News release from John Twigg, candidate in North Island for the Conservative Party of B.C.
The news today (Oct. 20) that Campbell River RCMP are probing a “suspicious” fire in a travel trailer at a homeless camp just north of town is yet another sign that the city has a very serious and rapidly worsening problem with illegal addictive drugs and associated crimes, says John Twigg, candidate for the Conservative Party of B.C. in North Island in the provincial election on Saturday (Oct. 24).
“This is only the latest in a long series of news stories about serious crimes involving drug addicts and homeless camps in and around Campbell River,” said Twigg, citing the recent arsoning of the Walmart store in the city in which paper towels were set afire as a diversion for the theft of dozens of cellphones and other electronic devices for which a 27-year-old unidentified man has since been arrested. Twigg noted that throw-away cellphones are often used by drug dealers, who have proliferated in recent years.
“The local RCMP have been doing excellent work trying to limit these and other crimes involving drug addicts and residents of homeless camps but the crimes keep happening and so indicate that stronger and better measures need to be taken urgently,” said Twigg, a 70-year-old journalist who has lived in the community for many years and so sees the recent events as something new.
“Homeless camps were almost unheard of until recent times, apart from a relatively harmless one in a wooded area of Campbell River’s downtown, but now there are several such camps in various areas and the new one north of town on Quinsam Road seems to be especially troublesome,” said Twigg, noting its residents had caused a bush fire that threatened a nearby church.
“Unfortunately the situation in Campbell River is far from unique and camps elsewhere such as the Strathcona Park one in Vancouver are according to news reports even worse,” said Twigg, noting descriptors like “urban park camping” as seen now in Victoria’s Beacon Hill Park fail to describe the size and seriousness of the problem.
What is to be done? B.C. Liberal Party leader Andrew Wilkinson has suggested that integrated police and mental health teams be formed to deal with bad behaviours such as by putting more people in prisons and more courts be set up to deal with a backlog of cases but none of those moves would deal with the root of the problem, which is organized crime figures providing ever more tainted drugs to fleets of dealers all over B.C. now.
“Though police routinely bust small-time drug dealers, such as recently at the tent camp near Victoria’s City Hall, the overall drug trade continues to grow and worsen and now features more and more deaths from tainted supplies.
“Because the Canada-U.S. border has been closed to help limit the spread of Covid-19 it also has reduced the flow of illegal but relatively clean drugs from the U.S. into B.C. and now local players are adding toxic ingredients to low-grade substitutes to still give a kick to addicts but unfortunately those added ingredients are sometimes fatal,” said Twigg, explaining that that demonstrates how new approaches are now urgently needed.
Health officials and now even Vancouver City Council are suggesting that more supervised injection sites and a quasi-decriminalization of the drugs would help reduce the incidence of problems and thereby save time, trouble and money but even that doesn’t address the root problem, which is social dysfunctions going untreated too often and for too long.
“Clearly the status quo cannot be allowed to continue and hopefully after the election B.C. will have a government mandated and motivated to deal more seriously with this endemic and epidemic problem,” said Twigg.
He suggested a better solution would be to build secure gated camps of lockable tiny homes or micro hotels and use the added security to help cure people from their addictions and then enroll them in education and job-training programs, perhaps including garden plots and other productive useful activities like forming more crews to do more bashing of the noxious weed Scotch broom when it is in bloom.
There are several former military properties on Vancouver Island that could be converted to this use (treating addicts) but so far it seems no governments are willing to allocate the money needed for such projects and so instead they inflict more problems onto society as a whole, Twigg noted.
One of the reasons why we have elections is to highlight issues like this and hopefully after election day there will be a new consensus to begin dealing more seriously with this problem, Twigg concluded.
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Oct. 20, 2020
Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General
BC Coroners Service
Updated illicit drug death reports released by BC Coroners Service
VICTORIA – The BC Coroners Service has published updated reports on illicit drug toxicity deaths to the end of September 2020.
The following are the key preliminary findings of these reports (data is subject to change):
* In September 2020, there were 127 suspected illicit drug toxicity deaths. This represents a 112% increase over the number of deaths in September 2019 (60) and a 15% decrease from the number of deaths in August 2020 (150).
* There were about 4.2 illicit drug toxicity deaths per day in September.
* In 2020, 70% of those dying were aged 30 to 59. Males accounted for 80% of deaths.
* Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria have experienced the highest number of illicit drug toxicity deaths this year.
* Both male and female illicit drug toxicity death rates have decreased in recent months from highs in May, June and July.
* Illicit drug toxicity death rates among all age groups have declined from highs in May, June and July. However, rates among people aged 40 to 59 remain at high levels.
* No deaths have been reported at supervised consumption or drug overdose prevention sites