Editor, The News:
Re: A sad, sorry never-ending story (Sidewinder, Sept. 2).
I would like applaud Sandy Macdougall’s article concerning the drug issue facing Maple Ridge.
What a breath of fresh air to hear someone say that zero tolerance is a key factor on the success stories of recovering drug addicts. This may seem obvious, but I think it is lost on our leaders.
Why don’t we take a look at what does work. The Union Gospel Mission in downtown Vancouver provides food, shelter, clothing and many other resources to those who need it. The big difference is there is zero tolerance to any drugs on, in or around the property.
The grounds around the facility are spotless, as the people that use the facility are responsible for keeping the neighbourhood clean. Imagine that, actually working for your food. I wonder what that does for a person’s self-esteem?
It’s great that Maple Ridge recognizes the drug problem, although it’s not hard to miss, and wants to do something about it. But I think the goal is to help the people who want help, who want to get clean, and get their life back. How does a place that permits drugs and drug use, and now considering a safe injection site, help reach that goal? How does a person who comes to the shelter to leave the street life of drugs to get help, stand a chance when it’s all happening inside as well?
Zero tolerance on drugs may see like an impossible task, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive towards it. Shelters need boundaries, allowing the best resources for those people who want help, rather than spending money on those people who just want to abuse it.
I know lives that have changed for the better from zero tolerance. However, I am not aware of changed lives for the better where clean needles, and a comfortable place to do drugs are offered.
To combat the ever-growing increase of drugs in Maple Ridge, why not offer a reward system that leads to an arrest of any drug dealer, minimize the dealers, minimize the drugs. Do a campaign of personal testimonies, of success stories at school assemblies, particular to the age groups that are starting, or about to start being confronted with drugs.
We have an excellent resource right in our own backyard at Alouette Addictions, which has years of professional experience on educating kids and parents on everything they need to know about drugs.
Why doesn’t Maple Ridge look at the success of other shelters in Vancouver and use their business models. They’ve been doing it for years, and we clearly have no idea how to handle it.