Thursday, February 7, 2008

Barry J. on Life in the DTES

My personal experience on the DTES seems almost more frustrating after I get clean than before, it didn't take me long to figure out the deck is stacked against anyone who tries to do anything recovery oriented down there.

I was asked, and accepted to be on the community consultation committee for the federally funded. drug court pilot project when it started down there a few years back. It was comprised of mostly comprised those involved in the junkie industry down there with the exception of the chair, Lynne Kennedy, who was the chair of the police board at that time.
The drug courts work quite well in the states but it soon became apparent to me that drug courts with the strong harm reduction twist they put on them in Vancouver make them very ineffective and I resigned, whets the point, they come into the program with the monkey on their back and they graduate with the monkey on their back, albeit, usually methadone which is a bigger monkey to wrestle than heroin but more socially acceptable.
For a while I was in talks, down at 390 Main, kitty corner to the Carnegie center with BOB (Building Opportunities for Business) which was federally funded through the Western Diversification program. They were very enthusiastic about my ideas concerning programs and social enterprise and how they could work, they were showing me city owned building all over town where we could get a big cut on rents etc.. Then they started telling me how we had to have low threshold programs with all the using junkies mixed in with those who were trying to stay clean and once again, I walked. What I learned from that was how inter-twined those who get a federal paycheck are with the poverty pimps down there. Some are on the boards of PHS and other non profits, so it all makes sense
Like you said in your talk at the Arbutus club, we can give a presentation to gov. or non-gov. people and the goodwill seems to be there but there is no follow-up. I spoke at the probation officers of B.C. annual conference at the R.C.M.P. training facililty in Chilliwack a couple of years ago and there seemed to be a lot of enthusiasm afterwards and some were wanting to stay in contact but there was absolutely no followup.

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