Community Action Project (CCAP) strongly opposes the Council
recommendation to open and fund a Community Policing Centre in
Buried in the City’s Opioid Crisis Update
report going to council on Tuesday is a proposal for $200,000 of City
dollars towards establishing a new Community Policing Centre in the
Strathcona neighbourhood and increased funding for the existing
Community Policing Centres.
There were 215 overdose deaths in Vancouver this year, with the majority
of the them in the Downtown Eastside. In the midst of this tragedy, it
is shameful that the City is planning to use funds set aside to mitigate
the fentanyl crisis towards a project aimed to placate property owner
fears about the impact of the presence of low-income drug users on their
property values. CCAP appeals to community members to speak against the
motion at City Hall on Wednesday and to write letters of opposition
ahead of the meeting.
The three points we would like to emphasize are:
No bonus police funding in the
name of fighting overdoses
Downtown Eastside is already the most policed neighbourhood in City, and
maybe even in Canada. Since the election of Vision Vancouver in 2008,
the annual police budget has increased by 70% while funding for housing
and other social programs have remained stagnant. In the report the
community policing centre is being framed as a positive measure that
will ensure the livability of the area. But liveable for whom?
More police doesn’t help drug users nor does it help to mitigate the
fentanyl crisis. The criminalization of low-income illicit drug users is
the cause of the overdose crisis because it increases the power of an
unregulated, criminalized drug market, the destabilization of the
community that could otherwise protect itself, and the desperation of
individual users who could otherwise check their drugs. Spending more
money on cops will not reverse this trend.
Police are not good healthcare or social workers. Drug users are
targeted and harassed by the police, and drug users avoid interactions
with the police because of the very real fear of arrest and charges.
Increased policing and community collaboration with the police will make
Strathcona less safe for persons who use drugs, push them into less
visible and less public areas, and ultimately make them more vulnerable
to violence and overdose death.
Stop City support for an anti-drug user
The City’s commitment to open a community policing centre in Strathcona
is a concession to Strathcona property and business owners. In October
the Strathcona Business Improvement Association (SBIA) and Strathcona
Residents Association (SRA) raised concerns that the City and Province
didn’t ask their permission before announcing plans for two new
supervised injection service facilities near Strathcona. The SBIA cited
fears about the “safety” of “Strathcona residents, customers, and
business owners” resulting from these health services. According to
their open letter, the safety panic were primarily “due to an increase
in homelessness and open substance use.”
The City proposal to support Strathcona residents and business demands
for a community policing centre legitimizes the business and property
owner moral panic about the public visibility of low-income drug users.
It endorses the idea that homeless people and drug-users are dangerous
and, disturbingly, it reinforces the stigmatizing myth that middle class
people's safety is actually compromised by low-income people having
health facilities blocks away. We oppose the City’s proposal for a
Community Policing Centre because it entrenches anti-drug user
stereotypes and distracts from the fact that in the midst of a worsening
overdoses crisis it is drug users safety and wellbeing that is really at
Support peer-led drug user groups and
initiatives, not cops
Drug users and drug user groups have been on the frontline of the
fentanyl crisis, and often they are the first people to attend to
overdoses. Drug users know best what is going on in the community,
what drugs are going around, and what supports and services are
needed. Yet, peer-led groups and initiatives like VANDU are
chronically underfunded and the Drug Users Resource Centre just lost
As primarily volunteer organizations, Drug User peer groups like
VANDU and DURC are also the lowest cost and most effective means of
intervening directly in the overdose crisis. The $200,000 set aside
for the Strathcona Community Policing centre should be re-directed
towards drug user led community groups and initiatives where it can
make a difference in stopping the overdose crisis, rather than to
more cop resources, where it will make the problem worse.
take action against the Strathcona Community Policing Centre:
Speak out against the motion at City
Hall on Wednesday, January 25th.
The report is scheduled for the council meeting on Tuesday January
24th, but speakers will most likely be heard during the council
meeting 9.30am the next day. To sign up to speak call Laura Kazakoff,
Meeting Coordinator, at 604.871.6353, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Each speaker has 5 min to speak.
Stay tuned for more details about what time the report will be heard
at council. Email email@example.com or call Maria at 604 500
Write a letter of opposition
In addition to speaking at city hall, or if you are not able to
speak in person on Wednesday January 25th, you can write a letter in
opposition to the recommended measure of opening a Community
Policing Centre in the Strathcona neighbourhood.
We encourage you to base your letter on our points but to use your
own words if you can. We know this is very short notice so please
feel free to copy our text if you’d like. The three points we would
like to emphasize are: 1) No bonus police funding in the name of
fighting overdoses; 2) Stop City support for an anti-drug user moral
Support peer-led drug-user groups,
Write in the subject or in the beginning of the email that the email
is in response to recommendation B in the Opioid Overdose Crisis
Update report going to council on January 24th. Letters should be
sent to firstname.lastname@example.org as well as email@example.com.
Please email a copy of your letter to
For more information, visit Carnegie
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