The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

10 June 2005

Compassionate Canadians

These days, says Matt Rosenberg, downtown Vancouver is full of crap:

The ripe stench of human excrement is getting stronger in downtown lanes, curling the stomachs of workers who no longer want to relax by the back door for smoke breaks.... The 10-block city slum is swollen with up to 5,000 injection drug users who have less control of their bowels. Many are homeless and have nowhere to go to the toilet. Often the drug users roam out of the neighbourhood into alleys linking downtown businesses.

(Original here. )

Vancouver, you'll remember, has a "supervised-injection site," a location where heroin addicts will be supplied with clean needles and high-grade H, in the interests of, um, well, it certainly can't be keeping them off the street, can it?

Much is made of Oklahoma's high incarceration rate, and while it's possible to argue that we lock up way too many people for drug-related offenses, it's also pretty clear that someone behind bars has a lower probability of taking a dump on the sidewalk.

I can't help but wonder if maybe the most rational policy here might be good old Moynihanian benign neglect: let them be, let them pursue their highs without fear of arrest, and let them quietly expire when the drug, as it will, exacts its price.

Still, "rational" has little to recommend it in the feel-good department, so I'd be happy to entertain other ideas.

Posted at 9:33 AM to Dyssynergy


Just got back from Vancouver & I encountered the urine/feces smell more than once, & it wasn't always in the slums. It was in parking garages (both downtown and in the burbs) & in the street. They have to get things cleaned up though, they have the 2010 Olympics

Posted by: Dwayne "the canoe Guy" at 3:40 PM on 10 June 2005

... hehehehe...ever been around Bourbon street or the lower French Quarter in New Orleans?.... the smell of urine would "knock a buzzard off a gut wagon" (as my old unk would have said) ... Few public bathrooms (or businesses that will let you use them) mean more public crap so to speak.

Now, am I for these goggly eyed drug addicts roaming around crapping everywhere? ... NO way! ... The thought of fueling their drug habit is totally anathema to me BUT that said ... more public bathrooms might help at least remove the def from the jam so to speak ... hey its any idea anyway.

Posted by: Ron at 9:44 AM on 11 June 2005