A downtown Vancouver resident says she fears for her family’s safety after a disturbing incident involving a drug user on the streets.
Jane, who does not want her last name used or the location of her home revealed, said she was pushing her toddler in a stroller just before lunch on Tuesday when she saw a man injecting something into his arm.
She said he happened to look up and caught her looking at him.
“He pulled out the needle from his arm, called us a number of cuss words, and began chasing us across the street saying he was going to kill me,” she told Global News.
“I was absolutely terrified. I had my daughter with me. He had his needle up in the air like he was going to use it.”
A woman on a bike helped Jane cross the street, she said, and they hid behind a truck until the man left.
“It was a very crowded area, but no one seemed to blink an eye because it just happens so frequently,” she said.
Following the incident, Jane shared a video online to warn others about what happened.
Jane, who has lived downtown for more than 10 years, said she and her partner wanted to raise their family there, but doesn’t think they will anymore.
“For some reason, the people living on the streets have become very aggressive towards downtown residents — very threatening, violent behaviour, needles everywhere in our playgrounds. It’s just not safe anymore,” she said.
Another young family told Global News they are having the same discussions about safety and raising a family.
Farhan and Tahira Mohamed have lived downtown for a number of years, but since the arrival of their daughter, Kaia, one month ago, they said they are questioning whether to stay in a neighbourhood they love.
“It’s become a really sad, disappointing, embarrassing place,” Farhan said.
“This is no surprise. This is no secret that this is what exists in Vancouver. But what’s interesting now is it’s spreading outside — it’s across downtown now.
“Now people are starting to take notice and say, ‘This is a problem’.”
Tahira said she sometimes get nervous when out walking with Kaia near their home.
“You see (the homeless people and drug users) all around and you feel bad, but at the same time, you’re looking out for your safety and your child’s safety,” she said.
Farhan said they’ve seen more and more needles on the streets during their daily walks, as well as people shooting drugs out in the open.
He said he has contacted the city and other levels of government, but no one is coming forward to help.
“We need more support, we need more resources,” he said.
“Walking around right now, especially later in the evenings — well, anytime during the day, but especially later in the evenings — it’s not a safe place.”
He said they have many conversations about if downtown is an affordable place to live, but they never imagined they would be wondering if it’s a safe place to live.
“Is downtown the place we want her to grow up?” Farhan asked.
Vancouver police told Global News they are investigating the incident involving Jane, and that she has provided video of the man.
Police said they can arrest and charge him if they can find him.
There have been a number of incidents reported recently involving some residents of the tent city at Strathcona Park and residents living nearby.
Campers moved in after the Oppenheimer and CRAB park encampments, also on the east side, were shut down earlier this year, as part of the province’s attempt to find them temporary housing and slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Chrissy Brett, spokeswoman for the tent city that has been dubbed Camp KT for Kennedy Trudeau, told Global News there is a mass crisis of synthetic drugs that are creating psychosis and excited delirium among some homeless people in the city.
“I’ve heard the prices have gone up and the supply has gone down,” she said.
“Now, people are cutting things with God knows what and it’s creating a level of psychosis I’ve never seen.”
— with files from Jordan Armstrong