Downtown Vancouver BIA backs Mayor’s Substitution Treatment Plan

The Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association (DVBIA) is endorsing in principle Mayor Sam Sullivan’s concept of a Substitution Treatment research project to help deal with some of Vancouver’s street crime issues.

“We’ve seen decreases in street crime, open drug use and aggressive panhandling downtown thanks to enhanced police beat patrols,” says DVBIA president Bill Rempel. “But the police can’t be everywhere all the time. We need to find long-term solutions that address the root causes of these issues. That’s why we applaud Mayor Sullivan’s goals to reduce these problems and his willingness to try innovative solutions to make it happen.”

The substitution treatment research project would work with addicted people to change their drug habits from illegal street drugs to legally available, orally-administered prescription medications. Appropriate legally prescribable, orally taken medications would be available for the trial. The project would help participants manage the conversion process.

Ending drug dependency and improving addicted people’s quality of life are the ultimate goals of Substitution treatment. It is a means of reducing the users’ impact on public order and public health until durable solutions are reached.

Rempel says drug addiction is a big part of the problems in the area. Of those arrested by DVBIA Loss Prevention Officers between October and December 2006, 90% indicated they use street drugs such as crack, heroin and methamphetamine. Illegal drugs, and the addicted person’s need to finance them, are a major motivation for their crimes.

The substitution treatment research project is a component of Project Civil City, an initiative of Vancouver’s Mayor and Council aimed at eliminating homelessness, aggressive panhandling and the open drug market, with a minimum 50 per cent reduction by 2010. Project Civil City seeks to develop long-term and sustainable solutions to homelessness, drug addiction and mental illness. The goals of Project Civil have been endorsed by all 17 BIAs in Vancouver. The project also continues the work of the Four Pillars Drug Strategy, pioneered by former Mayor Philip Owen.