “the proper protocol?”

Society needs to take responsibility for its problems and share the burden. I know that you would not put up with this on your doorstep. Neither will I. I am listening closely to the statements of our civic, provincial, and federal politicians. I am encouraging all my neighbours to appeal their property assessments on the basis of the degradation of property value from the lawlessness permitted by government.

In this way at least our high taxes might be lowered so we can afford cleanup, security, and yes, maybe barbed-wire fences. Come election time I will remember who said what. The hardcore tribe doesn’t vote. We do.

After all, that is the proper protocol.
Can I add in some important points? Rob Fleming and Carole James are the MLAs for the area. What are they doing to make this an important issue? It seems like they are doing nothing. Are they preparing for the role as the official government. Whenever that happens.
Mayoy Alan Lowe lives virtually on the border of Victoria. I can understand why he has little sympathy for the plight of the people living near this needle exchange. They didn't put that page into his "Mayor Lowe's Phrase Book."

BTW, don't swallow what the Tourism industry of Victoria is serving about this being a nice little vacation spot.


Verbatim said…
Clearly that is serious problem. It's gotten out of hand. As I'm sure Mr. Johnston knows, though, a large part of the problem is that a lot of those offences are basically untraceable, so unless the cops (or a witness) catches them in the act, the cops can't do much about it. And they probably don't want to, because it's a lot of work only for some almost irrelevant summary offences that won't result in any time off the street for the accused.

The problem with the Four Pillars approach is that, like a table, all four have to be in place at the same time, and near each other. Victoria has, maybe, two pillars active, and they're seperated by significant distance. Basically, all the needle-exchange has become is a junkie clubhouse. This is not what people had in mind when they agreed to it.

Personally, I would install a bunch of video cameras, so the police couldn't say they had no evidence to link the acts to particular people. The fear of surveillance also tends to drive criminals elsewhere.
Mike DeWolfe said…
You are right. This would mean that the junkies would have a lot of $200 tickets.
Victoria has become a haven for drug addicts. It couldn't be better: mild weather, plentiful food and drugs, sympathetic cops and lots of parks to pass out in.

I think the video camera approach is a good idea. I am fully against government surveillance cameras because they make for information asymetry (e.g. The government can see the streets, but you are not allowed). But if private citizens trained cameras on the feculant world outside, they could record, they could share the data-- heck, if webcams can be used to prevent illegal border crossings in the American Southwest, they can be used for pretty much anything :D

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