With the civic election just a few weeks away, Winnipeg mayoral candidates are laying out their plans to deal with one of the city’s biggest issues: Meth.
Tim Diack was the latest to unveil a policy Tuesday, pledging to create a 12-officer Health Sciences Centre police unit at a cost of $1.4 million.
He says the roles of the HSC guards would remain the same, but adding cops is a better option than training and arming the current guards.
“What you’re requesting is an armed private security or company or police force operation in this neighbourhood,” Diack said.
“That’s not acceptable. It will have to be trained and experienced police officers. That is our only option.”
Jenny Motkaluk announced a plan last week to create a police meth task force which would track and disrupt meth distribution in Winnipeg from point of insertion to final distribution.
“Meth users are victims too – if we thwart usage by choking off supply we can save lives and then prevent the rippling crime effect associated (with) pre and post consumption,” Motkaluk said in a release.
Safe injection sites?
There has been no official announcement from Mayor Brian Bowman, but at recent mayoral forum, he was asked about creating a safe injection in the city even without provincial approval, something he didn’t say no to.
“I don’t think we can afford to rule anything out if it’s going to help save lives in our community,” Bowman said.
Winnipeg city council approved a motion at the last council meeting to call on the federal and provincial governments to create a joint task force with the city in the next 60 days. If the task force is not supported by other levels of government, the city would create and lead the task force.
Marion Willis of St. Boniface Street Links, a facility which houses and treats meth addicts, says a proper plan to combat meth needs to involve discussions with grassroots organizations like hers.
“You have to involve those organizations that have feet on the ground and are in the trenches, and dealing with the population every day, because we’re the ones dealing with it.”
She said out of eight candidates, only Bowman and Doug Wilson have met with her to find out more about the crisis and she worries by the time the election is all said and done, nothing will have been done to even make progress.
“I’m disappointed, but I’m not surprised.”
Candidate Don Woodstock told Global News he has an announcement coming soon to “truly deal” with the issue and has also pledged to create a tiny-home community outside of the city, which would rehab people addicted to meth and give them the proper time they would need.
Umar Hayat says he is in favour of a safe injection site and would look at providing more mental health resources.
WATCH: Winnipeg’s meth crisis: Safety