Community safety concerns prompts public forum for Vancouver neighbourhood

Click to play video: 'Public meeting planned by Vancouver neighbourhood concerned about open drug use.'
Public meeting planned by Vancouver neighbourhood concerned about open drug use.
People living in a False Creek neighbourhood are so concerned about their community's safety, they're holding a public forum Tuesday night. As Tanya Beja reports, they're struggling to deal with the open drug use they say is making their community unsafe – Sep 9, 2018

Residents of Vancouver’s Crosstown neighbourhood are hosting a public forum Tuesday evening to address what they view as growing health and safety concerns in the area.

“Increasingly, chaos on the street has made us feel very unsafe, and has created an unhealthy environment,” says Fern Jeffries of the Crosstown Residents Association.

Repeated discoveries of discarded needles, garbage and human feces in Andy Livingstone Park have prompted calls for all levels of government and local health authorities to step-up their involvement.

“I think the concerns we have, and cries we are making, will be shared by neighbourhoods across the city,” Jeffries says.

According to the Park Board, a permanent ranger station is located in Andy Livingstone Park, and rangers work with Vancouver Police, city sanitation services and the Vancouver School Board to patrol, clean and secure the area. The park is used as a playground by students at Crosstown Elementary School.

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Vancouver Park Board vice-chair Sarah Kirby-Yung says she plans to attend the forum.

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“We’ve put sharp needles boxes into our community centres across the city and also into specific park locations. The challenge is really keeping up with it because the use is so prolific and it’s a challenge. We’ve dispatched extra park rangers and there have been additional resources put towards this area, and unfortunately, the situation isn’t getting better, it’s getting worse,” Kirby-Yung says.

But residents say the park mess is symptomatic of much bigger addiction and mental health challenges that require a coordinated response from the province, city and health authorities.

“There is a desperation over addiction that’s not being addressed. Once people are stabilized in housing, they need treatment, and we don’t see that,” Jeffries says.

Residents say they hope the public forum will help create long-term, sustainable solutions. In the short-term, they want better garbage collection and more bins nearby.

“We don’t want anyone to tell us to call 311. We’ve done that, we’ve been there,” Jeffries says.

​The public forum is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Sept. 11 at Crosstown Elementary School.


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