Friday, February 6, 2009

Uncomfortable Question: Why are People Shooting Up at Carnegie Instead of the Safe Fixing Site on the same Block

Operation Pheonix, the media project focusing on the Downtown Eastside, promised to ask "uncomfortable questions" of Downtown Eastside povertarians.  We're still waiting.

I have an uncomfortable question. During the cold spell recently, Carnegie members were finding it difficult to get access to a washroom in the late evening. The washrooms -- particularly the women's washrooms, I've been told by 3 women -- were being used as shooting galleries.  Three women told me that the first floor washroom at Carnegie had a steady flow of women going in to shoot up at night.  If a straight woman was using the washroom, a junkie would too often be outside the door pestering her to "hurry up" or asking, "How long are you going to be?"  People waiting for washrooms -- including those who support the safe injection site -- were commenting about those shooting up, "Why don't they use the safe fixing site."  It's on the same block. 

The fact that people are choosing not to use the safe fixing site was reinforced by a comment dag from covenantzone.blogspot left at the Downtown Eastside Enquirer today. 

"I asked the fellow picking up discarded needles and other fixings on the streets how business was yesterday. He told me it was good, that he'd gotten by then over 150 needles...."

Out of the Fire, Onto the Front Page

In the above DTES Enquirer photo, a Vancouver fireman helps a woman stand upright yesterday as she speaks to an ambulance attendant.  She had just been brought down the smoky fire escape of the Washington Hotel, housing for the addicted or troubled, as firemen doused a serious fire.  Firemen must have found her in the building because she was brought down at least half an hour after the fire started; that was after the flames visible in one of the hotel windows had been doused by firemen.  The woman got into the ambulance.

This morning she was on the front page of the Province.  

The Province ran a dramatic photo, obviously taken with a zoom lens, of her looking scared as a fireman helped her down the fire escape.  (You can see her crouched on the right side of the photo.)

She was also the focus of the lead photograph on both the Sun and the Province websites.

Hi mom.