Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

The Observer | UK News | Anti-heroin project transforms towns

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The Observer | UK News | Anti-heroin project transforms towns
A remarkable drugs project has transformed one of the regions worst affected by heroin addiction

One of the most intractable problems in this region is that of drugs – especially in the downtown east side. The so called “four pillars” program does not seem to be very effective, and there are countless references every week – if not every day – to the impact of open drug dealing and property crime on downtown. Often the spin is that this will drive away tourism and damage our chances of maximising the return on the winter Olympics in 2010. As if damaging the local community and destroying the lives of many local people is not incentive enough. Well, not enough to do anything that might actually work, but would also offend US right wingers.

The solution that has worked in Worksop is treating addiction as a health issue, not a crime issue. Just like prohibition against alcohol – which did not work and had to be abandoned – the “just say no”, lock’em up, spend more on prisons, approach has also been a dismal failure.

Britain has just as rocky a public health system as we do – although private sector provision is more widespread, and the two track approach acknowledged and not officially denied as it is here.

Of course, just because it has been shown to work elsewhere is almost a guarantee that it won’t be adopted here any time soon. “Not invented here” or “we need a made in Canada solution” is one of the most frequently advanced excuses for inactivity. And just because it works on heroin does not address the problems of crystal meth, or crack or whatever.

I think we should give it try. Do you think that Stephen Harper or Gordon Campbell might agree? Probably not. But Sam Sullivan just might.

Written by Stephen Rees

July 23, 2006 at 3:37 pm

Posted in Urban Planning

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