Rescuing Granville: Moving Safe Injection Site Will Be a Good Start!

At last, the City of Vancouver will be taking a first step that could eventually make possible the restoration of Granville Street safe as a shopping, dining and entertainment zone.

The City has announced it will not be renewing the lease for the Overdose Prevention Society set up at 1101 Seymour St. in Yaletown in 2021, during the occupation of City Hall by the former radical left extremist Council.

Since the injection site opened, the streets, park and surrounding residential neighborhood … including families with young children … have been plagued by drug addicts congregating near the site, discarding needles, overdosing and increasing crime and assaults.

I don’t believe most people oppose provision of safe injection sites, but they should not be located where they will damage/destroy/threaten key residential/shopping areas … giving drug users priority over people who invest their life savings in shops, businesses, housing!

Rather, such facilities should be restricted to industrial and warehouse areas, where they can operate 24-hours a day if needed. And where social services agencies, assistance centers could also be located right there beside them, without destroying residential, shopping areas around them.

Remember, we are not talking normal social housing here: we’re referring to the most difficult to house, the severely impacted drug-users who overdose frequently, those who steal to support their habits, and also those who are violent, mentally ill.

Why would any civic and provincial authorities place this population in and abutting any city’s main commercial downtown artery … and the nearby residential area?

How could City Hall and the NDP provincial government be so blind to what had happened to the Strathcona area after hundreds of these people put up tents and shelters there? Thefts from nearby backyards saw anything that wasn’t nailed down disappear; needles were found everywhere … even school grounds … and violence riddled the area where families … many of them with young children … had invested their savings/lives.

The Strathcona squatters had to go … and they did, eventually.

In the same vein,, just moving the safe injection site won’t solve all the Granville area’s problems.

The City has to undo the terrible damage the former City Council and the BC NDP government did to Vancouver’s downtown core by deliberately buying up hotels in the area and filling them with some of the most-challenged homeless, drug users and the mentally ill.

I don’t know ANY other major city where politicians would be so dumb and so incompetent as to spend hundreds of millions of taxpayers’dollars to import/place the most unfortunate segment of society right in the heart of the city’s shopping, dining, entertainment core!

Not in Times Square or Piccadilly or the Ginza or Champs Elyse or Yonge/College or Peel/St. Catherine.

So why in the Granville core? I believe it was all driven by blind extremist socialist ideology … aimed at giving priority to the homeless, druggies and mentally ill … and to hell with the local business owners, Yaletown residents and tourists/visitors.

The result: a crime and violence-infested former downtown shopping, dining and entertainment strip that many businesses abandoned and where many shoppers and nearby residents now fear tread … day or night .

The only way that will ever change will be if City Hall, and a wiser provincial government that admits a terrible mistake was made (lots of luck!), and follow up by slowly but surely acquiring more suitable sites elsewhere and relocating those now causing severe damage to the Granville area.

Where? The best areas to acquire additional sites and provide/build alternative housing and services remain: the eastern end of the Hastings/Main/Powell, Cordova area; among the light industrial, storage and distribution complexes between that area and the harbourfront train tracks; and, the empty industrial lands north of Terminal Avenue, and also abutting the new St Paul’s Hospital site.

And maybe it’s about time the City/Coastal Health/Province stopped spending millions providing free housing and services to those who aren’t even from the Lower Mainland, but have come here from elsewhere in BC, and the rest of Canada, drawn by easy drug availability, little or no legal enforcement … and word of free housing. Send them home!

Getting rid of the Yaletown safe injection site will only be a start: it MUST be followed by clearing out the NDP’s disastrous Granville-area housing/services for down-and-outers that destroyed Vancouver’s shopping, dining and entertainment district.

Only then can Granville be restored.

Harv Oberfeld

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